Forgiven Much

“Who invited that woman here? How dare she come into this house!” murmured some in the crowd. As if blind and deaf to the scorn of others, she does the unthinkable. She begins weeping upon and kissing the feet of the master.

What is God after … ?

The story begins in Luke’s gospel.

 

———————————- Luke 7:36-50 (NIV 84) ————————————-

Now one of the Pharisees (a highly educated, religious leader) invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.’

Jesus answered him, ‘Simon, I have something to tell you.’ ‘Tell me teacher,’ he said.

‘Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii (a denarius was equal to a day’s wages), and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?’

Simon replied, ‘I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.’

‘You have judged correctly,’ Jesus said.

Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little, loves little.’

Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’

The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’

Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’ “

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What do we learn about the Savior through this encounter?

 

Postured for Forgiveness

It is customary when coming before a king to bow down as a posture of submission. In the ancient world and even today, the refusal to do this is not only an insult but a sign of rebellion. It is punishable even by death. In school as a child, I was taught about having good posture. “Sit up straight!” All of this illustrates a truth.

Our posture communicates something.

The scene is set at the Pharisee’s house. He invited this teacher to dine with him. Perhaps he was intrigued at Jesus’ miracles or the fame that was spreading throughout Israel about him. Then, in walks this woman. What we know from the text is that she was well known in that town and that this Pharisee judged her as a sinner. She doesn’t say anything to anyone. She doesn’t even look up. She postures herself low to the ground. She was weeping and deeply troubled in heart. What I find amazing about this encounter is that she wasn’t even invited to the party. It says that “when she heard Jesus was going to be at the Pharisee’s house” she came. She risked rejection. She risked ridicule. But to her it didn’t matter. Only one thing mattered, to be near Jesus.

She postured herself for forgiveness. While everyone else was joking, making small talk, and appearing dignified, she was weeping at his feet. While everyone else was sitting in the seats of honor, she chose the posture of dishonor. While everyone else was trying to impress Jesus or appear important, she is wiping his feet with her hair and kissing his feet. She crowns it all by pouring expensive perfume on his feet.

A humble heart posture will always leave a pleasant aroma in the atmosphere.

Jesus was the only one she came to impress and impress him she did. He commends her and forgives her sins. Perhaps, this woman saw something that no one else did… that Jesus was the King of the Jews. If the others had seen it too, they would have been bowing down likewise.

You cannot maintain a prideful posture and expect to be forgiven by God.

 

Passion for Forgiveness

In Charles Dickens’ famous musical A Christmas Carol, we see a crotchety old man named Ebenezer Scrooge. He has more wealth than he knows what to do with but no joy, no compassion, no friends. He finds glee by pinching pennies and tormenting his employees making them work long hard hours. The story takes a dramatic turn by the end as Scrooge is changed by an encounter with three spirits.

Have you ever asked yourself what God’s heart is like? Is he approachable, understanding, and compassionate or eager to punish?

Many see God as Ebenezer Scrooge … powerful and wealthy yet distant, cruel, and unmerciful.

As we look again at this encounter with Jesus, we see that Jesus exhibits the character of God to humanity in the way he interacts with the sinful woman. Before I go further, I’d like us to look at a passage from the book of Exodus. Moses is leading the people of Israel through the wilderness and is speaking with God Almighty. God begins to declare his nature to Moses:

And the Lord said, ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.’ ” Exodus 33:19

Then,

And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet, he does not leave the guilty unpunished.’ “ Exodus 34:6-7

Does this surprise you? Now let’s get back to Jesus.

There he is in the presence of all these people at this dinner party. This sinful woman is making a scene at his feet. Not only does he not stop her, but he welcomes her. Why? Because Jesus exhibits the nature of God. Jesus said that anyone who has seen him has seen the Father (God). God’s nature is unchanging. He is compassionate and quick to show mercy to the humble and broken. Jesus had a passion for forgiveness.

He tells a parable to Simon (the Pharisee) about two debtors. One owes 500 denarii and the other 50. Neither was able to pay the master so the master (God) forgives them both. He then asks him which will love the master more. Simon was the one who owed 50. But his problem was that instead of rejoicing in his own sin being forgiven and then having compassion on others, he was excessively judgmental and proud. Comparison blinded him to his own debt before God. Jesus never commends the woman for being sinful. But he commends her for her faith and action. Although the Pharisee’s judgment about the woman’s sin was accurate, what the Pharisee lacked was a passion for forgiveness!

