A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

November 20, 2018

This Is No Time For Fear

    It has been nearly seven years since I began writing this blog, and I am beginning to sense the same spiritual unease among people that I experienced then. True, there is a disparity in how the economy of our nation was functioning compared to today; people seem more confident in their economic future. But the civil unrest and disrespect towards our fellow man, although beginning to rear its ugly head in 2011, is now on full display. Then there is the uncertainty of the corruption/hostility within our government, the overwhelming numbers of people trying to cross our borders, and the raging fires and devastating hurricanes -- and it all translates to both anxiety and confusion about the future. In Biblical terms, people are beginning to experience fear.
     That word "fear" means more than just being afraid or scared. It has connotations of sorrow and grief and dread ... concerning people, things, and events. But it is exactly at these times, when everything around us screams "End Times" that we must remain clear about the overall message of the Word .... we can be assured of God's final victory over the Anti-Christ forces in the world, and His faithfulness to see us be overcomers of this ungodly system. In these times of difficulties, there's a truth that we can cling to. In Isaiah 43, God declares that He is the Savior of Israel, to whom we have been grafted into. His words to His beloved people are true for us, too: Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you [from captivity]. I have called you by name; you are Mine!  
     Throughout the Bible, God tells us to "fear not" because He knows the Enemy uses fear to decrease hope and limit our victories in Him. But we must never forget that we are a child of an all-powerful, all-knowing, never-changing Father who cares deeply about our life and wants us to walk in the victory His Son died to give us. Remember, He has redeemed us; He knows our name; and He declares to the universe that we are His! Does that mean we won't face trials from an Enemy who wants to defeat us? No. Even Jesus expressed great sorrow and grief and dread as He prayed three times for the cup of agony to be removed, if it was the Father's will. His emotional condition was so severe our Lord sweated blood in the Garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion. But in that moment, as the gospel of Luke, Chapter 22, tell us, Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened Him.
     In that moment of grief and dread -- and yes, we call it fear -- Jesus felt the powerful presence of God with Him. There was a purpose for Jesus's life and it extended far beyond what was about to happen in this world. It was the power of God's love and presence that transcended what was about to happen in the physical. And it allowed Jesus to endure the evil perpetrated against Him. We must follow in His footsteps.
     There are incontrovertible truths that we can adhere to that will help us endure our own times of sorrow, grief, dread, and fear. First of all, we know that we are chosen and nothing can separate us from God. We are covered by the blood of Jesus and wrapped in the Grace of God, which empowers us to overcome all that is from Satan. Jesus is our Good Shepherd and will not allow us to endure more than we can stand. We are being prepared to rule with Him in the age to come.
     If you are suffering the torment of Satan's fiery dart of fear, then you must remind yourself that God's judgments against the world are ultimately to wipe out evil, not harm the saints. Just as He did in the wilderness of Egypt, God will supernaturally protect and provide for us. Our faith demands that we trust Him in this! When the difficulties in this world increase, so will God's guidance and leadership. And should this world result in our physical death, there is no greater joy than knowing that the very next instant we will be in His glorious presence forever!
     But perhaps you still cannot defeat those demons of fear that have crept into your life. Let me give you some advice that will help you rise above the lies the Enemy is whispering to you. You need to understand that you have a choice ... you can give in to those lies, cowering in fear and powerlessness -- or you can stand and declare that you are walking in your inheritance as a co-heir with Christ, and you are covered by the authority of God who has made Jesus "Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And He put all things [in every realm] in subjection under Christ’s feet, and appointed Him as [supreme and authoritative] head over all things in the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills and completes all things in all [believers]". We are quite able and capable of rising to our spiritual potential and strength!
     When we know what we believe about God and ourselves, then we have the confidence and faith to stand firm and follow Jesus's model of dignity and strength in our hour of need. We will not be afraid to voice our allegiance to Him or to choose to follow Him, no matter the cost. Here's the thing, Jesus never taught on "feelings"; He always commanded obedience. We must truly believe He is our Rock, our Fortress, and our Deliverer; that He is our Strength, our God in whom we can trust. He is our Shield, and our horn (Power) of Salvation. He is our Stronghold and we must praise His Name, for He is worthy to be praised. And we will be saved from our enemies! This is a passage from Psalm 18, and it is a Scripture that is never far from my heart or my lips. I believe these words with all that is in me!
     So, I encourage you to face your fears and begin to declare the Truth of Scripture -- and believe it! Jesus tells us that we are not given a spirit of fear, but we have the Holy Spirit, who gives us mighty power, love [of God] and self-control. When we recognize the power that is in us, we do not fear anything [or anyone] else. And we have the ability to control our carnal emotions and fleshly behavior, as we walk in our spiritual identity. Fear has no place in the life of a Believer. Trust in God's power inside you and watch Him deliver you of all sorrow, grief, dread, and fear. Then declare that you are ready to walk in the glory of God for the remaining days of your life.

It is my prayer that this Thanksgiving, you will find increased faith in the power of our Lord to deliver you from the concerns of this world. Give thanks to our ever-faithful God who never takes His eyes off you. Praise Him for His enduring love!

Psalm 34:4   I sought the Lord [on the authority of His word], and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.


November 17, 2018

Do You Know Your Measure In The Kingdom of God?

     I ask that question because it was what I asked myself as I was studying 2 Corinthians, Chapter 10. The latter part of this chapter concerns Paul discussing his mandate [or assignment] from the Lord. Apparently, within the Church at Corinth, the believers were preoccupied with setting standards of their own regarding the efficacy [value or benefit] of another's ministry. Various opinions, theories, and religious philosophies were discussed and then either copied or compared, resulting in human evaluations that left people either prideful or discouraged, depending on the consensus of the church.
     But it was Paul's statement regarding this human evaluation that got me to thinking. Paul's response was this: But we are those who choose to limit our boasting to only the measure of the work to which God has appointed us...
     You see, I've always had a problem with the Church deciding they were the arbiter of God's commission on my life. It has always seemed to me that if I didn't follow the prescribed "rules" of what ministry was supposed to look like, it was made clear that I was outside God's domain. But once I received the revelation that Christ passed His authority on to us, I began to realize that God was the administrator of where and how I would serve Him.
     Furthermore, I came to realize that God has designed each of us in a unique manner that serves Him best. We have been given the gifts and spiritual authority that are necessary to continue Christ's dominion on this earth. In other words, there is a unique job for each of us, and my job may look different than yours, but we both have the same objective -- to see God's Kingdom expanded upon the earth.
     Let's refer back to Paul's statement. There is a "measure of work to which God has appointed us". The Passion Translation of 2 Corinthians 10:13 says that this word "work" comes from the Greek word metron, which was the length of a race course, and it was used to define the boundaries of a Greek stadium. This should make us think of the references to "running the race" that Paul makes throughout his letters to the various churches:  "let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1), and "if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus" (Acts 20:24), for instance. This tells me that we have each been given a sphere of influence that will be suited to our gifts and the level of authority we have been given.
     But there is more to this concept of "running in our lane" [which is the boundaries of our ministry from God]. There is the idea of the expansion of those boundaries to benefit the Kingdom of God. I believe it was in the 1990's when The Prayer of Jabez was so popular. The verses in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 read, There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.
     The Christian culture was captivated by what they discerned was a quick prayer to increase their material well-being. I will agree... we serve a God of Increase and Enlargement. But our material well-being is a by-product of how well we administer the territory [or sphere of influence] and the gifts we have been given by the Father. Just as Jesus prophesied that the Apostles would be His witnesses first in Jerusalem, then Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth, we have each been given the same potential to expand our territories of influence for His Kingdom. 
     If we are obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit, to His promptings, and to His instructions, we can expect the measure of our ministerial influence to expand. It goes without saying that our primary purpose is to expand the Kingdom of God and not our personal empire. But it is also true that we can expect God's blessings when we use our authority to widen God's influence in the world. As we fulfill our potential within the boundaries God has established for our ministry, He will push those boundaries back, giving us room to grow and widen our sphere of influence for Him.
     And I hope that everyone realizes that we each DO have a ministry; a purpose for our life to serve others as we serve our Lord. If you aren't aware of what yours is, ask Jesus to show you. You may start out small, but as you are faithful to your calling, and you desire to expand your territory in a spirit of humbleness and love for the Lord, the Father will do as He did for Jabez, and grant your request. 
     So, I come back to my original question ... Do you know your measure in the Kingdom of God? Do you know what your purpose and your assignment or mandate is? Can you identify your sphere of influence and perceive the boundaries of your spiritual territory? If not, then pursue those answers. Your life will be eternally richer for it. And if, like Paul, you know the course of the race set before you, do not be satisfied with limits on your boundaries. Ask God to expand your territory so that you can expand His Kingdom. You, too, will find eternal rewards beyond anything you desire. 

