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

Showing posts with label God's Love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label God's Love. Show all posts

March 21, 2022

A Word of Encouragement For These Times


In writing my last few blog posts, I have been prompted to sound the warning bells of the precipice the world faces as a result of pride, selfishness, and moral relativism that permeates the state of man. Because of the free will choices of those who reject God, any chance of the world's reconciliation with the Father seem remote, at best. Those who stand in positions of authority and power [whether placed there by God or their own evil schemes] have wasted the grace given by our Creator to make the world a better place for all. 

I do not want to be misinterpreted ... all is not lost; reconciliation is most certainly possible on a personal and individual level, when one seeks to spiritually connect with God. And it is to that person that I wish to offer hope and assurance in the midst of what might look like a condemned world. I want to affirm how God sees you, and just how valuable you are to Him. And this cannot be confirmed by any philosophical theory, or ritual laws of religion, or denominational code of conduct. As old-fashioned as it might seem, the most accurate way to know how God perceives you today, in this off-the-rails 21st Century, is to read the Bible. BUT ... I want you to read it from what may be a different and unfamiliar perspective.

Can you receive the idea that God orchestrated what was written in Scripture for your sake? That He wanted His particular thoughts written down in a way that would instruct and benefit you personally? That may sound trivial but it is really quite profound when you consider that most of us think of Scripture as a recording of the entirety of God's knowledge; the sum total of all He is about. [However, it is my opinion, that God is SO big, that the Bible barely scratches the surface of His nature and character]. So what if the purpose of Scripture is to reveal to you what God thinks of you, and how He wants to love you; help you; rescue you and set you free; heal you and make you whole; to show you how to get out of the mess in which you find yourself? What if He wants to "re-create" you into the unique being He designed you to be in the first place? 

Any teaching from Scripture, whether it be religious "activity", or religious theology, that does not have those goals in mind, is going to be counter-productive to God's purpose for making the Bible available to us. And sadly, the Holy Book has been used far too often to show us how far we have fallen short from the image of Christ. But the Messiah did not come to make us feel small and insufficient. His goal was to destroy the power of the devil, to forgive our sins, and to point the way to restoring His Kingdom on earth! So God instructed the writers of His Word to strengthen your faith in who He is, and in who you are -- how to accomplish those providential goals for your benefit. That's how much He loves you!

I love this quote by Asher Intrater, a Messianic leader in Israel, whom I have come to greatly admire for his wisdom and his connection to God's heart... "God cares about you. He does not care about church pews other than to give people a place to sit. He does not care about economic theory other than how it affects your receiving of His provisions. He does not care about denominational organizations other than the well-being of the people in them." God's focused on caring about us! And any use of Scripture to edify us about God [and our relationship with Him] should have that theme as its foundation. 

The Word is not written to be restrictive, as some would say, but so that you might receive the life force of God [Holy Spirit] and prosper in His ways. The commandments of the Law of Moses were not instructed by God in order to make you follow a strict code of conduct, but to bless you when you choose to obey them. The proverbs of Solomon were recorded to instruct you so that you might avoid your own foolish and self-destructive ways. Every verse of Scripture was ordained by God for you! It was written to you, for you -- to show you that He loves you, is concerned about you, and to guide you as you maneuver through these evil times that are out of our control. 

Don't let anyone use Scripture to condemn you! True, it is written to show you the difference between right and wrong; between walking in righteousness or sin. But God instructed His Word to be written to you to convict you of how He cares about you and wants to protect you from temptation -- not to condemn you. The latter is the devil's role. He is a liar and a deceiver; an accuser and a condemner. His primary purpose is to cause you to sin. First, he tempts you, and then he condemns you as a prosecuting attorney in the Courts of Heaven. God's desire, in His Word, is to edify you of how Satan works his deception, even as He gives you the knowledge of how to avoid it. I want you to hear me clearly: there is a difference between conviction of sin and condemnation. The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin so that God's goodness and grace can lead you to repentance, and you can stop sinning. 

Remember this: any Christian religious doctrine that condemns you is misrepresenting God's heart for you. God will never condemn you as long as you choose to obey and trust in Him. Jesus does not condemn you, as stated in Romans 8:1 ... Therefore there is now no condemnation [no guilty verdict, no punishment] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior]. The only way you receive condemnation from God is to rebel against Him, and by leaving the guidance of His grace and love. Condemnation is not, nor has ever been, His intention towards you! 

Don't let anyone tell you otherwise! Religious condemnation is not from God. Again, from the wisdom of Asher Intrater: "Religion is the ministry of condemnation. Redemption is the ministry of God's grace". I'm sorry if that offends, but Jesus came to represent God's intentions for you, not to bring Religion to the earth. He came to bring God's personal perspective of how He regards you, and to invite you to walk in the Light of His love and grace. 

If you choose to walk out of His Light, then you have entered Satan's darkness, and that's on you -- it's not God's fault you chose to leave His Light. If you choose to leave His presence, then the only other option is to be in the darkness. There is no light other than that which is in God. Period! Scripture reveals to us that mankind is defiled because of what happened in the Garden; mankind has defiled and condemned themselves. But Scripture also reveals that we aren't locked into that state of condemnation. Godly preaching and teaching convicts us of our sin, and then edifies us as to the truth of receiving grace through faith in the death and resurrection of Yeshua. Any attempt to justify ourselves through our own self-righteousness is humanism. The answer to man's condemnation is to ask for forgiveness and believe in the power of God's grace to redeem us. 

So, in these detestable times we find ourselves, let us not lose God's perspective on who we are. We, who believe and have faith in Jesus's saving grace, are recognized and beloved as long, lost children who have returned to our spiritual home. God sees us, as He looks upon our Savior. Though we might find ourselves in the time when the world has condemned itself in the eyes of God, you must not fear that God has abandoned you. Because He cares about you, and loves you, He has an assignment for you, on His behalf. There is no need for fear nor hesitancy. He will send the Holy Spirit with wisdom, understanding, might, counsel and knowledge of His heavenly strategies. You will receive dreams and visions of how you are to remain in the Light. And because you have the Fear of the Lord [both the reverence and awe of the Lord, and the recognition of what He says about His intense hatred of sin], you will be a mighty spiritual force to be reckoned with in the spiritual battles that have come upon the earth. 

