AOC accuses Christians as extremists for promoting “forced birth laws”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggests alternatives to end the life of your child.

President Biden recently admitted that he doesn't agree with the teachings of his church regarding the belief that life begins at conception.

“I respect those who believe life begins at the moment of conception,” Biden said. “I don’t agree, but I respect that. I’m not going to impose that on people.”

In a Tweet apparently responding to the new anti-abortion law in Texas, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez targets supposed “Christian extremists” for attempting to preserve the lives of pre-born children. She suggests laws and movements to force the birth (as she calls it) of a fully human, God-breathed person (as God calls them) are extreme. I would think dismembering and discarding unborn babies to be extreme.

She then shares options to destroy your unborn child through pills that can be discreetly mailed to your home.

LIFE BEGINS BEFORE CONCEPTION

The goalposts continue to move on the start date for children born into this world. The Bible clearly reveals that it's before conception.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5, ESV)

In fact, John the Baptist was already filled with the Holy Spirit before he was ever born.

“for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” (Luke 1:15, ESV)

Tragically, most of today's activists and politicians are not filled with the Holy Spirit. Their worldview is radically, drastically and disastrously different than those who strive to promote godly agendas.

Today many believe children aren't full persons even in the moments right after birth. Killing children right after they are born (or partially born, whatever that is) is acceptable to a growing number of people. Don't be shocked when it becomes acceptable and legal to kill children under the age of two for no other reason than inconvenience.

Just as King Herod was threatened by a baby and ordered the death of all children under two years of age, these unwanted children threaten the dreams and plans of mom and dad. Exterminating them will very possibly be a viable option.

Extermination is a prime weapon in Satan's arsenal as we have learned in the Holocaust and other murderous movements. Any who oppose the killing? Extremists. Resisters.

The same accusations will be launched against all who refuse to take the Mark of the Beast as well. The propaganda and the overarching message is similar. Comply or else.

CHRISTIAN EXTREMISTS

The narrative that AOC is promoting is not only shocking to Christians in America, it's terrifying. If I understood her Tweet correctly, that efforts to “force the birth” of pre-born life equates to Christian extremism is dangerous beyond measure. Her message is being received and her influence can't be denied.

Crediting her Catholic upbringing, AOC said, “We do know that the Earth is sacred. We do know it is a sacred gift. We have a responsibility to steward it and protect it.”

Many pro-Earth activists are also pro-abortion. They would agree with AOC that dirt and rocks are a sacred gift. Babies, however, can be dismembered and discarded. Somebody convince me full-blown delusion hasn't overtaken the far-left.

Ironically, in the same breath she said, “Are we willing to make changes to our present lives to protect a future for our children and life on Earth?”

Changes that include most anything except protecting the very pre-born children the future is waiting for, I suppose.

Alexandria must know that her accusation of extremism targets millions of Christians and Catholics. In fact, she grew up Catholic herself.

“I consider myself Catholic,” she said, adding that she “grew up in the Catholic faith.” Her mother, Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, is an evangelical Christian born in Puerto Rico, and her late father, Sergio Ocasio, was a Catholic and religious education teacher, Bronx-born from a Puerto Rican family.

WE MUST PRAY FOR OUR NATION'S INFLUENCERS

I earnestly contend for God to radically move in Alexandria's life. I envision a dramatic encounter with our holy, fiery God that will transform her in a moment.

There is no way to debate the issue of abortion successfully without introducing God into the scenario. In fact, I contend that it's nearly impossible to win this debate without people having an authentic, life-altering, supernatural visitation of God himself in their lives. A Damascus Road experience is needed for Alexandria and others who are aggressively fighting against God's truth.

While Alexandria is keeping her fight in the realm of activism and legislation (which is legal and protected), Paul (then Saul) took his fight against his own “Christian extremists” to another level when God suddenly overwhelmed him.

“But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”” (Acts 9:1–4, ESV)

After his encounter, everything changed. Read the rest of the passage below and pray for Alexandria. I can see her transformed, standing behind a pulpit in a fiery church preaching the truth of Jesus. Can you?

“For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.” (Acts 9:19–22, ESV)

Photos credit: “IMG_3990” by cornstalker is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Vax Shame: Why are so many Christians refusing to get vaccinated?

Many are getting vaccinated in secret because of the shame associated with it in their circles.

The Covid-19 vaccine has become so polarizing that some people in Missouri are getting inoculated in secret for fear of backlash from their friends and family who oppose vaccination, a doctor told CNN on Wednesday.

I've personally heard of this happening, so I don't believe it's obscure and I don't believe it's limited to Missouri. 

Vax shame is alive and well throughout our nation and it is attached both to vaxers and anti-vaxers. This is an equal opportunity offense that is creating some of the most ridiculous and foolish division our nation has ever seen.

Controversial NBA legend Charles Barkley chimed in on the vaccine debate by saying, ““Yes, I’m vaccinated. Everybody should be vaccinated. Period,” Barkley said. “The only people who are not vaccinated are just [expletive].”

The shame is as intense for those who get the shot as for those who do not. No wonder people are going incognito through secret entrances during off-hours at their local doctor's office to get the vaccine.

CHRISTIANS MAY BE AMONG THE WORST OFFENDERS

It seems love, honor and civility have long been abandoned in this era of plagues and politics. The ability to share strong opinions while valuing other's positions seems to be rare today.

While I have an opinion on the matter (though I admit there are unknowns, I believe COVID could be neutralized in a matter of weeks if one hundred percent of Americans were vaccinated), my primary focus right now is the shame that is rampant among Believers.

Earlier today I posted the following to Facebook:

I just heard about two hospitals reporting 34 deaths from covid since Friday. 14% of people hospitalized are dying and 40% in the ICU are dying. Almost all are unvaccinated. Whether you are pro or anti-vax, this has to make you think.
 
 
This resulted in the firestorm that you might expect.

More than one has argued that getting vaccinated is sorcery. When asked if they personally refuse all medicine or if they would counsel cancer patients to refuse medical treatment, they didn't have an answer. 

Others have questioned people's faith in God if they use medicine. Many are fully rejecting the statistics of those who have died or been hospitalized because of the virus. They are firmly suggesting it's all a hoax.

I've been called a liar for sharing the reasons for my position. I've been chastised for spreading fear. My faith has been called into question. 

When I wasn't being personally shamed, I was entertaining common but bizarre conspiracy theories about the virus being a tool of manipulation, the injection equating to the Mark of the Beast and the vaccine killing more people than the disease.

Christians especially are turning to rogue news sources, doctors and others in their echo chamber that will report exactly what they want to hear. The tin hat crowd has gone mainstream.

Firsthand medical worker accounts like the following from Branson Tri Lakes News are rejected as fake:

“We’re the ones who see that look of fear in their eyes as they’re trying to breathe and know they’re going to have to go on a ventilator. They’re struggling with the bi-pap and they look at us so helpless and scared and desperate. It is like a prison for all of us, I think.”

The latest data about hospitalizations is being denounced by the religious right as propaganda.  

Dr. Frank Courmier, a pulmonary critical care physician at Our Lady of Lourdes, tells KATC 99 percent of the new cases at the hospital come from people who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Malcolm and Kris Ehresmann, the director of infectious disease prevention for the Minnesota Department of Health, say more than 99 percent of new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths are people who are not vaccinated.

In Texas99.5% of people who died from COVID from February through July 14 weren't vaccinated, per the Texas Tribune's reporting on preliminary data from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

In southern Missouri, an area that leads the nation as a delta variant hot spot, “almost every COVID-19 patient in Springfield's hospitals is unvaccinated,” the Atlantic reported.

“Over 99% of the COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths we are seeing (in LA County) are among unvaccinated individuals,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Monday.

Apparently this is all propaganda and we should shame all who believe it.

WEAR A MASK, GET EXCOMMUNICATED

The shame doesn't end with the vaccine. Masks are back in the news and one pastor seems to be capitalizing on that fact. 

MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) — The pastor of a Mt. Juliet church has threatened to kick out members of his congregation if they show up in masks amid a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the delta variant.

During service on Sunday at Global Vision Bible Church, Pastor Greg Locke told the crowd, “Don’t believe this delta variant nonsense. Stop it! Stop it!”

Locke said, “If they go through round two and you start showing up all these masks and all this nonsense, I’ll ask you to leave. I will ask you to leave. I am not playing these Democrat games up in this church. If you want to social distance, go to First Baptist Church, but don’t come to this one.”

This is not Christianity. This is not pastoral leadership. This is madness. 

I fully support people's right to make their health decisions without coercion. While I believe we must be free to evangelize our values in an honoring, healthy manner, I reject the idea that any of us should be forced to get (or not get) the vaccine. To shame people who want to wear a mask to church is insane. 

It's not that I don't understand the passion to rise up against any sort of propaganda, inappropriate government control or false narratives. It's that too many have done so in rebellious, arrogant fashion that brings shame to the name of Christ.

THE OTHER SIDE IS NO BETTER

While my primary viewpoint is Christian society, it's important to note that the aggression from the other side is just as strong. The shame vomited all over those who choose not to get vaccinated is despicable. 

We need to be able to share strong opinions without shaming.  Oh, and we should also be allowed to wear a mask at church and, if we so choose, go to our doctors without donning a fake mustache and glasses.

