Do Not Grow Weary Saints!

From the most adamant atheists to the indifference of agnostics and all those in between, there is no denying there is a sense that something is seriously awry in our nation. While many are aware of the economic meltdown taking place in nations like Portugal, Ireland, Italy Greece and Spain, an alarming number of Americans are oblivious to the fact that the U.S. economy is teetering on the same precipice of economic collapse. Alabama’s Senator Jeff Sessions, a ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee recently revealed that the United States has reached 101% of our Gross Domestic Product with a national debt of $15.4 trillion dollars that is increasing at a rate in excess of $4 billion dollars daily. What is more alarming than the coming economic tsunami is the ever eroding support for Israel from our government and that coupled with an ever increasing number of NATO member countries taking the same position. On March 4, 2012 Russia will hold their presidential elections and Vladimir Putin is favored to be reelected and he promises to rebuild Russia’s military to heights historically never achieved.  Putin has become increasingly anti-American and recently declared that “Americans are living like parasites off the global economy and their monopoly of the dollar.” He has also joined with China calling for the dollar to be replaced with a new global currency. Putin’s anti-American rants are only eclipsed by his pro-Iranian comments that have caused him to warn the U.S. of severe consequences for military strikes against the Iranian nuclear facilities and/or any logistical support afforded to Israel.  This only increases the necessity for Israel to act alone and strike Iran before the narrow window of opportunity is closed and Iran achieves their goal of nuclear arms. The Prophet Ezekiel wrote that in the “Last Days” there would be a political alliance and military coalition between Magog (Russia), Persia (Iran) along with around eight other nations that will invade Israel (Ezekiel 38:1-6).  

     Amid all of this political maneuvering and economic realigning there is a personality preparing to make his debut on the world’s political stage and it will be stunning.  He is known by many names from the “Little horn” (Daniel 7:8), to “The lawless one” (2 Thessalonians 2:8), but it is the Apostle John’s title of Antichrist that most recognize (1 John 4:3). I believe this is what many seasoned men and women of God are sensing in their spirit and it is also the spirit of antichrist that is dismantling our nation while orchestrating a one world government (Ephesians 6:12). Although Christians will be “caught up” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) in what is known as the Rapture (Revelation 4:1) and therefore will not be on the earth during the reign of the Antichrist, we are certainly seeing things being made ready for the reign of Antichrist. The Bible reveals some amazing facts and characteristics about this sinister minister called the Antichrist. Here are just a few for you to consider as you study the Word of God.

1. POLITICALLY: The Antichrist will be unmatched in his ability to build coalitions, bring peace where strife has existed for centuries and provide a sense of prosperity where poverty once abounded. His greatest feat will be the ratifying of a peace treaty between the world, specifically those in the Middle East, and the nation of Israel which will permit the Jews to control the Temple Mount, reconstruct the Temple and resume the sacrificial practices. (Daniel 9:27). He will rise from relative political obscurity as indicated by the Prophet Daniel’s description as the “The little horn” (Daniel 7:8). He arrives on the proverbial white horse (Rev. 6:1-2) to rescue the Jews from the invasion of Gog and Magog and has the diplomatic authority (“a crown”) and the threat of military power (“a bow”).  The balance of Scripture indicates that Antichrist will be a Gentile. The Apostle John said the beast “rises up out of the sea” (Rev. 13:1) which are the Gentile nations (Rev. 17:15). Time and space will not permit me to address the question of why the Jews will follow a Gentile but suffice it to say that we must remember this entire age is characterized by unprecedented demonic deception (Matthew 24:4-5,24). If you are reading this article and have never trusted Jesus Christ by faith, receiving His payment for your sins, I plead with you now to recognize that the hour is desperately late and you must be born again (John 3:3).

