Devotions

And the Dance Goes On

In the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, all public schools opened with an oral prayer and, or Bible reading.  Then it happened.  Somewhere from the dark caverns of hell music floated up which had a demonic rhythm of rebellion.  Rebellion against parental authority.  Rebellion against traditional Judeo- Christian values.  Rebellion against the teachings of the church.  As this value altering melodic cadence began to filter through every segment of society it wasn’t long before the Supreme Court Justices were dancing to its discordant tempo.  The first dance came with the “Engel v. Vitale” case in 1962 when with a 8-1 vote the black robed    justices made prayer in public schools unlawful.  The second dance was called the  Roe v. Wade” dance.  In a 7-2 ruling these brilliant minds decided a woman has a right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment and extended to every a woman the right to have an abortion.  As a result of this unholy ruling, approximately fifty-eight million babies and counting will never live to dance.  The third dance in 1980 took on the Ten Commandments in the “Stone v. Graham” case. Once again in a 5-4 Court Decision the majority decided that convenience was preferred over conviction and the music played on.  The fourth and latest dance was loudly and proudly held up before the American people on June 26 in another 5-4 decision.  In “Obergefell v. Hodges” those on the Supreme Court who embrace the degenerate, decadent and debased lifestyle stated, Without the recognition, the stability, and predictability marriage offers, children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser.”  How, might a thoughtful person ask, do homosexual couples get children in the first place?  It certainly isn’t through procreation.  The stigma associated with same-sex marriage doesn’t come from lack of recognition, but from willful disregard for God’s standard for marriage.

The next dance which our Supreme Court Justices will be attending will likely be one where either the legality of incest, or the right to a polygamous marriage will be decided.  Even now a New York woman from the Great Lakes region is planning to marry her biological father after being estranged from him for 12 years.

Since same-sex marriage is now the law of the land, why can’t parents marry their children?  Why can’t brothers and sisters marry each other?  If a man can have multiple wives, why can’t a woman have multiple husbands?  If  the Supreme Court rules in favour of these practices who is to say it’s wrong?   The answer is, the word of God says it’s wrong.  Sin by any other name is still sin.

We have reached a point in our nation’s history where we feel we not only have the right, but the intelligence to vote on what is and what is not sin.  If enough people vote in favour of killing the unborn, then it must be right.  If enough people vote in favour of legalizing the sale of marijuana, then it must be right.  If enough people vote in favour of legalizing prostitution, then it must be right.  If enough people vote in favour of distributing pornography to children, then it must be right.  If enough people vote in favour of same-sex marriage, then it must be right.  Wrong!

Sin of any kind is not up for a vote!  It falters your faith.  It destroys your enjoyment.  It diminishes your peace.  It weakens your prayers.  It harms your testimony.  As that great preacher of years gone by Charles Spurgeon said, “Learn in confession to be honest with God.  Do not give fair names to foul sins.  Call sins what you will, they will smell no sweeter. 

We as a nation, especially those who are followers of Christ, either obey the word of God or we don’t.  Christianity was never intended to be a religion of convenience.  We have not been called as Christians to be politically correct.  We have been commanded to be spiritually correct.

The Bible speaks of a good conscience (I Timothy 1:5), a weak conscience (I Corinthians 8:12), a defiled conscience (Titus 1:15), and a seared conscience (I Timothy 4:2).  It appears that America has forsaken the first and fallen prey to the last three. This happens when you listen to the wrong music and dance with the Devil’s crowd.  We need to understand that Satan was knocked out on Calvary and locked out on Resurrection Sunday.  One day we will realize that it is truly not the Supreme Court of the United States of America which governs the affairs of men, but the Supreme Court of Heaven.  Until then, the dance goes on.  [End]

40 Years and Counting

Four decades have slipped into the pages of history for the Jerry Drace Evangelistic Association.  From the first revival to the last God has allowed me to preach in approximately a thousand churches in addition to the numerous area wide crusades and conferences both nationally and internationally.

