HUGH HEFNER’S OBITUARY IS FULL OF LIES

Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine and Playboy mansion is dead at 91. The world is now a far better place.

The greater tragedy than the death of this one wicked man is how many minds and hearts he corrupted, marriages he ruined, and doors of perversion he opened to millions. He is now in full reality mode as He faces His Maker and gives account for his life of filth and debauchery.

I can hear the “thou shalt not judge” police sirens already. Excuse me, but true believers of Jesus Christ are called to judge all things. Educate yourself by reading 1 Corinthians 6, especially this part.

Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?” (1 Cor. 6:2-3).

Let me be clear. I do not rejoice over the death of the unrighteous. God wills that no man perish, but that all come to repentance (2 Pt. 3:9). The chances are very slim that Hugh Hefner called out on Jesus in his dying moments. If he did, God heard him and saved him just as he did the criminal on the cross in the hour of his death. What mercy! And let’s not forget, that this wicked and perverted man lived to a good old age of 91. Oh, what rich mercy God had on this man to allow him so many years to repent!

However, we should not be fooled. We live in a society that does not understand the gravity of sin and the universal state of the fallen nature man. Sin steals, kills, and destroys. Unless we repent and forsake our sin now, it will keep us separated from God both now and forever. We cannot afford to trifle with that thought and make light of sin. It always plays for keeps.

Hugh Hefner was a very wicked man. Much of America will laud a man like that as they do all their darling celebrities. It doesn’t matter if the celebrity is a chronic adulterer, a lifelong sodomite, or God forbid, a sick and twisted child molester. It doesn’t matter what kind of slimy  and lowlife character they are, man will find a way to celebrate them and say nice things about them in the end. That is what’s wrong with America. We defend sin. We justify wickedness. We put up with every kind of filth and vice. We’ve lost our moral compass and have made God our Almighty Servant.

I love my nation, but this is the one sore spot in her character that is very bothersome to me. It is like the rotten core of an apple that looks good and shiny on the outside, but once you bite into it it is gross, and you spit it out. So is America. So will Jesus do to us when we do not live for Him.

“I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Rev. 3:16b). Read the entire account of the church of Laodicea in context. The vomiting is a result of the Church losing its salt and savor, losing their ability to influence society, being lukewarm and good for nothing. When we side in with the world and their ideology (such as the aforementioned “thou shalt not judge” but it’s a false judgment; such as “the love and be nice to everyone” mantra, but it’s a love that tolerates and celebrates evil, is completely void of true wisdom and discernment, and will never minister correction and reproof).

AMERICA HAS BEEN KISSED BY THE ENEMY

I watched a commercial recently where athletes were making a case for being nice to everyone, speaking kindly, tolerating everything, celebrating our differences, avoiding racism etc. It’s the popular American thing to do now. I abhor it. The only thing wrong with that line of thinking is that the kindness and niceness extends to wickedness. You can’t tolerate and celebrate sin and a man like Hugh Hefner who is probably more responsible for the propagation of sexual perversion for the longest duration of time than any other human being.

In many cases being nice, talking sweet, avoiding conflict, and never being confrontational is hateful and deceitful. Open rebuke and the faithful wounds of a friend is true love.

“Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Pr. 27:5-6).

America has been kissed by the enemy. She is cooperating with him and he likes that. Our nation has been kidnapped and held for ransom. The ransom has been paid by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, but most don’t know it. Satan has blinded them and deceived them (2 Cor. 4:3-4). The pure Blood of the spotless and sinless Son of God was shed, not so we could just be forgiven and be nice, but so we could be free from the sin, filth, and wickedness that abounds in our society…so we could be a shining light that is set on a hill that cannot be hid…so we could be salt that preserves our culture. The true grace of God not only forgives us but frees us from the power of sin, so we no longer allow it to rule our lives.

CALLED TO COEXIST: NOT!

Have you ever seen the popular bumper sticker that says, “Coexist”? It’s propaganda for the tolerance of all religions and genders. It contains symbols for love, the peace sign, liberalism, Islam, transgenderism, the Jew, China, the  Buddhist, and  Christian. One sticker even has “Trump sucks” on it, which exposes their utter hypocrisy and double standard. I hate that sticker. It’s everything that’s wrong with America. We’ve become a nation of wusses and pansies with no moral compass for right and wrong, evil and good, light and darkness. Hugh Hefner’s death and obituary is another sober reminder of how far our nation has fallen from common sense and sensibility. And the saddest part of it is that much of the Church just blends in. Silence is not golden but yellow in these evil times.

