A Woman's Perspective On The Times We Live In

July 1, 2016

Does Your Spiritual Armor Have Dents In It?

     Yesterday's post tackled the hypocrisy of our spirits; when there is an imbalance between the false image we project to the world, and the true state of our inner spirit.  When such a disparity exists, then we are ripe for bondage to satan, and we are ineffective as a spiritual warrior for the kingdom of God.
     Today let's consider the possibility that some Christians understand the need for spiritual warfare, and the fact that there is a battle raging in the spiritual realm -- a battle that, as Christian soldiers, they are called to engage in.  But for whatever reason, they face barriers to putting on the armor of God, and are willing to just sit on the sidelines, unprotected.  Note:  it is God's armor that we put on -- not our own!  We are actually protecting ourselves with weapons that belong to God; that are part of Him, and keep us "conformed and transformed" to His image.
     So what are some issues that would keep us from putting on this armor and getting into the fight? The first thing to consider might be indifference or apathy towards the fight.   This attitude is expressed by Christians who just aren't interested in fighting, or who think that it is unnecessary to fight ... "God is in control, and there is nothing we can do to change His will" kind of people.  They feel like the fight is not theirs, that all the combat is between God and the devil; they are just on the sidelines waiting for the Big Boys to duke it out ... besides Jesus has already won, right?  The victory has already been declared, so what is there to fight about?
     So why does the Bible tells us there is continual conflict with evil, and to "fight the good fight of the faith"?   We must push back against the forces of evil, and that calls for a fight!  It's not about aggression and militancy; it's about God first loving us, and then us loving others so much that we are willing to fight for them to enter the kingdom with us.  You can't be apathetic and uninvolved, and expect to beat the enemy.
     The second attitude that would keep a Christian from putting on God's armor is doubt or skepticism about the fight.  How many of you have tried to talk to your fellow Christians about the battle being waged in the spiritual realm, and the part we play in the battle plan?  Have you received those glassy-eyed stares; or have you had your Christian neighbor take a step backwards, intimating that "Oh, you're one of those ... a fringy Christian."
     That always amazes me, because I just wonder what they do with Ephesians 6:10-17?  Is it just religious speech or dialogue to them?  If they are Christians that believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, then how do they dismiss the specific admonitions of these verses?  If they don't believe in the fight, or the necessity of it, then they would have no use for the armor, and somehow manage to ignore this passage or explain it away in some trivial manner.
     But to anyone who has ever engaged in a real spiritual battle, these verses speak the language of war, and a spiritual warrior recognizes them as a call to arms.  However, a Christian who doesn't believe in spiritual warfare simply thinks, "I'm just experiencing a season of bad luck", or "God is allowing this to come upon me to discipline me and draw me closer to Him".   They do not possess the knowledge that the same satan and demons whom Jesus fought -- and who were very real -- are the same entities we are fighting today.  They are not symbolic or metaphors for our sin; they are very real beings who have the capability and power to get directly involved in the affairs of human beings, and who are intent on beating us on the battlefield of our lives.  We must put on the armor God gives us and get in the fight!
     The third attitude that can befall a Christian is when they become demoralized or disheartened in the fight.  Let's face it, fighting in a war is hard and exhausting work.  No soldier can stay at a constant state of readiness without wearing himself out physically, psychologically, or emotionally.  Add "spiritually" to that list if you are considering the spiritual warrior.  We must learn to pace ourselves; to give ourselves time to praise our Lord for all the times He protected us from the fiery darts of the enemy during our seasons of battle.  As I've read articles that Pastor David Ireland has written about spiritual warfare, no words have struck me so squarely between the eyes than when he wrote, "This battle lasts a lifetime. It starts when we're born, and it should take on a new clarity when we're born again. [The battle never ends in this lifetime]; it ends when we die. The battle ends when heaven's gates open to us."
     So we must learn to conduct our service as a spiritual warrior at a slow and steady rate or speed in order to avoid overexerting ourselves and becoming discouraged or dispirited.  We must conduct a balanced life; one that finds equilibrium between our family, careers, taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally, spiritually ... and going into warrior mode when needed; alert and prepared.  We need to find encouragement through interaction with other warriors and we need to be realistic about our fight.  Demons and devils aren't lurking around every corner, but we must never let our guard down --- just don't become obsessed and "on" all the time.
     Finally, the last attitude that can disassociate a Christian from God's armor is contempt, scorn or condescension for the fight.  This attitude pervades the minds of Christians who are beset by hopelessness, or who think "What's the use"?  And, interestingly enough, the disdain for spiritual warfare is shared with those Christians who will say that we are saved by the grace of God, not by our works; so putting on the armor of God and fighting is taking things into our own hands and not relying on God for our salvation.  They will say things like, "If God wants me delivered, He will deliver me right here and now.  And if He doesn't want me delivered, I won't be.  It's not my place to interfere in God's plan for my life".  But He wants us to partner with Him; to exert the power of Jesus that resides in us to defeat our enemy. He doesn't want us to be robots, just waiting around for Him to do all the work.  How does that glorify Him?
     This kind of Christian will never put on the armor of God because he's afraid to trust it in the midst of the battle.  Therefore, he never even steps onto the battlefield, and when the enemy attacks him, he is left defenseless with no protective armor nor weapons.  His prayers will most likely be ineffective because there is no belief that he has the power and authority of Jesus backing him up.  And when his prayers go unanswered, he will just default to defeated mode.
     Pastor Ireland explained it another way:  "Just as some people enroll in the U.S. Army because of the fringe benefits—a striking uniform, tuition assistance and future veteran's benefits—God's army attracts similar inductees. Some people come to Christ only because of the promised salvation and ticket to heaven—which I admit should not be passed over. Yet they have a disdain for fighting.  [But] the calling to be a Christ-follower does not stop with being born again. It progresses to discipleship, which is synonymous with representing Christ on your knees in battle for the souls of men. Paul's words to Timothy hold true for us today: Endure hard times as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."
     My final thoughts are these ... just as soldiers in the wars of the world suffer injuries, pain, and wounds, we spiritual warriors will encounter our share of trauma.  But we do not battle alone.  Jesus, our General, accompanies us into each and every battle, and commissions the Holy Spirit to guide us through the minefields.  If we suffer bruises and affliction, we can rest assured that They will heal us and restore us; They will give us rest and peace; and They will strengthen us to renew the battle for another day.  Yes, our spiritual armor may have dents, but at least we know we can depend on it to carry us to victory!

Psalm 18:39    "For You have encircled me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me."