Photo credit: ““Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.” Margaret Atwood” by katerha is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Originally published by Charisma Media.

People Worship, Distorted Love and Abandoning the Faith

A distorted view of love is causing followers of Jesus to renounce—or redefine—their faith.

“I love you guys, and I love all the support and friendships I’ve built here [Instagram]…I think it’s important to say that I’m just not a Christian anymore, and it feels really good. I’m really happy…I’m really happy.”

That's former Desiring God writer Paul Maxwell.  He continues, “I love my life for the first time…and I love myself for the first time.”

Paul Maxwell comes across as an authentically kind and caring person in the article. His desire for connectivity and relationships is clear, In fact, it would do all of us well to grow in tenderness and passion for people. The problem comes when we elevate people, including self, to an inappropriate and unworthy level. Pastors, it would do you well to know that a focus on people isn't primary.

Paul Maxwell mentioned love and happiness repeatedly, revealing a problem that's both driving people away from the church and infecting the church at the same time. I'll state it clearly: love has been distorted and happiness is not God's primary goal for our lives. The Gospel message has become skewed and confused. We must remember that mankind, you and I included, is fully deserving of Hell. 

PEOPLE WORSHIP

People have been worshiping people for a long time. Rock and movie stars are both stalked and adored. Everyone from paparazzi to those who buy the photos along with tickets and merch are famous for elevating their admiration to an unhealthy level. People worship.

However, idolizing celebrities is no longer the prime concern. People worship has gone mainstream. 

The Gospel message has morphed into a focus on people ahead of God in too many instances. Much of today's worship music has become entertainment driven as it focuses on who we are instead of who God is. Messages and entire movements are zeroing in on our great worth instead of our depravity. Churches are systematically wired to ensure visitors are valued, connected and comfortable in a sanitized, tepid, familiar living room environment.

Pastors are refusing to preach on holiness, hell, sin and repentance while favoring teachings on how much God loves us. They bend over backwards attempting to communicate human value while forsaking the revival-style messages that drove men and women to their knees.

The false-grace and false-love movements are infecting churches all over the world. Focus on the topics of identity and love is extremely valuable when handled rightly, and in the correct measure. However, an obsession with love and grace to the exclusion of judgment and fear of the Lord has resulted in many dabbling with the heresy of Universalism. 

People I know are teetering on the edge of Universalism as they are becoming convinced that love demands we affirm others regardless of belief or behavior. People worship elevates mankind while intentionally dismissing their sin as mere weakness. If the sin isn't dismissed, it's often celebrated as a unifying trait that brings mankind together as a loving band of misfits. What is forgotten, or ignored, or rejected is that sin literally kills. 

When we fully, radically and wholeheartedly surrender our lives to Jesus, his grace and mercy are overwhelming. The resulting peace, joy and abundant life are indescribable. However, today's people worship movement that is mirrored both in secular culture and the church attempts to relieve people of the struggle with sin by deeming it either benign or mildly concerning.

OUR HAPPINESS IS NOT GOD'S GOAL—AND IT SHOULDN'T BE OURS

Paul Maxwell's desire for authentic relationships is normal. However, this cannot be our goal.

Unredeemed humankind lives every moment seeking out the next pleasure, the next high, the next relationship. Those who don't know God are driven by a fervent passion to satisfy their desires. In fact, Christians who have merely made an intellectual or emotional decision to follow Christ are at similar disadvantage. This is why I unapologetically preach on authentic encounter with Jesus. Experiencing God supernaturally is the game changer. 

While I appreciate the effort, I tend to cringe when I see goodhearted preachers addressing secular audiences from an intellectual perspective. Facts, figures, history, logic and arguments that originate in the human mind have a place. We simply need to know that an intellectual approach is woefully limited. A Damascus Road encounter, however, changes everything. When we are visited by an otherworldly entity that floods our beings with divine love, power and freedom, attempts at a logical interpretation becomes laughable. 

When encounter comes, the Holy Spirit has phenomenal access to our lives. The Word of God then erupts in our spirits as we yearn for the truth it contains. It's at this point where human desires are dramatically calibrated to match God's. It's here where we understand that God's prime goal isn't to make us happy but rather to save our souls and to draw us into intimacy with him.

Deep friendships, sexual satisfaction, wealth, inner healing and other human desires become sanctified and reordered in importance. A life devoid of human friends stings less when our driving passion is to be a friend of God. A life of celibacy, should that be our portion, is a powerful sacrifice as we devote ourselves to knowing God more deeply. Again, our happiness isn't God's prime concern. Intimacy with him is.

THE GREAT LOVE DECEPTION

Consider this portion from one of the most important articles I've ever written, The Great Love Deception:

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.

In fact, love most certainly doesn't always feel good. When we encounter love, we will be presented with a view of God that is quite different than what we previously understood to be true. God’s love can be expressed in a very direct, uncomfortable way that breaks you and you may even wonder how a loving God could act that way. God’s expression of love will often put you at risk, threaten you and trouble you. Jesus’ expression of love on the cross put Peter at risk of the same grisly death! How could Jesus do this? Peter was confused as he was presented with a side of Jesus he never saw—and he denied that expression of Jesus and his love for the world! I guarantee that Peter did not feel good as Jesus loved him by rescuing him from Hell by dying on the cross. Today, sharp, provoking preaching is rejected because it doesn’t feel good. They might say in their disturbed state, “That’s not the Jesus I know.” The risk is, like Peter, rejection of God when the feelings aren’t warm and intimate. This is one reason why being people of the Word is non-negotiable. We can’t afford to call good evil and evil good. We must learn about Jesus and how he functions so that our emotions don’t lead us astray.

FINAL THOUGHTS

People are not to be worshiped. We are all deserving of eternal torment.

God isn't here to satisfy our happiness. Friend, we are in a spiritual war. It's time to lay down our lives, to embrace the cross, to prepare for martyrdom, to develop deep intimacy with Jesus and to live our lives storming the gates of Hell and battling wickedness on the earth.

From that place, yes, there most certainly is opportunity for developing deep, holy friendships, in developing a healthy, godly identity and in enjoying the life God gives us. But we cannot abandon the faith when it doesn't satisfy. We can't reject God when he doesn't meet our demands. We can't quit when our intellect doesn't grasp God's methods. We must not redefine our faith to elevate the value of people to worship status. We aren't in it for our fulfillment, or happiness, our joy or our mental and emotional health. We follow Jesus because he is God, he paid the ultimate price for us and he is literally our only hope.

Photo credit: “Athiest bus advert” by thegreatgonzo is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Originally published by The Stream.

 

 

Killing Children: How Can Christians Vote For A Pro-Death Candidate?

If your candidate supported killing children under the age of two for any reason, would you vote for him or her?

I'll never forget something a remarkable pastor who was deeply invested in the prayer movement and in justice for the unborn told me. At a citywide pastor and church leader gathering in Detroit a call for prayer requests was made as the meeting was coming to a close.

This pastor simply asked the room of spiritual leaders, “Please keep us covered in prayer as we contend against abortion in Detroit.”

What happened next stunned him speechless. A prominent pastor brashly retorted by saying, “Sir, you must know that many pastors in this room support a woman's right to choose.”

Pure, unabashed wickedness.

How this man and others in the room who have aligned themselves with the slaughter of children can call themselves Christians, much less pastors, I don't know. Like the pastor, I'm speechless. I'm also sickened, grieved and enraged. You should be too.

CHRISTIANS VOTING PRO-DEATH

I was again nauseous after Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris trumpeted her and Joe Biden's faith during the debate last night.

Conservative commentator Allie Beth Stuckey tweeted:

The Washington Post reported, “Kamala Harris… voted last year against the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would punish doctors who fail to provide medical care to a child born alive after an attempted abortion.”

Allow me to propose the question again: If your candidate supported killing children under the age of two for any reason, would you vote for him or her?

Look forward into time I can see this scenario playing out sooner than later. If people like Kamala Harris are in opposition to saving the lives of children who have been born after a failed abortion, that same murderous spirit will easily support the right to kill others.

The moment a toddler becomes an irritable inconvenience to the mother or father they are but a lethal injection away from peace and quiet. In fact, if they were to adopt the methods of abortion “doctors” they would have the option of ripping off the child's arms and legs, sucking out its brains and disposing of it in the trash. More progressive people might try to make a buck by harvesting the child's organs.

If my writing that disturbed you, perfect. You should be disturbed.

If you think my prediction is ridiculous, that's okay. My point wasn't to prophesy the future of destruction in America. My purpose was to make something vividly clear:

Killing children, toddlers who are breathing, laughing, walking, talking and a precious and valuable part of humanity is no different than killing those who are unborn.

It is exactly the same.

Literally.

No difference whatsoever.

THE MURDEROUS SPIRIT OF MOLECH

A “Christian” who supports a mother's right to choose has exposed an alliance with a murderous, demonic spirit who seeks to steal, kill and destroy. If they have the right to choose to slaughter their child before birth, then, by extension, they are supporting the right to slaughter their child after they are born.

Is it possible the barbaric culture we now live in is exponentially worse than during the time children were sacrificed to Molech? Absolutely.

History is filled with barbaric cultures. One of the worst, though, has to be the ancient Canaanites. As was customary in that culture, parents offered their newborn children as sacrifices to their god Molech. Most depictions of Molech include large metal statues of a man with a bull’s head. Usually these statues had outstretched arms to hold the baby sacrifices.