Becky has been my greatest supporter and prayer warrior throughout this journey.  Promising her that I would never accept more than 25 engagements a year which would take me from home, she encouraged me and put me on many a plane while knowing I was following God’s call on my life.  She faithfully taught Drew and Becca to pray for their Daddy and all the people to whom I would be sharing the Good News.  Thankfully in the last several years she has traveled with me and spoken in our Hope for the Home conferences.  Her book, Becoming A Woman Of Worth, has been used in numerous churches for ladies events and teaching seminars.

I have been blessed with gifted and talented musicians who have been an inspiration to the thousands who have heard them.  Randy Posey served with me the first three years, followed by Archie Jackson the following three, and then Ken and Lois Holland for the next 21 years.  In the past 13 years the majority of our ministry has focused on families through our Hope for the Home ministry.  Becky and I have conducted approximately 300 of these unique family events throughout our nation and in Great Britain.  God has blessed in ways that have left us humbled and grateful.  We have seen hundreds of families transformed by the power of God and recommitted to each other. We have witnessed marriages restored and children reconnecting with their parents.  We were able to publish the Hope for the Home Study Bible which has been a blessing to thousands.

As I reflect upon the platforms on which our team has stood and the pulpits which I have stood behind I am amazed how God has protected and provided our every need.  He has blessed us with health and safety as we have traveled from the interior of China to the major cities of Europe and in the majority of the states in our great nation.  We have proclaimed His unsearchable riches in the most primitive of locations and in the most cultured of circumstances.  Regardless of the occasion the message of the cross and its redemptive work has been the central theme of our ministry.

We have now reached a crossroads in our nation where the majority of churches no longer schedule the traditional revival into their annual events.  It is rare for a church of medium size or above to invite an evangelist in for a series of evangelistic messages.  As a result the number of vocational evangelists, especially in the Southern Baptist Convention, have decreased from a high of over 600 in the later part of the twentieth century’s to less than 100 in the early part of the twenty first century.  The need is greater than ever for the church to use the gift of the God-called evangelist.  However, the invitations for these men of God to come and call the lost to repentance and the saved to commitment have all but dried up.

What does the future hold for our ministry?  Only God knows.  This much I do know, our culture is quickly changing.  We are becoming more pluralistic and hedonistic.  Christians in the United States and around the world are facing persecution on a scale unthinkable a few years ago.  As technologies change so must methods change to share the Good News.  However, as methods change, the message must never change.  It is timeless and eternal.

One of many memorable moments in the 40 year history of the JDEA took place in December, 1982, on the campus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  I was serving as the co-chairman of the First National Conference for Southern Baptist Evangelists along with the late Dr. Lewis Drummond.  I, with assistance from the late Dr. Duke McCall, had asked Rev. Billy Graham to be the keynote speaker.  He graciously agreed.  In a letter to him I requested that in one of his messages he address the topic, “Things I Would Do Differently”.   On the first night of the conference as he rose to speak he looked out over the assembled evangelists, pastors and guests and then turned to me seated right behind him and said, “Jerry has asked me to do something tonight I have never before done in a sermon.  He asked me to share with you what I would do different if I could start over again.”  Then for an hour and a half Rev. Graham opened his heart and shared much of what would later be written in his autobiography, Just As I Am.  The next day at a private lunch in the home of Dr. McCall, Rev. Graham invited Becky and me to attend what became known as Amsterdam ’83.  This lead to Amsterdam 2000 which saw over 14,000 men and women from over 200 countries in the world come together for ten days of training and encouragement.  It was my privilege to serve on the Strategic Task Force for that great gathering of God-called evangelists.

As I look back over these 40 years I am reminded of James 4:14, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”  What does the future hold for the JDEA?   When I am asked that question I can hear my Daddy’s voice as he would often say from behind his pulpits, “We don’t know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future.”    I cannot summarize our four decades of ministry any better than to quote Rev. Graham,  “I cannot take credit for whatever God has chosen to accomplish through us and our ministry; only God deserves the glory, and we can never thank Him enough for the great things He has done.” 