Isaiah 54:2    "Enlarge the site of your tent [to make room for more children]; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, do not spare them; Lengthen your tent ropes and make your pegs (stakes) firm [in the ground]".    

November 14, 2018

The Power Of The Spoken Word To Bring Inner Healing

     I have to share the amazing works of my Lord Jesus! First of all, He never ceases to surprise me with how He makes His presence known in ways I'm not expecting. In addition, He will bring forth concepts from those encounters that I had never before considered. And He did all that this weekend.
     Mark and I were blessed to be invited to speak before a small group of Evangelical Millennials who were interested in learning more about our Inner Healing and Deliverance Ministry.  All I knew was that they were involved in something similar to "Street Ministry" in which they canvassed their neighborhoods and apartment buildings, sharing the Gospel Message. I assumed they wanted to know how to incorporate Deliverance into that short amount of time they would have the opportunity to speak to people on the street.
     So, as in our more formal sessions of Deliverance, we always begin with the issue of Forgiveness. We explained to the group that unforgiveness is the single most powerful weapon the Enemy has to keep us in bondage. In fact, when people come to our Table of Healing, we often find they can't explain the feelings of depression or heaviness that keeps them from feeling the joy of the Lord. The first question we ask is, "Who are you angry at", followed by "What do you need to forgive them for"?
     We then employ an exercise that has profound effects on breaking those chains of bondage that keep people tied up in anger and unforgiveness. We have them recite [out loud] the following: Father God, I forgive ________ for _________.  It made me feel _________. Father, I release him/her/them to You, covered by the blood of the Lamb. It may sound too simple but we explain that the act of saying this out loud and releasing the person(s) who have wounded their soul and/or spirit has a profound effect in the spiritual realms. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that words have the power to give death or life, and the person who speaks will bear the fruit of those words, whether good or bad. When we are able to forgive someone who has deeply wounded us, and state the act and how it affected us, the power of that wound is mitigated because it is no longer held in secret for the Enemy to use against us. Both the Beloved and the Enemy sees the persecutor released to God [covered by the blood of Jesus]. Then the wound can no longer fester in darkness, but has been exposed to the Light of Jesus, which heals all things.
     So I introduced that simple exercise as a "quick and easy" way to bring healing to someone they were evangelizing to, at the same time stressing that it is extremely effective and profitable for the Beloved. I soon realized that this group wanted and needed more information on the whole process of Deliverance and its Biblical foundation. So Mark and I expanded our testimony and training to the group. What we didn't know was that one of the young people had quietly got up and left the room. The spiritual leader of the group got up to minister to him, and actually used the Forgiveness exercise. When they rejoined the group, they gave their own testimony of what happened... At first, the young person didn't want to say the words out loud. The wound was so deep that they just wanted to write the name of the person and the hurtful acts -- not speak them out loud. But the leader encouraged the spoken word and it was truly liberating! He testified [with a face that beamed pure joy] that Jesus had truly set him free!
     And that's really the point I want to make with this blog post. Being able to confess the name of someone who has hurt you, what happened to you, and how it made you feel takes away the power of the Enemy to continue to lie to you about who you are. Releasing all that pain to the Lord cuts those bonds to sins of anger and unforgiveness, and Jesus takes it all away and covers it with His blood.
     As I meditated upon the grace of Jesus to allow this group to witness the power of forgiveness in their midst, the Lord broadened my understanding of why the spoken words of Forgiveness are so important. He showed me that when we are able to speak Forgiveness out loud, it is recorded in our Book of Life in Heaven. So when the Accuser comes before the Court of Heaven to accuse us of unrighteousness and unforgiveness (which we walked in [in silence] all the years we harbored it), there is evidence before the Lord that our Accuser is giving false witness.
     Now, I may not be able to show you Chapter and Verse where the Bible states this concept in precise terms, but I can tell you that I see enough of the shadow of this theory in Scripture to call it real. In Daniel 7:9-10, the prophet is given a vision and he tells us that he saw thrones put in place in Heaven, and the Ancient One sat down to judge. Millions of angels ministered to Him, and millions stood to attend to Him. Then the court began its session, and the books were opened. There is little in Scripture to tell us exactly what was written in those books, but perhaps we can see a parallel "on earth as it is in heaven". Consider the books of I and II Kings, and I and II Chronicles. There we find the acts and deeds recorded [both good and bad] of the Kings of Judah and Israel. In fact, 1 Kings 11:41 says, "The rest of the events in Solomon’s reign, including all his deeds and his wisdom, are recorded in The Book of the Acts of Solomon".
     But there is a particular verse in Malachi that I discern gives credence to what the Lord recently showed me. Verse 3:16 reads, "Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed His name".  When we participate with Jesus and the Holy Spirit in a Deliverance/Inner Healing session, we are most certainly people who fear the Lord and we are speaking with one another, confessing forgiveness and reconciliation, and being healed in the process. And I know that the Lord pays attention and hears us, because I have witnessed the consequences of those actions, and it is called spiritual freedom! And I do believe that our faith and reverence for the power of Jesus "to forgive our trespasses and to forgive those who trespass against us" is recorded in Heaven as witness to our esteem for His name, and as a challenge to Satan's charges against us. 
     Our obedience to forgive, and then announce it so that the spirit realm hears, causes our testimony to be recorded and preserved in the books of heaven, whether it be the Book of Remembrance in Malachi or the Lamb's Book of Life in Revelation. In the end, I cannot really explain the spiritual mechanics of why it works ... I just know it does! 

2 Corinthians 4:13   Yet we have the same spirit of faith as he had, who wrote in Scripture, “I believed, therefore I spoke.” We also believe, therefore we also speak.." 