During the sacrificial process, the Canaanites would light a fire inside or around the statue to heat up the statue as hot as they could. Then they would place their newborns into the red-hot arms of Molech and watch the children sizzle to death.

During this gruesome event, the Canaanites would play flutes and bang on drums to drown out the sound of their shrieking children. No wonder God ordered the Israelites to destroy them.

So, again, the question is, would you vote for someone who supported killing children?

Apparently many professing Christians plan on it this upcoming election day. In fact, I was stunned to hear Jason Upton, a renowned worship leader and musician, make an absurd statement:

I believe Ruth Bader Ginsburg was ProLife in her own way.

Someone who was directly responsible for the horrifying death of millions of children is “pro-life in her own way?” This was an irresponsible remark by Jason. Shockingly, many other well known ministers and worship leaders voiced their agreement with Jason's statement. This is why we can't be too surprised when Christians are leaning left and rallying behind pro-death politicians.

I asked a simple question on Facebook today:

Approximately how many professing Christians do you know who are voting for Biden? I'm writing an article and I'm trying to get an unscientific pulse on the situation.

I hope the responses disturb you.

  • Right now my mom is voting for Biden. I can’t comprehend how/ why she would do that as a born again believer. ~Kathryn
  • Unfortunately a lot. ~Janet
  • Oh goodness I have lost count but it’s a huge number all across the Country. ~Kerri
  • Lots. ~Melodie
  • Over twenty. ~Michael
  • Over twenty here too. ~Aimee
  • Maybe 5 or 6. ~Chad
  • I know quite a few supposed Christians who are voting for Biden. ~Amy
  • I go to a liberal seminary and I would say the vast majority of my fellow classmates and in particularly the teachers are voting for Biden. ~Aaron
  • I know about a dozen, but I'll never understand how they can make that choice – on the Life issue alone. ~Timmerle
  • Christians voting for Biden-Harris? None. ~Don
  • Professing is the correct term…. ~Tim
  • Way too many! One is too many!! ~Bev
  • Lots. Rachelle
  • I would say probably at least 20% of the people I know are voting for Biden. ~Karen

BUT PRO-CHOICE PLATFORMS REDUCE THE NUMBER OF ABORTIONS!

First of all, this has not been proven to be true.

Secondly, if it were true it wouldn't matter.

If a politician made a campaign promise that he or she would kill every young child that was not appropriately secured in a car seat or booster when in a car, would you vote him in? Of course not. Why? Because the politician would be exposed as a demented sociopath that probably needs to be locked away in prison or safely secured in a hospital for the mentally ill. He'd be an extreme danger to society.

Yet, if the promise of the political sociopath became law you can be absolutely certain that deaths of young children would plummet, not increase. In fact, it would probably be quite rare for police officers to pull out a revolver to terminate children during traffic stops. Parents would be obsessively careful to ensure their children are perfectly strapped in no matter how short their commute might be.

Absurd, right?

Allowing mothers to kill unborn children is an absurd strategy to bring the abortion statistics down. Vile even.

There are many other arguments that are equally pathetic. Many would say the election isn't only about abortion and that there are other equally important issues. What they are actually saying is they are okay with children being ripped out of wombs as long as the economy is strong, the poor are taken care of and universal, affordable health care is available.

These same people will most likely be among the first in line to endorse the anti-Christ, someone who will offer peace and safety in exchange for their soul.

Make no mistake, a vote for a pro-death candidate is a vote for Molech. An endorsement of someone who promotes killing children invites an invisible yet powerfully destructive spirit of death into your home. Don't underestimate the supernatural implications.

I'll say what few will: if you vote for a candidate who is in support of abortion, your supposed Christianity is suspect. You can't presume to be saved. You are truly in great eternal danger.

FINAL THOUGHTS

If you have considered even for a moment voting for a pro-death candidate, I implore you to repent. Then, go deeper in God than you ever have in your life. Pray with fiery passion. Devour the Word of God. Fall in love with Jesus. Become a passionate radical for God. Invite the Holy Spirit to consume you.

If enough do this, revival just might break out and America may shift from being a barbaric nation to one that truly promotes life.

Originally published by The Stream.

Prince Harry and Meghan…and plenty of Christians today: Surrendering Royal Duties for Personal Endeavors

Don't be too hard on Harry and Meghan. How many followers of Christ are similarly renouncing their callings in favor of chasing their dreams?

The couple will no longer use the titles His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness, but they are not being stripped of them. Harry will remain a prince and sixth in line to the British throne. (wyff4.com)

I am fully convinced every blood-bought Believer was born with a divine, royal calling. I'm saddened at how successful the enemy has been in either convincing Christians they are worthless and common or in seducing them to forsake their identities for more self-satisfying pursuits.

In fact, many today argue they are seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus regardless of how they respond to the heavenly mandates Christ Jesus has given them. Okay, as long as we are legitimately following Jesus, yes, we are seated with him. Prince Harry will remain a prince even though he's relinquishing the expectations that come with that designation. I'm confident you can see the problem this presents, however.

This article isn't a judgment on Prince Harry and Meghan. Instead it is an indictment on the church, on God's royal family.

9  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)

DREAM CHASERS

When we come to Christ, we die. I'll never forget a dramatic, life-altering experience I had with God decades ago. In remarkable fashion, in a way words could never faithfully express, God asked me point blank if I was willing to be a martyr. After some of the most intense minutes of my life ticked by, I ultimately said, “Yes. Life would not be worth living without being fully surrendered to Jesus, even if it means I die.”

The power of the Holy Spirit flooded me so powerfully I can still remember the encounter many years later. No, we are not called to chase our dreams. We are called to come alive as we joyfully serve the King.

How many Believers today have forsaken their royal duties to chase their dreams? How many are doing so while arguing they are still “in line to the throne?” People who have surrendered their divine callings have casually presumed upon the thrown to honor and facilitate their plans instead of honoring the King and his plans as humble servants.

The palace continued: “With The Queen’s blessing, the Sussexes will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations. While they can no longer formally represent The Queen, the Sussexes have made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty. (foxnews.com)

What a tragic situation. In parallel fashion, many of today's Christians are seeking the King's blessing to disconnect so they can “maintain their private patronages and associations.”

The result? The inability to represent King Jesus while “endeavoring to uphold the values of His Majesty.” This lukewarm, abdication of royal responsibilities makes upholding divine values mostly impossible. This is the state of much of the church today. The King is no longer represented.

RELINQUISHED MILITARY ASSIGNMENT

The new “model” will take effect this spring, though the palace did not announce an official date. As part of the new agreement, Harry and Meghan will step back from all royal duties, including official military appointments. (time.com)

I've argued often that the church is a potent, strategic and necessary instrument of spiritual war. It's a military, though many seek to turn it into a spa, an indulgent, personally satisfying experience.

What we have in church today is a company of inactive soldiers who are absent without leave. Their motivation is, again, personal satisfaction and the fulfillment of temporal dreams. Those who have laid down their weapons and disengaged from the fight have empowered a deadly supernatural enemy who seeks to destroy.

Every Christian was born with a mandate. While there are many variations of duties, we all have at least one that will drive us through life. That assignment ends on our death bed, or, sadly, for many, much earlier as they seek blessing from His Majesty to step aside.

10  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11 (ESV)

I pray the new “model” of life adopted by Prince Harry and Meghan will be rejected by today's remnant church. We can't afford for people to step back so they can focus on their personal endeavors. Instead we need every holy soldier armed and ready for the clash of battle.

I pray the best for Prince Harry and Meghan. Again, this article wasn't about them. It was about a mirrored reality in the spiritual realm. It's a violation of what is pure and right to accept the designation of royalty while rejecting the assignments of royalty.

Church, arise. Arm yourselves. Lock in with your fellow warriors. Obey the King. Run to battle. Annihilate the enemy. Rescue the perishing. Fulfill your assignment.

21  His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:21 (ESV)

Facebook Prophets: 10 Reasons Pastors Won’t Let You Prophesy in Church

Disqualified people are rushing to social media to establish illegitimate ministries. Are pastors to blame?

There's a level of toxicity regarding the prophetic in today's churches that must be addressed if we hope to hear God's voice and advance with clarity and power in these end times.

People who have had their ministries rejected in the church are taking their services to Facebook and other social communities in hopes of developing influence. The problem? Influence without authority is birthed out of deep dysfunction and it can lead people into that same dysfunctional, unauthorized spirituality.

They would argue they receive their authority and their authorization from God directly. This tired argument is evidence of resistance to being rightfully responsive to flesh and bone people that God has called us to serve and honor. We don't have the option to reject human authority while, in the same breath, attempting to establish ourselves as an authority. It's silliness.

Listen to the podcast on this topic…

PROPHECY IS CRITICAL IN THE CHURCH TODAY

We cannot go on without pure, potent and mature prophecy filling our churches every single week. The lack of God's rhema voice is telling as churches are resorting more and more to sociological mind tricks instead of advancing according to supernatural revelation.

It has become quite rare to see a body that's healthy and strong in the prophetic as people are rightly equipped and released to communicate oracles from heaven. Faith is epidemically low as millions of Christians have no idea what God's voice sounds like.

17  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

The word “word” in the above verse is translated as rhema. This is the “now” word of God, the revelation whether it's a prophetic word or the words of Scripture leaping off the pages. When this active, precise and timely message from God pierces a people, faith skyrockets.

