Enter Their Gates with Thanksgiving

By Francis Frangipane

For the last several messages, the Holy Spirit has been urging us to deal with issues of the heart. We've focused on issues like cold love, anger, grumbling and betrayal. Now, I'd like to share what I believe is a means to discovering the life of God. I am speaking of possessing a thankful heart. It is truly a place of immunity from the demonic and fleshly storms that come our way in life.

Of course, there are some people that test not only our character but also our sanity. I remember visiting a church and seeing a sign in the pastor's office over the door. It read, "Everyone who walks through this door makes me happy: some when they enter the room and others when they leave."

When Trust is Established

By Francis Frangipane

The Problem With Anger
Unresolved anger can consume a soul; it can become a literal hell not only for the embittered person, but for those who live with them as well. Thus, Jesus strongly warned of anger's terrible impact. He said,

"The ancients were told, 'You shall not commit murder' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell" (Matt. 5:21-22).

As We Enter the Fullness of Time

By Francis Frangipane

I love the Word of God. I have a burning passion that my words, whether written or spoken, might be filled with the river of life that flows from God’s throne (Rev. 22:1). I love studying the Word, comparing translations, researching commentaries and then preparing teachings for others from what the Lord shown me.

However, several years ago, as I was preparing a message for Sunday morning, the Lord gently admonished me. I had spent far too much time with details. My preparation was becoming increasingly cerebral until, suddenly, the Lord interrupted my study. He said, "I have called you, not only to prepare sermons, but to prepare people."

There is a difference between preparing a message about God and preparing a people for God. Obviously, sermon preparation is very important, but it is not an end in itself. The goal is to equip and train people to represent Christ.

It's a Package Deal

By Francis Frangipane

In 1983 I was asked to serve as pastor of a faith church. I had been away from the ministry for three years and I had no idea what a “Faith” church was, except that faith, as a biblical concept, seemed fairly sound. So, I agreed.

I should add, this was not just any faith church, it was a satellite-dish-in-the-front-yard faith church. Painted across the top of the dish in huge, bright red letters were the words, "Jesus Is Lord."

I should also explain that my three year hiatus between pastorates was due, in part, to a deep sense of failure I was carrying. A member of my former church died from a virus that, within four days, left her completely paralyzed. I had been with her, fasting and praying during this time. But when she died on the fifth day, the helplessness I felt crushed my confidence in prayer. It was the most traumatic experience of my young ministry.

The Sword of the Spirit

By Francis Frangipane

Christ not only came to set captives free, He came to train and empower the recently freed to be warriors. We may not always walk perfectly, but because God causes all things to work for good, we still can walk triumphantly. How can we, imperfect Christians, walk triumphantly? The Bible says we overcome "because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of [our] testimony, and [we do] not love [our lives] even when faced with death" (Rev. 12:11).

These three things - Christ's atoning blood, our testimony of God's eternal word and choosing to not love our own lives - secure us in the place of victory. We are a covenant people, a people purchased for God from every nation. Yes, we still sin, but God has placed the iniquity of us all upon His Son, Jesus Christ (Isa. 53). When the enemy comes to accuse and condemn us for our failures, we must remind ourselves that every sin we have ever committed has been nailed to Christ's cross. The entire "certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us," has been paid in full by the blood of Jesus Christ! (Col. 2:14).

Important Prayer Alert - Virginia Tech University

By Francis Frangipane

By now, most of us are aware of the horror that, for three hours, roared up from the bowels of hell and flooded the campus of Virginia Tech University. Forgive me for telling this like it is, but the murderer was not merely "troubled," he was demon-possessed. Cho Seung-Hui, murdered thirty-two students and faculty, then turned his gun toward his own face and pulled the trigger. Students that survived the attack reported hearing, at one point, Cho Seung-Hui laughing maniacally as he shot his victims in cold blood.

There are many appalling consequences of his actions, but the one I want to us to particularly pay attention to is that there is often a "copycat" element in these kind of things. As grotesque as the darkness was that lived in Cho Seung-Hui, he is not a "one-of-a-kind" human. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of people in America who are similarly demonized.

The Heartbeat of Destiny

Francis Frangipane

The prophet Jeremiah had warned that, unless Israel repented, Jerusalem itself would be destroyed. And so it happened: King Nebuchadnezzar’s armies laid siege against Jerusalem. No food or supplies entered the city; Jerusalem eventually was utterly devastated. As the Lamentations of Jeremiah declare, the surviving Jews were carried off to captivity. It was one of the bleakest times in Israel’s history.

Yet, it is written that the Lord "does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one will not be cast out from him" (2 Sam. 14:14). Thus, even though the Jews went into exile, the Lord had already purposed to restore Israel. He said,

"'When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’" (Jer. 29:10-11).

Purity and Commitment

Francis Frangipane

I dreamt I was the pastor of a small orphanage in Asia. The orphanage owned an old pickup truck that was in need of repair; I was lying on my side examining the undercarriage when, suddenly, soldiers pulled into our little compound and jumped out of their vehicles. They were looking for me, "the American missionary." If they found me, it meant I would be tortured and imprisoned. Since they hadn’t harmed any of the children or other workers, I felt my best recourse was to simply lie still, as I was somewhat hidden, and pray they left quickly.

I could see their boots as they walked toward the other side of the truck where I was lying. I had a glass of water in my hand. However, when I tried to put it down onto the pavement, it began to rattle, so I stopped and held it in midair. Soon, my hand was trembling because of the awkward way I was lying and also because of the nearness of the troops. Suddenly, I felt two hands firmly touch the sides of my middle back. The hands calmed and strengthened me. They were the hands of a friend of mine, a recent convert to Christ, who was one of the workers at the orphanage. As was the custom in this Asian culture, this young believer had taken a spiritual name that represented one’s new nature in Christ; that name was "Purity and Commitment."

Deliverance From Bitterness

By Francis Frangipane

There are two conditions of the heart no one can hide: one is when the heart is filled with love and the other when we are infected with bitterness. Either condition can take over our thoughts and both can filter our entire view of life. As followers of Jesus Christ, we must make our highest quest to possess hearts full of God's love. Indeed, how successful we are at revealing Christ's love is the true measure of our spirituality.

Thus, love cannot long exist as an unexpressed or hidden secret. If love is real, it will be seen in a thousand manifestations reaching to the heart of its beloved. Love, which is in truth passion for oneness, is too powerful to be contained by mere discipline or self-control. Indeed, is not love boldly displayed in its unrequited gifts, and is it not heard in its many encouragements and expressions of concern? Is it not tangible in its unabashed enjoyment of time spent with those it loves?

A Heart Without Guile

By Francis Frangipane

The promised land for a Christian is a life lived in the fullness of God.  Just as there was an exodus of the Jews from Egypt, so there is an exodus for our human souls, where we leave our bondage to self-deception and truly enter the reality of a Christlike life.  In our exodus, as in Israel’s, self-deception must be exposed and sin must die in the wilderness. Only then are we truly qualified to possess our inheritance.  During this process, we will wrestle with God.  In truth, only those whom God transforms can possess what God has promised.

Every follower of Christ needs to conquer self-deception.  Self-deception protects all our other sins from repentance.  Indeed, how can we "ascend into the hill of the Lord" if we have "lifted up [our] soul to falsehood" or "sworn deceitfully" (Ps. 24:3-4)?