November 11, 2018

God's Love and His Justice: Are They In Conflict?

     Mark and I are so blessed to have friends with whom we can deliberate our theological views. We don't always agree and that's okay. I still think one of the most astounding verses in the Bible is Proverbs 25:2, God conceals the revelation of His word in the hiding place of His glory.  But the honor of kings is revealed by how they thoroughly search out the deeper meaning of all that God says.  
     Since we have been made kings and priests(1 Peter 2:9), royal lovers of God because of God’s grace and Christ’s redeeming blood, I can imagine how much it pleases our Father when we spend our lives trying to know Him more intimately. Our love and desire for more of Him does not require that we are in agreement on every theological question. So, I would like to present a question [or quandary] that one of our friends has been wrestling with; one that I know is difficult to reconcile for many other Believers, as well ... If God is love, as the Bible so clearly says in 1 John 4:8, then why all the Old Testament scriptures about destruction and judgment of the enemies of God? 
     Let me start by saying I do not claim to have the definitive answer to this question. In fact, as I meditated upon it, I found myself with as many questions as answers. So, this blog post is based on my own personal ruminations. I am not asking you to subscribe to my thoughts, but hopefully, it will inspire you to "thoroughly search out" what the Bible says about this subject, and in the process, you will find more of our Father's glory. So here goes...
     I guess the first thing that I have come to understand is that both Love and Justice are equal aspects of God's Nature. All of the attributes of God work in harmony to express the magnitude of His character and nature. I think, perhaps, that we Christians tend to look at Love and Justice as separate parts of God's essence; as polar opposites of who He is, so to speak. We tend to identify Him as the God of Judgment in the Old Testament and the God of Love in the New Testament. But does not the Word say that God never changes? That He is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow? Perhaps we need to come to an understanding that His Justice comes out of His Love for His creation; that they are intertwined. 
     So, consider this ... God loves us, His creation. Deuteronomy 7:9 says, Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. Adam and Eve experienced that covenant and love in the Garden of Eden ... and then they sinned. Sin came into the world and caused pain and suffering to all that God loved. He could not allow it to run rampant and continue to destroy the covenant He made with His creation. So, as an act of love, He renders His justice. Both love and justice are essential to God's purposes in the world -- to reconcile mankind back to Him. 
     Justice and Love meet in this world when wrongs are righted and human beings are healed through God's loving discipline. We see the ultimate culmination of that process on the Cross. Jesus paid the price required by a Just God in the most loving act of all time. New Testament Christians have no problem seeing that picture of Justice and Love combined. But they still continue to struggle with the concept that Jesus says we are to love our enemies, yet they see God in the Old Testament destroy people and nations in His judgment. 
     I think it is incumbent upon us to consider that the Bible is a history of God's relationship with mankind. In the Old Testament, His covenant with man was designed that we live in wholeness and fullness with Him; in an environment of peace. He then had to establish strict moral law to encourage man to keep covenant with Him. But man continued to rebel in his sin, and because God is Holy, He cannot excuse sin, and His integrity as a God of covenant and of steadfast, enduring Love requires that He destroy evil and restore good. 
     I think we make a mistake when we look upon His justice in the Garden of Eden, Sodom and Gomorrah, in the ten plagues of Egypt; in His judgment of Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Nadab and Abihu as separate acts from His love. God was not acting out of an inflexible set of rules and punishing laws. There was a bigger purpose in play. We are deserving of death because of our sins, and most often, we do not receive the punishment that our sins deserve. What may look like the actions of an unloving God is actually the Father pursing His Justice in the context of grace -- His covenant is one of a commitment to care and honor the ones He loves; and unable to abide by the destruction of that covenant, God's Justice is an act of offering redemption to come back into covenant.
     We must also keep in mind that much of the destruction of peoples and nations in the Old Testament is against those not in covenant with God; those intent on destroying God's covenantal [yet rebellious] people, Israel. Out of His love to redeem Israel through the perfect seed line that would lead to Jesus, God's justice required that He destroy the nations who were corrupted with Satan's seed in order that He might keep the lineage to Jesus pure. 
     Then there is the struggle Christians have with "God hardening Pharaoh's heart". Some see that as a conflict with the concept of God as Love. But again, we must look at it within the context of His covenantal relationship with Israel. But let me ask you this... How did God harden Pharaoh's heart? God revealed His love for His people Israel and His hatred of sin through the signs and wonders of the ten plagues. Can you perceive that this revelation of God's power and supremacy and enduring love for Israel were the catalysts for Pharaoh to harden his own heart? [The Bible even says  in Exodus 8:32 that Pharaoh hardened his heart, not God]. His heart was so filled with hatred of Israel (SIN!) that he suppressed the revelation of God and refused to believe and receive God's grace. That is unrighteousness and resulted in God's righteous judgment.

     The incident involving Nadab and Abihu is a bit more difficult to understand, but I will offer my opinion.You might wonder what grievous sin of these sons of Aaron caused the fire of the presence of God to devour them. Scripture says in Leviticus 10:1 that Nadab and Abihu "took their respective [ceremonial] censers, put fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange (unauthorized, unacceptable) fire before the Lord, [an act] which He had not commanded them to do".  At this point, you have to decide if this judgment seems too extreme for the sin that was committed. But further verses in the chapter shed more light on this example of God's justice. 
     This is what I see .... the fire of the presence of God is the Holy Spirit. Apparently, Nadab and Abihu offered the holy God an unholy fire. In fact, Moses says to Aaron, his brother and the [I'm sure] distraught father of Nadab and Abihu, "This is what the Lord said: ‘I will be treated as holy by those who approach Me, and before all the people I will be honored.’” God commanded that the bodies of the boys be taken outside the camp, and further instructed Aaron and his younger sons to exhibit no mourning before the congregation, lest they, too, experience the wrath and anger of God and die.  You see, God IS Holy (morally and spiritually excellent) and He is to be honored as separate from everything evil, having not even a trace of evil [sin] in His character. It is what makes Him worthy to be "The God Most High". Incorporating any [unauthorized or strange] fire, other than Holy Spirit fire, would have been blasphemous to God, who made it clear He was to be treated as holy by those who approached Him. Furthermore, He was to be honored as separate from sin (Holy) before all the people. This explains why Aaron and the brothers of Nadab and Abihu were not allowed to mourn -- that would have been seen as a gesture of agreement with their dishonor of God. 
     In addition, we get what may be another clue to the magnitude of the sin committed against God in this situation. In verse 8, the Lord spoke to Aaron and told him and his sons not to drink wine or any intoxicating drink before they entered the Tent of Meeting, in order "to make a distinction and recognize a difference between the holy (sacred) and the common (profane), and between the [ceremonially] unclean and the clean". Perhaps in addition to the unholy fire, Nadab and Abihu were intoxicated before the Lord.God intends that those He is in covenant with will recognize His holiness and treat Him as such. Anything less devalues Him and results in death, the only justice worthy of His covenant and steadfast love.
     That is how God revealed Himself as He established His character and nature in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Jesus offered Himself to satisfy God's justice. Jesus [as God, Himself] came to show us how to express God's love for His creation, and His Goodness is evident to all. And at this point, I want to say that the modern Church is in danger of diminishing the role and power of God's justice in favor of a message that God is ONLY love. Nothing could be further from the truth! God has not changed! Rather, He expects us, as inheritors of His grace and love, to represent His holiness to the rest of humankind to bring about redemption [for all who will receive it]. Unlike Nadab and Abihu, we are to reflect God's holiness and show the difference between the sacred holiness of our Father and the common profane nature of Satan. We are to offer His divine nature to the world, and for those who accept it, it will be Life. For those who reject His offer of redemption from their evil ways, His justice will prevail at the end of the age -- because darkness cannot survive in the Light. 
     In my final analysis, God's holiness requires that there be justice and a penalty for sin. But God's steadfast and enduring love desires that all humans be reconciled in relationship with Him. Ultimately, like Adam and Eve, the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, Pharaoh, and Nadab and Abihu, each of us must make a decision to recognize that God is holy, and worthy to be treated as such. The refusal to do so [as acts of rebellion] will result in consequences that reveal His justice. It is His divine nature and who are we to question it?