If you always run from confrontation and conflict and enjoy peaceful coexistence with the wicked, and shallow friends who never tell you the full truth, you are really a liability and not an asset in the Church. You are walking in the fear of man instead of the true fear of the Lord, which the Scriptures say is the beginning of wisdom.

As my new pastor friend, Cary Gordon, so succinctly states:

“Wisdom requires the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord produces discernment. Discernment sees through the crowded field of shallow poets, singers and sages, and avoids horrible decisions.

Wisdom is rare and precious. Few have it. Most hate it when they hear it, because in order to become wise, one must see and recant their own follies. Very few are willing to see and turn from their own follies.”

Blogger Matt Walsh might have had the truest obituary of Hefner today:

“It’s unfortunate that we must point out the fact that Hefner was a pornographer and a pimp. That his life’s work was to amass a collection of desperate women who were willing to be used and exploited. But we must tell this truth in order to combat the untruths that people are now saying about him.

We live in a country where men like Hefner are immediately canonized upon death. I’ve seen Hefner described as a “hero” and a “role model.” These are lies, and we must call them lies. The fact that Hefner is dead does not change the fact that he was a peddler of filth. If a man wishes to be remembered as virtuous and decent, he must live virtuously and decently. We don’t become virtuous and decent when we die, as if death itself washes away every bad thing we’ve done. Quite the opposite, actually. Death is when we reckon with the bad things.”

Don’t wait until death to reckon with your sin. Do it now. Hugh Hefner is dead and without hope, but there is still hope for you whilst you have breath.

May the spirit of repentance, true love, and the holy fear of the Lord make it’s way back into multitudes of churches everywhere who call themselves by Christ’s Name. If that happens, be sure that our nation will awaken from the depths of her death and demise. It’s our only hope.

My tetralogy of books speaks to these vital themes and the turning of the Church and America back to God. If this article and others on my blog of this nature stir your love for truth and righteousness I highly recommend our books: The Real Salvation, The Real Gospel, The Real Jesus, The Real Spirit Of Revival.

By purchasing and circulating our books and articles you are helping to fulfill God’s plan for this ministry to carry the spirit of revival to the Church and the nations through the proclamation and publishing of His Word. Please help us to fulfill this vision by sharing these truths with others. Thank you and God bless you.

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ORPHANS IN OUR PULPITS

We have a serious ministry problem, worse today than its ever been. Fake ministers. Fake love. Fake faith. Superficiality and a lack of transparency.

Years ago I would’ve spoken out strongly against this, but now my heart breaks and weeps when I see how some got this way.

Through abuse, rejection, disappointment and lack of validation many project an image they want others to see – an image of a strong and confident leader who knows the Word of God. Often their resume contains a list of accomplishments and achievements that belie the real truth of who they are.

Some ministers and leaders need constant validation and affirmation. Their peers must know how great they are. Their peers must honor and respect their gifts and ministry. If not, they will exalt themselves in self-aggrandizement to hide the real issues, insecurities, and fears of their own hearts. They are spiritual orphans in our pulpits.

These orphans can never be wrong. They can never admit their mistakes. It is difficult for them to receive correction. Their leadership or personal life can never be challenged even by friends. They defend their right to be who they are, and justify their actions. To me, more often than not, these are symptoms of orphan hearts.

I was one, so I know of what I speak. In 2002 the Lord delivered me after I surrendered all. In an inward vision I was looking up through a glass ceiling at all the things I wanted in ministry – power, anointing, favor, significance, influence, etc. but the Lord directed me to the floor and my foundation. He spoke to me at length about my character saying such things as:

“The reason I have not opened the doors you’ve wanted me to open to you in ministry is because if I did, you would have ceased to be a man after my own heart.”

I broke down and wept when I realized He was keeping me from greater ministry opportunities, power, and influence because of His love and protection for me.

He also said this:

“Take away ‘ministry’ over the last 17 years and what do you have?  Your character has not been sufficiently dealt the death blows that it will take to properly develop it to where I can impart to you the mind of Christ.  You need more mortification to receive the mind of Christ.”

When I heard this I realized He was requiring crucifixion and death to what I perceived I wanted and return to Him as my first love.

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Rev. 2:4).

