“I’ve Got A Secret”

“I’ve Got A Secret”

Each week, as I edit and prepare the prayer list, I’m amazed at the Christians with the same problems who say, I’ve got a secret, but please don’t show this request on the air. Their secrets usually fall into five categories, homosexuality – adultery – alcoholism, drug addiction or pornography.

I’ve got a secret prayer requests are usually just signed Anonymous and submitted under the heading Deliverance. It’s as if they were all from the same person although they are from all over the world. They all have a secret, a secret sin that is destroying them and their relationship with God.

Some people may think it’s the new baby Christians who haven’t been in the church long enough to overcome their worldly habits and may just need more teaching to put aside these secret things. Not so, it’s all ages, ranks and files. We receive requests from the pulpit to the pew because Satan is no respecter of persons and he knows secrets will destroy you.

Several years ago, a well-known televangelist had a secret that was eventually exposed before the entire world. When he was asked why he didn’t seek help and tell someone, his answer was, as famous as I am, who was I going to tell? I urge you to tell your secret to your spouse or tell your secret to a trusted friend, but tell somebody so it will no longer be a secret and you will become accountable. The most powerful weapon the enemy has against you and your secret are the lies that have to accompany it.

All of these requests have one thing in common; they are asking for the prayer of deliverance from this secret. While one person may plead to be delivered after all their attempts have failed, another may admit they have a secret but their request is to have the 3ABN Prayer Warriors do something about it.

One particular request was worded like this; I love to drink beer, especially on the weekends. Usually I’m hung-over on Sabbath mornings and unable to go to church. So please have the prayer warriors pray that I would quit. He didn’t say he was addicted; he said that he loved beer. He didn’t say he needed deliverance; he asked for prayer for him to quit. The Bible tells us to crucify the flesh and cast out demons–it does not tell us to cast out the flesh and crucify demons. There are times when it’s not a matter of deliverance but a matter of fessing-up and putting the deeds of the flesh to death.

In 1952 a new TV game show debuted called “I’ve Got a Secret.” Four celebrity panelists tried to guess an unknown-to-them secret, which the contestant whispered in the host’s ear; the secret was always shown to the television and studio audiences. Panelists had one 30-second period to ask questions that would help them try to guess the secret. If the panelists were unable to guess the secret, the contestant won a cash prize and then had to tell the panel their secret. What if our churches had an “I’ve Got a Secret” panel where we are sitting there with our secret and it’s about to be exposed? We have to tell the truth, so even if the panel doesn’t guess it; we still have to admit it openly.

Hello, we do have such a panel. It’s the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, but they aren’t asking questions or guessing, they already know what our secret is and are waiting for us to confess it before them. They want to hear it and also hear you ask forgiveness. One John 1:9 says, “ If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Don’t be fearful of telling the Father what He already knows, because when God asks you a question, He is not looking for information.

Matthew 10:26: “For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.”

12/12/2012

“See You in January!”

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” 1 Timothy 4:1

Many of 3ABN’s viewers are new to our in-depth teachings on prophecy and end­­–time events, so it was understandable when the 3ABN pastoral ministries department started receiving calls and prayer requests about the Mayan calendar and the prediction that the world would end on December 21, 2012. They’d been watching videos about all the ways the earth was going to be destroyed, and were actually very fearful.

Fear vs. Faith

The first thing they needed to hear was that fear activates Satan, the same way faith activates God. Next, they needed to hear that neither the Mayans, nor their calendar, held a clue as to how or when the world as we know it would end.

The related videos and latest books on the subject caused me to take a closer look at the Scripture, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God.” 1 Corinthians 3:19. I was amazed by what I was reading and hearing—amazed that people could come up with such absurd theories as the shifting of the earth’s magnetic poles or a galactic alignment of stars pulling the earth out of orbit. Some research theorists even believe it will usher in the return of Bolon Yokte—a ancient and mysterious extraterrestrial astronaut god!

I actually laughed at some of these. However, the Holy Spirit humbled me as I read the seriousness of the prayer requests. These people were looking for answers and they were looking for hope.

Another Prediction

My mind went back to 1987, before Mollie and I were Seventh-day Adventists. Our church had begun to grow almost overnight, and they just kept coming! I soon found out the reason: a little booklet entitled, 88 Reasons The Rapture Will Happen In 1988. They were attending because of fear—using Jesus as a fire escape!