Not only does a strong prophetic culture give a local church body the ability to move ahead in the direction God has determined, but everybody involved is wildly invested as a result of hearing God speak. True prophetic messages don't stop at the ears or the mind, but they sear our spirits and impact our emotions like no other message can. When this happens, faith goes up and we respond in unity, power and joy.

Sadly, most churches could not be described as prophetic churches. There are reasons for this. Blame rests both on the pastor and on the people. Let's deal with the people first.

10 REASONS WHY PASTORS DON'T LET YOU PROPHESY IN CHURCH SERVICES

ONE: A LACK OF HUMILITY

I'll begin by communicating loud and clear something many prophetic people won't want to hear: never, ever start attending a church with the intention of mentoring, teaching or refining the pastor via prophecy or otherwise. What arrogance it must take for you to presume such an uninvited role in your church. If your wealth of wisdom, knowledge and experience are needed, be sure the pastor will request your counsel. Otherwise, keep quiet.

Whether in this scenario or another, pastors have no use for people who want to minster to those they have been commissioned to protect if they aren't truly humble. Meekness is a prerequisite for prophetic ministry as any measure of arrogance or selfish ambition will taint the messages being delivered.

This following passage of Scripture speaks to this issue perfectly:

13  Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14  But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15  This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16  For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 3:13-17 (NKJV)

Wisdom is demonic if self-seeking and envy is what drives it. Follow the advice in verse seventeen and be willing to yield.

TWO: DISORDER

Speaking of being willing to yield, undisciplined prophetic people tend to enjoy rebelling against the order of the house. Influencing the service with the spiritualized sound of their voice is what drives them.

Many years ago as I was planting my first church a visitor asked me about our prophetic protocol. I explained that we value prophecy and that she could deliver a prophetic word to me or leadership for review during the worship service. She didn't like that answer. She went on to say that she would have to interrupt the service, even if I were preaching, if God gave her a prophetic word for the body.

Ummm, nope. She presumed her supposed prophetic insight was important enough to violate order. We were interested in investing in her and in her prophetic gift and in developing a very active, life-giving prophetic culture, but she didn't want to function within those boundaries. She ended up leaving the church and we were the better for it.

THREE: IMMATURITY

There's a difference between someone who is actively and willingly growing in their gift and someone who refuses to grow up. Those who are intentionally undisciplined and who are not giving themselves to everything that needs to be done to grow and develop their gifting should not be set free to prophesy in the church. A lot of damage can be done.

These people love to prophesy, but you don't see them in the prayer rooms. They are unresponsive to leadership. They aren't in the Word.

12  For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13  For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14  But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:12-14 (NKJV)

Those who are prophesying are most definitely functioning in the arena of spiritual discernment. If they cannot discern spiritually due to a lack of maturity, there's no way they can be trusted to deliver prophetic words. Does this mean their prophecy is always wrong? No. But it means they are reckless in their devotion to stewarding their gift, and if they are driven by the wrong spirit, they can do damage.

FOUR: ADVERSE TO CORRECTION

There's no pastor alive who should allow someone to influence the body who won't take correction. This is not only an indicator of immaturity, but also of a dangerous, unsubmitted person. It reveals their heart and that's a heart that should never be trusted to minister.

1  Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid. Proverbs 12:1 (NKJV)

Enough said.

FIVE: YOU WON'T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER

The pastor has the right and responsibility to refuse to allow someone to deliver a prophetic word (or to minister in any fashion) if he chooses. If someone reacts wrongly to this, that's evidence enough that they shouldn't have been allowed to share the message.

Understand, much of the time a leader will disallow a prophetic word simply because he doesn't feel it fits. It may have nothing to do with the character of the person who desires to share the word. It may just be a timing issue. We need to yield to our leaders and not get uptight or feel rejected if they don't believe our ministry is appropriate at that time.

If you are a prophetic person, you need to understand that what you wish to share in a public setting isn't always what others feel should be shared. Since you are a person under authority, you need to be okay with the reality that your leaders may not want you to share your revelation at times. If not, you'll grow bitter very quickly, and then we should run far and fast from any prophetic word you try to impose on us.

SIX: A POOR TRACK RECORD

It wouldn't make sense for a pastor to allow someone to preach on a Sunday morning if they have a history of teaching error. Further, they shouldn't allow someone to minister as a part of the worship team if they are always off key or don't show up for rehearsals on time. This simple and obvious realty applies to prophetic people as well.

If they repeatedly deliver wrong, confusing or unscriptural messages, they can't be allowed to continue. Pastors must ensure truth is communicated and if someone can't be trusted to deliver truth, they must be benched until they can grow as a Believer.

SEVEN: MANIPULATION

This is a big, big point and I want to make sure I have your full attention: If you are attempting to use your supposed prophetic gift to steer the church in a direction not sanctioned by the leadership, you are functioning in witchcraft. You are in rebellion and your ministry is dark and it should not be tolerated.

Charismatic witchcraft is rampant and we must have bold pastors who fear God more than man to deal very aggressively with it. If you are operating in this unruly spirit and attempting to pass it off as prophecy, you need to go. Leave. Don't come back. I'd be quick to show someone like this the door, unless they were truly repentant.

Don't underestimate the damage that such a demonic spirit can do in a church, especially if the leaders God ordained to protect the flock refuse to act. Their silence can kill an entire church, and it happens every day.

God will protect a leader who is “wrong” (I'm not talking about sin, I'm talking about organizational direction) before he affirms a prophetic person who is “right” yet manipulative, rebellious and fueled by an evil spirit of witchcraft.

EIGHT: DOMINATING THE SERVICE

There goes Sister Linda again! Oh, Brother Joe is about to stand up and deliver a word…I can just feel it!

We know the all too predictable scenario all too well. In many churches there's one or two people who, week after week, dominate the prophetic culture by delivering word after word after word after word after word…you get it.

Again, the counsel is to yield! Do you have any idea how much cringing goes on in the church, by the pastor and by most of the body, when the same people are giving nearly the same words in most every service? Oh, it's true. The cringe factor is high.

Pastors, the body is often wondering why you don't put a stop to it. You need to do your job and lovingly encourage these types of people on how to rightly minister in your local church setting.

NINE: GOSSIP

Closely related to manipulation, and equally as deadly, is gossip. Sadly, unrestrained prophetic people are famous for their ability to gossip. Stopping with a manipulative prophetic word is definitely not enough for them. When leadership doesn't change the course of the church after repeated doses of prophetic pressure, their next step is to gather people around them and to sell their perspective. Any good charismatic witch would do just that. All it takes is a Christianized coven meeting to give real power to their motives.

Gossips are some of Satan's most anointed salesmen, and when that person is looked up to as a prophetic voice, you have some incredible manipulative, supernatural and extremely evil power behind their words. They can destroy a church overnight, and they cannot be tolerated.

TEN: YOU ARE NEEDY/YOU HAVE IDENTITY ISSUES

People who need to minister for the sake of affirmation, or to feed their misguided identities, shouldn't be given a platform, unless that platform is at the altar. Too many wounded prophetic people have developed a craving for affirmation in their gifting, and that weakness has compromised that gift, no matter how precise or developed it is.

Our identity must be found in nobody and nothing else than Jesus. It should be easy to lay our gifts and callings down, with the only grief coming from our passion to see lives transformed. Our own need to minister should never be a factor.

Those who need to minister should not be allowed to minister. Instead, they should spend time with Jesus and give themselves to the process of healing. Then, they will be free, healthy and trustworthy when it's time to step into ministry again.

PASTORS, THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE NEED FROM YOU REGARDING THEIR PROPHETIC CALLING

ONE: EQUIPPING

A key reason there's so much dysfunction in prophetic people today, and a reason they are running to Facebook to minister, is because pastors have failed to equip them. It's as simple as that. Prophetic people are yearning to be trained, but it's nearly impossible to find a church today that includes a prophetic school as a part of their foundational culture. Heck, you can barely find a Sunday School class focusing on it.

Pastors, it's your responsibility to equip the people in the prophetic. How can you hear what God is saying if you don't? Church is a corporate venture, and while you are the point person, and while God will speak directly to you in most situations, you need others to confirm those words and to introduce additional revelation that's critical for the mission.

If you shut down the prophetic in your services to avoid the issues I addressed above, you are wrong. It's as clear as that. Their failure is most often your failure.

19  Do not quench the Spirit. 20  Do not despise prophecies. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 (NKJV)

TWO: AN OUTLET

People need an outlet. Prophetic messengers especially must have a place to release their revelations. If not in the church, then where? If not in a safe place with the oversight of leadership it will happen unmoderated, uncontrolled and undisciplined in public.

Pastors, you have no option but to nurture your prophetic culture in such a way that the body can minister the various impacts the Spirit of God is having on them. If they are muzzled they will most usually break free and unleash those words from a place of rebellion. Their rebellion is not only their fault. Very often, it's also yours.

26  How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 1 Corinthians 14:26 (NKJV)

THREE: FEEDBACK

Prophetic people want feedback. Those who are thin skinned will be revealed, which is advantageous to you. Those who are truly humble and teachable will come alive as you share your heart regarding their ministry.

Did they prophesy from a healthy heart? Let them know. Was their message a little confusing? Coach them. Be invested in their development and your church will be the better for it.

