Posts Tagged ‘bible’

Lauren Daigle and Casting Stones: All Sin is Not the Same

Those who argue that all sin is the same need to take another look at Scripture.

11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” John 19:11 (ESV)

Image result for lauren daigleThere is an emerging, deadly argument that is growing in strength among Christians when confronted with issues of holiness and repentance in our culture.

As I write this, the Christian world is abuzz about the recent news that Christian music artist Lauren Daigle failed to renounce homosexuality. You can read my two-part article on that situation, where I both cheered Lauren on in hopes that she would make a course correction in her life and dealt directly with the danger she created for her millions of followers:

Part One: A Critical Response to Lauren Daigle About Homosexuality

Part Two: The Church Must Clear Up the Confusion: Homosexuality Is Wrong.

The argument that so many Christians use in defense of Lauren and her position is quite revealing. It reveals a lack of biblical understanding, but that’s not what’s most troubling. The argument often manifests through people conditioned by the spirit of the age that rejects everything that isn’t tolerant, permissive and, as they would say, loving. The idea is that we must never confront or expose error if the person in question would risk being troubled by the process. Their definition of love is misguided. It’s false-love.

From my article, The Great Love Deception: A False Love Movement is on the Rise: 

Keep in mind that false or tainted love doesn’t flow mostly from an evil, debased heart. It also doesn’t mean that there is nothing about the argument or viewpoint that is true. A person who craves pure love can, in their zeal or in their weakness, allow impurities into their expression of love that twists and compromises it. The reason I needed to say this is to encourage you if you’ve been hit by the false-love spirit. Your desire for manifested love is very probably true, yet the enemy can come in and confuse the process.

Those with a strong mercy gift often have a tender heart and function from a strong desire to minster one-on-one to an individual. They desire to protect and encourage them. This is a valuable, pastoral gift that can bring much life and healing to people. However, as with other gifts, there are blind spots that must be addressed. While they are focused on the individual, they tend to overlook the resulting risk and/or damage to others. In the situation with Lauren Daigle, they want to protect Lauren and rally around her, which is good. We all should be doing that. The expression of love must not stop with Lauren, though. There are millions of others who are now at great risk due to Laruen’s comments. If they do not see the church bring loving correction to the situation, they will automatically presume that Lauren’s position is valid and that the issue of homosexuality isn’t urgent enough to have a biblical position on.

At this time, Lauren has yet to publicly repent and clarify her position. I pray that it happens quickly for herself and the sake of her millions of fans.

THE BIBLE CLEARLY TEACHES THAT ALL SIN IS NOT THE SAME

I have yet to reveal just what the argument so many are using in defense of Lauren and others who are in sin or in error is. Here it is:

All sin is the same. Those who practice or affirm homosexuality are no different than those who worry or gossip. Those without sin should cast the first stone. Who are we to judge?

Those are actually two or three distinct arguments that are often grouped together when defending those who are in sin or error. (I believe sin and error are not always one in the same. One can be in error without realizing it, and without being in sin. Their response to correction, however, does matter. That’s where error can morph into sin quite quickly.)

Some would also argue that Jesus never confronted sin in anyone except the Pharisees. That also is woefully inaccurate. The New Testament is filled with various dealings with sin in the lives of Believers.

Further, many insist that dealing with sin or error is unloving. They suggest the only appropriate response is to pray for them and to approach them one-on-one, in private. Again, we must contend in intercession for those in error, and if we are in relationship with them in a local church setting, and their sin is against us personally, there are absolutely steps that must be taken (Matthew 18). However, the church has no option but to step in as the moderator when public failures put others in harm’s way. Love demands that we do.

Matthew 18 protocol would not be in effect in this scenario since it’s not a sin against a person in a private setting. Public situations demand a public response. Of course, it must be done rightly, with great grace, humility, love and with redemption as the goal.

The focus at its core is two-fold:

  1. See redemption come to the violator
  2. Protect the innocent who have been put at risk due to the individual’s sin

CASTING STONES

According to the Gospel of John, the Pharisees, in an attempt to discredit Jesus, brought a woman charged with adultery before him. Then they reminded Jesus that adultery was punishable by stoning under Mosaic law and challenged him to judge the woman so that they might then accuse him of disobeying the law. Jesus thought for a moment and then replied, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.”The people crowded around him were so touched by their own consciences that they departed. When Jesus found himself alone with the woman, he asked her who were her accusers. She replied, “No man, lord.” Jesus then said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.” ~Dictionary.com

Correcting error either privately or publicly, as the situation demands, does not automatically equate to casting stones. In fact, we see God correct error time after time, cover to cover, from Genesis to Revelation. Further, God’s leaders, prophets and apostles did the same thing. We must understand that error correction and confronting sin are core responsibilities of the church for the sake of the one in error and the ones under their influence.

Jesus was in no way teaching that we should not deal with sin publicly. He was revealing to us the appropriate model for doing so.

When dealing with people in sin, hatred can manifest as a desire to see the sinner destroyed. This is how demonic accusation works. Redemption is not the goal.

On the contrary, Jesus loved the woman caught in adultery in three specific ways:

  1. He saved her from those who would attempt to hurt and kill her.
  2. He acknowledged the accusations were true, but forgave her instead of punishing her.
  3. He commanded her to repent.

Many who are conditioned by false-love tend to only focus on protecting and forgiving. In the face of undeniable evidence, they may casually admit the accusations against the person in question are true, but then quickly dismiss them as irrelevant as they rush to their defense.

Unfortunately, all too often, they miss the third point: We must call for repentance, making it clear that such behavior will only bring destruction.

In fact, the Bible makes it clear that we as Christians have a serious responsibility to judge. Jesus modeled a brilliant and righteous justice session with the woman caught in adultery. We must judge just as he judged.

24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” John 7:24 (ESV)

DIFFERENT TYPES OF SIN

I believe most would agree that different types of sin result in a variety of natural repercussions. If we gossip, the result will not be as severe as if we were to murder someone. It makes sense to all of us that some sin, in the natural, will have minor impact while others will put you in jail or on death row.

The point of disagreement comes when we talk about the spiritual repercussions. This is where so many rush to the defense of a homosexual or someone like Lauren Daigle who, as of this writing, is entertaining serious theological error. They argue that their sin is no different than the sin of lying, apathy or fear. They argue that all sin is the same. They are wrong.

There are most definitely different types of sins that have significantly different outcomes:

BLASPHEMY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

28 I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” 30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.” Mark 3:28-30 (NIV)

The sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is much more common than many believe. This sin has radically different impact than other sins as it eliminates any possibility of salvation. When someone resists Jesus to such a degree that they determine that he is demonized, they have ventured very close to the line, if not over it. The Holy Spirit will stop drawing them and they will grow darker and more hateful toward God. In fact, I’ve written before that one’s eschatology comes into play here as well. Those who don’t know God accurately, those who presume he only functions in a positive way, will accuse him of being demonized, or Satan himself, when he begins killing millions in the end-times. They would argue that a loving God would never do this. They would be wrong. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is very much at play in this scenario. This is a topic of discussion for another day, but suffice it to say, we as Christians can’t presume we are exempt from committing this sin. We are not.

HOMOSEXUALITY PRACTICE AND APPROVAL

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. Romans 1:26-28 (ESV)

The sin of homosexuality is an abomination and it comes with much more severe judgment than most other sins. There’s no way we can say that the sin of worry is anywhere near being the same as homosexuality.

God abandoned them to the operations of a mind incapable of reflection. ~Adam Clarke's Commentary

The result of being turned over to a debased, or a reprobate, mind is that God abandons them and they no longer reflect on or consider the possibility of truth. This is terrifying. But, it gets even more serious, and this is why the issue with Lauren Daigle and others who are on the fence regarding homosexuality is so urgent.

32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:32 (ESV)

Giving approval to this abomination is a severe violation, and the person who does that is in grave danger.

SEXUAL SIN

18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 1 Corinthians 6:18-19 (ESV)

Sexual sin has much greater, more devastating effects than most other sins. It violates the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. I understand the graphic nature of what I am about to say, but consider the disgust and filth of committing sexual sin in your church, at the altar. Friends, this is something that occurs in Satanic churches. The defilement goes beyond anything that most of us would ever understand.

Sexual sin is a violation of the church, of the temple, where the Holy Spirit dwells. It violates us, personally in a deep, deep way. Sexual sin overtakes and defiles the temple, inviting the Holy Spirit to leave. That is a major, life-destroying decision.

Further, refusal to repent from sexual sin can result in one of the most terrifying judgments:

4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:4-5 (ESV)

The person is to be publicly given over to Satan himself so his flesh may be destroyed! This is God’s last ditch effort to, hopefully, convince the violator to confess his sin and turn back to him.

LYING TO THE HOLY SPIRIT

1 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. 7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Acts 5:1-10 (ESV)

I don’t think most Christians realize how common the above scenario is today. My belief is that it happens often. We may be part of a church, invested in the vision and ready to give, serve and participate, yet if we lie and put God’s name on it, we are at risk of immediate death. The Bible makes it clear that this resulted in great fear coming upon the church. We need that fear to return today!

How often do people say, “God said,” or “God told me to…” when they are simply attempting to give validation to their own fleshly desires? How common is it for people to prophesy out of their soul and finish by saying, “Thus sayeth the Lord?” Common. Very common.

When we do this, we take God’s name in vain. We lie to the Holy Spirit. At times, when people do this, they have no time to repent. They are taken, and what they are up against in eternity is something none of us ever want to experience.

WRONGLY RECEIVING THE LORD’S SUPPER

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 1 Corinthians 11:27-30 (ESV)

I doubt most people genuinely stop and consider the condition of their heart prior to eating the wafer and drinking the grape juice at church. I’ve led communion in such a way where most people in the church were actually hesitant to receive the elements! The repentance was powerful and the examination of hearts deep. When we approach God casually, with hearts that are not fully surrendered and tainted by sin, we have to know that our well being is compromised.

Fear and trembling must return to the church and sin has to be eradicated. If we aren’t in a good place in God, we really shouldn’t partake in the extremely holy sacrament of Communion.

SIN THAT DOESN’T RESULT IN DEATH

16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. 18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. 1 John 5:16-18 (ESV)

God understand that sanctification is progressive, and if we are living a repentant life, the sins that we wrestle with will not cost us our salvation. This is the sin that is not unto death. So, if we slip up the moment before death, there’s a chance that God will count the sin as one that doesn’t result in death. However, I sure don’t want to risk an unnecessary analysis of the last moments of my life. I believe it’s much better to leave here with purity in our hearts and praise in our hearts!

Verse 18 is key: our wrestling match with the same sins should not be open ended. We should not continue in sin. Victory after victory should be the pattern of our lives as we leave old sinful patterns behind forever.

UNFORGIVENESS

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)

I believe unforgiveness is a specific sin that has unique penalties. God’s forgiveness of us was so precious, so valuable, so driven by love that our refusal to do the same for others is a violation more extreme and vile than most others. If we refuse to forgive someone, we can’t presume to be saved. We can’t presume to be forgiven. The verses in Matthew are crystal clear.

Consider Corrie Ten Boom. You may have read her story in the book The Hiding Place. She was a general in the faith as she and her family hid Jews during the Holocaust. Eventually they were discovered and were put into a concentration camp. She ministered Jesus in inhuman conditions. She was faithful in a time where all faith was lost. Ultimately, after torture at the hands of one particular guard and countless horrors, her entire family was killed. The war ended and Corrie was released.

Shortly after Corrie was walking down the road when a man approached her. He said, “Excuse me, you were in the camp, weren’t you?” Corrie affirmed that she was. He continued, “After the war I gave my life to Jesus. I prayed that he would allow me to find one person that I hurt so badly in the concentration camp.” It was the guard—the one who brutally tortured and killed her family. He said, “I told God that I wanted to seek their forgiveness. Would you please forgive me?”

Corrie, in her own words, shared her reaction. She said that she simply could not forgive him. As that thought consumed her soul, God spoke to her. He said, “Corrie, if you don’t forgive him, I won’t forgive you.” She knew, as a general in the faith, if she refused to forgive that man than she herself would die in her sins. Hell was her future. She then looked at the man who brought so much horror to her and took his hand and said, “I do forgive you.”

She said the love of God shot through her hand into the former guard’s.

