29 October, 2010

Perceiving God

I would like to begin with a quote. I do not normally do this, I like to let Jesus do the talking, but it was very relevant to today's church. I find it is a good place to begin our discussion. A.W. Tozer (that's right, an old-school theologian) said,

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us... For this reason the greatest question before the church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what at a given time he may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like

The question was then posed: "Has does our opinion of God affect who we are?" First of all, let us be extremely careful when discussing our "opinion" of God. Tozer uses the word "conceives," which means "to hold as an opinion; to form an opinion." In short, it means to create. We can easily create God in our minds to be anything we want Him to be. Unfortunately, we do that a lot in American Christianity. I had a pastor chalk this up to simple semantics: Tozer meant "knowledge" when he was saying that. He is probably right. However, today we must be very careful in the words we use. They are powerful tools the Lord has blessed us with to form and shape our present and our future. He created the physical universe with words; and, in case you didn't read that part, He made us in His image, with the same creative abilities. It is called "faith." Our confessions form our faith, which then forms our reality. You cannot get saved without confessions. You cannot have healing without confession. You can have no good thing in the natural realm without first having confessed the promise for it. But I digress... The point is: Tozer is saying, "what we know to be true about God is the most important aspect of who we are."

"Opinions are transitory forms of thought, floating on the ocean of life. They change with every wave." Jesse Duplantis

We must know God; not have an opinion of God, which can change based upon circumstances.Our knowledge of God will permeate to every aspect of our lives. And it all begins with His Word. It is really easy to tell Christians who know of God from those who know God. How many Christians have you seen in your life, when trouble arises, fall on their knees begging and pleading with God to intervene? Have you heard phrases, such as, "when the Lord is ready..." concerning physical manifestations of His promises? Is there an addiction in your life, or a loved-one's life, that seems insurmountable - that the desire for feels overwhelming? These are evidences of a lack of spirit-strength, resulting from a lack of God's Word. What we know about God is not found in our theology or doctrine books. It is found in The Book. If each of us do not spend enough quality time in His Word, we will always be lacking in our knowledge of Him, His character, and His promises. We also must trust that His Word is Truth. Truth is "the highest form of reality that exists." Therefore, God's Word is the highest reality we have. If it says we are healed, then we are healed. If it says we are Blessed, we are Blessed. If it says we are free, get up and get fired up because you're free! 

Confession is the engine. If you do not have enough knowledge of the Word of God, your confessions will not line-up with His Will for your life. We, as a Church whole, do not spend nearly enough time reading, studying, and meditating on the Word of God. We are simply too distracted. But we have the time. It does exist; but we are not good at utilizing the time. We play too many video games; watch too much television; spend exorbitant amount of time browsing the internet; or, we simply read entirely too many books (both religious and secular) that are not the Bible. Spending time in the Word of God is still a "duty" to many of us. We try to get in our twenty minutes of Bible each day so that we do not feel bad about ignoring God. However, after that we sit down and watch TV for three hours before going to bed. We throw it up to "needing a break," "being tired," or even wanting to wait and "give God our best." We live in a fast-paced, roller-coaster society. You cannot wait until life slows down so that you can give God a nicer chunk of your time. Make the time. This should not be a chore to us. The Word of God is "living and active." You would be very surprised how exciting it can be, if you will make time (make it!).

I'm finding that I get some interesting looks from other Christians when I start quoting bible verses so rapidly. I have recently become so engrossed in His Word, that they are constantly swimming through my brain. I do get not bad looks, mostly surprised or strange looks - like I'm the overly religious kid in the room. We claim the Bible is our final authority, yet our knowledge is supremely lacking. Or, we have knowledge of it, but we don't trust it! What happened to, "The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace" (Exodus 14:14, NKJV) Or, better yet, "greater is He Who is in you, than he who is in the world" (1John 4:4, NASB). Hello? Those of us who trust the Word of God have complete confidence that nothing will shake us. That is why Jesus compared the Word of God to building on a Rock. We cannot be shaken - if we know our God and His Word to us. The Word is called a "sword" on many occasions (go find it - that'll get you started in this process). It is the weapon we use when the world, it's system, and it's pesky ruler - you know, the devil - start in on our minds. Confession is the engine of our faith, and "faith comes by hearing, and hearing [comes] by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17, NASB). How well you know God and His Word will determine the depth of your victory, peace, joy, relationships, financial ability, health... The list goes on. Jesus wants us to have an abundant life. He didn't die on that cross for us only to get to heaven. He wants to improve our situation - if we will let Him. He gave us the tool. Learn it. Know it. Here's a few starters (OK, so I caved and gave it to you):

For healing:
" Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindess and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's (Psalm 103:2-5, NKJV. Emphasis added).