The author, Edgar C. Whisenant, was a former NASA engineer, and he sold 4.5 million copies because people didn’t want to miss the Secret Rapture. He didn’t make it much of a secret, though, because he predicted the day it was to occur.

His predictions were taken seriously in many parts of the evangelical Christian community. As the date approached, a major Christian television network interrupted regular programming to provide special instructions on how to prepare for the Rapture. When it didn’t occur, Whisenant wrote books predicting other dates in 1989, 1993, and 1994. They all flopped.

Trying to correct this error, I started a series on 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Not Happen in 1988. My foundational texts were Amos 3:7, “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets,” and Acts 3:19-21, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.”

I shared how Heaven must retain (keep) Jesus until prophecy is fulfilled, and through God’s Word, some saw the rapture wasn’t going to happen but stayed in church, while others saw no need, and left.

The Sum Total

Let’s add it all up. The sum total of the Mayan 2012 calendar, 88 Reasons for the Rapture, or any Nostradamus nonsense, is a big fat zero! They all add up to nothing, because they don’t line up with God’s Word! Remember, anything contrary to God’s Word is a lie.

So, I’ll see you in January!

By Hal Steenson

 

 

“The Check Up From The Neck Up”

As I looked at some old vacation photographs, I was reminded of how hot it was that week, even for the Great Smoky Mountains. I had on shorts in the picture, and with my skinny legs, that was a rare occurrence!

In the photo, some of us were sitting on a concrete bench, trying to catch our breath on our way up to Clingmans’ Dome, the highest point in the Smokies. There’s a 16-mile drive through the forest from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to Newfound Gap, then another seven miles to the Dome. The temperature from the Gap to the Dome usually drops about 20 to 30 degrees, but on that blistering July day, the heat seemed to actually rise. And not until we reached the Dome parking area were we made aware of the quarter-mile uphill walk to the observation tower—at a 45-degree angle!

The Check Up

It was then that God decided to give me a check up from the neck up, a real-time life lesson. We were about halfway up the trail, and boy, was I complaining! “This is a National Park; surely they have the money to install some easier way to get up this hill!” I griped. “I don’t understand why they don’t have a tram to shuttle people up and down this mountain. At the very least they might offer golf carts for fat people like me. I’d be happy to pay for a ride to the top!”

Then God stepped in.

It came from behind us. Someone was laughing. No, two people were laughing, and they were laughing hysterically!

What in the name of pinecones could be so funny on this mountain? I wondered. Nothing about this was funny to me. And not only were they laughing, they were making all kinds of strange noises! Squeaking sounds, like wheels turning; and stomping sounds, like a soldier marching in combat boots.

Loving Every Minute

I turned around just in time to see a tall, lanky country boy taking long strides and almost running up the path in a pair of cowboy boots! He was pushing a wheelchair and laughing at his wife, who was having the ride of her life as they headed for the Dome.

“Excuse me sir, excuse me Ma’am,” I heard him say politely, “We’re coming through.” Then she laughed even harder.

I might add that she was no frail little thing, either, so his work was cut out for him—and he was loving every minute of it! She laughed, and he laughed, as they headed for the top of the world.

Looking for a Hole

At first, everyone on the path stood there, shocked; then they began to laugh and rejoice with the couple. I laughed a little, too—then looked for a hole to climb into and hide!

How many people around us heard me griping and complaining? I wondered. And what do I really have to nitpick over? My wife is healthy and walking by my side.

Why wasn’t he complaining? Maybe because they were too busy enjoying life to concern themselves with unimportant things. Maybe they were too much in love with each other that day to be thinking about anything else.

Perhaps that the man got up every day, looked at her, and said, “Thank God you’re alive!”