Let me ask you a question: Is Jesus enough for you? If you didn’t have a ministry, a vision from God, an esteemed occupation and reputation, a list of achievements you’re proud of, riches and possessions, how would it be with you? And if you don’t have those things why are you so desperately reaching for them? Have you found your fulfillment in Him alone? And how would you know if you have?

More heart-searching questions: Why are you always talking about yourself? Why are you always defending who you are and what you do? Is it difficult for you to recognize the achievements of others and the honor they receive? Is it painful to celebrate a friend’s success and accomplishments because you don’t have much? If so, you may be a spiritual orphan. You are insecure, and need so badly to find your security in the love of the Father. When you’re secure in His love and who you are in Him you want to lift up everyone else except yourself. You can wash others’ feet as Jesus did when your security is in Him alone.

You don’t need further validation or the affirmation of friends. All that has done is cover up the real issues of your heart and life, and cause the deception to become thicker. You need the outstretched hand of the love of the Father God to deliver you from the bondage of your mind and soul, and fill your heart with His glory. You need a fresh revelation of His deep love for you. You need to hear the words, “this is my son or daughter in whom I am well pleased.”

Full healing and restoration in a man or woman happens when they receive this revelation, and then have no need to be honored or affirmed by anyone. The honor of God will be enough. Jesus will be your all sufficiency.

When they asked the people of the Yoido Full Gospel Church, in Seoul South Korea, the largest church in the world, what they loved the most about their pastor Dr. David Yonggi Cho, they said it was his humility. When he makes a mistake or misses it with God, he stands in front of the congregation and asks for forgiveness. How rare that is today especially among leaders of large churches and works.

Why am I saying all these things? Because as I grow older I not only want souls to be saved, but my heart grows increasingly burdened for ministers who are called to save souls. They should be the primary agents for change and reformation in the Church, but often they are the main hindrances. If change doesn’t happen in them it won’t happen in many others because leaders transmit and impart what they are to others. In other words, if you save a ministry gift you save souls.

Real deep and lasting change begins in all of us when we begin seeing things as God sees them. Full restoration in a man begins when he truly repents, asks for forgiveness, and surrenders all. Then there will be nothing for the enemy to hang on to. You will cut off his access into your mind, life, and heart. You will be free from the accuser and your past. Once you repent and die to your own reputation the devil will have nothing to hold over you. You will be completely and permanently free.

The Lord saved the gifts in my wife and I from defilement in 1995 for her and 2002 for me. We humbled ourselves and came under the dealings of God. Sometimes there is a season of pain we must endure to lay everything down at the altar. As ministers, we have to even be willing to lay down our ministries and churches for a season, and be willing to reveal to the people where we went wrong.

Orphan hearts are everywhere. They fear the disapproval of men because they have not embraced the approval of God that comes when they humble themselves in His sight. Come to the Father and allow His Spirit to anchor you in His love. I can testify that many old lifelong  burdens will be removed off your shoulders and you will enjoy a newfound freedom and rest you’ve perhaps never had before.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Mt. 11:28-30).

“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:15-16).

My full testimony of my own deliverance is in my book, The Journal Of A Journey To His Holiness. Also, Soulish Leadership and Purity Of Heart are two other books that have helped many leaders get free from pride and insecurities. 

THE SMOKESCREEN OF MINISTRY HIDING REAL ISSUES

I’m not going to mince words, but get right to the point on this blog, specifically addressing ministers.

Are you really paying close attention to your spirit and personal life, or are you caught up in the natural things of life, the world, and the smokescreen that ministry tends to produce? Look within and examine yourself to see if you are really in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). Are you honest with yourself and living in the sight of God? Do you have sufficient communion with the Holy Spirit to even do that? What do I mean?

TOO MANY MINISTERS ARE HIDING UNDER A FALSE PRETENSE

Many ministers are like spiritual orphans standing in their pulpits and instructing others in spiritual things while not having much spirituality themselves. They are hiding behind the cloak of anonymity where their real character is kept hidden and unknown to the public – actors with dual personalities using the stage of ministry for a cover up. Even sadder is that their spouses are compelled to cover up their failures at home and their real character issues while feeling trapped in a world that must continue to put up a front for the ones they minister to. What a prison that must be!