Becky and I thank each one of you for your support and prayers throughout these years; may they never cease.

Jerry and Becky Drace,

February 28, 2015

“In Search of the Perfect Mother”

If you set out to find the perfect mother who would you use as the model?  Would it be Eve, the first woman on earth, the first wife, and the first mother?  Would it be Sarah, the mother of two nations, the Jewish and the Arab?  Would it be Rebekah, the mother of Esau and Jacob?  Would it be Jochebed, the mother of Moses the Law Giver?  Would it be Hannah, the mother of Samuel? Would it be Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist?  Or, would it be Mary, the mother of Jesus?

If you are searching for the perfect mother, you will not find her here on this earth, even if you think your mother is.  As I often say, we do not have perfect fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, or children, but we do have a perfect Father in heaven.  God is His name and the name of His Son is Jesus.   However, there is some perfect wisdom for all mothers found in the Scriptures:

* Don’t Let Fear be Your Guide – I John 4:18,  “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has to do with punishment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.”    

* Give God Your Worries – I Peter 5:7,Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

* Be an Example of Forgiveness – Ephesians 4:32, “And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”

* Teach True Love Through Respect for Yourself & Others – Mark 12:31,  And the second is like, namely this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these

* God’s Will is Worth the Wait – Psalm 27:14,  Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”

* God Has a Plan Just for You – Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the LORD with all your heart .  And do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him,  And He will make your paths straight.”

* Listen First, Then Plan – I Samuel 3:10, “And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for your servant hears.”

* Nothing is too Hard for God – Jeremiah 32:7, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?

* You Will Make a Difference – Proverbs 31:28-31,  ”Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates.”

For those of us whose mothers have entered that realm beyond the skies where death shall be no more, we miss that comforting voice and those private prayers offered to God on our behalf.  There are no more sacred spots on earth than where our mothers were committed back to the earth.   While their spirits are with the Lord their mortal remains await the resurrection morning.  In that waiting room, known as the grave, there rest the one who nursed us in our infancy, taught us in our childhood, counseled us in our youth, and watched us as we left her home to begin our own.   

Thank God for a godly mother.  Her prayers and influence are ever woven into our DNA.  Her fervent love never goes out, never dims, never abandons.  Whether you never leave the county, or travel the world over, you will hear her voice, see her smile, and feel her presence until you embrace once again on that eternal shore.  The greatest gift a wife can give her husband and a mother can give her children is to give them a godly wife and mother.  God bless the mother who has led her children to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Have you done that?  Truly, Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”  You will only find the perfect mother when you findGod the Father. 

 

 

“Yesterdays”

“Yesterdays”

January 2014 

The first day of this month Becky and I celebrated my birthday.  Early that morning as I took Lady for our customary walk I stood gazing at the heavy frost which had fallen on Oak Hill and the fields across from our home.  My thoughts raced back to all the yesterdays which had filled my life.  Then looking once again at the diamond encrusted ice crystals I was reminded that yesterdays are like the glistening frost; captivating to look at, but disappear with the rising sun.

Now I understand better the phrase, “It seems like it was only yesterday.”  Yesterday, I almost lost the sight in my right eye.  I was three.  Yesterday, I invited Jesus into my life and started to school.  I was five.  Yesterday, I learned to ride my bike and joined the Cub Scouts.  I was ten. Yesterday, I told God I would do anything He wanted me to do except be a preacher and I joined the Boy Scouts.  I was 12.  Yesterday, I almost blew up the church parsonage with my chemistry set.  I was 13.  Yesterday, I went hunting for the first time.  I was 14.  Yesterday, I graduated from high school.  I was 17.  Yesterday, I graduated from Union University.  I was 21.  Yesterday, Becky and I were married.  I was 22.  Yesterday, I graduated from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  I was 24.  Yesterday, I surrendered to the call to full time evangelism. I was 27.  Yesterday, Drew was born.  I was 33.  Yesterday, Becca was born.  Later that year Becky and I had lunch with Rev. Billy Graham. I was 35. Yesterday, I received my Doctorate of Ministry from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.  I was 39.  Yesterday, God reminded me He has allowed me to preach in a thousand churches and conduct crusades both nationally and internationally.  That yesterday was January 1.  I turned 67.

