Friday, May 5, 2017

Honoring Heroes

Understanding Honor

Honor, a source of credit or distinction (www.dictionary.com), given to a warrior has become a driving force in Mission M25 and my personal life. After riding Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge in 2014 under the banner of honor, respect, compassion and integrity, these words carry much more weight in my life. Honor, something you give because of the individual's position in life and respect, something the individual earns. 

M25 has honored many warriors, fallen or deceased military, policemen and firemen. It has become one of the greatest driving forces of our labors, which has taken us from shore to shore and Texas to North Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada and Israel with an upcoming trip to a ride across Europe. It was our distinguished honor to ride along side those who may never darken a church door to honor one of their own. The attendance, the brotherhood, the honor, the lines of flags flying, etc is nothing short of inspiring. 

We have joined rides for biker club brothers to honor their own. It was amazing to see the commitment of these brothers, who knew nothing of the man but that he was a club brother. Individuals would ride taxing hours to get to the service from several states away. 

Standing in so many lines, so many funerals and watching the honor bestowed upon individuals for the sacrifice they had given to make this world a better place or the love of the club not only inspired me, but gave me a new determination, honor the Spritual Warriors of our church. Honoring a warrior inspires young people to dedicate their life to service. 

On April 28, 2017, the opportunity to give honor to one such warrior, Rev. Oscar Bryant in Appomattox, Virginia. I had never met this warrior, never heard him preach or read of any great battles he had fought until that day. After listening to his son-in-law, Rev. Bill Terry, his nephew, Rev Rickey Hackett, his grandson, Rev. Greg Terry and finally his son, Bishop Garry Bryant, it was evident he was a man deserving of honor. He never pastored a large church, never rose to conference or denominational leadership. It appeared he was a logger turned preacher, good with his hands at fixing just about anything that would break but he loved God and loved His Word, the Bible. He still had a fire in him that would stand up against a wrong physically and stand for truth with the same passion. 

The Kingdom of God is built by individuals who will for the most part, go unnoticed by the world in large. There must be more honor given to these type of warriors to inspire young men and women to dedicate themselves to the Lord. May this quote burn in our hearts, 'The only guarantee in life is death, but the only thing worse than death, is to be forgotten'. The church cannot afford the legacy of 'using an individual and when they are no longer of use, forget them'. 

The IPHC is blessed to have current leadership committed to honor as much as possible. We all understand, our four General Leaders cannot get to all the funerals of individuals such as Rev. Bryant but they have committed that one of them will be at every former Conference Superintendent or Bishop. Personally, I have missed two heroes home going celebration, Rev. Archie Cooper and Rev. Ralph Davis due to my being on the east coast and scheduled to speak, therefore, we must remember at times it is just not possible. 

It was a blessing to see three National Leaders, Bishop D Chris Thompson; the Conference Bishop and approximately ten pastors. It is my hope the family will remember the sacrifice of Rev. Bryant was not forgotten and the rewards awaiting him in heaven is being enjoyed. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Jewish / Christians Ride for Israel

RIDING FOR ISRAEL

Mission:M25 is rejoicing for the doors of opportunity that are swinging wide in 2017! The newest territory for us is a ride across Europe with some Jewish brothers to make a visible statement of Jewish and Christian people standing together for Israel and to remember the sufferings of the Holocaust. A ride for peace, a ride for life, a ride for hope in the face of terrorism. 

There will be six USA, Mission:M25 Riders join Jewish riders from six different countries, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Israel, Italy, Switzerland  across Europe, from London to Lavrio, Greece and then fly to Tel Aviv where we will ride across Israel. This is not a 'joy' ride, while it will be exciting and adventurous, as Mission:M25's protocol, it has a cause. The stops will represent our purpose.

The emotions and value of this ride will be greatly impacted by the real life experience of Nathan Peled of his wife, Ruth Peled and 15 month old granddaughter, Sinai. They were murdered, in 2002, in a terrorist attack committed by a Palestinian suicide terrorist in a major mall near Tel Aviv. It is no longer a 'story' but a real life experience that we will be given the opportunity to remember, hopefully to assist in the healing of this tragedy. 


On June 11, 2017, M25 will lead a fund raiser for charities supporting Israel in London carrying a torch. We are really excited about the opportunity to show our support as Evangelicals for Israel in front of this expected crowd of 5,000 people. For more information visit, www.communityfunrun.org

Adv. Jonathan Arkush, President of the Deputies Board of British Jewry, will lead us from our rally point to the 'chunnel' as we embark on this adventure. It is an extreme honor to have a man of such
status get on his motorcycle and take us from the city.

