Restricting God – Let Me Count the Ways…

Many of us are frequently stirred and humbled by the testimonies of missionaries and servants of God. From Biblical times to present day, men and women proclaim the power of God as He leads them to hidden places of suffering. Surrendered vessels who seem totally insignificant become agents of Most High God, affecting lives for eternity.

And we want that too! Who wouldn’t want their temporary life here to matter in God’s Kingdom? Who, knowing the Lord, wouldn’t want all His purposes and intentions come to fruition? And so we too cry out, perhaps at an altar, perhaps in our private prayer….

“Lord, use me, send me! I want my life to matter, to count…”

isaiah1

THEN our flesh speaks ‘sense’ into our cry,

“BUT Lord…”
….don’t send me any place hot, you know how I hate the heat. I would be miserable
….you know I couldn’t go very far, you know my limits, I have responsibilities…
….don’t send me to blah-blah, I could never eat that food, and the bugs are ginormous. Agh, Lord send someone else there
….send me to truly needy people, not to those blah-blah; they’re always trying to rip off the system
….I would serve in a hospital ministry but the germs… and who really knows if those comatose people can even hear the Gospel?
….prisons are, well, dangerous. I’m too old….I’m too young
….please don’t call me to serve in my own neighborhood,  that’s too boring!
….if I go there, if I do that – wouldn’t I lose everything?

By the time we’re finished we’re no longer stirred…we’re discouraged!

Underneath is unbelief  which doesn’t really restrict God but restricts us from grasping His best for our lives.

American Christianity may have a foundational flaw embedded from our culture of ‘rugged individualism’ and ‘opportunity’ and ‘freedom’. We defend the rights to excel, possess, invest and express.  True Christianity smashes that self-reliant lifestyle. No one naturally wants to die to ‘self’ but when we resist complete surrender, resist the cross of Christ, we risk missing His perfect call upon our lives.

“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”  Jonah 2:8

I for one am not at the place of total surrender. I want to be though, especially in these last days where prophecy points to the soon return of our Lord. I hope for a deeper burden for the lost, not stoked by fleeting and temporal emotions, but one birthed by the Holy Spirit which defies my emotions and intellect.

Would anyone join me in prayer?

“Lord, thank you for saving me and abiding within me. I believe that, no matter what failures mark my life, no matter how ordinary or limited I perceive my life, You are not limited and You can never fail. I pray for a calling, a heavenly burden that will overshadow and nullify every fear and obstacle. Help me to trust You, Lord. Don’t let me imagine remote and ‘fantastic’ things while missing the ‘woman at the well’. Loosen my grip on the things of this world and help me to walk with a view of eternity. In Jesus name, Amen.”

“God promises not just to save us but to give us a full and meaningful life.”  

“We are called to be a testimony to the world that God is alive.”

(Pastor Carter Conlon, Times Square Church)

 

 

World To God: “DON’T DISTURB OUR CONSCIENCE!”

The below posted brief film gained notoriety as it was recently banned in France. (Perhaps being banned brought it forward to greater limelight than otherwise possible!)

Films and literature are subject to scrutiny and outright ban when governing authorities deem the content to be intolerably offensive – politically, morally, and/or socially. Banning films or literature serves to punctuate the prevailing values and agendas of society.

So why was this film banned in France?

“The court said the video’s depiction of happy Down syndrome children is ‘likely to disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices.’ “

(Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/442735/dear-future-mom-down-syndrome-anti-abortion-video-ban-france)

In France, 96% of unborn babies found with Down Syndrome are aborted.

From the beginning of time, man embraced the delusion that the freedom to rebel against God somehow empowers us. This ‘freedom’ and heady independence from the ways of God emboldens us to rename immorality and cloak it with glamour and allurement. We boast ‘we are free!’ while in fact there is no greater task master than sin.

Biblical passages, such as Ephesians 2:1-3, describe this present world as under the dominion of Satan,

“..the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient”

In Ephesians and elsewhere, the Apostle Paul declares that ‘rulers’, ‘authorities’ and ‘powers of this dark world’ dominate our culture. There is a progressive course of rebellion, laying foundation to accept and redefine sin, deceiving man into celebrating sin and finally and futilely, raising up standards against the inner conviction of sin.

                       WORLD TO GOD: “DON’T DISTURB OUR CONSCIENCE!”

This is a sobering quest of the last days.  It is the dark zeal that animates parades and entertainment that celebrate offenses against God.  Killing our conscience, that alarm installed by God to warn of danger, consequence and judgment is a futile and desperate denial of Sovereign God.

The final destination of man’s darkened heart, revealed in the fearful coming judgment….

“The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood – idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” (Revelation 9:20-21)

… appears to be an inability to repent in spite of horrific acts of judgment.