2.) RELIGIOUSLY: It is no great leap of faith to believe that millions will be deceived by doctrines of demons in these Last Days (1 Timothy 4:1-2). History provides ample examples but we need not look any further than Adolf Hitler to witness the utter destruction of mass deception.  What has amazed and alarmed me is the level of deception among professing believers and specifically pastors and ministers. Just this week one of the most popular and prolific pastors in America announced a partnership between Christians and Muslims based on the theological tenet that “Christians and Muslims worship the same God” and he has announced a mutual agreement that they (Christians and Muslims) “wouldn’t try to evangelize each other.” Beloved, make no mistake about it, this is the spirit of Antichrist because the Allah of the Koran is not the God of the Bible and no Spirit-filled Christian would willingly agree to a prohibition on sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with anyone openly rejecting Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth and The Life (John 14:6).  I, along with other faithful pastors, have been sounding the alarm for years about these and other stealth ministries of deception only to suffer severe criticism from church staff, deacons, evangelists and fellow pastors. Beloved, this is not the time for cowards and politically correct “For-Profit” prophets. Men of God take your place on the wall and sound the warning because if “the watchmen see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned” God declares their blood is on our hands (Ezekiel 33:4-9). The Harlot church of Revelation 17 is very much alive today and is merely awaiting the arrival of her leader (Rev. 16:13). Rise up Men of God! The late Dr. Percy Ray once warned pastors “Never place a wishbone where you ought to have a backbone.”

3.) INTELLECUTALY – Antichrist will possess oratory, academic and intellectual abilities that will surpass anything this world has ever experienced. His communication abilities will mesmerize the masses (Daniel 11:36) and his demonstration of miraculous powers (Matthew 24:24) will deceive countless millions. He will control all global commerce and resources (Daniel 11:43) and no one will be able to transact even the smallest of purchases apart from receiving his mark (Rev. 13:16-17). The Antichrist will be the focus of every culturally elite, cutting edge publication and television and radio programs across the world will laud him as the answer to the prevailing chaos (1 Thessalonians 5:3). He will bring the depravity of homosexuality into a new vogue as an unashamed homosexual himself, Sodomites will play in the streets of our nation and teach your children’s Sunday School classes under protection of Federal legislation (Daniel 11:37). He will boldly declare the intellectual superiority of Atheism as “Neither shall he regard the God of his father’s” (Daniel 11:37). The sad truth of our situation is that so many professing believers have already succumbed to this deception and believe that a crowd constitutes a church or a well organized program equals the power of God.  Beloved, “let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9).  Lift up your heads saints of God! We are not looking for a Sign; we are listening for a Shout!

Maranatha,

Pastor Jeff LaBorg

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Reflections From The Real Evangelism Conference

Dr. Adrian Rogers often gave a word of warning to preachers concerning seasons of rest and renewal by admonishing us “to come apart from them or you will come apart among them.”  A few weeks ago I took Pastor Adrian’s advice and spent a couple of days at the First Baptist Church of Indian Trail just outside Charlotte, North Carolina where Pastor Mike Whitson has led for almost three decades.  There is no question that FBC Indian Trail is one of the greatest Bible churches in our nation and Pastor Mike Whitson is esteemed as one of the most gifted and authentic pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention. For several years now Pastor Mike has hosted the Bailey Smith Real Evangelism Conference which is described by Bro. Bailey as “a Hurrah for Jesus kind of Bible conference.” 

While I have personally been blessed and privileged to preach at the R.E.C and it is a cherished experience for any Bible preacher, I discovered an even greater blessing than preaching at the R.E.C and that is simply being able to attend and enjoy the conference apart from the “burden” of delivering a sermon. My soul was stirred as I soaked up the anointed preaching from men of God like Dr. Bob Pitman, Bro. Junior Hill, Pastor Mike Stone and Dr. Mac Brunson just to name a few of the chosen vessels God used to stir my soul. My passion for the lost was renewed as I listened to the testimony of God’s transforming grace in the life of Mrs. Iris Blue and we worshipped in Spirit and Truth as Mike Speck and the FBC Indian Trail Choir took us to the Throne Room of Holy God.  Along with my spiritual batteries being recharged, I had the opportunity to spend time renewing friendships with heroes like Bro. Bill Stafford and Dr. Mac Brunson.  It was a joy to spend time with Bro. Bill Stafford rehearsing all that God has done in years past and the promise of even better days to come.  What a sweet time of fellowship we enjoyed and the encouragement from Bro. Bill Stafford is priceless as a pastor and preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am not aware of another venue that offers the opportunity to be with leaders and lovers of souls like that of Dr. Bailey Smith’s Real Evangelism Conference.  I left renewed in my spirit and refocused on the winning of souls in these Last Days before our Lord returns.  It is impossible to measure the impact and influence of leaders like Pastor Mike Whitson on my life and ministry.  We are indebted to him for hosting R.E.C. and Dr. Bailey Smith for obeying and trusting God for over two decades of leading one of the greatest Bible Conferences in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention. Praise God for such wonderful times of refreshing and renewal and oh yeah . . .  Hurrah for Jesus!

