Love and honor have been abandoned by too many in this volatile political season.
It’s been said the two topics we should avoid around the family reunion dinner table are politics and religion. Of course, I disagree, but the point is well taken.
It’s nothing new that people tend to be more passionate about their political and spiritual positions than they are about guarding the hearts of the people they are debating with. Sadly this reality has reared it’s extremely ugly head again and again over the last year.
HAVE WE FORGOTTEN THE THREE PRIMARY REASONS WE ARE ALIVE?
I’ll give you a hint. It’s not to debate politics and it’s not to save America.
“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37–39, ESV)
One: Love God.
Two: Love people.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”” (John 13:35, ESV)
Yes, there are many expressions of love including both tough and tender, but we need to understand that blaming and shaming our enemies are excluded. Anger expressed toward the liberal left will never win them to Jesus, which, by the way, is the third primary reason we are alive.
“As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5, ESV)
WE ALSO CAN’T AVOID POLITICS
Preachers avoiding politics from behind the pulpit and keyboard is like a police officer refusing to confront crime. It makes no sense. The police are authorized to make arrests and Christians are authorized to tear down strongholds.
We as Christians have been granted a level of spiritual authority that few will ever grasp. When culture is steeped in wickedness, we have no option but to expose the darkness.
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11, ESV)
Unrighteous laws, widespread corruption, the darkness of immorality and national evils must be dealt with, and Christians are those who are most authorized to do so.
Silence by passive preachers is a violation just as a fleshly, carnal response is. There’s a way to move in love and honor while bringing dangerous political and cultural agendas to light. To stay silent, for example, on the issue of abortion would be inexcusable. To spew venom toward those who affirm or even administer abortion would be equally inappropriate for followers of Jesus.
THE GREATER SIN
While avoiding the spiritual clash in today’s deeply wicked society is unfathomable, my opinion is that the greater sin is a wicked reaction guised in high-minded righteousness by Believers in Jesus.
We must be aggressive with issues and tender towards people.
My heart is broken over the lack of revival in Hollywood, Nashville and Washington D.C. I think about people like Nancy Pelosi, Jim Carrey, Ellen Degeneres,Taylor Swift, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Alyssa Milano and hundreds of other influencers who are attacked non-stop by Christians because of their political positions.
Will they feel love by our mean-spirited assaults of righteous indignation? No.
I may write a separate article on this issue as it’s just wrecking my heart, but suffice it to say that I’m deeply grieved that so few celebrities and national leaders are falling in love with Jesus. Church, we are not handling their hearts well. Demonizing them will not win them.
OUR LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER
Rude, snarky and unloving behavior among Christians thrives on social media.
The moment a Christian is condescending and divisive on a Facebook thread is the moment their credibility is shot. While I understand we are living in a different era, there’s a part of me that yearns for yesteryear when yes sir’s and yes ma’am’s were indicative of respect in our culture.
Today it’s normal for followers of Jesus to attack, shame and ridicule anybody who disagrees with their viewpoints, especially when it comes to politics and religion. Many are unteachable, stone-hearted, immovable and more in love with their ideals then the people they are dialoguing with.
At the end of the day, I don’t care who the President is if we can’t discuss and debate with love and honor.
THE BLAME GAME IS STRONG THIS YEAR
Possibly the best litmus test for spiritual health and maturity when it comes to politics and culture is blame. If we lash out and blame and accuse and attack others who believe differently than we do, we are not in a good place.
The moment we blame is the moment we create unnecessary division. We need to stop blaming President Biden, President Trump, teachers, parents and others who, in our opinion, are opposing our personal agendas or beliefs, no matter how righteous those beliefs are.
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44, ESV)
Don’t blame. Love. Pray. Don’t be an angry, complaining victim. Go low. Humble yourself. Serve. Contend for the souls of those who are making your life difficult. Again, be ruthless on issues, loving toward people.
There’s a better way, friends. Being mean-spirited isn’t it. Blaming doesn’t help. Shaming is simply cruel. People are more valuable then positions and agendas. Our enemies should be blessed and prayed for more than our friends.
The lyrics of a quirky and boldly honest bluegrass gospel song by Rhonda Vincent seem to fit here:
Oh you don't love God
If you don't love your neighbor
If you gossip about him, if you never have mercy
If he gets into trouble, and you don't try to help him
Then you don't love your neighbor
And you don't love God
One more time, deal strongly with issues and go out of your way to make sure people feel the love of Jesus. As we do this, we can most certainly hate evil, love good and establish justice in our nation.
“Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate…” (Amos 5:15, ESV)
You can submit a text or 60-second audio prayer for celebrities and influencers at www.prayerteam.tv.
Trump, right, wrong and a deeply divided nation
As Christians we have a sober responsibility to expose darkness, promote righteousness, preach truth and bring glory to God. Yes, when handled well, shining the light of truth on the darkness in our nation can bring positive results that will raise the water level of godliness. However, when handled wrongly it can bring death.
A bite from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil most certainly will empower one with data that can be used against their opponents. The prideful indignation feels pure and righteous as they are, after all, promoting what is good and true. What they fail to understand is that fruit can bring nothing but destruction. It kills.
If your emotional health is dependent on you being right and others acknowledging that you are right, you will not last. You will not endure. As our end-time mission intensifies, we will have every opportunity to be offended, or to advance with our beliefs and ideologies in such a way that offense of others is all that results. You may be right about whatever you are attempting to communicate, but your tainted heart infects the hearers with the same bitter fruit.
IT’S NOT A MATTER OF RIGHT VERSUS WRONG
As I said, as end-time Believers, we do have a mandate to expose wickedness, to sound alarms and to do all we can to rescue the perishing. Sadly, too often this noble pursuit becomes compromised when the heart of the matter (whatever our cause may be) becomes more important than the heart of people.
The news media, for example, provides an endless source of information that is fueled by the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The intent of most in the media is not to nurture, encourage and bless those who are watching, listening and reading. As we well know, fake news is alive and well as biased people attempt to manipulate the national narrative. The media isn’t in existence for our benefit, it seems, but for theirs.
This same spirit has infiltrated many in the church. Flip on over to Facebook and try to stomach a barrage of finger pointing and accusations against any and all who disagree with their views, especially when it comes to Donald Trump, masks and other recent hot topics.
As Christians, we have a choice, We can live off of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and be right about whatever battle we are fighting. Or, we can live from the tree of life where we still advocate for truth, but we do it from a heart of love and with a strong desire to bless others.
