One little boy wrote: "Dear God, We had a good time at church today. Wish you could have been there."
A Sunday school teacher challenged her children to take some time on Sunday afternoon and write a letter to God.
One little boy wrote: "Dear God, We had a good time at church today. Wish you could have been there."
On Tuesday, March 31, I was able to talk with Carol Synan and Frank Tunstall by phone.
Carol is safe in their home in Oklahoma awaiting the time they can have the memorial services at Oral Roberts University and Regent University and in between Dr. Vinson Synan's burial in Chester, VA where his parents are buried. It has been a most difficult time for Carol in light of the coronavirus and restrictions on travel, etc.
Meanwhile, I finally got through to Dr. Frank Tunstall. He is most grateful for your prayers. He, as you know, was tested for the coronavirus and his test was positive. He said he continues to have a low grade fever. In referring to this virus he has contacted (doesn't know how) he said it is the most wicked and vicious disease he has experienced.
Let us lift Dr. Frank Tunstall in prayer for his healing and full recovery, and for Carol and her family as she waits for the day to arrive she can carry out the plans to honor Vinson and oversee his burial.
A little over 2 years ago, I guess, Melvine was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. Melvine and I began praying about it to seek God's direction for the treatment that was available at the Athens Georgia Cancer Center near where we are members of Christian Life Worship Center (a Pentecostal Holiness Church and formerly named Tarkenton Memorial Church).
This terrible disease was discovered during a hospitalization at St. Mary's Hospital. Dr. Jane Huang, a Chinese American was assigned to her as her oncologist. While we continued to believe God for Melvine's healing, we sought the best of medical science to deal with this invasive cancer. We discovered in the process that an ovarian cancer is the hardest of all cancers to detect because it is hidden in the abdomen.
Melvine went through all sorts of tests, CAT Scans, X-rays, etc. was the protocol. She submitted to chemotherapy that had all sorts of side effects. Her body responded favorably to the chemotherapy and her blood markers and other signs came to normalcy.
At some point, the blood markers went back up and Dr. Huang told Melvine she had done all she could do for her, and referred her to Hospice Home Care. She told Melvine she would not see her again. Melvine reacted immediately and said, "What do you mean? . . . I will not see you again. Aren't you my doctor?" Dr. Huang had to back up and walk that statement back for Melvine and me. She said Melvine would have a Hospice doctor, a nurse, physical and occupational therapist, a social worker and a chaplain. The truth is we never saw the Hospice Doctor. That is the way that goes. We talked through the nurse, who was excellent.
The long process of more than a year turned into a lot of pain, and she had to be placed on narcotics, e. g. oxycodone and finally morphine (capsules and eventually liquid morphine). Towards the last, they had to bring in an oxygen tank with mask, plastics tubes, etc.
Melvine experienced a lot of pain, but we were able to ease it with morphine.
Melvine lived her last two years with pain under control and with peace believing that her future was in the hands of God.
Our remaining family, Greg and I, stands at peace believing that her healing was accomplished through the blood of Jesus and the stripes He bore for her healing. The day she breathed her last breath, January 17, 2020, Jesus was present, took her hand and ushered her into eternity where she is there with Jesus.
I believe she has been reunited with her father and mother, her sister, her brothers-in-law, and our children who had gone to heaven, Christopher Todd, Julia Frances, and Stephanie Ellen. I hope to go to heaven when I die, but until then, I will continue to praise and glorify God with my life and the ministry He has given me as the editor of Hugh's News. I am grateful to have Greg home with me to care for me. I have been on quarantine now for a month, and will be at home until the end of April according the the laws of the land. I want to use wisdom.
Respected AG Pastor Karl Strader Dies at 91
Author: Kendra Semmen
Karl Strader (Facebook/Stephen Strader)
Retired pastor Karl Strader, who began pastoring Lakeland First Assembly of God in 1966, died at 1 a.m. on Monday, March 30. He was 91 years old.
His family was at his bedside for many days, says his son Stephen Strader. Stephen says that several months ago, his father recorded multiple hours of singing his favorite hymns and reciting Scriptures.
First Assembly was renamed to Carpenter's Home Church in the 1980s, and Strader led the church for 20 years. Stephen told Charisma that he has fond memories of helping his father with their radio station on WLKF (originally WLAK).
"I literally was his engineer for that program, and then he turned the whole program over to me," Stephen says. "So for years I did it myself, live, Sunday mornings before church when I was 15 or 16 years old."
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But WCIE was the most popular radio program that Karl founded. Later on, the church sold it to Moody Radio.
Carpenter's Home started Carpenter's Home Estates, which continued on after the megachurch building was torn down in 2015. Karl lived in those estates during his retirement.
"I hate to see the building torn down, but the building is not the church," Karl told Charisma in 2015 when the worship center was demolished. "The people are the church, and they are in about 12 different churches in Lakeland now. It's painful to see the building torn down, of course, but I'm not groveling on the ground because of it or putting ashes on my head. I just thank God for being involved in it for (nearly) 40 years."
Charisma Media founder and CEO Stephen Strang says he was a teenager at the church when Karl became its pastor in 1966.
"I saw the church grow during the heyday of the charismatic movement and Jesus movement," Strang said. "Back in that era, it was one of the largest and most respected churches in the Assemblies of God."