On day four, we will make a visit to Dachau Nazi Death Camp, being built in 1933 it was the first of the death camps built by the Nazi's during WWII. There was approximately 188,000 men, women and children were held and 31,951 were killed during this terrible time in our history. There will be a ceremony that will include a Jewish and Christian Prayer and a moment of silence. 
We will then journey to Munchen, Germany (Munich) to visit the coliseum where eleven Jews were killed by terrorist during the 1972 Olympic Games. We will leave a poster with their pictures displayed after having a Jewish Prayer, a Christian Prayer and a moment of silence. As you can see, the flags representing the countries of our riders are displayed with their names listed under their country.

Our visit to the  Mauthausen-Gusen Death Camp in A
\ustria should be another somber moment on our ride. At Mauthausen-Gusen, while the death toll remains unknown, most sources place it between 122,766 and 320,000 for the entire complex. We will once again participate in a ceremony consisting of a Jewish Prayer, Christian Prayer and a moment of silence. 
Upon arrival in Lavrio, we will place our bikes on a ferry and ship them to Haifa. While we take time to visit some of the places we have studied in the Bible of the Apostle Paul. 

We are looking forward to our time in Israel, approximately two weeks in all. We, of course, will be taking trips to see the sites of our Sacred Text, where the scriptures come to life, living color, instead of ink on pages. We plan on visiting historical sites and military bases as well. There will be time to visit our churches in Israel plus Living Israel Ministries which reaches out to those suffering from addiction and has a coffee house in Tel Aviv. 

A repeat! In 2011 M25 led a ride from Tel Aviv to the Western Wall (Run To The Wall) in honor of the IDF (Israeli Defense Force). It was a very moving experience, as Jewish people, Orthodox and Secular joined with Christians in 'breaking of bread' and again, a Jewish Prayer and Christian Prayer in front of the great Western Wall. We anticipate a great crowd of riders and a great time of fellowship with all who attend. We welcome all the riders of Israel to join us at Latrun and ride in with us on July 3, 2017. We are so thankful for Coral Travel and Tours for all their hard labor in making this happen for us again. 
The finale will be escorting the torch in for the Maccabiah Games, the games were played the last time in 2013. The Jewish Olympic Games will be held in the coliseum located in Jerusalem. On July 6, we will ride into the coliseum as Ride For Solidarity ends it's mission having left London almost a month before. 
If you would like to know more information, please check out the website, www.ride4solidarity.com or you can follow us on FaceBook at Mission M25 Network or GIVE A DAMN #Ride4Solidarity.

You can support Carolyn and I by texting ISR to 71777
Or all the riders at: www.jewcer.org/project/ride4solidarity


Sunday, April 16, 2017

A Football Stadium - yes!

TEAM '17

Pastor Rick Haug, Senior Pastor of Living Water Pentecostal Holiness Church (LWPHC) caught fire to reach his community of Maiden, NC and designed an outreach called To Evangelize All Maiden in 2017 (TEAM '17). He brought in the Matt Bartlett Band to fire everyone up, had free hamburgers and hot dogs, inflatibles and games for the kids, padded cushions for the participants to sit on and invited Carolyn and I to attend for me to speak. 

Matt Bartlett Band
Honesty has always been something of high premium to me, therefore, confession is good, 'I really didn't think it was a great idea'. The days of Billy Graham are behind us and my conviction was, 'spend the money to serve or help someone' and 'earn' the right
to speak to them. With ministerial respect on the downturn, it appears 'singing and preaching' have gone by the wayside. 

There are no words for me to express my respect and appreciation for Pastor Rick and the fantastic staff and people of LWPHC. They walked and prayed over every street in the city. Yes, this makes waves in heaven but as they witnessed, it made them more aware of the needs of the city and opened a new sensitivity for the pains of their community. 

The money spent on sound, promotion and actually providing all of the 'free' items was huge. We were reminded on RFTW 2016, 'there is nothing free, someone had to pay for it'. The church spared no perceivable expense. If ever there was a local event done 'right', this was it. 

In the book, 'Reaching Generation Z', Jerry writes of the 'squish' middle 50% of our population in the USA. They have no deep convictions or moorings. They can be influenced either way by the loudest voice. It dawned on me, this is what happened in Maiden, NC, there was a voice raised by a local church that said 'we care about you and we are not about to let things evil go on without a fight'. Can you hear their voice, 'we are not going to let four percent of our population be the only voice'. Did you see any condemnation in the statement? No, everything that projected from this body of believers was positive. We don't need to stand up and stand out yelling condemnation at the hurting, we need to just give a positive message and take it OUTSIDE THE FOUR WALLS. 