Tragically, so many Christians today presume they are exempt from such truths in Scripture.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15

Watch a powerful, tear inducing video about Corrie Ten Boom and read more about the danger of sin in the lives of Christians in my article, Unsaved Christians—Thoughts on Sin, Hell and Following Jesus in an Unsaved Condition.

BAD FRUIT

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37 (ESV)

The condition of our heart will determine how we live, and what we say. If we yield good fruit, we can expect a glorious judgment. If we yield bad fruit, only a terrifying judgment can be expected. The words that come out of our mouths can be a great barometer of the condition of our heart. If we are speaking life, good fruit is sure to be there.

CONTINUAL, DELIBERATE SIN

26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? Hebrews 10:26-29 (ESV)

I firmly believe the doctrine of eternal security is false. I understand the arguments, and there are many wonderful men and women of God who subscribe to this theology. However, my personal opinion, based on what I see in the Word, is that it’s a very dangerous and false belief system. This passage in Hebrews 10 couldn’t be more precise. If we continue in sin, the sacrifice of Jesus will no longer have effect for us. We will be counted among God’s adversaries.

False-grace teachers would argue that Jesus no longer sees our sin. This verse, however, makes it clear that such a belief actually outrages the Spirit of grace.

Continuing in sin will, without question, result in our names being removed from the book of life.

15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15 (ESV)

NATIONAL SIN

5 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. Daniel 9:5-6 (ESV)

10 And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD, saying, “We have sinned against you, because we have forsaken our God and have served the Baals.” 11 And the LORD said to the people of Israel, “Did I not save you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites and from the Philistines? 12 The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, and you cried out to me, and I saved you out of their hand. 13 Yet you have forsaken me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more. 14 Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.” Judges 10:10-14 (ESV)

We know what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. Righteousness didn’t prevail, and God’s judgment destroyed the cities. There are too many examples to cite of God’s judgment coming to a city or a nation. The actions of the whole can bring either blessing or judgment to all. This means that I will feel the impact of the sins of others. Will their sin impact me eternally? No, not if I remain intimately surrendered to Jesus. However, national sin will result in such great pressure that many will reject God, others will turn from him and eternities will most certainly be affected.

We need an on fire, praying church to rise up in repentance, holiness and with a prophetic call to awaken!

APATHY

1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:1-2 (ESV)

5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Revelation 3:5-6 (ESV)

The Bible tells us that the lukewarm will be vomited out of God’s mouth. The above verses in Revelation are sobering. Those who are apathetic, dead and dying, are at great risk of having their name blotted out of the book of life and spending eternity in Hell. I believe passion for Jesus is one of the most important elements of a Christian’s life. We must wake up on fire, live our lives on fire, sleep on fire and enter eternity on fire!

GENERATIONAL BONDAGE

7 Our fathers sinned, and are no more; and we bear their iniquities. Lamentations 5:7 (ESV)

I’m keenly aware that my five children and their children are at risk of bondage to any sins that I choose to embrace in my life. This keeps me sober and broken before the Lord. The thought of my wonderful, beautiful children feeling the impact of any sin that I would entertain simply wrecks me. There are sons who are destroyed by lust because of their father’s secret life of pornography. Daughters who are hooked on drugs because of the pattern of addiction in the family line.

We can break the cycle by living a consecrated life, fully surrendered to Jesus.

DECEPTION & FALLING AWAY

12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Timothy 3:12-13 (ESV)

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:12-13 (ESV)

When we entertain immorality, we are at great risk of falling away. Unbelief can creep into a Christian’s life very easily. Sadly, many will fall away. We must actively develop a life of purity and faith as we combat doubt and compromise.

PLEASURE IN UNRIGHTEOUSNESS

11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (ESV)

This passage is brutal. Those who are taking pleasure in unrighteousness and who are rejecting truth can end up spiritually dead long before their names are written in an obituary. This sin can result in God actually sending a strong delusion so they will, as a result, actually believe what is false. God will not ever allow them to receive the truth they so aggressively rejected.

This is why I believe we must promote radical holiness in this hour. So much of the church today is carnal, enjoying the very things that required the slaughter and murder of the one they say they love. They take pleasure in unrighteousness by watching movies and television that are filled with foul language, sexual situations, coarse jesting and other impurities. They pump immoral music into their ears night and day. They are no different than the world. Those who reject truth and enjoy immorality are at risk of being the recipient of delusion, making it impossible to ever turn to Jesus.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Sin is not all the same. We can’t treat it identically. Of course, we don’t want to commit any sin, but we must also be keenly aware of the greater sins, the impact on our lives and the cost to our nation and millions of people if we don’t confront and correct it.

When sin is affirmed or error is proclaimed by people, whether in a local setting or on the public stage, the church cannot stay silent in the name of love. Such an apathetic act will result in millions being offered the fruit of deception. Many will eat that fruit and blood will be on our hands.

Let’s love well, confront evil, expose darkness, rebuke when necessary, speak life and be the prophetic voices that God is calling us to be.

11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. Ephesians 5:11-12 (ESV)

Compromised Churches: It’s time for people to be removed and the house to be cleaned.

YOGA-000000024People are leading ministries and churches all while the Bible instructs us not to even eat with them. It’s time for a house cleaning.

Facebook is a great, if unscientific, medium for discussions about culture and Scripture (and kittens, food, vacations, etc.). I’ve participated in many such discussions online and I constantly find myself shaking my head when supposedly solid, Spirit-filled Christians flat out reject clear, simple truths found in the Bible. We have declined into a church that all too often employs human reasoning in favor of biblical principles.

As an example, when is the last time you heard a pastor teach on the issue of divorce? At best they may suggest it’s negative and painful while fully ignoring what God himself has to say about it.

Right in the middle of Luke chapter 16 we see the following:

“Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. Luke 16:18 (ESV)

We have a bunch of people in our churches today who are living in adultery because they divorced and remarried without validation. We need a mass movement of repentance for wrongful divorce and remarriage! After getting remarried, there can be redemption and forgiveness, but that is a process that must be completed. Divorce rates in the church should be near zero. I say near zero because there are legitimate and approved reasons to initiate a divorce. There are times when it’s fully appropriate to get remarried as well. God is in the restoration business, but we must submit to his process and follow his protocol.

The point on divorce was simply one example as I begin this article on discipline in the church. We have to agree that Scripture rules. We must stop minimizing it, modifying it, ignoring it or rewriting it.

Before you attempt to crucify me for being cruel and unfeeling regarding divorce or the other issues I’ll address in this article, I want to challenge you. First, my heart is broken over sin in the camp. Second, why do you presume you have the right to dismiss clear directives in Scripture? You don’t. Neither do I. I believe it’s an act of love and humility to trust God’s wisdom as we deal directly with sin in the church. God has given us a measure of stewardship over his holy church, and we are failing, especially in regard to holiness.

IT’S TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE

Take a moment and let the following verse sink in:

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (ESV)

Sin in the camp is defiling the house.

The above passage reveals that God judges the unsaved, the lost, those in the world. It also reveals that we have been mandated to judge those within the church. This, friend, rarely happens and that is a key reason revival is not near.

Please remember, we don’t have the right to exercise mercy that’s not endorsed by the Word of God. We don’t have the freedom to let someone off the hook when God demands we deal with their situation.

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. Galatians 5:7-9 (ESV)

One immoral person in a church can compromise the entire congregation.

LOVE THEM OUT THE DOOR

It’s time to express love, with tears in our eyes, by inviting people to leave our churches. Multiplied thousands of professing Christians must be shown the door—and fast.

If they profess Christ and are guilty of sin, we cannot even eat with them. This is severe, and it is necessary. It’s also literal.

Are there any people attending church today who are greedy? We can’t go grab coffee with them. Is anybody involved in porn? Do they get intoxicated? Do they have idols in their lives? Are they abusive? We must deal directly with them for the sake of their souls and those of everybody in the church! Why? Check out a verse that’s strangely similar to what we read in 1 Corinthians 5 (it takes it to a whole other level):

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (ESV)

While so many are welcoming these offenders into church services and functions every week, God has determined they will not be welcomed into Heaven. We are celebrating the people God is rejecting! We are confirming those God is calling out!

Allow me to make this point very clear: If anyone who names the name of Christ is guilty of these sins, they must immediately repent while bearing fruit or they must be removed from fellowship. Period.

Yes, most youth groups will be wiped out. Elders in the church will have to go. Many pastors will have to relinquish their positions. Churches will decline significantly in number as they lose those guilty of sin AND their sympathizers!

What will be left? A holy, remnant church that can finally move in power, unity and purity.

TURN THEM OVER TO SATAN

Sexual sin is especially destructive. If anybody tells you all sin is the same, don’t believe them. It’s not true. For example, one type of sin cannot be forgiven. Other sins are not unto death. Sexual sin is one that demands a more severe response. Again, the response is rooted in love, not revenge. It’s to protect the church and to awaken the offender.

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 1 Corinthians 5:1-7 (ESV)

The world has the right to accuse Christians of hypocrisy. When sin happens, it’s swept under the rug. It’s ignored. It’s certainly not dealt with. It’s rarely judged.

The instruction is clear and cannot be modified. The one who is guilty must be turned over to Satan. They must be excommunicated. They are a danger to themselves and to the church.

RESTORATION

The purpose of discipline is twofold:

  1. The restoration of the person—God, in his wisdom, knows just what it will take to give people the greatest chance of restoration. Biblical discipline is a part of that process.
  2. The protection of the body—A little leaven leavens the whole lump. We must insist on a holy church for the sake of the innocent and unsuspecting.

…deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:6 (ESV)

For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. Hebrews 12:10 (ESV)

When restoration works, the Bible tells us that we will win our brother. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out the way we’d prefer, but it’s imperative that we try as Scripture demands:

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matthew 18:15-17 (ESV)

Keep in mind that severe church discipline must follow earlier attempts at restoration.

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (ESV)

The first step isn’t removing them from fellowship. It’s calling them higher, exhorting them to live righteously and patiently yet invasively, uncomfortably, demand they respond to the correction of the Lord. Walk the walk with them until their rebellion or repeated failures would cause you to violate the Word to maintain fellowship with them. That time comes sooner than we typically presume.

GOD DEMANDS THAT HIS CHURCH IS HOLY

John L. Dagg said this:

“When discipline leaves a church, Christ goes with it.”

Ichabod is posted above the doorposts as the presence of God vacates a once holy church that’s inundated with immorality.

The question is simple, do you want God to remain or the unrepentant offender? You can’t have both.

A free and powerful Valentine’s Day gift from me to you!

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Here’s a portion of what you will read in the book:

Those of you who are longing for a pure, love-driven move of God, get ready! We are about to have the opportunity to go deeper than we ever have. True love will change the world. The burning, churning crater is filled with molten, liquid love!

We could spend trillions of years learning about and discovering and encountering the love of God. In fact, we will do so throughout all eternity. The Bible itself exhorts us to learn about love:

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of… Philippians 1:9-10 (MSG)

We are to learn to love appropriately. This Scripture is a critical exhortation! Why? It means there are inappropriate ways to love. There are deceptions that feel right but are poor representations or even counterfeits of truth.

As God’s love begins to manifest in such amazing, deeper ways at the end of the age, we have to be aware that the enemy will work hard to redefine, misrepresent and twist true love. He has a castrated version to offer us.

The enemy is so terrified of pure love being revealed that he is willing to promote and endorse a compromised, lesser version of it. Love defined by human emotion instead of the Word is his plan.

DOWNLOAD AND READ THE REST OF THE GREAT LOVE DECEPTION NOW!

Satan’s Strategy and God’s Answer to the Black Lives Matter Crisis

We-Forgive-the-PoliceA simple principle found in Scripture is the answer we need for the Black Lives Matter vs. the police tragedy in America.

Anger and fear are erupting in the streets of our nation, and the crisis demands a solution that transcends human common sense. We need God to step in and provide a solution. The ancient wisdom that we need is found in the book of Romans, chapter twelve.

Before we explore that passage, I want to address what I believe to be a calculated strategy of Satan in these last days. I’ve watched him execute his plan via the homosexual activism that has emerged in recent years in addition to other social movements of our day.

FORCED SYMPATHY

kay1-270x180Satan’s strategy is simple yet effective: forced sympathy.