A passion for forgiveness causes us to rejoice at the repentance of a sinner, not look down on the one whom God is willing to forgive. To the Pharisees, those who think they have led better lives than others, be careful! Remember that you too are a debtor before God. Get down on your knees with the rest of the sinners and remember that Jesus is looking for a people who will love him much!

 

Power of Forgiveness

For anyone who has had an argument with a loved one or a friend, you know that there is no peace afterwards. Unless there is reconciliation, the damage will remain. Sadly, bitterness has robbed marriages of their vitality, friendships of their joy, and causes brothers to stop speaking. What then is the power of forgiveness?

Forgiveness holds the power to restore peace. After the woman worships Jesus and repents, he says to her, “Woman your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Peace is the absence of fear, anxiety and oppressive thoughts. It tells us that everything is okay. The war is over. Jesus extends this to the woman… and to anyone who comes to him in humble reverence.

The second power released by forgiveness is love. The one forgiven much loves much, but the one forgiven little, loves little. God has chosen to lavish his forgiveness on a broken and hurting world with the purpose of inspiring a people who will love him with all their hearts! Could it be that God allows our sin, brokenness, and pain while patiently waiting so that he can show us how merciful he is?

How do we receive this peace and love?

Although we may forgive others, we can’t cancel our debts before God. You need not look any further than your own heart, thoughts, words, and actions in the past few days to see that you fall short of God’s standard, which is to love him and love our neighbor as ourselves. Our sin makes us debtors before God. Jesus is the only one with the power to forgive because he paid the price for our sins on the cross. His death and resurrection makes it possible for us to experience a right relationship with God… and to be made new.

Which one in the story are you? Are you the Pharisee or the woman at Jesus’ feet? The good news is you can come to the feet of Jesus today to receive his mercy and grace. Will you come?

The one forgiven much, loves much.

If you would like to renew or make a first time commitment to Jesus Christ, message me. I would like to know.

The Desire of Nations

Desire of Nations

Of all of the messianic descriptions of Jesus, the Desire of Nations has to be one of my favorites. Perhaps you haven’t bothered to think about it recently but each morning when you get up, you are being driven by a desire. What causes you to go to work, to school, to pursue a relationship, to teach others, to help your community, to work out? I was having a chat with an executive a while back and I was telling him how my true passion in life is to preach the gospel and see lives changed. This man was very successful in real estate. By earthly standards, he was a total success: money, power, respect, meaningful career, comforts of wealth. He said to me, “Zac, I envy you. I can’t say that I’m passionate about life right now.”

Wait a minute… you… envy me?

Isn’t that funny? The rich and powerful can be living a passionless life.

The psalmist writes:

As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for you, O God! My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1-2)

David, one of the greatest kings of history, writes this:

One thing I have asked and this is what I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” (Psalm 27:4)

 

What are you seeking?

 

Advertisers know that human kind is driven by secret desires. They have identified them; they use them to their advantage. It fits their gospel of, “Have this, do this, go here, and then….”

And then what? … you will be satisfied, accepted, happy, honored, successful. But is it really so?

 

In the time of prophet Haggai, the Lord is speaking to the people of Israel during a time of devastation. He first rebukes them for their complacency and their failure to build his house (the temple) while they are so consumed with their own houses and pursuits. The prophet’s message builds up to a crescendo with this messianic prophecy: “And I will shake all nations. And the desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of Hosts.” (Haggai 2:7 KJV)

In this word, there are three key elements: the shaking of all nations, the desire of all nations coming, and the filling of the house of God with glory.

Each of these three elements deserves a sermon (or series) on its own. But I will provide a brief overview. Remember, this was a time of devastation. Israel had been judged and taken captive due its sinfulness and idolatry.

Kind of feels like where America is heading.

Are you going through a time of devastation in your work, marriage, relationships, health, or simply living a passionless life? Take the word of the prophet Haggai to heart and ask yourself whose house you have been building? Ask yourself who your nation is worshiping? The answer isn’t difficult to find.

In the midst of Israel’s state, the Lord says I will shake all nations. To those suffering, this may sound comforting. To those sitting comfortably, this may sound terrifying. But the word of the prophet Isaiah, and of Jesus will come to pass.