You see, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil masterfully pumps out the fruit of offense. It manifests often in blaming others for our ills.
I’m right, you are wrong!
You hurt me!
My pastor won’t affirm my ministry!
That politician is destroying America!
Those people are hateful!
This results in living as victims, professing that we are hindered because of the actions of another. The accusatory shout is, “You are ruining my life!” instead of blessing those who curse us and forgiving those who have offended us.
I’m dismayed by Christians who refuse to pray for President Biden, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, Kamal Harris or other Democrats. Instead, they seek to call them out, to ridicule them, to shame them and to blame them. The fruit they are eating results in them unable to see them as future children of God, brothers and sisters in the Lord, and people who God deeply loves. No, instead they want to snipe all who threaten their concept of righteous American political viewpoints.
Take a few moments and peruse various news outlets. Take note of how many articles, quotes and opinions include blaming others for whatever problems they are experiencing. You’ll be stunned. Or, maybe not. Then, take what you have discovered and ask yourself whether you employ the same tactics in your own life.
Wives do it to husbands, and husbands to wives. Employees do it to employers and vice versa. Conservatives do it to liberals. The left does it to the right. Students do it to teachers. Church members to it to pastors. Blame, it seems, has infected our entire society. The tree of knowledge of good and evil is our nation’s buffet.
In this world of blinded eyes, dull ears and hardened hearts, the life of God isn’t imparted according to formulas, facts and carefully researched data, but rather by dynamic, life-giving relationships. We can and should deal directly with problematic issues while dealing in a life-giving, honoring manner with people, especially brothers and sisters in Christ.
A person living in the tree of life loves and serves in the spirit of Truth (Jesus) while those living in the tree of knowledge of good and evil are fueled by facts. If we become enraged by situations in our lives and then seek to accuse and blame others for our troubles, we can know we have been poisoned by desirable fruit from a deadly tree.
I don’t question people’s desire to stand for truth by supporting Donald Trump. Their determination to expose darkness and any fraud and corruption is good. Unfortunately, few have discovered how to do so without blaming and accusing and with a heart of love. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the quickest route to gathering facts and winning debates while losing the heart of God in the process.
THE DESIRE FOR GODLINESS
Much of the venom from Christians today is a result of their strong opinions about the election. Sadly, too many have not figured out how to stand for truth while also being life-giving in the process. Their heads are raised and fangs out when they come across anyone who isn’t in perfect alignment with their perspective on the outcome of the election.
Interestingly, most every time their aggressive retort comes in the form of facts, videos, conspiracy theories, interviews, prophecies and other supposed evidences. The goal is to shame their opponent with facts instead of honoring them as children of God.
Genesis 3:4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
Interestingly, Satan appealed to Eve's desire for godliness, but, while it resulted in knowledge, it was devoid of life. A form of godliness but devoid of power. Eve was pursuing godly knowledge! This is such a powerful truth that can easily be missed. The problem was that God knew mankind would not know how to handle the information with humility, love and surrender.
Their recognition of their own nakedness was correct, but it was different than the revelation that God wanted for them. They were suddenly ashamed instead of free.
He wanted them to be childlike, but now they didn't have that capacity.
When they ate of the tree, which provided absolutely accurate knowledge, they became servants to it.
This same poison has infected much of the church, and certainly most all of secular society. A desire for “rightness” has resulted in division, hatred, anger, blame and shame.
THE BLAME GAME
Many Christians live in the tree of knowledge of good and evil their entire lives.
John 5:39 “You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
Remember, we should be seeking out truth, not facts. We should be blessing, not blaming. Adam was compromised immediately upon eating the fruit.
Genesis 3:11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Blame! Can you see it?
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil always causes us to point at somebody and say “I can’t, because they didn’t,” but living from the fruit on the tree of life causes us to proclaim, “I can, no matter what they do.”
This is a prime reason why I personally don’t get spun out because Joe Biden is our President. We as the church can advance the Kingdom of God no matter what policies a secular politician advances.
I’m not naïve either. I know it’s important to engage the secular, political system as light bearers. We should not stay silent. But, we shouldn’t be dismayed either. We engage, we love, we prophesy, we proclaim, we expose and we advance, but from a life-giving perspective. I absolutely can see Joe Biden and the rest as on-fire worshipers of Jesus! He doesn’t threaten me, we as the church threaten him with prophetic decrees of salvation, love and abundant life!
Someone called me a liberal hiding behind a pulpit because of my positive view about the election. I had to laugh. If anything, I’m not a liberal, BUT if my love for our new administration results in accusations of being a liberal, so be it!
Do you see the difference between being driven by truth instead of facts? The truth sets people free while facts have the power to imprison.
Jesus told us the truth must be written on our hearts, not our brains!
John 8:30-32 (NKJV) 30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him. 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Proverbs 3:3-4 (NKJV) 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.
Facts have the power to divide, but truth delivered in love, with mercy, as they are written on our own heart, will result in favor with man! It's a powerful contrast!
The tree of knowledge of good and evil just grows and grows as we attempt to figure out right versus wrong. Again, remember, we have a duty as Believers to expose the darkness, but being fueled by facts in order to defeat another with arguments and accusations only results in the darkness growing more impenetrable.
The blame game must come to an end. If it doesn’t, the consequences are dire.
Matthew 24:9-13 (KJV) 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Will you endure to the end? Will you be blameless? Will you refuse to complain and dispute?
Philippians 2:14-16 (NKJV) 2:14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
I feel impressed to invite many of you who are reading this to consider repenting for the way you have responded to Joe Biden’s election to President of the United States. Then, pray a heartfelt prayer for him, his family, his Vice President and the rest of the liberal left. Don’t pray a haughty prayer of rebuke. Don’t stop short by only praying for his salvation. Don’t pray manipulatively (God won’t hear you). But, pray something like this:
Father, I thank you for the next four years in our nation. I trust you to be the Lord and leader as we see your Kingdom advanced in unprecedented fashion. I ask that you would powerfully and mightily bless President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and the rest of his team. I ask that you would visit him, speak to him and draw him close to you. Give him great wisdom to lead our nation. Touch his heart with your fiery love and transform him more and more each day. I pray the more he sees you, the more his leadership is modeled after the life of Jesus. I’m believing we will see this manifest in the years to come. I thank you for his life and I honor him as your established leader for this time.
This teaching has become one of my most requested. I’d like to offer the eBook, audio teaching and sermon notes for free when subscribing at www.burton.tv/free.
Hate has become the emotion of choice for a lot of people this year – including a whole bunch of Christians.