June 29, 2016

Closing The Gaps: Our Spiritual Hypocrisy

     Everyday I receive an email with an inspirational message from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a Christian sports ministry to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.  Frankly, although I am not an athlete, I still enjoy the sports analogies that accompany the emails, and I also enjoy receiving a message each day about how to honor God.
     One particular email really spoke to me, and I think it pertains to the Christian community's difficulty in embracing the spiritual realm and spiritual warfare.  Dan Britton, who played professional indoor lacrosse for four years for the Baltimore Thunder wrote that day's message.  Dan serves as FCA's Executive Vice President of International Ministry.  He chose to speak about spiritual integrity.  Here is his testimony:  "As a lacrosse player, I knew some of my teammates to be big partiers. Despite their lifestyle, I learned that they had nothing to hide. Actually, I came to find out that they lived with more integrity than me! As a Christian who had a "testimony" to protect, I tried to hide my gaps. What they said and did, however, were the same things. No gaps. Just the basic "what you see is what you get" lifestyle. They were partiers, but not hypocrites. It all lined up with them. Unfortunately, we as Christians often will say one thing and do another."
     What Dan refers to as his "gaps", I prefer to think of as our deviation from our true self, or our imbalance.  The true identity of our spirit often doesn't match what we project to the world.  Our Inside doesn't match up with our Outside.  Integrity is the state of being whole and undivided; the condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction.  That means we are consistent in our character, conformed in both body and spirit, just like Jesus was ... we are the same, whether it is according to the spirit inside of us, or the physical image that the world sees.
     In the aspect of spiritual warfare, can you see how the Enemy can take advantage of us when there's an imbalance between our inside and outside?  Too many Western Christians care more about the image they project to each other than who they project to the world.  At the same time, they are desperate to keep the spiritual side under wraps because it is so dissimilar to the physical side they promote.  And the Enemy swoops in and begins to whisper his destroying lies:  you're a fraud ... you profess trust and confidence in your Savior, but inside you are full of doubt and unbelief ... if they knew the dark things in your past, your fellow Christians would denounce and reject you ... keep it hidden; hide your fear/anger/bitterness/unforgiveness, and keep on pretending ... The lies go on and on and on.  And millions of Christians live their lives in defeat and ineffectiveness.  Oh, they put on a good show, but as Dan Britton's message says, when they look in the mirror, there are gaps between the spiritual and the physical that don't line up.  They see the holes where satan has taken up residence in order to oppress them.
     And they're too afraid to look at spiritual warfare as a way to transform their lives, get free from satan's bondage, and to become the whole person -- inside and out -- that God desires them to be.  They can't get beyond their suspicions that working in the spirit realm with Jesus and the Holy Spirit is somehow ... I don't know ... maybe too mystical, or speaks of unnatural and unbiblical practices.  But why are Christians unable to understand the truth that Jesus Christ is living in us, through the presence of the Holy Spirit?!?  Why would we choose to ignore His presence and His help when satan begins to attack us with his lies?  Why would we choose to remain powerless, impotent, and unfruitful?
     An image was just given to me by the Holy Spirit ... in the context of Dan Britton's "gaps", when we do not allow Jesus to transform us to wholeness -- when we do not call on His presence that is right there, within us! -- those gaps become spaces and holes through which the Living Water seeps out of our lives, and it's impossible for us to be nourished.  We do not bear fruit for the Kingdom of God.  It is not enough to live a moral, ethical life on the outside. We are called to produce fruit for the kingdom, and we can't do it through the activities of our Outside self; we can only do that through partnering our spirits with the power of the Holy Spirit.
     Once Christians experience the power of Jesus working with them and through them to deliver themselves or another out of the crippling bondage of satan's lies, they will close those gaps and become their true, authentic self -- everything in alignment with God and His purpose ... to glorify and exalt Jesus as our Savior.
     If you haven't experienced a spiritual attack, you will.  If you are growing spiritually; if you are exposing the Enemy; if you are invading his territory; if you are trying to break away from the world and its temptations and distractions; if God is preparing you for a great work for His kingdom ... get ready, you will be spiritually attacked.  But there is no need to be fearful!  We have Jesus living in us, and at our invitation, He and the Holy Spirit will be your armor as you go into battle.  Remember, He's as close as the mention of His Name.  Just call, and He will come.

Proverbs 18:10    "The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe."

June 27, 2016

Another Move In The Cosmic Chess Match!

     If you are like most Americans, you may be a little confused by all the media coverage of "Brexit", and what, if anything, it has to do with us.  In case, you're not quite sure what that is, let me put it in simple terms... Brexit stands for the British exit from the European Union, and this move comes with lots of implications, both from a current worldview and from a Biblical perspective.  Follow my train of thought ...
     You may remember that, in the past, I have referred to a cosmic chess match between God and satan.  If you can, I want you to picture it like this:  On one side is the Most High God and His army of angels, led by the archangel Michael, "the great Prince".  On the other side is Lucifer, or the devil, and his army of rulers, powers, and spiritual forces of wickedness.  And they battle in the spiritual realm, resulting in consequences in this earthly realm.
     Focusing in on this cosmic chess match a little closer, and we see two armies, if you will; one led by Michael, identified as an angel (messenger), and whose name means "who is like God".  I contend that there is a good argument that the title "Michael the archangel" can be translated as "The greatest messenger who is God", or Jesus.  The other army is led by an angel once known as Lucifer, the anointed cherub who was the guardian of God's throne.  But pride, which caused him to seek to overthrow God, resulted in him being cast away from God and out of Heaven, where he is still seeking to dethrone God by working from the spiritual realm through men on earth.
     So what does this have to do with Brexit, and why should we, as Christians, find any meaning in it?  The most recognizable Scripture that embodies the premise of this cosmic chess match is found in Genesis 11, and the story of the Tower of Babel.  You will remember that at the beginning of this story, the Bible tells us that "the whole earth spoke one language and used the same words".  According to the story, a united humanity of all the generations following the Great Flood, speaking a single language and migrating from the east, came to the land of Shinar.  There, in their arrogance and self-glorification, they agreed to build a city and a tower "tall enough to reach heaven"; seeing this, God confounded their speech so that they could no longer understand each other and scattered them around the world.
      In Hebrew and Christian tradition, Nimrod is considered the leader of those who built the Tower of Babel in the land of Shinar, though the Bible never actually states this.  But Nimrod's kingdom included the city of Babel in Shinar, and it was likely under his direction that the building of Babel and its tower began.  But remember the part of Scripture that relates that Nimrod "began to be mighty in the earth"?  It is my belief that after God cleansed the earth with the Flood (a bold move on the cosmic chess board), satan began to plot his strategy.  The name Nimrod, in Hebrew, means "rebel", and I think satan revived his own spirit of rebellion in Nimrod, and used him to build a tower from which satanically influenced men could assault heaven itself.  God's next move was to scatter the people into separate nations, speaking different languages, so they could not form a unified coalition again.
     Throughout history, satan has attempted to infiltrate this earthly realm and influence, or revive, his rebellious spirit in men who would further his cause to defy God.  Every time satan used an Antiochus Epiphanes or a Hitler to spread his evil on the earth and separate men from God's will to reconcile with them, God would counter his move and put an end to the wickedness.
     And now, through the spiritual eyes of men much smarter than me, I am beginning to see another set of moves on the cosmic chess board.  On his website, shoebat.com, Walid Shoebat contends that the European Union was a move by satan to, once again, build a coalition to establish his earthly authority, from which he could institute a global (or one-world) government to control the earth and destroy God's people.  If he can't have Heaven, then he'll take the earth for his throne.
      By moving towards a common currency and governing body for all of Europe, satan saw his chance to thwart God's long-ago move to scatter the people at the Tower of Babel and create independent nations.  With an encroaching one-world government and global currency system, it would set up satan's future plan that no one can buy or sell without complying with his currency system, the mark of the beast.  And his move was a good one!  The nations of Europe were subject to the governing rules of the EU, and were losing their autonomy and ability to self-rule.  And perhaps satan's greatest evil intentions came through the forced acceptance of Muslim refugees among the EU countries, and the influx of jihadist ideology.
     But does the exit of Britain signal God's next chess move?  Could He be setting the stage for a break-up of the European Union, and the re-establishment of His independent and sovereign nations that He began at the Tower of Babel?  Certainly, Britain's exit has stirred similar thoughts among the governments of Scotland, France, and Spain.
     Walid Shoebat, in his article, takes it a step further, stating:  We are beginning to see the signs of a future split in Europe, even states within states, separating between sheep and goat nations where France, parts of Italy, Spain and Portugal will be destined as sheep nations, while Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and the Baltic states or major parts of these will remain liberal and anti-God; to be destined as goat nations. Austria could go sheep or goat, we do not know.  
     Interesting concept, isn't it?  Please take the time to read his entire article, it is fascinating and not without Scriptural support.  Is it accurate?  Only God knows.  But I am certain that Brexit is an indication of a major shift in the cosmic war in the spiritual realm.  In the coming days, you will hear the media discuss the worldly implications -- effects on the world economy, global trade, immigration, etc. -- but I am more interested in the spiritual ramifications.  How will it affect the spiritual foundations of the nations, and on whose side will they align themselves?  Will there be a renewed interest in seeking God, or will secularism and jihadism continue their march across the globe?  
     A case can be made for Shoebat's assertion that Brexit is the beginning of a move by God.  Consider his statement: "If a one world government is to take place or a European Union is to control the entire continent, how then will God “divide the nations”? How then will “nation war against nation, kingdom against kingdom” and how will God “divide the nations” “sheep from goats”?  Whether this is just an isolated set of circumstances, or we see the entire dismantlement of the EU, and nations sliding toward the end-times prophecies remains to be seen.  But of this, I am certain:  the cosmic chess match will continue; with God countering every move that satan makes until His complete plan for His reconciliation with man is accomplished.  Then it will be checkmate with the return of Jesus!  For now, all I need to know is that there is a battle plan in the spiritual realm to rule the earth, and I know which side I'm on.