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Straders will not be holding a public service at this time. In lieu of flowers, they will be setting up a "Karl Strader Trust" to help ministries.
About the contributor, Laban West:
Born in Norfolk VA, December of 1950 and attended the Norfolk 1st Pentecostal Holiness Church
from early childhood.
He began his career in music at the age of 6, playing by ear, and beginning piano lessons.
Around the age of 9 he began playing for the youth Lifeliners in his church and by the age of 11 was the organist of the Norfolk 1st Church.
Laban also studied classical piano music from an early age and participated annually in the National Guild for a number of years, receiving his NG High School diploma in 1968.
After graduating in 1968 from Norview High School in Norfolk VA Laban accepted a music scholarship at Southwestern College in Oklahoma City.
While attending Southwestern, Laban was a member of the College Choir and Choraleers under the direction of Mr. Bill Hedrick.
In the fall of 1969 he met Susie Faulkner who also came to Southwestern from California. They
began dating early on in the fall of 1969 and were married in September of 1970.
Upon graduation from SWC in 1970 with an Associate of Arts degree, Laban transferred to Central State University in Edmond to pursue a Bachelors degree in Music Education.
In 1972 Laban joined the Air Force/Oklahoma Air National Guard (1972-78). After basic training and Tech school he was assigned to the 137th Aeromedical Squadron at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in OKC.
After returning from military active duty, Laban resumed college at Central State and graduated in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education.
In the fall of 1977 Laban was asked to serve as Music Director at Southwestern College. Responsibilities included directing Choir and the Great Life Singers and teaching music classes and piano instruction. He continued teaching at the college until the school closed down its 10th St campus. When Southwestern College of Christian Ministries reopened in the fall of 1981 Laban was rehired as a music instructor on the new Bethany campus.
Mr. West remained on the music faculty through the 1980s as the school continued to grow. Ministry trips during this time included traveling to the Bahamas, California, Mexico, and culminating in 1986 with a month of singing and ministry in our sister churches in the South American countries of Brazil and Chile.
Following this, Mr. West transitioned to the administrative arm of the school serving as Dean of Students for the next 9 years while continuing to teach selected music classes.
During the early to mid 1980s Laban also completed his Master of Music Education degree at Central State University (graduating Magna Cum Laude) ..... and 11 hours toward his doctorate at the University of Oklahoma. The birth of Laban and Susie's sons Benjamin (1983) and Zachary (1985) took precedence over the completion of the doctoral program.
In 1990, Laban re-enlisted in the Oklahoma Air National Guard and retired from the military in 2004 as a Senior Master Sergeant (SMSgt) with 20+ years.
In 1994, after 17 years of service at Southwestern, Laban decided to pursue a different career accepting a teaching position with Oklahoma City Public Schools as a music instructor. He taught in Oklahoma City for 19 years and retired in 2013.
When Laban and Susie met, they began attending Muse Memorial Church on NW 10th in Oklahoma City. Laban has been involved in the music at Muse/River of Life/now Compassion Church OKC for almost 50 years. During this time he served in the positions of Pianist, Organist,Music Director, Choir Director, and Senior Musician.
Both Laban and Susie decided to fully retire at 62. Early retirement would afford them the opportunity to travel and be with their family. Laban has had the opportunity to travel to 50+ countries . He and Susie have visited all 50 states, and have participated in missions trips to Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru, Sudan, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
Laban has produced two CD's .... The Covered Wagon Sessions (comprised of traditional hymn
tunes) and Sharing Christmas (a collection of Christmas arrangements).
Photography has always been a hobby and pastime for Laban. Considering himself an amateur photographer, he started taking casual pictures almost as early as he starting playing the piano. He says that he now has over 150,000 images stored online.
Regarding their two sons... Benjamin and wife Deysi and family are currently serving as missionaries for the
IPHC in Peru, South America. They have three wonderful children - Gabriel, Ariel, and Abby.
Zachary and Alicia (Hutson) West now live in Oklahoma City where Zachary, an attorney, is an Assistant Solicitor General working under Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter. They also have three beautiful daughters - Susanna, Bekah, and Lydia, and one on the way.
More to Life
Author: Anne Graham Lotz
"I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10, NKJV).
There is more to life . . .
than being healthy,
than being happy,
than being problem free,
than being comfortable,
than feeling good, than getting what we want,
than being healed.
There is more to life even than living!
And the “more to life” is the development of our faith to the extent that our very lives display God’s glory!
Jesus does not protect those He loves from bad things happening but uses bad things to fulfill His greater plan. He is glad, not that we suffer, but that we have the opportunity to grow in our faith and display His glory, which is the fulfillment of the very purpose for our existence. Don’t settle for less than more!
Anne Graham Lotz
Copyright © 2014 Anne Graham Lotz (AnGeL Ministries) Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved www.annegrahamlotz.org.
23 If any man has ears to hear, let him be listening and let him perceive and comprehend.
24 And He said to them, Be careful what you are hearing. The measure [of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure [of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you — and more [besides] will be given to you who hear.
AMP (Amplified version)
There was a blonde who just got sick and tired of all the blonde jokes.