Not everything is as it appears. We have learned that in ministering to many people in many places over the years. Nearly everyone has a front. Nearly everyone puts their best face on and their best foot forward in public. Nearly everyone in their conversations with others will place themselves in the best possible light. Everyone wants to look good in man’s sight, and so often at the expense of defiling ourselves in the sight of God. We have personally been there, and have left there, and don’t ever wish to return.

God is extending His hand to help many leave this place. It is an awful burden and yoke to carry. I believe it is the biggest part of being burdened and heavy laden, and never having any inward rest as Jesus said in His invitation to come to Him.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Mt. 11:28-30).

BEING FREE FROM THE BIGGEST HUMAN BURDEN

I believe the greatest burden that all humans carry outside of sin, is the pretension and projection of what they want people to think they are. This rules the lives of so many.

Jesus extends His invitation  to be free from these yokes of man and the law, but many refuse it because it would be too costly to have others know who they really are in private. No one likes that kind of transparency and vulnerability. All want to be loved, liked, and accepted by others.

But if you come to Him and humble yourself under the mighty hand of God He will restore all things where the enemy would no longer have a handle or grip on your soul and access into your life through these false perceptions, pretensions, and projections. Through learning of the love of the Father from Jesus you will be free from the fear and approval of man. You will learn of the meekness and lowliness of the Son of God, and you will no longer fear abuse and rejection. After all, Jesus was the most abused and rejected of all men. He is very familiar with this state of suffering in man.

We’ve got to learn to commune with God from our spirits. In order to do this you’ve got to come clean and surrender all, especially the public perception of your life and ministry. Die to your own perceived public image, and put on the image of Christ. You’ve got to come under the dealings of God that will lead to years of burdens being released from your shoulders and freedom like you’ve never known before. In plain speech, you’ve got to stop living a lie.

Transparency is difficult for many because they don’t like who they really are and don’t want their flaws, weaknesses, and imperfections made known. That would only lead to abuse and rejection. It hurts to be open and honest with yourself and with God, but it is the true pathway to true peace, freedom, stability and wholeness.

You will never really learn to commune with God from your spirit until you pay attention to those things He has put His finger on that keep coming up when you pray or talk to Him. It takes time to learn to commune with the Lord effectively where there is little mixture from your soul and emotions.

This life change was done in my wife in 1995 and in me in 2002 where we died to pride, selfish ambition, and the honor and approval of men. This led to a great transformation where we began to operate in the Spirit much more than we had before.

On our current three week ministry trip the Lord has greatly helped us to encourage ministers and pastors of smaller works. He has also downloaded many things to aid ministers in moving in the liberty of the Holy Spirit and flowing in worship out of their own personal spirits and gifts. Many of God’s ministers have used their impressive resume of achievements and accomplishments to hide their personal insecurities and true character. Many must become honest with themselves and come out from hiding behind that facade and come under the dealings of God.

LEADERSHIP IS OVERRATED

We have met too many ministers in our lifetime who are stuck in the pride of who they are, or in the defensiveness of who they are not, and justifying their position. Big leaders want to remain big, whatever big means, and little leaders, whatever little means, are striving to become big. It’s such a merry-go-round in a circus. Everyone wanting to be a success like the world counts success. And most of our conferences and seminars feed that awful ego of man.

Think about the time and money spent on such conferences and seminars. It’s a billion dollar industry even in Christendom. Do we really need another book on leadership development? Can someone please point out clear Scripture references where we are to emphasize leadership, leadership, leadership? What about following Jesus, what about being His disciple, what about servanthood alone, not as a stepping stone to leadership? Aha! But it is leadership that sells. Submission, servanthood, and sacrifice don’t. We are to raise up faithful followers, not faithful leaders. There’s been much error in the way we train and lead others through overemphases on leadership. Frankly, it feeds the ego and pride of man.

Must you have your title always attached to your name? Is your first name apostle or prophet, or doctor, or bishop? With all due respect for those who have earned or truly function in what these titles entail, must you flaunt it? Are you not happy just to be known or called by your first name? It makes me want to vomit when I see the excess in what has become the pomp and pageantry of modern day ministry.

The truth is you are a orphan in your own pulpit making feeble attempts to lead others when you are in such a broken state of confusion yourself and mired in your own image and success. But I love you and want to help you as God helped me.

Stay tuned for part 2…

 

HOW WATCHING NUDITY AFFECTS YOU

“I will set no wicked thing before my eyes. I hate the work of those who turn aside; It shall not have part of me” (Ps. 101:3).