FOUR: NO FAVORITISM

First things first. It's okay for pastors to acknowledge prophetic people who have passed tests, proven themselves and been faithful. They absolutely should be favored. Further, those who have failed the tests should not be favored.

That being said, all things being equal, it's important that pastors give room to everybody who's healthy and ready to minister. The young need room to grow, the new people need a family to thrive in and those who have been trusted for years need to mentor the next generation.

If you want to ensure a church stays in a spiritual rut, refuse to acknowledge anybody except those who have been in the inner circle for decades.

FIVE: A RIGHT RESPONSE

Prophetic people don't simply want to share a legitimate word from God. They are excited about the shift in the atmosphere that it will bring. Too often, pastors want to grab the reigns as fast as possible after a prophetic word is given and redirect back in the previous direction.

Pastors must humbly admit that God will use prophetic people to bring fresh wind that demands the sails are repositioned so the boat starts moving the direction the Holy Spirit desires. These prophetic people simply want to see the fruit of their obedience to release oracles instead of the resistance and rejection that is so commonplace in the church today.

SIX: ENCOURAGEMENT 

Everybody needs encouragement, especially prophetic people! Speak life into them and let them know how blessed you are because of their ministry. Thank them for their heart, for their devotion to humility, for their growth. Let them know you see them developing and that you appreciate them. A healthy, loved and encouraged prophetic person is a valuable member of your team.

SEVEN: VALIDATION

There comes a time to publicly validate a ministry. This holds true for every ministry, but it seems those with prophetic callings are all too often overlooked. If someone has passed tests and proven themselves, over an extended period of time, let the body know you trust them and that their ministry is valid.

Not only will this encourage the individual and give them a track to run on, it will show everybody else the type of person and what it takes to be validated. It will give them a goal. It will communicate that others, who have not proven themselves, are not affirmed, at least not at that level.

VICE VERSA

A bunch of the above points could be applied to the other party. Pastors also must be humble. They shouldn't manipulate. They must be mature, teachable and not a gossip.

The prophetic person should encourage their pastor. They should have a right response to leadership.

However, lets start the way I laid it out. We must see health come to the church, especially today, and most certainly in the arena of the prophetic.

God has a lot to say to us.

Husbands and Wives: A Life Changing Strategy Against Satan’s Assault On Marriage

(This article was also published by Charisma News. You can read it here: https://www.charismanews.com/opinion/75296-use-this-life-changing-strategy-against-satan-s-assault-on-marriage)

Satan is raging against marriages—and God has provided a powerful tool to protect them.

9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Mark 10:9 (ESV)

I’m relaxing next to a warm, simmering fire in a beautiful lodge in Branson, Missouri after a week-long, life-changing marriage intensive. Focus on the Family has landed on something powerful in the Ozark Mountains. This retreat center is special, and it is uniquely designed to protect husbands and wives from very strategic and vicious attacks of the enemy on their marriage. Our last counseling session ended just a few hours ago, and I can honestly say this is a week that will impact me forever. My wife’s testimony is the same. We have been transformed.

A WEARY, BATTERED ARMY

The coming revival and worldwide revolution in the church will test every soldier of the Lord. The pressure will be extreme and the battle demands a healed and whole army. I am convinced the quickest way to eliminate men and women of God who are critical in this end-time mission is by ripping apart marriages. There is little else that can demoralize and destroy those who have a calling of God on their lives more quickly and completely than strife and disunity within the construct of God’s holy union of marriage. A person may have a powerful vision, an earth-shaking anointing and a hunger for God to move mightily—and get derailed by darkness that is brooding within their own homes.

Instead of being vibrant, full of life, keenly focused, on the alert and ready to impact the world, God’s soldiers can find themselves weary, battered and struggling to raise the shield of faith, even in their own living rooms, as the fiery darts fly. If the warzone is taking place in the home, the world will have to wait, and the enemy knows that.

A WARRIOR BRIDE

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)

Husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loves the church. I doubt we understand the depth of that statement. If we are called as warriors, and as the beautiful Bride of Christ, it’s imperative that we understand how to love within the bounds of marriage. We must become captivated by the immeasurable depths of God’s love for us, his Bride. I’m provoked by God’s unhindered ability to love us without the restrictions that woundedness brings. No matter how unfaithful we are, or how out of touch and selfish we may be, it does not hinder God’s passion for us in the least. His heart burns for us. His emotions are deep. Stop and think about that for a moment. Consider the difficulty of comprehensively, passionately and fully loving your spouse. Imagine what it would be like if hurtful words, insensitivity, disconnectedness or unfaithfulness had absolutely no impact on your love for them. How would your life be different? Oh, my! Everything would be different! Imagine the abounding freedom and joy that would be ours!

Further, what would it be like on the other side? What if your weakness, struggles, sins, hurtful actions, selfishness and abuse did nothing to affect your spouse’s love for you? Such an experience would almost be disorienting. It’s beyond the scope of what is normal, what is reasonable. I am leaping inside even as I write this! A life of unconditional love is something beyond all of our realm of experience. Oh how I long for this!

Of course, I’m not suggesting that our negative actions wouldn’t be hurtful, or that our spouse’s sins wouldn’t wound us. We are human and woundedness is real. It means we are still alive and sensitive. However, I can imagine a God ordained marriage that was so pure that, while hurt would still come, love would be constant and overwhelming. I pray this provokes you to believe for a marriage that is abounding in love!

I believe it will take a warrior Bride that is healthy and driven by love to advance into the darkness in the coming end-time battle. We all must be healed, healthy, dead to self and full of love.

14 Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14 (ESV)

FEARS IN MARRIAGE

18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 (ESV)

If we are truly honest, we’d see the root of most of our conflicts in marriage are founded in fear. Fear of losing control. Fear of being manipulated. Fear of unfaithfulness. Fear of mistreatment. Fear that we will not be loved. I could go on and on. Fear is so pervasive in life, and it most certainly is in marriage.

Imagine what would change if all of that fear was eliminated. No more fear of rejection. No fear of abuse. No fear of anything. Our marriages would break free from chains that are devastating and restricting and debilitating. A life free from fear can only come as we are awakened to the love of God in a very real, legitimate way—AND when we allow God’s transforming love to be exhibited through us. Our freedom comes not when others stop threatening us, but rather when their threats, assaults, cruelty and hatred have no power over us. Our freedom comes not when they finally love us, but when we can finally love them.

The intensive we enjoyed this week gave language to this and supplied tools that we simply could not have discovered without spending a secluded week in this very special place. Yes, there are books with the material we could study, but there’s something about people ministering to people, day after day, in a very raw environment, that can bring freedom and breakthrough so deeply.

6 Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. 7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised. Song of Songs 8:6-7 (ESV)

Love like this will eradicate fear. Marriages that experience a revelation of this love will be something to behold. My passion is to live in that love with my beautiful bride, Amy.

THE BEST WEEK OF YOUR LIFE

Enough with the excuses. Men, quit balking. Women, pay the price. A week at a marriage intensive will absolutely change your life.

I wish I could share the stories of the couples that were radically, remarkably transformed this week. Our small group of five couples spent hours together allowing God to hit us in deep, vulnerable places—as everybody else watched, and quite often, cried along with us. We all had different stories and reasons for attending, and we all were transformed. Every single one of us.

My wife and I live such an amazing, fun-filled life. Our marriage truly is filled with joy and we are the very best of friends. We love building business together, traveling together, relaxing together, ministering together, raising our kids together and dreaming together. We also admit that our crazy life and our complimentary yet different personalities, emotional needs and desires can create havoc. It is very easy for selfishness to creep in. It can become difficult to understand each other’s perspective. Battles can start to erupt and the joy and life can slowly fade. Frustration sets in, hearts can start to get a little hard and the enemy can certainly find a foothold in our marriage. Presuming all is well is ridiculous. Hoping it will naturally get better is foolish. Intervention is needed.

Is it possible to resolve things on your own in similar situations? Possibly. Yet, I want to provoke you to curiosity. I’m telling you that an intensive like the one Amy and I just participated in will result in freedom at depths you could never discover without professional, godly help.

For those who would argue that Christian counseling or intensives like the one I’m describing are unnecessary for Spirit-filled Christians, I’d say you are flat out wrong. Many argue that deliverance and prayer are all that is necessary. Sometimes that is true. Most often it is not. We need each other, and we need the wonderful wisdom that organizations like Focus on the Family can offer. I’ll tell you this: I absolutely never could have achieved the level of freedom and healing of my heart without the tools and impartation that we received. I am so thankful for the absolutely wonderful and brilliant counselors that worked with us.

Understand, my wife and I came here because of some tension, stress and some typical married life struggles. It would have been extremely easy for me to reject the notion that such an intensive would be necessary. In fact, I’m like many others, men especially, by shrinking back at the suggestion of counseling. The natural response from me could have been, “Nah, we really don’t need counseling. We are okay! All is well. We love each other. We can work on the minor tweaks together. Maybe we can work through a marriage devotional. That’s all we need!”

That would have been the most unfortunate response! I would have missed out on some glorious, abundant marriage life!

Yes, there were tears this week. Yes, there were ups and downs. Yes, it was hard to be vulnerable, uncovered and on the hot seat.

