ABSENCE OF FEAR OF GOD CAUSING MANY TO DRIFT

I remember as a child learning to float on my back in the water at a beach we frequented in the summertime. After floating for a few minutes I’d look around and realize that I had drifted quite a distance from where I first started. The gentle motion of the ocean waves had caused me to drift.

I find this concept to be true in the Christian life as well. There is a spiritual drifting that occurs when we don’t maintain a strong and close communion with the Lord and feed on the full counsel of His Word.  You will begin accepting what popular elevated teachers in the Christian marketplace teach you instead of what the Bible actually says. It will become easier for you to swallow erroneous teachings – fables, fads, and popular trends in Christendom. And worse of all, you’ll slip into sin, worldliness,  and compromise a little at a time, and before you know it, you’ll be flirting with darkness and activities that you never thought you would engage in again.

The writer of Hebrews exhorts us:

So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it” (Heb. 2:1). 

The exhortation here is to listen very carefully to the truth and not to turn our ears away from it like many are doing today. What is the warning that is attached to this exhortation? It is the  prospect of eternal punishment for our disobedience.

“For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak?” (Heb. 2:2-3)

Now the issue with the Hebrew Christians was the danger of reverting back to Judaism and the Law, so Paul appeals to them in that light. Apostasy was the big issue. Drifting away from the things we’ve heard is drifting toward apostasy, and we definitely don’t want any part of what the Bible states will happen in these last days.

BACK TO MY DREAM AND WHAT THE LORD TOLD ME

In a recent blog I shared the dream I just had where I was speaking passionately to someone about Jesus, and of Him not just being a Savior, but a Judge also. And then in the dream I heard myself say these words: “There’s not enough judges in the Church”. I woke up knowing I’d heard a word from the Lord He wanted me to speak and write on.

The apostle Paul acted as a judge in the early Church when he stated: “For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present…”(1 Cor. 5:3). A man was cohabitating with his father’s wife (his stepmother), and Paul was disappointed that the Church had not judged the matter.

“For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? (v. 12)”

What was lacking in Corinth? Why did they fail to judge this matter? In a word, they did not have a healthy fear of the Lord operating in that community of believers and its elders. They did not know Jesus as the Judge. They did not consider the Lord’s judgments or the eternal punishment the offender might receive. So what did Paul command the Church to do? He told them to turn him over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh so that he might repent before he drifts too far and receives the just penalty of eternal punishment. The purpose was not vindictive but redemptive, so his soul could be saved (v. 4-5). They judged the matter, and later this man did repent and return to the Lord.

ETERNAL JUDGMENT IS A DOCTRINE OF CHRIST AND HOLINESS IS A MAJOR THEME

I have found that having this foundation of His judgments in your life is what cultivates the true fear of the Lord. Believers think it’s deep when you speak about the Lord’s judgments, but it’s actually  one of the principle doctrines of Christ (Heb. 6:1-2). The Word calls it milk (Heb. 5:12-13). It’s one of the first things new believers are supposed to learn. Yet it’s a missing theme in most of the Church. Why? Because we have substituted our own contemporary gospel for the the gospel that Jesus and the apostles preached. As a result, the Church is full of false converts. We avoid such themes as God’s eternal judgments, holiness, repentance, and the like. Those things are too negative and they minister death and condemnation, not life. That is what many Christians actually believe and will tell you. But the Bible is full of warnings and exhortations such as the aforementioned that need to be emphasized, especially in this day of such moral degradation that is nearing collapse.

Years ago the Lord dealt with me about writing and speaking more on what He called ‘lost themes’, or discarded and understated important truths in the body of Christ (several books I’ve written since then major on this word). As one example, the Lord said there was a diabolical silence on true holiness that is causing many to fall back into sin and compromise and a lackadaisical walk with God. Well, what is it that works holiness into your life? It’s the fear of the Lord! That is another understated theme that runs throughout the Bible.

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1).

The fear of the Lord is not a mere fear of His punishment for our disobedience, although that is a part of it,  but a holy reverence and wholesome dread of displeasing Him. It is to be the controlling motive of the true Christian’s life. It is the key component that perfects holiness in us. Holiness is an apostolic theme that runs through the entire New Testament and letters to the churches. How have we missed that?

And what is it that nurtures the fear of the Lord in your life? It’s the judgments of God or what is known as one of the 6 principles doctrines of Christ – eternal judgment. Repentance from dead works is another one of the doctrines of Christ. How do we not emphasize that? Today repentance is somehow a dirty word, but it is a foundational doctrine.

Did you know that the judgment Seat of Christ is also called the fear of the Lord?

We will continue on this theme next time…stay tuned.

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DO YOU SERVE THE REAL JESUS OR THE AMERICANIZED JESUS?

That’s quite a compelling question, isn’t it? It’s kind of like asking how much of Christ is in your Christianity. Take Christmas, as an example. I think many of us would agree that Christmas has become so commercialized that Christ is hardly noticed, much less celebrated and revered. Easter would be in the same category. How in the world a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ could’ve ever evolved into an affinity with Easter bunnies and Easter eggs I’ll never know. Such is the tenuous nature of idolatry.

Is it possible for Jesus Christ to be lost in Christianity, the very religion whose name it bears and professes? We know that without a relationship with Christ, just another religion is all that remains. We also know from scripture that someone can profess to know Christ but in works actually deny Him (Titus 1:16). But isn’t it also true that in works many may profess to know Him, but in authentic heart knowledge they do not?

Here’s a quick contrast:

The Biblical Jesus warns us of sin, judgment, and hell, but the Americanized Jesus never says anything negative.