There are a growing number of professing Christians today who believe nudity is more of an art than pornography. They see nothing wrong with watching it. They are “Corinthian” believers who’ve allowed the promiscuity of their culture to influence their lives and weaken their morality and spiritual witness. This is the reason there’s been so much controversy among Christians concerning movies like Game of Thrones and Shades of Gray. Many want to defend their right to view such filth. Others need to cooperate with the grace of God to overcome. When I was younger this is one of the areas I struggled with, but thanks be to God I have overcome. I stay vigilant in this area or else tendencies are to digress.

Here are some reasons why watching nudity is impure, ungodly and evil:

If just watching it was OK, why did Jesus say this?

“But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. And if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away. For it is more profitable that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matt. 5:28-29).

Watching nudity is disobedience to the command of Jesus to cut off your eye or hand, die to self, lose your life and take up your cross and follow Him.

Some may say, “Well, it doesn’t affect me like that; it doesn’t cause me to lust.” That line of justification is more dangerous than you actually watching it. The fact that you believe it doesn’t affect you means your spiritual senses have already been dulled and your conscience seared in that area.

Others might say, “Well, Jesus did not state it was a sin to look. It’s the lusting that He forbids.” C’mon now! Do you really think, oh man, that you can watch nudity and not lust in your heart? Again, such justification is a big red flag, and all it means is you are fighting for the right to keep on watching nudity.

Justifying sin is one of the biggest tricks of the devil. He wants you to watch people take their clothes off, and he likes what it does to you.

The devil also knows that watching nudity blinds you to God. It is an impurity that keeps you from seeing God as He is. It severs your intimate fellowship with God, just as it did in the garden in the beginning. Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened to see their nakedness, and thus, they were made blind to God and the blessed union they formerly enjoyed with Him. Instead, for the first time in creation, they were filled with fear, guilt, and condemnation. Only the pure in heart can see God (see Matt. 5:8). If you’ve been truly born again, Christ lives inside you. Try talking to Jesus while you’re watching someone other than your spouse or child take their clothes off.

Naive women need to know how nudity affects men.

Men are more easily moved by the sight of a nude woman than women are by the sight of a nude man. That is elementary. God has designed it that way. Nudity sells because it leads to pornography and sex. It is mainly the male sexual appetite that drives the sex business. If you are a woman, you need to be distinctly aware of the seducing power you can wield over a man with your body. Must you show cleavage? Must you wear such tight, skin-grabbing clothes? Are you really so naive to think that it’s just beauty or art?

Let the Word enlighten you.

“And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes” (1 Tim. 2:9, NLT).

Women are not even supposed to draw attention to themselves by wearing elaborate or expensive jewelry or clothes, much less display any measure of nudity. Now ladies, I’m not suggesting wearing plain and drab clothes, knotting your hair in a tight bun and not putting on any jewelry, but if the Word of God admonishes women toward cultivating this kind of modesty, is there any room at all for showing cleavage and wearing tight-fitting apparel? And shouldn’t the example of modesty be upheld first by ministers of the gospel? Then why is there such an all too frequent immodest and inappropriate display among female ministers or spouses in their dress?

Watching nudity places you under the control of another and subtly enslaves you. King David watched Bathsheba bathe herself one evening and desired her (2 Sam. 11:2). Watching nudity increases your desire to have sex with someone other than your spouse. It causes you to fantasize, which Jesus said is equivalent to the act of adultery. What you feed grows. The desire to watch nudity will grow as you feed it. Then you wake up one day and find it so difficult to stop. It’s become a habitual practice and you’re now a slave to it, and you need deliverance.

Here’s the Problem:

The problem is that most believers today are not taking Christ at His Word, and making holiness a serious enough matter, especially when it comes to their sexuality. They are burning with lust because they are feeding it. I’m a man. I know. I preach this message to myself all the time, so I won’t fall into temptation. We must put a restraining order on our flesh. Let’s be watchful in the right way, prayerful and cultivate an awareness of Him who lives in this temple of ours, for we are not our own (2 Cor. 5:15).

Know that Jesus didn’t just die to forgive us of sexual sin and immorality, but to purify us from the power that enslaves us to it, or in this case, causes us to watch it. He was crucified and shed His holy blood to set us free from all impurity and to make us pure (Titus 2:14).