Bottom line: let Scripture reveal who God is; His extraordinary love for you; His ways to walk in His Light; and how He can use you to reveal His glory on the earth. Yes, Evil pervades the earth, but you do not belong to the darkness. The truth is that the darkness fears you and your knowledge of the power and authority you possess in the Kingdom of God. Let the Light of God in you shine bright as a testimony of His Goodness and Might!

I want to acknowledge the inspiration I have received of the whole truth of my God through teaching and edification from Mr. Intrater. He truly has a heart to see all believers in Yeshua be all they can be in YHWH. That is my desire for you, as well.

1 John 5:13    These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God [which represents all that Jesus Christ is and does], so that you will know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have eternal life.  

December 25, 2020

The Hope Of The World!

I know that for many, this Christmas Day is the bleakest they've known in their lives. The world has been overwhelmed by a virus whose origin and basis is not universally accepted, yet nearly everyone has been devastated by its impact. The tendrils of its consequences have caused discord and disagreement across political, social, medical and familial lines. People have died; jobs have been lost; we have been forced to isolate; and it has invaded and annihilated the electoral process of our government. We don't even see each other's smiles anymore.

Yet, this is still the day we celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world's! Whether it represents the accurate birth date of Jesus or not doesn't really matter to me this year. Instead, I am concentrating on the importance of the message our Father in Heaven wants us to receive. Yes, it may personally look bleak for us, and our nation is suffering an identity crisis, but this is not the first time in history that people and nations have looked at their reality and discovered it to be hostile and forbidding. In fact, our situation in America looks similar to what it did on the night Jesus was born.

An article originally published in 2010 and written by J.C. Ryle for christianity.com reminds us of the Bible prophecy in Genesis 49:10 that says, "the scepter [of royalty] shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until He comes to whom it belongs; and to Him shall be the obedience of the peoples". According to Luke 2:1-7, "a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered [for the purpose of taxation]". This occurrence is not unlike this year, when a census was taken, in order to determine the number of inhabitants and property in order that our government could consider their demand of taxes upon the citizenry. We have read this account many times during our Bible readings on Christmas morning. But this simple statement is heavy with significance.

As Genesis 49:10 implies, the scepter of power was departing from Judah. The Roman Empire was exerting its authority over the world, and now this foreign power was seeking to dominate the land of Judah through heavy taxation. Strangers, who did not understand Judah's history or their ethos, were beginning to rule over them. Their independent government was quickly vanishing, and this "super power" threatened to overcome the world. 

At this time of Jesus's birth, all the previous empires had proven the foolishness of the world. None of the religious leaders, kings, poets, or philosophers of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, or now, Rome, had proven that through their worldly wisdom, they knew who God was. All of them were filled with the world's dark idolatry. Rome was no different. Gloom, misery, despair and a growing disdain among the people for oppressive government marked the era. In addition, the land of Judah was fracturing from within. The Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, and the Zealots all sought for control of the people's hearts. Conflict, riots and rising tension typified the year Jesus was born. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

But God's timing was perfect! Into this maelstrom of darkness, He saw the weakness of His people, and determined that the world was ready to receive its Savior. Romans 5:6 says, "For when the time was right, the Anointed One came and died to demonstrate his love for sinners who were entirely helpless, weak, and powerless to save themselves." Isn't that how many of us are feeling today? Our worldly wisdom tells us that we are helpless, weak, and powerless to push back against a pandemic that has hijacked our health, our economy, and our freedoms. It has even managed to commandeer our government and threatens to destroy our rule of law and our republic! 

But we must not look upon our circumstances through worldly wisdom, which would convince us that we are doomed and defeated. God is sovereign over the world and our history as a nation. He holds the final outcome in His hands. Yes, Satan seeks to destroy us because we have represented the freedom that He designed mankind to experience. But Satan does not have the mind or the wisdom of God. And neither do we. Are we in a time of testing? Are we being disciplined for abandoning God and losing sight of His moral laws? Perhaps. But we must not attempt to second-guess Him. We must not be anxious about the course of events around us. Instead, we must declare that on this day, two thousand and twenty years ago, the earth received her true King! God sent His Light into the Darkness and that Light still rules and reigns! He still demonstrates His love!

Yes, our reality is very similar to the reality of that royal birth two millennia ago. But we must see the bigger picture.... into the midst of the oppressive Roman Empire, God knew when it was time to intercede from Heaven and send His Son as Savior. God knew the exact time for Christ to be born to rescue the world. And He knows the exact time to step into our national history. We must trust Him for that timing, and we must continue to live in divinely inspired expectation of protection. Until that moment, let us rejoice on this day [and always] that He chooses to be present in our circumstances; that He has the power to intervene in our affairs; and that the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, represents our hope for deliverance and victory. I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas filled with the joy and the Good News that the Lord is come. And let all of earth receive Her King!

Luke 2:14     Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men.  

November 1, 2020

If You Don't Know Who You Are ... This Is For You!


We are just days away from what I believe is perhaps the most important U.S. election in our nation's history; or at least in my lifetime. This election may very well determine whether we remain in God's favor and are able to rectify our national sins and renew the covenant made with Him through the Mayflower Compact -- or if we will continue in our moral decay and rebellion, and find this nation becoming the subject of His discipline. 

I sense the heightened state of uncertainty and concern among my Christian friends. Although they know that, no matter the outcome, we will endure through our faith in Jesus, they know the future may not be without persecution, hardship, and violence. We may be citizens of Heaven, but we still have to live in this world. This is where the rubber meets the road. They are having to dig down deep and stay focused on the Lord [in faith]. But imagine the levels of fearfulness and anxiety among those whose security does not lie in Jesus! And it is to those people that I am writing today.

I cannot tell you the number of people I see that are struggling over the precariousness of our national predicament. People that I love are suffering from anxiety attacks, migraines, and sleepless nights. They feel like they are adrift with no anchor. Everything that they thought they could count on is in danger of being taken from them... jobs, retirement, homes, health, safety. And all I have to offer them is Jesus. If only I could get them to understand that He is all they need! He is their anchor and security -- if they will only reach out for Him! 