1 John 3:8        "He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning.  For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil."

June 26, 2016

Mark 4:13

Then He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand and grasp the meaning of all the parables? 

     This last week my husband and I attended a potluck dinner at the local church for a young couple who will be moving from the community to Italy, as the husband fulfills part of his military service.  Although I am not a member of this church, I love so many of the people who are, and recognize them as faithful and obedient Christians.  
     I overheard my husband, who is continually challenging himself and fellow Christians to understand their Bibles at a deeper level, ask a young woman, "Tell me, do you think there is a difference between the Gospel of Jesus and the Gospel of the Kingdom"?  This young woman loves a good challenge and promised to get back to him after studying the matter.  But that got me to thinking ... How many Christians have even considered this question, or better yet, care enough to determine an answer for themselves?  
     Although I believe there is a difference and could give a pretty good apologetics argument for my opinion, I am never satisfied with my level of knowledge. So I decided to dig a little deeper to try to understand these two concepts and found that the Parable of the Sower is at the foundation of understanding the Gospel of the Kingdom.  In fact, the questions Jesus poses in the title of this blog are questions He asked after He taught His disciples this parable, and He makes it pretty clear that if we don't understand the parable of the Sower, then we will have trouble understanding all the rest of the parables.  Wow! I had never grasped that concept before!  Understanding this teaching is something worth pursuing.
     I want to begin by saying that I spend a lot of time in my Bible, studying for myself, but there are also good teachers in this day that I admire and respect; teachers who are following in the footsteps of teachers down through the centuries:  Origen, Matthew Henry, Dwight Moody, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Billy Graham.  These historical figures are flawed men, and you may not completely agree with their theology, but you cannot deny their passion for the Gospel.  The same is true of men that I admire today:  Justin Faull, Russ Dizdar, Michael Heiser, and Dan Duval.  In fact, it was a podcast of a sermon Duval delivered for his online ministry, The Fire Place Church, that helped me come to a new level of understanding regarding the Parable of the Sower and the Gospel of the Kingdom.
     We are all familiar with this parable ... chronologically, it is the 11th of 49 parables that Jesus taught.  It is important to understand the order in which Jesus taught them, and what came before this parable if it, indeed, is the one that understanding all the other parables rests upon.  Parables 1-10  focus on the fact that there’s a new story being told, that it’s not to be hidden, and it serves as a foundation for what’s coming next. These are the parables which involve new cloth, new wine, a lamp on a stand, wise & foolish builders, the moneylender who forgives unequal debts, a lamp on a stand (2nd time), a rich man who builds bigger barns, servants who must remain watchful, wise and foolish servants, and an unfruitful fig tree.  
     The 11th Parable, the one about the Sower of the Seed, teaches us to understand the foundation of what's coming next ... the Kingdom of God.  The parable relates the familiar story of a sower who sowed seed on four types of soil:  the wayside (or the hard road), where it failed to take root and the birds ate it up; on rocks where there was not much soil, although a plant sprang up and was quickly scorched by the sun because the roots had no depth; among thorns, where the seed took root, but the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no fruit; and the good soil, where the plants grew, and increased, and yielded 30, 60, and 100 times what was sown.  
     How many of us have been taught that the primary purpose of this parable is to point out that it was only the good soil where the seed grew and yielded fruit; that this parable is all about the salvation of those people who occupy the good ground and their response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  Yes, Jesus goes on to explain that the Sower "sows the word [of God, the good news regarding the way of salvation]".  But if you re-read the parable, you will notice that all the types of soil but one received the Word and had an initial experience of salvation.  
     Jesus tells us that the seed that fell on the rocks represent those who "receive it (the Word that brings salvation; the Gospel of Jesus Christ) with joy [but accept it only superficially] -- but accept it they did! -- and they have no real root in themselves, so they endure only for a little while; then, when trouble or persecution comes because of the Word, immediately they [are offended and displeased at being associated with Me and] stumble and fall away".
     He tells us that the seed that fell on the thorns are "the ones who have heard the word, but the worries and cares of the world [the distractions of this age with its worldly pleasures], and the deceitfulness [and the false security or glamour] of wealth [or fame], and the passionate desires for all the other things creep in and choke out the word, and it becomes unfruitful". They were still saved, but they fall away and are unfruitful!  Lastly, He tells us that the seed that fell on good soil represents "the ones who hear the word [of God, the good news regarding the way of salvation] and accept it and bear fruit—thirty, sixty, and a hundred times as much [as was sown]." 
     I can just hear all my Baptist friends!  "Only the seed that fell on the good ground represents the truly saved!  The seed on the rocky and thorny ground represents those were were never really saved!"  I will agree to a point ... they experienced salvation, but did not keep it.  But stick with me -- I do not believe this is the point of the parable.
     We all understand what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is; Gospel means "good news", and the "good news" of Jesus Christ is that He died for our sins to save us from the hell we deserve.  BUT, is that what He is preaching in this parable?  Jesus hasn't died yet, so how could He be preaching how His death, burial, and resurrection would lead to eternal life?  No!  When asked to explain the parable of the Sower by the disciples, Jesus said, "“The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you [who have teachable hearts], but those who are outside [the unbelievers, the spiritually blind] get everything in parables...".  He did not say, "the mystery of the Gospel of Me has been given to you."
     Can you see that He is trying to tell them (and us!) that the good news is more than the Gospel about Him; it is about the good news of God's kingdom!  This parable is not only about the salvation experience of hearers of the Word -- it's more than that!  Our salvation experience is just the beginning of our purpose here on earth.  This parable is about understanding the mystery of the kingdom of God --- if we have teachable hearts like the disciples!  Jesus wasn't preaching his death, burial and resurrection with this parable.  He was preaching something else, something bigger than Himself.  He was preaching about the coming of the kingdom of God, the Gospel of the Kingdom.  But what is that? 
     The kingdom of God is the realm in which God exists; it is wherever God is.  And what does a King do?  He governs His subjects and servants.  The Gospel of the Kingdom is the good news of God's government.  It is the good news that God governs out of His realm, which is now dimensionally separated from the earth, and that He intends to govern the earth through us; to interact with us in order to transform the planet to His will in accordance with the faith and belief of His people.  
     Up to this point, God's government has been a spiritual government.  But when God became incarnate, in the figure of Jesus, His government was now interacting through a man on earth, and He was taking territory from the Enemy.  That is "the mystery" of how God would now govern the earth, and it was good news for mankind!
     Can you see that the Gospel of the Kingdom goes so much further than the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  Please understand -- I am not diminishing the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  It is the key to the salvation message by which all men can avoid eternal damnation.  It is the necessary first step!  But let's not stop mid-sentence!  Let us not diminish the Gospel of the Kingdom which tells us the good news that God can now interface with saved men through dimensions, and can work with us to begin bringing heaven and earth back into alignment!  
     At the heart of the Gospel of the Kingdom is the knowledge that Jesus was the first man to manifest this interface, and then He turned around and gave that ability to us ... whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  He is telling us that the Father gave Him authority to help govern the earth (to do God's will), and now we can, too, because He is going back to the Father and will be personally interceding for us; interfacing through the dimensions with those who believe in Him.  
     Can you see that when we stop at the salvation message of the Gospel of Jesus, we lose out on a bigger revelation?  It is through the revelation of the death and resurrection of Jesus that we gain access to the dimension and realm where God is King.  
     So to bring it full circle, I believe this is what we need to understand about this parable:  Three out of four of the types of ground, or soil, received the seed; they were saved.  But not all experienced the same thing over the long haul.  It had to do with the state of the ground upon which the seed fell.  So what does the ground represent?  Remember, when asked by the disciples what the parable meant, He told them the mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to those who have teachable hearts
     Can you accept that perhaps that the ground represents the condition of our hearts; our belief system and where our faith is anchored?  Can the different types of ground represent our willingness to connect to the realm of God, and to becoming partners with Him to govern the earth.  The Kingdom of God (where God resides and governs from) works with our human hearts (belief system and depth of our faith).  But when the world challenges us through its problems -- bills that are due, family issues, health threats -- we choose fear instead of faith.  And fear closes that inter-dimensional connection.  
     Once we have received salvation, we are each responsible for our own heart condition.  Jesus is sowing Himself into our hearts.  How hard will we work to grow our roots deep; how hard will we fight to keep our roots from being choked out by the world? How teachable is your heart, and how much do you want to work with God to help govern His earth?  The extent of your ability to do that, as a saved Christian, depends on the condition of your heart -- is it hard, rocky, thorny, or good?  Think about it.