Psalm 37:28    The Lord loves it when He sees us walking in his justice. He will never desert His devoted lovers; they will be kept forever in His faithful care. But the descendants of the wicked will be banished.


November 8, 2018

Reconciliation, Ambassadorship & Levels of Glory

     Sometimes I struggle to connect God's dots in the Bible. Too often, I read the Bible according to the chapter and verse breaks that have been instituted by human hands down through the ages the Bible has been translated. I forget that's not how God sees His manuscript. So, while I am slowly making my way through 2 Corinthians, I am beginning to see a panoramic view of a concept God wants me to understand about my role here on earth -- a view not restricted by Chapter limitations. So let me expound...
     In 2 Corinthians, Chapter 5, I came across the verses that tell us we are a new creation when we accept Christ as our Savior and join our lives with His. And it all centers around "reconciliation". That's a word that gets thrown around a lot in Christianity, so I wanted to make sure that I understood what it means, since a verse or two later, the Bible tells us we have been given a "ministry of reconciliation" to others. Don't you think it's important we know what that entails?
     According to the Greek, this "reconciliation" denotes an adjustment or change by man that brings him back into a restoration of favor with God. In other words, we sinners repent and put our trust in the substitutionary death of Christ. Notice that I said reconciliation denotes a change by man, instead of in man. God doesn't make the change happen in us, but we change and are reconciled, or made "at one", with God. Reconciliation stresses the process of being restored. Therefore, having been given a ministry of reconciliation to others, we are to go forth and share with other sinners that they are alienated from God [by their sin] and what it means to be restored to favor with Him, and all the benefits associated with this process.
     Then, the very next verses tell us that not only do we have a ministry [of reconciliation] given to us -- but we are ambassadors for Christ! We have a responsibility towards Him because of our reconciliation; we are to represent His Kingdom on earth, having been raised up and qualified to represent Him by the work of the Holy Spirit in us. As the Passion Translation reads, So we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us; we [as Christ’s representatives] plead with you on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God. If we are faithful and obedient to please God, our reconciliation will lead to an ambassadorship!
     But, I want you to step back with me, and get a wider picture of how God is working through us. Just a couple of chapters prior to this -- in 2 Corinthians 3, to be exact -- we read that we are being transformed from "glory to glory". How does that work? And what does that mean? It all has to do with the work of the Holy Spirit in us! As we make the decision to become reconciled with God through our confession and repentance, we receive the Holy Spirit who begins the process of our restoration, and with that comes a freedom from sin and death. It's as if a dirty veil has been removed from before our eyes; a veil that hid the face of God and His glory from us. Once that veil has been removed from our face, we behold God's glory, and the Holy Spirit begins to transform us into the image of Christ and does the work in us that makes us worthy to be His ambassador/representative.
     Scripture tells us that we will move from one level of glory to an even brighter level. Again, what does that look like? As we are transformed into the image of Christ, we begin representing the character and ways of God [just as Jesus did]. And it is the Holy Spirit that is working in us and through us to accomplish these levels of glory [just as He did in Jesus]. The New Living Translation expresses it best: And the Lord—who is the [Holy]Spirit—makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image. 
     Finally, what should it look like as we engage in our ministry of reconciliation as ambassadors of Christ? Again, the Passion Translation does a good job of expressing how the aspects of our ministry to the world should appear. We should be spreading the Good News of the triumph of Christ and the Kingdom of God over every power of the Kingdom of Darkness. We should be carriers of the fragrant aroma of Christ everywhere we go. We should refuse to water down or compromise the Word of God. We should be living letters written by Christ, not with ink, but by the Spirit of the Living God; living words to be written on tender hearts. We should stress that our ministries are not based on our own clever abilities, but by God's empowering presence in us. We should be imparting Life to those we come in contact with -- sharing Living Water and the Bread of Life. Every ounce of our ministry should flow from the Holy Spirit, and not ourselves. We should impart righteousness to those we minister to. Our ministry should embody a greater glory than religious or man-made laws, resulting in the transformation of lives that reflect Christ in the world.
     It's all tied together; connected by dots ... reconciliation leads to an ambassadorship, which results in ever-increasing works that mirror the character and ways of God. It's a picture of being progressively transformed by the Holy Spirit to becoming a mirror image of Christ -- one glory level at a time.  In the end, we can stand before the Lord and share in the reaping of the harvest of souls. And because of that, I take my ambassadorship serioiusly! What a glorious day that will be! 

Philippians 1:6     [I pray with great faith for you], because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ!  