Revelation chapter 11 describes ‘two witnesses’, sent by God and endowed with His power. Ordained by God to prophesize and testify for 1,260 days, these two messengers are murdered and their deaths are celebrated by the whole world…. “Don’t disturb our conscience!”                                                

Jesus, the Light of the world, left us here to be the light of the world. Light of the world, not friend to the world. The gulf between light and dark is broadening and fortifying.  Those  Brethren who choose to stand in God’s light, upholding Biblical truths in the power of the Holy Spirit, is shrinking.  We can expect this: the ‘church’ will continue to downward spiral, compromise and apostasy will make nominal Christians enemies of God. As the great ‘falling away’ steadily progresses,  the Body of Christ will be His remnant left in the world.

Our plea to the world has not changed, “Be reconciled to God” (II Corinthians 5:20) Neither has the message of salvation by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, His forgiveness of sins for all who sincerely repent. And steadfast is the promise of the resurrection, new life and life eternal for those who trust and obey. We cannot change, soften, or compromise the message as the darkness aggressively resists.

Our call, from before the world began, also remains. “Stand”, “watch” and “pray”, steadfast in faith wherever we are, believing that He has put ‘the parts of the body exactly where He wants them.’ Be ready with that undying plea to man from heaven. No one knows who around us will hear and receive the Gospel truth and cross over the gulf from death to life.

The celebration of sin, the banning of life and hope, should truly propel us deeper into the word of God and separate us further from the ways of this world. Viewing the world with the heart of Christ should birth in us both discernment and deep grief.

“We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19

Let us commit to exalt and honor God. In mercy for our fellow man and in defiance of the wicked one, let seek God each day, speak the truth of the whole gospel of Christ wherever He assigns us.  Let us pray fervently that the Holy Spirit will enable us to  disturb the conscience of those who are perishing, that they may come to their senses and be reconciled to God.

The Biggest Obstacle to America’s Greatness

There is, actually, something phenomenal about political conventions. The most talented public relation persons convene together and engineer an exhilarating and memorable event. Emotional speeches target the issues of the public heart while our eyes and ears feast on sensory glory. Even the skeptic is hard pressed to rally.

rnc II

Making America great again is as easy as…

house in landslide

making this house great again.

We cannot make America “great again” or “safe again” no matter how many sincerely strive to do so or hope to recreate former days of simplicity and order.  The protective hedges of reverence and shame are trampled down.   Beyond moral decay, we are now well into a moral landslide.

Contrary to the sentimental interpretations of many evangelical Christians, America is not a Christian Nation, if one could ever be. We did not collectively surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our country was, however, grounded and secured in Christian morals. Adherence to Biblical morals and values structured our government, laws, courts, and societal mores. Since man does reap what he sows, Americans prospered under the principles of work ethics, religious reverence, and respect for government and law enforcement. Without the Lordship of Jesus Christ, ethics, morals, values, and ‘reverence’ all become relative and fluid, increasingly conforming to man’s sinful and rebellious nature that opposes God’s authority. In fact, we no longer tolerate nor even acknowledge God’s authority.

The fear of God “keeps us from sinning”, “is the beginning of wisdom” and leads us to His presence, salvation, and deliverance;  the total disregard of God’s authority leads to flagrant unashamed sin, foolishness, and peril. More law, more programs, more rhetoric will never curtail the harvest we are reaping.

The political process can be invigorating and empowering. It is captivating and deceiving, drawing man into the dynamics of this world system with himself as an agent of change. Many ‘Christians’ partake of political activities to promote ‘Christian values’.   It is a tremendous release of the ‘human spirit’ to rally around changing the world….not to be confused with the release of the Holy Spirit that changes man’s heart.

The end times, Jesus declared, “would be like the days of Noah”, a time where every inclination of man was wicked. In the days of Noah, everyone ate, drank and married – oblivious to God’s ominous judgment.  And moreover,

“God’s heart was filled with pain”.  (Genesis 6:6)

God may well be the ‘biggest obstacle’ to America’s greatness. Peace and prosperity is never the reward for prideful rebellion; God said “the wages of sin is death”. But as in the days of Noah, there is refuge, there is hope, there is deliverance and salvation. “I am the gate” declared Jesus, “whoever enters through Me will be saved.” The gate opens to our life through repentance, receiving the gift of forgiveness given by the cross.

As part of the world, America will join and collaborate with every nation to fulfill prophecies of a one world government. It will be no greater than any other country under the domain of the powerful charismatic leadership of the anti-Christ. Let us as believers though, find our greatness under the authority of God and the power of the cross as God exalts the humble….

“Lord, let us be vessels of Your Holy Spirit in these last days. Let us find our strength in separation from the world and intimacy with you. Prepare our hearts to minister Your love and truth so that, when calamity strikes and the hollow pillars tumble, we can represent You and be a salve from heaven. Sour our eyes for the things of this world and draw us nearer to You. I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

“…God Sends Them a Powerful Delusion..”