The Biblical Jesus gives you salvation, hope, peace, and joy, but the Americanized Jesus gives you happiness, wealth, and sentimental feelings.

The Biblical Jesus brings division when necessary, but the Americanized Jesus promotes unity and tolerance at all costs.

Would you agree that Jesus was perfect in all ways? Yet His perfect love made some people angry. It brought a strange kind of trauma into their lives. His words disturbed and unsettled many and even caused riots. That’s because His love was a holy love. And holiness always repels the carnal mind and makes people hostile. Jesus was perfect in love and yet they killed Him for it. Such is the spirit that’s in the world and in the religious church. Holiness always provokes hatred and makes proud people mad, while ministering resurrection life and a fragrance to the humble.

THE AROMA OF CHRIST

I’ve been around persecuted Christians and have received much from their spirit. When you are around someone who suffers, there is an aroma of Christ that pervades the very atmosphere. The Western Church must cultivate this holy quality, but it can’t be done until we understand meekness, brokenness, and suffering – all qualities of the real Jesus, the Lamb of God. Sentimental love, so common in Western nations, rooted in the fear of man, will never possess those qualities. Listen to the words of Watchmen Nee describe the breaking of the alabaster box by the woman who anointed Jesus for burial (Jn. 12:1-8):

“The breaking of the alabaster box and the anointing of the Lord filled the house with the sweetest odor. Everyone could smell it. Whenever you meet someone who has really suffered – been limited, gone through things for the Lord, been imprisoned, and is satisfied with the Lord and nothing else – immediately you sense the fragrance. There is the savor of the Lord. Something has been crushed. Something has been broken. And there is a resulting odor of sweetness.”

JESUS, THE EXPRESS IMAGE OF GOD AND THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE FATHER’S GLORY

So many people only know God as a Creator and a Judge. Others have a crooked perspective of Him and see Him as a sort of policeman or traffic cop who only springs into action when they are caught in a wrongdoing. Without the Lord Jesus coming into our world as God Incarnate, living among us, and revealing the deepest profundity of the fatherly heart of God, this is the conclusion many mere humans will formulate of Him. This perception of God does not draw me close. It does not pull on my heart strings. It does not stir up any desire to know Him. This demeaning view of God is not enough. Unless we come to know Him as a loving Father we will have a crippling walk with God and be at a grave disadvantage in relation to Him. We will never function aright until we see Him aright.

This is the God Jesus reflected. This is the loving Father He came to reveal to us. This is the real Jesus.

These are some highlights and key points from my latest book published earlier this year, called The Real Jesus.

Would you like a FREE copy of this book? I will gift it to you for Christmas in appreciation of your readership, but first you must agree to one condition. Would you, in your honor and integrity, post an honest review?

If still interested, here’s the link: Story Cartel

 Available also in kindle. This offer expires in three weeks. 

 

JUDGING YOURSELF KEEPS YOU IN THE LORD’S MERCY

Two of the main reasons people associate with a church is to be a success in life or to be a success in ministry. Both of these reasons are diluting the true heart of the Lord for His people.

The number one priority in the lives of believers should be to conform to the image of Christ. Period. Everything else will flow from there.

Jeremiah Johnson said this:

“If I had 100 students enrolled in a 4 year school of ministry, I would spend the entire first year delivering them from their need to be in ministry.

“That’s right, if you are called to the “ministry”, step one is getting delivered of your need to be in ministry.”

He also recommended this ministry training philosophy:

1. I would take ministry students hungry to preach and teach them how to pray.

2. I would take ministry students hungry for the applause of man and send them on a wilderness camping trip for three months to spend solitude with God. No social media and no cell phones.

3. I would take ministry students who like the sound of their own voice and have them clean the toilets and pick up trash for a year.

4. I would take ministry students who are enamored by their gifting and talent and have them do hospital visitation and nursing home visits for six months. Then I would have them sit with sexual abuse victims for six more.

5. I would take ministry students who want to be lazy and not work hard in “ministry” and have them work alongside congregants who actually hate their jobs and still go anyways because they have a family and bills to pay.

So long as this generation of “ministry students” continues to find their worth, value, and significance from being “in ministry”, which for them is to be on a stage somewhere at the center of attention and not in the hidden places learning how to be servants of all, we are in serious trouble!

IT”S ABOUT THE HEART’S MOTIVES

As someone who went to a ministry school and has had the opportunity to teach and train thousands of young students and ministers over the last 30 years, I have come to this same aforementioned conclusion. The scourge of ministry today is wanting to be seen and heard. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. Corrupt motives corrupt the entire work of building up Christ’s Church.

We need to adopt the wise words of an aged minister, who made it his life’s quest to live this out:

“I could care less if God used me. I wish He’d take me off the platform. I’d be perfectly happy in a prayer room never being seen or heard. If you want to be seen or heard you shouldn’t be on any platform. The people don’t need to see and hear you, but Jesus anyway.” – Kenneth E. Hagin

And some people still think this man is a false prophet. Really? That’s the problem in Christendom today; we can’t discern from the true and false minister because corrupted motives cannot discern between the holy and profane.

LIFELONG PROCESS

For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.  But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:13-14). 

Here’s the process those who are taught of the Lord will usually go through over time:

Like Carolyn and me, if you’ve lived long enough you will have seen nearly every fad, trend, doctrinal heresy, and every spiritual imbalance to come down the pike. We’ve seen the fluff and the stuff that masquerades itself as “spiritual” or “the new thing God is doing”, but really has nothing to do with God. At my age and present season in life, my greatest desire is to be a man of prayer and a man of love – to know Christ deeply and walk with Him consistently, and love others as myself. Nothing else satisfies me and fulfills me.