One evening, she went home and memorized all the state capitals. Back in the office the next day, some guy started telling a dumb blonde joke. She interrupted him with a shrill announcement, "I've had it up to here with these blonde jokes. I want you to know that this blonde went home last night and did something probably none of you could do. I memorized all the state capitals."
One of the guys, of course, said, "I don't believe you. What is the capital of Nevada?" "N," she answered.
What’s Chasing You?
Author: Bob Shafer
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever" (Psalm 23:6, NKJV).
In the Bible, David was known as a man after God’s own heart. What kind of attitude did he have? Here in Psalm 23, he says, “Goodness and mercy are following me.” David lived with an attitude of expectancy. One translation says, “God’s kindness chases me everywhere that I go.” David’s attitude was that something good is going to happen to me. Everywhere I go, I know God’s blessings are chasing me. Favor is following me around. No wonder he saw God’s goodness! No wonder he overcame his obstacles and accomplished great dreams. He knew good things were chasing after him.
Do you know what’s chasing you right now? Not debt. Not failure. Not mediocrity. Not defeat. Not lack. Not at all! You are a child of the Most High God. You have been crowned with favor. You have been redeemed from every curse. God has set you apart as His own special treasure. When you look back in your rearview mirror, you’d better get ready because you have a tailgater! There’s something coming toward you at a high rate of speed. You know what it is? Blessings, favor, supernatural opportunities, restoration, divine connections—God’s goodness and mercy following you all the days of your life!
A Prayer for Today
Father, thank You for Your abundant grace and mercy. Today I look for Your goodness. I look for Your favor and blessings. I set my focus on You and declare that good things are chasing after me—favor, supernatural opportunities, restoration, and divine connections! Goodness and mercy are following me all the days of my life in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
When you walk in God’s ways, just like a heat-seeking missile finding a target, God will send blessings that chase you down, favor that overtakes you. Out of nowhere, a good break comes, and it’s not a lucky break. Unexpectedly, a dream comes to pass, and it’s not a coincidence. Healing is chasing you. Victory is coming your way. Like a magnet, you’ll draw it in.
I don't know if you watched the President's Press Conference in the Rose Garden at the White House on Monday, March 30.
It always amazes me the strength, energy, and intelligence of President Donald Trump. He apparently is an excellent reader and reads notes and teleprompters with ease.
God has gifted President Trump to get the CEO's of large corporations to come to the aid of our country and help him in this war on the unseen enemy called coronavirus.
In the array of top business owners and leaders was none other that Mike Lindell, the founder, owner, and CEO of My Pillow. I would tend to think that Mike got the approval of the President to talk about our country's need for God and how we have departed from Him. It was a powerful message.
Here it is from the Internet News:
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell went off-script during a White House coronavirus task force briefing from the Rose Garden — calling on Americans to read the Bible and find God during quarantine.
The mustachioed friend of President Trump was invited to speak at Monday’s briefing to announce he had joined the effort to produce critically needed face masks, churning out up to 50,000 masks a day by this Friday at one of his converted pillow factories.
But at the end of his remarks, Lindell, who is known for the ubiquitous cable ads for his pillows, asked Trump if he could deliver some “off the cuff” remarks which turned out to be a religious sermon.
“God gave us grace on Nov. 8, 2016 to change the course we were on,” Lindell said, referring to the day Trump won office. “God had been taken out of our schools and lives, a nation had turned its back on God.
“I encourage you to use this time at home to get back in the Word, read our Bibles and spend time with our families,” he added before touting low unemployment and a roaring economy under Trump.
“With our great president, vice president, the administration and all the great people in this country praying daily, we will get through this and get back to a place that’s stronger and safer than ever,” he finished.
A stunned Trump then thanked Lindell before ushering him off the Rose Garden stage.
“I did not know he was going to do that. He’s a friend of mine and I appreciate that,” Trump said.
Let us pray for President Donald J. Trump and his family. May God watch over him, protect him and his family from all harm and danger of every description.
Is the Tide Turning?
Author: Taylor Berglund
Earlier this month, a strange thing happened: a major news outlet reported on a prophetic word. During an interview with FOX News, Shawn Bolz said God had given him a prophetic word that "the tide is turning now" regarding the coronavirus (also referred to as COVID-19) and that the disease would soon come to an end. The story exploded in popularity, becoming FOX News' No. 2 story of the day.
Just three days earlier, he told Charisma News the same thing. At the time, coronavirus had reportedly infected over 82,000 people around the world and caused more than 2,800 deaths. The World Health Organization would declare COVID-19 a pandemic just 11 days later. Yet in the midst of this global crisis, Bolz confidently shared his prophetic word:
"The Lord showed me the end of the coronavirus. The tide is turning now! He is answering the prayers and cries of the nations and is putting an end in sight. The exaggerated fear-based tactics of the enemy and several media outlets for political reasons are coming to an end. The enemy has been trying to distract and steal from several equally important purposes and issues by dominating airwaves with conspiracy and fear. Even now, several vaccines are coming out, as well as a natural dying out of the virus itself. The Lord is saying, 'I am removing the threat of this.' Within a short amount of time, the extreme threat will feel as though it is in the distant past."
Later, Bolz told Charisma founder Stephen Strang, "This will not become a pandemic with pandemonium and millions dying. They're going to say that millions will die, but millions won't die, especially in America."