Perhaps she answered, “Thank God that I have you!” and they both laughed.

~~~

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8.

 

Pastor Hal Steenson

“Holy–And Happy”

Years ago, while in seminary, we visited what was then called a psychiatric institution. I had the opportunity to sit in on several group therapy sessions, and the one that impressed me the most was the group with the older teens and young adults who came from different race, social, and religions backgrounds.

At the start of every session the group leader would go around the circle and ask the same two questions to each one capable of participating. The questions were: Where are you on a scale from 1 to 10 today, and what are your goals for today?

Not surprisingly, the answers were the same almost every day. They all answered, “I am a 10,” (then usually repeated it), “I am a 10 today.” Their goal for the day was always the same, as well. “My goal is to take my meds and to go home.”

I knew they weren’t a 10, and I knew they weren’t going home, but some of them were so medicated they couldn’t possibly know who they were, or even where they were. They just sat there like zombies.

However, the one exception was a young man of about 17. His answers were different. He would say, “I’m about a 6 or 7 today, and my goal for today is to have fun.” The instructor would always if he had any other goals, but he would reply, “No, just to have fun.”

After each session, we had the chance to pair off with one of the patients and spend a little time with them, so I choose him. He didn’t have much to say until I pushed his magic button—sports! He loved sports and had probably forgotten more than I will ever know about it. When I asked him what sport he played, his eyes began to water as he told me he used to play football.

“What happened,” I asked. “Did you get hurt?”

“No” he said, “I made a B.”

I wasn’t sure what he meant, so I asked, “Why don’t you tell me what happened?”

He told me he’d always wanted to play sports, but his parents wouldn’t allow him to do so because they said it would interfere with his academics. All he ever did was study and go to school—but no outside activities other than church. Then, during the past football season, he went out for the team and made it with outstanding results.

His parents were furious and told him that if his grades dropped, he would be off the team. He had made As all his life, but, for the first time, he made a B—in trigonometry. They demanded he quit the football team, but he refused and left home. When they found him, his parents had him committed. He had made a B.

Then he told me something very profound, but very sad. “Living in the institution is easier than living at home with my parents trying to live their lives through me,” he said.

He knew I was a Seminary student, so I wasn’t surprised when he asked me a question about God. However, the question did surprise me.

“I know God wants us to be holy, but don’t you think He also wants us to be happy?”

Personally, I believe He does. So now, my goal for most days is to have fun.

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” Proverbs 17:22

 Pastor Hal Steenson

“Come Before Winter”

As I drove up that gusty August afternoon, Hal had just finished hanging the squirrel feeder in the backyard and restoring the dilapidated bird feeder.  I asked what he was doing and he said, “Getting ready for winter.”  Honey, it’s a long way from winter.  “Tell that to the squirrels and birds when the snow starts to fly” was his reply.  The squirrels must store up for winter and the birds need a reliable source of food when snow and ice are covering the ground.

This response reminded me of the words written by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:21 “Do thy diligence to come before winter.”  Paul was in a jail cell in Rome ministering to the saints in Caesars’ household when he ask a young disciple named Timothy to bring him three things.  He asked for his cloke, and he asked for his books and his parchments.  Undoubtedly, these things were of great importance to Paul for several reasons.  First, he asked for his cloke, which is preparation for his health as winter approached.  Next, he asked for his books.  Most likely, they were books of scripture, such as the commandments of God, which would help prepare him for holiness.  Last, Paul asked for the parchments.  These may have been words that the Apostle had personally penned about his Lord and Savior.  Could these parchments have been Paul’s way of preparing for his happiness in spite of being in the winter of his life?

I can’t help but wonder what may have happened if Timothy had been too busy to hang a spiritual bird feeder for Paul, even though winter was approaching.  The Bible is silent on the details concerning the outcome in this matter.  But what if Timothy had arrived in Rome one day too late?  What if he had been attending a leadership conference or working on a special program at church?  What if he didn’t go because he just thought it wasn’t that important and Rome was a long way off?  I would like to believe that Timothy dropped everything he was doing and took these items to his Mentor. Our Lord has many children who are going through cold seasons of their lives such as sickness, depression, divorce or maybe the loss of a dear loved one.  They may need someone willing to come before winter and provide feeders of health, holiness, and happiness. The snow is going to fly, and winter will come, the question is, are you making preparations for yourself and others also?

  Mollie Steenson 3ABN Vice President

“I’m A Card Keeper”