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The Testimony of Jesus – Revelation 19:10

For years I operated under the mistaken idea that the study of Biblical Prophecy was chiefly a secondary pursuit that did not merit the energy and attention of some other Biblical doctrines.  I have since learned that the study of Biblical Prophecy is an essential and has two immediate effects on my life personally and the church corporately. First there is an urgency that comes from the realization of just how close we are to the “gathering together unto him” and culmination of the Church Age. Out of that urgency is born a desire for purity because we begin to live in a new awareness and reality that our Lord could come for us this very day. This is why the Apostle John admonishes us to “abide in him; that when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” As I travel and preach across our land, I have noted a growing interest in Biblical Prophecy that is beyond the trivial and specifically in the biblical indicators of where we are on God’s Prophetic Calendar. The most frequently asked questions deal with the unprecedented events taking place in our world today.  While it is impossible to give exhaustive answers to these questions, I do believe there are three primary areas and/or indicators that reveal we are living in the last of the Last Days.

 

First is the Partial Regathering of the Jews to the Land of Israel. As one leading scholar has stated “the door of God’s prophetic plan hangs on the hinges of the nation of Israel.” Scripture teaches us that Israel will experience two distinct regatherings before the Second Coming of Christ. (Jeremiah 30:1-3; Ezekiel 34:11-27). The first of these regatherings took place on May 14, 1948 and it was a physical regathering but in spiritual unbelief (Ezekiel 22:17-22; Isaiah 11:11-12). Although the Jews are in the Land, they do not possess all the Promised Land or a faith in the Lord. The divine purpose of the regathering is preparation for the Tribulation when the Jews will hear the Gospel preached by the two witnesses and the 144,000 Male Jewish Virgins. The Prophet Ezekiel reveals that Israel will be restored physically (Ezekiel 37:11) and then they will experience a spiritual regeneration when the breath of God’s Holy Spirit comes (Ezekiel 37:9). The miracle of Israel’s Partial Return to the Land began in the late 1800’s with the First Zionist Congress under the leadership of Theodore Herzl. It is a thrilling study to trace the Hand of God as He orders the steps of His people back to their homeland. From the resurrection of their Hebrew language to the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the arrival of General Allenby after the Battle of Jerusalem to raising of Israel’s flag over the City of Jerusalem in 1948.

 

Secondly, there is the Preparation for the Revived Roman Empire that is described by Daniel 2:41-44 and Daniel 7:7; 24. The global economic crisis that we are currently experiencing is setting the stage for a global coalition composed of ten rulers who will attempt to stop the political and economic chaos that is already evident and many experts suggest is inevitable. The United States government is currently borrowing almost 50 cents of every dollar spent and the national debt is growing at over 4 billion dollars per day. European Countries Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain are experiencing record debts and leading economic experts are suggesting there is no avoiding a complete financial meltdown – Globally. There are cries for a single global currency to replace all national monetary systems for the purpose of avoiding total financial default and anarchy. This is only the first step of many that will ultimately culminate in a cashless system that is controlled electronically. The chief executive of the European branch of VISA recently said, “Paying for goods with notes and coins could be consigned to history within the next five years.” For residents of Louisiana this is already a reality. Governor Bobby Jindal recently signed legislation that bans the use of any cash for all second hand goods sold at thrift stores, yard sales, etc. This should not surprise Christians because we are told in Revelation 13:16-18 that this world is headed to a one world economic system that will be cashless and controlled by the mark of the beast. As the world continues to experience political unrest, economic uncertainty and catastrophic natural disasters (Matthew 24:7-8) the stage is being set for a charismatic leader (the little horn of Daniel 7:8) to become the leader of the Revived Roman Empire (Revelation 17:12-13).