The way you get there is by continually judging yourself and having your senses exercised to know the difference between good and evil, flesh and spirit, and the one that takes the most time – what is of man and what is of God. The process is one of continually coming to the light and weighing your motives in the light of eternity and allowing the Holy Spirit to expose areas of your life and heart so you don’t slip back into sin and darkness.

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (Jn. 3:19-21).

When you move toward the light you are moving toward being continually judged by His words. This means you deal with your issues and the things the Spirit of God brings up from within you. This is a lifelong process of growing and being filled with the fruits of righteousness (Phil 1:11). Learn from the error of your ways and your disobediences and missteps and move on. Do not stay in condemnation and wallow in self pity, but keep moving toward the light. If you do this, you will grow spiritually, and you will become more stable and mature. If you don’t, you will remain at a stunted level of spiritual growth and won’t mature and bear much fruit.

The highest aim and priority of every Christian is to be conformed to the image of Christ. Every decision and action you take in life should be with His will in mind. Every thought, feeling, and emotion should be in accordance with His Word.

Weigh it all in the light of eternity and before the judgment Seat of Christ. Judging yourself is how you keep yourself under the Lord’s mercy.

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:7).

For more on this vital theme, refer to Purity Of Heart.

 

THE ROOT OF DECEPTION: NOT KNOWING JESUS AS THE JUDGE

I received a very significant dream a few nights ago. In the dream I was talking to someone about Jesus, not as the Savior, but as the Judge. I awoke with a revelation and an urgency to write what I believe is a word from the Lord.

The end meaning of the dream is this: Many professing Christians have a veil over their hearts and lack proper discernment because they don’t know Jesus as the Judge, therefore they don’t fear Him. They only know Him as the Savior. It is the world that needs to know Jesus as the Savior, for Jesus did not come to judge the world but to save them (Jn. 12:44-48), but the Church needs to know Him as the Judge.

The very essence of His Person and His throne is righteousness and judgment.

HIS PERSON

“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom” (2 Tim. 4:1).

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God (Rev. 19:11-13).

HIS THRONE

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne” (Ps. 97:2). Justice has to do with judgment.

Until we understand Jesus as the Judge in the light of God’s eternal judgments, truth cannot prevail and equity (honesty, integrity, uprightness, straightforwardness) will not have access into our lives.

Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter” (Is. 59:14).

In order to be clothed with glory the Church must know Jesus as the Judge. True judgment and justice removes the facade and smokescreen of how things appear to be, and reveals them according to their true nature. THE LORD does not judge things by appearance, but as they really are. At the judgment seat of Christ “we will be revealed as we are” (2 Cor. 5:10 – Amp.), and “each one’s work will become clear” (1 Cor. 3:13). As we walk with this knowledge down here on the earth we are in fact beholding Jesus with an unveiled face, and are changed from one degree of glory to another. There will be no glory in the Church until there is true judgment.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).

In the dream I was saying that there were not enough judges on the earth and in the Church.  As a result the Church was falling short of judging spiritual matters. “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge” (1 Cor. 14:29).

“For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed” (1 Cor. 5:3).

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person” (1 Cor. 5:11-13).

ETERNAL JUDGMENT

One of the principle doctrines of Christ is eternal judgment (Heb. 6:1-2). That would include both the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11) and the Judgment Seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10). Eternal Judgment is one of the doctrines that is referred to as the milk of the Word (Heb. 5:12-14). Yes, the milk of the Word! Spiritual babes in Christ are to desire the milk of the Word. Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby”…(1 Pt. 2:1-2). 

Some believers think they are mature when they are really babies. I believe that the complacency and lack of the fear of the Lord we see in the Church today is partly due to these missing ingredients in our spiritual diet known as the first principles of the doctrine of Christ. Eternal judgment is just one of them.

Do you realize that most Christians who are weak, sickly, and die prematurely are those who have not judged themselves? That is quite a compelling thought.

For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged” (1 Cor. 11:30-31).

This tells me that we are to walk before the Judgment Seat of Christ right now while we are still in our earthly bodies here on the earth. In order to do that we’ve got to know Jesus, not just as Savior, but as Judge. As we walk with this knowledge down here on the earth we are in fact beholding Jesus with an unveiled face.

The Church must understand that righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne. Until we see that, we cannot walk in true discernment, clarity, and the liberty of the Spirit. It is in “beholding the goodness and severity of the Lord” (Rom. 11:22) that we are kept free from the veils of deception.

For more on this theme please refer to my book, Purity Of Heart.

THANKSGIVING: NOT A HOLIDAY TRADITION BUT A HEART THAT SEES GOD IN EVERYTHING

Thanksgiving is not a spiritual exercise. It’s not just a commandment to be obeyed or a duty and obligation. It is not a worldly holiday tradition or religious activity, but it is the outflow of a heart that is filled with God’s goodness and has learned to see God in every circumstance of life.

Although contrary to human nature thanksgiving is to be the song of believers. And the true test of whether it is more of a duty or obligation than a lifestyle is evidenced in the hard times.

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thes. 5:18).

We are not to give thanks for bad things happening to us, but we are to be thankful regardless of the circumstances. A heart full of gratitude frees us from strife and stress and allows the Lord to intervene and engage in our affairs. Supernatural forces are activated and unleashed on our behalf when we remain grateful in all circumstances, especially in hardship and in adversity.