What I hear most often is, "But, I don't know how!" And I know for a fact that the Jesus that's been presented to them by "the religious Church" seems rigid and stringent and pretty inflexible. He's not very inviting to the generations who have been spoon-fed the "life is too short not to have fun" or the "he who dies with the most toys wins" social philosophies. Religious rules and control, combined with hypocrisy makes the Christian lifestyle appear wearisome, joyless, and uninspiring. So, people look to the world, and it becomes all about presenting the image of having the perfect life -- happy personal life, accomplished career, and being exceptionally popular. The only thing is.... when you are focused on meeting those standards, you lose sight of who you were designed to be; the unique, extraordinary, one-of-a-kind human being you were created to be. And most significantly, you get so caught up in chasing after the world's acceptance, that there is no desire to meet the One who created you.

When you let the world identify you according to its standards, nothing is real. We have become a nation of people defined by who the world decides we are. Social Media determines whether you are "accepted" or "deleted". So everyone tries to present an image of themselves that will be applauded and approved -- whether it is a true representation of who you are or not. And so we fabricate a reality for ourselves that will garner the most "likes" and establish us as uniquely qualified to stand out from the crowd. But in reality, we're not standing out at all -- we are all just trying to meet the same criteria that society has determined is the ideal.

We've been conditioned to think that it matters what the crowd thinks of us. And because of that mindset, we've become so busy trying to fashion a unique personality online that we've lost sight of our true self or value. And I see this phenomenon across the spectrum of people's lives! If you're a Christian, then you've got to appear "more Christian" than others. And if you are of the world, then your accomplishments must outshine all your real, and not-so-real, "friends" on Social Media. 

When that fails to register on the self-esteem meter, then we usually find ourselves searching for a deeper meaning to life. And I think that is instinctive in all humans because there is an innate part of our makeup that knows there is something higher than ourselves. So, we go the route of self-help books, and psychology gurus who promise to guide you to "your best self", offering hidden "secrets" and "divine directions" to happiness and fulfillment. But here's the thing -- you can't do it on your own. You will never be complete or whole or content until you realize that there is something beyond this world and what it can offer you. 

If you get that far in your personal quest, then you usually begin searching for answers in various belief systems. And there are many to choose from; each with their own gods who offer you differing benefits. The Eastern religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam all offer varying themes of "self-improvement" through obtaining knowledge, status, or character by one's own efforts. And of course, each religion has their own gods to worship. These are not the only religions that are available by far -- whatever you are seeking, there is a religion that will promise to deliver.

There are lots of belief systems and faiths to choose from; and lots of gods who can offer you what you think you're looking for.  BUT THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD WHO IS THE MOST HIGH GOD -- THE GOD WHO CREATED YOU! There is only one God who made you in His image. He is Spirit and at your core, you are spirit. There is only one God who wrote your name down in His Book of Life with all that He created you to be and all He has planned for you in this life. Furthermore, this God has known you since He created the world, the universes, and the stars. He decided when you would be transformed from spirit and transferred into this suit of flesh. And He will determine how long you will be on the earth to accomplish His will for you in "this life" before you return to your "home" in His heavenly Kingdom.

You see, for each one of us, "this life" is not about meeting the expectations of a world that is centered on self-idolatry, self-indulgence, or self-glorificaton; it's not about comparing oneself to those perceived as  powerful or important or popular. We are here to fulfill a destiny recorded in Heaven. We are here to point a self-absorbed world towards a relationship with their Creator; to share the true sense of "belonging" and acceptance that comes from knowing Jesus, whose love is beyond description, and the depth of which cannot be matched on this earth. It is that amazing love that will strengthen and protect and fight for us through whatever our nation is destined for in the coming months and years. It is the only thing that will get us through the difficulties of life and the only thing that fills that emptiness inside us when we feel we don't matter to the world.

So, if you are worried about this election and are fearful or anxious; or you're feeling depressed and suffer from self-loathing because you don't "measure up", I want you to know that your Creator, Jesus Christ, sees you. He hears what you tell yourself, and He sees your anxiety, your migraines, and your sleepless nights. He wants you to know that unlike what is projected across your computer and TV screens, HE IS REAL. And He has the answers if you are willing to stop seeking your value from the world. If you are ready to know who you were made to be, what your purpose is, and all He has planned for you, then take a chance on Him. He won't force Himself on you; He just wants to show you who you really are. He's not about religion -- He's about relationship! I promise you that all the world has to offer is nothing in comparison to that intimate relationship. 

Now, more than ever, you need Jesus. He's the answer to the world's problems, and He's your answer to becoming all you are meant to be! And if you don't how to begin that relationship, it's easy -- just ask Him to come into your life. Tell Him you want to begin that relationship and you want to know Him. Ask Him to make Himself known in your heart. And then wait and listen. Shut out the seductive voice of the world, and get quiet. Talk to Him like He's your best friend [because He is]. All the love and acceptance you've been seeking from the world is found in Jesus. All you have to do is begin and take that first step. And I will be praying for you.... 

NOTE: As many of you know, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I have written a book entitled, Through A Kingdom Lens: Re-discovering What The Church Lost. It is about helping Christians understand the greater message Jesus came to bring ... that the Kingdom of God is here on earth and our Salvation is just the first part of our purpose in our faith. We are to move from our Salvation experience into the Kingdom of God as Ambassadors to spread the Gospel of the Kingdom and defeat the kingdom of darkness controlled by Satan. But the Holy Spirit has put it on my heart that this book is not relevant for the millions who don't yet know Jesus. The circumstances of this world are frightening and too many people don't know where to turn to feel safe and secure. They need to be introduced to their Creator and why it is important that they know Him and develop a relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit has given me my next assignment to write a book to help make that introduction -- not in a religious manner, but in a personal, welcoming and non-threatening way, so that they desire to know their Creator, and He becomes their Savior. We must find a way to reach these people who will otherwise become victims of the Enemy with what's coming on the world. And so I begin this new assignment. Please pray that my obedience will touch the hearts of the lost. 

Zephaniah 3:17    The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with shouts of joy.