November 5, 2018

Knowing Who All That "I AM" Is

     Exodus 3:14 reads, "God said to Moses, “I AM who I AM.” And He said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” We are all familiar with this passage and God's referral to Himself in this manner. But who is I AM? How are we to know the God we serve?
     It should come as no surprise to us that the magnificence and character of who God is, is revealed to us through Scripture by the names He chooses [for Himself] in order to reveal His true nature to us. By understanding His attributes and characteristics, it gives us the opportunity to know His promises and to learn to trust Him. The problem is, our English translations of the Bible don't necessarily make it easy for us to identify the fullness of God's nature. It takes an understanding of the Hebrew names of God to begin to see Him revealed in our Bibles.
     I can remember the excitement I felt the first time I saw one of His Names that had heretofore been hidden from my understanding... It was in Genesis 16:13, which reads, Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are God Who Sees”; for she said, “Have I not even here [in the wilderness] remained alive after seeing Him [who sees me with understanding and compassion]?”  In Hebrew, "the God Who Sees" is translated EL ROI. This is the character of God in which He never sleeps; He sees, He is aware; He is the great Omnipresent God.
    And there are so many other places in the Bible that a serious student can encounter more of the nature of our Mighty God. So, I'd like to share some of God's names with you, and invite you to study them further; to gain a more intimate knowledge of who our God is.  When he says I AM, these are just some of the names by which you can come to know Him. He truly is the One True God.  Come meet Him:
      YAHWEH:  Because it was considered blasphemous to utter the name of the Hebrew God, it was only written and never spoken.  The Hebrews represented their God with 4 letters (Yod Heh Vav Heh), which became transliterated by the Romans to YHWH.  This name is often interchangeable with Jehovah or Lord, in small capitals.  This is the God of Israel's most revered name.
     ELOHIM:  The Creator.  It was God, as Elohim, that created the heavens and the earth.  Here is an interesting fact:  The him ending of Elohim is a plural ending in the Hebrew language; meaning more than one.  It is actually this name for God (Elohim) that is used in Genesis 1:1:  In the beginning God(s) created the heavens and the earth. This indicates that it was the blessed Trinity --- God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit --- who were involved in the creation.  They are one in being and character, yet three persons united as one Creator.
      ADONAI:  This name means Lord or Master.  This name represents God's lordship over me; his total possession of me, and my total submission to Him as Lord and Master.  Thou Art my Lord (Adonai); I have no good besides Thee."  Psalm 16:2.  We serve Him as willing slaves.
      EL SHADDAI:  The All-Sufficient One.   All of our needs are met in Him.  God is the source of everything we receive, and it is in His power --- not ours --- that His purposes will be fulfilled.  You get the meaning of this name through "God Almighty".  When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty (El Shaddai); walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Genesis 17:1.  Only through God, the All-Sufficient One, could Abram realize his role as Father of our Faith.
      EL ELYON:  The God Most High.  This name designates God as the sovereign ruler of all the Universe; everything is under His control and under His dominion. Neither man nor Satan can interfere with His authority.  I will cry to God Most High (El Elyon), to God who accomplishes all things for me.  Psalm 57:2.  
      JEHOVAH-JIREH:  The Lord Will Provide.  In the character of this name, our God sees, knows and provides all our needs.  If we worship Him in obedience, all our needs will be met.  The Lord will provide (Jehovah-Jireh) as it is said to this day, 'In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.' "  Genesis 22:14.  As Jehovah-Jireh, God has not only provided for our salvation through the death of His Son on the cross, but He is able to see and provide for "our daily bread"; those day-to-day needs. 
      JEHOVAH-NISSI:  The Lord My Banner.  A banner, in ancient times, was a standard that was carried into battle as a rallying symbol for those fighting.  And, make no mistake, we are all in a spiritual battle these days against the forces of Evil.  Therefore, we must remember that the Lord goes out before us; He is our banner in this fight.  We are to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6), and under His banner, our victory is certain.  Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, That it may be displayed because of the truth. Psalm 60:4
      JEHOVAH-MEKODDISHKEM: The Lord Who Sanctifies You.  As Believers in Jesus Christ, we are sanctified, or "set apart" for the righteousness that comes from faith.  We are set apart by following Christ, observing the Sabbath as a Holy day, and accepting the promise that comes through trusting the Word of God.  And you shall keep My statues and practice them; I am the Lord who sanctifies you (Jehovah-Mekoddishkem).  Leviticus 20:8.
      JEHOVAH-RAPHA:  The Lord Who Heals.  Our need for healing, whether as an individual or a nation, is the result of our sins.  Through His power as Jehovah-Rapha, God can cleanse us of our sins and renew our spirits.  He can heal us physically, spiritually and emotionally.  We must first examine ourselves, recognize that we deserve to be judged for our sins, and then ask God to forgive us and heal us.  Heal me, O Lord (Jehovah-Rapha), and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for Thou art my praise.  Jeremiah 17:14.
      JEHOVAH-SABAOTH:  The Lord of Hosts.  This was the name of God during an extreme time in the history of Israel.  They had been repeatedly disobedient and God was about to deliver them over to their enemies.  It is the name that prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah used for God.  It is the name for those who find their own resources inadequate in the midst of a struggle.  This is the name of God to run to when there is no other help.  It is the name that reminds God's people of exactly who He is --- not only the One who delivers, but also the One who judges.  This name of God meets our failures and offers deliverance.  The Lord of Hosts (Jehovah-Sabaoth) is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.  Psalm 46:7.
      JEHOVAH-SHALOM:  The Lord is Peace.  Jesus is our Prince of Peace, Jehovah-Shalom.  He is the One who reconciles us to God, and enables us to stand before Him face to face without fear.  He will keep us in perfect peace, if our mind is focused on Him.  This name of God is perfectly expressed in John 14:27:  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.  This is our Jehovah-Shalom speaking to us.
      JEHOVAH-RAAH: The Lord My Shepherd.  This is perhaps our most well-known name for God.  He designed us as we are so that we would see our need for Him; to see our absolute poverty of spirit without Him.  Like sheep, we are lost without His guidance and discipline; we stray from His path of righteousness and need Him to bring us safely into rest, provision and peace.  When I follow the Good Shepherd, surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Psalm 23-6.
     The descriptions I have provided for each of God's Names do not encompass the entirety that all those Holy Names mean. But they give you a baseline, so to speak, to begin your own discovery of His magnitude and immensity. And these are by no means all the names that God is known by. Since I first published this list in a 2012 post, I have come to know other names of my God: El HaNe'eman - The Faithful God: (Deuteronomy 7:9). El HaGadol - The Great God: (Deuteronomy 10:17). El HaKadosh - The Holy God: (Isaiah 5:16). El Yisrael - The God Of Israel: (Psalm 68:35). El HaShamayim - The God Of The Heavens: (Psalm 136:26). El De'ot - The God Of Knowledge: (1 Samuel 2:3). El Emet - The God Of Truth: (Psalm 31:6). El Yeshuati - The God Of My Salvation: (Isaiah 12:2). Immanu El - God Is With Us: (Isaiah 7:14). El Olam - The God Of Eternity (Genesis 21:33). El Echad - The One God: (Malachi 2:10). "ELAH" is another name for God, used about 70 times in the Old Testament. Again, when combined with other words, we see different attributes of God. Some examples: Elah Yerush'lem - God of Jerusalem: (Ezra 7:19). Elah Yisrael - God of Israel: (Ezra 5:1). Elah Sh'maya - God of Heaven: (Ezra 7:23). Elah Sh'maya V'Arah - God of Heaven and Earth: (Ezra 5:11). 
     I am so blessed that the Holy Spirit has revealed greater knowledge of who my God is; that I can begin to embrace bigger and bigger concepts of His inherent qualities. And the end result is not just more knowledge of Him, but the ability to love Him more; to possess a deeper love based on all of Who He is. I hope this knowledge leads you, as it has me, to a more intimate relationship of love and trust with our multi-faceted Creator.

Psalm 91:14     The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love Me. I will protect those who trust in My name".