Most people’s lifestyles rule them to such an extent that they have no focus toward God. They live so much in the flesh and in the natural realm that they become a very soulish and mechanical person who may even quote the Word, but they never learn to abide in the Lord. A grateful heart helps you to abide in the Lord and to sanctify Him in your heart (1 Pet 3:15).

THE KEY TO A LIFE OF THANKSGIVING

What does that mean? It means that you’ve got to cultivate an ability to see God in everything. Most Christians only see God in the good things, but not the bad. This greatly affects the condition of their hearts and their thanksgiving. It’s a compartment mentality.

In other words, many believers recognize that God wants them to have a full, abundant, and prosperous life (John 10:10). When good things are not happening in their lives, God is there, but in difficult moments, they can’t see Him. It has to be the devil. The problem with that mentality is that it stops you from being able to see God in every circumstance. Most believers’ ability to see God has to do with their environment and their circumstances, so their faith is very limited. We as believers have to grow past that.

Like every believer does, I’ve always rejoiced in the Lord when everything was calm and good. And I might rejoice in the Lord when things were not so good, but I used to do it from a heady knowledge because I knew I should. It was more mechanical than a natural outflow from the heart because it did not include the ability to see God at that moment. I saw the kingdom of darkness and I saw the kingdom of light. It was almost as if God appears one day and then all hell breaks loose, and in my mind He’s not there anymore. It’s me and the devil having a fist fight. The devil got in and I had to get him out. And in my thinking I had to break through that hell to find God again.

Then I started thinking differently in that God is always present, and He doesn’t change. Yes, life and circumstances change, but God is still omnipresent. God is still immutable. When your faith becomes developed to such an extent that you’re able to recognize that God is here … He’s always here … then you’re going to start looking for Him even in difficult moments.

When I say looking for Him in difficult moments, I’m not talking about looking for Him to get you out of difficult moments. Of course you don’t expect difficult moments, but the Lord makes it very clear that we’re going to have trials, and we’re going to have hardships.

I don’t expect difficult moments, but I’m not going to set myself up for false expectations to believe that the day is going to be absent of potential trials. I already have an understanding that I’m going to experience those things perhaps today, tomorrow, or a week, or a year from now. Those things are going to come my way, but the great news is that God is with me. Again, it’s developing a moment by moment consciousness and awareness of God, and learning to abide in Him even in rough times.

Most believers are always looking for God to resolve their problems. And of course we want God to resolve our problems, but we’ve got to learn to love God even in the midst of our problems. I want to learn to enjoy God in the midst of my problems and difficult circumstances.

When I enjoy God in my circumstances, the circumstances become different. They have a whole different flavor to them. They don’t represent defeat any more. They don’t represent fear any more. This fresh perspective can help a lot of believers learn to abide in the Lord and to stay full of thanksgiving.

Most Christians rightly believe that God is good and the devil is bad, so they fight the bad and believe for the good. But we rarely ever have any rest in the bad, do we? And the reason we don’t have rest in the bad is because we really don’t have the kind of faith that we need in the bad.
The faith that we really need to enjoy life is to see Him.

The real faith is when we see God in everything. It’s not so much what He does for us, which is wonderful and worthy of praise. Thank God He is forever taking care of us, but it goes beyond that. When I can see Him, and when my faith is developed to see Him in all circumstances, then it brings me to a great place of rest and thanksgiving.

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Col. 3:15).

For more on similar themes please refer to Prayer: The Language Of The Spirit.

ONE LIFE CREATES A CHAIN REACTION: MY STORY FOR HIS GLORY

My daddy moved to heaven in the summer of 2016. He is there because of this verse of scripture:

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).

When I gave my life to Christ in 1980 I claimed this promise for my parents and younger brother. Within 2-3 years my faith turned to sight as my entire family came to Christ.

I am a product of a faithful witness who lived an exemplary Christian life before me. He was instrumental in not only leading me to the Lord, but getting me baptized in water and in the Holy Ghost. He also personally discipled me in the things of God during my first year as a believer, taking me to church and Bible studies. I owe him a debt for his faithful witness in my life.

THE AROMA OF CHRIST

It all started in college. Rick was the mailroom clerk. There was something different about him. He possessed a joy and a peace that was otherworldly. Love emanated from his being. The Bible calls it the fruit of the Spirit – fruit that is worthy of further inspection. I inspected it and liked what I saw. His fruit created a hunger in me. It was the aroma of Christ.

“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Eph. 5:2).

Not only did he have fruit, but he glowed with a radiant countenance. One day I walked into his office to get my mail and observed a big open Bible on his desk. I looked at his Bible and then at his shining face. I put two and two together and concluded that an open Bible equals a shiny radiant face.

“They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed” (Ps. 34:5).

It’s interesting that after I came to Christ a college friend of mine witnessed that same radiance in me and told me about it after he had gotten saved. That was encouraging to hear. Have we forgotten that we are living epistles read of all men? 

Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (2 Cor. 3:2-3).

The witness of Rick’s life was undeniably clear. Conversations of Jesus were making Him known. Incorruptible seeds were being sown. One Christmas I remember the college  newspaper posted pictures of students and workers asking them what Christmas meant to them. There in the middle of the page was Rick’s big smiling face with one word in capital letters underneath his picture – “JESUS!” My insides rumbled again with more hunger.

I’ve got to find out how to have what he’s got!