It’s more evident than ever just how toxic our culture is. 2020 has been quite the litmus test for love and civility.
I was recently interviewed about a recent article I wrote for The Stream titled Is Today’s Prophetic Movement Fake News? In the midst of a discussion on the unhealthy nature of much of today’s prophetic movement, I noted that I’m concerned that the church has wasted the opportunity that 2020 has provided us. The church’s often volatile reactions to the pressures of this season have been telling. People from all sides, the left, the right, the saved and the lost have been spewing poisonous personal revelations about everything from masks to freedom to Trump to equality. No, there’s nothing wrong with holding to a strong opinion on important matters. We’d be socially dead if we didn’t. However, the moment we villainize, attack, shame, cancel and blacklist those who disagree with us is the moment our true, dark hearts are revealed.
WE WEREN’T READY FOR 2020, AND WE AREN’T READY FOR 2021
I wrote an article for Charisma Magazine on January, 2nd 2020, just as the year was beginning and well before true concern for COVID-19 had arrived. Few knew about the coming pestilence, or at least the severity of it. I re-read the article and got chills. The call was clear: adopt humility, fervent prayer and a radical devotion to holiness in our pursuit of Jesus as the plagues and pestilence visit us:
2020 is here. Does God have good plans for His true, remnant church? Sure. However, His true church isn't primarily concerned about that. Those aren't the words they want to hear. They are in tune with the assault of the spirit of the age, with the immorality in the land, with the abominations that both the world and the church are in alignment with and with possible judgment and wrath that can strike our nation if we don't turn. They are crying out for God to prophetically speak about this stuff. They want to be warned, and they want to share those warnings with the world.
I'm not saying the following passage is a prophetic word, but it sure is a much better exhortation than many I'm reading concerning the new year. I propose we do this:
“When I shut up the heaven and there is no rain, or when I command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence on My people, if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer of this place (2 Chron. 7:13-15, MEV).
I’d encourage you to read the entire article here.
On December 19th, 2019, I posted to Facebook:
So much of “prophecy” today is utterly useless, a distraction and often dangerous as it leads the immature and those who can't discern into false hope and down wrong paths.
I don't know how often I read prophecies on Facebook that cause me to say, “My time was just wasted. I didn't need to know that, even if it is true.”
While so much of prophecy today is an embarrassment, we must respond to the true call of the Spirit of God in this hour. Humility, love, prayer and holiness are most certainly part of that call.
In the face of the greatest global chaos in any of our lifetimes, the church should have been leading the way by calling for solemn assemblies, heart-wrenching prayer meetings and whatever else must happen to see a move of God overtake us. Instead, too many have become enraged, offended and puffed up at political leaders for restricting their freedoms and shutting down the churches. Why? So they can get back to their tired, predictable and mostly powerless 90-minute karaoke sing-a-long’s and story telling sessions?
“Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.” (Joel 1:14–15, ESV)
Before you become unglued (yet again), allow me to make a point. I too have opinions and strong beliefs. I firmly believe the Bible out ranks our governmental officials. When God in his Word commands us to meet together, we meet together. We should do it safely and with wisdom, but, in my opinion, I am convinced that we should be gathering together. However, if we rise up in pride against supposed tyranny just so we, in a spirit of independence, can have our way (in the guise of protecting our Constitutional rights) then we have failed. Rebellion can never be a Christian’s weapon against our oppressors. Today we have companies of arrogant, spiritualized rebels, defying authority in the name of God, as God himself resists them.
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry…” (1 Samuel 15:23, NKJV)
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6, ESV)
FIGHTS, ACCUSATIONS, DIVISION AND HATRED
2020 is the year of losing friends, or at least a time when we learned just who our true friends were.
Social media has allowed for the unleashing of all types of self-important proclamations. Don’t dare have an opposing opinion about masks, our President, racial issues, our freedoms, the Constitution or pretty much anything else unless you want to be assaulted in the comments. It’s disgusting. No matter how righteous your pursuit is, handling it without love, honor and respect will nullify it.
I’m stunned most every day at how rude blood-bought Christians can be, especially on social media. Have you not encountered the love and the fear of the Lord? I mean, really had an overwhelming encounter where our omnipotent, holy and all-consuming God laid you out? If not, I propose you cease all of your attempts at heroism in our social fabric and hit your knees. Cry out to God with raw, guttural groans. Repent. Yearn for his presence and his glory to saturate you. Ask for your hip to be taken out and for a tongue of fire to ignite over you. Honestly, little else matters.
That brings me to those of you who have had such encounters, yet you still don’t know how to love. Stop everything. Learn to love. I’m not talking about the sappy, passive, new age, beta-male style “kindness” that is being promoted (mostly by unbelievers) all over the world. In fact, check out one of my most popular articles, The Great Love Deception, to understand just what I mean and what I don’t mean when I mention the world love. False love is truly on the rise and we must expose it and promote true, biblically defined love.
From the article:
Philippians 1:9-10 (MSG) 9 So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings 10 so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of…
We are to learn to love appropriately. This scripture is a critical exhortation! Why? It means there are inappropriate ways to love. There are deceptions that feel right, but are poor representations or even counterfeits of truth.
As God’s love begins to manifest in such amazing, deeper ways at the end of the age, we have to be aware that the enemy will work hard to redefine, misrepresent and twist true love. He has a castrated version to offer us.
I’ve run into several people, many who were once grounded Believers, who have bought into this supposed new revelation of love, and the stench is putrid. Supposedly Donald Trump is the candidate of arrogance, division and hatred while Joe Biden promotes humility, unity and love. People who wear masks are the poster children for true love while those who are anti-mask are selfish and hateful of others. Those who make such claims are delusional beyond belief. (On the contrary, those who refuse to wear masks when required and pout like children when pressed on the matter have no idea what love looks like either. Neither do those who cancel everyone in their lives who don’t support Donald Trump. I could go on and on.)
Love can (and often should) be very direct, unrelenting, unapologetic and aggressive. However, it must be done with grace, honor and respect. The alternative? Well, 2020 has taught us that anything from riots to destroying people’s lives when we disagree with them is on the table.
THE WORLD IS WATCHING
Yes, we as Believers are watching the world, and weeping. The vaccine has arrived, and now people are shaming whoever their political enemies are for being among the first to take it. It’s yet another opportunity for them to accuse their foes of killing grandma.
