31 October, 2011

In The Wake of Abundance.

Economic downturn. Recession. Unemployment rate. These are terms that have filled our world for many years now. At the rate things are going it doesn't look like, in the natural, these terms will be leaving the forefront of our society anytime soon. However, they are not terms that should be affecting the Church. God is a God of abundance. Yesterday, one of the pastors briefly touched on this notion when he said, "all that God has is at my disposal." It is true; though we often do not act as though we believe it. God has given us His Spirit, Who Jesus said will "take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you" (John 16:14-15, NKJV, emphasis added). That's a lot of stuff...

Psalm 65:9-13 describes what happens when God steps on the scene. These are economic situations that are being described here. They are areas that bring supply to people. When God moves upon the earth, everything flourishes. God is a God of abundance.  It is modeled in the life of Jesus. When Jesus called His disciples, He did not simply pull them away from what they were doing. When we picture the calling of Jesus' first disciples, we usually see in our mind's eye a group of fishermen dropping nets and walking away from the shore without so much as a word to anyone they had left behind. Peter was married; I doubt his wife would have handled that very well. In Luke 5, we see that that is not what actually happened. We see that Jesus had already established some kind of relationship with Peter and his associates (Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law in Luke 4). After spending time teaching the crowds, Jesus asks Peter to let out his nets for a catch. Peter, though skeptically, obliges - to the largest catch he and his business partners had ever received. You see, before calling them out of their line of work, Jesus abundantly provided the financial means for these men and their families. That is how God operates. When God moves in your circumstances abundance flows.

So, why isn't this a reflection of our lives today? Look at the story again in Luke. Peter listened to Jesus. Though it did not make much sense to him, he obeyed. There are many things we see in Scripture - particularly in the life of Jesus - that do not make sense. Unfortunately, that has led as to assume that there is only some "spiritual" meaning behind the stories of Jesus. While the spiritually aspects are true, it is also important to just do what Jesus says. If He says you have whatever you say, watch what you say. If He says nothing is impossible to the one who believes, start believing. If He says you reap what you sow, start sowing! Do what Jesus tells us to do. Follow the Word (it would help if some Christians would actually read it). God will see to it that all endeavors are supplied for when we are following His instructions. Are the situations you are facing a result of your obedience to God, or your own ideas? God has given us dreams and desires, but if we take it upon ourselves to see them through we will fail. If we try to do our own thing because it "seems right" the results can be severe (Proverbs 14:12)

We have been led to believe that God does not always abundantly supply. That "barely getting by" is still getting by, and that is all God promised us. That is a lie if ever there was one (try reading 2Corinthians 9:8 and Philippians 4:19). When you get in line with what God is saying and doing, you cannot help but be Blessed (which means "empowered to prosper"). That doesn't mean the devil won't fight you. The fight is on. Jesus told us that we will receive 100-fold "with persecution" (Mark 10:30). But God always causes us to win (Romans 8:37). God is only a "barely getting by" God if you expect Him to be (or if you stick your fingers in your ear and hum when people read 2Corinthians or Philippians).

Make no mistake, the economic times are tough; but the Bible tells us that in times like these, the people of God will have an abundance (Psalm 37:19). That abundance is found when you follow Jesus - to the letter - making His priorities your priorities (Matthew 6:33). In the wake of God's Presence there is abundant supply is at our disposal. Are you following??

14 October, 2011

Sin of the Self-Conscious

We all do it. We all think it. We all fight it. Are we enough? Can we do it? What will they think of me? Will I fail again??

In this society, in this day and age, the battle to prove one-self is a fight that leaves many of us drained. We want to be bigger, faster, stronger, smarter, prettier, sexier, richer... We want to be on top. We want God to be proud of us, we want the Church to like us, we want to be right... We, we, we...

I battle these things all the time. In the natural, I have a record. I have done a lot of really dumb stuff. I have given Jesus a really bad name - both in and out of Church. I have hurt my friends, I have hurt my family, I have crushed my wife. I have cursed God to His face, lost faith, held grudges of all kinds against all people. I have been racist, insensitive, arrogant, depressed, hateful, hurtful, destructive - you name it, I probably did it. I have been the pinnacle of failure. The Church sees me as sinful and weak. And therefore God sees me as... Holy.

That's why He is God, and the Church is... Nevermind. Yesterday during my daily Scripture reading I came across this simple verse that catapulted my thinking to another level as the Holy Spirit shed His Light on His Word: "Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past" (Isaiah 43:18). In order for any of us to grow into full Christian maturity, we must learn to learn to set-aside all our person problems and look at ourselves the way Jesus does (the real Jesus, not the jerk a lot of religious minded people portray to the world). You are commanded not to look at your past failures. You are commanded not to look at your short-comings. You are commanded to look at your self through the eyes of the Word. Do it.

I'm trying... I know, and that is why it is so hard. There is not "try." There is only "do" (don't you dare quote Yoda on me...). The Lord pinned it very sternly in my Spirit, "you cannot have these self-conscious issues!" I promptly wrote that down in my journal, and then the Light came on when I saw it: self-conscious. Christian people should not be self-conscious. In fact, it is a sin. It is pride. It is you (or me) being so caught up with yourself and your issues that they take a front seat to everything else. What happen to "dying to self" (Matt 16:24; Gal 2:20)? What happened to "turning the other cheek"? What happened to being kingdom-minded? That should be our primary focus - not our own poor self-esteem. You focus on the things of God, and your self-esteem will wither away. We all have issues, we all have "stuff." But the time for focusing on those issues is over. It is time to see yourself as God sees you, and to let that be the only opinion that matters.

Anytime any of those thoughts of failure, unworthiness, unprettiness (I made that word up), or whatever come to your mind, do what the word says - cast them down (2Cor. 10:5). "I know but..." No more ifs, ands, or buts about it. It is a command. Not all of His commands are easy, but every one of them is more than doable. You have all the help you are ever going to get. Jesus said His grace is sufficient for these things (2Cor 12:9). And this is the exact subject He was referring to: a nagging devil causing trouble in your mind. He is telling you to take care of it. Cast it out of your mind and move on. You can do it! Jesus has placed His Holy Spirit within you. Do you really think you need any more help than that?! He said that the Spirit will take from Him and give it unto you. And then Jesus went on to say ALL THE FATHER HAS has been given to Him (John 16:12-15) That's a lot of stuff! This is doable. Look at yourself through the eyes of Jesus: more than a conqueror, the righteousness of God, heir according to the promise, most Blessed, smart, strong, beautiful, successful, one-of-a-kind. All the tools are there, all the power is yours. It is only as difficult as you make it...

04 October, 2011

Get Your "But" Out of the Way

My wife and I are in the midst of a week of Spiritual "fasting." The noise is off. No TV shows, no video games, no sports radio. Simply the Word and all things pertaining to it. I have spent this morning praying and meditating on the Word as I prepare to embark on a task given to me by our youth pastor. Ally and I are privileged to be given the responsibility of writing and designing the youth devotional journal. God has been very gracious to us to remain faithful and patient with us all these years and to bring us to a place of responsibility such as this one. Naturally, I got frightened.