While it’s true that many professing Christians need to be rebuked for their heartless dealings with people who associate with certain unrighteous cultural movements, such as the homosexual community, we have to look at how the enemy is manipulating that reality. True, compassionate, loving Christians have been forced into a position of faux sympathy. Instead of standing for the timeless, non-negotiable revelation found in Scripture regarding homosexuality, we have lost our prophetic voice. Most are remaining silent instead of confronting the spirit and dogma of the age, whether it’s through homosexual activism, Black Lives Matter, abortion or other counter-biblical movements. Some are actually surrendering to this spirit and aligning with those who are deviant. Why is this? Fear.

The accusation of the enemy is that we have lost our love for homosexuals (or abortionists or other groups who oppose the truth we embrace) and we have no option but to repent and “prove” our love for these people by affirming (or at least ignoring) their positions, desires, identities and supposed freedoms. Fear is even causing people to avoid saying “Blue Lives Matter,” or “All Lives Matter,” because of accusations that such comments are bigoted.

The devil is forcing Christians to reject biblical principals and to accept his theology of universal affirmation.

Satan himself is calling for a movement of repentance! The demand is to apologize for adhering to timeless Christian truth instead of embracing his more “compassionate” religion (that positions him as god). He is calling the church to abdicate our position of Godly love in favor of a demonic affinity, affirmation and agreement with what is unholy. The enemy is forcing us into a sympathetic position.

Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!” Matthew 27:20-23 (ESV)

The demonic, religious demand was to affirm and release back into society what is unholy, represented by Barabbas, while calling for the eradication of righteous standards, of holiness, represented by the Holy One himself, Jesus. The crowds responded en masse.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20 (ESV)

The demand is to affirm evil and to reject good. Those who refuse, those who stand as true holy soldiers in opposition to the demands of the enemy are threatened and identified as haters. In fact, many Christians will lose their lives in the Tribulation because of this very situation. We will be marked as haters, as being in opposition to what is right and just, and will be martyred.

Today, anytime a Believer stands opposed to homosexuality, we are convincingly accused of hatred. If we oppose abortion, we are anti-woman and anti-freedom. Similarly, if we stand opposed to the rebellion that’s manifesting through the Black Lives Matter movement, we are labeled as racists who are fueled by radical hatred of African Americans.

The results are stunning. Entire Christian (actually, former Christian) denominations are now gay-affirming. They have surrendered to the enemy’s demand to “repent” and to prove their love and sympathy for those who choose to live as homosexuals. Many pastors and churches affirm the woman’s right to choose to end the life of their children. And most recently, Christians are forsaking biblical truth in favor of vengeance and anger toward our nation’s police force.

Satan, though evil through and through, is brilliant. He is duping Christians to submit to his demands for a sympathetic response of affirmation. It’s false love.

How can something so demonic and evil be embraced as loving, compassionate and true?

DECEPTION

Satan has been masquerading as God since the beginning.

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5 (ESV)

The highest (or lowest) form of demonic deception results in people being convinced his wisdom is actually good, godly and superior.

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” Matthew 2:7-8 (ESV)

Satan and those who are advancing his cause want us to believe that they are in union with God. The true motive, obviously, is not to worship God or advance his causes. Their plan is destruction and coerced allegiance to the enemy.

And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. Matthew 24:4-5 (ESV)

Similarly many will advance deviant cultural norms and promote them as godly when in reality they will lead many astray.

THE ANSWER

Overtown-3_t440x440_c440x440The answer is not to cower in fear of being accused of hatred, racism or lacking love. It’s to stand, in love, with true godly compassion, on the Word of God.

Currently, police shootings and the resulting uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement have the nation’s attention.

Scripture gives us a clear, simple blueprint. Is it possible for our nation to reject the demonic deception and anger that’s ripping our land to shreds in favor of true love?

We don’t have to oppose our nation’s law enforcement officers to prove our love of African Americans. We shouldn’t denounce African Americans who are feeling very real pain to prove our support of law and order. There’s a more godly, effective way.

Here’s the simple, powerful biblical protocol found in the Book of Romans that must prevail:

BLACK LIVES MATTER:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Romans 12:14 (ESV)

THE POLICE AND SOCIETY:

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15 (ESV)

THE RESULT:

Live in harmony with one another… Romans 12:16 (ESV)

ONGOING TRUTH FOR ALL:

…Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:16-21 (ESV)

6 Keys to remaining free from sin and alive in Jesus

6 keys to living free from the torment of sin

I’m encouraged by so many of the replies I received from my recent Charisma Magazine series of articles.

People are becoming awakened to their own depravity, and instead of hiding behind the false comfort of unbiblical grace, they are aggressively dealing with their sin. The grace of God absolutely can set us free not only from the penalty of sin but from the act of sin. We can be fully free indeed!

I’m finding myself responding to email after email with the same response to the same question. People are yearning to be liberated from the prison of sinful patterns in their lives—patterns that absolutely do put our salvation at risk if not met head on with the grace and blood of Jesus.

This is why a life of repentance is so beautiful! It leads us right to the cross of Christ. His applied blood completely eradicates every impurity!

This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:28 (NIV)

I hear from a lot of people who testify to the power of sin in their lives. They proclaim that they are sinners saved by grace, and that Christians can expect to sin often, every day, for the rest of their lives. No! This is a doctrine of demons that has been embraced by multitudes of defeated Christians.

We are saints saved by grace! We have been given the power to live free from the traps of sin and we can expect to walk in daily sanctification unto holiness. We can absolutely, without question, be free to decide against sin. We should not—must not—sin regularly. What a disgrace to grace that would be!

So, just how can we take steps toward a life free from sin?

It’s simple, but not easy:

1. RESOLVE THE LOVE ISSUE

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:9-11 (ESV)

It’s shocking how many people question and doubt the absolute truth that they don’t have to earn God’s love. The true is that we don’t earn it, we abide in it.

When they sin the immediate accusation is that we have failed to the degree that God is now angry, offended and aggressively building walls around his heart so we can’t get near—until we prove to him that we are again worthy of his affection.

What a horrid way to live! When we fail, God is not surprised. He doesn’t approve of our failure, but he doesn’t pass out from shock. He’s not gossiping behind our backs about what we just did. He’s not shunning us until we pay our dues to get back into the club of the redeemed.

Yes, sin is serious and sin is deadly but we have to know that God is burning with passionate love for us and is there to restore us! If we understand this we won’t have to spend a “sufficient” amount of time feeling guilty and shamed until we can crawl back up into his lap.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 1 John 2:1 (ESV)

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation– if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV)

2. PRAY ALWAYS

…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. 6:18 (ESV)

This one is simple but not easy. Without having a life of continual, fervent prayer that’s driven supernaturally by the Holy Spirit, our hope of living free from sin is slight.

Long ago as a young burning one for Jesus I worked at a car wash along with several yet to be redeemed people. Everything about that job was negative. The pay was awful, the work was hard and every day was monotonous and boring. In addition to that I had to continually walk way from the small groups of employees when they started sharing dirty stories.

Yet, I remember that season as a breakout one for me. I learned how to be free and full of joy in a vile and miserable atmosphere. I sang worship songs under my breath and prayed nearly non-stop. I learned how to deeply enjoy Jesus and to be jubilant in the face of misery! It was easy to talk to people about Jesus as I was burning hotter and hotter for him every day. It was easy to walk away from inappropriate discussions and to stick out as a zealot—because I was one!

One day, in that season of continual prayer and worship a particularly large and threatening man who worked there approached me. He said, “If you ever mention the name of Jesus to me again, I will kill you!” I simply smiled and said, “I can’t stop. He’s everything to me.”

The favorite part of my day was when I got off of work. Sure, it was nice to be finished washing cars, but that’s not what motivated me. The pastor of the church I attended had given me a key to the building so I went there every evening, all alone, and prayed. I turned on the worship music in the sanctuary, dimmed the lights and paced around and fell deeper and deeper in love with Jesus.

In that type of intentional prayer driven lifestyle it’s quite easy to say no to sin. Life starts “working together for good” as the famous verse in Romans proclaims. It’s interesting to note just what triggers a life where everything works together for good:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:26-28 (ESV)

When we pray in the Spirit with deep groans of intercession our love of God explodes and our life becomes ordered and full of power.

3. TURN IT OFF

Media is killing the church. I’m saddened and sickened when Christians make excuses to watch immoral and unholy activity on the screen, whether its the movies or the television.

How can we allow ourselves to be entertained by sins in media that required the slaughter and murder of the one we say we love? Foul language, nudity, sexual situations, violence and coarse joking required Jesus to be brutalized and killed—and Christians are gaining enjoyment from it.

If you want to be free from sin, you have to turn it off. Shut it down. Stop watching what is abominable.

Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace. 2 Corinthians 1:12 (NIV)

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)

4. TURN IT ON

Try an experiment. Eliminate all music, even most Christian music, for a month. For that month listen to nothing but anointed worship music. Have it play night and day in your home, your car, your headphones. Discover a life of passionate worship that never ends!

I love this verse:

And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” Matthew 28:9-10 (ESV)

Is this not the cry of our hearts? What would it be like for Jesus to appear to us and say, “Greetings!”

What would it be like in that moment when Jesus shows up in our life in a life changing way? We would fall at his feet as though dead and worship!

Check out this long passage. Read it all. This is the God who we have the free and glorious privilege to worship!

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Revelation 1:10-18 (ESV)

Do you want to be free from sin? Be in the Spirit on the Lord’s day! Be ready for an encounter! Worship him with abandon!

5. BELIEVE THE WORD

The Bible becomes amazing when we believe it!

And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. Ezekiel 3:1-3 (ESV)

Often people are encouraged to read the Bible through in a year. That’s good, but I prefer to read, lets say, a verse for a month. Pray for the lightning hot power of truth to strike me through just one verse that it captivates me for hours, days and a lifetime!

When our life source and enjoyment truly comes from the very Word of God instead of through media and entertainment, the power of sinful desire is diluted. Diffused. Defeated.

…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, Ephesians 6:17 (ESV)

The Word of God is a weapon. God’s very Word, when received, believed and acted on, becomes a sharp sword against the enemy. Sin has no chance!

6. GATHER TOGETHER

Be deeply connected at a life giving, Spirit filled church on fire. Be teachable and accountable and let your iron sharpen others as well.

When we live in a community of holy, burning ones the resulting unity is a force against evil that is something to behold.

Worshiping the lover of our souls with others is something we should never live without!

Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD. Psalm 27:3-6 (ESV)

Four Powerful Keys to Seeing God’s Word Explode in Your Life

Discover four powerful keys to experiencing an explosion of truth in your life!

All too often I run into some amazing Christian people who are standing strong and pressing in, but also experiencing frustration at the lack of impact the Word of God has in their lives.

God’s Word is a burning, exploding, penetrating and living message that should cause us to collapse to the ground while trembling—yet that is rarely the experience for so many discouraged people of God.

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me… Revelation 1:12

…I fell at his feet as though dead… Revelation 1:17

I know it’s popular today to attempt to read the Bible through in a year. Kudos to all who accomplish this!

I’d like to offer an alternate option: read a portion of a verse for a month. If we can speed through verses, chapters and books without being overwhelmed by the searing revelation, we need to slow down. Read one verse and let it rock you to the core.

For example, you could take the next month and let the first half of Revelation 1:10 provoke you:

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day… Revelation 1:10

What does that portion of a single verse do to you? Oh, to be in the Spirit on the Lord’s day! We could spend hours crying out to God on that topic alone! Hours can turn to days as we break and repent for times we might have grieved the Holy Spirit. A holy hunger to never leave that supernatural realm would then begin to overtake us and our entire lives would shift for eternity! A fraction of a verse can, and should, do that!

Then, the next month can be devoted to the rest of the verse:

…and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet Revelation 1:10

My spirit jumps at the mere thought of such an experience!

A zealous determination to hear the voice of the Living God will consume us as we, after the previous month’s revelation, are trembling in the Spirit of the Almighty!

The Word of God, the Bible, is most certainly a living message that should take us to our knees in extreme passion! Sadly, for most, it rarely does.

Four Powerful Keys

1. REALLY BELIEVE IT.

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13

It’s at work in you who believe. Or, another way to say it: we must believe what we are reading for it to work.

Before I lose you, I know, of course, that we as Christians clearly affirm a belief in the Bible. The problem is that we are kidding ourselves. True belief is rare in today’s church.