But, I thank God for the tears, for the journey through the ups and downs. I’m thankful for the literal miracles I witnessed in other wonderful couples. I’m so alive because of the vulnerability of both my wife and myself. The love, understanding and unmerited affection I both received and gave is something I’ll never be able to explain.

Of course, the tools we received and the revelation we experienced demand that we continue to stay tuned into each other. I’m actually excited about continuing some deep “heart talks” and applying principles that help us make decisions together, without strife, and while genuinely valuing Amy’s perspective—even if it differs from mine. I’m looking forward to ministering to her heart instead of focusing on her arguments. I’m also looking forward for her to see me in a different way, understanding my heart and loving me through our discussions.

So, yes, save your money, humble yourself, don’t underestimate the determination of the enemy to destroy your marriage, get excited about the wonders that only God can reveal in a holy, love-filled marriage and reserve a marriage intensive at Focus on the Family or another amazing, Christian counseling center.

It will be the best week of your life. It could be the most important week of your life.

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY—HOPE RESTORED

This intensive is designed for couples in crisis—most any type of crisis.

For more information, visit: https://hoperestored.focusonthefamily.com/

They have retreat centers in Branson, Missouri, Rome, Georgia and Greenville, Michigan.

The accommodations we enjoyed in Branson were rustic and luxurious. The food and hospitality was phenomenal. The memories are priceless.

I’m not being paid for my recommendation by Focus on the Family. Well, I take that back. I’ve been paid with something immensely valuable—a newfound love in what was an already amazing marriage. I am thankful.

Five reasons not to let misguided spirituality keep you from the wonder of Christmas

Has misguided spirituality stolen the gift of Christmas from you and your family?

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My family and I live in Christmas ground zero—Branson, Missouri. The glory and wonder of the Christmas season in this tourist destination starts mid-October, successfully washing out the darkness of Halloween, and ignites the entire region in red and green. As I gaze through the window at Branson’s downtown Starbucks, where I’m writing this article, I can see a massive Christmas tree at Branson Landing on the shores of Lake Taneycomo and a huge crowd of people, many in their pajamas, at the Branson Scenic Railway depot waiting to board The Polar Express. The joy of Christmas has arrived!

We absolutely love viewing the 6.5 million lights at Silver Dollar City, one of the nation’s premier Christmas destinations. Holiday stage shows are numerous along Highway 76. Christmas lake cruises, drive through trails of lights, carriage rides and much more help make experiencing Branson one of the nation’s very best Christmas family traditions.

I can’t imagine not fully immersed in the wonder of Christmas—yet many Christians have decided to eliminate Christmas from their lives. Humbug!

2018-11-20 13.37.36

I applaud Christians who want to live pure, holy lives, but eliminating Christmas is not the way to do that. Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year as we exalt Jesus and enjoy family in ways that cannot happen at any other time, in any other way! I’m absolutely convinced Jesus loves it when we have fun, laugh, enjoy each other and rejoice!

It's the most wonderful time of the year.
With the kids jingle belling,
and everyone telling you,
"Be of good cheer,"
It's the most wonderful time of the year.

It's the most wonderful time of the year.
There'll be much mistletoeing
and hearts will be glowing,
when loved ones are near.
It's the most wonderful time of the year.

FIVE REASONS why we’ve decided to celebrate Christmas with abandon:

1. JESUS

Amy, one of my boys, Parker, and I just returned from Orlando, including a day each at The Magic Kingdom and Sea World. Both places, most probably for the only time all year, exalted Jesus through music and productions. I was excited to hear songs like “O Come Let Us Adore Him” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” joyfully playing as I waited for my (way too big) ice cream sundae in the Main Street ice cream parlor at the Magic Kingdom. I was even more excited to see a living nativity called “O Wondrous Night” being produced at Sea World! Of course, Silver Dollar City here in Branson is unashamedly Christian based. Their mission statement declares that all they do is done “in a Manner Consistent with Christian Values and Ethics.” The majesty of Jesus and his birth are proclaimed throughout the park. In fact, in their epic Christmas production, Dicken’s Christmas Carol, Scrooge has a powerful, tear inducing salvation moment that was the actual cause of his reborn heart.

You simply cannot escape the truth that Christmas exalts the King! Do many (most) people ignore this and focus on less spiritual Christmas experiences? Yes. However, even as they do, the name of the Savior of the world is proclaimed every time they mutter the word CHRISTmas. They can’t escape the Christmas music that proclaims the love of Jesus or the spirit of giving that Jesus best exemplifies.

Most Christians who argue against celebrating Christmas do so because of supposed pagan roots or because they have determined that it’s “not really about Jesus,” and should therefore be avoided.

First, Christmas is overwhelming about Jesus! However, that being said, if Jesus had to be the subject of everything we celebrate, we’d have to eliminate birthday parties, watching fireworks on July 4th, Veteran's Day, New Year’s Day and most other holidays and special events. Wedding parties would cease. So would graduation parties and other celebrations.

Second, unlike Halloween which is still very much a pagan, demonic celebration that should be avoided by every Believer, Christmas is currently a glorious celebration of Jesus, life and family.

We pay attention to current status, not origins. Anything can be redeemed. The current status of Halloween is a world-wide celebration of Satan. The current status of Christmas is a world-wide celebration of Jesus!

Additionally, if we eliminated everything from our lives that had pagan origins, we’d have a hard time functioning.

Did you know that the following have pagan origins?

  • Wedding rings
  • Wedding ceremonies
  • Funerals
  • New Year’s/New Year’s Eve
  • Statues of people and animals
  • Money has pagan designs on it
  • The days of the week
  • The months of the year
  • Eye makeup
  • Wind chimes
  • Saying “Amen”
  • Baby showers
  • Making your bed
  • Birthdays

In the first-century Church, gentile Christians were told to avoid meat that had been sacrificed to pagan idols (Acts 15:29). However, Paul told the Corinthians that they could eat meat sold in the public market even though that meat may have been sacrificed to an idol (1 Cor. 10:25). He told them not to eat in the pagan temple. In other words, he told them to avoid blatant paganism, but they did not have to superstitiously avoid everything that paganism might have touched at some time in the past. ~gci.org

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

2. FAMILY & MEMORIES

I’m 49 years old, and I still have a hard time falling asleep on Christmas Eve! I remember the Christmas mornings that my parents made so exciting and special in the 1970’s and 80’s. We’d go to sleep with nothing under the tree…and then magic happened. When we woke up several hours earlier than normal, a bright light from an archaic movie camera blinded our eyes as we walked down the hallway from our bedrooms toward the living room. As our pupils adjusted to the light, we would witness what happened over night. Presents wrapped in black and white newspaper (to save money for gifts) filled the room!

I’ll never forget the disk drive I got for my Commodore 64. My parents were Christmas geniuses. The hour or so of unwrapping gifts, one at a time, led to one final, climactic moment when my brother and I excitedly and nervously wondered if we would get what we had hoped for. The adrenaline was pumping. The mystery was almost too much to bear! As I unwrapped that final newspaper covered present, my eyes popped open wide as I saw it. I got my disk drive!

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Both of my parents are with Jesus now, and that disk drive is long gone. However, the memories that I have will live forever. I could share story after story from my childhood to current times that are so special to me. Spending time with Amy and the kids looking at Christmas lights or visiting Christmas villages and festivals, hustling and bustling at shopping malls and enjoying holiday attractions is precious beyond compare.

In fact, I’ll never forget the time, just a handful of years ago, my mom and dad filled their living room with presents, mostly for our kids. Skylar and Parker had wanted a Nintendo Wii, but Amy and I weren’t in a position to spend that kind of money that year. The last gift the kids opened resulted in jumping and screaming for what seemed like forever. They got their Wii. They played it all day. Grampy, dressed in his mismatched pajama bottoms and green T-shirt, spent some quality time bowling on the Wii with the boys. It was funny. I’ll never forget it.

My dad died shortly after that. That memory still causes a tear or two to this day.

Oh, there’s no place like
home for the holidays,
‘Cause no matter how far away you roam
When you pine for the sunshine
Of a friendly face
For the holidays, you can’t beat
Home, sweet home

3. SANTA CLAUSE & GIFTS

I’ll never apologize for loving gifts! I have so much fun buying gifts for Amy and the kids each year. I love receiving gifts too! I make out my list and email it to Amy early every November—and then modify it several times! It doesn’t mean I’m carnal or materialistic. It’s my love language. Some of you need to be delivered from condemnation that others have heaped upon you for enjoying gifts. Did the Wise Men not bring gifts to Jesus?

Celebrate the spirit of Saint Nick who selflessly gave. Amy and I share the truth about Santa with the kids so there’s no confusion there, and then we all celebrate the season with passion!

The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships. (http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/)

There’s just something about the process of hunting for the perfect gift for the ones you love, finding the right size and color, sneaking it home, wrapping it behind locked doors and placing it in the perfect spot under the tree.

There’s also the excitement that I talked about in the last point. Gathering around the tree to take turns opening presents is an experience that can’t be duplicated any other day of the year. When I unwrap something from one of my little ones, no matter if it’s homemade or something from the dollar store, I come alive inside! The same is true for every other gift someone gives me, or for every gift I get to watch someone else open.

It’s the perfect opportunity to become childlike, to stop “adulting” for a while and just have fun!

After the gifts have been opened, the rest of Christmas Day is spent playing with new toys, playing new games, eating Christmas dinner and enjoying new things in a room littered with torn wrapping paper, boxes and glorious chaos!