I am at a place where I am re-learning to trust. The purpose of shutting off the noise this week is so that we might retrain our spirits to hear from His Spirit. I have been spun around in circle for years regarding the Word of God. My pastor growing up (and now) has preached that the Bible is the un-compromised Word of the Living God. Then again, so did my professors at the university. So did all those preachers my aunt got me to listen to when I wanted to flush Christianity and the Bible down the toilet. However, they don't agree on hardly anything where the Bible is concerned. And that to this day frustrates me - and leaves me nervous to do anything for any church out of fear of getting kicked out. We all read the same book, but we read it in different ways. And that is largely based on experiences we have all had. But if we are to claim that the Bible is our final authority, then we must believe what it says, regardless of our situations. What Jesus says goes, period. 

 In 1John we learn the answer to our circumstances: God's Will. Unfortunately, most Christians do not know the Will of God, even though He has given each of us a hard copy of it in His Word. God Word is His Will, and what it says is the final say. It doesn't matter how you feel. It doesn't matter what your circumstances look like. It doesn't change the Word. Christians do not have the right to say, "yea, but." They only have the right to say, "yes, Lord." If the Bible says, by His stripes we are healed," then we are healed, regardless of what the circumstances may say. We are constantly making the mistake of "looking" to see if God did something. That is not faith. You already have to start over again. The Bible says Christians should be rich; it is called The Blessing, and it has been bought and paid for by Jesus (see Galatians 3), and it makes rich and adds no sorrow to it (See proverbs 10:22). Either God's Word is true, or it is a religious writing that I no longer have to spend my time reading. I choose the former. God's Word changes everything, and when we pray it back to Him, things change. 

The Amplified version of 1John 5:15 says that we have "as present possession" the things that we ask when we pry according to God's Will (His Word). That means we should come before God with excitement and expectancy, because we know our prayers are already answer. That's what God said! God promises answers. God promises health, wealth and wisdom. He longs to be gracious to us (Isaiah 30:18). Get you "but" out of the way and believe what God Almighty has to say. Don't look around wondering when or if God is going to move on your behalf. Pray the Word back to God, and believe His Word in 1John 5:14-15, that His Word will come to pass.

I about exploded off the couch as I sat before God meditating on this principle. The implications of it are stagering. His Blessing is on me, so I am rich. His healing is bought and paid for, so I am healed. His life is abundantly in me, so I will live a long time. His Word is mine, and it makes me wiser than all the learned. God is impartial, and desires all this and more to be upon everyone. Nothing is impossible... to them that believe (Mark 9:23). I like this Book! Now off to write a journal...

28 September, 2011

God's View

I have said many things similar to this, but I was meditating on it again this morning. You see (actually, you don't see, because I am at home alone, and you are on the internet, but you get the idea), God has been working on my heart about how to spend all this delightful free time I have had since leaving "The Liar" (my old job). I am working on writing a book. Whether it will ever be published or not is not the issue, but learning to sit and listen, to study and pray, to write and compose sermons and series is what He is after. So today I began laying the foundation for a chapter on God's View of us, His children. My mind works in a way that leads to to just "vomit" thoughts on a page. It is like setting up, or decorating, a room. I take everything, throw it in the middle of the room, and them figure out where I want it. That is what this is, but you will get the general idea. Eventually it will have an intro paragraph, some more intelligent structure, and hopefully less of a "grumpy preacher" feel to it. So, the excerpt...

2Corinthians 5:17-21 unfolds who we are in Christ, what we are in Christ. We are each a new creature in Jesus. What that implies is that we have been completely remade “from scratch” in the eyes of God. We are not who we used to be. We are now a brand new person. The old is gone. Yet, we continue to speak of it as if it is still in operation in our lives. The sinful nature should no longer be the driving force in the life of a born-again man or woman of God. That is why we call ourselves born-again. Rebirth means that we get to start all over again in God’s eyes, this time of His seed (1Peter 1:23).

I have heard this rebirth explained in terms of automobile repair, and while I am in no way a “car guy” I will use it anyway because it makes the most sense. Suppose you were in a wreck, and your car was completely smashed inside and out. When you take your car to a shop, the mechanic will bang out the dents, repair the broken engine pieces, and detail the upholstery. Once all of the work is done, you receive your car, shiny and “new,” but it is still the same car. We have been looking at the rebirth in Christ in this same sense – as if Jesus has fixed what was broken and put us “back on the road” (I know, that was a corny analogy…). What has actually taken place, however, is that our old, broken nature has been done away with. We are a new being that has never before existed. In light of the car analogy, it is like taking your wrecked car to the shop, and instead of your car being repaired, you are handed a brand-new, more powerful car. That is the kind of transformation that has taken place in the spirit of a born-again child of God.

Through Jesus, you have been made the righteousness of God. That is what you are right now as you read this. Yet all I tend to here, from pulpits to pews, is how sinful, lowly, unworthy we are. Have you read the Bible? That is not how God sees you, and His perspective is far more important (and true) than yours. Now, I know many people are reading this and thinking, “doesn’t the Bible tell us to confess our sins?!” Yes, it does. In 1John 1:8, we are taught that if we say we have no sin we are liars. That is absolutely the truth. None of us are sinless like Jesus. I am not making the argument that we are. I am not teaching that anyone is to deny the sin-nature of our humanity; I am explaining that we need to stop glorifying it. God’s Word is the final authority, and if it says we are righteous, then we are righteous – regardless of how we feel. In Proverbs 23:7, we learn that we are what we think (don’t get all philosophical on me). If you spend all of your time harping that religious tune of how unworthy, weak and pathetic you are, then you will continue to walk in those flaws from now until Kingdom Come. Jesus takes us just as we are, but we aren’t supposed to stay that way! I question people who continue to talk about how sinful, broken and incapable they are. That is not a sign of spiritual maturity, but rather a sign to me of one who is not growing in the faith, but rather stagnating. Confessing our sins is vital to forgiveness. Dwelling on them, however, is the key to Christian failure.

Parents will understand this analogy far more than I will. Anyone who is a (good) parent knows how frustrating it can be to listen to their children berate themselves on a consistent basis. I know my parents got real tired of hearing my siblings and I talk down about ourselves as often as we did. They knew what we were capable of doing, and it was bothersome to them when we would claim otherwise. We could not see our own abilities like they could, because they were older and (don’t tell them I said this) wiser at the time. Our Heavenly Father is the same way – on a much grander scale. He made each of us, with very specific skills and abilities. We are handcrafted by God Almighty. Dwell on that for a moment. I know in my own life that thought does not penetrate my heart and mind as deeply as it should. Ephesians 2:10 say we are God’s workmanship, His handiwork. When God created the universe, He did so with His spoken Word. Yet, when it came time to create people, He reached down into the dust and the dirt and the mud and handcrafted the man. He took the man’s rib and He fashioned a woman. God is very intricate and intimately involved in the creation of each person. He knows what we are capable of. He is proud of each of us. He loves each of us. Who are you to talk about how unworthy and incapable you are? You are the pinnacle of God’s creation – the crown jewel of the Universe. God loved you so much, that He went through all that a Being possibly could to see to it that you and He could be together. Jesus went to the depths of Hell to free you from power of sin, from the curse of the Law, from sickness, disease and poverty – and to make you the righteousness of God, able to do all things through Him. You are not insignificant. You are not unworthy. You are not some sinful wretch. To say so is to slap the God Who made you and saved you in the Face. Just like a parent cannot listen to their child demean themselves, so our Heavenly Father grieves when His children speak down about themselves...
More to follow 

08 September, 2011


My biggest request during my prayer times has been that I would "get it" more. I feel so unmoved by the things of God, it's rather frustrating. How is it that I can read the Scripture so often, and yet walk away so unchanged by it's words? There is a disconnect that I struggle with, so I continually ask the Lord to reveal Himself more fully to me (one of the first things that I think creates that divide is using "far-off" phrases like the Lord, which makes Him seem way out yonder somewhere... that's another topic for another day).