June 24, 2016

How Do We Love Our Enemies?

     Today I need to get a little personal ... in the sense that I need to discuss an issue that I know is troubling many of my fellow Christians.  I know this because I have received a heartfelt email from a reader whom I know is sincere in her faith.  And I know that I need to try to write about this because it is something each of us needs to come to terms with in our own spirits and hearts -- and that includes me!
     I believe I can write about this without betraying her confidence because it was an email that millions of Christians across America could have written.  In short, this reader wrote to ask me for suggestions on how she can walk out her faith and learn to love the unsaved Muslims in our country.  Now, I want each of you to be honest ... haven't you at one time or another struggled with what you know are unChrist-like emotions?  We wouldn't be human if we didn't battle feelings of anger towards the radical Muslims who are filled with so much hate for our nation and way of life that their goal is to take innocent lives in some perverted sense of obedience to what we know is a false god and evil ideology.
     And I believe we would be unwise if we didn't acknowledge the Islamic doctrine of Taqiyya (taqiya, taqiyah, taqiyyah), which is a form of Islamic deception. The Quran (16:106 and 3:28) allows Muslims to lie in order to protect themselves or to protect the Muslim community.   And I think we would be foolish to not feel disappointment in our government's lackluster efforts to defend us, and their denial that there is anything to worry about.  Furthermore, I suspect that many of us are confused over how -- as law-abiding citizens concerned about our rights -- we have become a threat (in our own country) to the liberty of refugees and foreigners!  Finally, if you are like me, you are perhaps worried over how easily our youth are tempted to adopt the false religions of the world.  My husband and I encountered a young employee at Home Depot, and as he often does, my husband asked the young man about his tattoos (he is always interested to know why they have chosen the symbols they have).  This young man had a tattoo which he said "symbolizes the moon god because that culture interests me".  All I could think was, "Father, forgive him for he knows not what he does".
     So all that addresses our human emotions and thoughts.  But what about our spiritual struggle with these issues?  If we are to be honest and faithful Christians, then we know that we are to "love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us".  Jesus made that very clear in Matthew 5:44.  I will be the first one to admit that this seems like an impossible commandment ... and one that our ultimate Enemy, satan, will use against us in order to convict us of a powerless and faithless life.  Loving an enemy that hates my faith and wants to kill and destroy me and my family is a difficult thing to do, but anything less does not follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  Remember that He willingly laid down his life and asked His Father to forgive those who killed Him.  And He did not hate them.
     I can hear the disagreements now ... Jesus would not want us to bow to political correctness, or not defend our families or faith.  The Bible tells us that we "must hold firm to the trustworthy Word as taught, so that we may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it."  But loving our enemies?  What does that look like in the wake of events like Orlando?
     Perhaps we can start by determining what it does not look like.  Yes, Jesus tells us to love them unconditionally -- no matter what they do to us -- but it doesn't mean that we agree with what they do, or make excuses for it.  My reader commented on how difficult it was becoming to see Muslims begin to dominate in our culture, and to see unvetted refugees streaming into the country in the wake of atrocities that have been committed in their home nations.  She knows it is God's desire that none should perish, but in the face of what appears to be unreconcilable differences, and blatant and obvious hatred towards us, she is finding it difficult to imitate Christ.
     I'm afraid that I have no quick fix or easy solution.  For myself, I have decided to try to discern what God has told us throughout the Bible when it comes to living among people who are enemies.  God never changes, and what He commanded His people to do in the Old and New Testaments, remains the standard by which we should live our lives.
     First of all, as I told the reader, God did not ask His people to accommodate new religions or politically correct viewpoints.  In fact, He commanded them to resist compromising with corrupt nations; to never adopt false religions or gods; and to keep His statues forever.  Of course, one of those statues is to pray for, and to love our enemies.  As evidenced by the growing number of jihadist murders in our country, the enemy is no longer at the gate, but firmly embedded within our culture, with more likely inserted among the thousands of refugees admitted to our shores.  So how do we live our faith and be imitators of Jesus?
     I can tell you that I can't do it through my human will.  I have to pray in my spirit, bowing down before the throne of God in heaven, and asking Him to protect our nation from this enemy -- that the scales be removed from their eyes, and that they meet Jesus.  That is what I do in the spiritual realm.  In this physical realm, we do everything we can to stop the invasion against our laws and our culture. And when given the opportunity, you meet their hate with the love of Jesus.  Like Jesus, we do not return their hate with malice.  Jesus held no grudges; He never added insult or injury to those who injured Him; He was kind in the face of vitriol, criticism and anger; He was forgiving of those who hated Him; and He never counseled revenge.
     I know that this attitude and these reactions seem contrary to everything our minds and emotions tell us.  But remember, we are not to act according to our flesh, but in agreement with our spirit, which is seated in the heavenly realm with Christ.  Hence, through our gift of salvation, we are to show the unsaved what it is like to be in relationship with Jesus Christ ... as difficult as that might be in the face of murderous hatred.  And each time we show love to our enemies, it is one more strike of the Sword of the Spirit in the spiritual realm.
     I am in no way intending for this to sound as if it is simple and everyone should be able to do it easily.  We are no longer viewing a long-distance enemy, but one who is literally in our backyard.  But we need to see this as the spiritual battle it is.  Fighting the enemy with human effort will never completely banish him.  The physical battle we see today is an extension of centuries of the same physical war.  In order to defeat the enemy, we must do it spiritually, and with Divine help.
     Jesus never asks us to do something He did not do as a man, Himself.  As simple as it appears, He gave us a good example of how to follow Him.  It is expressed in Luke 6:27:  Do good to those who hate you.  Doing good to those who hate us displays [to them] the love of God. And maybe, maybe, if we show them the love of God, they will experience something they have never experienced before, and will want more of it. That is what I am hearing from a young friend who is part of a missionary team of college-aged Americans who are on a summer trip to the heart of Europe and the refugee camps to share the good news of Jesus Christ and His love.
     She has shared such amazing testimonies among the people she has met; people from Germany, Romania, Italy, Morocco, Turkey, Syria, India, UK, France, Algeria, Bulgaria, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Cameroon, Rwanda, New Zealand, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Indonesia, Tunisia, Afghanistan, and the Congo.  She believes that God is touching the lives of Muslim refugees, the rest of Europe, and in turn the rest of the world.
     Keep in mind that Europe has suffered horrific jihadist attacks in the last year.  Yet she tells of one of her teammates who was sharing the gospel with a Muslim refugee, and the man kept saying "don't stop, please keep going, I need to hear this."  And there are many more stories like this one among the Muslim populations of the world.  And to quote a sermon I read on the website, Redeeming God, "[In order to stop] the cycle of hate and the cycle of revenge, the cycle of retaliation [must] stop with us. You can be angry at a person for what they do, and yet still love them. Jesus was upset at the people of Jerusalem for how they abused and murdered the prophets, and yet He still shed loving tears over the city. Jesus, as always, is our best example for how to live out such principles."
     If you still find yourself unable to do this, and the devil has gripped your heart in a vise of bitterness, hostile thoughts, and hateful emotions, then speak into the spiritual realm and declare the Word of God.  Find all the verses in Scripture where Jesus tells us that love conquers hate and proclaim to spirits [who actually hear you] that you belong to Him and you will not give in to satan's temptation to hate.
     There will be those who will be unable to go beyond their human capabilities.  And working in the spiritual realm with the Holy Spirit is a learned skill.  But you have to try in order to be able to do it; and you have to do it to become confident in your power and authority [in Jesus and the Holy Spirit] in order to conquer the spirit of hate that comes from the Evil One.  As I've said repeatedly ... it's not easy.  That is evident by the history of war through the ages.  But it should also be evident that humans cannot replace hate with love by their own volition.  We must appeal to Jesus and fight this battle in the spiritual realm as well as the physical.  After all, that is exactly how Jesus did it!