Have you ever considered why so many messages on love, for example, have to be preached from the pulpit? So many don’t really believe that God loves them. They aren’t convinced.

There have been seasons where I have hit hard on the issues of holiness, repentance, the fear of the Lord and eternity. It never fails that someone submits a request for me to balance out the subject matter with teachings that focus mostly on God’s love. Of course, it’s true that the topic of love is inexhaustible, but that’s not the underlying argument. The reality they are communicating is that the discussion of God’s severity threatens their weak grasp on God’s love. They don’t believe God loves them—even though the Bible states it clearly, continually from cover to cover!

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love… 1 John 4:16

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

You see, if we really believed that God loved us, we would never be phased by other difficult truths.

It would behoove us to be settled on truths that God’s Word is settled on. We simply must believe the Bible!

When we believe the Bible, literally, everything changes. We will never be able to casually breeze through the pages of our Bible again!

Passages that previously bored us will ignite us! Just take a moment, grab your Bible, and open it up. Read. Believe. Let the hunger for a manifestation of what you just read electrify your spirit! Have some righteous anger over truths that have been dismissed or minimized in the past, and as a result have not manifested in your life!

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Psalm 19:7

All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal. Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart trembles at your word. Psalm 119:160-161

God’s Word is true, no matter what our intellect or our situation may report.

A sure way to lose faith and fail to experience a life that is fueled by the power of the Word is to be led by our senses.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; Proverbs 3:5

If you want the power, the burning and the trembling to cease (or to never be found), then reject anything in Scripture that isn’t verified via science, experience or common sense.

Yes, you must read the Bible and believe it, no matter what your circumstances or experiences or knowledge may be. God’s truth trumps all else—even supposed facts, proofs or testimonies.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

Throughout Scripture God defied common sense and brought man’s wisdom to nothing. We don’t have the capacity to grasp the mysteries of God in the natural, in our minds.

I dare you to read the Bible, be challenged by the impossible and refuse to doubt even for a moment. You will grow like a rocket!

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:18-22

2. DON’T REJECT IT.

We cannot reject the unpopular, difficult truths in Scripture. We must receive everything God’s Word communicates to us.

Today we are witnessing a tragedy in the church that I call Buffet Jesus. Jesus is the Word, according to Scripture, but his words are received in part instead of in full. Unpopular truths are passed by in favor of the sugary, more satisfying messages.

It is not possible to be a Biblical Christian if we only receive the parts of the Bible that are affirming, encouraging or uplifting. We can’t shut out the rebuke, discipline, judgment or severity of God because they don’t match our faulty worldview. When we do so, the entire counsel of God’s Word becomes compromised and tainted. Even the parts that are received are incomplete and were not meant to stand on their own.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13

Truth doesn’t only edify us. It corrects us. It troubles us. It judges us.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Too many refuse to be teachable due to their own pride or their rejection of anything that contradicts their picture of a perfect God. They shut down wisdom that threatens their utopia to their own detriment.

The Israelites rejected the way God was functioning when Moses was on the mountain (receiving the law, ironically enough) so they rejected him in favor of a man-made image. They fashioned the perfect God that fit their fleshly demands.

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.' Exodus 32:5-8

If we fashion our own golden calf, made up of compromised, incomplete and twisted truth, we are far from enjoying the fruit of a truly Biblical life.

3. ACCURATELY UNDERSTAND IT.

If we want to have the truth of Scripture manifest powerfully in our lives, we have to understand it. We must study and rightly interpret what it is saying.

It’s shocking how many verses are taught, declared and stood on completely out of context. It doesn’t make us evil people if we do this (if done in ignorance), but it does make us frustrated people!

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

For example, most people who I would connect with on a day to day basis would agree that God is the Healer and that we can experience divine health as Christians.

Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits– who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, Psalm 103:2-3

So, it’s common to pray for the sick and to cry out to God for him to heal them. And, the result, most often, is that the person remains sick. This can cause the truth of Scripture to become discouraging. In fact, the enemy can even cause people to reject the truth about healing in favor of a substitute teaching that matches what they are experiencing. How deadly this is!

If we understand Scripture we will know that nobody in the New Covenant ever prayed for God to heal anybody! The Apostles simply did it! The command wasn’t to pray to God to heal the sick, it was for us to heal the sick!

He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. Matthew 10:1

He gave them authority! So, we are to heal the sick, according to Scripture. When we pray for God to do it, that is contrary to the biblical protocol given to us.

Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Matthew 10:6-8

Jesus had to correct the misunderstanding of his disciples in Acts chapter 1:

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:4-8

Imagine the scenario: Jesus had just been slaughtered on the cross before their very eyes. Graves then opened up as previously dead people started moving about, the sun turned to darkness, the earth quaked—and then, a few days later, the previously unrecognizable, bloodied man had miraculously defied death and was standing before them!

You can imagine their passion and excitement. They were ready for their Champion to set up his Kingdom. However, they misunderstood how it would all unfold. Instead of telling them how he’d set up his Kingdom, Jesus told them to wait for the Promise—and then revealed that they would be establishing the Kingdom on the earth, not him!

Then he disappeared as the disciples were gazing into the heavens.

Today so many Christians are doing the same thing. We are gazing into heaven waiting for Jesus to do what Jesus is not going to do! In Acts chapter 1, the disciples transitioned into being apostles—sent ones. Jesus said something important on the cross, “It is finished.” He’s done. What else do we want him to do? He has defeated death, hell and the grave! Now WE are to move out and do what he empowered and commanded us to do!

If we don’t correctly understand this truth, we will be greatly frustrated and will wonder why the Bible doesn’t seem to work powerfully in our lives.

Another example of misunderstanding Scripture to our own detriment can be found in Romans 8.

How often have we attempted to encourage a fellow Christian with verse 28? Maybe they have gone through a divorce or lost their job. The go to verse for so many is actually some of the worst counsel that you could give them!

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

A correct understanding of Scripture would result in quite a different bit of counsel. Verse 28 begins with the word and. That should clue us off. That verse is contingent on the preceding truth. Something else must happen in order for all things to work together for good. Let’s back up and take a look:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. Romans 8:26-27

When we are weak, we are instructed to groan in the Spirit! That is the counsel we should be giving to people who are going through difficulty! It’s in the place of groaning intercession where all things work together for good. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is praying through us perfectly in accordance with God’s will. When that happens, our love of God intensifies (just try it!) and God’s will becomes ours as we agree in prayer. We don’t know what we are agreeing with, but it doesn’t matter. Our trust in in God and he can do as he wishes. He then makes all things work!

One more example can be found in Matthew. Have you ever called a prayer meeting and only had two or three people show up? In order to encourage the few faithful who showed up, you probably pulled out Matthew 18:19-20:

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19-20

I’ve done that myself, though I’ve always been a bit troubled by the principle. If he’s there where two or three are gathered, is he distant when I’m alone?

So, I studied it out and found something quite interesting. Those verses aren’t about prayer or prayer meetings at all.

They are about church government!

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' Matthew 18:15-16

How interesting! Jesus is saying that he has our back when we go with two or three witnesses to deal with someone who is in sin and unrepentant! He’s giving us a protocol for church government!

I could go on and on with other examples, but I believe you understand the point. If we function with great intentions but contrary to Scriptural truth, we are bound to be disappointed with the results.

4. EXPERIENCE REVELATION OF IT.

It’s one thing to believe the Bible. It’s an entirely different thing to have a supernatural revelation of it.

We all must live and walk and pray in the Spirit, night and day, so we can have a never ending supply of revelation.

This is where so few Believers will go. If we aren’t living in the Spirit, we can’t presume to fully understand or believe the Word of God.

Check this out:

Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV) 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power (MIRACULOUS FORCE) through his Spirit (PNEUMA: BREATH, WIND, SPIRIT) in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend (SEIZE, POSSESS, APPREHEND) with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (DOESN’T EXIST IN THE VISIBLE REALM, OR EVENIN THE DREAM REALM), that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (WOW! FILLED, FULLNESS OF GOD!) 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power (MIRACULOUS FORCE) at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen

This miraculous force isn’t there to enhance what we see in the visible realm, or to give us the ability to dream a little bit more deeply…it’s there as a burning, blowing Spirit to take us on a journey into the invisible, supernatural realm.

Did you notice one of the most powerful miracles known to man revealed in verses 18 and 19?

We can comprehend and know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge! Wow!

This means that we can have a revelation of God that goes well beyond our mental, logical limits. Verse 20 goes on to say that he’ll do more than we could ask or think according to the power within us.

There is an invisible, supernatural realm that we are called to live in continually. When we do, the Word of God will transform us over and over again.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

The word word (as in, word of Christ) is translated rhema. Rhema is the voice of God, the message of God that is delivered in real time. It’s God talking directly to us! Our faith isn’t increased as we simply read the Bible. It’s increased as we hear God’s voice, and that happens as we live in the Spirit!

…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, Ephesians 6:17-18

Again, the word word (which is the sword of the Spirit) is translated rhema. It’s no mistake that the next part of the armor is praying at all times in the Spirit. When we live and pray in the Spirit, the rhema word of God will come to us, our faith will increase and we will advance with a powerful sword.

When the logos (the living, written Word) collides with the rhema as it’s stirred by the Spirit of God, our live in the Word will be alive, vibrant and active!

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

I’ll leave you with the passage I started with. Read it. Believe it. Understand it. Don’t resist it. Pray for overwhelming revelation of it. Let God rock you as the Holy Spirit burns through you. I pray that you will find yourself in the Spirit on the Lord’s day—and that his Word will transform your life!

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. Revelation 1:10-19

No Naked People | Finding freedom from sexual lust

No Naked People—You can be FREE from the power of sexual lust!

Listen to this teaching delivered at a men's meeting in Prince Albert, Canada:

No naked people. That concept seems nearly ridiculous in today’s sexually driven culture.

Sexual images are flashing before our eyes from every angle through media, marketing, video games and other invasive sources.

I’ve actually had Christians challenge me by saying it’s not possible for a man to avoid lust, as if it’s an expected part of our make up! I heard about another who said that the Bible doesn’t forbid lust, only lusting about married women! The culture is causing many hopeless and some defiant Christians to believe that freedom from sexual fantasy is not possible, or even necessary. God help this nation.image

My wife, two daughters and I were walking through a mall in Wisconsin recently. We were stopped in our tracks right by the food court where families with impressionable children were scattered all around. There was a massive mural that stretched from floor to ceiling of a nearly naked woman. My wife immediately said, “I’m going in there to complain to the manager.” So, into Victoria’s Secret she went.

You might be thinking, “Where have you been the last few decades John? This type of imagery is everywhere!” Yes, that is true. Sadly. Since this is the case, do we simply surrender to the culture? My thought is that Christians are to take dominion and be the drivers of the culture. We can’t sit back and give up. We must fight! However, before that battle can truly begin in the malls and movie theaters, we have to wage war at home—in our own minds.

Consider how far our culture has fallen—including the culture of the church where only 3% of Christian men admit that they never view pornography! Per the Barna Group, 97% of Christian men are actively looking at porn! 87% of Christian women are entertained by pornography! Many Believers don’t “believe” it’s necessary to abstain from sex before marriage. My God!

Check out how it all began:

“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Genesis 3:4-7

The serpent pleaded his case by telling Eve that she would not surely die if she enjoyed a deadly fruit that promised a deeper personal experience. The fruit was pleasing to the eye, and Adam agreed. We can see the striking similarities between the first sin and today’s rampant sexual sin. What is different is that they recognized their sin—and covered up their nakedness. Today? While Christians aren’t joining nudist colonies, they are embracing and celebrating nudity by enjoying that forbidden fruit in their minds. Today’s Christians have naked people performing sexual acts in their thoughts that are strictly and clearly forbidden by Scripture.

Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes… Proverbs 6:25

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant…” Exodus 20:17

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. Matthew 5:27-30

I know there are many out there who will disagree with my position regarding eternity, but I firmly believe that continuing in the sin of lust (or any other sin) can result in eternal separation from God. The above passage of scripture in Matthew 5 speaks to this very directly. The reason I want to make this point is so you don’t casually dismiss this warning. Your eternity is at stake if you are entertaining lust. This is a battle we must fight with passion!