Today I received a little more light on the topic that I believe we all desperately need to take hold of. Jesus explained in Mark 4 that the single-most important parable He taught was the parable of the sower. He said that it was the foundation for His entire teaching ministry. What we see in this parable is that the first reason why the Word of God is so unproductive in our hearts is that we are hardened to it, thus allowing the enemy quick and easy access to steal it. What we do not realize is that we are often that hard soil. This does not mean that we are calloused, unfeeling, wicked people, but that our hearts are hard towards spiritual things. Our Western way of thinking has hardened us to spiritual laws. Paul describes this condition in the second chapter of first Corinthians, yet it still hasn't sunk in to us fully. God's ways of doing things run so counter to our understanding that we have come to dismiss them altogether. As a result, we make religious excuses for why the Bible "doesn't work," when the truth is that we didn't believe it in the first place. Theological, religious thinking has robbed us of the power of Scripture in our lives. We gloss over so many wonderful revelations about God without so much as a second-glance.

What the Lord showed me today is that we have hard spots in our hearts to specific "Word-seed." While I am by no means a gardener, I know that certain seed produces better results when planted in specific soil. Our hearts are often hardened regarding specific seeds in the Word. That is why so many of us simply do not "get it" regarding many of Scripture's promises. My Bible says over and over and over and over and over and over again that we should be rich. There is no denying that. If a Christian person does not believe it is God's will to prosper them beyond their imagination, they are either in denial or cannot read. Our lack of resources proves that we do not believe the Word of the Living God. I know I don't. I base my reading of Scripture on too many past failures. I had to repent early and often for that today. There is no denying that God wants to Bless us financially. That is why He also made a point to hammer home repeatedly to be on the look-out for greed and idolatry. He is smarter than us and knows that if we are not careful His Blessing will cause us to turn away from Him and toward the "presents." Unfortunately, it does not matter all that much, because we trust in our own jobs and means of provision, rather than in His Blessing (which makes rich - Proverbs 10:22).

God expects so much more from us - from me. But if we do not believe His Word to us, then we are going to live defeated everyday of our lives. If He says we are Blessed, we are Blessed. Believe it. He equipped us with His Spirit so that we would have a greater capacity to receive and do! (See Ephesians 3:20). But if we trust in our own means rather than His we are doomed from the beginning (See Jeremiah 17:5). If we do not believe His Word is true, then nothing will ever happen. We limit our capacity to receive from Him and walk in the life He has for us when we harden our hearts to some of the Word. That is why we do not always "get it." We do not always believe it...

30 August, 2011

You're Not Job

I have been pondering some things as of late that I believe are essential for many in the Body of Christ. This is a difficult place to live in for those who do not know Jesus. Unfortunately, it is also becoming a very difficult place to live for those who do know Him, as well. This ought not to be. I know, I know, I know... Jesus said "in this world you will have tribulation" (John 16:33). However, finish reading the sentence: "take courage; I have overcome the world." The Amplified goes on to say "I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you." Do you believe that today? If we are truly disciples of Jesus (and we are), then why are we letting this world beat our brains in when the Master promised it was powerless to do so?

I am seeing this more everyday: people who are "laying down" and allowing their circumstances to walk all over them because they believe God is trying to teach them some great lesson. Christians are in "survival mode" when they should be in "battle mode." James 4:7 instructs us to "resist the devil and he will flee from you." Are you still resisting him? Or are you assuming that his acts of terror in your life are really divine attempts to "teach you something?" I have been accused of "blaming the devil" too many times. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I am not going to blame God for the horrible things that happen in my life. Jesus draws a HUGE line in the sand in John 10:10. If anything falls under the category of stealing, killing or destroying IT WASN'T GOD! The devil has duped us into believing that God teaches people through tests and trials and pain and suffering and tragedy. He does this because he knows we will fall for that lie and, as a result, we will stop fighting him. You must "be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might... and having done everything, to stand" (Ephesians 6:10, 13b). You are commanded to stand and fight in the power the Lord has given you. Do it.

What about Job and his suffering? First of all, let us make one thing very clear: you are not Job. You are not going through a "Job-like" experience. Let me tell you why. First, you have an advantage Old Testament men and women of God never had. You have the blood of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit working inside of you that equips you to overcome the works of the devil in your life. Job never had that. Secondly, the devil was out to force Job to curse God to His face, because Job was so close to God that God was bragging about him. Are you really that close to God that the devil cannot even see you? (see Psalm 91) Thirdly, you know the devil is out to get you; Job didn't. Job and his friends only knew about God; therefore, they unknowingly blamed Him for the devastation going on in the life of Job. Job unfairly blamed God for losing everything (Job 1:21) even though the book clearly states that God did not do anything to Job. Job's friends were latter chastised by the Lord for the things they said (Job 42:7). Don't make the same mistake.

"James says we should rejoice for our trials!" No, it doesn't. Read it here, here, and here. It says to "consider" it joy, because you know something: that you will win and be Blessed all the more because of it. Trials, testings and temptations test your faith. They put your faith to work. They produce the force of patience within you. Patience is not used in this New Testament in the way we teach our children. It does not simply mean you are to wait out the difficulty. It literally means "constancy." You are to remain consistently, constantly the same throughout - developing the character of Jesus within you. When you read on to verse 13, you see the exact same word translated "trial" in verse 2  translated as "temptation." What that says to us is: God is not sending hard times on you; it is contrary to His very nature.

The same greek word found in these two passages is used in 1Corinthians 10:13. This is a verse people use in their attempt to prove that whatever circumstance they have at this moment is directly from God. Again: it is not from God. Just because God allows something does not mean He is the author of it. There are multiple reasons for our circumstances. It may well be our fault. God put spiritual laws into the physical realm we live in. Our words have power to shape our lives. Our actions dictate the course of our existence. Our mistakes can wreak havoc on our destiny. You have a lot more power in your life than you think. You may have easily given the devil license to operate in your life without even knowing it (Hosea 4:6). What gets missed in this verse in 1Corinthians is that God has planned a way out. Go back and read it again: "but with the temptation [He] will also make the way of escape." He has a way out for you. If you will give Him the time to explain it, you can be free from the traps the devil has set in your life. You can be free of poverty, sickness, terminal illness, you name it. You have an enemy who is out to get you every single moment of every single day. He will never stop "shooting" at you. He studies you. He plans for you. He is crafty. The devil only comes to steal, kill and destroy. "The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil" (1John 3:8b). If Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, how can He also use them intentionally as tools to teach us something? That would make him the author and minister of sin. "...Is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be!" (Galatians 2:17b) 

29 August, 2011

Just Like Jesus

Your first assignment is to read Philippians 2:5-8. Go ahead; I'll wait...

How does this reflect your attitude in daily life? Do you, as a Christian, model your life after the Master to this extent? I really enjoy how the NKJV puts this passage, because it says that being in equal standing with God is not a twisted mindset. The Scripture quite frequently tells us that we are "joint-heirs" with Jesus. That means we are on equal footing with the King of Kings. However, tell that to most Christians these days, and they will cringe and tell you that your are taking the Bible "out of context" for supposed selfish gain. While it is true that there are people in the world that have done this, it does not take away from what the Scriptures say: you are in equal standing with Jesus before God - get used to it.