Then there was the night I called him at about 1:00 am in a drunken state. Girlfriend problems. He told me that him and his wife would pray once we got off the phone. Such love and care continued to tug on my heart. Jesus was calling. Shortly after graduation from college I made the leap and surrendered my life to Christ.

One other memorable incident I failed to mention that led to my salvation happened in the summer of 1979 during the season of Rick’s witness in my life. Arriving home from a party in a semi-drunk state, I turned on the television and evangelist James Robison was preaching the gospel (yes, he was already preaching that many years ago). Almost immediately I fell under conviction and sobered up. Then I wrote his ministry a letter asking him how to stop sinning and doing the things I was doing. The real gospel always produces those kind of dealings of God in a man. Repentance was working in my heart. I knew Rick had been praying for me and others whom he constantly witnessed to.  What a life and an example he was to me! Sinners remember a life lived well before them.

Since then God has taken this little life and has used it for His glory to not only impact my own family but thousands of others here and around the world. We lived in West Africa as missionaries for many years and witnessed the supernatural impact of so many lives. Last year God opened a door for us to be on Arabic satellite television. Soon we will be picked up by one of the largest satellites in the Middle East that has 4 million viewers per day and the editors are dubbing my voice into Arabic (Reaching the sons of Ismael). Many of my relatives – grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins have all heard the gospel from me and my family. They’ve witnessed us forsaking religion and the traditions of men and our denomination. They’ve witnessed our lives being lived for the Lord. Precious seeds and precious prayers have been sown on their behalf. Some have come to Christ. Others will before they die.

GO FOR THE ONE

Who is in front of you? Who are your neighbors, friends, and co-workers that have not yet come into the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? Does your life make them hungry? Does your witness inspire them to want what you have? Does your testimony cause their wombs to open and reach for divine purpose in their own lives?

Do not despise the one. Don’t give up on them. Stay in their lives. Rick was in my life during most of my college years, but I did not surrender to the Lord until shortly after graduation.

Be patient and take time with the one, for one life can produce a chain reaction that impacts so many other lives. I read that during a lifetime just one introverted person touches 10,000 other people in some way.

Let’s take advantage of the freedom we have to preach the gospel. Let’s redeem the time. Let’s believe together for the lives of the millions of believers in America and other nations to become faithful laborers and produce a harvest of souls for the glory of God.

Jesus is worthy of the reward of His sacrifice.

DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN EMOTIONS, TRUTH, AND THE ANOINTING

This is a very enlightening article written by a friend of mine, John Fenn. I hope it blesses you like it blessed me.

Consider how the culture of the world encourages people to live by emotion rather than reasoning: Advertising is designed to get specific emotional responses from us whether it be a cute ad, a funny ad, or a sexy ad, they are all designed to stir emotions more than logic.

Consider auditorium church culture. The beautiful building, the raucous start to most worship services with songs designed to get a person up and moving around, pleas for money or to volunteer in a program, or a soul-stirring message designed to motivate the congregation –  much of auditorium church culture has substituted emotion for the anointing (the manifest presence of God).

The world tries to train people to live by emotion. (And many ‘Christian’ web sites link in with a spirit of fear to cause believers to keep turning to their site out of fear, under the guise of ‘I just want to see what is happening in the alternative media’, but it is really masking the spirit of fear). And much of the Church seems to move right along the same line.

God created us to live in balance with our reasoning and logic working together to walk with Him through life.

Recent studies show the average attention span of people (Millennial age group) have dropped from 12 seconds at the turn of the century to just 8 seconds today. That’s right, you have 8 seconds to capture that person watching your TV commercial, or reading your print ad or article – that departure from logic explains so much, doesn’t it? It explains why politics has become so nasty, in the US at least. My generation was trained to attack ideas, not the person. Today it is the opposite.

(Here is a link of just one such report if interested: Declining Attention Spans

In church culture I’ve noticed emotions taking over and ruling rather than the study of God’s Word and God’s ways. It started back in the 1980’s, and it became more pronounced in the 1990’s, to the point that in the late 1990’s many people equated emotion with the Holy Spirit. To stir the emotions was equivalent to feeling the Holy Spirit for many churches. That’s the wrong spirit.

I saw Word of faith teachers taking verses (especially about money) so far out of context and building doctrine I thought no one in their right mind would believe – yet millions did. When I went to work with another ministry that associated itself and promoted ministers who built intercessory prayer and personal prophecy up to an unhealthy level, and saw many lives ruined by ‘personal prophecy’ without any reasoning or common sense applied, I thought surely we are close to the end of days.

And now with the Internet connecting people who have given themselves over to everything from a commonly held spirit of fear to every stray and weird belief out there, all in the name of God, I wonder where did the ability to reason go? When did we get to the place we sacrificed the brains God gave us in favor of emotion-based beliefs wrapped in spirituality that causes people to completely abandon all logic and common sense? Common sense isn’t too common any more. Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is already made up. People want to be right more than they want the truth.

“And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it'”  (Gen. 4:3-7).

The Lord asked Cain  three questions and received no answer: “Why are you angry?” “Why has your face fallen?” “If you do right, won’t it be accepted?” Within these questions the Lord lays out His plan. His method of dealing with emotions, which in this case, as is so often with us, if not dealt with properly, can lead to sin and error in decisions: “If you don’t do what is right, sin is crouching at your door and it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)

We’ve lost that backbone today – the concept of ruling over the sin desire. We want counseling, we want an instant deliverance, we want someone to make it all go away, and remove that temptation from us once and for all! No, no, no!  We are on the earth, the devil is loose, your body wants to sin, and you must use discipline (that’s almost a curse word for some people I think). “Sin lies at your door and wants to have you. You must rule over it!”