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27

The results of lust are tragic. In addition to the possibilities of destroyed marriages, illegal sexual activity and other natural repercussions, I submit the most terrible result is what Adam and Eve both experienced:

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Genesis 3:8-10

Separation from God. As I stated above, we risk being separated from God forever. We also risk being separated from God now. Those who are in bondage to porn and lust would easily admit they feel that separation. Just as Adam and Eve hid because of their nakedness, Christians today are missing out on their walks with God in the cool, refreshing garden.

INTIMACY LOST

Adam and Eve lost their intimacy with God. I propose they started to lose it before their banishment from the garden. There was a void there, and they sought to fill it with something unholy.

By the grace of God I’ve been blessed to be free from the traps and destruction of pornography, and I am humbled to say that God has enabled me to live lust free.

Several years ago I was deep in the Rocky Mountains on a prayer and fasting retreat. It was just God and me in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. I was connecting with God about a variety of things that night and a simple thought entered my mind.

Even though I was living a sexually pure life, I had a question for God. I’ll be transparent with you and share it.

If God’s design for sex is the perfect model, which it is, then it should bring the highest level of satisfaction. There should be absolutely no other competing desire that’s compelling enough to give in to. If this is the case, why would this happily married man who has the most amazing wife on the planet have an occasional temptation enter his mind? Why would the thought of thinking about someone other than my wife in a sexual way be the least bit tempting? Please understand, I wasn’t acting out on that temptation, but the question remained. Why is the temptation even there?

I understand today that most married people fantasize about people other than their spouses. That reality caused further curiosity. Again, if God’s design for sex is the best, why is there temptation for an alternative?

God spoke simply and clearly. “The one you are intimate with is the one you will desire.”

Intimacy. It’s all about intimacy.

That made so much sense to me! It’s true! When I am emotionally connected with my wife in an intimate way, any other competing thought would be an unwelcome invasion. It’s easy to reject such thoughts when I’m connected in a deep way relationally with her. However, in those seasons where we may be a little more distant due to busyness, stress or arguments (yeah, get over it…we argue it out sometimes!) then intimacy is negatively impacted. It’s easier to desire other things and to find temptation pressing in.

Of course, the same is true with God. If we are madly in love with him and are cultivating intimacy, the unrighteous invasions into our lives will be soundly rejected. We will guard our love connection with God jealously. This is where holiness dominates in a sin wrecked world. Can you imagine trembling before the Lord as his glory overwhelms you and then, five minutes later, watching a movie with nudity and foul language? That makes no sense.

I propose we refuse to be entertained by anything in media or in our thoughts that required the brutal torture and murder of the one we love. That unholy sexual fantasy required the death of Jesus. The cussing and sexual content in movies demanded the nine inch nails that were driven through his flesh. The simple lustful image that tries to dance around in our heads isn’t simple at all. It took a slaughtered Lamb to deal with that.

That slaughtered Lamb is the lover of your soul. His passion is for you!

You can find powerful and satisfying freedom from lust as you draw near to the Lord.

…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:21-22

THE COMMAND TO LOVE

Let’s talk about the call to love.  This is the call that God has for us to be intimate with him. Have you ever considered this mandate?  It’s very, very intriguing.  I can understand calling someone to serve, to give money, to feed the poor or to avoid sin.  That makes sense very easily.  However, a mandate to love?

Certainly the act of love in many ways is fully intentional and can often be void of feeling.  We act in love toward others.  This is also quite easy to understand.  But this idea goes well beyond a call to act out in right ways.  It’s a call to intimacy,  a mandate to be deeply intimate with our Lover.   

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5 (NKJV)

In the original Hebrew, the word love is ahab. 

It means: to have affection for, sexually or otherwise.

Additionally it means to like as a friend.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I can be forced to like anybody, much less have deep affection for them.  But this is what Scripture is telling us.  Could it mean that the call isn’t for instant intimacy, but rather a determined and unwavering process of pursuit and faith toward the promise of experiencing an enjoyable God? 

As we, in faith, more easily believe that being with God in a continual and significant way will result in continual and significant enjoyment, we will allow the old things to pass away.  We will not stop until we discover the joy that only God can provide.

So, if we are to understand that God is mandating us to fall deeply in love with Him, there is a disciplined process that must commence.  The goal is deep and passionate intimacy with our Lover, the invisible God. 

It makes sense that when we discover this ultimate of pleasures, that we will not be as inclined to pursue the human desires that demanded so much of us in years past.  It’s been said more times and in more ways than we know, “Our sin causes separation from God.  We, in effect, trade intimacy with God for intimacy with the world.”

Certainly there is truth to that statement.  However, if we view the issue from the other side, we could say, “Intentional pursuit of intimacy with God carries with it the reward of perpetual discovery.  Deliberate surrender of human desire coupled with a craving for the manifest presence of God Himself in our lives will lead, sooner or later, to fulfillment that cannot be measured or effectively explained.  It’s that extreme.  It’s that good.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you … Matthew 5:43-44 (NKJV)

In the above passage, the Hebrew interpretation of the word “love” is different than ahab.  It is agapaō, which emphasizes the attitude of love.  It’s the moral and socially appropriate act of service and attention to others, including both mankind and God Himself.

Throughout Scripture we do see various translations of that single word “love”, and God is the central figure regardless of the interpretation.  However, it’s that unique call to ahab love that has captured my attention.  It’s a mandate to intimacy.

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, If you find my beloved, That you tell him I am lovesick! Song of Songs 5:8 (NKJV)

Lovesick!  What a word that is.  As you might guess, the Hebrew translation is ahab.  In the Song of Songs we see this amazing story of love unfold beautifully.  In the following verses the word “love” is translated ahab each time.  As we gain insight into the intimate longing of our God for us, our hearts melt and our understanding changes.

“I will rise now,” I said, “And go about the city; In the streets and in the squares I will seek the one I love.” I sought him, but I did not find him. The watchmen who go about the city found me; I said, “Have you seen the one I love?” Song of Songs 3:2-3 (NKJV)

[The Shulamite to the Daughters of Jerusalem] He brought me to the banqueting house, And his banner over me was love. Sustain me with cakes of raisins, Refresh me with apples, For I am lovesick. His left hand is under my head, And his right hand embraces me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, By the gazelles or by the does of the field, Do not stir up nor awaken love Until it pleases. Song of Songs 2:4-7 (NKJV)

He made its pillars of silver, Its support of gold, Its seat of purple, Its interior paved with love By the daughters of Jerusalem. Song of Songs 3:10 (NKJV)

How fair and how pleasant you are, O love, with your delights! Song of Songs 7:6 (NKJV)

[The Shulamite to Her Beloved] Set me as a seal upon your heart, As a seal upon your arm; For love is as strong as death, Jealousy as cruel as the grave; Its flames are flames of fire, A most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised. Song of Songs 8:6-7 (NKJV)

Read the last passage, Song of Songs 8:6-7, over and over.  Its communication of passionate desire is intense.  As we establish a vow with our Lover, the intentional and disciplined pursuit of intimacy with Him is alluring and strong.  It is a vehement flame that even water, the fierce enemy of fire, cannot drown.  It’s this that we are pursuing, the fire of passion that will overcome the waters of human desire.

In the following Song of Songs passage, we discover a different translation of love.

Draw me away!
   
[The Daughters of Jerusalem] We will run after you.
   
[The Shulamite] The king has brought me into his chambers.

[The Daughters of Jerusalem] We will be glad and rejoice in you. We will remember your love more than wine.

[The Shulamite] Rightly do they love you.

Song of Songs 1:4 (NKJV) 

The Hebrew word used for “love” in the part of the passage that says, “We will remember your love more than wine” is dôd.  The literal meaning is to boil.  The idea is that God’s love is actively boiling.  It’s hot and constant and intentionally set on us.

The enemy of human desire is a very strong one.  A simple resolution to avoid sin and do good is far too weak to be seriously considered for inclusion in our arsenal.  The burning fire of passion for God, ahab love, is our most effective weapon.  The reward of the perpetual discovery of new depths of God’s zeal for us is enough to keep us burning with a vehement flame that the waters of carnal human desire cannot put out.

Yes, my friend, you can be completely free from lust, and you can live a powerful, joyful life full desire for Jesus.

If you are struggling with lust, don’t despair. Don’t quit contending for intimacy with God. You can absolutely find freedom! God loves you with a passion that’s deep…and he is longsuffering. He will be with you in your journey to freedom.

I pray for radical freedom to overwhelm you as you discover wave after wave of the other worldly, immeasurable love of Jesus! You were born for this!

Let’s make a decree over this nation together. We release a spirit of awakening, revival and holiness. As we go hard after God we will entertain NO NAKED PEOPLE. Not in media or in our minds. Amen!

God Redefined: A reformation of understanding who God is must come to the Church

I’m on a personal journey to discover God—as He truly is—and what I discover will certainly trouble me.

imageIt will trouble me because I'm absolutely confident that his fear is going to hit me more than it ever has… and I will have to guard my heart from offense when the parts I so value are revealed as a distortion of who he truly is. But, in the end, it will be glorious!

We have to put on our big boy and big girl pants and have a tender heart covered by very thick skin as we eagerly welcome calibration to God’s Word.

We must read the Word as it is, in context! I’m shocked at how quickly very clear scriptural truths are dismissed without reason by those who are threatened by what it says.

For example, how can we not read Revelation 9:15 and not have it violate the common, modern definition of Godly love?

So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Revelation 9:15

That’s an offensive verse! How does that mess with your definition of a loving God? He killed mankind throughout biblical history, OT and NT, and that greatly impacts how we view God!

I so crave to read verses like this and devour it, let it get deep into my spirit so my understanding of God can be made more vivid. If I resist that process of study, I put my position in Christ at risk as I replace him with a misrepresented version of him.

The Bible tells us to test ourselves to see if we are in the faith. ~Paul Washer

I regularly talk to God about this. Am I truly in the faith, or have I bought into religious superstition and tradition that satisfies my desire for spirituality?

In this journey I’m quickly discovering that the Word of God will radically offend me if I don’t allow it to enlighten me. The God of the Bible is strikingly different than his representation in much of today’s church.

When you preach truth, it will cause people to either thank you or hate you. Pure truth is costly to handle and receive. It’s dangerous. It’s freeing.

The very traditions and perspectives that we have grown up with in the American church must be placed on the altar as we allow God to reeducate us. We must have the knowledge of God, and it’s time that we finally get deep into God’s Word again!

And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! Mark 7:9

thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:13

This journey has ramped up for me over the last two years, and my message and mission have become so clearly defined that I have had to repent in tears over leading a church with a care-free culture that was devoid of the fear of the Lord. I was shocked to life and brokenness during a Bay of the Holy Spirit event in Detroit—and it was then, as a vision of millions of people hanging in the void between Heaven and Hell opened before me, that I knew everything was going to change for me and my ministry—drastically.

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Romans 10:1-3

Romans 10:1-2 sums up the short period of time when I was leading a vibrant church here in the Detroit region that was electric and experience driven. We launched Revival Church correctly, and experienced some phenomenal moves of God, but I distinctly remember thinking at one point well into the church planting process, “People are so locked in to the happy, care-free culture of celebration that we better just ride this wave for a while.” That is what I had to repent for. I was irresponsible for perpetuating a culture of positivity while ignoring God’s severity. What was resulting was no longer God moving as much as we’d like to think. I believe we became inward focused, looking for spiritual high after spiritual high.

What people call a great move of God is often just emotion. ~Paul Washer

Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. Romans 11:22

We have to embrace both God’s kindness and his severity. I was focusing on his kindness while forsaking his severity, for this short period of time, and I became so broken and convicted that I simply could not continue that way.

The shift resulted in a focus on the core DNA of my heart, and a fuller acknowledgment of scriptural truth.

That shift is continuing for me, and it has me in the grips of God’s empowering grace—I am yearning for revelation not based on experience first, but on the timeless, pure Word of the Living God. That’s the journey that will cause trouble as it already has and will certainly continue to threaten the sacred cows in the church today.

SOURCES OF FOOD AND LIFE?

In Hinduism, the cow is revered as the source of food and symbol of life and may never be killed.

The sacred cows in the church are going to be violated when truth in scripture is trumpeted, and that has already and will continue to cause problems. These sacred cows are relied on by many Christians as their source of food and life, of feelings of security, safety, love, etc.