 

Isaiah writes,

All men are like grass and their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fade away, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.” (Isaiah 40)

 

Jesus says in Matthew 24:1-14 that we will see great shakings in the earth. Wars and rumors of wars, pestilence, famines, earthquakes. He says that the earth is giving birth to the kingdom of God. Not that the kingdom comes from earth but rather the earth is in labor… the old order of things is passing away. Interestingly, these shakings are part of the declaration that the temple will be torn down. This is the temple that was rebuilt in Haggai’s time. It was destroyed a second time.

 

Jesus tells Pontius Pilate before his crucifixion that,

My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36)

The prophet Isaiah also tells us of the final day of judgment in which the heavens will be shaken and the earth will move out of her place. (Is. 13:9-13)

The apostle Paul teaches us that “…the things that are seen are temporary but the unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

 

I have spent much time working in real estate. Ever since the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, there has been the utmost concern for the safety of buildings and their earthquake readiness. Rebar, tempered steel, counter weights that sway in the opposing direction as a building is shaken during an earthquake. These are all designed to try to prevent devastation. But man’s preparations only goes so far. Another example is the new Bay Bridge (billions of dollars over budget) and it’s already exhibiting cracks in its integrity.

Let’s bring this to 2016. What is being shaken? We have terrorists on the rise with radical Islam all over the earth. We have whole nations gone bankrupt. We have China, Russia, Iran and others vying to become a new power in the world. We have a nation in America that once obeyed and feared God and his Word but that now is confused, divided, morally reprobate, idolatrous. People put their trust in a government that is nearly 20 trillion in debt. 20,000,000,000,000 in debt! Louisiana is majorly flooded as has been parts of Texas. Wildfires raging in California, droughts. We now have a movement of people hating the police force and encouraging lawlessness and blaming them for the problems of society. We have a nation that has perverted and redefined marriage. A nation that slaughters its unborn in the womb. A nation that’s more concerned with chickens in cages than with souls being saved and human beings.

 

I will shake all nations says the Lord God Almighty. You see, we are no better than anyone else in history. It is the epitome of arrogance to think that the Judge of all the Earth will not execute his righteous judgment upon us too. Kingdoms will rise, and kingdoms will fall. Only the Word of the Lord abides forever.

But just as the hard ground must be plowed up before the seed can grow, so the nations must be shaken. Why? To show that all their desires and hopes were falsely founded. This prepares the way for the Desire of All Nations to come.

(Some translations render Haggai 2:7 differently. I believe the KJV and NIV 84 get it right.)

Could it be that all the warring, raging, striving, and laboring of the nations is in vain? The prophet Habakkuk says that, “Has not the Lord Almighty determined that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire?” (Hab. 2:13) And the psalmist writes, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1)

All that can be shaken, will be shaken. This must happen so that the ground is prepared. The shaking and breaking create a need for comfort, for building, for healing. Now let’s look at the promises that follow.

In the beginnings of the gospels, Luke records an encounter with a man named Simeon. He was a righteous and devout man and he was waiting for the Consolation of Israel. (Luke 2:25)

Blessed are the poor (crushed, oppressed, weary) in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” Jesus says in Matthew 5.

 

Think about desire for a minute. Isn’t it different depending on your need?

 

The desire of the oppressed, is relief. The desire of the sick is healing. The desire of the fatherless is to have a family. The desire of the hungry is to be filled. The desire of the lonely is love. The desire of the fearful is to have peace and safety. The desire of the poor is provision.

The Desire of All Nations shall come.

We are now living in the reality of that prophecy. The messiah has come. And promises to come again.

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Heb. 9:27-8)

Another example of this messianic title is seen in the encounter with the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus speaks with a woman at the well in Samaria. Jews did not associate with Samaritans, nor was it common for a man to be talking to a woman in public. Yet Jesus shows himself as the desire of nations by his disregard for these barriers. Jesus asks the woman for a drink and eventually the conversation transposes into Jesus revealing himself as the Messiah.

He tells her, “Believe me woman, a time is coming when you will neither worship the Father on this mountain nor in Jerusalem… Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For these are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (John 4:21&23)

Jesus Christ is the desire of nations. Just as he met the deepest desire of a foreign woman at a well, he is here to meet yours. He is here to satisfy your soul and show you his eternal kingdom, whether you are in China, Brazil, Zimbabwe, France, or America.

You see, the Desire of Nations had to come the first time in order to purify sins. Why? Because God had a final goal in mind.