Coronavirus has since infected more than half a million worldwide—including more than 70,000 in the U.S—and killed more than 22,000 people. Unemployment rates have been rising, the stock market has been plummeting, and hope is running out for many.
Yet prophets are still speaking out and sharing prophetic words regarding this tumultuous season—and some of their predictions quite boldly defy the consensus of experts.
"You have people who work alongside the World Health Organization ... saying, 'We're going down the doomsday road,'" Bolz says. "Then you have the prophetic community and the church saying, 'That's not where we're going. That's not God's story for our generation.' And that's even more important than how fast it turns—is that God has a story for our generation, and it's not to take out a whole generation of people to purge or do something. That's not a prophetic word from God or God's desire. ... And the second thing is that I believe right now there's about to be an economic upturn, not downturn. I believe the Lord showed me that Trump would win another term in office."
Charisma rounded up some of the most notable voices prophesying about the COVID-19 crisis.
In March, Chuck Pierce wrote that he prophesied in September a "massive plague-like invasion" would test the world until Passover (April 8-16), at which time the trial would end. Pierce believes prophecies by Cindy Jacobs and Susan Stanfield also bolster his own word. He wrote for charismamag.com:
"During that Head of the Year 5780 gathering on Sept. 26-29, 2019, I began to prophesy that the nations would come into turmoil until Passover. At Starting the Year Off Right 2020, God was saying that there would be a massive plague-like invasion that would test us through Passover. When I prophesied that in Las Vegas on Jan. 26, I did get several comments and certain rebuttals for repeating that our nation would go into some sort of major trial through April. I believe that we are seeing this not only in this nation, but throughout the nations at this time in history.
"In Joel 2 and 3, we find these statements: 'Do not be afraid, land; exult and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things! Do not be afraid, beasts of the field, because the wild pastures flourish, because the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their abundance. And children of Zion, exult and rejoice in the Lord your God' (Joel 2:21-23a).
"'Hurry and come, all you surrounding nations, and gather there. Bring down Your warriors, O Lord. Let the nations be roused, and go up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. ... Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision' (Joel 3:11-12, 14).
"As God's kingdom people, we must understand this is where the Spirit of God now has us in the earth realm. We must always hear what the Spirit of God is saying to the church. Several interpretations could be given over the situation of COVID-19 as havoc occurs throughout the nations. Some would even say that this virus has stopped any movement where revival can continue. I would say: 'God has put a pause until He sees who is willing to cross over with Him through His blood at Passover.' This Passover will become a dividing line for our future!
"Cindy Jacobs prophesied to me on Jan. 3, 2020, that in the first three months of this year, I would have to be cautious in how much I travel. I had gone 570,000 miles last year and was weary from all the travel and warfare. She actually shared that the Lord was saying that I needed rest, but I recognized the admonition to be a caution on my travel for the first three months of 2020. Therefore, I have watched the Lord make sure I've had more time to rest and write, and have actually stopped most international travel during these three months.
"Susan Stanfield, who has worked here for 40 years, shared with us that the Lord told her to 'Gird up your loins for spring storms ahead.' I believe this is what God is saying to all of us. At the beginning of 2020, the Lord said to me to 'Tighten your belts!' This is the same principle as 'girding up your loins.' The Lord said this would be a hard financial year. However, if we would gird up our loins, we would end up doing exploits. Let's get ready to cross over!"
Jeremiah Johnson told Strang on a recent episode of the Strang Report podcast that God would supernaturally intervene in this crisis to help Trump "knock this [crisis] out of the park."
"Recently on March 16, I had received a prophetic dream at night where I was taken to a baseball stadium, and on the pitching mound was a tall, slender man who was demonically possessed. His eyes were very dark, and he was foaming at the mouth. And in the batter's box was none other than Donald Trump. Trump was actually wearing a pinstriped, New York Yankees jersey with the number 3 on it, which I immediately recognized was Babe Ruth's.
"I noticed that the count on the scoreboard was 3-2: 3 balls, 2 strikes. I knew in the dream that the demon-possessed pitcher intended to throw a fastball right past Donald for a strikeout. As I held my breath and watched the pitch come out, I was suddenly stunned to watch the ball be slowed down by a supernatural force in the air. And by the time the ball got to Trump, it was going very slowly, and he hit the ball out of the park for a big home run.
"In the dream, I heard the voice of God say, 'The enemy has intended to strike out Donald Trump at a very critical hour in history. But behold, supernatural help is on the way, for I will slow down the advancement of the enemy and allow him to knock this out of the park. For it is simply a matter of time before the victory comes.' So I had that dream on March 16, and woke up very encouraged and felt a great sense of peace."
Prophet Thomas Otranto said America would experience an economic crash, through which God would use Donald Trump. On an episode of the Adventures in the Spirit With Jared Laskey podcast, Otranto told Laskey about a dream which he believes God prophetically gave him.