“They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (II Thessalonians 2:10b and 11)

No matter how you turn these verses, the core meaning is fearful – God is taking action that will seal the doom of those who refuse to love the truth. Note, the verse does not point to those who don’t know the truth, but those who refuse to love the truth. This chapter speaks of both apostasy – “the rebellion”- and the antichrist, “man of lawlessness”. Many people, believers and unbelievers alike, lend an ongoing and lively curiosity to the arrival of the antichrist, sizing up various politicians, religious leaders, and world leaders. Many take great care to somehow ‘discover’ who this diabolical leader will be. However, few Christians are lamenting over the “great falling away” spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24.

Pastor David Wilkerson spoke of this ‘powerful delusion’ and the’ lie’ which the fallen will believe: “…the ‘lie’ is the same one Eve believed, ‘you can sin and get away with it. God will not punish you.’” I believe that the seeds of this lie grow and bear fruit as they are watered by love of self and a fearless propensity to contort the word of God. A demonic empowerment, grossly mistaken for anointing, emboldens church leadership to wrap Scripture around human logic and reasoning…“You can get away with sin, God will not punish you, He’s a God of mercy…wait a minute, is this really a sin? ‘This’ is love…love can’t be sin so this cannot be a sin, therefore God would not punish this and, moreover, God agrees with this. This is a good thing! Yes, that’s right, we should celebrate!”

“’Delusion’ is stronger than deception. Deception means that a person can be fooled about something. Delusion is a way of life in which one is perpetually deceived. People under delusion harden their heart permanently.” Dr. Grant Richison, Verse by Verse Commentary website

A tremendous amount of money, public relations, political backing and cultural grooming has been invested into transforming homosexuality from unnatural and ungodly to innate and celebrated. Is it ungodly? Even a spandex Bible could not stretch the truth far enough. Is it unnatural? Can anyone really insist, “it is natural for a man to put…” no, it isn’t.

The power of this agenda further creates a cultural divide as it asserts a wrong accusation:  if you’re not aligned with us, you are haters.  What?  Any loving parent – any loving person in fact- knows that love can withstand and exist within disagreement and differences.

As a parole officer I once supervised a middle aged masculine lesbian who lived with her ‘wife’. She was hostile to law enforcement which was greatly heightened toward me when I violated her parole. After spending time in jail, she was released to my caseload again, much to my dismay. I was amazed however when she came back into my office….her whole countenance had changed, she had a true peace. She shared with me, “I came to know the Lord in jail” and described her baptism and Bible study. She left the ‘gay’ lifestyle. I was in awe of the Lord’s transforming power as every week she presented as more and more feminine until she was wearing dresses.  She often shared about the life changes God brought about in her, lamenting one day, “How could I have done such disgusting things?”

Today’s apostate church would have celebrated her fallen state, validated her sin and obscured the life transforming power of Christ’s salvation and deliverance.  

The sinful seed in the demonic challenge, “did God really say” – is brought to utter fruition by the delusion sent by God. While the Lord invites the sinner and mercifully chastises the carnal Christian, there is little hope for those who rush forth to misrepresent and slander the word of the Sovereign and Holy God. Who can deliver you if God Himself sends a powerful delusion upon you, a precursor to condemnation?

There is a dark net launched and hovering over the world in preparation of the antichrist. The corruption of entire denominations facilitates the ‘coming together’ of many into one faith, with compromise as its cornerstone. True believers in the west will be tested as the Lord calls upon us to “stand”, “watch” and “pray”. “Let us not give up meeting together” but commit to encouraging, admonishing and ‘loving one another deeply’ in the Lord. As is the Body of Christ elsewhere in the world, we will be hated and ostracized by unbelievers and worse – by those who have fallen away. Those who have known the faith have the greater vantage point to oppose and betray. But the Lord is our Defender, our Advocate, and our High Priest.

May we stand faithful in the shadow of God’s Son, together under the authority of His sovereign Word and be that ‘one’…

“This is the one I esteem; he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:2)

The Most Devastating Sign of The End Times

Bible believers, followers of the Lord, are increasingly engaged with scriptural studies of the end times, eschatology. This is a good and vital part of our faith as believers of both the Old and New Testaments were called to watch for the fulfillment of prophecies. The prophets of the Old Testament had their spiritual eyes set upon the coming Messiah and today believers are called to focus on His glorious return. While so many are busy with timetable charts and configurations, few are expounding on the most devastating indicator of these end times. It is prevailing, overwhelming, and prolific enough to undergird every sin and pave the way for other end time events…even ushering in and celebrating the rise of the Antichrist.

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days, people will be lovers of themselves…” II Timothy 3:1-5

eselflove

If religion is “a system of faith and worship” then self-love would be today’s prevailing faith.

The cost and consequence of this love of self is rarely truthfully exposed. Self-love corrodes marital foundations as spouses increasingly seek to ‘fulfill themselves’ with selfish pleasures. Youths are encouraged to explore every venue of sexuality without restraint or consequence. Lovers of themselves put themselves before their unborn child, their spouse, their neighbor, and their Maker. From this root of‘love’ springs forth the “lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power…”  (II Timothy 3)

Why should this self-love concern ‘believers’?

