Monday, August 6, 2018

In What Do We Rejoice?

The motivation of our heart seems to be the most important thing to God.  I have always felt this was true but the older I get the more I believe it and believe it even to a greater degree.  We know that man looks on the outside of a man but God looks upon the heart.  We have learned that the mouth speaks words that in time reveals the motives of the heart.  Even if a person is trying to cover the secret thoughts of the heart in order to get their way, if we listen closely long enough we will hear the true motivations in their lives.  We need to be careful with whom we align ourselves.  We need to make sure that we don't join the ranks of those in whom we sense or discern dishonest motivations.  It can be tempting to do so and especially if it could mean a promotion for us personally.  But the Lord will see to it that sinful ways will come to an end and all those supporting these activities will fall with the false leadership.  In 1 Kings Chapter 1 we read the story of one of King David's sons, Adonijah.  While David appeared to be on his death bed, Adonijah acted to take by political maneuvering and manipulation the throne of his father.  It has to be noted that he was a spoiled child. David the king seemed to be inclined to use his great wealth to spoil his children.  Spoiling our children is a form of child abuse in light of the life ahead of that child and the repercussions in store.  Adonijah invited a very special list of guests to his self directed coronation as King. He invited his closest allies and those who would benefit from his gaining the Crown.  He did not invite Solomon his brother who was the rightful heir or Nathan the prophet who had no problems confronting sin and exposing lies.
A great party convenes around Adonijah's self appointment.  The Scripture tells us that Adonijah was very handsome, he surrounded himself with chariots and horsemen and 50 men to run before him.  He set up outwardly everything possible to demand respect and to cause the "Wow" factor to come into play. It worked at first and many people gathered around him to feast and celebrate.  They rejoiced in the elevation of the new king.  He had done everything possible to gain the throne outwardly or in an earthly manner but it didn't make it happen.  Heaven still held the keys to the Kingdom!  Now there would be a reckoning.  Where would the reckoning come?  It would come to those who rebelled outwardly and inwardly against the will and plan of the Lord.

We live in a day of grace, mercy and forgiveness.  However, even in an hour of grace the plans of the Lord still come to pass.  There is a price to pay for hidden motivations of the heart that are wicked and steeped in rebellion.  Men follow men to ruin.  Wrong motivations are attracted to wrong motivations in order to fulfill aspirations that are not in God's choosing.  We must not be deceived by artificial anointing.  We must separate ourselves from a spirit of antichrist and accept God's destiny upon our own lives.  Be careful with whom you celebrate and rejoice and remember that God requires wholehearted devotion.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Artificial Anointing

I had the privilege of taking part in a Conference of Pastors numbering in the thousands from around the world.  It was held in the old Georgia Dome which since has been imploded to make room for a newer, more modern stadium.  During this conference a Communion Service was held.  I was amazed at how efficiently a stadium filled with pastors could be served communion in a matter of minutes.  Then, I vividly remember receiving the elements of the Lord's Supper.  There was such a powerful manifestation of the Lord's Presence that we all began to bow at first and then stretch out as best we could on the floor.  There was a uniform experience of humility and awe as we all sensed God's Holy Presence.  I believe it was God's favor on unity.  This meeting was not a single denominational gathering but rather churches represented from all the major groups.  We were not worshipping in any earthly liturgy but purely from an instinctual response to God's obvious Presence.  I glanced up at one point and really thought I saw smoke or a thin cloud above the congregation.  My reaction was to get back on the floor again!

The Book of Acts is filled with expressions of God's power and presence among his people following Pentecost.  The progression of these events is important to see.  There is usually a seeking of God by man.  There is some expression of looking to God for help or wanting God's direction in some life event.  Humility seems to prick heaven and the answer comes!  Man responds with humility, thankfulness and obedience.  Man has looked to God as his source, God has lovingly responded to man's approach to heaven and man moves in obedience to God's provision or direction.  A charlatan is defined as one who claims to have special powers or abilities.  He bypasses the Biblical pattern of the relationship between God and man.  He might orchestrate events or apparent experiences to make the people believe God is doing supernatural things among them.  These acts are very deliberate efforts at deceiving God's people for personal gain.  Then there can be another type of deceiving not intentional at all.  It can be something as simple as in an instant of human excitement declaring that God is about to heal a person.  Certainly God can give a word to someone that healing is about to happen and the healing flows.  Yet, what about when in human zeal healing is declared and no healing follows?  This is a kind of charlatanry that seems innocent enough but charlatanry none the less.  It is wanting to see God work without the relational aspect between God and His people.  There is no faith, no relationship and certainly no humility.  It is like Simon the magician who wanted the power Peter represented and offered to buy such power.  Peter made it clear that Satan was behind such a desire for artificial anointing.  I once told a minister that I didn't want to see "wild fire" in the church to which he said, "I'd rather have wild fire than no fire at all!"  Wild fire,  strange fire or artificial anointing confuses the people of God.  When the genuine anointing comes it won't be appreciated and possibly not even recognized.  In the church we need to be very careful in our zeal and efforts to fill the house with people, that we are preaching Jesus and not promoting hype.  That we are standing strictly upon the Word of God and not upon what we would like it to say.  Once we align ourselves as individuals and as the Church in humility and awe at His goodness and grace, the real anointing will come and it will break the powers of darkness.  The house will be filled with the true restoration Glory and with those seeking a relationship with Him.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Purpose of Titles