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,
So, to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come.

4. MUSIC, FOOD AND FUN

Is there anything better than a fire in the fireplace as Christmas music fills the room? Or, watching Rudolph on TV as a family for the hundredth time? Amy’s birthday is in November, and this year I bought her tickets to two stage productions: Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Story Musical. We’ll have a wonderful dinner each of those two nights, and then head out to the show for a couple hours of Christmas fun!

Again, I’m growing older, but I am often the first one in our family to start watching the old Christmas shows on TV. I’ll go to sleep with Christmas worship playing in the bedroom. Compared to the rest of the year, it’s nice that so much of the entertainment the world is offering is clean, family friendly and wholesome. Christmas does that.

Rudolf, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.

All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolf
play in any reindeer games.

Then one foggy Christmas eve
Santa came to say:
“Rudolf with your nose so bright,
won't you guide my sleigh tonight?”

Then all the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee:
“Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer,
you'll go down in history!”

5. JOY AND PEACE

As the wickedness of Halloween dissipates in the atmosphere, the Christmas season slows things down and just permeates the atmosphere with peace and joy. It gets dark sooner, it’s crisp outside, the snow starts falling and life just gets a little quieter. As the anticipation of Christmas morning is before us all, we don’t have to wait to experience all that Christmas has to offer. We can bundle up and walk through the snow or drive through the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights and decorations. We’ll put up the tree, hang the ornaments and relax as a family.

It’s no wonder that joy and peace come with the Christmas season. After thousands of years of hopelessness, a little baby was born in a stable in Bethlehem. He brought peace to the storm and joy to the world. He changed my life. I celebrate him on Christmas. The joy and peace in my heart are his gift to me.

Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With the angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem!
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King!

Amy, the kids and I pray that you and yours have a truly wonderful, love-filled, joyous and peaceful Christmas. Enjoy your family, create memories and become childlike in this beautiful, wondrous season!

Seven sure-fire ways to end boring, predictable church services

Powerful strategies to eliminate templated, programmed church services

An Azusa Street report:

…disgraceful intermingling of the races…they cry and make howling noises all day and into the night. They run, jump, shake all over, shout to the top of their voice, spin around in circles, fall out on the sawdust blanketed floor jerking, kicking and rolling all over it. Some of them pass out and do not move for hours as though they were dead. These people appear to be mad, mentally deranged or under a spell. They claim to be filled with the spirit. They have a one eyed, illiterate, Negro as their preacher who stays on his knees much of the time with his head hidden between the wooden milk crates. He doesn't talk very much but at times he can be heard shouting, “Repent,” and he's supposed to be running the thing… They repeatedly sing the same song, “The Comforter Has Come.”

It’s becoming less common for Christians to jump out of bed on Sunday mornings, excited about heading to church. Of course, many do still love their church experience. The worship environment is powerful, the vision is alive and the part they play causes them to feel the fire of the Holy Spirit coursing through them. However, sadly, if we were honest, we’d have to admit that many church services are much less powerful, less anointed and less impacting than we’d like. In fact, a church that looks anything like what was described in the above Azusa Street report can hardly be found.

There is a way to fix that. The end result is an atmosphere that’s placed in the Holy Spirit’s control. I’ll tell you this, it’s impossible to be bored when God moves. Impossible. It can’t happen. It’s possible to be provoked, irritated, offended or troubled, but not bored or disconnected. What this means is that, in many churches, God isn’t moving in real power. It may be hard to admit that, but we must if we want to prepare for revival and an outpouring that will make us say, “I can never do church the way I used to again.”

An Azusa Street report:

All who are in touch with God realize as soon as they enter the meetings that the Holy Ghost is the leader.

SEVEN SURE-FIRE STRATEGIES TO END BORING, PREDICTIABLE CHURCH SERVICES

1. Lead in lengthy sessions of corporate praying and singing in tongues.

True Christian leaders will confidently, passionately and continually lead people in fervent and supernatural prayer. Lack of a powerful prayer emphasis on Sunday mornings is an indicator of a lack of a powerful prayer discipline throughout the week. When we are burning in intercession throughout the week, there is an explosion that simply must come on Sunday mornings and any other time the saints meet together.

Nurturing an atmosphere where everybody is praying in tongues and singing in the Spirit simply cannot disappoint. How easy would it be, in the midst of worship, to spend fifteen or twenty minutes pacing around the room, laying out at the altar or finding a place to pray in tongues with a zealous spirit? I recommend integrating this into every church service, understanding that the wind of the Holy Spirit may blow the program for the rest of the day well of course.

In fact, it would be valuable to bring the worship team down off the platform on occasion during this part of the service so they can be free to let the groans and cries of their heart out. Often, worship team members find a comfort spot behind their instrument or microphone. You’d be sadly surprised at how many people who have been entrusted to lead us into the Holy of Holies don’t operate from a burning, overwhelming spirit of prayer.

6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. Acts 19:6 (ESV)

An Azusa Street report:

Singing was sporadic and in a cappella or occasionally there would be singing in tongues. There were periods of extended silence. Attenders were occasionally slain in the Spirit.

2. Embrace a vibrant prophetic culture. Invite people to submit prophetic words during the service.

In order to stay right on track with the order of service and to ensure the focus of the day isn’t threatened, definitely do not promote a prophetic culture! Unfortunately, too many pastors have embraced that advice by eliminating or rejecting prophetic ministry on Sundays.

I’ve always believed one of the best ways to promote an absolutely electric church service is by allowing God to speak. When people are trained in the prophetic and are also given an outlet to reveal what God is desiring to communicate through them, the supernatural energy in the room spikes. I often wonder how many sermons have been delivered and how many church services have been conducted in such a way that God’s plan for the day was entirely missed.

As we effectively equip people in prophetic ministry, and facilitate an environment that affirms and promotes prophetic expression, God will blow through the saints and the atmosphere will shake under the weight of God’s Rhema word.

We need the groans of God to roar through the saints and to prophetically shatter the building, just as they did at Azusa.

1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 1 Corinthians 14:1 (ESV)

An Azusa Street report:

…devotees of the weird doctrine practice the most fanatical rites, preach the wildest theories and work themselves into a state of mad excitement in their peculiar zeal. Colored people and a sprinkling of whites compose the congregation, and night is made hideous in the neighborhood by the howlings of the worshippers, who spend hours swaying forth and back in a nerve racking attitude of prayer and supplication.

3. Have open mic intercession. Invite people to pray 10-15 second prayers, to make decrees and to stir the atmosphere.

Praying in tongues corporately will naturally lead to some incredibly potent revelation stirring within the people. I believe it’s extremely valuable to invite people, in that Holy Spirit infused moment, to release that in the form of short prayers and decrees.

Simply open the microphone and watch the line grow as hungry, passionate saints of God prepare to lead the people in intercession, one after the other. Imagine twenty or thirty people or more shocking the atmosphere with Holy Spirit driven decrees! Not only is it powerful corporately, but it also empowers people individually to take ownership of what God is doing within. As they all respond to the impact of the Holy Spirit, they become stronger and the service will definitely be marked with fire.

15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. Psalm 34:15 (ESV)

An Azusa Street report:

There was spontaneous preaching and altar calls for salvation, sanctification and baptism of the Holy Spirit.

4. Invite people to make biblical declarations.

At another point during the service, open the microphone again. Invite people to release biblical declarations. The Word of God is alive, and when that sharp sword pierces the atmosphere as people read it and then call everyone to come into agreement with it, it will result in supernatural shockwaves.

5 Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore. Psalm 93:5 (ESV)

An Azusa Street report:

…in most services preaching consisted of Seymour opening a Bible and worshippers coming forward to preach or testify as they were led by the Holy Spirit.

5. Promote prophetic art, flagging, dance and other expressions during the service.

It’s disappointing that prophetic expression such as art, dance and flagging are almost extinct in the church today. I suggest we allow the dancers to dance! There’s serious prophetic power when anointed people flag, paint, dance and contend in the Spirit.

Put up the easels and allow the artists to draw or paint. Provide whiteboards for people to write down prophetic words anytime during the service. Celebrate the dance and encourage the flaggers. God has given them important gifts and it’s a mistake to shut them out.

I know many pastors would argue that they can be undisciplined. They might steal attention as they exhibit their gifting during the service. My question would be, what have you done to guide and equip them? Have you invested in them by training in protocols and equipping in prophetic ministry? If not, you can’t blame them if they don’t know exactly how to respond when their God-given desire to function in ministry is stirring within.

20 Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. Exodus 15:20 (ESV)

6. Have prayer for deliverance, healing and freedom.

When’s the last time you saw someone vomit at the altar? Yeah, I know, that’s a funny question. I personally don’t prefer to clean up the mess! (I love that some pro-deliverance churches have “bucket brigades!”) The point is valid, however. When is the last time deliverance has happened on a Sunday morning?

The weight of God’s glory should be so intense that demons easily manifest and deliverance commences right there at the altar. I’ve had demons react in some intense ways in services I’ve been in. It’s actually a thrilling adventure, not something to be shut down for the sake of keeping nice, quiet and sanitized order. When we know who we are and the authority we walk in, deliverance is something we should all get excited about.