Watching nudity makes us unholy and impure. It defiles our minds, our desires and then our bodies. It’s a vicious cycle that gratifies the flesh and then fills us with fear, guilt and condemnation. It is a violation of Philippians 4:8, which admonishes us to think on things that are good, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report.

Stop watching nudity that leads to pornography and illicit sex. Go to the throneroom of grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in your time of need (Heb. 4:16).

Men, let’s smash this idol and purify our hearts as we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).

For only the pure in heart shall see God (Matt 5:8) (see my book, Purity of Heart).

These books are forerunners to the move of God and personal holiness. The fire of God and the fear of God is attached to them. By purchasing and circulating our books please know that you are helping this ministry fulfill its mandate for restoration and revival. 

LOST SPIRITUAL GROUND NEEDS TO BE RECOVERED

Smith Wigglesworth spoke prophetically decades ago before he died and said that the greatest move of God would be in the 1980’s when solid teaching of the Word would be combined with the gifts and the move of the Holy Spirit. He knew he wouldn’t live to see it, but the younger generation would. I cut my teeth on that move of God and personally benefited greatly from it and enjoyed it while it lasted. That move of the Word and the Spirit laid a solid foundation in both me and my wife that we have carried these many years.

We were also privileged to be a part of a very fruitful Word and Spirit missionary movement in West Africa that took us into three different countries before transitioning in the 90’s back to America. Here in our own homeland we were privileged once again to be a part of a great outpouring known now historically as the Brownsville revival (1995-2000). In a 5 year period, 4 million visitors came from around the world to that revival with 150,000 experiencing first time salvation. We were part of the faculty of senior leaders of the Bible school that spawned from that revival. There we helped to establish students in the Word of God and their ministry callings.

Since that era, however, I have witnessed a declension in both the Word of truth and the Spirit of truth in many churches. It’s not the same. Something is lacking. What should’ve continued to grow in might and strength has actually declined. What has happened to cause this declension and diminishing of both the Word and the Spirit? Mainly two things.

FIRST REASON FOR DECLENSION

First, the lack of prayer and the lack of power has resulted in fewer conversions and the decline of church attendance. To offset this, church leadership has created a new church model.

This newer model was largely shaped by such men as Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago, and Rick Warren of Saddleback Valley Community Church, south of Los Angeles. Their influence is stunning. For example, years ago Willow Creek formed its own association of churches, about 9,500 of them, with 100,000 church leaders attending at least one conference. In its beginnings more than 250,000 pastors and church leaders from over 125 countries also attended Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church seminars, and more than 60,000 pastors initially subscribed to his weekly email newsletter. Those numbers may be much higher now, just to give you an idea of the scope of the influence of just these two men and this new church model.

This new church model has bred multitudes of churches called “seeker friendly” or “seeker awareness”. Their main philosophy is evangelizing through application of the latest marketing techniques. Typically, it begins with a survey of the lost or unchurched. This survey questions the unchurched about the things that interest them and offers things that would motivate them to attend a church. Results of the questionnaire indicate areas of potential changes in the church’s operations and services that would be effective in order to attract the unchurched, keep them attending, and win them to Christ. Those who have developed this marketing approach guarantee the growth of churches that diligently follow their proven methods. As far as numbers, this method is working, as many churches are exploding with growth. But is it Biblical-based or is it a gross compromise of the real gospel (The Real Gospel)?

Though it is noble and praiseworthy to reach more people for Christ, let me show you why the means and methods are clearly corrupted. As a result, the end must be corrupted also. Let’s begin with marketing as a tactic for reaching the lost.

Fundamentally, marketing has to do with profiling consumers, identifying what their “felt needs” are (btw, this has been the number one reason publishers have rejected most of my books – not a “felt need”), and then fashioning one’s product (or its image) to appeal to the targeted customer’s desires. The desired result is that the consumer buys into the product. George Barna, whom Christianity Today calls “the church’s guru of growth,” claims that such an approach is essential for the church in our market-driven society. Evangelical church growth leaders are convinced that the marketing approach can be implemented without compromising the gospel. I’m afraid that this has been a great deception, and in my own humble opinion, the number one reason for the declension and diminishing of the power of God in many of our churches.