"I had a dream, and God showed me what Trump went through," Otranto said. "He said Trump went through bankruptcy. And He said he was in debt, millions and millions of dollars in debt. He said, not only did he turn that around, but he got blessed. And that was part of his training and what God was doing, because America is going to do the same thing. America is going to go through bankruptcy. ... God's using Trump. He has an anointing on him; He was called. ... But there's going to be a crash first, and we're going to go through some hardships. There's going to be a time of upheaval in America. There [are] going to be issues in the streets, and people that are going to get desperate to do desperate things. But don't worry; God's people are going to be protected. And He showed me that there [are] great warring angels that are going to be sent to protect us around our house. Even if people try to get at you, there will be like a wall that stops them."
Anthony Medina, co-founder of HopeFires International and a member of the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders, believes the coronavirus is a spiritual warfare tactic by the enemy.
"As I prepared to participate in the Global Day of Prayer called by Cindy Jacobs and many other respected leaders, I heard the Lord say that the tactic of the enemy against the global church right now is to knock the wind out of it via the spirit of fear," Medina wrote on Charisma News. "He is trying to spread a pandemic of fear in the church of Jesus Christ. He knows that if he can blindside us with demonic fear, the fear of the Lord will be overtaken, and the doorway to wisdom on how to pray and decree against this thing will be closed. Understanding will be lost, and confusion will come. The Lord then said that what the enemy is trying to do is grip the church with nosophobia. What is nosophobia? Nosophobia is defined as "the irrational fear of contracting a disease." Nosos is the Greek word for "disease." Fear to the believer in the fullness of Christ should be irrational because God has not given us a spirit of fear (1 Tim. 1:7). We are to push back against the demonic spirit of fear and stand in the fear of the Lord."
During an interview on the Greenelines podcast, Curt Landry—founder of Curt Landry Ministries—told Dr. Steve Greene that Christians should expect miracles during Passover week in April.
"Right now, the enemy is ratcheting up," Landry said. "They've closed restaurants and bars and even cities. Everything is closing down. April 8 is when the blood of the Lamb overtakes the curse of death. I believe on April 8, starting the week of Passover all the way through Easter on April 12, you're going to see miraculous healing and miraculous deliverance in Israel and the United States of America in regard to a turnaround with this virus.
"I believe what you're going to see— ... not saying right on the eighth, but in that week—[is] a solemn, sanctified, sovereign turnaround of the Lord's hand. He's going to show the world and believers that, guess what, it isn't time. This isn't the apocalyptic end. This is a wake-up call. And I know this is a dangerous virus ... but we're going to find out that with the prayers of the saints, and the alignment of the nations with Israel and with God, this virus is going to have to bend its knee to the blood of Jesus."
Tampa megachurch pastor arrested after leading packed services despite 'safer-at-home' orders
Hillsborough County's sheriff joins State Attorney Andrew Warren and local religious leaders to announce the arrest warrant for a local pastor who led packed services on Sunday, despite orders not to do so.
TAMPA, Fla. - The pastor of a Tampa megachurch is facing charges after refusing to close its doors despite a "safer at home" order in effect in Hillsborough County, meant to stop the spread of COVID-19. The sheriff says up to 500 people were in attendance at Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne's Sunday services.
Sheriff Chad Chronister and State Attorney Andrew Warren on Monday announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Pastor Howard-Browne. He faces misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly and violation of public health emergency order.
The River at Tampa Bay Church held two services Sunday, Chronister said, and even offered bus transportation for those services. The church's live stream showed a packed crowd cheering and applauding.
"They have access to technology allowing them to live stream their services over the Internet and broadcast to their 400 members from the safety of their own homes, but instead they chose to gather at church," Chronister said during a press conference.
Howard-Browne, 58, was taken into custody Monday afternoon in Hernando County, where he lives, and released 40 minutes later after posting a $500 bond.
PREVIOUS: Tampa megachurch crowded with worshipers despite social distancing orders.
His attorney later took issue with the Hillsborough County order, claiming it allows companies like Amazon to operate while shutting down churches.
“Not only did the church comply with the administrative order regarding six-foot distancing, it went above and beyond any other business to ensure the health and safety of the people," insisted Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver. "Contrary to Sheriff Chronister’s allegation that Pastor Howard-Browne was ‘reckless,'” the actions of Hillsborough Country and the Hernando County Sheriff are discriminatory against religion and church gatherings.”
Friday, Sheriff Chronister said, deputies had tried to speak to Howard-Browne on at least two separate occasions about the "dangerous environment" the church was creating. He said HCSO command staff went to the east Tampa church, but they were advised by church leaders and legal staff that Howard-Browne was refusing to see them and also refusing to cancel the Sunday church services.
“I think it’s unfortunate that the pastor here is hiding behind the First Amendment," State Attorney Warren offered. "One, it’s absolutely clear that emergency orders like this are constitutional and valid. Second of all, leaders from our faith-based community across this country have embraced the importance of social distancing.”
On Sunday, Howard-Browne defended his decision to keep the church open in a video posted to his YouTube channel, claiming the building had the technology to eradicate any virus.
"We brought in 13 machines that basically kill every virus in the place," Howard-Browne said. "If they sneeze it shoots it down like at 100 miles per hour and it will neutralize it in a split second."
The church provided the following statement on their website:
"We feel that it would be wrong for us to close our doors on them, at this time, or any time. In a time of crisis, people are fearful and in need of comfort and community."