However, we are given the example of how to treat and view this position: with humility. Read this same passage in the NASB. The attitude that we are to mimic is to understand that our standing in Christ is not meant solely for our sordid gain. Jesus did not use His position of power expressly on Himself. He willingly gave up His deity to help you. He was willing to do anything, to die - in the worst way. Please notice that it never says we are required to die. The focus of this passage is on the attitude that Jesus had, that you and I are to imitate. Be willing to do anything the Lord may ask of you, even if it requires lowering your "station."

Also, I would like to point out that Jesus "was made in the likeness of men." You know what that means? It means He lived a perfect life - as a man. "Yeah, but that was Jesus" is no longer an excuse we can use when examining His life in comparison to ours. While He does not expect us to live perfect like He did, He expects you to come very close. As you grow in maturity, you should become less and less susceptible to sin. So, stop declaring how sinful and lowly you are all of the time. Understand that you have been made the righteousness of God because of Jesus (1Corinthians 5:21). You are disciples of the Master, which means you are to emulate Him more and more. With the help of the Holy Spirit, through constant communion with the Father, Jesus lived a sinless life - as a full-blooded human-being. He expects you to strive for the same thing. While none of us will reach Christ-like perfection this side of Heaven, we can get much closer than we think.

25 August, 2011


Fun revelation for the day: God will never put you in a position where you will not have to use your faith. Think of whatever difficulty there is in your life. What would be necessary to make it all go away? If God were to miraculously make all of your life's struggles suddenly vanish, I assure you that you would still be in a position to use your faith. For anyone out there praying, "Lord, please talk all the problems away from me forever" I recommend you stop. The only way you will ever get to that point is to die.

Now, do not mis-understand me; life is not meant to be a series of difficulties meant to "strengthen" you. It is quite the contrary: Jesus came so that we might be saved. The word "salvation" comes from the greek word soteria, which means, "wholeness, deliverance, victory, prosperity, health and welfare." The Hebrew word, yshuwah, found in the Old Testament echos that: "deliverance, victory, prosperity, health, and welfare." That is what Jesus bought for all of us. That is what it means to be saved. But, if we were suddenly free from everything, with the ability to simply say the "magic words" to get anything we wanted instantly, then we would no longer need faith. God will never allow that. There is always another level with God; a level that can only be reached through faith in God.

In 1Corinthians 10:13, we see that we will never go through anything that we cannot overcome. Many translations use the word "temptation" in this verse. The greek word used here implies adversity. Simply put, you will never go through adverse conditions that God does not know about and has not already planned escape from for you. You have to remain faithful. You have to put your faith to work. He planned the escape, you have to execute the plan. In Philippians 1:6, we see that God will never stop working on us in some area of our lives. There is never a place where you will not have to use your faith.

I have dreams of very large sums of money coming into my hands, so that I can do grand things in the kingdom of God and for the ones I love. And yet, even if god were to drop millions in my lap at this very moment, there would still be areas for me to use my faith. the devil would still be out there watching me; this world would still be broken; there would still be more work for me to do. God will never put anybody in a position where they would not have to continue to press in to Him and use there faith. It is a ridiculous notion to believe God is sending trials in our lives in order to work something in us. James 1:13 outright refutes it. Yet, Scripture also says that faith is tried as gold is by fire (1Peter 1:6-7). What a fun balance we all get to work out. In order to have victory you have to fight something. God gave us the devil to practice on...

24 August, 2011

Outside Influences

A quick challenge to you all: don't match the Word to your thinking; match your thinking to the Word. If there is one thing I have come to notice in myself and many other Christians, it is that we base what the Scriptures say based on your life's experiences. The Word makes it very plain what God desires to do in our lives, yet we have et religious doctrines and ideas steal those promises from us. Many of these ideas come as a result of somebody not seeing the manifestations of the Biblical promises in their own lives. How many times have we heard Christians claim to have "tried" something, only to have it not work out? Does this mean it was not God's Will to come through on their behalf? Of course not. How can we trust the Bible if it only proves to be true some of the time? You might as well discontinue using it and go play outside.

Unfortunately, many Christians are already doing this, and, as a result, they are not seeing the manifestations of the Biblical promises in their lives. There is very little faith in God's Word, thus there is little "Fruit." Then, when troubles arise in the lives of others, they are quick to give their "advise" which is rooted in their failures. That's when we hear phrases like, "If it's God's Will..." Scripture is emphatic on what is and is not God's Will. That does not mean that we see it happening every minute of everyday in every Christian's life. Many Christians are moved more by their past or present experiences, rather than what the Bible says. It changes their perspective on Biblical truth. Those perceptions change how they think about the Word. How a person thinks is how they become (Proverbs 23:7). Don't take what you or another person has experienced and use it to change what the Bible says regarding your circumstances. Take what the Word says, and change your circumstances.

18 August, 2011


According to Scripture, Jesus is the Head of the Body - which is the church (Ephesians 1:22-3). We know that all power and authority in heaven and on the earth has already been given to Him (Matthew 28:18). Jesus is running the show; so why is everything such a mess? Some would propose that every hardship, test, trial and disaster that comes upon the human race is some aspect of God's Plan to bring good in to one's life. If that is the case, Jesus is a jerk.

I contend that Jesus is not a jerk (I find Him to be quite a gentleman, actually). he warned you that things would happen, but He also told you He already overcame those things, and that they no longer have the power to harm you. If something is harming you, it is a violation of your Covenant in Jesus' blood. So, why the mess?? It would be simply to just blame the Democrats and et it over with, but it goes much deeper than that. Why is it that the plans and purposes of God are not coming to their fullest manifestations in the earth? Simply put: we have paralyzed Jesus in the earth.

Jesus has all power and authority in Heaven, and in case you haven't looked, things are going pretty well over there. Jesus has been given all authority on the earth - and this place sucks. That is because He has given each member of the Body as task, and many of us are neglecting that task. Paul paints this illustration more deeply in 1Corinthians 12. There we learn that the church is organized the same way the human body is organized: with various parts, seen and unseen; small and no so small. Jesus is the Head. He is the Authority. Take a person who is paralyzed: their head still functions. They can think, speak, move above the neck or waist. Yet, though their mind and brain are fully functional, the body is not moving. Something broke along the way that renders the head useless in its functioning. The same is true throughout the church. Jesus is the Head, but if His people do not function in what He has called them to, then He is a head sitting on a table screaming, "HELLOOOOOOOO!" That ought not be.

This is the way He has set it up. This is God's goodness and power and might on display. Rather than simply take over, He invites us to be part of His dealings in the earth. In 1Corinthians 12:18, we see that we all has a specific part to play in the things of God. There is no such thing as an insignificant human being without a calling. But He won't do your part for you. Paul echoes the same sentiment in Ephesians 4:15-6. If everybody took the time to learn their place, to operate in their grace, to know the things of God, this world would be in a much better condition. God's will is heaven on earth (Matthew 6:10). He needs you to accomplish His plans. Religion does not teach that, but it is true. Because that's the way He wants it. Without you, Jesus is paralyzed in the earth.

03 August, 2011

More on Religion's Enemy: Wealth

I read Colossians chapter 2 today, and was struck by a passage that I must share with the nine people who read this thing.

Looking at this passage (you know, the one in the hyper-link up there?), I was struck at the term "wealth." I think a lot of Christians hate wealth, because it is so contrary to their natural, religious mind. They think they are being greedy. There is a simple solution to this problem: don't be greedy. This passage goes hand-in-hand with many others I have looked over the past few months. Here, we see that wealth is wrapped up in our knowledge and understanding of Christ (the Anointed One and His Anointing). In Him are hidden (for us) all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom. Let's expound on this part, and we will back-track from there.