There is deep within all a desire to be recognized.  The yearning to be admired by peers and to be seen as greater than ones own accomplishments.  I am reminded of King Saul when he was confronted with his sin by the Prophet Samuel.  Unlike the brokenness of King David when he found himself in a similar situation, Saul acknowledged his sin but had a request of self interest.  He asked the Prophet to go with him before the elders and Israel an an act of personal honor. "Honor me" he said.   How can one be honored when he has dishonored himself and most of all God.  Yet, this was very important to Saul.  He was more interested in looking like a righteousness man than being a righteous man. What a terrible thing Saul asked, "Honor me now!"  The cry came from deep within his own heart and deeper still from within the corporate heart of mankind.  We all, regardless of how we resist it, have an innate yearning to be exalted.  It took it's origin in Lucifer in heaven and was cast out of heaven to find a new lodging on earth in human form. " Honor me now" has been echoing throughout the universe ever since.  It even can be heard in the church.

In the early 1970's I was first exposed to what was called the five-fold ministry teaching based on Ephesians chapter 4.  I saw a powerful explanation of a functioning model of Kingdom Building in the earth through the Church.  It revealed the uniting of spiritual gifts in the church that could be identified, trained and activated by the ministry gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, the five fold ministry.  I was having coffee one day with a man who said the Lord spoke to him and told him that I was not a true pastor but that I was an apostle.  I had already started two churches as this point and was on my way to begin a third congregation.  I hadn't had a title up to that point.  The name or title bothered me internally and even embarrassed me.  Yet, I must admit that it felt good in a deeper place.  Too good!  Through the decades since I became known and was even introduced in meetings as an apostle.  It always was a bit troubling and yet it seemed to be the way the church world was going.  I did see that it could be a positive thing in the sense of having recognized leaders that could function and help build the church.  If it could help me serve the Church in a better way then that would be a good thing.  However, the discomfort never went away.  Once it was even suggested that we apostles be called Bishops and be ordained as such.  I couldn't even be a part of that discussion.  Looking back now I realize that these titles, at least for me, were not helping me to be a better servant but actually creating an elevated position where I could be better served.  I must say this loud and clear; I am not saying that others who are carrying titles are wrong or desiring elevation or to be served. I cannot judge others but I can judge my own heart.  Many years ago when others of my peers were choosing to wear clerical collars for a sign of humility was for me a sign of pride.  I wanted to do it and wanted to justify it.  For me, and me only, I could not.

Where has it taken us?  Again, I can't answer for any heart but my own.  My heart apart from Jesus is an evil thing.  It desires recognition and elevation all the while wanting that true motivation hidden from man.  Why does it matter?  It matters because Jesus has redeemed and emancipated His Bride, His Church.  Leaders in the Church must be men and women who desire from the heart to help liberate, equip and activate with no provision for self exaltation.  It seems to me that titles have not truly helped in that cause.  We all must decide for ourselves but many good lives have been ruined and many humble servants have become proud because of a simple Title.  Our heart cry must be, "EXALT HIM!"  It must not be honor me.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Is There Anything New...Really?

"What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun." Ecc. 1:9 ESV

I was lost in the Okefeenokee Swamp for a day when I was about 12.  I grew up just a few miles from the center of the famous "land of the trembling earth." That is the meaning of the Indian word Okefeenokee.  I went into the swamp in a truck with another guy and we "stuck" the truck in the mud and decided to walk out.  We started walking out in the middle of the morning and were still walking without any idea of where we were when the sun set.  We thought we were making progress until we looked down and saw our our footprints from a few hours earlier.  Interestingly enough, until we saw the footprints we thought we were actually covering new ground!  It is possible to be lost and think you are making progress.