Chronister stressed that the warrant was not an attack on religious freedom, and noted there are other Tampa Bay-area churches who are following the social distancing guidelines set by the CDC. He said his concern now is whether the novel coronavirus may spread following the crowded services.
"I was appalled and also frightened at the fact that those individuals [were] thinking and believing they are doing the right thing. How many people are they going to infect if they have COVID-19?" he asked. "There is nothing more important than faith especially during a pandemic, but like every other church here in the Bay Area, do it responsibly."
Why social distancing can save lives amid COVID-19 pandemic
Social distancing is not only about preventing the illness itself, but rather, slowing the rate at which people get sick.
During his announcement of the arrest warrant, other leaders from local churches also joined him. Pastor Ken Whitten from Idlewild Baptist Church pointed out that quarantining is mentioned in the Bible.
"It was practiced by people," he said. "The issue here is not religious freedom. Churches are not the ones being singled out. Everything is shut down. There is no basketball. There is no hockey. All of us our doing our part. I'm a pastor that believes God heals…this is not a faith issue. This is a responsible friend issue."
RELATED: Coronavirus cases in Florida increase by 500 to over 5,000.
Reverend Thomas Scott of 34th Street Church, a former chairman of the Board of County Commissioners and Tampa City Council member, said his church began streaming online and on Facebook.
"We value the importance of the laws of the land and we value the importance of social distancing, and more importantly, protecting our parishioners -- make sure they are not in harm's way and spreading this deadly disease throughout the community," he said. " To us, COVID-19 and social distancing is very important. It's also important for the religious community to govern themselves, according to the laws of the land."
Chronister and Warren also appealed to River parishioners, asking them not to gather in their pastor's absence. The state attorney even quoted Mark 12:31 in making his point.
“There is no more important commandment than to love thy neighbor as thyself,” Warren preached. “Loving thy neighbors is protecting them, not jeopardizing their health by exposing them to this deadly virus.”
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to email@example.com. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website
I called Frank Tunstall in late afternoon on Monday, March 30. He told me that today was the first time in some time that he awakened without a fever. For that fact we lift our voices, hands and arms up to God to thank Him for His favor, grace, and healing power.
Could it be that Frank is on his way to full recovery? You know that he was diagnosed with this coronavirus.
That is what we are praying and believing God for on behalf of our dear brother-in-Christ, Frank Tunstall.
He is presently in a hospital in Yukon, OK.
Continue to pray for Frank Tunstall as well as for his wife, Lu, whom he calls his baby doll.
Ramblin'an' Rumblin' VI
Author: Johnny Wayne BRADY
As I was relaxing and Ramblin’ and Rumblin’ over the latest news, rumors and other misguided statements, my mind went to the introduction to Charles Dickens novel, “A Tale of Two Cities." The setting, in the year 1775, was in Paris and London when The French Revolution between England and France was taking place. Dickens opens his work with the following:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
What, if anything does this statement have to do with the world we are living in today? One only has to turn on a newscast, check out the Internet, read their social media or just listen to the verbal clamor of many in the church sanctuary on any Sunday morning to get the predictions that the whole of earth is going to hell in a handbasket along with the pros and cons of the diverse culture in which we are presently residing. Yet we are in the most prosperous times of human history and in this country needs of individuals are almost nonexistent. Ninety-five percent of the people in America own automobiles, but road rage seems to be in vogue wherever one goes. The same percentage is true with television sets while random shootings on the streets, or houses of worship and educational institutions seem to be escalating. Ninety-two percent of Americans own cell phones. There seems to be no rhyme or reason for the catastrophic events that keep dragging our society lower and lower. The opioid crisis sweeping the nation leaves us aghast, the sex slave trade, especially with the young, does not resonate with sanity. It seems as though hell has released a plethora of demons in the earth to further the work of our adversary, satan.
As we try to evaluate our situation and find answers to the ever-growing descent of human values, notice what Jesus said about living in the time of His coming and the end of the age. In Matthew 24:4-7, Jesus related how religious deception, false gospels and unchristian philosophies will run unabated through the world. Nations and kingdoms will war against one another as cataclysmic natural disasters occur around the four corners of the world. So, Dickens’ introduction to his classic work seems to find just as much meaning today as it did in 1775.
Since I penned this article some time ago, other plagues have erupted on the earth in the locust plague that has hit East Africa, specifically in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia as well as other locations in that region. These countries have not had an infestation like this in twenty five years, as hundreds of millions of locusts in swarms as large as some cities invade the land devouring vegetation and destroying farmland and threatening an already vulnerable region with extreme famine, according to National Geographic Magazine.
The coronavirus outbreak is suddenly threatening another “1918 Flu epidemic” across the world. Although this scourge of the disease has been worse in other parts of the world, we in America are now feeling the effects of this catastrophic outbreak. Life as we have known it in the past has suddenly transformed our lives into a world that I could hardly have seen before now. The hustle and bustle of people traveling the streets of the cities has slowed almost to a stand-still as we are advised to stay in our homes except for provisions and emergencies. Sickness and death from this virus is taking its toll on human lives as each day thousands either are sickened from the disease or die from it.
I am reminded of a Scripture in Isaiah 26:20 that seems to sum up our stance at this time that reads, ”Come my people, enter thou into thy chambers and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.” This Scripture may not be applicable to this very moment for this particular disease, but it seems like good advice coming from Health Professionals.