November 26, 2019

The Lies And The Truth

"When the Spirit of the Lord comes upon my heart, I will dance like David danced"
      I want you to contemplate the following post that appeared on Steve Harmon's Facebook page. It's really hard to describe exactly who Steve is -- he's a deliverance minister, a warrior for God, and an ambassador for the Kingdom ... and he just makes a lot of sense when he writes about the tactics of the Enemy to destroy our relationship with God. His latest Facebook post struck such a compelling chord with my spirit that I had to share.
     He writes, "The Demonic know that they can't separate you from the Love of God. So, because of that, they have to do things to convince you that God doesn't love you or care [about you]. So they work to cut off your communication with Him. They work to stop your prayers from happening. They work to dictate the circumstances in your life so that you believe that God is ignoring you, or has left you. The whole purpose of this is so YOU will let go of God and turn away from Him in your life. Since they can't get God to turn away and let go of you, they have to get you [to let go of God.]
     When one turns away and lets go of God, it doesn't mean God has stopped loving them. It just means that their connection with God is now cut off because they shut the door of their heart. So their life starts to feel hard, difficult, hopeless, and dry because they sever ties with the Life Source. And all because they believe the Life Source left them -- which never happened.
     This is how the game is played. You can't ever let your circumstances dictate how you believe who God is, and what He is like. Jesus always stands at the door and knocks. Open the door again. He will NEVER leave you nor forsake you, no what it feels or looks like."
     And here is the last sentence I would add to that post ... So we have to stop listening to the lies of the Enemy. I will further tell you that what he wrote perfectly describes the tactics of Satan in every single Inner Healing session we do. As Paul wrote in Romans 8, there is nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God. And as Steve Harmon wrote, it is never a question of God letting go of us, but of us letting go of God. The Enemy will take the difficult circumstances of our lives and try to convince us that God was never there; that He abandoned us in that moment [or sometimes years]. He will try to convince us that all the promises in the Bible are a lie, when in fact it is he who is lying.
     Those promises include the truth that He will fight for you (Exodus 14:14); that He will strengthen the weary and increase the power of the weak (Isaiah 40239); that no weapon formed against you will prevail (Isaiah 54:17); that He has plans to prosper you and not harm you; plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11); that He will be with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).  So when the hard times come -- and they will -- either from our own rebellious sins, or the times someone else's sins caused us pain, we must not allow the Enemy to convince us to cut off our communication with God. We must not turn away from Him nor let go of His hand.
     There is no amount of addiction, adultery, molestation or sexual sin that will cause Him to stop loving you. He will always be knocking at the door of your heart, waiting for you to open it to Him. And even if your childhood was filled with physical or emotional pain, He never abandoned you! I have experienced indescribable joy -- and many tears -- when [during an Inner Healing session] the Lord shows a person exactly where He was when the pain was being inflicted, and they see His face as He delivers them from that painful memory. And then Jesus walks them out of that situation and shows the Beloved that His blood now covers that memory and it is sealed from causing anymore pain. The lies of the Enemy have now been blown to pieces and the person knows in their body, soul, and spirit who God, the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are, and what they are like.
     I had the amazing privilege this past weekend to witness the encounters that 24 military veterans and first responders had with the Risen Christ. It was indescribable! Jesus paid the price for their pain and they were willing to be vulnerable enough to give Him what He died for. It was one of the most beautiful weekends of my life. My spirit is still soaring high! These men are no longer prisoners to the lies of the Enemy!
     And that brings me to my last witness that I want to share. A most cherished friend and Sister in Christ has a Prison Ministry and I want to share her testimony about her experience this past Sunday ... There were 116 men at Sunday services at the prison where she ministers. The Spirit of God broke out as the worshipers led the men to stand and sing Alleluia to the Lord. She then led them through a time of forgiveness where they could see Jesus with them [during the episodes of their life]. She led a man who lives in the segregation unit of the prison to the Lord, presented him with a Bible and he will be baptized next week!
     Then during the song "Dance like David danced", the Lord said to tell the men that if they used to dance in the clubs [when they were on the outside], it was okay for them to dance here in the prison church. Men began filling the aisles and dancing; men with tattoos covering their heads; tall men, short men, Hispanic, White, and Black men. They formed a circle and men went into the middle and danced [with sheer joy and abandon] -- just like David! The officer on watch said they felt the presence of God inside those prison walls.
     So, you see, there are all kinds of prisons, both physical and spiritual. But Jesus can enter into both and bring freedom with Him. And Steve Harmon is right -- we can never get God to turn away from us or leave us alone. Never! We simply must leave the door to our hearts open to the Life Source of the Universe. Grab on to Him and never let go!

Romans 8:37-39     No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

September 19, 2019

The Pain Called Suicide

     It is heartbreaking to read of the deaths by suicide of such young pastors like Jarrid Wilson and Andrew Stoecklein. Suicide is such a complex issue and it is hard for the Christian community to understand how such vibrant men of God could take their own lives.
     Both suffered from depression and anxiety, and it is too easy to label these spiritual roots as "mental illness" and "a disease". I want to be sure you understand that I do not speak as a medical or psychological expert. I have no degree that gives me secular authority to speak on the subject. I can only share my experience as a follower of Christ who continues my Lord's commission to heal the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, and release the prisoners from their darkness.
     Yes, I believe that suicide is an attack upon the mind of people, both believers and non-believers. But through the ministry that we've been called to, my husband and I know that the mind is a battlefield and the Father of Lies can cause so much pain with his false whispers. And, yes, we've been instructed to keep our helmet of salvation tight upon our heads to protect our minds, but the Bible tells us that the Enemy is cunning; he is a murderer from the beginning, and that he comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I lay suicide at the feet of the one who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
     I will tell you that Mark and I have encountered suicide in our ministry and it nearly devastated us. In respect for this individual and his family, I will not mention his name or details, but I will tell you this... just like Jarrid Wilson and Andrew Stoecklein, this young man deeply loved the Lord. And as I sat with him during a session a couple of months before his death, I was overwhelmed with the spiritual sense of how much Jesus loved him! He was one of the most loving and beautiful human beings I've ever met, and I was only in his physical presence once. But he was believing a lie from the pit of hell.  His pain came from the fear that Jesus would be unable to forgive him, and that spirit of fear led to spirits of anxiety and stress, and perhaps even self-hatred. But I knew Jesus loved him! We tortured ourselves with thoughts that if we could only have been better at helping him to believe that Christ's love was for him, too, maybe he would still be here.
    But we quickly understood that the Enemy was lying to us, as well, and if he could get us to stop trying to set the captives free from his lies, then maybe we would stop our ministry. No way, Satan! If anything, we would pursue freedom for others even harder, in honor of our young friend. Because, I believe the Holy Spirit showed me that Jesus was right there with him, as the Enemy roared in his mind, and our Lord told him it was time for the torment to stop and it was okay to come home. I am not saying that Jesus agreed to his suicide. But I believe that Jesus was there with him when he capitulated to the Enemy's continued torment. And yes, I am one who does not believe that suicide leads to hell. Depression is a physical manifestation of spiritual attacks caused by fear, self-hatred and guilt. 
     One of the things that helped Mark and I to heal from the pain of suicide was the information we gleaned from Dr. Henry Wright's book, A More Excellent Way; Be In Health. Dr. Wright is the Senior Pastor of Hope of the Generations Church in Thomaston, Georgia. Dr. Wright has dedicated his life to God and helping others find the spiritual roots to disease so they can live in wholeness. He holds a doctorate of Christian Therapeutic Counseling from Chesapeake Bible College in Ridgely, Maryland. This is what he writes about Depression:

     "You need to know what the medical community is not telling you ... Your homeostasis (equilibrium in the body with respect to various functions and chemical composition of fluids and tissues) is controlled by the release of various hormones. You are very chemical in your creation. You are very nuclear, you are very sexual, you are very spiritual, but you are also very chemical. You have a number of organs and glands, particularly in the endocrine system, which secrete a particular chemical. It goes like this: a squirt here, a squirt there, here a squirt, there a squirt, squirt, squirt, everywhere a squirt, squirt.
     And your Enemy knows he can control the rate of your squirts by your thoughts and by your soul and by your spirit. Your Enemy knows things like bitterness and guilt and fear, if allowed to remain within your consciousness, can be used to control you. When your spiritual dynamics are compromised by the Enemy in a manner in which he can control your body and your chemistry, then he can put depression or any other psychological or biological malfunction on you when he feels like it.
    He can do this because depression, by definition, is no more and no less than a chemical imbalance in the body induced externally or internally. Your Enemy knows that if he can get you "unspiritual" and he can manipulate you in areas of lack of sanctification, then he can control your very thought process.
     And when Satan can control your thought process, he can also control your chemistry. When you have serotonin deficiencies, you do not feel good about yourself because there is a deficiency of the chemical God created in you to make you feel good chemically. For every thought you have, conscious or unconscious, there is a nerve transmission, a secretion of a hormone or neurotransmitter somewhere in your body to react to it.
     When you start listening to fear, you start listening to self-hatred, you start listening to guilt, you start listening to rejection, and then your body secretes chemicals in response to those spiritual attacks that are counterproductive to your peace. Your Enemy knows this very well. But you do not have to be a victim nor do you have to be ignorant nor do you have to die of a disease and go to heaven to find out why you died."

     This is just a portion of Dr. Wright's book and I would recommend that if you desire to know more about the spiritual roots of many physical illnesses, then this book is for you. Of course, I do not claim to know the personal issues that both of these well-loved young pastors faced. But I believe that Dr. Wright's discernment on the spiritual roots that lead to suicide have a lot of credibility. And I know that Jarrid Wilson's wife is absolutely correct when she says she knows her husband is in HIS Presence! Jesus's death on the Cross pays for all of our sins... all of our sins. So, my heart goes out to anyone who has suffered the pain of losing a loved one to suicide. We don't always get all the answers to what drives someone to that decision, but we can know that our Lord, full of compassion and mercy, cancels all our sins as He reconciles us to God, the Father. This is the beauty of Mercy triumphing over Judgment. 

Romans 8:38-39      So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles,  fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!

April 19, 2019

Are God's Love and Holiness Compatible?