A.B. McMahon explains it so well:

“First of all, the gospel and the person of Jesus Christ are not “products” to be “sold.” They cannot be refashioned or image-adjusted to appeal to the felt needs of our consumer-happy culture. Any attempt to do so compromises to some degree the truth of who Christ is and what He has done for us. For example, if the lost are considered consumers and a basic marketing “commandment” says that the customer must reign supreme, then whatever may be offensive to the lost must be discarded, revamped, or downplayed. Scripture tells us clearly that the message of the Cross is “foolishness to them that are perishing” and that Christ himself is a “rock of offense” (1 Cor:1:18; 1 Pt 2:8). Some seeker-friendly churches, therefore, seek to avoid this “negative aspect” of the gospel by making the temporal benefits of becoming a Christian their chief selling point. Although that appeals to our gratification-oriented generation, it is neither the gospel nor the goal of a believer’s life in Christ.”

Truth be told, this new model is now a monster that is breeding a second generation semi-believer who lacks passion for God, and discernment in the things of the Spirit, and is unskilled in the word of righteousness.

This is the sad result of man flexing his own muscles and building churches with the strength of the arm of flesh. We have been wise in our own conceits and placed our trust in man’s wisdom and ability.

Secondly, if you want to attract the lost on the basis of what might interest them, for the most part you will be appealing to and accommodating their flesh. Wittingly or unwittingly, that seems to be the standard operating procedure of seeker-friendly churches. They mimic what’s popular in our culture: top-forty and performance-style music, theatrical productions, stimulating multi-media presentations, and thirty-minutes-or-less of positive messages. The latter, more often than not, are topical, therapeutic, and centered on self-fulfillment and how the Lord can meet one’s needs and help solve one’s problems.

What I have just described at length is the product of man’s own wisdom and the first reason for the declension and diminishing of both the Word of truth and the Spirit of truth.

SECOND REASON FOR DECLENSION

Lack of solid Biblically based teaching of the Word of God and accurate demonstrations of the Spirit of God has created a void for people to chase spiritual experiences, thrills, and sensationalism outside of the real truth. In our travels, we see much of this. Many who are weak in the foundations of the Word are hungry for an experience. That is a risky combination as it leads to chasing mystical things and the false prophetic.

Some examples would be the obsession with receiving personal prophecy, the abuse of the laying on of hands for everything – for faith, for financial breakthrough, for deliverance, to impart ministry anointing; the gross overemphasis on warfare and deliverance etc. etc. etc. Many of these blessings come through the Word, personal disciplines to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, and praying and being led by the Spirit of God. People need to be taught these things.

You can’t lay hands on people for everything. And personal prophecy is not the main way you receive from God. Even misguided pastors fall into the trap of either being too heavy handed and restrictive in their leadership style, which will also cause its own set of problems, or being too loose and letting things be a free-for-all.

Good shepherds are good gatekeepers and they watch at the gate of people’s lives for thieves that would steal, kill, and destroy them. Good shepherds warn their people of wolves in sheep’s clothing that would destroy the sheep. They warn their people of false teachings that will make them spiritually sick. The primary way they do this is by teaching and demonstrating the truth – the same way bank tellers can spot a counterfeit bill by being so familiar with the real. This is also the reason God has given us the Ephesians 4:11 ministry gifts – so spiritual children won’t be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitfulness plotting” (Eph. 4:14). Good shepherds are like good parents who watch what comes into their children’s lives through their associations and lifestyles.

I’m also finding a growing number of older Christians who are not really  grounded in the Word of God. They are like those the Word describes who ought to be teachers by now, but have become “dull of hearing” and need someone to teach them again the first principles of the oracles of God (Heb. 5:11-12). Oh, some can quote the Word, and rejoice about the Word, nod their heads and shout Amen at the preaching of the Word, but they are spiritual babies who have need of milk and cannot handle solid food yet.

The true anointing of the Spirit must be your Teacher, for it is a day and an hour where many are being led astray. Foundational things must be taught to solidify people’s lives. Knowing the Word, learning the true anointing, and being led by the Spirit must become the emphasis. Understanding their personal authority as a believer, walking in faith and love, learning to enter into the prayer life by putting on the armor of God should be a high priority for every saint. These foundations should never get old, but need to be rehearsed and renewed regularly. Even as athletes or musicians or other occupational workers must continually practice the fundamentals of what they do, so should the earnest Christian do.

Through a process of time hearkening to this practical instruction will turn the tide again and cause a groundswell of power and effectiveness in the life of the Church that will once again distinguish it from the false and carnal church.

We’ve lost spiritual ground that needs to be recovered.