As we contend for deliverance, healing and freedom on Sunday mornings, the order of service will often have to be violated. I’d personally rather see people free than hear the prepared sermon or get out of the service on time.

17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; Mark 16:17 (ESV)

An Azusa Street report:

Among first-hand accounts were reports of the blind having their sight restored, diseases cured instantly.

7. Expect manifestations of the Holy Spirit and don't shut them down when comfort levels are threatened.

How is it we can worship God, preach about God and gather together because of God but shut God out when he starts to interact in a supernatural way? Manifestations of the Holy Spirit should be expected. If God’s not moving, something is wrong!

I remember a meeting many years ago where God was moving in extremely intense power. People were absolutely rocked. God was touching people for at least two hours before the preaching even began. When the preacher was bringing the message, one lady was laughing and crying, under the power of the Holy Spirit. Some in attendance kept looking her way as God ministered to her. The preacher became agitated and said something like, “Can you not hear me? Should I have the sound crew turn my mic up? Pay attention. Do you really want me to shut down God’s ministry to that lady just because you can’t stay focused?”

That was a powerful moment indeed. One I’ve remembered for over two decades.

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; Acts 2:17 (ESV)

An Azusa Street report:

Soon the crowds became very large and were full of people speaking in tongues, shouting, singing and moaning. Many people would continually shout throughout the meetings. Finally, the front porch collapsed, forcing the group to begin looking for a new meeting place. They shouted three days and three nights. It was Easter season. The people came from everywhere. By the next morning there was no way of getting near the house. As people came in they would fall under God's power; and the whole city was stirred. They shouted until the foundation of the house gave way, but no one was hurt.

The attendees were often described as “Holy Rollers“, “Holy Jumpers”, “Tangled Tonguers” and “Holy Ghosters”. Reports were published throughout the U.S. and the world of the strange happenings in Los Angeles.

CHURCH SHOULD NEVER BE BORING

While I’m not at all proposing that church should entertain us, I am saying that it’s just not possible to be bored in an environment where the Holy Spirit is moving, touching, engaging, healing, delivering, wrecking and encountering the people.

I’d challenge every pastor to initiate all seven of these strategies. The result will be a church on fire that draws in a hungry, passionate remnant that is ready to release the oracles of God…and shake the nations.

An Azusa Street report:

Christians from many traditions were critical, saying the movement was hyper-emotional, misused Scripture and lost focus on Christ by overemphasizing the Holy Spirit. Within a short time ministers were warning their congregations to stay away from the Azusa Street Mission.

Proud, well-dressed preachers came to “investigate”. Soon their high looks were replaced with wonder, then conviction comes, and very often you will find them in a short time wallowing on the dirty floor, asking God to forgive them and make them as little children.

Hyper-spiritual people can easily fall short of God’s call on their lives.

The hyper-spiritual too often wait for God to do what he’s not going to do.

At first glance, those who know me might raise an eyebrow at the title of this article. Many might consider me to be hyper-spiritual myself. Most wouldn’t use the term in a derogatory manner, but they would argue that my life has been marked by a clear supernatural focus. They would be right.

I’ve been awed throughout my life and ministry by the way God has performed stunning and miraculous works. I mean, I’m floored every time I think about any of the numerous times God moved outside of my natural grid.

Further, I’ve written on the prophetic, have led prayer movements that are fueled by tongues and fire and unapologetically call those who are naturally minded on the carpet. The call to live, move, walk, pray and function night and day in the Spirit is non-negotiable. Further, it’s there that the Christian life begins to make sense…and produce joy, freedom and a load of fun!

So, no, I am absolutely not calling anybody to pull back from living in that spiritual realm. What I am doing, however, is highlighting an error that causes many people to be spiritually minded to the exclusion of understanding God-given abilities and opportunities that exist in the natural realm. They are hyper-spiritual instead of appropriately spiritual. They are hesitant instead of proactive. They spiritualize their timidity.

NATURAL MAN POSSESSES AMAZING ABILITIES

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Genesis 11:4-6 (ESV)

God gifted every human, Christian or not, with abilities that are profound. Of course, everybody’s gifts, talents and abilities are different, but the truth remains, even outside of a life devoted to Jesus, mankind can do remarkable things.

Consider man’s ability to build the Great Pyramid of Giza. Even today’s most brilliant minds are astonished by that ancient architectural accomplishment. Think about the Hoover Dam, the Great Wall of China, the Superdome in New Orleans, the world’s tallest buildings and other marvels. The engineering required to build such impressive structures is mind blowing.

Think about life-changing inventions, medical advances, air and space travel and even military weaponry. Not only did all of these come about outside of a hyper-spiritual life, most of them were accomplished by unbelievers who had no spiritual focus whatsoever. Mere humans produced wonders.

Man was building the Tower of Babel and God knew they had the ability to do so, which is why he stepped in and stopped their progress. If unbelievers and even evil people can accomplish so much, why do so many Christians over-spiritualize decisions they make and presume that floating on some supernatural cloud will result in progress? It sounds so spiritual to say, “I’m waiting for God to open a door,” or “God hasn’t spoken to me about that yet.”

I’ve met innumerable people who fit this description. They love to soak in God’s presence (as we all should!)…but without any forward, natural momentum as a result. The extent of their forward movement is a stream of semi-prophetic words they share in church, on Facebook or to anybody who will listen. They love to talk about their supernatural revelations (or imaginations), but, when it comes to actually doing something, they retreat back into their mystical, nebulous existence. They prefer to adopt the appearance of the monk on the mountain instead of the person with the shovel in their hands. They think they present themselves as spiritually wise and mature, but in reality they are spiritually stunted accomplishing little in the spirit or in the natural.

We should certainly develop a life of intimacy with Jesus. We should have a prayer closet where we encounter God in supernatural ways. We should be prophetic and on fire for Jesus. We should also move out and produce!

YOU HAVE TO GET OUT AND MOVE!

The Bible tells us that the steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord. We can have great confidence that God will be with us when we advance!

Too often we are gazing into the clouds waiting for signs that we are to make a decision or to move out. Stop gazing and move! Stop waiting for God to do something. He’s already enabled you to do so much!

Write your book—THIS year! Start a business! Tell people about Jesus! Start a ministry! Go to a school! Learn a trade! Get another job! Do what is burning in your heart to do! Is there a place for seeking out wise counsel before making big decisions? Yes, there is. But, be sure the counsel is wise and not coming from someone as overly cautious as you’ve been!

My wife and I have enjoyed a remarkable life of advance, often because we just jumped out of the boat and went for it.

Escape Code Building 2THE STORY OF STARTING OUR LATEST BUSINESS

Understand, I’m not talking about moving carnally. I’m not talking about ignoring God’s leading. I’m not talking about living outside of God’s grace. I’m talking about acknowledging that God has very powerfully affirmed and enabled us and we have many permissions, resources and abilities to do things that don’t require the planets to align or a visiting prophetic minister to read our mail.

I’ve met so many aspiring authors who tell me they have a book in them, and have been waiting years and decades for the right time to write it. What? This is nonsense! Write the book in the next three months and move on to the next project! Is there a time to wait? Of course, but today’s hyper-spiritual Christian presumes a tentative life is a spiritual life. They stop until God says go instead of going until God says stop!

After years of full time ministry as church planters and pastors, my wife and I moved to Branson, Missouri. While I’d continue writing and traveling to speak at churches and conferences, we knew we’d need to develop additional sources of income. Additionally, we were excited about the opportunity to start something new. We knew God would be with us as we stepped out. He’d order our steps.

On a trip to Tulsa to visit Oral Roberts University with my son Skylar who was considering where to attend college (he ultimately decided on Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee) we had some down time. We jumped online looking for things to do and noticed something called an escape room. I had heard of them, but wasn’t exactly sure that they were. We decided to go. We played two games and were hooked. In the car afterward my wife said, “We can do this.” She was right.

Since we had developed a life of living, praying and moving in the Spirit, we knew God would redirect us if this wasn’t his will. We’d go unless God said stop. The other option would be to wait until God confirms it is his will. I’ll tell you, that is usually not the right decision. Be so intimately connected to Jesus in his supernatural realm that you can continually advance without delay, knowing that he will redirect you as necessary in the natural realm.

We returned to Branson and rented a storefront, dealt with the city code requirements, built out two different escape experiences, developed our branding, installed signage, advertised and opened for business.

The entire process, from the day we played our games in Tulsa to the day we opened and watched other people play our escape games in Branson was less than eight weeks! God’s grace was with us!

Two years later, as we continued to develop our business, we were awarded as the fifth best escape attraction in the entire nation by USA Today! We were humbled and excited that out of thousands of escape rooms in America, we are in the top 10! It’s not the Great Wall of China, but it’s at least a lot of fun for our family to develop and enjoy our little business!

We were the first escape room business in Branson, and now there are at least five others. The competition is fierce, and the limited tourist season here presents challenges for a business like ours, but God’s grace has empowered us.

We moved, God graced and now, instead of waiting for open doors and signs in the sky a few years later, our business is established and we are on to other ventures, assignments and opportunities.

Going until God says stop will save you years of delay!

YOU CAN DO IT!

God loves you and is on your side!

Live in the Spirit. Pray in the Spirit. Advance in the Spirit. Be spiritual. Don’t be hyper-spiritual. It will hold you back and stunt your growth.

God has plans for you and he’s ready to direct your steps if you just go!