Luke 6:27-28       "But I say to you who hear [Me and pay attention to My words]: Love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, [make it a practice to] do good to those who hate you, bless and show kindness to those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."

June 22, 2016

A Match Made In Hell

     Last week Breitbart.com reported that the Satanic Temple had launched a pro-abortion crusade to come to the aid of America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.  That really doesn't come as any big surprise to me.  In the fall of last year, I wrote an article titled Is There A Connection Between Abortion and Satanism?  In the blog post I referenced the testimony of Zachary King, an imposing figure, and an ex-Satanist and former High Wizard of a satanic coven.  Mr. King gave a riveting account of his association with the occult and a "large abortion provider" in pushing satan’s agenda, including ritualistic abortions.
     Mr. King, who is now an avowed follower of Jesus Christ, reported that, as a satanist, "when trying to get satan’s approval to give you something that you want, killing something (or someone) is the best way to go. Killing something is the ultimate offering to satan, and if you can kill an unborn, that is his ultimate goal."
     This kind of horrific child sacrifice is nothing new ... the Bible records the detestable practice among the Ammonites to their false god, Molech.  And satan's ability to seduce man to make such an abhorrent blood sacrifice has not been limited to ordinary lost men, such as Zachary King once was.  Israelite kings such as Solomon, Manassah, and Ahaz were persuaded to sacrifice children and do "evil in the eyes of the Lord".  Manassah and Ahaz even sacrificed their own sons!
      It is so difficult for me to imagine the power behind the lie that satan whispers in a person's ear to convince them that this practice is acceptable or desirable.  What did Manassah, Ahaz, or Zachary King hear that told them it was alright to become part of a ritual in which a baby's blood is offered to the devil?  And how does satan convince Margaret Sanger, the founder and revered "mother" of Planned Parenthood (that's ironic, isn't it?) to  become involved in Rosicrucianism, a combination of occultism and mysticism, in which members believe they possess secret wisdom that was handed down to them from ancient times. (The same "wisdom" that Solomon, Manassah and Ahaz thought they received?).
     I started this post by saying it doesn't surprise me that there is a modern link between the Satanic Temple and Planned Parenthood.  I think that link has been there from the beginning!  Sanger, who lost her five-year-old daughter to pneumonia, attempted to connect to her dead child through séances and occultic rituals.  Combined with her Gnostic spirituality and an extramarital affair with author H.G. Wells, the devil found, in Sanger, a useful servant to help continue his ritual of child sacrifice.  Her belief that it is human knowledge that enables the redemption of the spirit, not God; and his belief in Social Darwinism and racial dominance, provided the perfect merger for demonic reasoning.
     When one disavows God, it opens up fertile ground for satan to put down roots.  The Enemy convinces men that they possess a mind that is capable of determining their own eternal destiny, and that Science can light the way to all the knowledge necessary to one's life.  Consider the early writings of H.G. Wells:  "Science is a match that man has just set alight. He thought he was in a room in moments of devotion; a temple, and that his light would be reflected and display walls inscribed with wonderful secrets and pillars carved with philosophical systems wrought in harmony. It is a curious sensation, now that the preliminary sputter is over and the flame burns up clear, to see his hands lit and just a glimpse of himself and the patch he stands on visible, and around him, in place of all that human comfort and beauty he had anticipated ... darkness still."  To me, this sounds like a man who was unable to see beyond his own existence, and to see a Light that shines in, and overcomes, that darkness.
     Somehow, satan was able to infect Margaret Sanger with his darkness; an evil that would result in quotes like these:  "The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it";  and "We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population".  She believed in an American Baby Code which would result in selective births.  She believed in population control, sterilization, and social planning via quotas.  And perhaps worst of all, she would become an inspiration to another of satan's emissaries, Adolph Hitler, who was a student of Sanger's eugenics policies.
     Together Planned Parenthood and the devil have made a diabolical duo.  Their legacy has led to satanic rituals in abortion clinics, such as described by Zachary King; to the selling of aborted baby  body parts for profit, as revealed in videos by the Center for Medical Progress; and to this video of a demonic exchange between an abortion doctor and a pro-life advocate.  The exchange occurs less than a minute into the video and shows the doctor growling and speaking in a clearly demonic voice, denouncing Christ and proclaiming his love of killing babies.  The devil isn't even trying to hide his influence over humans any longer.  But why should he?  As the Christian Church, we haven't done much to hinder his killing of over 1.4 billion babies worldwide since Roe v. Wade (over 59 million in the U.S. since 1972, and over 2,000 just today).  He can afford to put a display on before the cameras.  He has no need to hide his agenda or his partners in crime.
     As I sit here, in utter despair for the grief that mankind's unrepentant actions have caused God, I give thanks for those mothers in my life who could have chosen to listen to the lies of satan, but instead walked in the Light of God and gave birth to the children who have graced my life and filled it with such joy and love.  Abortion is just one of the ways in which the devil fights his spiritual war against God's creation.   When the Bible says he came to kill, steal, and destroy, this is what it looks like.  And his battle wages on, more in the open than ever before, as the Satanic Temple joins forces with Planned Parenthood.  Perhaps they sense that Jesus, the Righteous Judge is coming soon, and this is their last stand.  As we wait on the Lord, let us renew our strength and be just as bold as the Enemy ... let us declare that Victory is ours, and his final defeat is near!