Both the left and the right, and Hollywood and Nashville, and every other sphere of influence in our nation have been guilty of hatred. The right assaults Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Alyssa Milano and many others on a daily basis. Of course, the left attacks with vengeance Donald Trump and anyone who even whispers a minute amount of support for him or his policies.
Yet, more sadly, the world is watching the church. And, with some notable exceptions, I believe the church has failed miserably this year.
Where is the anointing? The power? The undeniable, supernatural love? Too many of today’s Christians have chosen social justice over holy justice. We need an other-worldly move of God to absolutely crush our nation. Where are God’s people who are truly repentant (and repenting), who are rending their hearts, who are interceding for their enemies instead of bashing them?
Where are those who are more interested in the salvation of Washington D.C. and Hollywood then they are in campaigning for the restoration and protection of their personal freedoms? Are there any who, while still maintaining concern for the direction of our nation, will focus mostly on contending for their enemy’s souls?
Can you imagine what would happen if some of our nation’s influencers had a genuine, undeniable, supernatural, life-altering visit by a holy, burning God?
I suggest the following passage of Scripture would make an excellent focus of intercession for those who have yet to experience God in this way:
“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last,” (Revelation 1:12–17, ESV)
An encounter like that would fix, overnight, the tyranny in California and New York. It would change politics, media and the landscape of our entire nation in a moment.
More than fighting our oppressors, let’s truly pray with passion for them. Let the tears flow. Cry out. Pursue love. Go hard after legitimate revival. Start a revolution.
If you'd like to kick start your intercession, leave a 60-second prayer for Alyssa Milano at www.prayerteam.tv.
Originally published by The Stream.
God causes it to rain on the just and the unjust. Be careful that you don't wrongly interpret its meaning.
I've been dashing in and out of stores today, running errands in the midst of an unrelenting downpour. The rain is soaking all who venture out into it, no matter if they are good or evil, just or unjust.
45 …He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:45 (NKJV)
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I've heard many frightened Christians shout this verse in support of their idea that God will visit pestilence equally on the lost and the saved (how that is comforting I'll never know). Their argument is that while we may have a measure of hope that God will ultimately heal or rescue us, we must expect the exact same “rain” to hit both Believers and unbelievers. The force of the assault, whether it's a demonic advance or judgment of God, can't be avoided.
Of course, any true Christian would agree that they have an advocate in Jesus. So, the disposition becomes, “We can't avoid the plague but we can hope that God meets us in that place.” Basically it's the passive, hands-off “whatever God's wills” belief system. This is the belief that can be exceedingly dangerous.
THE SUN AND THE RAIN
Let's read the verse in context.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48 (NKJV)
Spoiler alert: both the sun and the rain are good!
Many are expecting to be plagued by coronavirus or other ailments and other demonic attacks because of a terrible misunderstanding of the meaning of this passage.
The context of this truth is all about love. God loves both those who are evil and those who are good, the unjust and the just. His mandate is that we are to do the same. In farmer-speak, both sun and rain are very good.
1 Ask the LORD for rain In the time of the latter rain. The LORD will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, Grass in the field for everyone. Zechariah 10:1 (NKJV)
7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; Hebrews 6:7 (NKJV)
This truth about rain on the just and the unjust has absolutely nothing to do with expecting ills and ailments. The reason a wrong understanding of this passage is so deadly is because it causes us to come into agreement with a demonic strategy!
We as Christians are absolutely not sitting ducks! If we stand in great faith, refuse the taunts of the enemy and resist leaning on our own understanding, we will rise up with great authority and command with fiery resolve that no plague shall come near us!
10 No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; 11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. Psalm 91:10-11 (NKJV)
Waiving the white flag of surrender by accepting plagues and pestilences will bring death and destruction to the people of God. This is not our portion!
17 …He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” Acts 14:17 (NKJV)
HOW TO STAND
Simple prayers of petition that are driven more by fear than faith may do more damage than good. We don't want unbelief to be the driver of our intercession. Rather, we must stand in our great authority and insist that what's in the Word of God manifests!
We command the enemy to back down!
We move the mountains!
We heal the sick!
We decree and declare the Word of God!
But first, we have to ask ourselves if we truly believe the Word of God or not? If so, powerful faith will burn through our being!
This rampant wrong understanding of the sun and the rain has caused many to expect the worst instead of contending for what the cross of Christ has provided for us.
It's not possible to believe that plagues will visit both the just and the unjust while also believing the many scriptures that proclaim our protection!
3 But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NKJV)
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all. 20 He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken. Psalm 34:19-20 (NKJV)
WHY DOES TROUBLE COME?
Of course, many would argue that Christians do have trouble visit them. Sickness does come. Poverty is a reality for many. It would take another article, or a book, to fully address this, but I wanted to at least encourage you to venture into the Word of God for your answers. It's true that Satan won't stop raging, but the secret to our success is in our response.
Of course, a barrage of arrows hurled by the enemy will strike us if we allow them to. My wife once had a vision of someone standing confidently with a massive shield of faith protecting them. Then, strangely, when the arrows started flying they lost faith and dropped their shield. The shield of faith is the most important piece of armor we have!
16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Ephesians 6:16 (NKJV)
If we stand in great faith, we will have great success. If we fight the enemy, go to battle, renew our mind, take thoughts captive, pray with power, stand in our authority and believe every single word of the Bible we will most certainly live in victory!
Another church has been seduced by wickedness, confusing it for love.
“The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:13 (ESV)
Eve's passion was for her eyes to be opened and to be wise like God. Sounds good, except that single decision resulted in immediate death for her and billions of others who would follow. Her redefinition of what godliness was paved the way for innumerable people throughout the ages entering into never-ending torture in Hell. Evangelism wouldn't be necessary if it wasn't for Eve.
Tragically, another church leadership team has looked to redefine spirituality, and because of the cunning deception of a wicked serpent, they ate of the fruit, fruit that was good for food and a delight to the eyes. Their decision was catastrophic.
I've attended Assembly of God churches at various times throughout my life, and I have so appreciated their devotion to holiness and classic, historic, Biblical Christianity. I was stunned to hear about a Assembly of God church in Texas making the decision to fully embrace homosexuality, without apology, becoming what is know as an inclusive church.
Eikon Church in Kyle, Texas, led by Pastors Dan and Kelly Matlock has sadly, tragically been duped by modern, cultural arguments and is now fully affirming. On an interior page on their website, suggested resources are provided including a podcast titled How to Be a Girl Podcast: A Christian Family's Story of Raising Their Trans Child, a book titled God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines, a glossary of LGBTQ+ terms and much more. The following is also found there:
In our endeavor to promote unity over uniformity, we’ve compiled these resources that we believe will be helpful as you learn more and lean into conversations regarding our church’s decision to be a fully inclusive church for the LGBTQ+ community.