     I ask this question because it has been on my heart as I discern the influence of the Enemy trying to divide the Body of Christ on this issue. I am beginning to see two distinct camps of Christians, and perhaps we need to dig deep and know, not only what Scripture says about Love and Holiness, but know what we believe about these characteristics of God.
     I want to begin by saying that this is my opinion as I see it at this moment in my sanctification process. I am still growing in all that God is revealing, and I know that I do not have the definitive answer to all the questions that will surely arise from this blog post. Nor do I profess to be the ultimate authority. I simply wish to present some thoughts that I hope make each of you seek the Father's heart on the matter. And, if you find yourself in one camp or the other, perhaps this discussion will lead to more understanding among our fellow Christians.
     I think it goes without saying that we all know how important love is to God. In the 21st Century Church, love is highly prized. I bet most Christians can recite the most popular Scriptures on love ... For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life ... God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him ... Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love ... We love because He first loved us ... You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I could go on and on. The Bible has much to say on God's love and how important it is to Him.
     But the Word also has a lot to say on God's Holiness: There is none holy like the Lord ... Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory! ... Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord ... But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” ... Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy ... You yourselves, like living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
     So, are God's Love and His Holiness mutually exclusive? Is one more important than the other? If they are both characteristics of His nature, how do they intersect? Again, I ask these questions because I fear that we Christians can become out of balance if we lean too far to either side. By that, I mean that if we love others, yet ignore God's call to holiness, it can lead to a compromised culture where immorality, perversion, and rebellion to God's moral laws are tolerated. We see this in the number of fatherless children, confusion over sexual identity, the willingness to ignore unrighteousness for the sake of extending mercy to another, and corruption at all levels of society. On the other hand, if we, as Christians, attempt holiness without love and mercy, we can become legalistic and religious -- intolerant of meeting the physical and spiritual needs of those who need to know Jesus the most. It is incumbent upon us, if we are going to represent Christ [growing into His image] that we embrace both Love and Holiness in their proper proportion. But what does that look like?  I'd like to present some thoughts for your consideration.
     First let's consider what God's "Love" is. Love is part of God's essential nature as expressed in Psalm 86:15: But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Love is the attitude of God expressed not only toward His Son, and to believers in Jesus, but towards the race of human beings He created. Jesus expresses this concept in John 17:26, "I made known to them Your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which You have loved me may be in them, and I in them." And it is God's will that His children's attitude towards each other be one of Love.  "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." Furthermore, as Christians, God is the primary object of our love and it is to be expressed in total obedience to His commandments. "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments."
     So, now let's consider God's "Holiness".  This concept of Holiness is a little harder to describe because there is so much depth to it. And, I believe that "holiness" has a bad reputation; even becoming culturally irrelevant in this Age of Grace. So, let's agree that God is Holy in the sense that He is morally and spiritually separated from sin, therefore being the only absolute "Holy One", as expressed in His purity, His majesty, and His glory. To take it a step further, the glory of God is the goodness, the fullness, the splendor, and the awareness of His presence manifested in us. So, when Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:15, But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, there is an implication that we are to cleanse ourselves from all defilement, living a holy manner of life, and experiencing fellowship with God in His Holiness. 
     But we also can't ignore our citizenship in the Kingdom of God during this discussion. Loving God, which should be our top priority, means keeping His commandments. Yes, He tells us to love others as we love ourselves, but first we are to love the Father with everything we have! And that means obeying His commands to heal the sick, cast out demons, cleanse the spiritually unclean, raise the dead, and spread the Gospel that Jesus came to preach -- the Gospel of the Kingdom. And we are to do all this with love in our heart. In fact, I don't believe you could do these commands without love. It is the love of the Father in us that moves us to act, but it is His Holiness in us that gives us the power and authority to overcome and defeat every enemy of God. 
     I believe Jesus draws us to Himself through His love, mercy, and kindness towards us. He wants us to display that same love to others. But He doesn't leave us there. He begins a work in us to transform us into His image, which is holy. His love in us provides a way for us to approach the throne of God, but it is His holiness that gives us access to God's glory -- His presence in us that will propel us to rule and reign with Him in the Kingdom. 
     If Holiness is the likeness of God, and we are called to holiness, then we are called to live a life that is set apart from this world; to live in accord with our King and His Kingdom. That means not compromising the standards of God -- any of them! Yet, a new study by the Barna Group reports that half of American pastors worry about preaching on hot-button social issues—like abortion and LGBTQ issues—worried they might offend someone.  These pastors revealed that they felt pressured from both inside the church and the culture of our society to simply "love others as you love yourself". But that does not take into account the whole counsel of God!
     We live in the Kingdom realm of our King Jesus, whether all Christians recognize that or not. As Kingdom citizens we have to decide if we are going to obey God or please people. It can be a tough line to walk. As Bible-believing followers of Christ we are to love everyone, even our enemies. Yet, we are always to walk in obedience to the Word, and sometimes love does not always appear in a warm, fuzzy manner. Sometimes love is speaking the truth without fear. And as strange as it may seem, a holy love can divide.  Because when we stop speaking and teaching God's truth because we're afraid it will offend, then we are pleasing man instead of God. We need to embrace that Grace and Truth, Love and Holiness are all sides of God's Nature. We must be careful to have a Biblical concept of God, and not one based on our own mind, will, and emotions.
     We can neither elevate Love at the expense of Holiness, nor deny that His love is present in His Holiness. Author Bert Farias explains it much better than I do: "Just as water flows through a pipe, the love of God flows through His holiness. Moreover, it is God's love that keeps Him from overlooking His holiness. After all, it was His holiness which made the atonement necessary. His holiness demanded the cost of God's own Son, for He cannot excuse, acquit or clear the guilty (Ex 34:7). And what His holiness demanded, His love provided on the cross of Calvary."
     While I am still working out the codependency between Love and Holiness, I have come to this conclusion ... They are not in opposition to each other. Love is not separated from Holiness; a better way to say this might be that Love is curbed or reined in by Holiness. Love that is not defined by God's Holiness will lead to compromise and a perversion of God's Word along with a loss of the Power and Presence that God's Holiness manifests. And Holiness that fails to be motivated by Love does not represent a true image of the Father. If the Body of Christ is going to be involved with establishing the Kingdom of God on earth, then we must walk in both Love and Holiness; finding a balance as we seek to both walk in [and demonstrate] the Light of the Lord.

Psalm 5:7    But I, through the abundance of Your steadfast love, will enter Your house. I will bow down toward Your holy temple in the fear of You.


February 19, 2019

Is It Time For a Spiritual Pruning In The Church?

     Different parts of the country have different seasons for pruning trees and flowering bushes and plants. And I found the reasons for pruning to be both interesting and Biblical: Some pruning is done to change or train a plant's growing pattern or to restrict growth. And the pruning of fruit trees is a necessary chore that improves penetration of the sun and increases air movement through the tree. Maybe I've just got an unusual way of seeing things, but I couldn't help but relate these descriptions to our spiritual pruning -- changing or training us for growth or constraint; and receiving more of the penetration of the Son and an increase in the movement of the Holy Spirit through us [being the air/breath of God].
     The principle verses in the Bible that refer to pruning are the ones we all know, John 15:1-2, I am the true Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that continues to bear fruit, He [repeatedly] prunes, so that it will bear more fruit [even richer and finer fruit]. 
     Although the purpose of this blog post is to address the Body of Christ, it is necessary you understand that while these verses in John are applicable to us Christians, they are clearly addressed to Israel. If you take in the whole counsel of God in His Word, you will see that in both Psalm 80 and Isaiah 5, the nation of Israel is called the vine, and God is the vinedresser ... You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land (Psalm 80:8-9); For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel... (Isaiah 5:7).
     So when Jesus calls Himself "the true Vine", He is identifying with Israel. According to American theologian and pastor, R.C. Sproul, Jesus is saying that He is the embodiment of all that Israel should be. “Should be” because, as is well known, Israel did not faithfully execute her mission as God’s representative. Her sins and lack of repentance prevented her from being a faithful witness.  And that's where Romans 11:17-24 brings us Christians into view. We were grafted into the vine, and now share in its nourishing root. But, lest we become arrogant, Scripture tells us that we, too, can be cut off if we become proud or lose our fear of the Lord.  
     I have to tell you that as we entered into this new year of 2019, I have been overwhelmed with the number of Christian websites that are prophesying of great turmoil and transition this year. Believe me I am not diminishing the ability of the anointed to prophesy, but perhaps I am feeling inundated with the number of self-proclaimed prophets. There are times I sense that "to prophesy" has become an idol among the Body of Christ; that it is "the gifting of the hour", if you will.
     But are we possibly seeking after giftings more than fruit? I mean, Jesus makes it pretty clear in John 15 that every branch in Him must bear fruit, or it is pruned. Are we clear that "to prophesy" is to speak under divine inspiration, or to share the counsel from God that we have received? Or have we, as the Body of Christ, become arrogant in believing that our own counsel is worth proclaiming as God's? We are to abide in Him, which results in bearing fruit. But if we just attach ourselves to Him, without truly abiding in faith, then we are just dead wood, not a thriving fruit-producing branch of the vine. And we will be "cut off" -- please see that distinction ... not pruned, but cut off! 
     To be pruned means that all the branches that are fruit-bearing will will be trimmed to increase fruitfulness and growth. Remember that pruning includes changing or training a branch's growth pattern. We, as the Church, should expect to be pruned to increase our yield of souls for the Kingdom so that the harvest of the Lord will be abundant.  Before we embrace every prophetic warning that is being spoken, perhaps we should wait to see if the Lord is about to prune to bring forth a truer word. Every prophecy spoken is not necessarily coming from the Lord; and my spirit is beginning to sense a competition among the "prophetic voices" to gain loyal followings. 
     I do not want to be so cynical, but I think of Jesus, standing before the Sanhedrin. They beat on Him, and taunted Him, saying, "Prophesy to us!" But He stayed silent. He didn't need to speak to hear Himself heard. At that moment He was silent and surrendered -- not working in His giftings of prophecy or miracles, but surrendered to His flesh and waiting for the Father to reveal His counsel. Through the hardship of His trial, the discipline to wait for His Father's counsel, and the suffering of the Cross, Jesus bore far greater and sweeter fruit than Israel, the original vine of the Lord of Hosts.
     I think it is imperative to the Church today to remember that Israel did not faithfully execute her mission as God’s representative. And for that she is temporarily cut off the vine. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that true faith - real, authentic faith that abides in Christ -- is affirmed by the fruit of good works. We must examine our faith and determine if, by acting in our gifts -- whether it be prophecy or any other -- we are producing good fruit for the Kingdom, or serving ourselves. Let us examine ourselves to see what the world sees more of in us --- our giftings or our fruit.  Do we need to be pruned because we are growing the wrong way? Are we sprouting branches out of our flesh, or from the true vine? Are we willing to be pruned so that the Son can penetrate our branches and the breath of God move in us? Let us be willing to have every unholy branch be pruned by our loving Father so that we are effective representatives of the Kingdom, and we produce blooms of faith ... healthy, vibrant and beautiful blooms that grow into an abundant harvest of fruit. And let us thank God that He loves us enough to prune us!