"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5, KJV. Emphasis added).
"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him" (James 5:14-15, KJV. Emphasis added).

"He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed (1Peter 2:24, NASB. Emphasis added).

For provision:
"The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it" (Proverbs 10:22, NKJV).

"If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land" (Isaiah 1:19, NASB). 

"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?... But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:26, 33, NASB).

"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19, ESV. Emphasis added).

For freedom from habits:
"So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free (John 8:36, Amplified).

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2Corinthians 3:17, NASB).
"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1, NASB).

"No one who abides in Him [who lives and remains in communion with and in obedience to Him--deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] commits (practices) sin. No one who [habitually] sins has either seen or known Him [recognized, perceived, or understood Him, or has had an experiential acquaintance with Him]... No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly, andhabitually] practices sin, for God's nature abides in him [His principle of life, the divine sperm, remains permanently within him]; and he cannot practice sinning because he is born (begotten) of God (1John 3:6,9, Amplified. Emphasis added).

28 October, 2010

The Word

Bear with me; this is a little choppy, but I had to get it off my chest. My favorite Scripture is 2Timothy 3:16-17: 
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (NASB). 

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (NIV).

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (NKJV). 

"Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God's will in thought, purpose, and action), so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work" (Amplified) 

In other words, God is fully aware of every verse we read in the Bible, and He intended it for each of us. Therefore, Deuteronomy 8:18 applies to my life. The Lord gives me the power to make wealth so that I may establish His kingdom on earth until the day of Christ Jesus. I like the sound of that. Also, it means that all the Blessings found in Deut. 28 are mine by right, so long as I keep His commands and do all that He has told me to do. I like the idea of Blessings pursuing and overtaking me. 

This passage means that when Jesus says I will do even greater things than He did, I can take it to the bank (and the Throne of God) that I have the ability to be healed, blessed, and ever-increasing - because that's how Jesus lived. It means I am the seed of Abraham and heirs according to the Promise. I can come boldly (not like a puny, insignificant sinner) to the Throne of God and plead my case with Him (See Isa. 43:26). I do not have the right to demand of God, but I have the pleasure of asking my Father all things. I am a child of God (Romans 8:15-16; 1John 3:1). I am a friend of Jesus (John 15:14). I am seated with God in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6-7). I can do all things (John 15:5; Philippians 4:13; 1John 4:4). 

You can, too - if you would just believe it. God is beyond comprehension; but He gave us His Word so that we might come to know Him more each passing day. He isn't keeping any secrets from us. Religion tries to hide behind flimsy phrases, like, "Because He is God;" "God is sovereign;" or "If it be Your will..." God gave us His will, and it is in His Word. We know what God will do, because He has already told us. God will not, and cannot, deviate from His Word. His Word is for all of us. It is full of Blessing and life. When something does not go according to plan, do not blame God; look at yourself. How much Word is in you? I am fed up with being told what I can't do when the Word is chalk-full of what I can  do! If we are not Blessed going in and going out, that is a violation of our Covenant rights with God. If we are not healed and living in divine health, it is in violation of God's Word (Isa 53:5). If we are not doing greater things than Jesus, then we are being robbed of His promises to us (John 14:12). We should be doing bigger and better all the time!

Notice, the purpose for God's Word is that we would be equipped to do anything. Go meditate on this passage. We should be total, complete, well-equipped and well-fitted to do every good work. God is all about doing good works. He wants us to be ready at a moments notice to do something great for His kingdom and glory. So get the Word, and get ready.

20 October, 2010


“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father” (John 14:12).

Greater works will he do. As I look around the broad scope of Christianity in America, there is one thing I do not see happening: great works. Jesus raised people from the dead; Jesus healed the sick; Jesus wasn’t on this earth more than twenty minutes and there were already a bunch of rich guys looking for Him. Yet, I see sick, broken, angry, unhappy Christians. Or, I see an abundance of very happy men and women of God who are, well… Useless. Religion has taught us to accept mediocrity as a sign of Christian piety. In spite of the promise of Jeremiah 29:11, where God promises “plans for welfare and not calamity,” we have accepted pain as a form of God’s correction in our lives. Jesus said we would do greater works than He, so when pain or sickness comes along we should be casting it down and walking away victorious. Why don’t we?

We have not been trained to think that way. 