I contacted the General Superintendent of the Assembly of God. Thankfully, he sent me a copy of a statement he released publicly this morning:
As many of you are aware, a certified minister at an AG church in Texas on Sunday announced a departure from the official Assemblies of God position on human sexuality. The Assemblies of God has a well-established process to deal with such departures. Immediately upon first knowledge, the North Texas District initiated appropriate action required in dealing with both the minister and the church. When it comes to matters of marriage, sexual orientation, and gender identity, the Bible is clear. That is why the only acceptable position for Assemblies of God ministers and churches is clearly outlined in this statement: CLICK TO READ THE STATEMENT
In my article The Great Love Deception: A False-Love Movement Is On The Rise, I wrote:
Philippians 1:9-10 (MSG) 9 So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings 10 so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of…
We are to learn to love appropriately. This scripture is a critical exhortation! Why? It means there are inappropriate ways to love. There are deceptions that feel right, but are poor representations or even counterfeits of truth.
As God’s love begins to manifest in such amazing, deeper ways at the end of the age, we have to be aware that the enemy will work hard to redefine, misrepresent and twist true love. He has a castrated version to offer us.
Affirming wickedness is the furthest thing from true, holy love. Endorsing homosexuality and welcoming those who participate in this forbidden lifestyle as brothers and sisters in Christ eliminates any hope of deliverance and eternities are put at great risk. Heaven and Hell are very much in play.
Their departure from Christian faith is made clear, in bold words, on their website:
We believe in and practice full inclusion here at Eikon Church, which means that individuals from the LGBTQ+ community can serve and be involved in EVERY AREA of Eikon Church from serving to pastoring.
This affirmation is not only heretical, it's spiritually deadly. This church family will most certainly experience a season of glee where the rush of false-love floods in. Understand, I'm sure these people are caring and tender-hearted and they want every person to feel their affection. The problem is in their theology, and, yes, bad theology can lead to destruction.
When the church becomes more about the people than about God, more about welcoming them, affirming them and celebrating them than about worshiping a most holy, fearful God, flaws can be overlooked, sin minimized and wickedness redefined as the purest form of love. Wicked love.
I wonder, will the leadership of Eikon Church preach on the topics of sin, Hell, holiness, consecration, repentance and surrender? Or, have they already fallen through the trap door of false-grace and Universalism?
The terror of the Lord must hit every church and ever Christian in this hour. God's love is very different than what is humanly discerned. Many question how a loving God could sentence someone to eternal torment. A better question is how a wicked people could ever presume to deserve anything less. God is fearsome, he is holy, and yes, he is love. He is not, however tolerant. He is not affirming of that which he defines as an abomination. He is a good, good Father, and he is also a just, just judge.
We need to intercede for the sheep at Eikon Church that are being led into wholesale deception, heresy and undeniable departure from the Christian faith.
20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! Isaiah 5:20-21 (ESV)
Those who don't know Jesus should not be expected to act like those who do.
(Looking for the article Dueling Puppet Masters: Controlling Pastors vs. Manipulative Congregations? Read it HERE.)
If you follow my ministry you'll know that I am an unapologetic preacher of holiness. You'll also know that most of my messages are directed to the church. Preaching holiness to the lost doesn't work well unless it's coupled with a powerful invitation to surrender all.
Those who haven't had a life-rocking encounter with Jesus are at a disadvantage and it's unfair for those who have been transformed to expect them to see things the way we do. In fact, to attempt to coerce them to adhere to our set of standards, in violation of their own free-will and their right to also have a say in morality is ineffective, and in most situations, unfair if not outright arrogant.
Who are we to say that pornography is wrong? What makes our version of truth regarding homosexuality more valid then theirs? To Christians, babies were created by God, given human spirits at the time of conception and they clearly, obviously deserve protection. Except, those who don't believe in God the way we do simply disagree that they are fully human at points of development prior to birth. They have a right to that belief, as horrifying as we think it is.
The result is a holy war between a group of people who have one set of standards and a group that has an entirely different set. Coercion in the political realm, in the high courts and in the battleground of public opinion becomes the only tool left in our tool belt. We vote or legislate our way to victory, further enraging those who oppose our paradigms.
Listen to the podcast here…
YES, WE SHOULD STILL GO TO BATTLE AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF THE AGE
Now, please understand, with humble hearts, we as people who are zealous about protecting the unborn and who have a responsibility to guard our children from being indoctrinated by the homosexual agenda, I absolutely believe we must use whatever tool we have in our tool belts. Yes, it's right to fight for laws that stand aggressively against human trafficking. We should work hard to overturn Roe v. Wade. Pornography, the legalization of narcotics and other destructive cultural vices that are being normalized in our society must be met with resistance.
However, it remains true that the unredeemed simply cannot understand things the way Believers in Christ can. This isn't because we are better. It's because we have surrendered to Jesus and our entire way of thinking was renewed. We were once compromised and unable to discern right versus wrong. Then, God touched us as wicked, confused, arrogant and very lost people and the light came on.
HOW ARE THE UNREDEEMED AT A DISADVANTAGE?
I pray you begin to mourn and weep over the lost as you grow in understanding as to how terribly the enemy is assaulting them. Yes, every person who has ever lived and who ever will live will be without excuse on Judgment Day. Yes, everybody has a choice, and the lost have made their choice. That shouldn't result in us marking them off as enemies while we puff ourselves up and sneer down our noses at them. We should be broken and our intercession should be taken to a much higher level.
BORN THIS WAY VERSUS BORN AGAIN
Those who argue that they were born gay, for example, may have something to their argument.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Psalm 51:5 (ESV)
We were all born in sin, in iniquity. It shouldn't take much for us to understand this. Sin comes very naturally to all and it takes the momentous event of being born again by the Spirit of God for that to shift.
In fact, the Bible calls those who are not his own, children of wrath. Are you seeing the extreme disadvantage the lost have when attempting to discern good versus evil? All they know are the inner urges that, in their minds, makes up the very core of their identity? If they have been attracted to the same sex for as long as they can remember, then, it seems clear that they were born this way. That should validate their homosexuality, or so they would argue.
Without a dramatic encounter with Jesus, without being born again, we can't expect people to understand biblical freedom or morality.