“Lovers of self” is foundational to end time apostasy, ‘the great apostasy’, the great falling away. How so?

Through our worship. “Do not love the world” declared the elderly Apostle John but if he were to enter into much of our worship he would see both a love and imitation of the world. The spirit of this world appeals to our flesh and leads us to gratify ourselves in every way. Godly wordage aside, much of the ‘worship’ thronged after in American churches tantalizes our flesh and elates our emotions. This euphoric experience utilizes the same dynamics as a rock concert – invigorating music, strobing lights, even fog machines. Nothing is missing in these massive gatherings except the Holy Spirit.

Through our compromise. If there be lacking in the ‘whole counsel of God’ there is no counsel of God therein. In our ‘love for the world’ we have become like the world, excusing and redefining sin, omitting the preaching of hell, and neglecting the Lord’s admonishment to watch for His return as Judge and King. Not wanting to miss what this world has to offer, many throng to megachurches where the leadership enjoys kingdom living in this world – private jets, elaborate compounds, and extravagant incomes. Worship and church together are formidable and lucrative businesses today and sadly, we are content with euphoric worship and prosperity. Sanctification, a pursuit of holiness which is the crux of our Christian walk, is the most unpopular doctrine of the day.

Through our ecumenicalism. We are surely called to embrace our brethren from every tribe, every nation, and every tongue. We are to love the Body of Christ as we love the Lord Himself. But we are not called to – and strongly cautioned against – embracing every church doctrine, belief, and practice. “Small is the gate, narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” declared Jesus. However many believe that this gate can surely be widened for the sake of love, to include lifestyles, beliefs, and practices forbidden by the Word of God.

Who are we appeasing in this great movement of ‘togetherness’? Our carnal nature is that which wants to belong, wants to be loved, wants to be affirmed. Churches no longer esteem humility and fear of God but empowerment, success, and celebrity status.

The most devastating sign of the end times is not the sinful state of the world, it’s the worldly state of the church!

The Apostle Paul warned “there will be terrible times” and our only refuge as believers is to trust in the Word of God, His whole counsel and to do so we must know the Word of God. Orderly worship, the singing of hymns, presenting a word of instruction, “devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” describes church life of the early believers, those who had closest proximity to Jesus and the Apostles. There would be nothing to inflame the flesh, no lofty goals to fill giant stadiums, nor slogans to ‘change the world’ for Jesus.

There are perilous days ahead and a grooming underway for a one world church. Christendom will come to a great divide. Do we recognize the Jesus of the Bible where we worship?  He is found on one narrow road…

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”      Luke 9:23

A church with such followers – even if just two or three are gathered – have the greatest worth as useful vessels for the Kingdom of God if  Christ be in their midst.

God’s Candidate Will Win

elephant and donkey

We, as a people and nation, are in a different place than we were eight years ago. Without delineating the prevailing issues, it is enough to say that the church has become increasingly irrelevant except where it is seen as a voting bloc. Data bases of megachurches reveal clusters of thousands in the US and an unknown vast number of smaller community churches. When has so many people had such little impact at such a critical time?

Even worse, the churches ‘call to action’ amounts to courting political candidates whose views may be somehow contorted into a moral or religious framework. Christian colleges, ministries, media programs, and countless churches rally around a prospective president as if he or she could be a mini-savior, representing Christian viewpoints to our country. As citizens it is our right to vote. However, wooing worldly men to represent godly views is fruitless. The Lord saves us and calls us to represent Him ourselves – to abdicate this holy call to anyone else, to a politician, disqualifies us in the race.

Why coddle candidates or strategize campaigns? Be assured, God Himself has chosen a candidate and no one will thwart His plans.

“No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man. But it is God who judges: He brings one down, He exalts another.” Psalm 75:6-7

Sovereign God raises up prophets, kings, pharaohs and presidents. He uses the godly and wicked to serve His divine purposes: one to proclaim God’s truths that will ultimately reconcile man to God, the other to display His glory, His power and as His rods to chastise and refine, also to reconcile man to God. God declared to Pharaoh, the enemy and enslaver of His people, “I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you My power and that My Name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16)

Rather than ‘picking up our cross’, American Christianity espouses a worldly mixture of faith:

  • Jesus came that we might have a good life
  • God is ‘for’ America and the ‘American Way’
  • God does not judge sin

Not only do these tenets bear bad fruit in our lives but worse, we export them to other countries through various prosperity ministries. If God loves us, if He is calling us and drawing us to Himself, He may raise leaders and circumstances that will set fire to our lukewarm floundering faith. After years of godly warnings, God raised up Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, to invade and desolate Jerusalem as a painful rod of chastisement to crush the unbelief and unfaithfulness of His people. His heart was to restore them as faithful to Him, separated from this world.  While as good citizens we may defend and protect our fellow citizens, prideful allegiance to any country, any world system or ‘way of life’ is adultery toward God. Except for the prophetic promises for Israel, God is not ‘for’ any country. Sad to state, God is not ‘for’ America.

“Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales…Before Him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by Him as worthless and less than nothing.” Isaiah 40:15, 17

And, sad to state, America is not ‘for’ God. As all the world, it will voluntarily come under the domain of the Antichrist. What is of great and eternal worth to God? God’s people, true believers, are His treasured possession – He will defend us, protect us, and endow us with His presence wherever we are.

Who is God’s presidential candidate?

It is not the one who passes the ‘Christian Value Litmus Test’. We cannot try to elect a president to ‘sanitize’ or ‘Christianize’ the United States. Believers are not called in any way to pump life into this condemned world, to make America great, bolster the stock market, or champion civil liberties. Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” Do we believe Him?

God’s candidate may unknowingly hold a powerful unspoken promise, “Vote for me.  I will bring about the chastisement and discipline of God. Under my leadership, you will be brought to your knees, crying out to Him!” God may ordain the leadership and circumstances that shake us and bring us prostrate before Him: calamity, economic downfall, the uprising of enemies, natural disaster.  The Lord’s only campaign is for men to turn to Him and find eternal life and forgiveness through the cross of Christ.

Beloved, the alternative to God’s painful discipline is not prosperity, it is abandonment.

The Lord has already chosen His candidate and no amount of campaigning will change that. He Himself erects authorities in the world and they will suit His eternal purpose and fulfill the expressed prophecies of His unchanging word. I pray that we are not in the least swayed by political promises or put our hope in any man.  Pray that the Lord’s ordained candidate and circumstances miraculously and mercifully lead our nation into repentance. The fearful alternative is that God ushers in a president that sustains our implosion of sin and fortifies the lie we have been living, that we can sin and get away with it and by the way, there is no such thing as sin. A prelude to coming Judgment.

It’s time for us, GOD’S ELECT, the Body of Christ, to rise up and take up our office in Christ, shut in with Him and come forth with a fresh and living word to restore and renew our lost nation.

“No one is like You, O Lord; You are great, and Your name is mighty in power. Who should not revere You, O King of the nations?” Jeremiah 10:6-7

Christian Counseling or Counseling in Christ?

Firstly, what is Christian counseling? Typically, ‘Christian counseling’ offers therapeutic interventions by a therapist who subscribes to the Christian faith. Reference may be made to the Bible and godly principles however a Christian therapist is trained to assess, analyze, utilize treatment modals, and maintain ongoing notes of a client’s history, presenting problems, coping skills, and treatment goals. Christian therapists are professionals that will employ techniques from various psychologists and psychiatrists to address grief, anxiety, depression, and averse or addictive behaviors. (Note: someone suicidal or homicidal requires immediate crisis intervention at the closest facility).

When the Apostle Paul declared, “Mark this, there will be terrible times in the last days”, he was not exaggerating, he was warning. Believers in Christ are living in those ‘terrible times’ and few are spared from the ravages of sin and the grief brought through others’ sins upon us, physical disease, great personal loss, and deprivation. Many of us find ourselves facing emotional pain and confusion. We belief in God, we go to church yet our lives become surprisingly ruined by calamity. Will Christian counseling help? What could be wrong with Christian counseling?

Today much of ‘Christian counseling’ is a misnomer, “a wrong or inaccurate name or designation”. What a Christian in crisis needs is counseling in Christ.

For the believer in Jesus, every painful upheaval, every fiery arrow, every fearful precipice, brings us to critical crossroads. Suffering can deeply challenge our faith and force us to reaffirm.
Do we believe?

  • that the Lord knows every minute detail of our situation and pain and understands every aspect?
  • that He foresaw every calamity and perhaps orchestrated the trial?  If our lives belong to Him, it is He alone who can lower the hedges of our life.  Do we believe that the Lord is sovereign,  with full control and authority over every power in heaven and on earth?
  • that, sovereign and all powerful, God alone can make our enemies His servants?  Do we believe that God can bring healing to deep wounds and deliver us from every snare?
  • that the power of the cross, the blood of Christ, cleanses us from every sin?  And moreover, avails to us His indwelling Holy Spirit with power to break every curse, loose every chain, and overcome spiritual and fleshly bondage?
  • that we are chosen by Him, His ‘treasured possession’ and that He truly loves us?

What do we believe?

The critical question at junctures of suffering and confusion is this: Are we determined to empower the flesh or defer to a living faith in the power of God?

“Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power.” (Proverbs 8:14)

The Lord has no need to assess the problem, explore our family background, or development treatment options. He is not interested in certificates or diplomas – He declares “Jesus the power and wisdom of God”. “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? …For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom…” (I Corinthians 1:20-25). When we leave a counseling session, having poured out our emotions, described the pain, and handed over a hefty hourly fee have we found enlightenment, living waters, an anointing upon us…true power to heal and deliver?