It is easy for us to believe that God came down to earth in the form of a man; that this Man lived a perfect life; this Man healed sick people, brought dead people to life, fed over 20,000 people with the meager lunch of a twelve-year-old boy, and had leftovers for a week. This Man died at the hands of the Roman government, descended into Hell, broke the power of sin and death, came back to life, ascended into heaven and now sits at the right Hand of God Almighty. Through simply believing in this Man, we can be assured that our sins are forgiven, and that one day this Man will return in the sky and capture us all into His Presence to live for eternity. This is easy for us to believe! (I hold to all these confessions, but when you read them out loud your mind will play some tricks on you and make you think you are crazy)  

How can we so easily uphold all of these confessions, yet it is so hard for us to believe Jesus’ promise that we will do greater things than He in these last days? Why are churches holding garage sales to meet the financial needs of their outreach programs? Scripture tells us that God shall supply all of our needs (Phil 4:13). Jesus said that if we place Him and His Kingdom at the forefront of all that we do, everything else in our life will fall into place (Matt 6:33). God promises us that if we follow all His commands that Blessings shall surely come upon us and overtake us (Deut 28:1-13); and for any of those who think that that is Old Testament only, Galatians 3 explains that all these promises belong to us as the seed of Abraham through faith in Jesus.  Yet, many churches are struggling to meet their financial needs.

Why do elders pray for God to bless the physicians, rather than letting Him be the Great Physician? Please do not misunderstand; God gave us wonderful doctors so that we may know how to treat and care for our bodies. However, the Word says, “with His stripes we are healed” (Isa 53:5). It also instructs church leaders to “pray for him [the one who is sick], anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (Jas 5:14b-15a). Yet, whenever most Christians see a healing ministry in action, they are quick to attack. They assume it is fraudulent; they think it looks creepy; others will claim that going to the Bible, rather than conventional medicine, is foolishness. These are Christian people saying these things – yet Jesus said we would do these things, and more. I know, occasionally some scumball comes along and dupes a bunch of people out of money with false services on healing, prosperity and revival. Those guys are making the rest of us look really bad. Yet, just become some slimy individual twists the Word of God for personal advantage does not mean we should all abandon what the Lord said. If I based my understanding and relationship with God on my experiences in church I would no longer be a Christian! You must do what the Word says, not what others say. Jesus said we would do greater things than He did. Why aren’t we?

Jesus said the traditions of men have made the Word of God of no effect (Mk 7:1-13). Paul gives us a clear warning against the vanity of religious traditions (Col 2:6-9), that we should not be led by the philosophy and rudiments of the world, instead of being led by Christ. We must be led by what Jesus said, not by what our pre-conceived notions about Him are. Jesus said we would do even greater things than He did while He was on this earth. The traditions of men shut down the effectiveness of God’s Word. Just because someone (maybe even you) tried it and it didn’t work does not mean it is not God’s Will that we do bigger and better things than Jesus did. It means we must continue to grow in our faith so that we will come to a place where anything will be possible. Nobody said anything was going to happen over-night. Jesus compares the Word of God to “seed” (Matt 13:1-23; Mk 4:1-32; Lk 8:4-15). Seeds need time to grow! Just because it didn’t work one time does not mean it will never work. 

We must train our thinking. We can make all these earlier confessions about Jesus, which in the natural mind sound absolutely ludicrous, because we have been taught and trained to do so. Faith comes by hearing. Hearing comes by the Word of God (Rom 10:17). We know how to believe Jesus for salvation because we have been consistently taught, from the Word of God, to do so. That’s what it will take for everything else! More time in the Word. Find the promises of God for healing and meditate on them to the same degree you have for salvation and eternal life. Find the promises in Scripture for provision and confess them with the same ferocity that you do His promises for heaven. In the natural mind, everything in the Bible sounds far-fetched! How is it so easy to believe in Heaven (which we have never seen), but it is so difficult to believe God wants us healthy, prosperous, and victorious in every aspect of our lives (when we have seen that in lives of Christian people in the world today)?! We must re-train our thinking. Romans 12:2 tells us to retrain our thinking so that it lines up with God’s way of thinking. We do that through daily time in God’s Word.  2Timothy 3:16 tells us that all of Scripture is applicable to our lives. God wanted every word in that Bible to be seen by you. God is not a man that He should lie (Num 23:19); so if He said we will do greater things than Jesus, He meant it! 

Jesus did some really big stuff. He promised that we would do even greater. Yet, today we find a bulk of Christianity hanging on for dear life until Jesus comes. We are struggling with finances the same way the world is; we are dying of the same diseases the world is; our marriages are just as bad (sometimes worse) than the world’s are. And every time a Christian finds the promises of God for healing, prosperity, and “the good life” (Eph 2:10, Amplified), the traditional church world blasts them for heresy. Jesus said we would do these things. Either He is lying, or religion is lying. I pick religion.