KEEPING YOUR SPIRITUAL INITIATIVE HIGH

I was preaching like a man on fire on the necessity of the mighty baptism in the Holy Spirit. Half way through the meeting a lady stands up in the midst of the congregation and starts speaking in tongues for the first time. She couldn’t wait until the altar invitation to be filled. This is the kind of spiritual initiative the Word will bring to your life.

Your faith is more aggressive when you’re feeding yourself on the Word of God. When you find out as this woman did that the baptism in the Holy Spirit belongs to every born again believer you won’t be passive in receiving it. You won’t take no for an answer. The number one hindrance to receiving personally from God is the question of whether or not it’s His will for you to have what you’re asking or believing Him for. Well, how does one know what the will of God is? From  the Word of God. His word is His will. Jesus was the Word of God. We can also learn what God’s will is from the life and example of Jesus. He was the Word of God in action.

When you find out for certain what God’s will is it will revolutionize your faith. You will become like a bulldog. You will resist the enemy. You will not be moved by the circumstances or by what you see or feel. You will fight the good fight of faith knowing what belongs to you because of the covenant promises of God.

Faith begins where the will of God is known. How can you have faith if you don’t know what God’s will is concerning a situation or a problem in your life? Knowing the will of God will produce strong faith in you, and it will not only help you to personally receive from God, but it will empower you to help others.

WOMAN MIRACULOUSLY HEALED

When I was a young missionary in West Africa I began to see and experience greater fruit of having strong faith in the Word of God. One day I was listening to an audio series by Norvel Hayes called, You Shall Live And Not Die. Brother Norvel is a no nonsense preacher and he was blasting the doubt out of people through this faith series. I got so fired up and believed that God could and would do anything I asked Him to do.

You see, this is what happens when you listen to strong teaching of the Word of God. In this case I was listening to a man who was aiming a major part of his teaching to people who were full of sickness and disease and had been given up to die (I would recommend this audio series to anyone in such a condition). If they will listen to it and believe it, they will be healed. I guarantee it.

Anyway, during the time I was feeding my spirit on this audio series I experienced two miraculous healings in others whom I ministered to. One was a female Bible school student of mine who came to the mission house one day with a fractured leg. A log had rolled off a truck and hit her in the knee area. I guess she didn’t have money to tend to it, so she came to the house walking with a stiff leg. She couldn’t bend it at all. I told her immediately that God would heal her.

Some people might be wondering, “how did you know God would heal her?” Because that’s what His Word says. That’s His will. That’s His character. I laid my hand on her knee and commanded her to be healed. Then I told her to bend her knee, which she hadn’t been able to do. At first she grimaced in pain, but I told her to keep bending it because God was healing her. After about the third time bending it her countenance changed and I could see that the pain had subsided and she was being healed. I then had her walk and even run a little with me outside to further prove that she was healed. Upon the realization of what the Lord had done for her that day, she lifted her hands in the air and began to praise Him with tears of joy flowing down her cheeks. Hallelujah!

After she left the house to go home I looked out the window and saw her walking down the dirt road we lived on with her hands still up in the air praising God for her healing. This was my first year on the mission field in Liberia, West Africa and this was one of the more miraculous healings I had witnessed in my young ministry, and it brought me great joy.

KEEP YOUR FAITH STRONG IN AREAS YOU WANT GOD TO USE YOU IN

My point is that my spiritual initiative was very high because I had been building up my faith and was ready for opportunities to be used by the Lord. I was looking for people to get healed. I was looking to cast devils out of people to set them free. Many more healings and deliverances would follow as I preached the Word of God from a position of strong faith.

If you want God to use you in ministering healing to people you’ve got to keep your faith strong in that area. If you want God to use you to get people saved and baptized in the Holy Ghost you’ve got to keep your faith strong in those areas. As a matter of fact, if you want to be healed yourself you should be feeding on healing scriptures instead of always depending on others to pray for you and believe for you. If you want to walk in divine health I’d highly suggest you keep your spirit strong where you will not compromise and give in to the devil and sickness and disease. If you keep your spirit strong by feeding it on the Word of God, there is continual life that flows to you and through you.

“My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find themand health to all their flesh” (Pr. 4:20-22). 

How do you know you’ve found the Word of God? You’re excited, fearless, and full of joy at what you’ve discovered in the Word. That’s when your spiritual initiative will be high. That’s when the Word will work for you.