Since I started this journey of biblical study, my eyes have been opened afresh, and my spirit awakened as God has revealed violations of clear, orthodox biblical truths that the church has embraced with much eagerness. As one who fell into the trap of perpetuating a culture of positivity at the expense of the highlighting the cost and God’s severity, I understand how seductive it can be.

It’s time, with a humble spirit, to tear down our father’s altars. When we do that, people’s source of food and life will be threatened, and the reaction will be extreme, no matter how humble our heart is.

When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.” Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.” Judges 6:28-30

Most people will shrink back from such a bold approach due to the cost. It’s difficult when the accusations start flying. After all, such a seemingly arrogant move stinks of personal ambition and hatred—when in fact Gideon was acting in love, according to the instructions of God. I’ll talk more about the radical misunderstanding of what love is below.

Do you understand the cost I must pay to say that American Christianity is almost totally wrong. ~Paul Washer

Because our gospel message has been deficient,our disciples are now deficient & the American “born again” Church is deficient. ~Michael Brown

THE FALSE-GRACE REACTION

By far, the teaching that resulted from my journey in the Word that has elicited the greatest number of comments is on false-grace.

Many times a day, most every day, I’m receiving emails, Facebook messages and other comments on this message—and about 95% of them are positive. People are thanking me for sounding the alarm. I’ve received many testimonies from people who have been set free from this deception. That makes it worth it for sure!

It’s so important that we don’t hold back truth out of fear of accusation. People who are buying into false-grace are literally in extreme and immediate danger!

We care more about our friendships than we do about our friends. We hold back truth to save those friendships. ~Francis Chan

Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. Romans 11:22

The remaining 5% or so of those who respond to my articles, videos and comments on false-grace, sadly, are often extremely aggressive and even hateful in their communication. The reason? They have put their faith in an unscriptural sacred cow instead of the fearful truth of Jesus.

They have so identified with their sinful nature that they cannot imagine Truth actually setting them free. Their only hope seems to be a grace that covers up their failures. In fact, accusations are often hurled saying the rejection of the false-grace message reveals one’s hypocrisy since they are trying to call people to a standard that they have determined nobody can reach. Teachers of true grace are called legalists, though all they are doing is letting people know the standards Jesus himself established.

Grace enables us to obey. It really does. It’s empowering, not burdensome.

And, thanks to God’s mercy, when we do fail, we can respond to God’s love and get back up! We should never refuse to preach truth and affirm the biblical standards because we struggle living up to it! It’s in our weakness that he’s made strong! When we admit that we cannot do it in our own strength, God is glorified!

One of the most difficult parts of repentance is to repent of your good deeds – it is much harder than repenting of your bad deeds – to repent of your self-righteousness, which is far more offensive to God than your unrighteousness. ~David Pawson

It’s actually God’s mercy, not his grace, that covers our failures. It’s an expression of God’s deep love for us! It’s true grace that enables us to live a righteous life.

The false-grace issue is volatile enough to split churches right down the middle, and I believe that it will actually be the distinguishing factor that reveals clearly the authentic and the false church in the end times.

THE FALSE-LOVE CONFUSION

Love. We don’t understand it.

There's been an overemphasis on the love of God (in teaching). It was not the message of the apostles. Only 35 out of 35,000 scriptures in the Bible are about the love of God. ~David Pawson

I have been increasingly troubled in my spirit with the misunderstanding of what true, biblical love really is. I mean, my friend, it is so radically different than we understand it to be—in fact, God’s expression of love can very often look like hatred! This is biblical truth, and it’s hard to handle.

I wrote another article on the false-love movement, so I won’t rehash it here. But I do want to speak to it to a degree.

I was so appreciative of a short video I stumbled upon by David Pawson. I am including it here, and the seven minutes it will take to watch it just might change your understanding of just what love is. Please, by all means, watch it. Everything he’s saying is what has been jumping in my spirit for months. He just does a much more brilliant job of communicating it!

 

After watching the video, you are provoked I’m sure.

This is the type of scriptural revelation that I’m talking about! We misunderstand God which results in misrepresenting God!

Entire churches and movements are sitting on a compromised foundation that’s made up of misrepresentations of God and his Word!

We really don’t know God! We must humbly admit this!

We’ve grown up in churches that have taught about God’s love in massive portions, so any movement that doesn’t focus on it in that way seems unloving, and is dismissed. My God!

We must dive into the Word of God again, as if we’ve never read it before.

Just today, my wife was reading through John chapter 3, and was taking note of the severity of God. (Very interestingly, she read it just before she watched the above video!)

She then read the commentary in the sidebar that was written by an extremely popular author. The author was actually contradicting what the passage was revealing! This isn’t surprising since John 3:16 specifically is so often misapplied, but it does give us a sobering mandate to study to show ourselves approved.

My wife said, “Maybe I need to stop reading the commentary and just read the Word.”

Yes! Read it first, and then use commentary and various Bible helps to see if they either confirm and illuminate what the scriptures reveal OR contradict it.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES

We must return to orthodox Christianity. It’s time we read the Word as it is. As I do this, it’s stunning how contrary we are to it. I’m wrecked and I’m being transformed.

As we are in the Word, we will discover often disturbing but always liberating insights on fear, eternity, Hell, grace, love, God’s nature, his feelings toward different types of people, salvation and much more.

We must break off the gods of personal satisfaction, selfish ambition and personal gain that so many of today’s theologies have empowered.

Any impatience, self-will, religious ambition, the compulsion to do for God, and the need to be recognized and acknowledged, will never be a glory unto God. -Art Katz

Our hearts must be continually inspected and pure, humble, broken…as we dive back into the Word and see just what God originally communicated.

I challenge you to read the Word, in context, without the lenses of pop-theologies of today, and see how different God ends up appearing to you!

When that happens, tell the world. It’s time to shine light on our hearts first, and then on the religious darkness in America.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Should we reject fear in all forms? Does God affirm certain types of fear?

We can damage our relationship with God if we reject all forms of fear.

**I will be discussing this topic LIVE tonight at 11pm EST. Join me from my home studio for this very special event on fear, and the the terror of Hell. Go to www.thefurnace.tv/live.

imageAll too often I hear voices rising up aggressively against any form of fear, or what they would define as fear. That rejection is resulting in the eradication of core, foundational, scriptural truths—verses, principles and even the words of Jesus are ignored or twisted to serve an unbiblical view of love.

God used both positive and negative motivation when calling people to him—both his tangible love and literal fear are motivators to keep us in him.

If we reject healthy fear, or the fear of the Lord, we will sometimes quickly and sometimes gradually fall into a lukewarm, compromised state.

I want to invite you to read my book The Terror of Hell. I have made it available for FREE online. You can see it HERE.

I came out of that God given encounter with terror at such a high level that I almost went mad. Literally. The extremes in the spirit realm are so intense, both positively and negatively, that our natural man cannot handle it.

The fear I experienced in that encounter was from God. It was horrifying, but necessary. It was appropriate. It has never left me.

THREE TYPES OF FEAR

Healthy Fear

Healthy fear results from a analysis of a situation and a reaction to keep us out of harm’s way. The analysis can be well thought out and detailed, such as the development of a plan to save for college and complete a degree program to avoid the threat of poverty. It can also be instant and reactive. I remember falling asleep at the wheel and suddenly realizing I was veering into oncoming traffic. My heart skipped a beat and I was scared out of my mind. I pulled over and slapped my face and reenergized myself!

We also see the call to healthy fear cover to cover in the Bible as God provides warnings of tragedy, such as being eternally separated from him in Hell. Just as we would have a healthy fear of poverty or falling asleep at the wheel, it makes no sense that the principle wouldn’t be applicable regarding Hell.

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Revelation 3:1-3

If the church is asleep at the wheel, someone needs to sound an alarm that impending doom is drawing near!

But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Luke 12:5

Note that the above verse isn’t talking about a reverence for God, but rather it’s saying the be very afraid of where he can send you!

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. Matthew 5:22

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

Again, it is healthy to receive the warning of such a horrific possibility. It is absolutely healthy to fear Hell just as it is healthy to fear burning your finger on the stove.

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:41-42

It’s impossible to dismiss healthy fear and still read and receive the truth in scripture. Time and again God shocks us with insight into a horrible possible future for those who are not truly his. This healthy fear results in a deeper analysis of one’s commitment to Jesus. It no longer is possible to be casual in our relationship with him.

The parable of the talents is an excellent picture of healthy fear.

“‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' Matthew 25:28-30

Jesus was using healthy fear as a motivation to live productively, with focus and sobriety. Interestingly, Jesus’ reaction to the lazy servant was due to unhealthy fear that caused him to bury his talent! Let’s take a look at that.

SLAVISH FEAR

The lazy servant exhibited slavish fear, when instead he should have had healthy fear of Hell on his mind.

“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,' he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' Matthew 25:24-25

He was afraid. That was slavish fear. His focus was on self-preservation instead of honoring his master, and that focus on self resulted in a very destructive type of fear.

Slavish fear kills love. This is the type of fear that is being addressed in 1 John:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

Love involves the self giving of one for the highest good of another. ~The New Unger's Bible Handbook.

When we truly love, our focus is not on our punishment, it’s on the object of our affection! If we lack love, we will fear punishment because we are selfish and inwardly focused.

Perfect love does not drive out healthy fear or the fear of the Lord. But it does absolutely drive out slavish fear.

Slavish fear is a self-centered expression that comes when we are overwhelmed with the thought of personal loss. The fear of man, for example, is slavish fear. We become overprotective, defensive and self-preserving, which results in extreme timidity as we distrust those we presume have the power to hurt us. Slavish fear manifests as anxiety, dread and panic. It’s crippling.

Slavish fear results when we feel powerless and threatened. This is where the love of God comes in! We surrender control to him from a place of faith and love and slavish fear begins to dissipate.

to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. Luke 1:74-75

This verse reveals the battle to be free from slavish fear, from fear of our enemies, as we live in the fear of the Lord.

FEAR OF THE LORD

Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. Exodus 3:6

My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws. Psalm 119:120

The love of God and the fear of God are inseparable. The fear of the Lord results in us living a circumspect life from a place of loving devotion.

“If you love me, you will obey what I command. John 14:15

John Bevere had the privilege of meeting with Jim Bakker of PTL fame in prison after his conviction for mishandling money. John asked Jim, “When did you stop loving God?” Jim replied, “John, I never stopped loving God. I stopped fearing God.”

Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil. Proverbs 16:6

To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Proverbs 8:13

He whose walk is upright fears the LORD, but he whose ways are devious despises him. Proverbs 14:2

 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. Proverbs 14:27

Experiencing God’s love is insufficient (and radically incomplete) if it doesn’t result in the fear of the Lord. God’s love draws us close and the fear of God keeps us on guard. Fear of God is a fountain of life!

Often it is presumed that the fear of the Lord simply means reverence of the Lord. That is a woefully incomplete definition. Time and again, the fear of the Lord is translated as reverence and terror!

The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, Isaiah 8:13

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord. Acts 9:31

In Acts 9:31, the word “fear” translates not as reverence, but as terror:

Transliteration: phobos

(to be put in fear); alarm or fright :- be afraid, + exceedingly, fear, terror.

When God makes himself known, terror will strike. How could it not? The voice of the Father resulted in terror in the disciples:

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don't be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. Matthew 17:5-8

I think it’s interesting that this was an expression of the Father’s love! God the Father was expressing his love for his Son, and the result was terror! Again, what else, in such an overwhelming encounter, could be expected?

The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.  Psalm 19:9

Enough! Today’s passive reaction to a vile culture is killing the church.

Today’s church has stricken a sympathetic pose in the hopes that it will help turn hearts. It won’t.

We love old saints, missionaries, martyrs and reformers… We will do anything except imitate them.- Leonard Ravenhill

imageEnough! Today’s passive reaction to a vile culture is killing the church!

We have become little more than a socially aware sympathetic ear to a culture that, if we are honest, we have sold our birthright to as well.

The emerging strategies to impact culture today look little like the powerful, bold, prophetic messages that were delivered by the burning messengers of old.

In today’s religiously correct society (yes, I’m talking to the Spirit-filled church) the primary methods of evangelism and cultural impact are driven by human sympathy instead of the supernatural revelation of the Word of God.