 

“… and I will fill this house with glory.” saith the Lord of Hosts (Haggai 2:7)

 

Some argue a mere human interpretation. But Jesus himself when speaking to the Pharisees says,

Destroy this temple and I will raise it in three days.” (John 2:19-21)

The apostle Peter says,

We are built together like living stones to be a spiritual house to the Lord. (1 Peter 2:1-5)

The apostle Paul says, do you not know that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit who was given to you? (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

Moments before his murder, the martyr Stephen declares:

However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands as the prophet says: ‘Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool. What house will you build for me says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest?’ “ (Acts 7:48-9)

We see then that this is not an earthly temple of stone, timber, or gold that the Lord is speaking of. He is speaking of the hearts of men.

How then shall God fill this house with glory? Through Jesus Christ the hope of glory. Poured out into our hearts by faith and when we receive him as he knocks at the door of every man’s heart. The Holy Spirit given on Pentecost was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy that in the last days the Lord will pour out his Spirit on all flesh.

Picture a beautiful sunset on the beach. Picture a grand castle or mansion which you have been in or seen from afar. Picture the most beautiful woman or most handsome man. The glory of the Lord exceeds them all. It is not an earthly glory but a heavenly one.

We are approaching the end of all time when this earth and heaven will be shaken. The Messiah has come but promises that he will come once again to gather his church, the living temple to himself for eternity. Jesus Christ is the desire of nations. Do not be afraid at what you see around you or in your own life. Remember the shaking has a purpose… to create desire in the hearts of all nations.

To anyone reading this who does not know this Jesus. You can know him today. Invite him into your life to be your Lord and Savior. Turn from evil and ask for him to fill you with glory. And he will.

All the desires of the ages are met in him.

Blessings to you all.

Zac

The Awe and Joy of Christmas

A long time ago in a far away land, something happened that changed the course of history.

Before I continue, answer this. When was the last time you felt a sense of awe, wonder, or pure joy?

Was it at the birth of a child? Was it when you found out your brother was coming home safely from overseas? Was it at the news of your acceptance into the master’s program? Was it upon opening a hand written letter from your dearest love? Was it seeing the sun rise from the peak of Mt. Everest?

Have you noticed that as you get older, it takes more and more to produce a sense of awe and joy?

We are bored with the usual. We’ve seen that one already. We’ve heard that joke before. We got that promotion five years ago, and it didn’t satisfy us as we thought. We tried that drug, and it doesn’t produce the same high anymore. We’ve been let down by people we trusted. We’ve shot for the stars except we didn’t end up on the moon, but in the mud.

Disappointment, age, and experience have a tendency to paint life melancholy. The dark night sky looms above us.

Every year around this time, I meditate on the Christmas story. As a child, Christmas meant fun, carols, presents, lights, time off from school, and a little mischief and cheer. Christmas Eve was when we would celebrate and open presents. Collectively as a society it’s a time to think about the story of Christ’s birth. At least when I was growing up, we thought about it. Right before presents, my parents always read the tale of Jesus’ birth from the gospel of Matthew or Luke.

I remember wanting to hurry through the Bible reading to get to the good stuff, the presents. Now however, it’s quite the opposite.

Perhaps, it’s just me but hasn’t the world grown increasingly negative and weary? It’s rare to hear good news on any major media channel these days. People live in an unspoken state of panic, anxiety, and discontentment. Society hangs by a thread. Without a doubt, there is plenty to be concerned about.

But that’s just it. At the time when life seems darkest, there appears a distant star. This is what happened all those years ago in the small country of Israel, the birth that changed history.

As I was reading through the first and second chapters of Luke this year, I was struck by the repeated mention of the words “awe” and “joy.”

The word awe conjures up wide eyes, a gaping mouth, a loss for words, a sense of wonder, a breathless pause. Life has just taken you by surprise. Your senses have been overwhelmed.

The word joy is different than happiness. Here’s why. Happiness comes from the root word “Hap” which means “chance, fortune” or “to suit, fit” or “favorable, convenient.” In other words, a state of favorable or pleasant circumstances. Everything is going your way; it fits.

Happiness comes from without. Joy comes from within.

It’s possible to radiate joy in the midst of loss or pain. It’s possible to feel joy with few material possessions or without the need for the acceptance of others. Joy tells us everything is going to be all right, better than all right. It lifts us and consequently anyone around us. It is a gift from God.

As I read through the familiar Christmas story again this year, I couldn’t find a single person who didn’t experience awe and joy. Everyone from shepherds to Mary and Elizabeth to people in Jerusalem and the countryside were overcome at the news.