November 2, 2018

"Be Strong In The Power Of His Might"

     I'm sure most of you reading this blog are familiar with Ephesians 6 and your spiritual armor. You are spiritually aware that we do not fight "flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places". And since readers of this blog come from across this country and from around the world, I wanted to bring us all together in a mutual understanding of the purpose of our spiritual armor -- as Scripture says in Ephesians 6:10, "to be strong in the power of His Might." What does that look like?
     To begin with, I love the Passion Translation of this verse which reads, Now my beloved ones, I have saved these most important truths for last: Be supernaturally infused with strength through your life-union with the Lord Jesus. Stand victorious with the force of his explosive power flowing in and through you. That sure gives me the confidence to stand my ground in these times of evil! For the rebellion from the dark side is evident all around us. But this passage tells us we are infused with supernatural strength and the explosive power of Christ! So, again, I ask, "How do we walk that out?"
     First and foremost, we must come to a position of obedience. We must agree that waging spiritual war is part of our assignment as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God. Jesus came to defeat the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). It is our assignment and charge to continue that work and overcome the schemes of the Enemy to separate us from our relationship and assignments in Christ.
     We see in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 another reminder that "we don’t wage a military campaign employing human weapons, using manipulation to achieve our aims. Instead, our spiritual weapons are energized with divine power to effectively dismantle the defenses behind which people hide." So, let's look at those spheres in which we've been given power and authority to tread.
     1) Strongholds.  Those are the "defenses" that Satan has erected in a person's life that the Aramaic translates as "rebellious castles". ChristianArmor.net has an excellent definition of "stronghold":
A stronghold is an area of darkness within our mind or personality that causes ongoing spiritual, emotional and\or behavioral problems. We can be genuinely born-again, and sincere in our faith, but have an ongoing struggle with thoughts, emotions, and habits that wage war against our relationship with Christ." It is an inward lie, suggested by the devil, that interferes with -- and eventually becomes a barrier to -- the Light of Jesus in our life. 
     But as children of God, we are empowered with His grace and the gospel message of victory to dismantle these strongholds. And here is what we need to understand ... in the Old Testament the word for "grace" meant "give favor". But in the New Testament, the word for grace is different and it implies God's Mercy (the free gift of forgiveness of sins) and compassion that recognizes the misery that our sin brings us.  It is God's tender sense of our misery that displays itself in His efforts [Grace] to lessen and entirely remove our misery.  God's Grace is applied; it is bestowed; it is His power to equip us for ministry. Strongholds are dismantled [pulled down; demolished] when we understand the power behind the gospel and God's grace, and that this power is in us to do what we cannot do in our human efforts.
     2) Philosophies. Another sphere in which we wage spiritual war is the demolishing of arguments, opinions, theories, and philosophies. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says "We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God." 
     Let me give you a good example of such a philosophy that has been borne out of defiance of the true knowledge of God. It is called LaVeyan Satanism and was founded in 1966 by the American occultist and author Anton Szandor LaVey.  
     LaVey established LaVeyan Satanism in the U.S. state of California through the founding of his Church of Satan on Walpurgisnacht (May Day) of 1966, which he proclaimed to be "the Year One", Anno Satanas—the first year of the "Age of Satan". His ideas were heavily influenced by the ideas and writings of Friedrich Nietzsche and Ayn Rand. This religion is materialist, rejecting the existence of supernatural beings, body-soul dualism, and life after death. Practitioners do not believe that Satan literally exists and do not worship him. Instead, Satan is viewed as a positive archetype representing pride, carnality, and enlightenment.
     Does this sound like a "deceptive fantasy that opposes God" or an "arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God"? You bet it does! And this is an area of spiritual warfare that is becoming more prominent in our modern age. Man's pride has invented religions and philosophies and theories that try to prove his supremacy over God; that the "Most High God" is subordinate to man.
     I could elaborate on the deception Satan has brought to the followers of this false religion, but I think you get the idea .. We must demolish these fantasies and philosophies and promote the Truth that is our God.
     3) Rebellious Thoughts.  Thoughts borne out of Satan's lying whispers result in rebellion and disobedience. The Bible tells us that we are to "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." But it is important for us to understand that this constitutes a battle. 
     Those thoughts, if they are impure or unrighteousness, are not coming from God. They are introduced by the Enemy to cause a disruption or outright rebellion to the purpose(s) of God on your life. And I think it is important that we train ourselves to recognize the attack on our thoughts the moment that fiery dart is launched. That's when we know it is time to go into battle mode!
    I've had a lot of people ask, "How do I take a thought captive?" I tell them that Jesus is our model. I believe He spent a lot of time praying and meditating on the Word, because that was His defense mechanism whenever the devil tempted Him -- whether during His 40 days in the desert, or when He was standing before a tribunal of the Sanhedrin. Scripture was always His weapon of choice! Take a look at the Bible and see how many times He said, "As it is written..." and then quoted from God's Word.
     I have personally modeled my battle plan after His. The moment I recognize that I am under attack with an unholy, deceptive, or lying thought, I stop and do what He did. I proclaim [out loud], "I renounce [or deny] the lie that (for instance) I am not smart enough to qualify for a promotion at my company, and I declare the truth of the Word which says that I am being transformed by the renewal of my mind that I may discern what is the good, and perfect, and acceptable will of God [for my life]". I will then go on and declare my identity in Christ ... I am a child of God; I am a co-heir with Christ; I am God's Temple and His Spirit lives in me.
     Can you see that those thoughts are spiritually taken captive as prisoners of a spiritual war in which they are judged as ungodly patterns of thought that defy God's authority and our identity. The declaration of the Word [in response to the lie in my mind] is a most effective weapon of war against such corrupted and rebellious thoughts!
     Finally, 4) The arena of war, itself. This is the sphere in which we stand ready and willing to wage spiritual war to defeat the Enemy -- no matter what he throws at us.  I see so many Christians that are rising up in their identities; who recognize who they belong to and what their role is in this Age. And it fills me with such hope!
     They are recognizing that they have been believing the lies of the Enemy. They are seeing where the devil has manipulated events in their lives to sow such seeds of corruption as fear and anger and unforgiveness, and they see how that has damaged their relationship with Jesus. And they are willing to be delivered and set free! Once free, they are willing to get in the fight to help someone else know the One who set them free. And then the Enemy strikes back.... and they are not sure if this fight is really for them.
     I will tell you that books are being written to warn Believers to stay away from spiritual warfare; that there are casualties in every war and they don't want to put themselves in a position to become re-victimized. But what does Paul, who teaches us about putting on armor for spiritual warfare, say? In 2 Timothy 3:12, he tells us, "Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." And what does our Lord Jesus tell us in Matthew 5:10? "How enriched you are when you bear the wounds of being persecuted for doing what is right! For that is when you experience the realm of heaven’s kingdom [on earth]."
     To those who are experiencing trials and tribulations because you've stepped into the arena of spiritual war, let me encourage you... it means you are valuable to the Kingdom of God, and the Enemy recognizes your worth. It means you are taking back territory from the dark side, and that is greatly pleasing to Father God! Yes, it means your life will never be the same -- the days of easy comfort and flying under the devil's radar are gone, but it also means that as you become battle-tested and victorious, the Enemy will learn you are undefeatable and will respect the power and authority you walk in. So hang in there; you are a soldier in God's Army. The Battle is His and He will lead you to victory. Remember, His power is in you ... Be Strong In The Power of His Might! 

James 1:2-4    "My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking".