While sitting in my study later that day, I reached for one of my favorite antiquarian books, “The New Whole Duty of Man, Containing the Faith and Practice of A Chriftian; Necefsary for all Families”.  It was printed in 1767.   In the section on: “Time, how to be fpent” the author states, “The time which God has given us, for working out our falvation, is more valuable than can be expreffed; for on the fpending thereof depends our happinefs or mifery to all eternity.  There is little of it at our difpofal; what is paft is flipped from us; the future is uncertain; the prefent is all we can call our own, which is yet continually paffing away.”  Though written in old English, the words are as relevant today as yesterday.  I pray that what hours, days, weeks, months and years I might have left will be wisely spent for His kingdom sake.

I can hear the voice of my father as he would often say in his sermons, “One life will soon be passed; only that which is done for Christ is all that will last.”  It is comforting to know that our yesterdays, todays, and by His grace our tomorrows are in His care.  As we read in Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”   

Our son Drew turned 34 on the 7th.  We praise God for His blessings on our children.  Remember,”Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”  Psalm 127:1

The Problem with Addiction

 

Preaching through Matthew has provided the opportunity to address many current issues facing those who gather at the church house. Jesus addresses the subject of addiction in relation to wealth in the last part of chapter 19.  Addiction is an enslaving lifestyle which leaves the addict with only two choices; freedom or enslavement.  The chains of addiction are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.  One of the saddest verses in the Bible is Matthew 19:22.  This verse reveals the effects of addiction.  It says, “But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”    It wasn’t the great possessions the young man owned which makes this such a tragedy.  It was the fact the possessions owned the young man.  This is the problem with any addiction.  The source of the addiction becomes the master and the user becomes the slave.

I was once in the residence of a man of extreme wealth.  At that time he was one of the richest men in the United States.  His wife later confided in me that she would give up all their wealth if the love of Jesus would flow through their home like it once did.  With all the opulence this family represented it was a  glaring testimony to the poverty of their riches.

A person of wealth is often envied until the deficiency of their character is exposed.  Riches will purchase plenty, but not peace; riches will give you an abundance of possessions, but no appetite to enjoy them; riches will provide the best health insurance, but not insure good health; riches can buy a big house, but not a big home; riches can open many doors, but the hinges upon which they swing are often made of fool’s gold; riches can silence accusing tongues, but not an accusing conscience; riches can multiply our belongings, but often reduce our values.

The rich young ruler came at the right time.  He came to the right person.  He asked the right question.  He received the right answer.  He made the wrong choice.  So does anyone who chooses their addiction over Jesus.

As parents we are responsible for guiding our children in the choices they make.  The only addiction which will insure both abundant and eternal life is our commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord.  This choice will insure that they do not walk away sorrowful because of their great possessions.

Looking for a Man…..Family

Devotional thought – I was reading this morning from Ezekiel 22:23-31, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one,” (verse 30).  This is a sobering statement.  The religious establishment is at fault.  The political system is corrupt.  The citizens of the land are lawless.  The truly poor and needy are neglected.  It is an indictment against Israel in this context, but sounds like it was written for the United States.