In Luke 1:1-2:40, awe and joy are mentioned equally at five times each for a total of ten instances! They are probably mentioned more than any other emotion or reaction to the news the angel spoke that,

Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

What about you? Where do you stand? Are you a Christian who has allowed the storms of life to beat you down? Are you a non-believer who can’t help but wish that something in this world would bring you a sense of purpose, joy, and awe again like when you were a child?

It’s easy for the innocent to rejoice. It’s easy for a child to scream with delight. God did not choose to reveal Jesus on that cold morning to kings and princes. He chose to reveal him to lowly shepherds, to ordinary people living in Israel. You see God is no respecter of persons.

So often we make Christmas about everything except what it truly is. Forget the twenty errands to Target, Walmart, Amazon.com, and Victoria’s Secret. Forget impressing people with hand made cards. Forget having the perfect holiday party for your friends. Forget Santa Clause and Rudolph.

It’s a time to be overwhelmed with awe and joy. It’s a time to envision yourself on a cold blustery hillside with bleating sheep and all of a sudden, the sky lights up with the radiance of a thousand suns and a voice thunders to you from the angels in heaven declaring the birth of the Son of God!

It’s a time to see yourself beside oxen and donkeys in a damp, dark stable where the glimmering light of the stars flickers on this child laying in a manger. It’s a time to place yourself at the temple of Jerusalem when a man named Simeon says that God spoke to him that this child is going to be the Glory of Israel and the Light of Revelation to the Gentiles.

His name shall be called Jesus because he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21)

You can have joy and awe this day not because you deserve either. Not because you are someone important. But because God chose to demonstrate his love for you by sending his Son into the world. Friends, there is no greater reason to rejoice! There is no greater cause for wonder and amazement.

When life is heavy it’s easy to lose the sense of awe and joy. There are entire industries built on the premise of bringing joy/happiness/wonder into people’s lives. Think about all the entertainment dollars spent, the money spent on counseling, the new cars, the pills or drugs taken… and where are you now?

Do you want lasting peace? Do you want to recover that long lost sense that the world could be new again?

You are in good company. It was found in a lowly place, among ordinary people two thousand years ago. And it is still found in the heart that says, “Yes Lord, I am ready to receive your gift. I can scarcely believe it, but if it be true, I’m all in!”

Won’t you stop your striving and lay down all your excuses? Will you do that today? Will you allow the awe and joy of God to fill your heart? You see Jesus isn’t afraid to be born in dirty and humble places. He was born in a lowly manger, and He is willing to be born inside of you! Will you let him in?

Claim this promise from the prophet Isaiah for yourself today:

Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. And the government will be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Merry Christmas to you all!

Christmas Outreach to the Poor and Needy

Christmas Outreach 2015

Recently during a time of meditation, I distinctly heard the Lord Jesus say,

“Remember the poor this Christmas.”

Although the majority of my ministry consists of preaching and teaching, this was the perfect opportunity to pour out in a different way, a tangible and intimate expression of the love and message of the gospel.

Here’s what we did. I rounded up the people I’m discipling and invited a few other friends along.

We all pitched in and bought some presents for a variety of families in need. I specifically wanted to bless families that really had little to nothing. The word the Lord gave me is that they are not forgotten by Him.

Here are the stories of the families and pictures from the outreach on December 12, 2015. Thank you to everyone who participated and gave! It was my honor and privilege to lead and minister along side you all.

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Zack Surunis writing Bible verses on the Christmas cards we passed out.

 

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Arjun Thounaojam proudly presents one of the gifts. That he wrapped!

 

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Prayer time before we head out.

 

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The first family we visited was a refugee family from Thailand / Sri Lanka. Their father had wanted to get them out of the country so badly that he had threatened suicide if the government didn’t send them to the USA to have a better life. He tried to reunite with them but was prevented due to an illegitimate passport. He is currently in prison in Thailand.

The mother was so grateful we came that she made us a small meal afterwards with the little food she had. We got to sing them some Christmas carols, pray for each of the children, gave them a Bible, and some gifts. The big hits were the sheriff kit (with handcuffs!) and the whiffle lacrosse set. One of the two young boys prayed to receive Jesus. The names of the family are: Sitta (mother), Thomas (son), Johanna (daughter), Jude, and Paul (younger sons).

Thomas lives in a group home. Please pray for this family to continue to experience the love and growth of God in all their lives.