October 30, 2018

The Witching Hour

     If, as a Christian, you are aware of our responsibility to steward the Kingdom of God until Jesus returns, and that we will be accountable for what we did or didn't do; or what we knew or didn't know, then you are probably well-informed about the increase in demonic activity in the world. In fact, if you are paying close attention, Satan is actually tipping his hand. You just have to be tuned in and you will see it.
     For several years now, attuned Christians have seen the devil's forecasting in the entertainment industry. From our movies to our music to our TV shows, the Enemy is becoming more blatant and confident in showing his hand. After all, the Church hasn't sounded the alarm, and he is capturing so many unsuspecting souls in his net of horror and terror ... why should he be concerned that we're going to shut him down?
     So, if you're like my husband and myself, you are adept at picking up the subtle clues in a song or movie plot that shows how the devil is targeting the world and luring them into accepting the occult and demonic without a fight. But imagine our surprise as we re-watched a 2009 TV episode of "Terminator:The Sarah Connor Chronicles", and the main character spoke these chilling words: "Midnight is the witching hour… if you believe that kind of thing. And most people won’t admit it if they do. Midnight is the time when the door opens from our world into the next, and we are visited by dark spirits in the shadow lands… the incubus, the succubus, the Old Hag. Visitors are known by many names, but each story bears the same marks. The demons come after midnight in the first three hours of the new day when we are alone and at our most vulnerable; in our deepest sleep and helpless. We cannot move. They lay on us, press on us, suffocate us, take from us what is most precious -- our lives, our love, our sanity, our sleep… If you believe in that kind of thing".
     I will tell you that I definitely believe in that kind of thing. I have heard too many similar testimonies in our Deliverance Ministry to dismiss these assertions. But I will also tell you that we weren't watching this show expecting to get this kind of "in your face" revelation. The whole Terminator movie franchise has always fascinated us because of its predictions of a future dominated by artificial intelligence. But this particular episode of the TV spinoff caught us off-guard, and at just the right season of the year. You see, each year at Halloween, I am astonished at how much this holiday preoccupies our culture.  It is becoming as big as Thanksgiving and Christmas in our national psyche, and I am astonished at how much our adult population has adopted it.
     But I am here, once again, to warn everyone [Christians included] that Halloween is not the innocent celebration of costumes and candy it is made out to be. Whether a devout Christian or a non-religious secularist, most people believe that Halloween is a night of innocent fun and autumn celebrations/festivals that ALL people can share. But what is it to the Satanists and witches? I think it is important to repeat some of the information that I have presented throughout the years for those who are new to this site.
     Known as "Samhain" to this latter group, Halloween is a transitional time, and an initial stage of a process in which the veil between life and death grows thin.  I found a Christian website (Logos Resource Pages) that featured an article by Pastor David Phillips that seemed to offer some straightforward information on the holiday.  Consider what the following self-declared witches had to say about the holiday... "Halloween is one of the four Great Sabbats of the witches that everyone has heard about. To witches, Halloween is a serious occasion, however merrily celebrated. It is the old Celtic Eve of Samhain. With the coming of Christianity, the Church tried to Christianize the old festival by naming November 1st as All Saints Day, or All Hallows as the old term was. Thus Samhain Eve became All Hallows Eve, or Halloween. But attempts to discourage the pagan celebrations were so unavailing that the festival was eventually banned from the Church calendar. It was not until 1928 that the Church of England formally restored All Hallows to its calendar, on the assumption that the old pagan associations of Halloween were at last really dead and forgotten; a supposition that was certainly premature." 
     Here's another witch's testimony: "All the Great Festivals of Paganism, wherever they may be found, correspond in common with the Solstices, Equinoxes, and other natural annual cycles of life. Most of these remain with us today, in more or less disguised form, as the so-called Christian holidays of Christmas (Yule), Easter (Ostara), May Day (Beltane), Thanksgiving (Harvest Home), Halloween (Samhain) and even Groundhogs Day (Oimelc)." 
     Here is what we ALL need to understand ... Witches and Satanists love Halloween. They get a lot of media coverage around this time of year. It's good P.R. for them because the coverage, as a rule, portrays them in a favorable light.  In addition, Halloween generates interest in "the craft" [as in "witchcraft"] and is good for recruitment purposes. As Craig Hawkins, Founder and President of Apologetics Information Ministries, put it: "With increasing vigor, witchcraft is coming out of the broom closet. Many witches are actively seeking public understanding and acceptance."
    What should be especially concerning is the fact that the practice of witchcraft and satanism is becoming mainstreamed -- from lawsuits to allow rituals to be performed in our prison system, to Wicca becoming the fastest growing religion in our military. And I can tell you that from the Beloveds that my husband and I have ministered to, these associations and the rituals attached to them open spiritual doors that, unless closed and covered by the blood of Jesus, will render torment and oppression in a Believer's life. Furthermore, if you think Halloween doesn't measure up to being included in satanic rituals ... think again.
     If you think I am exaggerating this or my warnings about Halloween, just listen to what a former Satanist has to say on the subject. John Ramirez is a born-again Christian; a pastor who was once, in his own words, "a general to the kingdom of darkness in witchcraft". Ramirez warns Halloween isn't just about costumes and candy – there's a much darker reality.  "It is the most diabolical demonic holiday. Sometimes people say, 'I celebrated Halloween 10 years ago, [or] I did this 15 years ago, I did this 20 years ago.' But the door's still open. You just cursed your family from three to four generations," Ramirez told CBN News. [The "this" he's talking about is the rituals and sacrificial offerings that are made to the Dark Prince on this evil night].

    And that's what 21st Century people have a hard time understanding. Even though the attempt in the 6th Century to "Christianize" the holiday by calling it "All Soul's Day" in commemoration of the "faithfully departed", the original conception of the holiday [in which the souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes and that ghosts, witches, goblins, black cats, fairies, and demons roamed the earth], has never been excised from its celebration. And calling it a "fall harvest festival" doesn't erase its spiritually dark undertones. As John Ramirez says, "The only harvest we should be celebrating is the harvest of souls [for the Kingdom of God]".
     And then there's Texe Marrs. Although a controversial New Age researcher, he nevertheless offers advice that is hard to ignore:  "Our own research confirms that on this unholy night [Halloween], witches' covens meet, drink, dance, spit out curses and spells, conjure up spirits, engage in sexual orgies, induct new members, and offer up animal and human sacrifices. (Witches have become expert at covering up these sacrifices by use of cremation ovens and the use of privately owned land preserves for disposal of bodies in deeply dug graves.)"
     And lest you dismiss this notion as pure conjecture, let me share the words from a high priestess of the Church of Satan:  "As a child drawn to darker passions from birth, I always delighted in the fear and fantasies of Halloween. It gives even the most mundane people the opportunity to taste wickedness for one night. They have a chance to dance with the Devil, either stumbling, tittering and nervous in the arms of the Black Prince, or boldly, ravenously sharing in the sensual excesses and fright of others on this magical, unholy night. Now, birth and death have, for me, become inextricably interwoven into this day."  
     You see, it doesn't really matter what we Christians say to try to convince ourselves that the warnings about Halloween have been blown out of proportion. We need to listen to those who openly declare that they worship the dark side during this unholy holiday. They have made it the devil's holiday! And when we participate -- even in the most innocent way -- we are telling the spirit world that we are in agreement with its celebration. And in case you have any last doubts, I'm going to leave you with these chilling words from Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, who said, "I'm glad that Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year."

1 Corinthians 10:21     "You can’t drink from the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You can’t feast at the table of the Lord and feast [participate] at the table of demons".