Will we find relief in the next session? When will the ‘waters part’ for deliverance? What will we gain by unraveling quagmires of the past and explore the depths of our “exceedingly deceitful heart” which is “beyond cure, who can understand it?” Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with paying someone to listen to us and offer coping skills to lessen our pain. We may feel better, but no amount of money spent on clever interventions in timed sessions can bring about the presence, the power and deliverance of Holy Spirit.

As followers of Christ, God’s unchanging purpose is to “conform us to the likeness of His Son”. This is our destiny. There is no alternative for the Body of Christ – we will suffer in this world – but unlike those in the world, our suffering is appointed to bring about greater revelations of God and His power to deliver.

Christian counseling is a business that arose to address what is lacking in the Body of Christ – the anointed ministry of “iron sharpening iron”. Are we, the church, just too busy? Are we knit together with a body of believers? Have we come under the Lord’s appointed authorities – pastors, elders, deacons? This is the heart of Christ, that we as His Body “be brought into complete unity”. He commands, “Love one another. As I loved you, so you must love one another.” We are given gifts through the Holy Spirit – the Lord’s indwelling power and anointing. We have access to God’s throne for discernment and wisdom. It is God’s will that His Body minister to one another, receiving from Christ and ministering outward to our brethren. We are called to allay each other’s fears, encourage, exhort, stand alongside through dark storms…counseling each other in the power of Christ. Even the weakest vessel shut in with God, is mightier than a world power.

There is a place for doctors and professionals but there are times of confusion, turmoil, heartache and spiritual attack where God’s word states and demonstrates that, “The help of man is worthless.” That may seem offensive but in His exclusive claim over us as our Lord and Master, He calls us to trust in Him completely. Faith does not build our flesh but systematically kills it, a painful process that will cost us but lead to supernatural victory.

“This is what the Lord says, ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16)

  • Paths of untimed prayer, shut in with God with determination to wait upon Him and hear from Him.  The flesh likes control, but the Lord may call us to all night prayer, a meeting that may hold eternal value and reward.
  • Paths that open the Word of God as we prayerfully pore through, eagerly anticipating the ‘Wonderful Counselor’ to open up living waters into our soul.
  • Paths of deliberate praise and worship, even during emotional grief and turmoil.  The sacrifice of praise is a high expression of faith in God’s deliverance, even before it arrives.

In these ‘terrible times’ there is a great need for anointed servants of Christ, those prepared from the prayer closet and diligent study of God’s word with a burden to minister. We can find our very heartache, grievous loss even devastation in the Bible and also see there God’s power to heal, restore and renew. He longs to show Himself strong in our lives as we trust in Him. I pray we begin to understand the authority of God, the power of the cross, and the supernatural counsel of the Holy Spirit. As He breathes His Life upon us, may we glorify Him by serving others with the counsel of Christ.

There is no higher calling.

lazaraus-tomb

“Lazarus, come forth!”

Let us also come forth to Christ and go forth to speak life to one another.

 

(Disclaimer:  this website does not provide medical or psychiatric advice.  It is intended to provide spiritual inspiration and is not a substitute for medical or psychiatric advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Always seek the advice of a medical professional before changing or neglecting necessary treatment.)

GUN CONTROL, Drug Control, God Control…..Making the Devil Laugh

“There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.”

While not quoted from New York Times, Washington Post, or Boston Globe this is an accurate description of our culture today.  It was written over 2700 years ago, Hosea 4:2, where the answer to moral decay, violence and treachery was not legislation.  There were plenty of laws already written with steep penalties  for violators.  The law merely served as a barometer , a gauge to measure man’s  innate potential for depravity.  If any law could successfully set boundaries  around man’s  behavior or curtail evil there would be no need for a Messiah, for Christ to die on the cross, for the Lord to come and “save His people from their sins.”

The timeless inerrancy of God’s Word continually exposes the futility  man’s attempts to create an orderly, civilized culture.  History will never record, ‘our society was out of control with violence, family destruction, drug and alcohol abuse and corruption but with the right laws, we put everything under control.’   Tragedies, vicious attacks, perversions, lying and conniving at every level are only fruits that we ourselves cultivate by fertilizing unrestrained freedoms, watering the lusts of our own fallen nature and lastly, cutting away that which would quicken our God given conscience.   Eliminating all shame, leaders puff up and posture around futile ‘controls’ to set boundaries around human nature, at which the devil laughs.

“What a man sows so shall he reap”. All the laws in the world cannot change these apples into oranges – a laughable endeavor!

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander”, declared Jesus in Matthew 15:19.  Change a man’s behavior without changing his heart?  Impossible if not laughable.

The United States can gauge the downward spiral by the leadership which we rally after and elect.  There were declarations for godly righteousness, there were cries for shame as the only impetus for change….      

 Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God…

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon;

…to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

…. We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown.

But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

…. I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer….

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward, Secretary of State

Those days are woefully gone.