You may be distraught and lonely about being in semi-seclusion, but we are to always rely on God and His promises and redeeming qualities to get through this time.
A song comes to mind that seems to be relevant for this time and I know without a doubt that many of you have had God to heal you or remove seemingly impossible circumstances from you or rescue from some darkness in life with His eternal light.
Look up for Him to “Do It Again.”
[Editor's comment: Wayne is an educator, historian, and gifted writer and speaker. I remember well his visit to see me at St. Mary's Hospital after a surgery. He cheered me up, caused me to laugh, and I enjoyed his many stories. Melvine and I used to see him and his wife, Connie, from time to time in places where we were eating. It's nice to have friends like Wayne and Connie Brady. May God bless them and their family.]
Isaiah 43:2 God is with us through this world epidemic and we need not worry
2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
2 When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up-the flames will not consume you.
2 When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you.
When you're in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you're between a rock and a hard place,
it won't be a dead end —
3 Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
Yogi Berra Quotes
A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore.
Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.
You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six.
If the world was perfect, it wouldn't be.
Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't come to yours.
In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.
Camp-meeting #2 -- March 28, 2020
I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Jesus and the Camp-meeting is continuing. Today is a “Matter of Life and Death." Today’s Sermon title is "A Time of Change" and the text is John 2:5 “Whatever He says to you do it.”
In this camp meeting the Young are seeing Visions of family and friends and the Old are Dreaming of the Father’s house (Acts 2:17). The Prophetic Word of the evangelist is “This is a time of change.” Pastors understand that Jesus Christ is “The Great Shepherd of the Sheep” (Hebrews 13:20).
When God the Father saw the earth was in Chaos, He had a Word for it and the Word was Light. The Word was God and the Light changed everything. At the birth of Jesus, “The Light of the world” (John 8:12). God the Father spoke His Peace to a troubled world. (Luke 2:14) The first miracle of Jesus (John 2:7) brought change. The Word of Jesus to Nicodemus was we are born in water but the Spirit gives life (John 3:5). From the Cross of Calvary, blood and water flowed down to humanity (John 19:34).
Jesus’ Word was and is “Go” and keep going into all the world (Matthew 28:19). Go Baptizing, pouring out the Word Jesus, in the authority of God the Father, in the Power of the Son, and by the Ministry of the Holy Spirit. Today is a Time of Change. Today is a time for “Clean hands and a Pure heart” (Psalm 24:4). This is a time to pray as Jesus taught us to pray toward the Father’s House, in the Name of His Son and for His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:9). Let us pray as Jesus prayed that night in the garden “O my Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your Will be done” (Matthew 26:42) Amen.
[Editor's comment: As I read Brother Baker's most inspiring message, I sensed in my spirit that it was flowing from the heart of God in cascades of love, mercy, humility, and glory. I felt lifted up. I wanted you to read it. I had requested Leroy to write some concise and comprehensive Gospel messages for Hugh's News in times like these.]
These are days of drastic change of which we are coming to deal with daily. How long this pandemic will last is yet to be determined.
I admire our pastors and church leaders who are arising to the occasion to do creative thinking and provide online/facebook live streaming of the worship/singing and message/sermon.
I don't do Facebook. I tried it for a while but discovered it is not for me, although I could use it on Sundays.
Greg came into my office in our Florida Room, a small niche Melvine graciously alloted to me prior to her death. He went to the Internet and connected us with Chaplain Pastor Terry Kesling and Pam in their living room in their home in Winterville, GA in front of their fireplace via Facebook for the worship experience.
Meanwhile, I was delighted to pick up Jentezen Franklin on Kingdom Connection on Day Star. His large church in Gainesville, Free Chapel, about 30 minutes from our home in Winder, was empty of people. Melvine and I drove up there one Sunday to hear him a few years ago. Only he and his worship team were there in his church. He took out his saxophone and played "Amazing Grace." He is a gifted musician and received a full scholarship in college playing his horn. His message, "Choose Faith Over Fear," was powerful. I was amazed as he used many Scripture passages to support his theme. I like the way he explains the Scriptures, and not just read a number of them. He had a powerful appeal and an invitation. May God bless Jentezen and his ministry.
Later on in the evening we watched the church service from the Pensacola Baptist Campus College Church called "Rejoice in the Lord." They have a sanctuary that seats 5,000 and it is always full. Their pastor is an excellent preacher, and I enjoy him. He is preaching a series of sermons on the life of Joseph in the Old Testament. This series was pre-recorded.
This church has great musicians and a wonderful choir. They sing the hymns of the church and I love it.
I like to watch Bobby Schuller on the Hour of Power that comes on Saturday nights. Bobby is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. I enjoy his creative way of approaching the Scriptures and sharing the Gospel.
I remember when we went to Teen Talent Competition in Anaheim, California, when Christy Beatty was my associate pastor, that our group went to the Crystal Cathedral to hear Robert Schuller, however, he was not there. One of his associates preached and we enjoyed it. The Crystal Cathedral was an awesome place, breathtaking.