Proverbs 8 explains to us some of the characteristics of Godly Wisdom. One of these aspects is found in verse 18: wealth and riches. Godly Wisdom possesses wealth and riches, and if Jesus is the One in Whom all wisdom is hidden... Anyone make the connection yet? Good.

The "issue" with knowledge has been taken care of for us, as well. 1Corinthians 2:16 explains that one for us nicely. What part of "have" is so difficult for us to comprehend? We may not feel like we have Jesus' mind in our heads, but we do. That is why we are told (yes, I am saying it again) to renew our minds - see Romans 12:2.

Now that both of these characteristics are covered, we most grow in confidence in them. In Hebrews 10:35, we learn that this confidence is essential to all that God is endeavoring to accomplish in each of us. How is it that we grow in this assurance and confidence? Take a look at Romans 4:17 for the answer to that one. Worry is a result of constantly meditating on the problems; faith is a result of constantly meditating on the Answer. Pick one, and stick to it (I'm going to here about that from my wife later...).

Without love, none of these other principles even matter (Galatians 5:6). I like how one of my favorite author/speaker in the faith, Kenneth Copeland, puts it: "Love is to faith, like air is to a tire." Without love, your faith simply won't work. All that wisdom and knowledge will go to waste; your assurance won't matter. As a result, your wealth (regardless of whether or not you are greedy) will never come to pass.

I am sure there is more to it than all this, because if there weren't, my bank account would already be much larger. However, I am going to take these principles to heart, and I hope the nine of you in Internet Land will too. The Body of Christ needs to walk fully in the prosperity Jesus bought for us. Again, I want to give Him "top dollar" (for lack of a better term) for His sacrifice - and I don't care what religion has to say about it.

28 July, 2011

The Love Walk

Why does it appear that so many Christians struggle to walk in love? God is love (1John 4:8). When we are born-again, we are born of God as an "incorruptible seed" (1Peter 1:23). The love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Yet, so many self-proclaimed Christians are so far the opposite direction, they make the rest of us look bad. Regrettably, I often fall into that category. So, what's the deal?

We do not walk in the fullness of the new birth because we are still far too rooted in this present age. The Christian cliche, "in the world, but not of the world" does not apply to enough of us anymore. We are of the world. The "world" in the New Testament is a mindset contrary to the Word of God. I read a survey recently that said fifty-three percent of "Christians" believe "God helps those who help themselves" is a Biblical truth. That's called being worldly. And don't ask me to site the reference, it was just a random stat in a book :)

More time of fellowship with the Lord through prayer and Scripture is necessary in many of our lives. Don't go overboard with that statement; I am not condoning becoming a religious monk, and holing yourself up in a bedroom reading the Bible twelve hours a day. However, people may not be experiencing the kind of life afforded us through Jesus could be a result of not putting Him in His rightful place in our lives (Matthew 6:33). As a result, we do not know the power and authority given to each believer through the death and resurrection of Jesus. We have a religious mind-set that says "God's gonna do whatever God's gonna do," and we go about our day living however we think we should - with very little spiritual know-how.

Colossians 1:12-13 explains that we have been translated out of this worldly mindset and into God's. The kingdom of darkness is not planet earth, it is the mindset and mentality of the ruler of that mindset - y'know, the devil?   We are citizens of heaven right now. We have dominion in the earth right now because of what Jesus has done for us. Remember whatever you bind and loose on earth has been bound and loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:19). You are a citizen of heaven, act like it. Heaven has a different culture than America (or whatever country you live in). The "American Way" is not the "kingdom way," so stop trying to live in both places at the same time. You must retrain your ways of thinking to match-up with God's (Romans 12:2). The mind of Christ ("Christ" meaning "Anointed One and His anointing") is already in you (1Corinthians 2:16) and needs to be strengthened. Your spirit must be built up. These things will not be done by simply praying five minutes a day. You must make a conscious effort to give God time to work in your heart, mind and spirit through His Holy Spirit if you expect to see any significant change in your life and countenance.

You have the time. I have said it before and I will continue to say it. I have met so many unhappy, cranky, Biblically illiterate Christians. It comes as a result of being more worldly-minded than kingdom-minded. You must exchange your thoughts for God's thoughts, and watching TV, spending hours browsing the internet or (like me) listening to sports radio all day will only hinder your ability to hear from God and change your ways of thinking. Give God time to change your thinking to line-up with His perspective. Again, you do not have to become a religious zealot and read the Bible seven hours a day - that's my job. The Lord gave me this analogy for you: if you have six ounces of silver and one ounce of platinum, you may have more silver, but the platinum is worth more. That sentence needs work, but you get the idea. One hour of prayer and Scripture done right is worth far more in the Lord's eyes than if you take a day off work and give Him six sloppy hours and stop-and-go Bible and prayer. If we are ever going to grow in the love-walk God desires of us (and that is so vital to the functioning of our faith) we must spend more time with Love Himself. So get to it! ;) 

05 July, 2011

The Path of the Righteous

"But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day" Proverbs 4:18.

You couple this verse with Proverbs 3:5-6, and there is no reason for any Christian, Church or ministry to ever walk in confusion. What is the deal here? We claim that the Word is the foundation for our living, yet we do not live out these verses of Scripture I have just listed. It is my conclusion that, after the Gospels, Proverbs is the first thing new (or un-read) Christians should read. We need God's wisdom and insight if we are going to survive all the chaos of these Last Days.

The Word says that our ways, while seeming to be right, will end up in the ways of death (Proverbs 14:12). In Isaiah, the Lord declares His thoughts and ways to be much higher than ours (55:8-9). HOWEVER, He also gave us this mind so that we can ascend to His ways of thinking and doing (1Corinthians 2:16). God is not gloating over us in Isaiah, He is pointing out that He has a better way of accomplishing things in the earth. Most Christians take that as "God is going to do what God's going to do." It is another form of Christian laziness that God never intended us to live by. Do you see this? When you acknowledge God's way of doing things, it elevates your thinking and brings more light into your ways of living.

God's Word brings light. He has so many ways of accomplishing something in our lives, but so few of us (myself included) give Him enough time to show us what to do. We are instructed to avoid the "world's ways" (1John 2:15), because He has given us His Spirit to know all things (1John 2:20). We do not live like this. We follow the "American Way," which is another form of the world. The "world" we read about in Scripture is simply a system contrary to the Word of God. The "American Way" is contrary to the Word of God. Yet, that is how most Churches and ministries operate - and thus they fail. God has so many other ways of accomplishing breakthroughs for His people and, as we have already seen, they may seem counter-cultural and make no sense in our natural minds. That's how God operates! If it seems impossible, it's God.

Christians "throw the dice" too often. Prayer has become nothing more than asking God for something ans seeing what happens. If we see an answer to prayer then we assume God said yes. If nothing happens, we assume God said no. Ephesians tells us this is foolishness and not how the Christian ought to live (Ephesians 5:17). God is not hiding anything from us. Faith is necessary to accomplish anything in the spirit-realm. Faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17), not heard. The Word should be pumped into you over and over and over again.