NO RELIEF FROM ANXIETY, FEAR AND DEPRESSION
The enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy, and based on the rampant addictions to opiates in our generation, it appears that he's winning.
Spirit-filled Christians can fill their days with praying in tongues, meditating on God's Word and by singing songs of praise to break off the debilitating, suffocating assaults of depression, fear and anxiety. We have a very present friend in Jesus ministering to us, interceding for us, talking to us and walking with us.
The lost are limited to positive thoughts, drugs, counseling and, sadly and all too often, suicide. Truly, the only hope in the battle of emotional trauma is Jesus, and they haven't met him yet.
Can Christians also be in need of counseling and medical care including the administration of appropriate medications to help deal with chemical imbalances and other physiological and emotional difficulties? Yes, absolutely. As long as it takes place on a foundation of faith, such care can be an important part of the healing process.
10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NO PEACE
Those who don't know Jesus simply cannot know peace. For Christians, peace rests on us and it is not dependent on circumstances or in understanding our situation. God is with us and his supernatural peace displaces the darkness.
It's not hard to understand why so many politicians, protesters and others who are advancing their various ungodly causes become enraged when they experience push back. They have no peace, and in their minds, the road to a life that is more centered and devoid of resistance is to hate, curse and attempt to slay anything and anyone that gets in their way.
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)
THEY DON'T EXPERIENCE THE PRESENCE OF GOD
The thought of not having that constant burning of God's Holy Spirit within is enough to make me shudder. The glory of God and his anointing on our lives is irreplaceable and without it we would spiral out of control.
Our decisions, our mindsets, our emotional well-being, our belief systems, our desires and everything that make up who we are would radically shift. It would be a deeply disturbing way to live, yet the lost live in that reality every moment of every day of their lives.
11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED LOVE
No matter how determined society is at convincing us that they do what they do because of love, it's simply not true. They have fallen for a faux love that does not originate from the only one who can manifest love. Outside of God, we cannot know love. The reason is simple: God is love.
I want to encourage you to read my article The Great Love Deception. It's eye-opening.
Sure, the lost can experience infatuation, attraction, appreciation, strong desire, lust and many other emotions, but love is the one experience they can't have outside of Jesus.
The next time you hear about someone who is militantly promoting what we would call perversion, just remember they are yearning to love and to be loved. This isn't a defense of perversion, but rather it's a call to weep for our culture and to stand in the gap so people can finally discover the only true source of love.
10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Psalm 32:10 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NO ACCESS TO SUPERNATURAL WISDOM
The unredeemed are limited to their own logic and human ability to reason. That's it. They have no resource when their own abilities or the abilities of others to understand comes to an end.
The ceiling of understanding becomes their version of truth and they will fight to the end to support it.
For Christians, there is such a relief knowing that we won't ever understand it all, and that our own logic is often fallible. We simply read the Bible and believe it. God speaks and we respond. The lost cannot do that.
They will argue that getting drunk, for example, is just fine, as long as you don't get behind the wheel of a car. It makes sense to them. Christians, however, have no need to attempt to wrap their minds around the topic. God says don't get drunk, and he's much wiser than we are, so we buy in wholesale to what he says. As a result, life is much, much better.
Further, decision making becomes much easier as Christians. We may not know what job to take, what house to buy, where to go, who to marry or how to resolve life's problems. Thankfully we have a supernatural source of direction that goes well beyond humanity's resources.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 (ESV)
HAPPINESS IS THEIR ONLY HOPE
We all have the right to pursue happiness in our nation. Sadly, that's the limit for people who don't love and serve Jesus.
Christians, on the other hand, live with overwhelming, immeasurable, supernatural joy! Happiness is dependent on circumstances. Joy is not.
Instead of pursuing wealth, sex, fame, materialism and other pleasures as sources of happiness, Believers are fully satisfied by knowing God. It's a supernatural reality that can only be understood when experienced. It's not mind over matter. I'm not talking about mental gymnastics that turn bad situations to good. I'm talking about an actual Spirit that fills us up and brings supernatural joy to our hearts. Those in the world can never understand this.
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 (ESV)
THEY LIVE OUTSIDE OF THE REALM OF MIRACLES
The lost have absolutely no hope of relief from life's woes unless mankind can come up with a solution. They are dependent and desperate and all too often, hopeless.
Believers in Christ live in the realm of miracles every day! Healings, wonders, signs, breakthroughs, prophetic revelation and much more are our portion!
The lost are feverishly doing all they can to avoid or avert dire circumstances in their own abilities. They turn to man, not God when they are in a time of need.
12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians. 2 Chronicles 16:12 (ESV)
Seeking the Lord is necessary for us to survive and thrive on the earth, and those in the world simply can't enjoy the miracles that result from such a devotion.
THEY HAVE NO REASON NOT TO SIN
Above I revealed the mindset regarding drunkenness. In the minds of the lost there is absolutely no reason not to get drunk. This logic can be used in other scenarios too. Lust is pleasurable as is pornography. Getting high on drugs feels good. Foul language and other behaviors are morally benign. If it's legal, it's okay.
In the world the line is drawn when one person's sin negatively impacts another. That's what defines morality in a culture that's not surrendered to Jesus. What the world defines as lawless and what God defines as legal are very different.
4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4 (ESV)
Christians understand how destructive sin is and we embrace consecration and repentance eagerly. Sin kills even if we don't understand why. We don't define what is morally legal, God does.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NO HOPE OF A WONDERFUL ETERNITY
Every ounce of life must be experienced in a window of approximately 80 years to those who don't know Christ. The thought of preparing for eternity is nonsensical to them. This over-magnifies the importance of fulfilling dreams and desires on the earth, as they do all they can to soak up all their short earthly journey can provide.
Of course, Believers know there are an unlimited number of years ahead of us. Every person, whether lost or saved, will live somewhere forever. This is what drives our lives. We do all we can to awaken the sleepers, to warn the apathetic and to rescue the perishing. This world means little in comparison to eternity.
Further, those who know Jesus are exhilarated knowing they will experience never-ending joy, abundant life, freedom, love and peace as we live day-by-day with God. This isn't some euphoric pipe dream. It's truth. It's going to happen. Those who don't know Jesus simply cannot understand this.
1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:1-6 (ESV)
CHANGE OUR DISPOSITION
I pray this will at least cause you to think differently the next time you get agitated at people who are promoting beliefs and behaviors that are repugnant to you. Pray hard for them. Battle for their souls.
Trust me, the moment one of these vile, wicked people truly find Jesus, they will turn on a dime and renounce everything unrighteous they previously supported. Meeting Jesus does that to a person.