EMOTION IS THE DOOR FOR BLESSING OR CURSE

Notice the connection with emotion as the doorway by which Cain would either keep the devil on the outside of his life, or let him in. God said to him, “If you don’t do right, sin is at your door. Grab hold of your hurt Cain. Grab hold of your disappointment and anger Cain. Pull in the emotion and think. Reason it out, and do what is right!”

Right there – right at that moment, the decision to do right or do wrong, is the first defense – logic. Reasoning. But it is the combination of turning away from the truth and the giving of himself to wrong emotions that opened the door for murder. James would later write in 3:14 in his passage about being intellectually honest with our own heart, “don’t lie against the truth” (when you see something in your heart that isn’t right, instead of hiding it, admit it to God and deal with it). Don’t lie against the truth.

That is what Cain was doing – lying against the truth. He knew his heart, he knew what was right to do, but he didn’t want to. It is wrong thoughts that opens the door to wrong emotions that leads to sin. Cain set his will and insisted on doing the things the way he wanted.

We aren’t taught that emotions can change direction like a flag on a flag pole blowing with the changing wind, but that is the truth. If you focus on what you don’t like about your spouse, or about your life, then those wrong thoughts will lead to emotions turning away from them and give rise to wrong thoughts (lies) such as how much better off you’d be on your own, or how so and so would make a better spouse. That’s how the death spiral begins; death to relationships, death to what you have that is good and right.

If a person arrests their emotions by stepping back intellectually to look at the larger picture, let us say that spouse in this situation, and intellectually search for why they first fell in love, want what is right about their life and marriage, then the emotions will start to swing towards the favorable. The instruction of Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31 that we call ‘The Golden Rule’ is actually a road map of healthy thought followed by healthy emotion:

“Do to others what you want them to do to you.” Think that through. That is a command to take the initiative, to be on the offensive to actively do as a lifestyle to others what you would want them to do back to you. You don’t wait for them to come around to see things your way – you do to them what you would have them do to you.

You want your husband to take you to a romantic restaurant – you take the initiative to take him out. You want him to stop treating you with disrespect when in public, then you find ways to treat him with honor and respect in your statements to your friends about him. Men – you want her to be more loving at home, then you start treating her with love, finding special ways to do good to her that you would love for her to do to you.

Emotions follow the thought processes and actions. Don’t make your thoughts follow your emotions; that is what Cain did. Your emotions are to follow your healthy thought processes and healthy actions. Build a bridge, or build a wall. Sometimes you have to build that bridge several ways and times before a wall comes down and the other person starts building a bridge from their side of things.

The progression of Cain’s downfall and how God tried to reach him lays out for us a roadmap of the ways of the Lord. He is tender and merciful, and approaches us with questions designed to point out erroneous thoughts and feelings, and laying out for us the right way – and urging us to take that right way.

AN END TIME PLAN TO UNIFY THE BODY OF CHRIST

Have you ever asked yourself why there are so many different churches and denominations in Christianity today? Why is there so much division and disunity? Why does it seem so difficult to labor together in a spirit of love?

What I’m about to share with you will give you great wisdom for change. It is an end time plan. It is a plan we saw work overseas very effectively, but I had always thought it could never work here in America or in other developed countries because of the pride of learning and education, self-reliance, and self-sufficiency. It will take great humility to receive this plan.

Let me warn you, though and preface some remarks before releasing this plan. None of this will work unless you are a kingdom minded person. My first book, Soulish Leadership: Whose Kingdom Are You Building?, has shaken up many a leader along these lines. (Scroll down our book page and watch the 1.34 minute book promo).

A RIGHT HEART

Here are some heart searching questions a friend of mine asked: What would happen in your community if it didn’t matter who controlled, who led, or who got the credit for extending the kingdom of heaven on this earth? What if kingdom growth meant the end of everything you are involved in? Could you let go of what is dear to you so that another might succeed? Would you be willing to be nothing for the greater good? To give away your time, talents, and money for no other reason than the good it causes others? These questions reveal the golden key to a greater unity in the body of Christ. It’s all in the heart. What is required is not growth of any particular group but rather, Christ’s kingdom, free of emotional, spiritual, and financial ownership issues.

This is the Christ-like way: Humble yourself as the meek and lowly One did, and serve others as if they are more important than you. This releases everyone into their greatest potential and restores and builds up the body.

Nothing I’m about to share will work without that qualifier.

KEY QUALIFYING PRINCIPLES

Secondly, there are key principles that must be operative in our belief system that will cause this end time plan to work.

These foundational principles will unify the body of Christ and create a  dynamic vehicle by which we can cooperate with God in bringing forth great change and revival. No matter the form or method of organization of any Christian church or faith-based group, it must not violate these divine principles. These principles must always supersede any human arrangement that might compromise these principles. In other words, any ecclesiastical laws that violate these divine principles must be rendered unconstitutional.

Here then are the qualifying principles:

1.  The Church must acknowledge the supreme Headship of Christ, not in word but in deed. There is no place here for a control freak – no vicar, no pope, no authoritarian head who must have the rule and preeminence.

2. Every overseer of every church, work, and organization must acknowledge the fellowship of the whole body of Christ. This means that no group may restrict fellowship along denominational lines or its own organization. That would constitute division in the body of Christ.

3. The Church must acknowledge all ministries which God has set it the Church (1 Cor. 12:28-31). It should not deny initiative to those whom God has called to special ministries (Eph. 4:11) (Rom. 12:3-6). Paul said there were diversities of operations. We can then conclude that every man’s ministry will differ in some degree from another’s.