The Saturday night crowd
While we had a great turnout, it was not like the previous days of great crusades. There was no mass of people 'coming forward' for the altar call of acceptance of Jesus Christ. Again, in 'Reaching Generation Z', we learn the sensitivity of community to the Gospel has changed over the past forty years or so. Where they once were 'ready' due to the 'seed' of the Gospel being planted and the overall Christian society we lived in, many were ready to make a life changing decision. In our 'Post-Christian Society', seedless society, there will need to be new approaches, and non of them plastic without the broken heart, to change our world.  

While we must adjust our expectations, we must play to one of the strengths the church has, preaching of the Word of God and filling the air waves with something besides the liberal message being broadcast by our media outlets. We must reclaim the territory and stop retreating to the building. This was never God's plan and it is not His plan today. His commission, command is still, "Go Ye", not 'Draw Ye". We must put a premium on outreaches such as this and the methods M25 uses of service. We cannot afford to give up any more territory. 

Finally, M25 at the time of this writing, is preparing to go on it's thirteenth trip across America with hundreds of veterans and patriots to bring our National Leaders into account for the POW/MIA (Prisoners of War and Missing In Action) on a ride called Run For The Wall. It is a ride where local communities come out by the thousands and welcome the soldiers home that never received a welcome during the Vietnam War. One thing that is very obvious, it is the small town, the 'grass roots' that comes out and makes the noise. It is the grassroots that has Patriotism in it's grasp. 

May we learn from what we have seen on RFTW, the grassroots is what will change America. God has the International Pentecostal Holiness Church in rural areas for a reason. Oh, we may have a few, but it is a 'few' big churches in good sized cities but our strength is in the rural towns. Do you think we should be ashamed? ABSOLUTELY NOT! God has positioned us to revive the rural, grassroots of our nation! It appears to me that Pastor Haug and LWPHC has opened an idea for the IPHC to reach out and grab. Could you consider using your football stadium? 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM HONORED

MISSION M25 SERVES RUN FOR THE WALL

Mission M25 is gearing up to honor our military and veterans for the 19th time on Memorial Day Weekend as representatives for our Lord, His Kingdom and the IPHC. This will be our 18th time to ride / serve on Run For The Wall.

Run For The Wall is a ride that takes riders from Los Angeles, CA to Washington DC on three routes. The ride has hundreds of riders on each route that stop several times a day for ceremonies and meals as they make the ten day journey. The routes can be seen at RUN FOR THE WALL.

Mission M25 serves as Hydration (giving away thousands of bottles of water and sport drink and snacks including vegetables and fruit); Chase Team (pickup trucks with trailers following the pack to pick up broken or wrecked bikes); Chaplains (Chaplain Corps is there for the wreck / breakdown to assist the individual including going to the hospital); Senior Chaplains (Leader of the team, responsible for the prayers to start each morning and a Sunday morning church service) and Missing Man and Platoon Chaplains (responsible for specific spiritual assistance).

The M25 team will include eight pickups pulling various types of trailers and approximately 20 motorcycles with a team of 35-40 men and women. These are not all IPHC ministers but most of the personnel come from our churches, including Pastors, Leading Laymen in the churches, Conference Bishops and National IPHC leaders.

Westboro Baptist Church
The effort was birthed from the heart of Gary and Carolyn Burd as they stood on a rainy street with a soldier killed in the Iraqi war. They stood, along with about 30 bikers, as the Lead Pastor of Westboro Baptist Church, holding a placard that said, "Thank God for IED" (Improvised Explosive Devices) and screaming "AMERICAN FAGS COMING HOME IN BODY BAGS". This event 'drove' the heart of these two leaders to make sure Westboro Baptist was NOT the ONLY church out there. May I quote "Silence in the face of evil is evil itself. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." Dietrich Bonnhoeffer.

In 2004, Carolyn and Gary took three WWII veterans to Washington DC for the unveiling of the WWII Memorial, one was Carolyn's father. A man hardened by war and a hard life. For the first time he wore his Veteran's cap. Riding in a wheelchair, due to the injury he sustained in war, people stopped, thanked him and asked for his signature, tears ran down his face. They knew at this point they had to dedicate their lives to healing the men and women who kept us in a nation where we could freely worship God.

The event that sealed it all up was the man who approached Gary in a parking lot of a Veteran's Hospital asking, "I served in three wars. Didn't I fight for the Freedom of Religion? Where is the church that thanks us?". Gary looked him in the eyes filled with pain and apologized but promised he would give his best to change that.