 

This brings us to the third indicator of just how gloriously late it is on God’s prophetic clock. The Proliferation of the Doctrines of Demons. I want to pause here and give a word of encouragement those blessed believers that have determined to stay the course and keep the faith, especially to pastors, teachers and deacons. The Apostle Paul told Timothy that “in the last days perilous time shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1). Without taking any liberties with this sacred text, I suggest that “perilous days are here.” The word perilous (χαλεπό) in the Greek portrays the idea of loosing strength due to the difficulty or fierceness of the situation. I have talked with so many seasoned veterans in the ministry that testify they have never witnessed the level of division, deception and wholesale demonic activity that is taking place today. One of the most frequent questions I am asked when preaching on the subject of Biblical prophecy is when do I think God will judge America?  Beloved, the judgment of God is upon America. There is a common misconception among Christians that if we don’t repent of sins such as abortion and homosexuality that God is going to judge America. Beloved, according to Romans 1:21-32 the rampant and militant rise of homosexuality in America (and specifically in our churches) is not the reason for God’s judgment; it is the result of God’s judgment. The fact that our nation is drowning in a moral cesspool is not what will cause God’s judgment, it is the consequence of His judgment. Romans 1:28-32 reads like a list taken from the average church today – the church is under the judgment of God (1Peter 4:17). Not long before his death Dr. J. Vernon McGee warned that “when persecution comes to Christians in these United States, it will arrive first from the mainline denominations.” Beloved, there is no question that we are going to experience persecution but that is simply confirmation of our soon coming evacuation (2 Peter 3:3).

 

 I close with this word of Preparation to the Dedicated in these Last Days. Do you remember that the Apostle Paul said we would experience “perilous days” and that the word means a loss of strength due to difficulty (2 Timothy 3:1)?  I pray the Lord stir up your spirit to remember to not “be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (Galatians. 6:9). Rise up Saints of God and remember that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him” (Romans 8:37).  Now is not the time to quit, this is the hour to put your hands to Gospel plow and your eyes to the skies because our Redemption drawth nigh (Luke 21:28). My mentor, friend and professor Dr. Jimmy DeYoung says it this way, “We are not looking for a Sign, we are listening for a Shout (1 Thessalonians 4:16).  Marantha Beloved Saints, Maranatha!

*This article was first published in the Fires of Revival Newspaper – January 2012. Use by Permisson Only.

 

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Are Those Mercy Drops I Hear?

 We are now at the mid-way point of our 21 day Daniel Fast and words fail to convey the breakthroughs and blessings that so many saints are reporting as they feast upon “bread that the world knows not.”  It has been an added bonus to watch so many believers that have never experienced the cleansing power and resulting clarity of Fasting-Praying-Giving.  As one brother in the Lord shared with me, “I have been a Christian over 25 years and this is first time these truths have ever been shared with me . . . this is my first fast but it will not be my last.”

“Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saint from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless religions. He laughs at our toil, mocks our wisdom, but Satan trembles when we pray.”             Reverend Samuel Chadwick 

 In this brief entry I want to challenge you to take your Bible and find the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Let’s do an inductive Bible study on this text and let the Word be our authority and sufficiency. Our Lord is teaching a truth that the old preachers long ago coined the “Threefold Cord” of Giving, Praying and Fasting. Jesus taught with an expectation that His disciples would be characterized by giving (verses 1-3), praying (verse 5-15) and fasting (16-18).  Take your Bible and look at verses two and three; “when thou doest thine alms” (vs.2), when thou doest alms” (vs.3) (Emphasis Added).   