John 15:4    "As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me."

February 16, 2019

Who God Is In His Judgment, Holiness, and Love

      His Judgment - For awhile now, I've been hearing a misguided cliché spoken by people in the Church. It goes something like this: "We don't need to worry about God's judgment against America. If God were really going to judge us, He would have to apologize to Jesus." What?!?
     The skewed reasoning behind this ludicrous statement relies on a false understanding of the gospel -- that Jesus bore our sins on the Cross, and therefore our judgment is nailed there, too. God will not judge us because, after all [they say], doesn't the Bible tell us that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus? This misunderstanding is a prime example of one of the Body of Christ's most egregious shortcomings, which is not taking into account the whole counsel of God.
     And on this matter of God's judgment, I hate to say it, but .... in the current Church culture there is almost an ignorance of what the Word reveals on the subject. The failure to study and understand God's judgment -- and dare I say it, His wrath -- has led to a lack of holy fear in a lot of Christians. Many think that we don't need to worry about God's judgment or wrath because that doesn't happen until the End Times. They think that until then, we are covered by the blood of Jesus, forgiven of our sins, and righteousness has been imputed to us by our faith. No need to worry, right?
     Well, when you take a look at what is becoming the norm and acceptable in our nation -- in our culture and our laws, and yes, even in our churches -- I believe you will see we are being judged even now. How so? Consider Romans 1:18, which says For God in heaven unveils his holy anger breaking forth against every form of sin, both toward ungodliness that lives in hearts and evil actions. For the wickedness of humanity deliberately smothers the truth and keeps people from acknowledging the truth about God (TPT).

     When I consider what has happened in this nation since I came of age in the early 70s, it is astounding. I have seen the acceptance of casual sex through an immoral sexual revolution; the institution of full-term abortion in the laws of our land; the acceptance and promotion of same-sex relations and marriages; gender manipulation and elimination; and much more. And it is not just unbelievers who have taken part in these actions, but those who profess to love God! But what does God's Word tell us in Romans 1:18? What God sees as the"wickedness of humanity" will result in his holy anger because people refuse to acknowledge the truth about God -- that He is a righteous God who cannot tolerate unrepentance and continued sin. That chapter in Romans goes on to say that because people exchange the truth about God for a lie, He gives them up to their sins. Isn't that what we're seeing today in our society? That is judgment in itself, and should give anyone pause. 
     But it is verse 32 that I see so clearly in our nation today -- from the home to the boardroom; from the halls of Congress to our Church buildings ... Although they are fully aware of God’s laws and proper order, and knowing that those who do all of these things deserve to die, yet they still go headlong into darkness, encouraging others to do the same and applauding them when they do! 
     His Holiness -  If you mention "holiness" in today's society, it's almost an irrelevant term -- looked upon as outdated and insignificant. But I believe that the moral confusion we see in our culture is a result of a lack of understanding about holiness. In regards to each of us, holiness is being dedicated and committed to living a pure life; consecrated to God in our word, thoughts, actions. In other words, we do not conform to the world's standards, but rather to God's.
     As holiness relates to God, one of the best definitions I've ever heard is the following: "Holy refers to life burning with an intense purity that transforms everything it touches into itself". Only God is perfect in goodness and righteousness, therefore He is worthy to be exalted and worshiped. But where is the acknowledgment and reverence for His holy nature? To be holy means that all we are and all we have belongs to God, not ourselves, and is set apart for His purposes.
     Yet, I sense a frightening silence about God's Holiness in the Church -- the meaning of it and our responsibility to it; the necessity of it in our decaying moral structure; and yes, even the endorsement of it from the pulpit. It's as if somehow, the Church is afraid to offend the world with an idea that we should be holy like our God. The lack [or ignorance] of holiness in the masses leads to a distorted and limited view of the true God. When we do not uphold God's standards of holiness, we are short-changing His expression of love. And that brings me to the final attribute...
     The True Love of God - God's love is not a permissive love. He has set Divine standards for the purposes of our lives, and He does not capitulate based on man's fleshly desires. His is not a sentimental love based on our emotions, but rather a Holy love designed to bring us into righteous relationship with Him.
     For example, we can consider homosexuality, and the ordaining of gay clergy in some Church denominations. This practice has been adopted, all in the name of love. Should we continue to love our homosexual friends and family members? Absolutely! But that does not mean that we change God's Word to match the way we feel.
     No man was more loving than Jesus Christ. Yet His love for all men did not prevent Him from disapproving of lifestyles and motives. Sometimes His love even made people angry. But it was a love that could not deny His Father's Holiness, and it was His desire that this holy love transform people into the image of God.
     In fact, Jesus mixed God's love with His truth and His holiness to give us a clear Biblical blueprint by which to live our lives. But we want to ignore certain verses, or even alter their meaning to make it more palatable to our lifestyles.  Some have even gone so far as to disregard and nullify any attempt to shine a light on God's judgment [or wrath], His holiness, or the truth that hell actually exists! The result is that God's love is watered down and corrupted to simply an emotional feeling.
     I fear that the Body of Christ is not doing justice to the full nature of God. When we want to make Him in our image, we diminish the power of the Gospel to effect the world. He IS a God of Judgment, and yes, even wrath. At the end of this Age, we who have been faithful will not be subject to that wrath, but it doesn't mean that the world won't experience it. He IS a Holy God; one who is perfect and separate from man's corrupted state, with sacrosanct values that are not to be interfered with. And He IS a loving God who isn't afraid to use discipline when it is necessary to correct disobedience and establish His truth. It's time we, as the Church of Jesus Christ, take a good hard look in the mirror at how we are manifesting His glory. We are all praying for an awakening in the souls of men, but the stirring must start with us.