15 October, 2010

The True Vine - John 15: 1-17

(I recommend grabbing a Bible before you begin)

What is the focal point of your life? What drives you? What is your passion, your substance, your reason? What is your purpose? For many of us – especially Christians – we have made our jobs, the pursuit of money, providing for our needs, fulfilling religious “duty,” and a wide array of earthly fluff the focus and purpose of our daily lives. Jesus said “I am the true vine… apart from Me you can do nothing.” If Jesus is the “true” vine, then obviously there are “false” vines, as well. Is Jesus the focus of your life? The Word of God is the standard of our Christian living. However, listening to Christian leaders, watching the lives of the men and women in our churches, even a simply glance of the latest Facebook status,’ are showing me that this is no longer the case. Worldly influences and desires are coloring the way Christians view their lives – both physically and spiritually. In order for God to have the necessary access in our lives to make any real change, our life must first be rooted in Jesus. 

It is God’s desire for us that we “bear much fruit,” that we be as productive in this life as possible. God may require us to remove some things from our lives (TV, movies, and other distractions), in order that we may be of an even greater value to His Kingdom, and the world around us. Anything that takes away from your time with God and His Word is on the chopping-block. Remember, it is your heart that is the issue – not the Magic Picture Box. It is God’s desire that we grow as much as possible, and anything that gets in the way He will prune away. He is after your own good, so anything that He asks of you to do should be done with the attitude, “thank you for making me better, Lord” (see Romans 8:28; 1Corinthians 2:9). Notice, however, that if you are unwilling to grow, unwilling to make the changes God asks of you, God will remove you.  If you are unwilling to be a blessing, you never will be. 

How does God make these requests of us? How do we know what it is He is calling us to do? God’s Word is His tool for pruning back our lives (see Hebrews 4:12). Jesus tells us, “you are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you [the teachings I have discussed with you]” (v. 3, Amplified). The teachings of Jesus, the Word of God, is how we are cleansed and pruned to be more fruitful in our physical and spiritual lives. Sickness, disease, calamity, poverty – these are not God’s tools for pruning away the junk in our lives. They are the result of sin, the fallen nature of the world around us, the thievery of Satan (see John 10:10). I have heard too many Christians praying, “Lord, we don’t know why You do the things You do... It’s hard for us to understand Your ways… We do not know Your Will…” All spoken with the attitude of, “God is doing this.” Stop blaming God for the bad things that happen in life! God is not the author of calamity. Now, there are times when God allows some things to continue longer than we may like, but, again, for the benefit of our growth (see James 1:2-3). He is not the author, but as we saw in Romans 8:28, He will turn it for our good. 

Seven times Jesus tells us to abide in Him as the vine. You can do nothing apart from Him. We do not even have license to pray without Him. What is wonderful about Jesus, is that He promises “much fruit.” Abundance is found in being a disciple of Jesus! In Him you can do everything (see Philippians 4:13). That is the hope Jesus gives to His disciples. However, be aware of motive. If the only reason we are seeking Jesus is for the “stuff,” then we will receive nothing (see James 4:3). Jesus words here are an encouragement to His disciples – to all those who treasure His Word in their hearts. He takes it to a level many Christians never dare to dream: “ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” Whatever you ask. That is not greed; it is growth (see Psalm 37:4). If God’s Word is truly abiding in you, how can you make an unholy request? “If it’s God’s Will” is not going to be an issue; you will already know it! Jesus tells us that God is glorified through this. Our discipleship is proven through our fruit, through the fullness of our growth – spiritually, physically, financially – in everything. God is a big God! Jesus produces big results! Jesus promised us that we would do even greater things than He did if we continued in His word (see John 14:12). So why aren’t we? 

Jesus commands us to abide in His love. We do this by following His commandments. The more we walk in His ways, obeying His voice, the greater His love will grow inside us. We are to keep Jesus’ commands to the extent that He kept the Father’s – which led Jesus to the cross. We must be willing to do what is uncomfortable, unpleasant, even painful. We all hear that many times in church. However, one thing I have experienced to be over-looked is Jesus promise after that: “so that My joy may be in you, and your joy may be made full.” Our joy will be made full, not if we suffer, but if we are willing to follow His voice through whatever He tells us, regardless of what anyone around us may think. Jesus is trying to get you to the next level with God. He even says that we are called His friends! How often do you hear that in church? 