The same EXPENCTANCY is present in our Lord’s teaching concerning the other two “strands” of praying and fasting.  Notice in verses six and seven concerning prayer, “when thou prayest” (vs.6) and “when ye pray” (vs. 7) (emphasis added.).  Here is where many believers have stumbled because while there has been a priority (and rightly so) on giving and praying there has been profound neglect concerning the third strand of the “Threefold Cord” called fasting.  Notice verses sixteen and seventeen of Matthew chapter sixteen; “Moreover, when ye fast” (vs. 16) and “when thou fastest” (vs. 17) reveals that our Lord had every expectation that His disciples would place the same priority on fasting as that of giving and praying.  I am convinced that one of the chief culprits behind the spiritual death and numerical decline so many churches are experiencing is directly related to their failure to experience victory through Fasting. 

“Our Lord had every expectation that His disciples would place the same priority on fasting as that of giving and praying.”

Let’s look at what the Scriptures have to say about this.  Take your Bible and go to chapter seventeen of the Gospel of Matthew and find verses fourteen through twenty-one.  Jesus had just returned from a mountain top retreat where Peter, James and John have witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus and were introduced to Moses and Elijah (verses 1-13). They arrive to find a disappointed father and doubting disciples because of a failed attempt to deliver a little boy from demonic possession. There are two facts that are essential to correctly interpret what has taken place. First, the disciples have been taught the principles of the “Threefold Cord” of Giving, Praying and Fasting prior to this incident (Matthew 6:1-18). Secondly, they have already been given authority to heal and cast out demons (Matthew 10:1).  So why were their attempts to liberate this little boy from demonic possession not affective?  Our Lord answers that question for them and us in verse 20; “Because of your unbelief.”  This was a failure of faith. They had failed to apply the truth they had been taught (Matthew 6) and appropriate the authority they had been given (Matthew 10). 

Have you ever wondered why it is that with the proliferation of Bible studies, conferences, retreats, special events, etc. that there remains so much defeat, discouragement and discontent among Christians? We are quick to claim the promise of verse 20, “and nothing shall be impossible unto you” but fail to realize that the promise of “nothing shall be impossible unto you” is dependent upon the “by prayer and fasting” of verse 21.

I pray you are enjoying the journey and preparing for your Heavenly Father to “reward thee openly” as promised in Matthew chapter six.  Yes, I am certain that is the pitter-patter of mercy drops failing . . .

Maranatha!

Pastor Jeff

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The Threefold Cord of Blessing

I am forever indebted to Dr. Jerry Falwell and Dr. Elmer Towns for introducing me to the blessing of Biblical Fasting during my days as a student at Liberty Theological Seminary. They introduced me to a biblical practice that I knew very little about and what I did know was primarily wrong.  I had no clue the powerhouse that Biblical Fasting could be and the profound difference it would make to my faith and ministry through the years.  Fasting has been a part of my spiritual life now for years as well as my wife and now our children’s lives.  Our family launched 2012 with a twenty-one Daniel Fast and I am doubly blessed to pastor a church that has joined us in this season of repentance, renewal and refocusing with their pastor’s family.  

Surprisingly there are a number of pastors and churches that have relegated fasting to an Old Testament discipline and openly teach that fasting is not for the New Testament believer. The Gospel of Matthew reveals that not only is fasting acceptable but it is expected in the Christian’s life.  In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew our Lord reveals what the old preachers came to call “the threefold cord” of prayer, fasting and giving.  Many Christians have been taught to approach the Bible “devotionally” which is essentially extracting a passage of scripture from its contextual meaning, imposing their own interpretation for “soulish” purposes that ultimately elect their feelings as the final authority instead of the Holy Spirit and the Bible.  This is why so many have missed the simple but profound teaching concerning the “threefold cord” of prayer, fasting and giving taught by our Lord in the Gospel of Matthew.

The sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew is part of a sermon by our Lord Jesus Christ that is known as the Beatitudes.  In this sermon Jesus reveals the characteristics that identify His followers as they walked in the Spirit and live out the reality of “Christ in us the hope of glory”in this world.  It is important that you beware of religious leaders that saddle you with a list of rules and/or regulations that are achieved through behavior modification or maintained by the strength of the flesh.  This is not Biblical Christianity – it is dead religion that puts you under the tyranny and religious authority of man that keeps you from experiencing the Liberty of Jesus Christ. 

The most common misconception concerning fasting is that we are sacrificing food in order to garner the acceptance, attention or affection of some distant and disgruntled deity.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Fasting is never about being accepted because we are already “accepted in the Beloved” and “called sons of the living God.”  Fasting is part of a biblical “threefold cord” (fasting-praying-giving) that brings about sanctification of another “threefold cord” that the Apostle Paul identified as “your whole spirit and soul and body.”

Fasting renews our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit that is often dulled or numbed by our appetites and worldly affections.  If you believe there are no strongholds of distraction or deception in your life (or your family) I challenge you to go home tonight and announce that for the next three days there will be no televisions, iPods, iPads, radios, cell phones, computers or other “electronic gods” to demand our attention and consume our time.  Fasting is not about giving up something in order to get something from God.  Fasting is about identifying the “gods” that are grieving the Spirit in my life and keeping me from receiving what Christ died to give me and what God is longing to give me.  It has been my experience (and our family) that FASTING from things of the flesh is more correctly defined as FEASTING in the Spirit and Word.  There is neither time nor space to begin to tell how God has prepared, provided and protected us during seasons of Fasting, Praying and Giving.  I will share more of those blessings in the days to come.  In my next entry we will look in greater detail to the “threefold cord” of fasting-praying-giving that our Lord taught in Matthew chapter six.  To those who have launched 2012 in a Fast, I commend you and remind you that Blessings and Breakthroughs are on the way!

 Maranatha!

Pastor Jeff LaBorg

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No Sign for the Spiritually Blind

Years ago I was setting in a living room attempting to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with an older man and his dying wife.  The conversation started easy enough but there was a distinct atmospheric change in the room as the conversation centered on the Gospel. The television was on the weather channel and although I requested respectfully that we turn it off for just a few minutes, the man hardened his focus on the local weather forecast.  He based his rejection of the Gospel on the fact that if God would not heal his terminally ill wife it stood to reason that God could not be trusted to save his soul.  He took the remote, turned up the volume on television to listen to the “local on the 8’s” and signal our visit was over.  I left that home with a heavy heart knowing that both stood on the brink of eternal separation from the Lord Jesus Christ and be tormented in a very real place called Hell. On the drive back home I rehearsed the events of the evening in my mind and I was reminded that our Lord dealt with a very similar situation during his ministry. In the Gospel of Matthew chapter sixteen the Pharisees and Sadducees were demanding that Jesus produce some sign to validate his Messianic claims. He answered,

            “When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the   sky is red. 3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and threatening. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?  4 A     wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.” (Matthew 16:2-4).  

     What an indictment against the most accomplished theologians of that day.  They could predict the coming of a storm but were oblivious to the arrival of the Messiah.  Our generation suffers from the same problem of “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.  “A.W. Tozer recognized this perennial problem when he so aptly said, “The devil is a better theologian than any of us but he is still a devil.” 

     The only thing more alarming than the undeniable evidence that we are living in the Last Days is the apathy and willful ignorance so prevalent among so many professing believers.  Evidence abounds that the world is preparing for a major economic shift of concentrated powers.  At the entrance of the headquarters of the European Union Council in Brussels, Belgium is a massive statue of a woman riding a great beast (Rev. 17:1) and there is no mistaking the message the EU is conveying to the world.  Captured in this iconic figure is the message of a united Europe and a New World Order that will solve the economic woes of this world.  In a recent publication of the EU the Tower of Babel is depicted in full color with the caption reading “EUROPE: Many Tongues-One Voice” with a cheering crowd gathered at the foot of the Tower of Babel. The message is clear; this is the generation that will finally realize Nimrod’s dream in Genesis eleven.  Stay tuned  . . . more to come.

Maranatha!

Pastor Jeff

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