Addressing error without compromising our credibility
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The need for people who rightly divide the truth is only going to escalate as the end-times season we are in continues to unfold. These Bereans are valuable and it would do us all well to embrace the opportunity to analyze our belief systems and to grow.
Instead, all over social media especially, we see critical and arrogant spirits assaulting others they disagree with theologically. For Christians to be rude and to operate in a spirit of accusation makes one wonder if they are saved at all. In fact, the moment we utilize methods of communication that contradict the fruits of the Spirit, we lose our credibility. Fortunately, there are many people who confirm their credibility by debating and discussing with love and honor. Communicating with them is a pleasure. However, all too often, supposed guardians of theology are zeroed in on proving their point and on shaming all who disagree. On the contrary, the shame is on them as they attempt to demoralize and invalidate people’s ministry. The focus is on mistakes, errors, disagreements and weaknesses instead of building them up, honoring them and encouraging them in the Lord.
10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10 (ESV)
As one who absolutely affirms bold and provocative messages, I’m dismayed that so many who name the name of Jesus presume boldness equates to cruelty and divisiveness. Haters and debaters who are driven by a contentious agenda against those they disagree with are doing great damage to the church. Strangely, they presume to be the champions of truth, knights in shining armor who are to be celebrated for defending their absolutely “perfect” view of Scripture. They presume themselves to be Bereans when in reality they are aligning themselves with a dark spirit of accusation and assault. These are no Bereans. They are, in fact, Thessalonians.
THE SPIRIT OF THE BEREANS VS THE SPIRIT OF THE THESSALONIANS
2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said. Acts 17:2-3 (NIV)
In Thessalonica, Paul was reasoning in the synagogue and revealing the glorious truth of Jesus. Some were persuaded, but many weren’t, and instead of exhibiting love in disagreement, they started a riot. This riotous spirit is driving the religious today, people who are not at all interested in life-giving truth. Their motive is selfish, protecting their own way of life and belief system.
5 But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason's house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. Acts 17:5 (NIV)
I think I’ve met some of the bad characters the verse mentions. They are all over Facebook. In the face of this, Paul and Silas moved on to Berea.
10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Acts 17:10 (NIV)
Many presume the Bereans heard the message and then, with a nasty, suspicious look on their face and thick theological walls built up, they put their noses into the Scriptures, looking to refute all that was being said. This is not what happened at all. Many modern “Bereans” are some of the meanest, most arrogant and unteachable people in the church. They are so tightly wound up, fearing even the slightest threat to their personal doctrines that they often slander and accuse people they oppose. This is not how the Bereans in the Book of Acts responded. Not at all.
11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11 (NIV)
Did you notice that the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians? Did you notice why? They received the message not with great suspicion, but with great eagerness! They were excited about this fresh, life-giving message that Paul was revealing to them! Their energy wasn’t spent discounting the message but rather in searching the Scriptures to see if it was true.
Because of this, many Jews and Greeks were transformed.
The story doesn’t end there, however.
13 When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, they went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. Acts 17:13 (NIV)
The Thessalonians actually went to Berea to hunt down Paul and agitate the people because of his message!
I propose many who assume themselves to be Bereans are actually Thessalonians—people who are more intent on hunting, agitating and stirring up instead of eagerly receiving revelation from the Word of God.
When engaging in conversation, especially online on social media or in the comments section of articles like this one, simply be nice. Discussions and healthy debates are supposed to be fun and edifying!
I try to make it a point to address false theologies while never assaulting the minister. I know, there are many who would argue that there are times in Scripture where false teachers were named and they were addressed quite bluntly. Yes, there absolutely does come a time to do that, but it is not as often as many might presume—and it’s always in a spirit of great love.
I do my very best to honor all, even if I believe their theology is way off. What benefit is there in being rude, arrogant or aggressive toward them as a person? When I engage in discussions on Facebook or other places online, a core value of mine is to be nice. I never want the person I’m engaging with to feel like I’m attacking them or that I presume to be superior. While I will boldly communicate my position, I don’t want anybody who might disagree to feel unsafe or devalued. They are precious people created in the image of God. Yes, if they pose a risk because of their doctrine, we must deal with that. But, it’s usually more beneficial to attack beliefs than to call out and defame people.
If I’m not exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit in my conversation, I should not be communicating at all. It’s time to shut off the computer and head into the prayer room. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control should dominate our discussions.
Quit calling everyone you disagree with a heretic. Quit commenting on articles like this one with the sole intent of exposing the author as deceived, false or in some sort of error. Share your perspective. Offer your point of view. Reveal your concerns. Be teachable. Communicate with honor and humility without abdicating your mandate to be a true Berean. Your eagerness to receive truth will open the door for many to believe in Jesus.
Please understand, I have thick skin. By the grace of God I’m nearly unoffendable. When people are aggressive toward me personally when I write or preach, I honestly don’t take offense. Reading mean tweets and comments can be entertaining and even enlightening. I understand the messages I’m called to deliver are provocative and I do know the arrows will fly.
But, I will say this. As someone who is deeply troubled when other preachers and prophetic people are attacked simply because of a disagreement over their theology or style of ministry, I want to simply ask you to be nice. Don’t aim your arrows in their direction. Understand the accusations and cruel things you say don’t only hurt them, but they hurt their spouses and children. Do you have any idea how many tears wives have cried because their husbands are mercilessly assaulted by others in the church through gossip and all over the internet? This is a very real and terribly sad problem, and it simply shouldn’t be.
Let love lead. Be kind. Be gentle. Be patient. Be bold. Stand for truth. Don’t hate. Be tender in your debate. Put the arrows down and simply love.
(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.
#metoo proponents need a fresh understanding of what love and forgiveness really look like.
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. Luke 23:34 (ESV)
I’m a holiness preacher. I am feverish in my pursuit of revival that will be marked by purity in the church and mass, glorious repentance in the nation. As is true with many of today’s prophetic messengers, there’s an urgency in my spirit that can’t be shaken. We must see a move of God that both initiates and is a response to tears and mourning over the state of the church and the debauchery of our nation.
The egregious moral condition of America and the entire world is sickening beyond description. Recent news reveals the grotesque and depraved state of our culture.
For example, an abortion doctor recently boasted about her method of murder that ensures baby’s cries can’t be heard:
On Sunday, Leah Torres, a Utah abortionist who is active on Twitter, responded with gruesome detail to someone criticizing her work.