Gary and Carolyn and the entire M25 team thanks the IPHC for basically funding the route. May the Lord bless you and our church for stepping up and stepping out.

You can assist this dedicated team of men and women who give up vacations, income and family time by placing your name on our banner. You can give by texting POWMIA to 71777 or you can send a donation to Mission M25, POB 30309, Amarillo, TX 79120.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Life - What's it worth?

March For Life
January 27, 2017

Mission:M25 riders began to load their bikes as the sun came up on this January 26 morning in Falcon, NC. Riders from Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia gathered,  sharing stories since our last gathering. The skies were overcast and there was a cool drizzle falling but the excitement, enthusiasm for the "Mission" ahead was not dampened. Twenty-One bikes fired up heading to the Royal Home Ministries (RHM) where we joined young ladies who were either with child or a newborn, plus an encouraging staff awaited our arrival with hot coffee and pastries. 

IPHC Participants
Photo by Wesley Russ (so good to see he & Janice!)
RHM Director, Marysol Martinez, greeted us and introduced a young lady who had recently been accepted into three universities set the tone of the mission. She gave an inspiring story of the value of a home where girls without hope, support and direction can find a way to fulfillment. Where they are given the opportunity (not pressured) to accept the Lord as their Saviour. She spoke of the joy and direction due to the Holy Spirit and the support of our home. 

Riders mounted their bikes and rode across the street where the children, some 90 plus from grades K-12 were standing with banners and yelling as we drove thru the covered awning. Joey Leggett, Falcon Children's Home director greeted us and introduced us to the principle, Bro. Strickland who prayed over us with tears running down his cheeks for the lives we were standing for. It was a short and inspiring event. 

Mission M25 Team
Photo by Rev Wesley Russ
Our bikes then traveled to Redemption Ministries were Bishop Dayton Birt and wife, Lynn were waiting with hot, homemade vegetable beef soup and sandwiches. Our annual stop is a great half-way place to refresh and warm up before we finish the journey to Washington DC. We rejoiced for the dry and safe trip the rest of the way. 

Upon arrival, Bishop Abel Palomo was waiting with a great meal and open arms from the Mid-Atlantic Conference and the church in College Park, MD. After filling up with a great meal, a super charged service was waiting us upstairs in the sanctuary. Then off for a few hours of sleep. 

The next morning we rallied early for a IPHC March for Life Rally where we were led by our Presiding Bishop, Dr. Doug Beacham. It was such an honor to have Bishop Danny Nelson from the North Carolina Conference join us, several pastors, approximately forty M25 folks in cars and on bikes with the total we estimated of over 200 people head to the March For Life Rally on the mall in our nations capitol. You could identify us by the matching gold colored sock caps with the RHM logo embrodried on them that was provided by Bishop Palomo. We were so blessed and inspired as we witnessed and participated in the largest rally for life in recent years. To have Vice-President of the USA, Mike Pence take the stage set a completely different tone for our rally. At the same time, it made you aware of just how fragile life can be as we stood on the hill looking at the TSA Security booths and the snipers on the top of the buildings around us. 

We are in a time of true moral war in our country where we must stand for truth, righteousness and life every opportunity give to us. Let us hear the voice of a martyr for principles we hold dear, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 'Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.' We may have yet a small window of time to stand up for that which we hold dear. My prayer is that the history books will be kind to this generation when our actions are written.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Queen's Breakfast

Queen's Breakfast

The Serving Ladies and
some of the Served Ladies
Due to security not all young ladies
 could be included in photo
On November 22, 2017, ten women from three different churches, The Journey Church in Siler City, NC and The Refuge in Conway, SC, The Rock Worship Center in Monroe, NC, with the leadership of Carolyn Burd, National M25 Director woke after a short night of sleep at the Royal Home Ministries (RHM) to prepare a meal fit for a Queen. RHM is a home of hope, love and support for young ladies that are carrying a child with no family or friend support. It is a home dedicated to the tireless effort and vision of Rev/Mrs Marvin Whitfield, built across the road from Falcon Children's Home in Falcon, NC, hosted by North Carolina Conference of the IPHC. 

The young ladies were totally dependent on the Holy Spirit to make this a breakfast so special, bathed in love, that a Queen would have been blessed to be there. The passion and drive exemplified by these ladies could do nothing but lift the young ladies in the home. There were glass plates, real silverware, long stemmed glasses, cloth napkins and table clothes. There was even a warm wash cloth for each young lady to wash with before partaking of the meal. 