Psalm 139:12    "Even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you."

June 20, 2016

Appeasement Will Be Our Ruin

     Whether in politics, in our culture, or in our religion, appeasement has become the byword of this generation.  Webster's dictionary defines the word as "To pacify; to dispel anger or hatred; to make quiet; to calm; as to appease hunger or thirst; to reduce to a state of peace; to still; as, to appease the tumult of the ocean, or of the passions."  In other words, to appease is to use diplomacy and compromise to forestall a confrontation.
     We are seeing appeasement today, almost everywhere we turn... on the world stage, our government seeks to placate potential enemies by surrendering our national sovereignty and defense; culturally, we have yielded moral ground to segments of society that threaten to disrupt the foundations of our character and conduct; and religiously, we are allowing other gods to usurp the supremacy of YHWH, and diminish the Authority and Victory of Jesus.
    This infection of appeasement has now reached a stage I never thought possible.  The Southern Baptist Convention, the US’s largest Protestant denomination, is now helping to build mosques.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Don't believe me?  Here is a direct quote from BaptistNews.com: ... a legal dispute between a Muslim community and a New Jersey township is showing a different side of inter-Christian relationships. Baptist and other Christian organizations accustomed to cultural and legal sparring have joined the fight for the construction of a new mosque.  “It’s good when we can join hands with … folks we are sometimes on the other side of,” said Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.  Those folks include the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and the International Mission Board, both agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention. The National Association of Evangelicals is also supporting the mosque-building case.
     Apparently, it is in the name of religious liberty that the Southern Baptists (along with other evangelical groups, Jews, Buddhists, Hare Krishnas and Sikhs) have determined that it is a Constitutionally-guaranteed right to build mosques -- even though there is the potential that American legal institutions are beginning to come under threat from Islamic codes and sharia law.
     So, here is something I think we better consider:  Have our denominations and churches become "American" first, and "Christian", secondly?  As Bud Ahlheim, a writer at Pulpit and Pen, recently wrote, "Proclaiming there is no other name under heaven by which men may be saved seems uncannily hollow when you’ve just joined hands to help build a Christ-denying mosque. Once again, Christianity becomes just another flavor of religion to an onlooking world and our witness as Southern Baptists diluted by our religious liberty defenses."  Sadly, one has to ask, "Are these Christians still willing to make that proclamation?  Or has the Church decided that the way to peace is to appease the Islamic faith -- and thereby attempt to pacify and calm their anti-Christian rhetoric and beliefs -- by declaring that we all worship the same God?"
     The most recent example of appeasement in history led to genocide and world war.  Less than 80 years ago, the world attempted to appease Hitler and we know that was a mistake.  The 1938 Munich Agreement was a settlement permitting Nazi Germany's annexation of portions of Czechoslovakia, and it started Hitler on the road toward the extermination of over 6,000,000 Jews.  I fear that the American Church may be traveling that same road.  By choosing appeasement towards a faith whose radical elements have sworn death to our nation, and who have demonstrated their willingness to generate their own genocide of Christians and Jews, the Church is treading on dangerous ground.  They may think they are exemplifying American Christian justice and grace, but I have to wonder if any of the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention have stopped to seek God's will in this matter.
     What has God told us in His Word?  Pastor John Rothra, a Baptist preacher himself, has written an excellent article concerning this subject.  He points to the Book of Judges as a guide to what God thinks when we choose our own path, rather than the one He has commanded.
     Joshua had just died. There was no single military leader, but instead each tribe was responsible for conquering their respective regions. God was to be their king and they were to be God’s people.  You will remember that God instructed them to destroy all the native inhabitants and to completely conquer the lands God promised them through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  But Israel decided on its own, that this was too harsh an action.  Rather than conquer the enemy, some tribes chose accommodation, peace treaties, enslavement, or mutual cohabitation.... in other words, appeasement.  That might have seemed more humane to the ancient Israelites (and to us today), but it was not God's will.
     As Pastor Rothra points out, in order to appease and cohabitate with her enemies, Israel adopted false gods, heretical practices, and abandoned God’s righteousness for a righteousness of their own. This was not an accident. They did not fall into sin. Rather, the Israelites chose this sinful path.  The Israelites did not maintain the Supremacy of the One True God, and began accepting other gods and beliefs as equal to their own.  To put it simply: the people did whatever they deemed was right in their own minds.  Isn't that what the Southern Baptist Convention is doing?
     There will be those who will concentrate on the fact that this is a problem of the American Church, and I cannot deny that.  But as my wise husband pointed out to me, satan has been trying to destroy the relationship between YHWH and those whom He calls His own since the beginning.  We see that in the ancient Book of Judges.  And it only took a century after the Church was founded for the Enemy to infiltrate it and try to utterly destroy it.  But the seeds were planted and it was the will of God that faith in Jesus should spread to the ends of the globe.  The devil is still trying to destroy the Church by any means he can.  Today, when people (and the Church) seek to mirror the world, we see that we will do whatever we must to ease the conflict among us; to pacify our enemies; and to obtain peace and conciliation.
     But I have to add another aspect of this apostasy, from my spiritual warfare perspective.  You will recall that in Ephesians 6, Paul warns us that we are fighting against various ranks of the Enemy's army.  They are spiritual and not made of flesh and blood; they have specific assignments, such as the Prince of Persia in Daniel, Chapter 10.  Among the Rulers, Powers, World Forces, and Spiritual Forces are the retinue of satan's false gods who are assigned to battle against God's people on earth.  Allah is a very real entity, and just one of those Rulers who is in dedicated conflict with the Most High God.  We must not lose sight of that fact!
     We must face the reality that we can't have it all -- we can't profess faith in YHWH, the One True God, and yet help to build houses of worship to a false god.  We can't let political correctness and religious liberty supersede the position of YHWH.  We can't profess to be part of God's Church, yet put our own desires to be magnanimous and inclusive before God's will.  That is merely a form of self-idolization, and results in the lukewarm Laodicean Church.   And what does Jesus say He will do with that Church?  He will spew them out!
     That is the warning that I think all Christians must take seriously!  Is appeasement of our faith pleasing to God?  What is He more interested in ... His Church gaining political power, influence, and unity among all religions and false gods -- or seeing that we are committing ourselves to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  The last time I checked, Islam rejects the deity of Christ.  How can appeasing that religious philosophy be, in any way, pleasing to my God?

Galatians 1:10    "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ."