“Greater love has no one than this: that one lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus laid down His life for us, because we are regarded as His friends. Those of us who follow His teachings, obey His word and do what He says are His friends. I am not disregarding any other role a man or woman of God may have towards Him. I am emphasizing an aspect of our life that gets too often over-looked. If you obey God, you are Jesus friend. Reread verse 15. Everything Jesus has said up to this point He heard from the mouth of God. It is God who desires that our lives be as productive and abundant as possible. It is God who desires to make our joy complete.  It is God who desires to remove the title “slave” off of His people. Jesus said we are no longer slaves, but sons –and friends. Jesus chose us to bear much fruit; He desires that our fruit will remain, “so that whatever you ask of the Father in [Jesus’] name He may give to you.”

Jesus is trying to bless His friends. Think about that.    

03 October, 2010

Dear Christianity

Dear Christianity,

It is with a heavy heart that I write to you today. It is no secret that we haven't always gotten along; we have had our fights; we have said things we regret. As with all relationships, there have been growing pains. But you have really done it this time, my friend. I hope this letter is received well by you, and that you understand that it is not my intent to cut you down, but to show you what going on around you - and why I feel the way I do.

First, I must commend you: you have done many wonderful things in our world. Thank you for showing me Jesus, and for keeping me from abandoning Him in times of crisis. Thank you for your servants heart; for blessing many less-fortunate in communities both at-home and abroad. You have a good heart, Christianity. I know you mean well. You are trying to follow the commands of our Lord. Unfortunately, I must inform you: you are becoming a menace - causing more grief than good. And so I write, imploring you: get your act together, Christianity.

How do you teach from one Manual, and yet you continue to do nothing but divide? How is it that you claim to have The Answer, yet you live in a constant state of fear, doubt, and despair? You are full of bickering, battling over ridiculous dogmas and creeds. I find that you rather follow the religious musings of dead men, rather than the precious Word of our Living Father. Instead of heeding the warnings of the risen Jesus in Mark 7, you continue to embrace your religious traditions - thus making the Word of God of no-effect in your life. Christianity, you teach the writings of Paul, who pleads and warns us against such vain deceit in his letter to the church at Colossae. Then you proclaim these vain deceits and traditions of men as truth from your pulpits! You are becoming a hypocrite; you are increasingly double-minded. Are we lowly sinners, or are we the righteousness of God? You can never decide. What happened to "one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism"? Christianity, many of your churches have no faith. Few believe our Lord will give them desires of their hearts, or that He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ask or think. You taught them that: to go against the very words of our Father in heaven. You have found ways to contradict the very words of God you claim to profess.

Look at your history. Many have given their lives for our Lord's cause - but they died at your hand, Christianity. Even now people go to war within your congregations. You have a form of godliness, but you deny your own power to bless, prosper and heal. Do you still not realize that it is our Father Who has given us His Word, and that it is pure and holy and right? It needs no further academic interpretation! How are we so divided?! How do you sing songs of being blessed and highly favored, and then cut-down the men and women who preach that blessing from the pulpit? You teach us that God will always provide, and then you live constant fear and doubt that calamity will strike. It is said in your sanctuaries that we are not of this world, but your members look no different those who regret our Lord and Savior. They are broke, angry, slanderous, unbelieving gossips. And you have taught me to be just like them.

Many will not come to know the goodness and glory of our Father because of what you have done, Christianity. I still have difficulty seeing it. they will not Jesus as I do, nor will they listen to me try, because they have watched you from afar. They watch you cut-down your own. They see your divisions; they hear your hypocrisies; they feel your judgment.

Your enemy is running rampant about you. He scoffs at your in-fighting. He revels in your poverty. He knows you have the power to thwart his every step, but his deceitfulness and distractions have left you more concerned for "being right" in your doctrines than for the lives of men. Your enemy has filled you with fear of walking in the fullness of our Lord's Blessing. Now he has the hearts and minds of our Father's beloved, because you lack the means and resources to reach them.

Because of you, I have friends who do not know Jesus. They don't even want to listen to me. They have been hurt by you, Christianity. I have been hurt by you. I have been in your midst for decades, yet I am still so under-prepared to tackle the Commission our Lord has given me. I Implore you to get yourself together! Stop diluting our Father's holy Word with your religious trash! Put away your powerless doctrines, your ancient dogmas, and your lifeless theologies. Pick up the Word of God Almighty; it needs no academic interpretation. Remember where you came from; remember who you are and Whose you are. You have The Answer people need; I would appreciate it if you would act like it.