When you are number nine of ten children you learn to accept a lot of things as fact. One fact is that you will only be able to find one or two of your baby pictures. And, if you’re lucky, when your aunts die, your cousins may mail some of your family photos back to you—usually the pictures your mother sent, but now they haven’t a clue who’s who in them (and could actually care less)! The only thing they recognize in the picture is the old Buick Century your daddy drove, because back then, everybody took pictures standing in front of the family car. It was just an unwritten “Kodak Moment” rule: People, car, stand by car, take picture, mail it to distant relatives.

Another fact I learned early that has stuck with me through the years is that since I was the ninth child, birthday parties were not big blowouts. As I recall, they eventually evolved into blowing out one candle atop a cupcake lit with daddy’s Zippo lighter, and a couple of bucks to spend on candy. That is, until my first fancy birthday card—a store-bought birthday card with Superman on the front! My sister Betty Faye had started to work for Woolworth’s Five and Dime, and had bought me that birthday card and some comic books. The comics were great, but the card was awesome. I read it over and over, then read it again and again, and then hid it in my cigar treasure box.

Card Keeper, Card Reader

However, I was addicted. I not only became a card keeper, but also a card reader. In my younger years, I’d find myself in front of the Lloyd’s Drugstore card rack, reading and thinking how a few wonderful words could make my heart spring to life, when only moments before it may have been flatlined with failure and disappointment.

A real “keeper card” doesn’t have to be bodacious, and should be worded in such a way that the person reading it doesn’t need you to underline a single word, because it would distract from the others. I’ve watched in bewilderment as men approach the special occasion card rack displaying hundreds of beautiful cards, then halfheartedly pick, pay for, and intend to present a card to someone they love, when they’re not even sure what it says!

I’m a card keeper. I still have the cards Mollie gave me when we were first married. I have cards my baby sister sent me years ago for my birthday. I have a mountainous collection of refrigerator “I Love You Papa” cards from my children and grandchildren—because I know they meant it. I’m a card keeper.

Today’s e-cards are nice, but there’s just something special about waking up on Valentine morning in the same house as the one you love, and there on the kitchen counter is a card—a “keeper card” that you can pick up in your hands and allow those written words to filter through your fingers into your heart.

It’s a lot like opening up an old Bible that has become so much a part of you, and reading John 3:16 aloud to yourself: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Now there’s a Valentine “I Love You” line! And it’s a keeper because I know our Heavenly Father means it.

Why don’t you send Him an “I Love You Prayer Card?”

I’m sure He’ll keep it!  

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“Press G9 For Prayer”

Mollie and I were on vacation in the Great Smokey Mountains and we had just eaten a wonderful lunch that included a lot of onions and garlic. I needed some breath mints so I headed for the third floor of our hotel and located the snack machine. There on the bottom row was just what I needed, peppermint Lifesavers, eighty cents. The snack machine had a dollar bill changer so I pulled out a buck and carefully noted the correct number to push—I have been known to push the wrong buttons and end up with a little box of ,  or lip-balm. There was the number I needed right next to the price, G9.

Now you have to understand how my mind works, I store things that I really don’t want or need to store but I do it automatically and systematically. For me, the G stood for God and the 9 represented the 9 gifts of the Holy Spirit. So, no problem. I put in the dollar, I heard the change clink in the tray and I pushed G9 and nothing happened. I pushed G9 again and pressed the coin return several times without any results. So, what did I do? I did what anyone else would have done; I put in another dollar. However, this time the malfunctioning mint machine (by now it had sound effects and was talking and laughing at me) not only denied me of my mints; it also kept my twenty cents change. I was mad at the machine so (After being shaken a little by this irate guest,) I was about to head for the lobby.

That’s when I noticed the little sign on the snack machine stating that the hotel management was not liable or at fault for any monies lost in the vending machines and that I would have to report it to  “Joe from Kokomo!” Phooey! As I slowly walked back to my room in an garlic cloud, I pondered with a much higher intelligence than the menacing machine that the G must not have stood for God and the 9 had nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. (I Think)

It was during that short walk however, that I learned a goodly and godly life lesson. That life lesson was that sometimes we treat God like I treated that vending machine.

1. We locate what we want from God by looking through the window of   His Word.

2. We find a Scripture number verse to back us up (G9).

3. Then we put our prayer into the little prayer slot and press G9.

4. Next, we are unable to accept or explain the reasons why nothing happens and our G9 prayers aren’t answered.

5. We are mad at the management because our prayers weren’t answered but we failed to read the little sign, “Management is not responsible for unanswered prayer, and the problem is never with God.”

God is not a prayer “Vending” machine and there are no G9 prayers. God is Love and He is patiently waiting to answer our prayers, but not because of any buttons we push but because … The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

  Pastor Hal Steenson