October 27, 2018

Jesus Is Truly Our Hope

     I don't know of any better way to express the hope that Jesus represents for mankind than to share testimonies from the Ministry to which He has called me. To begin, I was pretty amazed at how quickly the calls started coming in when we returned from our vacation. It's so easy, when you're distracted with traveling and out of your routine, to become casual about the spiritual battle that is waging in people's lives. And it certainly seemed as if God has broadened our territory while we were gone!
     But these are a couple of stories that remind me that no matter whether you are dealing with people you know, or strangers you've never met, Satan repeats the same lying messages, just using different methods. Let me expand on that premise...
     I will call this man Benny; a middle-aged man who has been lost in the depths of hopelessness that comes with years of drug abuse -- methamphetamines, to be exact. In case you didn't know it, meth use has become an epidemic in this country, destroying the lives of countless individuals and families. It doesn't care what ethnicity you are; if you're rich or poor; young or old. Highly addictive, meth burns up the body’s resources, creating a devastating dependence that can only be relieved by taking more of the drug, leading to serious health conditions, including memory loss, aggression, psychotic behavior and potential heart and brain damage.
     It creates a false sense of happiness and well-being; creating counterfeit confidence in a life that has been decimated. Such was the case with Benny. He had mistreated his body for so many years, and nearly lost his family. When we were called to his older brother's home to assist in Benny's deliverance, we met his wife, who is an intelligent woman, very faithful, but firm in her stand that he could not come back into their home [with their two young daughters] until he dealt with his drug problems. Of course, Mark and I knew that at the root of this self-destruction was a spiritual issue from which Benny needed to receive divine healing.
      From the moment we met him, we could see his gentleness and his loving heart. He knew Jesus and believed in Him. But we could also sense the deep torment that was keeping him in bondage to the drugs. He gave us a short recap of what had brought him to this point... Nights of being tormented by a demon who was in his room, sitting on his chest, and then harassing him with taunts and accusations, inches from his face. When he decided to accept his brother's invitation for deliverance, he got in his truck to drive to his brother's residence. On the way, the demon tried to pull his hands off the steering wheel, started beating him about his head, and pulling his hair. By the time we arrived, he was nursing a bloody nose from the beating. His brother and wife were at the table and we let him talk for a few minutes to see if we could determine if he was really ready to let Jesus work in his life to set him free.
     It was obvious that he was suffering and did not want to continue this lifestyle, but the Enemy had such a strong hold on him through this drug. We had to discover what was at the root of it all. So we asked him when his life began spiraling out of control? What was the heaviest thing in his spiritual backpack that he'd been carrying around his whole life? Not surprisingly, he was at first reluctant to share anything that the devil had wrapped up in layers of guilt and shame, and after some prompting, he broke down and admitted he had been sexually molested as a teenager. How Jesus hates this sin! And it is so prevalent in our culture! I'm beginning to think that it is committed against our boys at a greater rate than our girls, and I strongly believe that this horrendous sin is what Jesus is referring to when he says, "If anyone causes one of these little ones [who believe in Me] to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea".
    This sexual molestation was the impetus for Benny's false belief system about himself; that he was worthless, dirty, no good, unworthy of love, condemned. It set the course of his life that led to bad decisions encouraged by the lies of the devil. But when we were able to help Benny forgive his molester and others who had harmed him; to break the ungodly soul and spirit ties with these individuals and the drug dealers who had helped him disguise the pain, then he was ready to hear how precious he was to Jesus. He experienced Jesus coming into that molestation event, walking him out of that memory, and disintegrating where it took place.
     We spoke life into a man who learned that he was so deeply loved by His Heavenly Father that he was worth the sacrifice of His own Son. Benny felt the power of the Holy Spirit when we laid hands on him and prayed. He heard the life-giving words that God had a purpose for his life and that his testimony could help set others free!
     Benny hung his head and wept, repeating "Thank you, Jesus!" several times. He now understood that Jesus died to give him victory over the drugs, and it is time to walk in that freedom and change his life. His wife reiterated that the victory was his and up to him to develop that relationship with Jesus and walk forward in freedom. It has been a week since we ministered to him, but we have received a report that Benny is calling family and friends and telling them, "Jesus set me free!!!" Hallelujah!
     The other story I want to share is of a woman I will call Karen. Karen was referred to us by a good friend; she was despondent and beaten down by her life circumstances. When I initially talked to her, I told her that we were not life counselors, and that we worked with Jesus to help people heal their inner wounds so that they could move forward in fulfilling the purposes of their lives. She was clearly unsaved and stated she wasn't against Jesus, but just wanted to try and get some "clarity about her life".
     I will be honest, I wasn't too sure we were the right people for the stage Karen was at in her life, but I always know that Jesus is the answer for everything, so we were willing to meet with her. We listened to her explain the deterioration of her life, her utter feelings of desolation, loneliness, and abandonment. Then we explained that Jesus wanted to set her free from all that "baggage" she was carrying around, but she had to desire a relationship with Him.
     Karen said she was interested in knowing more about Jesus but the idea of "church" was not inviting because the Christians she had met did not invoke the sense of "community" she was seeking. Mark and I were encouraged when she told us that she had once had a dream when Jesus came to her. She couldn't remember what He said to her, but she remembered the deep feeling of peace! I told her that's the Jesus we serve.  What's more, her story is not unique. Her circumstances describe nearly everyone we see... there are always incidents in people's lives that Satan uses to keep them in bondage to his lies.  Therefore, the advice we offered her is fitting for everyone to follow.
    We explained that our ministry is centered on a relationship with Jesus and He is the answer. We listened to her questions about the validity of other religions and explained that those gods are very real, but are lesser and inferior gods to the Most High God of the Bible; the One True [big "G"] God. We also explained that the spirit realm is very real, and there are real spirits of depression and abandonment that are trying to keep her separated from the love of Jesus [and that peace she felt in the dream]; they want to keep her from seeking the life He offers. We asked if she wanted to begin a relationship with Jesus and she said yes, so we led her in a prayer in which she asked Jesus to forgive her of her sin and to come into her heart to become her Savior. We explained the importance of Forgiveness and we recited the Lord's Prayer together. Karen then forgave those who have hurt and abandoned her, releasing them to Jesus. We prayed over her and she wept, repeating, "Help me, Jesus". I prayed that He would visit her again in a dream and give her new words to remember; that she would be in His Presence and know He is real. I told her this was the first step in her relationship with Him and it is a journey for the rest of her life. When she left our home she said she felt lighter, and that it felt like she had "come home". Nothing represents the calling of Jesus on one's life any better than that!
     I know that both Benny and Karen will be visiting us again. They both have made dramatic changes in their spiritual lives and the Enemy will try to lure them back in to bondage. I explained to both of them that they are a prize in a spiritual battle, and they can expect to encounter some of the same tactics of the devil. But they know Jesus is with them; they know the lies the devil uses and that they must fight to stay free. But, as always, it is a tremendous blessing to begin a session without hope, and then see the Beloved go home full of joy, with a new sense of their worth as a child of God. It is extremely humbling, and an honor and privilege to be considered worthy of being Jesus's ambassador. It is His power and authority, on loan to us, that allows us to hear the Holy Spirit's words of counsel as we guide people, one by one, into the Kingdom of God on earth. Thank you, Jesus! There is no greater work on this earth for me to do. I pray that mine and Mark's obedience and service continues to be pleasing in Your sight!

2 Corinthians 5:20    "We are ambassadors of the Anointed One who carry the message of Christ to the world, as though God were tenderly pleading with them directly through our lips. So we tenderly plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Turn back to God and be reconciled to Him".