The Ten Commandments ordered removed from Oklahoma Courtyard

The Ten Commandments ordered removed from Oklahoma Courtyard

“…the decision to remove the monument under the cover of darkness was made to avoid disturbing workers at the Capitol and to keep protesters from demonstrating…”  (Reported by Sean Murphy, AP News, 10/6/15)

Removing the Word of God ‘under the cover of darkness’ to avoid a dust-up with mortal man?  A tragic laugh/weep moment in history!  The devil is laughing and we should surely be weeping.  The problem is not when darkness is dark, the problem is when our light is dim.  The ‘treacherous days’ marked by the Apostle Paul in II Timothy 3 are here but can be the greatest days for the Body of Christ in the world if only we would ‘lighten our ship’ of the useless cargo of sin – materialism, greed, lust, and carnality.

The Lord Jesus, Creator of the universe, could have used the world as His podium.  However, He often displayed His power and deliverance by personally touching the lives of ordinary individuals.  While some wait for a  ‘call to great ministry’ the Lord is calling us to obey and enter into the simplicity of communing with Him, receiving the joy of His presence and allowing him to share His grief for the lost. Waiting upon Him, through prayer and study of His Word, enables us to break His bread with those ‘coincidentally’ around us.  The Word of God in us is a living word for the ‘woman at the well’, whether she is at the bus stop, market, the home next door or office across the hall.

Believers must ‘rally’ solely for the Word of God, embracing the truth –  the only source of ‘control’ – for peace, healing, deliverance, and restoration – is the Holy Spirit.   Contrary to popular mantras, we are not here to ‘change the world’ but called to represent Jesus Christ and enlarge His Kingdom as we anticipate His return.  It is impossible to legislate God or even morality but we can be surrendered and available vessels of truth for Him, in spite of the darkness, in spite of discouragements, in spite of a devil who laughs…temporarily.

“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur….tormented day and night for ever and ever.”  Revelation 20:10

TIME TO GET OUR EYES FIXED!

“For it is time to seek the Lord” Hosea 10:12

The Body of Christ is suffering greatly in every way, from violent onslaughts to emotional trauma, grief and anguish.   Some cry out to be rescued, others must pray for ways to reach them.  Many brethren suffer silently in personal turmoil and grief.  The spiritual darkness upon the world is alive, strategic, and bearing fruit.  Within our cultures and in our personal lives, we are suffering the wages of sin.  Endurance, healing, renewal and hope are the rare treasures of our day.  The world conjures up programs, pharmaceuticals, therapies and mantras, yet can find no remedy for the sick and damaged soul.  Government, Education, Health and Welfare are futile venues for change – they are often the birthplace of ungodliness.  For believers to fight in worldly arenas is like attacking a fire-breathing dragon with a toothpick.  Nothing less than the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit can enable us to “shine like stars” in this “depraved generation” and enlarge God’s Kingdom in this world.  “Apart from Me”, Jesus said, “you can do nothing”.       

To ‘take a stand’ we must decidedly face one direction, one centered focus aligning our feet, our mind and heart.  With our “hand to the plow” we cannot look back (Luke 9:62) whether it is to the world, to our losses, to deep and bitter wounds, or even joyous days past.  The runner looking back will stumble and fall, forfeiting his prize.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”

Our clarity, discernment, and wisdom are found in this singular focus and commitment.  Supernatural healing, renewal, and hope are found within the pages of the Bible – the living book that reveals the power of God and imparts it within us.  This is not unreachable.  The presence of God becomes more evident as we shut down every distraction and humbly offer Him due honor and worship.  He is faithful, worthy to seek with all our heart and wait upon with expectation, “a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”   What an encouragement to know that the Holy Spirit- Who spoke the world into creation – continues to speak through the living and unchanging Word of God, through the authority of godly leadership and personally into our hearts as we cry out to Him in our own ‘prayer closet’.

‘Looking unto Jesus’ is not a call to gaze at portraits, crucifixes, or spiritual images that yield little outside of emotional comfort.  It is an active search to find and grasp ahold of the revelations of Jesus Christ in the Bible and let Him speak these truths into our lives.  As believers in Christ we are His Body, the vessels He calls into obedience, to indwell and glorify Him on earth.

We can find Jesus from Genesis to Revelation, He is revealed to us in every Book of the Bible.  Online searches of the revelations of Christ, Old Testament to New Testament may provide some insight for Bible study.  The circumstances of our life, often painful and bewildering, are often ordained to open doors of faith within us and reveal to us the power of Christ in our needs.  Within our trials and grief we find Him, “a hiding place” of fellowship and intimacy with God Himself.  Our faith in the fire testifies of Christ as the Good Shepherd, Defender, Healer, Prince of Peace and Wonderful Counselor as we cry out to Him from our wilderness, in our afflictions, and during turmoil and onslaughts.

For the Body of Christ, knowing Him is central – all else is peripheral.