4. It should stand for the principles of the doctrine of Christ (Heb. 6:1-2).

5.  It should be flexible and responsive to revival when and where God should send it. Historically, revivals have come through individuals. Churches may greatly benefit from such visitations if they are sensitive to the Spirit of God.

THE END TIME PLAN

An interdenominational ministry training school or center that will bring churches together in each city and region is the plan. The objectives would be three-fold.

1. To bring about doc­trinal order and unity in the Body of Christ.

2. To meet the spiritual need in a region through evangelism, discipleship, and the equipping of ministry gifts.

3. To accel­er­ate divine ac­tivity, train­ing, and the move of God in a region.

Can you imagine if every denomination and faith based church or group who professes Christ would engage in this type of training? It would revolutionize the landscape of Christianity in America and the nations, and put fear into the devil and his demons. It will take a miracle of great proportions to break down denominational barriers and church walls, but I believe in miracles. And I believe the prayer of Jesus for the unity of His people will be fully answered before He returns (Jn. 17).

This is just something to think about that has been on my heart. Perhaps there are strong leaders who have a gift, a calling, and a platform to catalyze such an aforementioned plan in the body of Christ in these end of days. It would take a great humility in leaders to bring this plan to pass.

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me (Jn. 17:20-23).

May His glory make us one.

FAITH FAKERS (Part 4)

One of the greatest and most subtle enemies of our faith is mental ascent or head knowledge. Many Christians, especially in Charismatic and Word of Faith circles, have learned to quote or confess the Word and say all the right things, but many are still falling short of possessing what they say they are believing God for. It has been my observation over the years that there are many more faith talkers than real faith walkers.

How can we narrow the gap between our talk and our walk – our saying and our believing? Since unbelief is the greatest thief of the blessings of God, what are some symptoms of unbelief? And what is the real evidence that faith is working in your heart? Here are some differences between a weak spirit that is still walking in unbelief and a spirit that is strong in faith:

Unbelief is still anxious and worries, while true faith walks in undisturbed peace. Unbelief is joyless with a downcast countenance while true faith lives in joyful rejoicing. Unbelief is not fully persuaded that what they’ve asked of the Lord belongs to them, or that it’s even God’s will for them to have what they  are asking for or claiming, while true faith has an unshakeable confidence that what they have asked for is theirs even though they cannot yet see it or feel it.

Confidence is a child of faith while condemnation is a killer of faith. While our faith is not dependent on our good works and perfection, when a person is not living right and not walking in obedience to the light they have, their hearts condemn them and they have no confidence or assurance toward God.

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 Jn. 3:21-22).

It takes time and work to cultivate the real faith in your life – the kind of faith that overcomes the world, the flesh, and the devil – the kind of Bible faith that does not walk by sight and feelings and is not moved by contradictory circumstances.

People think that if they fake their faith, and just say all the right things that everything will be alright. This is a subtle lie of the devil. You need to develop your faith by feeding your spirit on the Word of God. Know and be familiar with the covenant God has made with us. Know what belongs to you, and what Jesus purchased for you with His very own precious blood. God has given us wonderful tools in order to live in the realm where all things are possible.

For example, at a very basic level, how do you know it’s God’s will to heal you and baptize you in the Holy Ghost? The same way you know that it’s God’s will to save everyone. Through the Word. God’s Word is His will. Many do not doubt their salvation, but are quick to reason away healing or the baptism of the Holy Spirit as perhaps not being the will of God for everyone. When you have the same assurance that healing and the Spirit’s baptism belongs to you as you do that salvation belongs to you, then you will receive from God. The same thing would be true concerning your finances or a job, or whatever you are asking of the Lord.

“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mk. 11:24).

This verse covers not only all our needs but our desires as well. What a tremendous scripture! It would help many of you to read that verse very slowly. Breathe in every Word. Soak in it. You know you have what you’ve asked for and become fully persuaded of it through the Word of God.

When do you believe you receive from God? It is when you pray, and before the actual manifestation of it. If Christians lived in the Word more, faith would come easy, and they would not be moved by contradictory circumstances. It is not a struggle to have faith or get faith. It just comes as you read and meditate on the Word. When one is sick or riddled with disease, God’s Word is medicine to all their flesh. Too many of us are not taking our medicine.

Smith Wigglesworth was called an apostle of faith. If anyone understood the real faith, it was him. Here is what he said:

“Many believers say they are in faith, but they are lying to themselves. There are many who say they are believers, but they are full of sickness and disease, and do not take hold of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ that is provided for them.

I was taken to see a woman who was dying and I said to her, “How are things with you?”

She answered, “I have faith, I believe.”

I said, “You know that you do not have faith; you know that you are dying. It is not faith that you have; it is mere language.”

There is a difference between language and faith. I saw that she was in the hands of the devil. There was no possibility of life until he was removed from the premises. I hate the devil, and I laid hold of the woman and shouted, “Come out, you devil of death! I command you to come out in the name of Jesus!”

In one minute she stood on her feet in victory.

It’s time to put the Word to work in your life and receive faith for every need and desire you have. Know the difference between mere language and words and the true faith.

 

MODERN CHARISMATICS AND WOF CHRISTIANS HAVE FORGOTTEN THE “IF” (PART 3)

To get the most out of this blog I’d encourage you to read Part 1 and 2. There are causes and reasons why Christians do not walk in the fulness of God’s blessings – whether it be physical, financial, in our family and relationships, or some other area of our lives. There are conditions attached to receiving the promises of God. You can’t live the way you want to, neglect God’s dealings with you, and His Spirit’s leadings, walk in disobedience, and expect to receive God’s best. God is merciful and patient, but sooner or later you are going to have to walk in the light that you have or reap the consequences.