June 19, 2016

Hebrews 10:30-31

 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”  
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

     I write this post with profound sadness.  More than anything else, I love being in the company of dedicated and committed Christians; men and women who truly love God and His Word, and seek to honor and glorify Him in this fallen world.  That is becoming more and more difficult as the established Church turns toward compromise and concession with the world, instead of standing for God's Truth and being willing to endure persecution for His sake.
     I have shared with you that my husband and myself are not members of any chartered church, but rather worship and study the Bible as a part of a "home church".  But we also commune with a small number of members of a local church, and we are united with them in our shared faith and commitment to God; often praying together, sharing Bible studies, and engaging in long discussions and examinations of the Word.  We rely on each other and are brothers and sisters in the Faith, even though we are not joined by church membership.
     Now these beloved Christians are faced with a crisis in their church that threatens to tear it asunder.  Without going into all the details, it has been revealed that certain members in the church are involved in an organization that diminishes the exclusivity of salvation through Jesus Christ.  This organization is a secret society that presents itself as a doer of charitable causes, but at the heart of it are secret oaths and worship of a universal, ecumenical deity.  If you call yourself a Christian, this is in direct conflict with your faith.
     And this shows the devious design of the Enemy.  What better way to infiltrate and influence the Church than to deceive self-avowed Christians into believing they are still serving God, while also serving in an organization that allows any god or "supreme being" to be equal to Jesus?  Remember, our Lord told us, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other."  The Enemy has now subtly and calculatedly wormed his way into the church through these members, and no one is the wiser.  The question then becomes, "What will true and faithful Christians do once that influence is discovered?"  
     As the writer of Hebrews expresses throughout Chapter 10, it is Jesus Christ, and Him alone, that provides our salvation through His sacrifice.  When Christians, through their own fleshly pride, are willing to compromise on this issue, and with a determined will and selfish resolution, despise and reject Christ as the only Savior -- or allow that influence from another member to remain in their Church -- then I have a problem with being associated with them.  That is why the established Church is in such decline today, and I am in fervent prayer for my faithful friends.
     Too many times, the Church has turned a blind eye towards apostasy and abandoned God's principles and commandments in order to find favor in the world.  How have we fallen so far, that to suffer the slings and arrows of a sinful world is too much to bear for our faith?  How is it, that we would rather renounce the gospel's teachings in order to ingratiate ourselves with Babylon?  Does the horrific sacrifice of our Lord for the sake of our eternal salvation mean so little to us?
     Throughout the Bible, God has shown us what happens to those He has called when they choose to give in to their rebellious nature, or ignore that of others.  The judgment may be swift or drawn out, but it is always deliberate.  He will not be mocked!  He says it plainly in these two verses in Hebrews, Chapter 10:  Vengeance is mine.  I will repay!  The Lord will judge His people"  And that last sentence should grip our hearts ... It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God.  God's anger will be felt by a perverse and unfaithful generation.  It happened to the ancient Israelites over and over.  And it can, and will, happen to us, if we do not repent and turn from our rebellion.
     The Church's destruction is self-generated, and it is only delayed because God is retraining His hand of judgment.  God's power to judge should be terrifying to the Christian, yet too many today shrug Him off, relying on His grace and mercy.  But the Bible tells us that His wrath burns hot against the wicked; and that the wicked stand condemned by God's law which is written on the heart, and they are deserving of hell.  Nothing will save them from eternal punishment except a saving faith in Christ.
     Yet Christians and the Church seem to have forgotten this Truth, and perhaps relegate it to a theological doctrine more attuned to Jonathan Edwards' sermon, Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God.  It is said that his powerful sermon "left people in the pews trembling and weeping".  Oh, how I wish Christians today could be moved to work out their salvation with such fear and trembling.
     And that brings me back to my faithful Christian brothers and sisters, who I pray will receive strength and courage and wisdom from the Holy Spirit as they attempt to root out unGodly influence within their church.  They will most likely be a small remnant within the body of that church; those who truly understand that compromise is not acceptable to a true Christian, nor to a Righteous God.  We must never take the wrath of our holy and infinite God lightly.  At the same time, we must simultaneously remember and embrace the knowledge of how excellent His love is and how terrible His wrath is; the God whose hand of wrath will destroy the wicked is the same God whose hand of mercy will save the repentant.  I pray that repentance and mercy and salvation will come to this little local church, and they will stand as an example of true Faith and commitment to the Lord.

June 17, 2016

What Are We Missing?

     As I have shifted my focus towards sharing my knowledge about spiritual warfare, I am encouraged by the number of people and readers who have responded favorably.  Even more than that, I am reassured by the honesty and courage of those who have told me they know this is where the Holy Spirit is taking them, but they're not quite sure what to make of it, or where to start in gaining a Biblical foundation on the subject.  I'm so happy that they are willing to take that first step and to be honest about their need for more wisdom and experience!
     First of all, I am seeing that there is a remnant within the Church who are waking up. It's as if they are receiving a wake-up call after a long slumber, and are becoming alert to an unsatisfactory situation and they want to take action to remedy it.   It's as if someone has just unlocked a secret door that promises a whole new level of understanding of the Word... and they are curious and eager to explore it within Scriptural boundaries.  And what is exciting to me is that these are the same people who a year or two ago were resistant to my own emerging awareness that we Christians are in a spiritual battle on this physical earth.
     Once that truth is realized, I think it is important to take a good look at why Christians have been reluctant to accept this premise and what has been missing from the Church's message to believers.   Frankly, I'm pretty much convinced that the dispensationalist teaching of the Age of Grace has convinced Christians if we have faith in Jesus as our Savior then we live in kind of a bubble of security.  This man-made philosophy is a religious interpretation of time periods, fostered by a 19th Century Bible teacher, John Nelson Darby, and then popularized by Cyrus Scofield's Reference Bible (another 19th Century theologian).
     I could write an entire post on Dispensationalism and why I do not subscribe to it, but I want to just briefly mention it here as a means of explaining why we have been unable to focus on the reality of the spiritual realm's interaction with the physical world, and why our own power and authority have been unrecognizable.  In short, Wikipedia gives a well-informed definition of Dispensationalism:  this philosophy considers Biblical history as divided deliberately by God into defined periods (or ages), to each of which God has allotted distinctive administrative principles.  The typical seven-dispensation scheme lists the periods as follows:  the "Ages" of Innocence, Conscience, Human Government, Promise, Law, Grace, and the Millennial Kingdom.  As you can guess, those who believe that God has divided history into specific time periods, see the Age of Grace as existing from  the cross to the Second Coming.  It will end with the wrath of God, culminating in the Great Tribulation. Some use the terms Age of Grace or the Church Age for this dispensation.
     The reason that I do not subscribe to this philosophy is because nowhere do I find evidence of God deliberately stating that He will act a certain way within a determined time period or age.  He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  Now, if a man wants to say he can see some distinctions about God's attributes throughout history, that's one thing.  But I point out this philosophy to you because it greatly colors how we Christians view our relationship with God, and our position and purpose within His Kingdom.
     We modern Christians tend to think that Grace is ours because it has come by salvation through faith in Jesus.  But Salvation has always been by the grace of God, received by faith.  Abraham experienced it:  And he believed the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness.  The people in the Old Testament, before Jesus’ death and resurrection still had to trust in the Lord—a trust they showed in offering the sacrifices. The Old Testament worshiper, by sacrificing an animal, was saying, “I trust God will save me despite the fact that I am sinful.” Christians take the same approach today, spiritually, but the practice is different. Instead of offering repeated sacrifices for sins, we trust in the one-time sacrifice of Christ.  But because we have been convinced of a man-made philosophy that we live in the Age of Grace, we are just waiting here on earth for the Second Coming.  Any difficulties in our lives or our relationship with the Lord are explained away as "times of testing" or "God growing our faith by teaching us perseverance and reliance on Him".  Sadly, this leaves many Christians in a perpetual state of defeat; beaten down by the Enemy who takes advantage of our spiritual ignorance.
     Another by-product of the Dispensationalist viewpoint is the doctrine of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.  The thinking goes something like this ... If we have received Grace by our faith in Jesus, then we have found special favor in the eyes of God.  Our acceptance of Him as our Savior means we will be saved from God's wrath and we will be swept up into Heaven before God's Judgment and Wrath come upon the earth.  I do not intend to argue against this doctrine in this post.  I only bring it up to point out that those who subscribe to a Pre-Tribulation Rapture are likely to view the attacks of the Enemy as something they just have to endure until Jesus comes to rescue them.  And I believe that is a strategy of the devil that keeps us from leading spirit-filled lives and renders us as ineffective partners and co-heirs with Christ.
     If we think that our only way to deal with destructive issues is to rely on God's grace (which is very real and available), then we attribute the attacks upon our lives as coming from the visible and physical world -- our boss, our lack of money, family members ... anything and anyone, but the real perpetrator.  If we could come to know and understand that there is something we can't see; powers and forces working in the spiritual realm that are manipulating and controlling our physical existence, we might come to the truth of who the real enemy is!
     The truth is, we not only underestimate the power of our spiritual enemies, but our own God-given power found in God who lives in us, the Holy Spirit.  And we have been given authority by Jesus to use that power to live in victory!  What is especially sad to me is that we don't really know how to believe in God for our deliverance and healing, even though Scripture repeatedly tells us that Jesus is our Deliverer and one of the names of God is Jehovah Rapha, "the God who heals".  It is because the Church, itself, doesn't teach this reality in any kind of definitive or tangible instruction.  Have you ever heard your pastor preach that you can be physically healed through the power of Jesus, just as Jairus' daughter was?
     Because we don't know how to embrace this Biblical truth the devil spins a doctrinal lie that convinces us we are being faithful when we continue to stay in our suffering, relying on God's grace to get us through.   We come to believe that our endurance and perseverance begets character and faith.  But I do not believe that it is God's desire to have us live this way!  He takes no pleasure in watching us suffer through unwarranted guilt, or unforgiveness, or bitterness, or pride.  He wants us living in the victory that His Son died for!
     If we Christians could only understand that it is within our power and authority to bind those attacks from the Enemy; that through prayer and petition, we can partner with heavenly forces to take the fight directly to the source of our sufferings.  Instead of letting the devil whisper his lies of deception and blame, which point to earthly foes and take our eyes off our spiritual power, we need to re-focus our spirits on trusting God to pull back the curtain so we can see what is really attacking us.  And then by asking Him to re-create in us a new mind, we can "see" in our spirits the way He is able to take all those hindrances of pride, unforgiveness, anger, etc. and destroy them, placing the Cross between us and the spiritual forces of evil that come to steal, kill, and destroy.
     I know this sounds surreal and supernatural to you.  But guess what?  We serve a supernatural God!  And this scenario is exactly what happens in the deliverance ministry God has brought to me and my husband.  I don't know any other way to describe it ... people are able to picture Jesus in their minds as He hugs them and tells them He has been with them through every sorrow in their life, and He is able to heal the wounds to their spirits and souls, removing the fiery darts the Enemy has used to derail their lives.  As they forgive those who have harmed them (just as Jesus has forgiven us), they are set free from the bondage that kept them enslaved, and their spirit is released to live in the freedom that Jesus's death bought them.
      But the most important thing is that they now know that the Enemy has no power or control over them.  We each have authority to approach Jesus in our spirits and to partner with Him to use His power to defeat any demon or spiritual force of wickedness that attempts to put a barrier between us and God.
     God's Kingdom is anywhere God is, so that means it is on this earth.  We are His children, designed to rule and reign in the righteousness wrought by Jesus.   As co-heirs of the Kingdom, God can use us to rule with Him and Jesus.  BUT, the Enemy will rule with man, too, if he can.  Our existence on this earth is a partnership, whether for good or evil.  But we can't do it alone, and we can't do it under our own power.  Church, it is time to understand the truth about who we are, and what we can accomplish for our Father's Kingdom.  Let's deny the devil the weapons of Doubt and Unbelief; let us join with Jesus to get ourselves free and then combine forces with Him and the power of God to free our fellow Christians.  Let's be bold and trust God for who He says He is ... our Deliverer, our Healer, our Shield, and the Horn (Strength, Power) of our Salvation.  Let's live like we truly believe Him!