Proverbs 11:31    If the righteous are barely saved, what’s in store for all the wicked?

December 13, 2018

"The Love Of Most Will Grow Cold"...

     My soul has been in turmoil the last few days as I have witnessed a lack of kindness, tolerance and solicitude in the world. I say "in the world" because this insensitivity has ranged from my inner circle of friends to the public venue; across the secular internet and within the Body of Christ. It is truly as if people's hearts are "growing cold".
     But why should I be surprised? Jesus prophesies that this will happen in one of the most revealing chapters in the Bible, Matthew 24. After disclosing the general signs of the end of this age, and before He declares the sign of the "abomination that causes desolation", Jesus tells us that "You can expect to be persecuted, even killed; for you will be hated by all the nations because of your love for me. Then many will stop following me and fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many lying prophets will arise, deceiving multitudes and leading them away from the path of truth. There will be such an increase of sin and lawlessness that those whose hearts once burned with passion for God and others will grow cold.  But keep your hope to the end and you will experience life and deliverance" (Matthew 24:9-13).

      I believe that this is a passage that is both relevant to the Disciples at that moment, as well as being a prophetic revelation to us in the 21st Century. It is not hard to look around and see how we Christians treat people unlike us; let alone how judgmental and condemning we can be towards fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. With the prevalence of online blogs [this one included], videos, internet ministries, and Christian media conglomerates, it is no wonder that Jesus warned us of the possibility of "lying prophets". As I have urged from the beginning, anyone reading this blog must never take my word as God's Truth. I always encourage readers to take what I share and have a discerning spirit about how it lines up with the Truth of God's Word in the Bible. I am still growing and maturing in my faith, so what I share is what I believe God is revealing to me in my spirit and by His Word ... at this time in my journey. I know that I am in a process; am being grown into the image of Christ, so growth and development is a part of the path I'm on. I do not expect everyone to agree with me, but I would hope that we could honor each other as heirs of the covenant of salvation through Jesus Christ.
     But I will tell you that I have received my share of hateful comments from fellow Christians, and have witnessed anything but love from my fellow believers whenever I have written on a subject that does not align with denominational doctrine or accepted tenets of modern Christianity. Furthermore, over the last couple of years I have witnessed a level of ungraciousness, disrespect, and outright cruelty from media outlets who hold themselves up as the bastion of Christian beliefs -- and the incivility has been towards other Christians! You have internet sites that run the range from offering diversified Christian resources from a charismatic/Pentecostal belief system to internet sites that hold to the Second London Baptist Confession (1689) and are unabashedly orthodox in their belief system. Needless to say, while reading articles on these sites I have often felt as if I was in the middle of a Pharisees and Saduccees debate -- all Law and no Grace!
     Yet I also take note that Jesus tells us the reason hearts that once burned with passion for God and [love for] others have grown cold is that "there will be such an increase of sin and lawlessness". My spirit discerns that He is not just talking about sin and lawlessness among unbelievers, but this iniquity will also abound in believers, due to the deception of "lying prophets" who lead believers away from the path of truth. 
     It is so easy to see this happening in our culture today. We have prominent and influential Christian singers who don't know what the Bible says about homosexuality. We have young college athletes who are being castigated over insensitive tweets made as a teenager. And, yes, we even have Supreme Court Justices who are paraded before the public over spurious charges about behavior decades old. And if nothing else, the media frenzy that followed in the wake of these three incidents should tell us that anyone of us is vulnerable to public scrutiny; and whether we sin by not doing something we should have [such as failing to help someone when we have the ability, or the Holy Spirit nudges us], or we sin by doing something we shouldn't have [such as adultery, molestation, pornography], we can expect to be persecuted in the public square. 
     What happened to compassion and mercy? And how is that to intersect with Truth and the Fear of God? And I'm addressing that question to Christians as much as I am secularists! There are those who want to advocate for loving people who make mistakes, while understating and diminishing the Truth. There are still others who think the Truth should be presented explicitly and uncompromisingly without the appropriate attitude of love. Are either one of these a complete picture of the attitude taken by Jesus? How are we to approach this problem we have in our culture of going too far in one direction? 
    Aren't we called to love others while standing for God's Truth and Principles? Can't we show kindness and mercy while still upholding a moral and Godly belief system? We don't have to condemn and judge when someone strays from the path; yet, we don't have to condone every unholy and sinful position in the world, calling it "grace and mercy". Jesus actually tells us in Matthew 24 that people will stop following Him and fall away; betray one another and hate one another. That's Believers He's talking about! We MUST hold fast to our first love and His ways! And we must disciple those who come to faith in Him! We are His representatives in the world, and if we don't know how to defend God's Principles and do it in a loving manner, then our hearts will grow cold and we will be unable to exhibit our Hope before the world. It is in this Christmas season that we tell the world our Hope was born. Our hearts are warm with sentimentality and love and peace towards others. May we seek to always keep our hearts this dedicated to God; never wavering from His Truths, but always presenting them in love. Do not be swayed by popular culture, social media, or even Christian websites. Let God's Word shine a light upon the path you are to take, and the world will be a kinder, gentler place.

1 Peter 3:15    "But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as Holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect [reverance, fear]" 

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".