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Sitta makes us a meal as a measure of her gratitude to us.

 

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“You’ll never get away! I’ve got you now,” says Paul.

Where’s the sheriff to help keep poor Roberto from being kidnapped and turned into a Ninja Turtle?


After we finished with the family in Oakland, we went to Berkeley for a number of stops.

Unfortunately, a couple of the people we had intended to visit weren’t at home as planned… but we made the most of it and went around the neighborhood caroling!

There was a woman named Barbara who was hesitant at first and then as she sat and listened to us sing Joy to the World, and Hark! The Herald Angel’s sing, she began to warm up. Minutes later her husband Alfredo shows up and joins in the caroling! He later thanked us for coming and said that it’s so good that we’re out doing this. He insisted on giving me money to help with the church. 🙂

Next, we met a woman named Eve walking her dog. She saw us and asked if we were carolers. We said yes and she joined in singing along with us. We got to pray for her at the end and invited her to recommit her life to Jesus.

Lastly, in the picture below, there’s an apartment building that Zack thought would be a good idea to go up to. To our delight, both families came out of their apartments, joined us in the caroling, and thanked us. We got to pray for them all at the end before saying good bye.

 

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Us in front of the apartment building where we caroled. From left: Frania Martinez, Erika Alvarez Martinez, Betty Yu, Arjun Thounaojam, me (Zac Linton), Roberto Diaz, Zack Surunis. And the talented Cassandra Lopez was taking the photo!

 

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The last family we visited was a Mexican family. The father’s name was Adolfo and the little grand daughter is Marisol.

 

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Marisol opens her gift.

 

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The other daughter was named Jasmina. She got an Etch-a-Sketch, some Origami, and a Hoola-hoop.

We prayed for them, sang for them, and read them the Christmas story from Luke 2. Frania even got to pray for Adolfo in Spanish! I don’t know exactly what she said… but I’m sure it was good! (I felt the anointing on it.)


Jesus said,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) 

and,

“Whatever you have done unto the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me.” (Matt. 25:40)

In all these visits, I could just feel the love and heartbeat of God for the people all over. Some are very broken and struggling. Some rejected the news while others rejoiced at the glad tidings we brought.

Truly, the greatest gift ever given is that of Jesus Christ, God’s Son born into the world. There’s no greater reason to celebrate. Amen!

This concludes our Christmas outreach. We hope you were encouraged and inspired by these testimonies and may God use you also to let people know they are not forgotten this Christmas.

Peace, joy, and love to you and yours this holy season.

~ Zac

(PS Thank you everyone for your participation and also to Jackie and Mario Alvarez Martinez even though you couldn’t make the whole thing!)

Cristo Todo Poderoso Ministry

CTP picture Nov 15 web

We had a great time on November 15th at Cristo Todo Poderoso Church with Pastor Martin and Laura. (In the picture from left: Betty Yu, Zak Surunis, Laura & Martin Diaz, myself, and Roberto Diaz)

This is my second time ministering here. I preached a word that the Lord gave me about relying on his grace. Often, we forget that it is God’s power and purposes working through us and we try to live the Christian life in our own strength.

The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that Jesus spoke to him after he was going through a trial a “thorn in the flesh.” Jesus says to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Hallelujah!

God allows trials in our lives sometimes to bring us back to a fresh place of relying totally on his grace and strength to sustain us. As a matter of fact, some of the more powerful times of ministry in my life have been when I felt the weakest or least capable of preaching a good message.

The end of our rope is the beginning of God’s!

I likened living by God’s grace to the gondolas that people take to get up the mountain when they go skiing or snowboarding (which I love to do). You can either try to climb up the mountain yourself, or you can accept that the mountain is too big for you, too treacherous, and despite the most valiant of efforts, there will be parts of it that are unscalable in your strength. Get into the gondola of God’s grace and give him praise as he lifts you up to places you could never get to alone.

The service was powerful and many people testified at the end after the ministry time at the altars that they felt God’s presence, they were encouraged, and that the message seemed to be specifically for them!

Thank you to everyone at Cristo Todo Poderoso. We look forward to being with you again soon!

Dios les bendiga! Gloria a JesuCristo!

UC Berkeley Evangelism – Raging abortionists, witches, and salvations!

Yesterday I went out to preach the gospel as is my custom each Tuesday on the UC Berkeley campus. I was joined by Andrew Mutana and my disciple Zack Surunis. There were a number of other Christians with us initially worshiping and praying before we began preaching. Pastor Vieng of ICA and others from Living Waters were there.