There was a time back into 1980's when it became popular to teach "new revelations". Familiar teachings from the Bible became a little out of vogue.  Of course no one would admit it but you could feel a little boredom with the old paths.  The way we became lost in the first place in the swamp was when the older guy I was with made the decision to leave the familiar way by which we entered the swamp in order to find a shorter route home.  I remember asking, "are you sure we should leave the way we know?"  He assured me he could get us home via a shortcut. Well, that didn't work out so well.  Of course the only damage done was our pride and a few scrapes and bug bites.  What made us decide to leave the old paths that had been used since the ancient tribes made them?  Laziness was a big factor but I think pride was the motivating force.  We left our pride in the great swamp that day.  

When it comes to Christian Doctrine and Biblical interpretation much more is at stake than our pride.  It is a dangerous thing to walk away from the ancient paths of our forefathers to find a shortcut to the Kingdom of God.  The old paths of hundreds of years have been established by devotion, spiritual hunger and Divine revelation.  They have been received in the atmosphere of humility from a stance of neutrality.  Pride causes man to believe he has a new revelation that history never saw or understood. Even as I write that last sentence I think, "what arrogance!  Certainly there are new lessons to be learned and new revelation to be gained. But what a frightening place for the preacher of the "new" and for those accepting it because of their faith in the preacher.  I'll leave you with an ancient path to trod. 1 John 4:4 "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world,"

Monday, April 2, 2018

Nothing Needing Doing

[1Sa 12:16 ESV] 16 "Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the LORD will do before your eyes."

In the Church world we talk a great deal about all we need to do as Believers.  It is true that we need to practice our Faith in real tangible ways.  Obedience is the true mark of faith.  However, there are times when that "going" mentality can actually serve us badly.  For example when we are instructed by the Lord to "stand still!"  In the verse above the command goes out to "stand still".  I must confess that I don't do too well standing still.  I never did!  As I view the church world today I'm not sure very many Christians do as well with standing still as they do with going forth.  We like the activity of going with the drive to complete a task. It is exhilarating. In all honesty much of the church world is what my Grandmother would have called "fidgety."  If you study the book of Exodus you get the idea that Israel sat or camped before the Lord a lot more than they moved before the Lord.  A fidgety spirit is probably a symptom of a lack of faith on the part of the fidgety.  A spirit of rest is a part of the foundation of our stance of faith.  From our foundation up the rest in our feet will affect the success of our hands.   There are a lot of "stand stills" in the Bible once you start searching them out.  I'm learning (and I never stop learning) that I can only really stand still when I am standing in faith in the last instruction I heard from the Lord.  It might have been a Bible verse, a quiet whisper heard in prayer or a word from another believer that rang the bell of Truth inside my heart.  

Recently Teresa was given the diagnosis we all never want to hear.  Oh, I have been there when many others heard that simple word.  That simple word of cancer.  As a supporter of others I have been there to pray and encourage.  But when I heard it regarding Teresa it shook my spiritual equilibrium a little I must admit.  It took about a day or two to regain a focus of faith.  I don't mean that "regain" in a doing sense but in a "standing still" sense.  Then after a few days I heard that small voice say, "there is nothing you need to do in this."  I'm not sure I have ever heard those words in the face of a crisis before.  In the past I have had "regrets", "I wish I had" and "I'm going to do more now" moments that bothered me and added to the load of the moment.  This time I had this anointing to stand still.  Now we are resting in His peaceful words of stand still and see!  Where does this apply to you today?  Just remember that the stand still in God's plan is always followed by , "and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes!"

Monday, March 5, 2018

Christian Martyrs

Tortullian an ancient theologian said, "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."  That has been accepted as fact until recently when statistics and graphs have been compared to question the validity of the statement.  Of course we know from the book of Acts that it was persecution of the first century church that drove the church outward from Jerusalem taking the Gospel message to a non Christian world.  If it is not true today then it might be an indictment upon present day believers and our level of faith and devotion to Christ and His Kingdom.  Are we willing to die for our faith and are we willing to live for our faith.  Living for our faith may be more difficult at times than actually dying for it.  Then the question arises, "can you live for the Faith without dying for the Faith?  I am writing this as one who has been young and now I'm older.  I once trained teams to go out into the "highways and hedges and compel them to come in." This phrase is taken from Luke 14:23,
"And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled."  The word here for "highways" mean a well traveled path.  We can see the secular world going about their busyness without much knowledge of God, His ways or His desire to become a part of their lives or endeavors.  The word "hedges" used here is a really interesting word.  The Greek definition for this word is something that hinders crossing or preventing from coming together.  The world and it's busyness and/or business and enterprise must be entered in order to bring the Gospel to them and present to them the Kingdom of God.  We must get through the hedge and not be afraid of it.  