How much time do you give God to show you anything? His Word is what illuminates the path of the righteous. You take one step and it gets brighter; take another, it gets brighter still. "You never know what God is going to do" is not a Scriptural statement. I have fallen prey to this too many times, myself. As you grow in God, your path in life should get brighter. If things still seem unsure all of the time, then you are walking in darkness and confusion; more time with God and less time with everything else under the Sun is needed to receive clarity regarding your situation. Things should be getting done in the Body of Christ. People should be healthy, wealthy and wise. If you are not, it is a violation of your Covenant with God. Religion will tell you otherwise. That is why I do not bother with religion. I want Jesus.

01 July, 2011

What About the Change?

"Many observers have concluded that the church, far from being counter-cultural, does not look much different from the unchurched" ~Greg Ogden.

Religion does not transform you; it only conform you. It conforms you to a set of ideals, a list of rules, a doctrine or theology of life that must be followed in order for one to remain "in the faith." That's a big reason why we have so many broke, sick, unhappy and mean-spirited Christians. It has become too much about "being right," rather than being transformed. We are not being transformed in our thinking they way we are instructed to (Romans 12:2). That is primary battlefield the devil fights us on - the mind. Wrong thinking produces wrong feelings, which produces wrong decisions. Many Christians often think the roughly the same as the did prior to making Jesus Lord of their lives. Folks like me, who grew up in church their entire lives, have not had much emphasis placed on trans-formative thinking.

We still think very worldly. In the Scripture, "the world" is meant as a system. It is sinful man's way of doing, thinking and living. It is not the rock we live on. Many Christians think in the same worldly confines as non-believers. It is the "got to get a good job to make good money to provide for the family and have a good retirement one day." None of those are Biblical mind-sets. Most of the time, it seems as though the only difference between Christians and non-Christians is swearing. I have known some very unpleasant Christian people in my life, but they would never swear. Swearing was the end-all greatest sin in the world. Folks would be rude, arrogant, unpleasant, elitist, gossips... But if you ever said a swear word in their presence they would go all Super-Christian on your... rear-end. Yet, I have known the sweetest, kindest, most forgiving, welcoming folks a person could ask for; they would "cuss like a sailor." Is this the best we have to offer the world? We need mind-renewal...

Transformation is found through a right understanding of the Scripture. Remember, the proper way to divide the Scripture is with other Scripture. It is vital that we take what the Word says and live like it is actually true (because, obviously, it is). I have not seen many Christians talk, act or live like 2Corinthians 5:17-21 is actually true. They keep talking about how sinful and unworthy they are in the Presence of the Lord; that they have no idea why God would so much as look at them, let alone use them for anything. This is totally contrary to Biblical thinking (e.g. 1John 3:10). While it is true that you will never achieve absolute Christ-like perfection this side of Heaven, you can get a lot closer than many think. In fact, you are called and equipped to do so (Ephesians 5:1, Philippians 1:27, 2Peter 1:3, 1John 2:6).

The Bible instructs us all to act like God. God's character is holiness, and we are commanded to follow suit (1Peter 1:16). God is love (1John 4:8). To imitate God is to imitate love, both to Him and to all those around you. God so loved the world that He gave (John 3:16). To imitate God is to be a cheerful, generous giver - to give God your very best in all things, at all times. You are made in the Image of God (Genesis 1:27), Who calls things that be not as though they were (Romans 4:17). To imitate God is to use words of faith with purpose and power to effectually change the circumstances of your life and the lives of others. The list can go on for a very, very long time.

Where is this change? How is it that so many observers in the world see no difference between Christians and non-Christians? Divorce rates are nearly the same on both sides. We are struggling financially the same way as non-believers (which is a violation of our Covenant with God). We die of the same diseases at the same young ages, despite the promise that by His stripes, we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). We watch the same movies, listen to the same music, dress in the same way, and talk about the same issues as the "world" - without the "cussin'." We need to take this more serious. We will stand before Jesus one day. What we do to change things now will effect how pleasant that first conversation will be.  

Ogden goes on to say, "those hostile to the church may not affirm what you believe, but they can't argue against the way you live."

28 June, 2011

What You CAN Do

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" Philippians 4:13 (KJV).

I need to hear this as much as anybody else. Even as I sit and reflect on these thoughts I am tired - tired of the financials, my living situation, the "stuff" of life. It's getting old. The Lord has made it clear that He is with us in all of this, to bring us out (not just grit our teeth and bear it). I would just like it if things would speed up. However, that part is on me. So I dive into these thoughts for us all - so that we might all see an acceleration of the manifestations of God's power in our lives.

I begin with a story, one that I try to mask as best I can for the (very small) chance it is read by the parties involved. It paves the way for what the Lord has been pressing on me today, so I take the risk. I had a professor in college who liked to read papers to the class. They would read small bits from the more profound projects of various people in class (always anonymous, of course). I worked my butt off time and time again in hopes of finally impressing the prof to the point of hearing something I wrote read and praised. Might I add, I learned in college that I am not profound in my thinking... Finally, in the middle of my third year, my paper was read - and boy do I wish it hadn't. I was to write a weekly summary paper reflecting on my thoughts and growth during the course. I made the mistake of very candidly explaining that I still had no idea what we were talking about each and every week. We were in week six out of ten. I got ripped (anonymously, of course). For those of you wanting to go to college: bring a dictionary. Professors do not explain themselves very well. I say all this because I had previously scheduled a meeting with this professor... for twenty minutes after this class ended *gulp* We conducted our business as if nothing happened. Then they looked at me, scary eyes and all, and said, "Don't you ever again tell me what you don't know."

Don't tell Me what you don't know. Don't tell Me what you can't do. I sense the Father takes a similar attitude with His children. I am not a parent, but I know that parents get annoyed when their kids complain about not being able to do things. Parents know what their children are capable of doing, and it bothers them to hear their kids say they can't do something. You try to encourage your kids as they grow up, yet they run around hollering "I can't, I can't! It's too hard!" or something of that nature. It becomes a battle of wills that is often quite exhausting. Most of the time, the child finally figures it (insert the "it" of your choice here) out, and the parent stifles back an "I told you so!" Our Father thinks the same way about His kids as earthly parents think about their own.

Religion has taught us to come before God grovelling in our inabilities, as a form of humility. It is based in a very poor understanding of what Biblical humility is. Yes, the Bible says to humble yourself under the Hand of God (1Peter 5:6). Yes, the Bible says God opposes the proud and regards the lowly (Psalm 138:6). Yes, Jesus said that apart from Him you cannot do anything (John 15:5). However, the Scripture also tells us to avoid the deception of self-abasement (Colossians 2:18), which means beating yourself up as a means of showing yourself as religious. The Bible calls it a fraud. Parents do not like hearing their children talk bad about themselves. What in the world has given Christians the idea that God is any different?! He hates it!

True Biblical humility is an understanding of what your physical limitations are in contrast to the Lord. Jesus said that without Him you can do nothing; but He also side He is with us now and until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). He said we have power because the Holy Spirit is upon (2Timothy 1:7). He said we can do anything with His Anointing upon us (Philippians 4:13). We do not go before the Lord saying what we can't do, but rather, we go before Him acknowledging what we can do in Him. God has great confidence in you, because He has great confidence in Himself - and He is dwelling in you. Prayers of "God we are so unworthy" are not Biblical prayers. "Lord, I need You" is a much better place to start. Humanity is the pinnacle of God's creation. We have been given dominion over all the works of His Hands (that's why the devil hates you so much). Jesus' sacrifice bought back that authority for us. So use it. Understand who you are and what you are capable of (I have a feeling someone is going to throw that back at me in the near future...). When you talk bad about yourself you are talking bad about someone God created and loves. He doesn't care for that too much. I suggest you stop, and find the balance of living humbly in your rightful place of dominion on this earth.