When someone asked Torres if she hears the screams of the babies who she aborts, she replied:
You know fetuses can’t scream, right? I transect the cord 1st so there’s really no opportunity, if they’re even far enough along to have a larynx.
I won’t apologize for performing medicine. I’m also a “uterus ripper outer,” if that’s how you’d like to describe hysterectomy. https://t.co/lng0W3ta5J
— Leah Torres, MD (@LeahNTorres) March 11, 2018
Just today, a suspected mail bomber in the Austin, Texas area died as one of his bombs detonated as police were closing in.
Of course, we have recent mass shootings and other heinous assaults that are becoming normal. Hollywood movies are becoming more vile. Pornography is rampant even in the church. The status of our nation is nothing less than depraved and desperate.
Jesus Christ was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:25
Jesus died so we might have life. He died so others might have life. He died so our very dark sins would not keep us from a relationship with him. He died so other people’s sins, including the sins of murder, abuse and hatred, would not keep them from a relationship with him.
When I watch crime stories or hear news reports about the trials and convictions of murderers, rapists, abusers and others who have committed absolutely horrifying crimes against humanity, I find myself especially grieved when something specific happens. Time and again, I hear the family members and friends of those who were the target of the various crimes say, “I’ll never forgive him.” Those words wreck me. They are sealing their fate, a fate of darkness and despair that will never be escaped without true forgiveness.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)
Those who have been abused or who have been affected by the hateful crimes of others most certainly are scarred deeply, beyond what words could ever describe. I’m a father of five and the husband of a wonderful, beautiful wife. If anything ever happened to them at the hands of another, I would experience a range of emotions that would rock me. Anger, despair, fear and other responses would be expected. But, as a Christian, forgiveness and love for the perpetrator must follow. I must shift from accuser to intercessor so both he and I are free, forgiven and healed.
Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us. (Matthew 6:12)
A common violation of truth occurs when we presume our sins worthy of forgiveness while the sins of others must result in punishment. The true condition of our heart is revealed as we accuse.
Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it’s mandatory. Even though forgiveness is potent, we can’t always expect a perfect resolution to immediately follow. Restitution may not occur. Forgiveness isn’t about us, it’s about setting free those who have wounded us. Jesus could have screamed #metoo and demanded justice. Instead, he shouted #iforgive, as people continued to abuse and humiliate him by casting lots for his clothes. His forgiveness didn’t move them, but it moved Heaven and rocked the planet.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. Matthew 27:51 (ESV)
Forgiveness will set the abuser in place for freedom should they accept it. Forgiveness will set the abused up for healing. True love does just that. It heals and sets free.
I am so blessed by the courage and true love exhibited by a true victim–Rachael Denhollander, who, instead of shouting #metoo declared #iforgive:
A former gymnast is offering forgiveness for the unspeakable crimes Larry Nassar has been convicted of – and she’s being recognized by the media for it.
“Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you. I pray you experience the soul-crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me — though I extend that to you as well.” (From lifenews.com: http://www.lifenews.com/2018/01/26/pro-life-christian-gymnast-rachael-denhollander-powerfully-forgives-usa-gymnastics-doc-larry-nassar-for-sexual-abuse/)
Don’t misunderstand me. We need the dark side of our culture exposed. The evil in Hollywood and throughout the fabric of our nation is so vile that most of us would be shocked if we saw it in fullness. Everything from sex trafficking to the porn industry to immorality in movies that fill our theaters to drugs, addiction, murder, abortion and so much more is destroying millions of people. That darkness must be exposed and those who are perpetuating it must be held accountable.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:11-14 (ESV)
Part of the response that the guilty must offer is legitimate repentance. If porn industry leaders, sex traffickers, Hollywood moguls who are abusing women (and men), drug traffickers and others would openly repent and surrender to Jesus, I think the earth would shift off its axis! This must be what drives our intercession, not retribution!
…bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. Colossians 3:13 (NKJV)
As we have been forgiven, we must forgive. We pay it forward. Our declaration must be #iforgive.
The heart of the #metoo movement is vengeance. It’s not driven by a heart of love and forgiveness, but on the contrary, one of anger and hatred. The question is simple: Will you forgive those who have abused you? Will you love them? Will you truly decree #iforgive just as you, as a child of God, have been forgiven?
Can you imagine the shockwaves that would have resulted if Harvey Weinstein’s victims looked him in the eyes and said, I forgive you. God loves you. I don’t want you to be tormented because of what you did to me. I don’t want you to experience shame. I want you to know the love of Jesus.
Wow! Imagine the Oscar speeches and news reports that would have followed! What if the #metoo movement truly was an #iforgive movement!
The spirit of vengeance and hatred that is rising up in our nation as a result of a very real darkness being uncovered is also deeply evil. Yes, we must stand firm for holiness. We absolutely must see corruption and crimes and assaults against innocent people exposed. Yes, for those who have committed crimes, there is a very real price to pay. Yes, those who are a danger to others must be apprehended. The darkness must be uncovered. There is no question about it.
What we must ask is, how will we respond to those who are exposed? Will we heap up hatred and vengeance upon them? Will we say, “I will never forgive you.” Will we shame them? Or, will we do as Rachael Denhollander did and extend forgiveness?
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 (NKJV)
Isaiah reveals a powerful strategy:
When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:15-18 (NKJV)
God is ready to cleanse all who repent. For both those who abuse and those who refuse to forgive, God is revealing the blood on their hands. When we are clean, we most certainly can seek justice. We can trust God to expose the darkness and judge right versus wrong. We will rebuke oppressors and intercede for the weak, the fatherless, the widows—and I guarantee many of those who sexually abuse others are fatherless. The cry of our heart must be not only for our sins to be washed away, but for the sins of those who oppress us to be as white as snow. Our cry must not only be for justice but for mercy.
…In wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2 (NKJV)
Will we be #metoo accusers or #iforgive intercessors?
Our heart should follow the heart of God:
“Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17 (NKJV)
For those who have been abused, my heart is broken for you. I am so sorry you had to endure that. My belief is your healing will rapidly come as you forgive. Forgiving doesn’t mean you minimize the pain or what has occurred. It simply means you make a decision to set the abuser free. You learn to love them and desire for them to know Jesus intimately. You let them know Heaven won’t be the same without them. You can’t fathom the thought of them being tormented forever in Hell. You become their greatest intercessor.
You simply do what Jesus did. Instead of focusing on himself by saying #metoo he focused on those who were killing him. He loved them in the midst of the assault. He said, #iforgive.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34 (ESV)