In the past week three situations have been brought to my attention which every Christian parent should be deeply concerned about.  First, Home Depot has for several years, given its financial and corporate support to open displays of homosexual activism on main streets in America’s towns. And, it says it will continue to do so! Stephen Holmes, company spokesman, said concerning Home Depot’s involvement in the gay agenda, “At the end of the day here, we’re not going to…forbid our associates to be involved in these pride festivals in any way.”   Second, Sears is in the pornography business.  You won’t believe what Sears is selling. If your child should for some reason go to the Sears web site and type in the word “posters”, among the thousands offered will be hundreds which are graphic nudity including homosexual behavior.  Third, this past Wednesday, a federal judge overturned California’s same-sex marriage ban. Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker made his ruling in a lawsuit filed by two gay couples who claimed the voter-approved ban (Prop. 8) violated their civil rights. Proposition 8, which declared that marriage should be between a man and a woman, was passed by the voters in California with a 52% majority. The judge said, “Prop. 8 failed to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.” Both sides of the issue had predetermined that however the judge ruled, the losing side would appeal his verdict to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – and, in time, most likely to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Our nation resembles the godless culture in Ezekiel’s day.  It appears our nation’s values have become valueless.  It appears our morality has evolved into blatant immorality.  It appears our sense of holiness has dissolved into an acceptance of the common and base.  It appears our search for significance has ended at the altar of self-worship.  It appears our once deep regard for human life has evaporated into the heathen practice of sacrificing babies to accommodate the choice of execution by the mother.  It appears we have embraced a style of worship in many of our churches where the proclaimers have become performers and the members have become groupies.  It appears we have lowered the standards in every area of human life that life itself has become so cheap it is put on the auction block to the highest bidder and lowest judge.  God had a word for Samaria and Jerusalem in Ezekiel 23: 35.  He said, “Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back, therefore you shall bear the penalty of your lewdness and your harlotry.”  In other words, “Get ready for the day of judgment.”  Few want to hear it and even fewer believe it.  However, as it was said by Moses to the children of Israel it needs to be spoken again from the pulpits in our land, “Be sure your sin will find you out,” Numbers 32:23.

Parents, there has never been a time when the teachings of God’s word is more important to your children than now.  Appearances can be deceiving. Contrary to what we see transpiring across our nation with our physical eyes we need to turn our spiritual eyes to the only One who can restore and rebuild the foundations.  Restoration begins with confession and ends with action.  Your children must see in you the very attributes of our Father in heaven.  No one can better instruct children in the ways of the Lord than a godly father and mother.  As in the days of Ezekiel so it is in our days. The way to invade our culture with values, morality, holiness, significance, and true worship is to realize that God is still looking for a man and a family.

Fabulous Fathers

As you know this Sunday is designated nationally as, “Father’s Day”.  I have been thinking about what makes a fabulous father.  So many fathers and fathers-to-be who have been in the headlines recently certainly would qualify as anything but fabulous.  Is it wealth?  Is it education?  Is it position?  Is it power? What truly puts the 21st century father in the category of “Fabulous”?   Job 1: 1 states about a father named Job, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job and that man was blameless, upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.”  Job had four characteristics which put him in the Fabulous List.

First, he was blameless.  Proverbs 13:6 tells us, “Righteousness keeps him whose way is blameless, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.”  Job was a man of integrity.  He guarded his actions, his answers, and his accountability.  Second, he was upright.  Proverbs 20:7 reminds us, “The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.”  He was a father of impeccable character and godly conduct.  Third, he feared God.  Joshua told the adults of Israel, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you and incline your heart to the Lord God of Israel,” Joshua 24:23. Job did this by seeking to experience God, by leaning toward His commandments, by standing in awe of His greatness, and by realizing what it meant to be part of the family of God.  Fourth, he shunned evil.  Six words remind us as 21st century fathers how to do this, “Abstain from every form of evil,” I Thessalonians 5:22.  Just like Job, we must realize the challenge of evil.  We must recognize the character of evil.  We must regard the consequences of evil.

Dads, your children and mine are living a generation which often substitutes lies for truth, compromise for conviction, and expediency for honor.  They have learned from national political leaders, sport figures, celebrities and sad to say religious leaders how to lie, prevaricate, rationalize, fabricate and equivocate while at the same time blaming someone else for their actions.  Lying leads to cover-up.  Cover-up leads to addiction.  Addiction leads to self-defense.  Self-defense leads to rationalization. Rationalization leads to a life style of ungodly behavior.  Today tolerance for sin is our national motto and political correctness is our mantra.  On this Sunday as fathers are recognized throughout our nation may it be said of each of us that by the grace of God and with Christian commitment we will seek to belong to that elite group known as Fabulous Fathers.  The next generation depends on it.