27 June, 2011

10 Days, Not 10 Minutes

Forgive the Sabbatical; it was unintentional. The past month I have been running on 'E' in my life. While there are some exciting opportunities on the horizon, the landscape immediately in front of Ally and I has been less than smooth. For someone who pushes the power of words so hard, I have not been doing myself many favors. Confusion has been the "talk of the town" at home. I should really learn to take my own advice. I know what God told me to do; it didn't make much sense, but then again, God's instructions haven't made sense for years. That should have been the key give-away that it was God. My plans make sense in my head, and then fall-apart in a blaze of glory (mostly blaze, little glory). Once we made a decision to follow, the hordes of hell unleashed in flurry. I was expecting that, but did not adequately prepare. Now, a month later, I am tired. My wife is tired. We burnt ourselves out, then turned to TV shows and video games to "relax." Those do not help. They only mask what is really going on. Never fear, Internet-Land, we are back. God snaps people out of their fits-of-stupid when given the opportunity. Which brings me to today's... Lesson??

Today I went back to the last thing God told me to do: Bible study first thing in the morning, book of Jeremiah, journal at the ready. I sleepily began in chapter 41 (I don't really remember much). I stood up, shook off the sleepies *insert Gollum-impression my wife hates here* and went on to chapter 42. Here we find a pack of refugees in the Judean wilderness. Their king is dead, the Chaldeans have been besieging them, Babylon has taken many of their kin captive. They turn to Jeremiah and ask him to go before the Lord to learn what His directions for these people are. As I am reading this story, verse 7 jumps off the page at me. It re-energized me as I read it a few times, and let it sink in. What I thought would be a struggle to give God another five minutes on The Couch, turned into an hour-and-a-half. [Note to any others out there struggling to give God the attention He deserves, doing so on The Couch (oh yes, it is The Couch) may not be the best idea]. Now that I have had my fun rambling, I think you should read the verse: 

"Now at the end of ten days the Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah"

Ten days?? I struggle to give God ten minutes! This makes sense as to why so many of us struggle to know what God is endeavoring to do in our lives. When was the last time any of us gave God ten full days to speak to us regarding the direction of our lives or ministries? Better yet, when was the last time we gave Him more then ten minutes to say much of anything? Our culture and generation is not designed for that kind of patience. We want things as fast as possible. Our attention spans have been shortened to that of a gnat. We do not handle silence well (in fact, I have music playing as I write this). Ten days. I couldn't continue reading, because I had to write this down. It was that impact-ful to my life at this moment, because of what the Lord is calling me to in the future. If I am ever to move further into the life of ministry God has spent all these years pointing me toward, I have to give Him more than ten minutes of my day. That has scared me in the past. I have not fully trusted myself to do that. The Word has been dry the past month, because I have not given the Lord time to work with it. It was my fault, not His. I gave up on the discipline and diligence required of any child of God.

There is no set "formula" for hearing from God. However, diligence is a necessity. It will not always take ten days to receive an answer from the Lord; yet it is just unlikely that you will receive an answer in ten minutes. Christianity is not microwavable. As I have said often before (and forgotten just as frequently), Jesus refers to the Word and the Kingdom of God as "seed" - which takes time to grow. The life of faith cannot be developed in ten-minute-per-day intervals. That is the blueprint for Christian defeat. Jesus instructs us to "seek" the Lord (Matthew 7). He is not hiding things from you. He is hiding things for you. But you have to put forth the work to find all that He has for you. You have to spend time with Him and His Word in order to develop the faith (Romans 4:17) and the confidence (Hebrews 10:35) necessary to receive the answers you desire from the Lord. 

You may not have ten days, but you have more than ten minutes. God desires quality over quantity. He knows how much time you have to give Him each day. Give Him the best of what you have to give; that is what is honoring to Him. The Lord says He gives honor to those who honor Him, and will lightly esteem those who despise (think little of) Him (1Samuel 2:30). What comes first, your family, your programs, your sleep, your stomach, or your God and His Word? The right answer is found when you give ear to the Lord. If you keep reading the story, you find that the people didn't like Jeremiah's response and went ahead and did their own thing. They died. I say we avoid that by giving God the time and honor He deserves (I'm going to hear from my wife on that one later...).

01 June, 2011

Silent Killers

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not look anxiously about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand" Isaiah 41:10.

This is not just a promise to Old Testament Israel, but to all of God's people. Remember that Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14) and that He never changes (Hebrews 13:8). His heart is the same for you today as it was when He first spoke those words. I was struck by that thought this morning as I was browsing through my Bible (I was looking for another verse nearby and stumbled upon this one highlighted). I have been struggling to stay faithful the past few weeks - yes, I am getting a tad personal, don't let it go to your head. I have had to take money out of our dwindling savings account and it "looks" like the job situation will never turn out. Thankfully, I have a wise (and growing wiser) wife, who I am not sucking up to in this moment, who snaps some sense into me. Then she goes and tells me to re-read everything I have been telling all of you nice people (a big thank you to all the folks in Denmark who read this thing). God is screaming to all who will listen "I will take care of you!"

Notice the commands in this verse. God is not making suggestions or giving us a nice encouraging word. He is instructing us to stop worrying about our lives. To allow fear and anxiety to remain in and effect your life is to disobey the word of God - something we in the biz call sin. Do not let this get confused with concern. We cannot live flippant lives in this world. You have to pay attention to things in life. You have to work where God has placed you. You have to pay your bills, watch after your children, and do all the other tasks in life. But to worry, fret or fear - that is something entirely different. The Bible is full of commands against worry, anxiety, doubts and fear. They are silent killers. They cultivate stress, which was never meant to enter your body. It will wear you down and take you out if it is allowed to remain. You body was never designed to handle it.

Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us to lean on God's wisdom and understanding of a situation, rather than our own. Our way created the problem - which I have pointed out many times before. The world's ways of doing things quit simply don't work. So why bring them into our lives and our churches? It may seem right to us on the outside, but the Bible says the end is the way of death (Proverbs). That is what we are seeing all over the world - even within the realm of Christianity. Our ways make the problem. His way fixes it. It is His wisdom that is needed - and He freely gives to those who ask and believe they receive it when they ask (James 1:5-8). Jesus said that we are to take no thought for our lives, but to focus primarily on Kingdom-advancement. That looks different for each and everyone of us. So take the time to sit quietly before the Lord and find out what that looks like in your life. Jesus said He would take care of the rest. He may give you a plan, He may just do it Himself. It is your job to find out which it is. Do not try to go fix a problem without His specific instructions on how to do so. Do not worry about tomorrow and the problems you see on the horizon - because God told you not to. Easier said then done? At first, but the more time you spend doing it the easier it will become. God cannot deviate from His Word, so take this passage to heart. we all have something that we need God's intervention in. He promised to take care of it for us, and that, for the household of faith, everything will be alright. I have no doubt that my wife will print this and make me read it everyday.

27 May, 2011

Rightly Divided.

How do we rightly divide the Scriptures? With other Scriptures.

As I was meditating on that thought this morning, I was reminded of IPeter 5:6, "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty Hand of God that He may exalt you at the proper time." I do not think we fully understand what that means. While it is our responsibility to humble ourselves in the Presence of God, we have not been doing it properly up to this point. Declaring our faultiness before God is not humility. In fact, it is forbidden in the Bible. Colossians 2:18 says "Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility..." Paul goes on to list a few other deceptions that will rob us of God's moving in our lives, but the first one he lists is false humility. Other translations label it as "self-absement." Beating yourself up is not what God had in mind when He had Peter wrote "humble yourselves." If that were the case, then the Bible would be contradicting Itself on this issue; and we know that is never the case.