My old way was to take disciples out on a planned adventure to confront people in malls and street corners in an effort to see them accept Jesus Christ as savior.  Some did!  Forty years ago the culture was more conducive to such tactics than they are today.  But is it possible that I was a little off even back then?  It is hard even to write that.  I'm so called "retired" now and have been for about 3 years now.  I still give pastoral input to some spiritual sons, I still preach some and teach discipleship classes, etc.  But what I am really enjoying is living outside the laboratory environment and living out in the highways and hedges.  I'm living among and enjoying friendship with people the likes of which I haven't had relationships with since I was saved several decades ago.  In honesty I didn't have time for the people of the world because I was busy running the church. I was always telllng people to get out there "among them" and make a difference.  Some did and some didn't.  Maybe most didn't.
After over 3 years now of living this life I'm seeing the fruit that comes by affecting people without a plan but by just living, talking and listening. Listening is more important and I'm not that good at it but I'm working on it.  It is hard to just live the life you believe in and let the Holy Spirit work through you as His vessel day by day.  Why should that be so hard?  Because we have been trained and conditioned to stop being who we are a night a week or for a week once a year and put on our missionary hat.  That was never God's intention.  From the beginning it was about me being changed/converted, growing in my love for Jesus and His Word, living among the world, out in the highways and hedges and serving them there.  Yes, serving the world!  Serve them away from the hedges and serve them to Jesus himself! Acts 1:8 tells us,But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  This verse tells us that it will be the Holy Spirit that empowers us to be witnesses.  The Greek word here is martyr.  The Holy Spirit will empower us to be martyrs for Christ to the world.  There will be days when that may mean knocking on the doors of strangers.  The balance of that is that every day we are already commissioned and empowered to be martyrs to the world.  We are servants to the world in the name and power of Jesus the Supreme example of servant hood leading to redemption.  As I leave my home these days I find myself praying less for converts and more that the Holy Spirit will help me prefer and serve others.  Guess what?  It ain't easy!  It involves death to self!  I believe in this sense that the "blood of the martyrs (servants) is the life of the Church!


Monday, February 12, 2018

The Burden of Prayer

My wife Teresa's Mother was a woman of prayer.  I could write a number of examples of her being awakened in the night or remaining awake for hours with the burden of prayer for someone.  One such occasion was a burden in the middle of the night for a missionary and his wife stationed on the other side of the globe in Singapore.  She prayed for them for hours.  She recorded the date and time of the burden and prayer.  This was before the days of social media or email.  She wrote a letter and asked the missionary about the time and date she had recorded.  He wrote back  and said, "Oh yes, that was when my wife was in labor with our daughter.  The Doctor told us that he was concerned that complications required that we make a decision to save either the mother or the child!"  They told the Doctor that they could not make such a decision.   Both mother and child came through the trial without harm!  Praise God for his power and intervention!  Praise God for His praying saints!

The burden of prayer is not intended to cause worry and dread.  Yet, it can seem that way when a believer becomes aware of a concern.  It is troubling because it can come without a shred of physical evidence of anything wrong.  There are times when you can sense a burden for someone without knowing any circumstances or details.  For the new intercessor it can be a troubling pattern of thoughts that is simply cast aside into the busyness of the day.  Each time we neglect the stirring of the Holy Spirit in our thought life we desensitize our spirit man even more.  But when we bring the thing to the Lord in prayer, even without understanding, we qualify for more usefulness to God.  How long should you pray about the burden or what feels like heaviness?  Until the burden is lifted!  That is what past generations of intercessors called "praying through!"  The lifting of the burden could be a momentary thing.  At times it might be a continuing prayer reminder that resurfaces for days in the Spirit.  The important thing is not to just suppose you are having random thoughts.  Your random thoughts may be very strategic leadership of the Holy Spirit enlisting you to enter spiritual warfare prayer on behalf of someone else in need.  Who knows how many others may be fighting the same spiritual battle for the same need you are engaging in prayer?

May we slow down today in our busy lives and keep an open ear to heaven for Kingdom purposes and assignments.

In What Do We Rejoice?

The motivation of our heart seems to be the most important thing to God.  I have always felt this was true but the older I get the more I be...