2 Corinthians 10:4-5     "For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the [true] knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,"



June 15, 2016

When Will We Take Back Our Dominion?

     This topic of dominion is not only a contested subject matter, but a confusing one for most Christians.  By definition, Dominion means sovereignty or control.  And in today's post I want to discuss the dominion of the earth, and who owns it?  Who controls the earth -- God, man, or the devil?
     The Bible addresses this question from the very beginning.  In Genesis 1:26, we read Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (ESV).  Other translations of the Bible substitute the words complete authority or rule for the word dominion.  But you get the idea -- God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, during the creation process, transferred their authority or dominionship of what They created over to man.
     We have further affirmation of this understanding from Psalm 115:16, which says The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, But the earth He has given to the children of men.  Seems pretty cut and dried to me!  Adam and Eve had dominion of the world until Satan convinced them to hand it over to him through his clever deception.  But here's the thing ... Psalm 115:16 says that God HAS given the earth to the children of men; it does not say God HAD given the earth to the children of men.  I believe Dominionship of the earth is a right we can take back, and we can cancel that agreement made way back in the Garden of Eden.  Follow my thoughts for just a moment ...
    Remember how satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness and took Him up on the high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in one moment of time?  And what did the devil say to Him?  All this authority (dominion; sovereignty; control) I will give You, and their glory, for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.  It wasn't God who delivered the authority or dominion of the earth to the devil, it was Man!
     And since that time, there has been a long battle for authority over the earth.  But here is what Christians need to understand:  that battle, which began in the Garden was finished at the empty tomb.  Jesus, as God in the flesh, came to take that authority back and fulfilled His purpose with His death on the Cross!  And with the victory of His resurrection, our Lord assigned His authority back over to us!  Doesn't Scripture record Jesus saying,  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."  And doesn't Scripture further say, For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority?  In other words, Jesus, having received all authority and power, in turn, delegates that authority to His Believers.  It is part of our "fullness" in Him!  And that authority is not to be used at our own will or for our own pleasure.  We are to submit ourselves to the authority of Jesus and be used by Him as He wills.  So having the authority of Jesus within us in the form of the Holy Spirit, we are to model ourselves after Jesus and do as He did -- obey the will of the Father in all things, knowing that we are exercising His authority and power.
     But can you discern that even to this day, the Enemy actually gets the children of men to continue to give up their authority -- even though Jesus took that authority back and fulfilled His purpose (and the will of the Father) with His death on the Cross, and then passed that authority on to us, His Believers.  Why is it so hard for us to understand that as co-heirs with Christ, the devil has no authority over us?  Why do we continue to let him whisper lies to us and render us powerless?
     Yes, man surrendered his dominion through Adam, but Jesus took it back by restoring our relationship with God through faith in Him.  In that process, our dominion on earth was also restored. We don't have to bow down to satan and suffer his slings and arrows.  After Christ's victory on the Cross, we regained our authority on earth (through Him) and we were designed to rule and reign right now -- not wait until the Millennial Kingdom or the new Heaven and Earth.  Reigning with Christ now requires acknowledging Jesus's authority in our life and His transference of that authority and power to those who follow and obey Him.  Sadly, most Christians have been deceived by the devil into thinking he still has authority over them.  It is those who don't know Jesus as their Savior who don't have the power or knowledge to dispute his lying tongue.  Those who know our Lord should know their position in God's Kingdom and be able to effectively battle the enemy and call his bluff.  We need to start exercising the authority and dominion that are rightfully ours.  Yeshua paid a heavy price to regain them and return them to us.  Let us honor and glorify Him by fulfilling our identity in Christ.

Revelation 5:10     And You have made us to be a kingdom [of royal subjects] and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.