A short time into the preaching, a group of pro-abortion campaigners clustered on the steps of Sproul Plaza. I quickly realized they were there to stage a “mock protest” against people who believe Planned Parenthood is evil. (which it is) Planned Parenthood has recently been under major fire because of the release of numerous undercover videos exposing their depravity in laughing about ripping babies apart limb by limb and selling their body parts for profit on the black market. (google: center for medical progress) Liberals try to deny all these claims and the main stream media has been outrageously silent on the issue and refuses to expose this atrocity. So there they were… with their mob mostly of old ladies and a few gay men with the camera crews from local new stations. (Why doesn’t the news come out to cover the preaching of the gospel?)

The mob started to heat up as I continued preaching about the mercy of God (my sermon that day). At first they tried to ignore us and then as they began mocking faith and telling us to F*** off and take our Bibles with us. They then started singing a mockery of a gospel song called “We Shall Not Be Moved” and praising abortion. We counter attacked by singing, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus”! This shut them up surprisingly as the demons in them likely shuddered at the mention of that name!

I told the people promoting abortion that it was evil and that if they repented, God would have mercy on them. I told them if they didn’t repent, that the blood of innocent children would be on their hands and judgment would follow. To this, they only continued to heap insults on us.

One woman even exclaimed, “You should be ashamed of yourselves. Get off of this campus!” She blamed us for the fact that she has a gay son who is suicidal. (?) I guess she blames Christianity. We said we’d be happy to pray for her son and she should bring him to us. To this she refused and repeated that we should be ashamed of ourselves.

A small cluster of angry students also began peppering us with questions and accusations. As I stepped down from the stairs, I was met by a demon-possessed man / witch who was mocking us and aggressively in our faces saying, “Ooooh, you guys believe in the invisible man! Get off of this campus! People like you aren’t fit to live!” He didn’t actually do anything.

A group of women from Living Waters kindly asked if they could pray for me and encourage me. As we all began to cluster up and they started praying for me, the mob of abortionists chanted, “We don’t want your prayers! We don’t want your prayers!” But we just prayed on anyway.

Later as I was talking with another student, Andrew Mutana was confronted by the same demon possessed man. He starts threatening Andrew saying, “You’re a fool for believing in the invisible man.” and “I’m going to set you on fire and your Jesus can’t save you.” Andrew very calmly replied with authority, “Greater is he who is in me than he who is in the world!” He kept saying to the demon-possessed man, “Jesus is greater. The one in me is greater!” speaking the name of Jesus. The man turned around and fled.

Then, I met a young man named Dimitri who had been witnessing all these events. I shared the gospel with him and Andrew also had some words of knowledge for him about someone being a strong Christian in his family who was praying for him. (It turns out it was his mother) Dimitri was shocked that God knew the secrets of his heart and gave his life to Christ on the spot. (He had had a nominal background in Christianity but was confused by Jehovah’s Witnesses.)

Dimitri told me later, “Even though all that mob of people was opposing you and mocking you. I could tell that you guys were the ones speaking the true message.”

Dimitri came out to my Bible study later that night. Please keep him in your prayers as he’s a brand new Christian. The picture on the top is myself on the left and Dimitri on the right.

Blood Moon Pictures 2015

These pictures were taken September 27, 2015 from my LG phone camera. We watched this event from the hills of Orinda, CA in the USA. This was the fourth blood moon of a series occurring from 2014-15 and makes up what is called a Tetrad (“Four”). This has only occurred three other times in the past 500 years. Each time it has coincided perfectly with major events for the Jewish people. For a good book outlining the Biblical and historical significance of these events, check out: Four Blood Moons by John Hagee. I personally believe these are signs in the heavens from God to alert us to things he’s about to do on the earth. Blood Moons Video

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UC Berkeley Miracle Crusade Report

It’s Real!

These were the words of a woman named Michelle who was miraculously healed at the crusade of considerable hip and leg pain. She had had multiple surgeries including the insertion of pins in her hip and lived with constant pain for years. Medical science couldn’t cure her. The pain totally vanished after some ministry team members prayed for her at the crusade. She got up and testified with tears in her eyes in front of a sea of student onlookers and passer bys saying, “I’m healed. It’s real.”

There is so much to say about the crusade. Here’s my brief write up. Please add your comments, testimonies, feedback, and anything else regarding this event.

Read more…