Earthly parents do not enjoy listening to their children talk bad about themselves all day. They do not like listening to kids talk about what they cannot do, or that they are not worthy of something, or that they are no good/worthless/etc. Why do we think God would be any different? It's worse in God's Eyes, because He has given us the tools not to be this way! I could picture God "pulling His Hair out" at the sound of church people declaring their sinfulness in His Face. "God, we are so unworthy to be in Your Presence. We know we are sinful, and nothing we can ever do will be worthy of Your goodness. We do not know why You chose us. You should have done away with us..." God hates when you say that! We are His children, and any parent will tell you that they do not like hearing their kids talk that way about themselves, and God is no different. He created each of us intentionally with a purpose, in love, to live a righteous, full life in Him. For us to devalue ourselves in any way is to slap Him in the Face. Do you want to slap God? I don't.

What does the Bible say about us (not religion, catechisms, or dead theologians)? It says that we are the righteousness of God in Jesus (IICorinthians 5:17-21). He has given us His Spirit to grow in power and might, and that through Him we know all things (IJohn 2:20). It says we have been given every tool for life and godliness, found in a full knowledge of Him (IIPeter 1:3). And He gave us His Word so that we can grow in that knowledge of Him (IITimothy 3:16-17)! Hello?? Yet, to walk in self-abasement is to cripple yourself. Proverbs 23:7 says that we are what we think. If we declare ourselves as incapable, sinful, weak and confused, then that is what we will walk in. That is what many Christians do. No wonder so many people are getting ripped up by the devil! Jesus said that what we say and believe will happen will happen to us (Matthew 8:13; Mark 11:23). If you believe the pathetic description religion says of you over what God says about you, you will live in defeat from now until Jesus comes.

I once heard Kenneth Copeland challenge listeners to do an exercise in this area. He said take ICorinthians 13, the "Love chapter," and replace your name for the word "love." You are a child of God; you have the Spirit of God residing in you; God is Love (IJohn 4:8). Therefore, you are born of the incorruptible seed of Love, and that Love resides in you now. These verses reflect both God and us as His children. One other Christian author said he was challenged to do this same exercise (though I am sure it was not from Copeland). He later wrote about this challenge, and he said "by the end, don't you feel like a liar?" I wrote an emphatic "NO!" in the margin. If the Bible says I am the seed of God, and that His Love is shed abroad in my heart by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5), then I am all of these things listed in ICorinthians 13, regardless of how I feel. That would be calling God a liar. That is not how to rightly divide the Scriptures. We do not base anything the Bible says about us on how we feel. We tell our feelings to line-up with what the Bible says about us, not the other way around.

This area of humility is just one example of how to rightly read the Scriptures. We have to know more than one Scripture. The Bible says that everything needs to be established by two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6; IICorinthians 13:1; ITimothy 5:19). To base an idea off of one Scripture is very dangerous. The devil will use Scripture to twist your ideas about anything. Find more than one place in Scripture regarding any issue. What it says, goes. It you find something that goes contrary to what you learned in church, change what you talk about in church. If it makes you feel like a liar, say it anyway. The devil is the liar, not the Word. Faith is believing without seeing or feeling. You got to believe it before you can see it. You cannot believe it unless you know it exists. So find it.

26 May, 2011

What Did He SAY?

"His [Paul's] letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction" ~2Peter 3:16 (NIV).

I was thinking about this quite a bit this morning, as it is the foundation verse for the study I have been following the questions of healing. I find myself reflected in this verse. I have been around plenty of Scriptural distortion in my life. It's called liberal arts education. It's called living in the PNW. Combine some of the faithless teaching I had growing up, mixed with the lifeless religion I was surrounded with in college (and the horrors of "Medieval Christianity") and you get a young person who is ready to throw-in the towel. What is the root cause of this confusion? Ignorance.

People twist the Scriptures to say what they want it to say, so that it will line-up with whatever religious notions they have. A classic example that I won't go into right now is Paul's "thorn in the flesh" (2Corinthians 12:6). Many modern translations read that it was a painful ailment of some kind. The Bible does not say that. Paul said it was a "messenger of Satan." Who said he was sick? He didn't say that. God didn't say that. People made it up. Stop doing that.

Jesus instructed us to pray that God's Will be done on the earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:10). That informs me that that is currently not happening. For those out there who believe that God's Sovereignty means that everything that happens on this earth is a result of His Plan, do us a favor: don't talk. If God's Will were actually being done right now, the end result would be... HEAVEN! What does Heaven look like? Nobody is sick in Heaven. There is no poverty anywhere. Jewelry is construction equipment. There is nothing but peace, joy and prosperity. There is no confusion. There is no strife. There are no wars, genocides, racist divisions or democrats (too far??). Do you see that in the earth? Then God's Will is clearly not being done.

God never said His Sovereignty extended to the extent that everything He wants done happens? God is Sovereign outside of His Word. However, in His goodness and righteousness, He has actually limited Himself within the earthly realm. This is not to mention the fact that, through their sin, Adam and Eve relinquished control of this earth to the devil. God cannot waltz in and do whatever He wants - that is what Satan does. God's Will is that all people be saved (John 3:17; 2Peter 3:9). That is not happening. It is God's Will that all people live healthy, long lives. That's rarely even happening in the Church. It is obvious that this "Sovereignty" is not what we have made it out to be. What did God actually say about these issues? 

Ephesians 5:17 instructs us to know what the Will of the Lord is. We find that through time in His Word, fellowshipping with it and the Holy Spirit. While it is good and wonderful to look up to various men and women for guidance, it is important not to read the "Gospel of Piper" or the "Scriptures According to Driscoll" or what-not. I have heard too many sermons where an author was quoted more than Scripture. I have heard teaching that was based more in doctrinal book than The Book. That is why there is so much confusion regarding what God has said regarding His people. He calls this foolishness. I have heard it said in every church I have attended in my life "Lord, we do not understand why You do these things." Well, you are officially no longer living Biblically - and you are a fool. The Bible says we all have an unction of the Holy Spirit and we know all things (1John 2:20). That is what God says about you. If you say otherwise, you are calling Him a liar.

The Bible says that Jesus' stripes bought healing. Yet many people are sick. Many people are living life bound by a disease that God never intended. I have done this as many times as other people, I know what it is like: they pray for God to intervene, yet through in a "If it be Your Will." We pray more as a "let's see what God wants to do" inquiry, than we do effectual prayer. Without faith in what God actually said, nothing can be accomplished. James said it is the prayer of faith that heals (James 5:15). No faith, no results. No Word, no faith (Romans 10:17). 

God expects you to understand and believe what He said, not what some other person thinks He meant. Do not prayer "if it be Your Will," when the Scriptures already say what His Will is. Do not assume that just because something happened in your life it was the Will of God. Tragedy befalls this entire world; none of it is His Will. Jesus informed us that we will deal with persecutions (John 16:33), but not because He wanted them. He knows how our world is, and how messed up it will become before His return. He promised that the world is robbed of its power to harm us. Do not give that power back through ignorance and religious correctness. Take God at His Word - all of it. We never doubt it is God's Will to save someone, but we frequently doubt it is God's Will to heal or abundantly provide - but Jesus died for all three...