‘The author and finisher of our faith…”  The literal translation of this verse (Hebrews 12:2) from original transcripts does not include the word ‘our’ but does include a definite article before ‘faith’: ‘the faith’.  From the original Greek wordage, ‘author’ might translate as:  creator/trailblazer/leader.  While modern translations insert ‘our’ into the text to personalize this faith, Bible studies such as the Bible Hub Commentaries offer notes on a more literal translation:  Jesus, the ‘first’ (Captain/Leader) and the Last (Completer/Victor) of the faith.   Jesus leads an army of faith.  Fix our eyes on Jesus, He is the Creator, Leader and Commander of the faith and as He accomplished triumphant victory so shall He lead us.  

Our greatest challenge - taking our eyes off the world and our circumstances to look upon Him with faith

Our greatest challenge – taking our eyes off the world and our circumstances to look upon Him with faith (Amedee Varint painting)

As the dividing line between believers and unbelievers widens, carnal Christians will be forced to take sides, either validating compromise or choosing to stand upon the unchanging Word of God.  As this world spins quickly toward Judgment, a fire-tested remnant will persevere and stand to testify of God’s faithfulness.  Let us be counted among them, strengthening and encouraging one another as we fix our eyes on Him.

  “But my eyes are fixed on You, O Sovereign Lord; in You I take refuge”                                     

(Psalm 141:8)   

Walking Through the Fire, Through the Flood and Through the Rainbow Parades

When, years ago, I first heard the traditional hymn, “I need thee, Lord I need thee, Every hour I need thee…” I thought it sentimental and adoring but really wondered, do they really need the Lord every hour? After all, unbelievers make it through an hour, the whole day – many their whole lives – prospering and content without the Lord.  In fact, they shun His interference.  However, as a believer in Christ, this hymn has become a frequent personal anthem. “Every hour” speaks deeply to those of us who decidedly follow Jesus.  The closer we follow Jesus, the more we need him.  As A.W. Tozer describes, this world is ‘not our playground but our battlefield’.  And, within this battle ground, the Lord has one strategy for victory:  walk in obedience and total dependence to Him.

“Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus walked.”  1 John 2:6

It is in this great Scriptural challenge – “walk” – where we often slip, trip, and fall.

walk-dont-run

In the fire and in the flood, we want relief and deliverance – we are anxious to run and make things happen.  When the flood of sin rises higher, when “good becomes evil and evil becomes good” ” many Christians plan, strategize and gear up to protest and rally.  It is a prideful delusion that draws Christians to believe that the world can change through political, social or economic arenas.  The great danger is this:  we may miss the anointing that God would bestow upon us, the “good works which He planned in advance for us to do”.

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  (Micah 6:8)

When the world around us or the personal world within us is crashing how can we walk like Jesus walked, humbly with our God?  It is easy to be sickened and shocked by grievous violence, pervasive immorality, and increasing apostasy.  But let us not be as those outside Noah’s ark, shocked when the rain began! Those who study the Word may be grieved but not shocked – we are witnesses to the prophecies that the Lord Himself proclaimed.

“Get into this Word and get this Word into you!” remains the cry of 90 year old Pastor Ben Crandall.  Walk into the Word of God, take time to digest, meditate and hear from the Lord. We are purposefully placed amidst this dark world and, step by step our mind and hearts will be renewed and strengthened from the Word.  Discernment and godly instruction often challenge and override the ‘good’ ideas and inclinations of our fleshly nature.  Jesus declared in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Now, more than ever, the Body of Christ needs to rise up as His Body.  Jesus may not lead us to the White House lawn but He may be preparing us to meet the woman at the well.  Legislation will never change our culture or the course of this world, it is as foolish as investing in a foreclosed bank.  The sad truth is, many Christians have befriended this world and now strongly ‘push back’ at the thickening darkness.  “Friendship with the world is hatred toward God” – we are not called to improve this world but separate ourselves from it.  

It is through separation that we gain spiritual strength.  We will not change the world but will have divine anointing as we walk through it in Christ’s shadow.  “Walking humbly with our God” is a divine call onto a path where He touches the sick, speaks life to the brokenhearted, and opens doors for those in bondage.  To ‘walk like Jesus walked’ is to walk in divine appointment – not knowing whom we might touch and the eternal difference it makes.

The Lord seems to overlook the influential, the politically endowed, and those with celebrity status to find the weakest, most insignificant, and unknown.  Those with a heart to obey are fully qualified. We can never renew or revive this world in any way but we can be vessels of honor in service of Most High God as He renews and revives the hearts of man for all eternity.

These are the last days before Christ returns as Judge.  Time is short and we must be in step.  The devil isn’t moved by campaigns or product boycotts.  We can boycott the whole world, if it were possible, and it wouldn’t add anything to the Kingdom of God.  The devil trembles, he loses ground, when we decide to really pray, to study God’s Word and walk humbly with Him through this world.  Along that lighted path, doors open and hearts change as people meet Christ their Savior.

Let us walk together in unity, close behind Jesus Christ through the fire, in the flood, and across the ‘rainbow parades’ in step with Him as He reaches out to those who would receive Him, those who would be set free.