We are being nice, cautious, soft-spoken and relevant while convincing ourselves that the true Church is advancing because of it! It’s time our messages result in the mass exodus of our friends and the ferocious resistance of our enemies!

“Why in God's name do you expect to be accepted everywhere? How is it the world couldn't get on with the holiest man that ever lived, and it can get on with you and me?” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

The offense of the cross has been traded for appealing camaraderie in marginalized, religious social structures that couldn’t be further from the model of the biblical church.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:6-10

If we don’t change our approach by adopting the historic blueprint of preaching holiness in light of the realities of both Heaven and Hell, Christianity will become little more than a myth or fable to nearly every person on the planet.

“The only reason some of us are not exiled or thrown into prison is simply because we do not preach as fervently and as sternly as did Paul, John, Peter and others. This modern “santa claus” religion that is sweeping country today is not the religion Jesus taught and John practiced.” ~Oliver B. Greene

“It is not enough to do God's work; it must be done in His way and for His credit.” ~ Erwin Lutzer

Duck Dynasty & Phil Robertson opposed by…a Spirit-filled mega-church pastor?

When I read a Charisma Magazine article today about Carl Lentz, the pastor of Hillsong NYC, standing in opposition to public messages regarding homosexuality, I couldn’t stay silent. Can you imagine Leonard Ravenhill saying what this pastor said? How far has the church fallen? Very, very far.

While Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson is currently facing serious backlash in the wake of his comments about homosexuality, a popular New York City pastor has made it clear he will not take a public stance on the controversial issue.

Carl Lentz, who leads megachurch Hillsong NYC, told Katie Couric in an interview on her self-titled show that he did not believe he had a “moral imperative to speak publicly about some of these more controversial issues” because, he says, “We try to be like Jesus.”

“Very rarely did Jesus ever talk about morality or social issues,” the 35-year-old pastor explained in a pre-recorded interview that aired Thursday. “It was about the deeper things of the heart, and often people want to talk about behavior modification. Our church isn’t about that.”

When Couric asked Lentz if his church has a position on issues like gay marriage, he said, “We have a stance on love, and everything else, we have conversations.”

Sure, it’s great to have conversations. It’s important to walk with people through their struggles. But, he actually said that he refuses to make a public stand on homosexuality! Does he forget that Jesus, Paul and others had no problem whatsoever taking a public stand?

“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

Our Christianity is degenerating into a middle class culture, a comfortable nostalgia, in the avoidance of the Cross of Christ Jesus. ~ Art Katz

Is it possible that our churches are full of people who have been seduced by culture and, thus, blinded by God himself?

“He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them.” Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him. Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God. John 12:40-43

as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.” Romans 11:8

When preaching truth is avoided due to fear that most will reject it, the fruit of our ministry will be little more than a gathering of spiritually blind people—people who have rejected God and who are rejected by God.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. John 3:19

We cannot avoid the controversial social topics of our day (which, in fact aren’t controversial, they are simply resisted by blinded people). We need a bold prophetic people who will renounce the shameful ways of the world and who will refuse to distort the Word of God!

Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 2 Corinthians 4:2-5

Love

When did the definition of biblical love shift to mean little more than human sympathy?

I wrote extensively on this topic in an article that should awaken you to the reality of true love. You can read it in a new window here: https://burton.tv/2013/09/21/the-great-love-deception-a-false-love-movement-is-on-the-rise/

The passage so often trumpeted in today’s watered-down Christian evangelism culture is in Romans 2:

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? Romans 2:1-4

God’s kindness leads us toward repentance. This is truth! Without question.

However, this has to be applied appropriately. What this passage is saying is that we can’t be cruel and spiteful and condemning when people don’t live up to biblical standards. There is a nasty spirit out there that can lead people to operate much like Westboro Baptist Church who terribly and unapologetically pronounces condemnation on people. They cry out, “God hates fags!” They picket funerals of people who didn’t live up to their standards. It’s this type of approach that God is dealing with here. He’s reminding us that he is kind by not judging us prematurely. He’s longsuffering.

What it doesn’t say is that we put on some cheesy smile, affirm people’s apathy and casually nudge them toward the light at the end of their dark tunnel. Being kind does not mean being passive. It doesn’t mean we lose the fire in our bellies. It doesn’t mean we don’t have unction. It doesn’t mean we don’t have a fierce disposition as we renounce sin and reveal both the fires of God’s heart and the fires of an eternal Hell.

Preaching truth won’t cause most to cozy up to us. It will cause most to hate us.

All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. Mark 13:13

Please understand—this means that very possibly most in your current church will begin to hate you (though they may not publically admit it) when you call them higher than they are willing to go. Pastors will despise you too. A life surrendered to the cross in love is threatening and offensive as it reveals the lesser commitments of those around you.

Yesterday's prophets focused on causing people problems, and today's on fixing people's problems. Pastors, do you understand that you are called to trouble the saints? You are called to wreck their pursuits of satisfaction while calling them to die. I’m not talking about taking a week or two out of the year to mention consecration, Hell or the cross. I mean the very culture of your ministry must be threatening, volatile and burning—like a volcano that impacts society hundreds of miles around.

God did not save Paul from the consequences of being Pauline. Men vowed to kill him, because He was a perpetuation of Jesus Christ Himself. ~ Art Katz

It’s time that we understand that our love-driven preaching of truth will cause most to hate us. The plumb-line of truth isn’t the level of response it generates. The greater the truth, the greater the resistance by both the world and the church. Mega-churches can easily shrink from ten thousand members to less than a hundred when the offensive, costly message of the cross is preached with power—and churches of one hundred can impact millions.

“If you're going to be a true Christian, I'll tell you one thing amongst others: it'll be a lonely life. It's a narrow way and it becomes narrower and narrower and narrower.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

“All you have to do is get in a closer walk with God and you'll find your enemies are in your own church.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

Listen, we are absolutely kidding ourselves if we think simply being nice is going to result in mass salvations. Being nice can’t result in that—but preaching truth can.

I propose that it was Leonard Ravenhill’s deep love that provoked so many people to offense, and so many to freedom, and not his sober, intrusive, irritating attitude.

“What's the condition of America like, spiritually, tonight? Zero. Why? Because we've got blind men coming out of seminaries. Men there don't teach them; they don't hear a word about Hell. They're blind themselves, and as blind men, they lead the blind and they go to Hell.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

Wrath

How is it that we have fallen for the lie that toning down truth in such a way that people will cozy up on the couch next to a flesh-warming fireplace to listen to our spiritualized human wisdom is an appropriate strategy?

Our goal is NOT to gain more hearers! That approach will always result in compromised truth—always. The goal is to preach undiluted truth that results in extreme reaction—both for and against. If there is not a provocation in people’s inner man, than we have to question whether it’s truth being delivered or or if it’s Christianized philosophy.

When is the last time you’ve heard a message to our nation that includes Hell and God’s wrath as focal points? Today’s pop-religion rejects such approaches as unloving, even though they are clearly communicated in scripture.

 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. Romans 1:18-19

Is it possible the obnoxious street preacher with a megaphone is closer to preaching uncompromised truth than most pastors with a growing audience? I do think that may often be the case.

Christian! It is time to pull out the ancient messages from generations ago and shock a comfortably resistant culture with the truth of eternal torment in Hell, God’s judgment and his wrath that is currently resting on the unrepentant! Authentic Christians will celebrate even the most offensive, troubling message of the cross while the rest will resist it. Do you want to know who’s truly in line with scripture as authentic Christians? Preach truth and watch the pretenders get offended and scatter.

“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher”   ~George Whitefield

If we truly flow in God’s love we will unapologetically preach the truth of God’s wrath! Those two topics aren’t mutually exclusive, they are intertwined and flowing from the same heart of God.

There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men's hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands. — He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it.

They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.

So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them. 

The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God's vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. — And consider here more particularly. ~ Jonathan Edwards

Homosexual Agenda

The church’s response to the aggressive, militant homosexual agenda has been laughable at best. Attempts at relevance have resulted in being rejected both as Christians and as friends. They see right through us.

We’ve fallen for the fallacy that being nice equals loving people—and somehow that strategy gives us the best shot at winning them to Jesus. We’ve bitten at their accusations of intolerance, and we’ve surrendered our prophetic mantle. In fear of coming across as intolerant and unloving, biblical truth has been silenced. God’s methods have been traded for human wisdom in the hopes that it will result in peace, common ground and changed hearts.

“If the Holy Spirit guides us, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.” ~George Muller

First, it’s time that we understand that our primary goal isn’t to attempt to win everybody to Jesus via sympathetic strategies! It is to worship & reveal Jesus in the spirit of truth—and to function in the Holy Spirit as we reveal Jesus to the nations. Keep in mind, when Jesus is revealed as he truly is, he, and we, will be despised by most. That’s why our goal simply cannot be winning everybody. That just won’t happen. But, when we trust truth, the remnant will be revealed.

Historically when truth is preached, the core desire has always been to reveal Jesus to as many people as possible with the understanding that the extremely high majority will say no. They will reject Jesus when he is revealed as he truly is. It’s only a quasi-Jesus that’s accepted at a high level today. A Jesus that doesn’t exist.

“The Jesus that men want to see is not the Jesus they really need to see.” ~G. Campbell Morgan

The spirit behind the homosexual agenda is so destructive that we cannot use relational, sympathetic methods in an attempt to eradicate it.

We must have bold, offensive, authoritative, confrontational preaching that’s anointed by the Holy Spirit to tear down the arguments that are being embraced by by our culture, media and churches.

“The first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God's law and to show the nature of sin.”  ~Martin Luther

God himself is extreme in the way he deals with those who are vile and unrepentant. How is it that we think we can casually woo them in when God’s strategy is to turn them over to their desires?

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. Romans 1:24

Do you not see how successful that evil spirit has become?

All it takes is Phil Robertson to very simply affirm classic, historic biblical truth to set off a firestorm!

Will someone please trumpet the truth that homosexuals will not enter Heaven? Will someone let them know? Will someone reveal the undeniable truth that homosexuals will spend eternity in torment beyond our capacity to fathom? Will someone love them enough to warn them of the crisis that’s ahead? Is telling someone with a gun in his hand that he’ll go to prison for life if he pulls the trigger hatred? Intolerance? No! It’s love!

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Romans 1:26-27

God gave them over to their lusts—and they are under penalty for their perversion. The Bible makes this clear, yet we are afraid to make this known!

Their future is sure unless they repent! God wasn’t subtle or relevant or sweet as he revealed this:

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32

The accusation against preaching this way is that we are unloving, hateful and angry. Intolerant. Arrogant. Not nice.

We don’t have to defend ourselves. God will truly judge us if we are operating in a spirit of hate or pride. That is sure. But we don’t have to defend scripture. It stands on its own.

We must stand against the spirit of the age however it manifests. We have to stand for holiness. We can’t presume that many will respond. We can’t modify the message in hopes that more will receive it. We must present God and his Truth accurately.

It’s time to expose the darkness! If we don’t, than the blood of many will be on our hands. We live in a culture where Romans chapter one is playing out before our eyes. People are full of greed, strife, gossip, disobedience and every kind of wickedness—and God says that they deserve death! God says that! Is he unloving?

Who will warn the world of its impending destruction? If we only tell them that God loves them, that is an insufficient, incomplete message! Definition must be given to that truth as it can be presumed that God’s love equates to his indifference. God is not indifferent. He is longsuffering but not tolerant!

God loves homosexuals, adulterers, gossips and the others who are willfully gripped by the powers of darkness—but that looks very different than we might presume. His anger and wrath are on them at the same time he is loving them!

Somehow we’ve fallen for the lie that hiding the fact that God’s wrath remains on the unrepentant will result in them wanting to get saved more quickly. We must never trade biblical truth for human wisdom! We can’t veil truth! It must be preached and we must trust God’s wisdom!

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Ephesians 5:11

The method we must embrace is a sharp, clear call to repentance! Sympathy won’t do it. Pop-psychology won’t do it. A demand for holiness in our nation must be decreed!

This powerful spirit of the age has nearly overtaken the church today.

We are entertained in media by the very things that required the death of the one we say we love.

It’s shocking that calls to holiness IN THE CHURCH are resisted and those delivering the message are called angry legalists!