It is interesting to note that while Christy Beatty, daughter of Dr. G. Earl and Nancy Beatty, that she and Rick Sorrow fell in love and were married. Earl and I performed their wedding ceremony the day after the funeral service for Rick's wonderful mother, Polly. I loved Polly and her husband, James Sorrow. Melvine and I had great fellowship with them. They introduced us to some little known places to eat, and they were all good.
Christy became our first Air Force female chaplain and fulfilled 20+ years on active duty and retired with the rank of Major. While on active duty at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center as the installation chaplain she served as the active duty chaplain representative on our Chaplains Ministries Board. She was present with a seat, voice, and vote for three of our board meetings. One of them was held in Vancouver, BC, at the Third IPHC Global Assembly.
"How long, O Lord"
Author: Doug Beacham
Psalms of Lament for Such a Time as This
The United States and world have essentially shut down during this novel coronavirus pandemic. We are encouraged to remain at home. I have been grateful to see numerous appeals to Scripture. These appeals have included scriptural reminders that God is with us, that we be encouraged, that we remember to pray, that we repent, that we care for those around us. All of these are appropriate and call us to a renewed commitment to follow Jesus.
Many of the scriptural passages I have seen have come from the Psalms, especially the Psalms of Lament. These psalms sometimes feature the voice of an individual (such as Ps. 13, 22, and 86). At other times, such as in Psalm 12, we hear the voice of the larger community of faith. We hear their familiar words twenty-five hundred years later:
“How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Ps. 13:1)
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent.” (Ps. 22:1, 2)
The New King James Version capitalizes the personal pronoun in Psalm 22 because this is also a messianic Psalm. These words are spoken by Jesus on the Cross (Matt. 27:46).
Many commentators have recognized that the Psalms were the prayer book of Jesus (Bonhoeffer, Life Together). The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was made perfect through what He suffered and that He experienced every temptation humans experience (Heb. 2:10, 17, 18; 4:15). Thus the laments in the Psalms are more than the despairing voices of Israel’s David and others. They are the voices of broken, sinful, and grieving humanity, taken up by the voice and experience of the sinless Son of God, the Messiah of Israel. In other words: we are not alone! Indeed, “God is with us” (Emmanuel in biblical Hebrew).
I’ve often thought about this over the past two weeks. I am personally aware of three families—personal friends—that are walking through an unusual period of grief. These families have had loved ones die and have been unable to go through the usual process of grieving with a funeral and burial, where comforters attend a public service or take time to visit at a funeral home. I’ve listened to pastors talk about the difficulties of carrying on the pastoral care that usually accompanies these circumstances. These pastors themselves are grieving, too—grieving for their sheep, and grieving because their usual expressions of comfort feel lost.
The laments in the Psalms are taken up by the voice and experience of the sinless Son of God, the Messiah of Israel.
The grief those around us feel goes beyond the death of a loved one. Millions around the world have lost jobs, have lost health, have lost normal life routines. And they are grieving through these losses.
I write these words on March 28, as we prepare for the Fifth Sunday of Lent. It is appropriate that the lectionary readings for this Sunday come from Psalm 130 and John 11.
Psalm 130 is a lament sung as worshippers made their way to the Jerusalem Temple:
“Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of My supplications” (Ps. 130:1, 2)
John 11 recounts the death and resurrection of Lazarus. Lazarus had been dead four days when his sisters Martha and Mary confronted Jesus when He arrived in their hometown of Bethany. “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (Jn. 11:21, 32). The grief they felt was as real as the grief in the world today. Jesus saw that grief; that is why “Jesus wept” (Jn. 11:35).
In John’s chronology, the raising of Lazarus occurred in the season leading to Passover. In my mind, Jesus, Mary, and Martha likely heard pilgrims singing Psalm 130 as they made their way through Bethany towards the Jerusalem Temple. Besides the plaintive cry of those first verses, they would have also heard these words:
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption” (Ps. 130:5, 7)
Yes, we grieve. We cry, we remember, we wait. But as St. Paul reminded us, we do not “sorrow as others who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13). So let us read and pray the Psalms of Lament with one another, certain of the hope that lies before us in Jesus Christ. Amen.
During this crisis I have had some time to reflect on some of our hymns and Gospel songs that have meant so much to us down through the years. In fact I am doing a hymn every few days that I am classifying as the Quarantine Hymns. I've already done two of them and have posted them on YouTube and Facebook.
This is for all of you who love the classic hymns and Gospel songs of the church. During this time of crisis, we all will have time to slow down, pray, read, contemplate, meditate, text and message our friends, among many other home activities. I have begun a somewhat impromptu project that I am calling the "Quarantine Hymns."
I have already posted two hymns on my Facebook page. Thanks to Hugh Morgan, links to these and any future hymns will be posted on Hugh's News via Youtube link. Here are the first two hymn links. I pray this will be a blessing to all. Feel free to sing along.
Link: Jesus is All the World To Me (Quarantine Hymn #1)
Jesus is All the World To Me (Quarantine Hymn #1)
First of a series of classic hymns recorded/produced during the Corona Virus outbreak of 2020. Words/Music by Wi...
Link: Leaning on the Everlasting Arms (Quarantine Hymn #2)
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms (Quarantine Hymn #2)
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, the second of a series of hymns/gospel songs published during the Corona Virus ...