Some of the ladies eating
This meal was intended to elevate their self-esteem, many of whom could not even be in the picture due to their identity being concealed for safety sake. Anyone who has experienced giving birth or witnessed the trauma of bringing a child into this world, knows how painful it already is without all of the negativity of having no family or friend support. There was a desire to bring a good ole healthy dose of elevating love through service. 

One of the young ladies (a mere child of 13 years of age) grabbed a plate and chose to eat alone. When inquiring the situation, Carolyn learned this young lady was 'sold' by her mother to a man. (There is no point of reference for most of us. Can you imagine being so desperate that you 'sold' your daughter to survive? We read of these type things in foreign countries, we read of this level of desperation in Biblical times, but here in the most prosperous nation in the world, not here... but it did happen). The man chose when faced with his purchase bringing extra baggage of financial and emotional support, dropped her off at the curb, so to speak. This young child had experienced abandonment, abuse and rejection at levels will never know (so thankful this is a rarity and not the norm in our country. May we pray it never becomes the norm.) 
The meal

As the day ended and the young ladies went on with life in the RHM housing, as the eleven women returned to their families, we can only pray there was a positive lift in the young ladies in the home and the ladies who served will be impacted to a point they make this bigger and better next year. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Sanding My Feet

How beautiful are the feet....

Having a 65 year old foot takes up time that has been allocated for things like: reaching for success, doing good for others, growing in my Faith Walk, spending time with those we love, etc. It is very tiring and boring, getting the file out (looks like a grater for cheese), spending time 'sanding' the foot, a lot of time. Then there is the ointment, the creme to keep it from cracking. Today, during the boring task of restoring my feet, this text came to mind.

Just an ugly 65 year old foot

  •  How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news.. Isaiah 52:7
  •  And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!" Romans 10:15
Let's put those text written in perspective to when they were written. Many had to walk everywhere they went. Plus they did not have hiking boots or high dollar sports shoes. No insoles made of memory foam, most were just sandals. Remember the environment, have you been to Israel? Have you seen the desert, the rocky terrain? What about those areas were the weeds are growing, climbing to En-gedi (it was muddy and slick with rocks and vegetation).

Sitting there, sander in hand, creme on the table beside the chair, all I could think was, 'Really?'. Then the devotion the Lord had began to become clear.

As our feet get older, carry the scares of adventurous lives, show the stress of caring for family and friends, the burden of the load of serving in the Kingdom there were some warnings: The foot can become dry, cracked, rough and very ugly.

If the foot is not 'sanded', adverse situations grinding on the foot, it becomes so calloused and abrasive no one can stand to touch it, looking at it is bad enough. There should be a joy inside of us when we encounter adversity, it is removing the callouses, keeping us smooth. Preparing us to hurled into a world of evil as one of the smooth stones a Shepherd boy picked up, hurled toward a giant's forehead which caused that enemy to fall to the ground.

The creme keeps me teachable and pliable in the hands of an Almighty God, the Holy Spirit. Can you see balm of Gilead in His hands rubbing it into the hardness of the callous and the pain the adversity to get me tender again. Callouses brought by so many miles of demanding, spiritual terrain that no one has taken the time to look at my 'feet' to notice.

Feet, who goes around looking at people's feet? How many times have you seen people 'model' their feet? Oh, there is the craze of flip flops and women in open toed shoes but most of us men never care for our feet and never notice the feet of anyone else. Yet, it is the feet the Lord inspired the author's to pen that was beautiful.

As the time came for the creme to applied, it said on the directions, 'massage thoroughly into the skin and in extreme situations, cover with a cotton sock for quick healing'. Now, that is in incredible advise:

  • Get alone with the Holy Spirit today and allow Him to massage His love and tender care into your life. Let Him take that sweet balm of Gilead and refresh your journey. 
  • If you are hurting really bad, the callouses are really hard and the cracks have made it difficult to sleep at night due to catching on the sheets, let the Holy Spirit cloak you with His sweet presence and bring you peace. He is still able to calm the storm in your life or maybe, just maybe, He is desiring to just wrap you in the Power of Grace to get you through the storm! 
Feet.... beautiful, only in His presence when they are doing what they were designed to do.... take the Good News, the Gospel to a hurting and dying world. Remember, we are M25, a ministry outside the four walls. The question screaming inside me, 'Are you living your life in the desert areas of your community?' 'Are you taking the risk that your feet might take you to some dangerous places?' 'Are you actually traveling enough outside to even expose your feet to pain?' 

A day to ponder......