No, it’s not OK to listen to cuss words in a movie! It’s not OK to see nudity! It’s not OK to play first person shooters! It’s NOT OK. We have been desensitized by crafty demonic spirits and it’s time to shut them down! How can we presume to have any authority to confront the homosexual spirit in our culture if we ourselves think lustful thoughts? We don’t have any authority whatsoever when we embrace the very spirits we are attempting to rebuke. It’s time to repent church! Wake up!

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Revelation 3:15-19

May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever. Pour out your wrath on them; let your fierce anger overtake them. May their place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in their tents. For they persecute those you wound and talk about the pain of those you hurt. Charge them with crime upon crime; do not let them share in your salvation. May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous. Psalm 69:23-28

This is hard core!

The answer is simple—repent! The church must see prophetic messengers arise who will boldly awaken sleepers, expose the spirit of the age and call people out of clearly defined darkness!

Almost Homosexual

As I conclude this message, I am going to include, in full, one of the most important messages I’ve ever given:

Almost homosexual: A crisis in the church

After I woke up from a significant dream about Ellen DeGeneres, I read my verse of the day… here it is:

Colossians 4:5 Be wise when you engage with those outside the faith community; make the most of every moment and every encounter.

I felt God had a message of love for Ellen that I should try to get to her.

I decided to email Ellen. I have no idea if she will ever get it, but I pray she does.

Here’s what I sent to Ellen DeGeneres:

Here’s a strange story for ya! I’m a pastor & author, and I had a dream about you last night. It was crazy long and detailed and the first two part dream I’ve had (I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle and the dream continued after I went back to sleep).

You aren’t someone I think about often at all (sorry!), so I have a feeling God may have dropped that dream on me. It started with you at the Academy Awards (or something similar) and you called me on stage from the audience. I was overwhelmed with grief and whispered to you, “Please forgive me for judging you.”

Later, you went on to share with me from your heart about some pain and you talked about your mom. Later on I met your mom and your brother at their home. (I didn’t realize you had a brother until I googled it just a moment ago.)

There were other pieces to the dream, but I thought I’d leave it at that for now.

A little about me; I may appear to fit the stereotype as I do believe any lifestyle that embraces activities that God, in his wisdom, deems unhealthy must be avoided. Homosexuality included. However, what’s also included is pride, which the Christian church is often steeped in. So is selfish ambition and having cold love. All deadly, all have hit the church at large. Again, please forgive me.

After the dream I decided to preach tonight on a crazy controversial message calling the church to repentance titled, “Almost Homosexual: The Church in Crisis.”

God likes you, he loves you. Me too.

I'd strongly encourage you to listen to this powerful teaching & intercession for Ellen from a Revival Church service here:

 

As I begin this urgent and troubling prophetic message, I must do my best to make several points extremely clear.

  • God is passionately jealous and zealous for his beautiful bride, the church. His emotions are extreme and deep as he yearns for love fueled intimacy with those he laid down his life for. His affection cannot be described by capture-000000596even the most romantic or poetic language.
  • When I mention the church in this message, I am referring to the global body of Christ. The global bride of Christ. I'm fully aware and thankful that there are many local expressions of the church that are radically surrendered and given to the lover of their souls—Jesus Christ.
  • The primary points I will expound on have little to do with sexuality, or sexual sin. You will have to intentionally keep this in mind so as to ensure you understand the issues when I deal with the spirits behind homosexuality and how these spirits are being embraced in the church (again, the global church; or, the church in general).

Massive Repentance

Jer 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.

This is a powerful verse, and the more time we spend on our face in the presence of God, the more we realize how true it is.

Before we can go any further, we have to all agree on the above point that is found in Jeremiah 17: Our hearts are both deceitful and wicked. What does this mean? Very simply, it’s possible and common for impure motives to be rooted deeply in us even though we may be devoted followers of Christ.

The more time I spend in prayer the easier it is for the Lord to dig deep and bring to the surface issues that wouldn’t normally be evident. My heart has harbored pride at times though at the surface I felt meek. Other times I’ve verbally forgiven people, but then the Holy Spirit revealed to me a deeper reality—that I hadn’t truly done so.

This is why we must not only be OK with messages like this one, but we have to eagerly invite God to shine his burning light into every part of our lives.

Is 6:5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

When God is in our midst, a revelation of our own sin and issues are made known.  A key problem today is that God’s manifest presence isn’t with us as He should be!  Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy.  He is the Revelation.  He is the Word.  Where God is, revelation is.  You can’t separate the two.

As God, in his burning love for us, reveals our hearts to us, we will find ourselves falling to our knees.

God is calling the church to massive repentance.

Almost Homosexual?

God has suddenly revisited me with a prophetic word that shocked me and those I shared it with a few years ago—and he’s added to the revelation.

Trust me, I’ve waited several days before deciding to write this (I usually write prophetic words the moment I receive them). I’ve considered the trouble it may bring. I’ve also considered God’s thoughts about the matter and I’ve chosen to trust his wisdom that this will free many more people than it will disturb. God’s word and his wisdom must return to the pulpits again.

image“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” — Leonard Ravenhill

Deuteronomy 4:23-24 (ESV) 23 Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the LORD your God has forbidden you. 24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

God is jealous of his church—and the spirits that have not only invaded the church, but that have been embraced by the church, have made him jealous indeed.

As I was on the airplane flying into Colorado a few years ago, the Lord surprised me with a strong and striking word for the church. I was shaking.

The church is almost homosexual.

This is a word that I’m confident is tearing at the heart of God… he’s watching his bride become bewitched.

Question—Is it possible that we in the church are close to embracing the same spirits that fuel the homosexual agenda?

As I was watching the mountains of Colorado draw closer during the final approach to the airport that day, the Lord revealed three drivers of the homosexual agenda:

  1. Pride
  2. Identity
  3. Lust

Understand—the driver of the homosexual agenda is not same-sex attraction, but rather there are strong deceiving spirits of pride, self-promotion and identity, and lust.

I was on a train where two homosexual girls were very visibly hanging on each other, making it very clear that they were together. Their actions were not a result of raging hormones, but rather, they were making a bold declaration, a prideful pronouncement of their chosen identity as lesbians.

They wanted to force affirmation, be noticed and demand acceptance and equality.

“All of the acceptable sins in church are keeping us sick.”-Steve Gray

“Be careful about what you think is innocent. It may come back and choke you.”- Steve Gray

The church has been bewitched by the same spirits that give fuel to the homosexual agenda—and this is a primary reason we have not had success in winning homosexuals to Jesus. We can’t cast out the same demonic spirits we embrace.

Pride

We’ve all heard of gay pride. Pride is a hallmark of the homosexual movement, and, all too often, it’s a driver of the church as well.

I hear continually that it’s rare to find a church where the tangible, manifest presence of God can be experienced. I believe, sadly, there are more Ichabod churches than we realize. An Ichabod church is simply a church that is devoid of God’s glory. The ark of God’s presence has been captured. It doesn’t mean God hates that church. Quite the opposite—He is grieved that he must be removed from his lover, his bride.

1 Samuel 4:21-22 (ESV) 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

1 Peter 5:5 (ESV) 5…Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

You may not have thought about it this way, but God, though he loves so deeply, actually opposes, or resists, those who are proud. God’s glory departs.

We live in a culture where we fight for success, we jockey for position and we can’t imagine being hidden or failing. Compromise has consumed the church as it seeks success, a larger building, more people, more influence, more money and other demands. Pride has resulted in worship of images made of gold where humility demands the gold is given as worship to God. Pride has resulted in worshiping a packed house where humility calls for laying down our lives for even one.

We wonder why the church isn’t having more success in the culture.

I believe a key reason is that we are attempting to attack worldly pride with religious pride.  We are actually retaining the services of the very same demons that we are attempting to battle!  A spirit of pride! God resists the proud! Is it possible that we are attempting to change culture from a position of religious pride all while God is not standing with us?

When humility reigns, the church will have the grace that God promises in 1 Peter 5.

Identity

This point is the most burning issue in my spirit right now.

I am fully given to seeing people step into their destinies, discover their true identity in Christ and finding freedom from lies and emotional scars that the enemy has given them. It’s a significant focus of my own ministry.

However, we have a growing problem.

  • Focus is on self more often that it is on God.
  • Focus is on living more than it is on dying daily.

1 Corinthians 4:10-13 (ESV) 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

Please understand, I believe we are seated in Heavenly places with Christ Jesus. We are kings and priests. We have great authority. We have overcome. We are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath.

But, our identities, when rightfully understood, don’t lead us to focusing mostly on personal benefit. When we embrace the cross of Christ, which is where our identities originate, we are now focused on going low, humbling ourselves, serving with passion and identifying with the scum of the world—so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

A focus on our own benefits, our own healings, our own identities as it relates to personal gain has actually resulted in us aligning with a key spirit that drives the homosexual movement.

Just as with homosexuals, God loves them and us too deeply to affirm a false identity—no matter how desirable and convincing that identity may be! God’s wisdom is much higher than ours, and it takes humility to admit that.

This is a huge, huge point!

When we fight for a false identity that feels so overwhelmingly a part of us, and when our focus is on acceptance, affirmation and human rights, we give up the call to die to our own desires. Suddenly securing our own identity is more important than serving the masses.

The goal is not to be affirmed, accepted, liked or honored. We aren’t to look for equality. We don’t compare ourselves with others. We can’t make demands when life is unfair. The church is to die so that others may life. Our identity is to be fully and entirely in Christ.

An improper attention given to the pursuit of identity (acceptance, affirmation, etc.) causes us to forsake the call to focus on our mission for the sake of devotion to narcissism. This is where the temptation to disobey God and submit to the demands of man can happen.

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:16

Lust

Lust is oozing through the church today. Yes, it’s true that sexual lust is rampant as pornography has been viewed by as many as 50% of Christian men recently.

However, lust is not limited to the sexual variety.

Simply ask the question, “What causes you to get excited, to come alive?”

Many honest Christians would admit that everything from money to fame to popularity to sex could be the answers.

James 1:14-15 (ESV) 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Lust results in death. It really is that simple. The life is sucked right out of people. Suicide is on the rise. Eternal death is another threat as well.

This is a tragic reality in the church today—we’ve lost our first love! False intimacy in the form of lust has take the place of a deep, satisfying, truly intimate and never ending encounter with Jesus! He yearns for us while his beautiful bride is yearning for other lovers!

The church has lost its desire for intimacy with Jesus. Many Christians don’t even know what it is to be overwhelmed by his deep, burning love. Jesus is more of a principle or a foreign character in a book than he is a real, tangible, literal person you can feel.

This lack of revelation and encounter in a very intimate, life giving way with Jesus has resulted in one more comparison with the homosexual movement:

The bride is becoming intimate with the bride.

What does that mean?

We have become more interested in reproducing after our own kind than in receiving a fresh impartation directly from God himself. How does this play out? Several ways:

  • We become enthralled with a certain stream in the body (Word of Faith, house of prayer, etc.) and want to have a relationship with that stream hoping that it produces life.
  • We turn to other people in the church instead of to God through prayer and study of the Word in the hopes that the union can result in the outcome we are looking for.
  • We are move connected socially to people than we are spiritually to God.
  • We believe our church growth comes through people, so we comprise the mission, cancel prayer, water down the message and get intimate with the body!

An intimate union with God will result in a fresh stream birthing through your ministry!

A deep encounter with Jesus will bring the results that a million human counselors never could!

“You can have all of your doctrines right—yet still not have the presence of God.”Leonard Ravenhill

The Solution

Intimacy. Repentance. Falling in love with Jesus. Humility.

“A sinning man stops praying, a praying man stops sinning — Leonard Ravenhill

Yes, fervent, zealous prayer must return to our churches again!

2 Chronicles 7:14-16 (NKJV) 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.

We cannot anymore develop systems that enhance our own identities, stroke our pride or fuel our lust for power, recognition or anything else.

It’s time again to declare the cross, holiness, humility and passion from our pulpits and on our faces!

The core call is for a movement of humility and holiness.

It’s a call to become broken and undone, desperate and deeply intimate with Jesus.

It’s a call to a fasted lifestyle, to full surrender and complete saturation in the advance of the Kingdom.

It’s a call to the deeply humble, yet powerfully bold life of John the Baptist.

Are we ready to let the Lover of our souls invade the deepest parts of our inner man? He is wooing his glorious bride back to him…will we respond?

Song of Songs 1:4 (ESV) 4 Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers.

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