I’ve been a student of divine healing for many years and I’ve always been interested in longevity and reasons why believers and ministers do not live out their full time on the earth. I have never falsely believed, as so many do, that when your time comes and your number is called it’s over – that God works in mysterious ways, and you never know when you’re going to die. I’ve never believed that and never will. I can’t find scripture for any of those beliefs.

What I find are conditions for health and long life, and laws of sowing and reaping that have been set in motion by the Lord Himself. No one could ever make me believe that the devil can attack God’s children at any time, any place, and make them sick and diseased, wreak havoc in their lives, and kill them. We are not at the mercy of the devil. God is bigger. God is greater. We have a covenant with Him. He is our loving Father who sent His only begotten Son to this earth to utterly destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn. 3:8).

Jesus has done all He’s going to do about the devil, sickness and disease, premature death, etc. It’s up to us to take advantage of His redemption plan and appropriate His blessings, and exercise our faith and authority, and learn to be led by the Spirit of God and be obedient. There are three primary reasons why people fail to receive God’s best, especially in areas like divine healing.

First of all, people have to know God’s covenant and what actually belongs to them. Why would you not want to walk in all the Lord Jesus Christ purchased for you with His own precious Blood? Healing and divine health is a part and parcel of His covenant. We’ve been redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13; Dt. 28). Healing is the children’s bread and belongs to us. But if Christians are not convinced of that they won’t fight the good fight of faith in that area.

No one fights for something that they don’t know is legally theirs. Would you let a thief and a robber break into your house, beat your spouse, kidnap your children, and steal your valuable belongings? You would do what you could to prevent that even at the risk of your own life. Why? Because your house, family, and valuable possessions belong to you. They are legally and rightfully yours. When you are convinced and fully persuaded of what Jesus has purchased for you through the everlasting Blood covenant you will not lay down and let the devil steal, kill, and destroy you. You will fight the good fight of faith to receive and keep what is yours.

A second reason Christians fail to receive healing or God’s best for their lives is they have a weak spirit. They don’t keep their spirits well nourished and fed. They eat three hot meals a day and one cold spiritual snack per week. When they go through some kind of test and trial they are easily overcome by it because their faith is low. An old wise man of God once told me, with whatever else you’re reading and studying, make sure to always include feeding yourself on faith and healing. In other words, keep your faith built up and your spirit strong, so that you will be able to resist everything the devil throws at you at you in life. When your spirit is strong you won’t be so easily influenced by your circumstances, your feelings, and what you see in the natural. When your spirit is strong your joy and peace will be strong, your praise will be strong, and your faith will be buoyant and strong. When your spirit is strong, your mind will be clearer and sharper, and you will walk in robust health.

The third reason many Christians fail to receive God’s best is disobedience. This is what we’ve  been writing about in these last three blogs. Modern day Charismatics and word of faith Christians have forgotten the “if” in God’s Word and promises.

TWO EXAMPLES OF DISOBEDIENCE

“I don’t remember a time when my parents were not struggling with some sort of sickness or disease.”

This was the compelling statement and astute observation one young woman made after hearing a message on disobedience being one of the hindrances to walking in divine health. Her parents had been called to be missionaries in Africa at a young age, but her mother wouldn’t go. Their disobedience opened the door for the devil to wreak havoc on their physical bodies for many years.

This is another side of walking in the blessings of God that is not widely taught. It is the willing and obedient that eat the good of the land and enjoy the fulness of God’s blessings.

If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land” (Is. 1:19).

The late Kenneth E. Hagin in his amazing book, I Believe In Visions, describes an one open vision he had of Jesus when he was in the hospital due to an accident. Jesus talked to him at length concerning his ministry and the reason for a the accident Hagin had where he tore ligaments in his elbow and shoulder. In the visitation Jesus told him that he allowed Bro. Hagin to have this accident in order to get his attention about something He’d been trying to talk to him about for two years.

Jesus said, “If I hadn’t permitted Satan to do this to arrest your attention, you would not have lived past the age of 55 because you would’ve continued in my permissive will instead of my perfect will.” Think long and hard about that dear friends. There are reasons ministers get sick or don’t live out their full life. Ministers have a greater responsibility and with it, a greater and more severe judgement (Jam. 3:1).

Brother Hagin’s error, which was keeping him out of the perfect will of God, was in putting his teaching gift before his prophetic gift. He was not ministering in the way God had called him to minister.

There are many Christians today who are walking in the permissive will of God only, but are missing the perfect. God will let us walk in his permissive will, but it will also result in Him permitting things to happen in our lives that are not His will for us either. Do you understand? We cannot serve God on our own terms. It will cost us in our health, finances, and even longevity of life. It will rob us of our joy and peace and the fulness of the blessings of God.

So what should one do to avoid mishaps, accidents, sickness, disease, premature death, and cause you to prosper in spirit, soul, and body.

1. Keep your faith strong and your spirit well nourished with the Word of God.

2. Obey the written Word of God, especially in your love walk.

3. Yield to the dealings of God in your life and obey the leadings of the Holy Spirit.

If you do these three things, your spiritual progress and success in life will soon be evident to everyone, and you will glad and rejoice in the goodness of God.

Look for our faith and healing webinar coming soon, which will cover these areas and help strengthen you in the Word of God.