What I Have Learned By Doing Spiritual Warfare — Part Two

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     Yesterday, I shared some of the first things I have learned as God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are teaching me how to conduct effective spiritual warfare that transforms lives.  I would remind you of what I wrote yesterday — that the primary way They are able to communicate with hurting people is through our imaginations… Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered (Proverbs 28:26). And as you will see in the following instances, Jesus is able to heal [rescue and deliver us] in inspired and inventive ways.
    I will also tell you that I instinctively know that this will be a life-long journey. The Enemy has had thousands of years to perfect his tactics, and I am new — yet enthusiastic — to help set the devil’s captives free. And I know I can be successful because I am blessed to partner with Jesus and the Holy Spirit (and my faithful husband), who do the heavy lifting.  I just have to be obedient and willing to assist them.
     And I would be remiss if I did not thank those who have come alongside me and my husband and shared their experiences and their expertise. They were way out in front of us, but the Lord arranged for a connection to be made, and we have greatly benefitted from the hands-on teaching of Dr. Charles Kraft, and Barbara Bucklin and Luke 4:18 Ministries.  Additionally, what I believe Satan has meant for harm (namely the internet; and I’m only half joking), God has used for good; and we have had the benefit of the many videos and website teachings of spiritual warfare by Steve Harmon, Russ Dizdar, David Hogan, Heidi Baker, Dan Duval, and others.  We stand on all these shoulders and hope to be as encouraging to others who follow in our footsteps, as we have followed in Jesus’s.
     So now, I would like to continue with the things I have learned concerning those times when a person is struggling to get healed…

     4)  When a person gets stuck in their captivity.  Sometimes a session can seem to stop dead in its tracks. A person will get shut down, as if being mired in quicksand, or trapped in a dimension that immobilizes them. They are unable to engage with their spirit, and seem “stuck”; incapable of picturing those damaged parts of themselves or unwilling to feel the pain of that young child whose spirit was so hurt.
     At this point, it is often helpful to get more descriptive in helping them engage with their younger victim in the spirit. Take the focus off the event, and center their attention on more precise details:  How old are you?  If you can picture the place, where exactly are you in that room?  Describe any pictures you see on the wall. What color dress are you wearing?  Focusing on the details will often enable the person to view the event with less fear and allow that part of themselves to move into the safe place with their older, protective self.
     5)  Taking responsibility for yourself.  Oftentimes, victims who need spiritual healing feel abandoned or neglected by adults, who should have been protecting them.  They can be angry at those adults, as well, and usually with good reason.  But we try to turn the tables on the Enemy who uses these emotions to keep the person in bondage to those spirits of abandonment, neglect, and anger. If a part of you is still hanging on to those emotions, even if you are unaware (and you most likely are!) it can cripple the adult part of the person who can’t understand why they are still depressed about the event, long after they have forgiven the offender.
     What they don’t understand is that the adult may have forgiven, but that child who was offended didn’t have the chance to forgive, and those emotions are trapped inside their spirit, and fair game for the devil to exploit.  He assigns one of his “spiritual forces of wickedness” as Ephesians 6:10 calls them — or their more common name, demons — to tyrannize those emotions, resulting in an adult who suffers from spiritual oppression, without ever understanding why.
     So, we have learned that it seems to help to tell the adult, you are now the one responsible for your younger self.  Yes, others let you down, leaving you feeling powerless in that situation.  But now you can take responsibility for that child version of yourself and feel empowered to take him or her out of that situation and into Jesus’s Light.
     6) You may need to go through regions of captivity to be set free.  If you hit a particularly difficult area to set free, we have found that sometimes the Enemy has sunk to new lows to keep that person in captivity to their past. We have actually had people complete a session and declare that they felt all kinds of chains of oppression coming off them.  They met Jesus in their pain, allowed Him to receive those hurt parts of themselves, healing their deep spiritual wounds and making them whole again.
     They have expressed that we look different than when they first sat down; we look “clean and bright”.  They weren’t even aware of the dirty veil that Satan had imposed on their worldly vision. They have left, refreshed and rejoicing in their newfound peace and sense of freedom.  Yet, some have returned saying, “There’s still something being hidden from me.  I now know what freedom feels like and I am not willing to let the Enemy keep any part of me in bondage. Can you help me find what it is that is keeping me from being completely free”?
     While most people do not have to return for this reason, it is not hard to realize that the Enemy will try to keep a fragment under his control, and he thinks if he keeps it buried deep enough, it will not be discovered.  People who are in harmony with their spirit are not so easily fooled. One woman, (I will call her Carrie), felt such an unsettling in her spirit and decided to go after that fragment to retrieve it from the clutches of the Enemy. (NOTE:  This is going to seem as if it was written by a science fiction writer, but I assure you that it was very revealing to Carrie).
     In a subsequent session, the Holy Spirit showed Carrie that there was a part of herself who was so mad about how she had allowed herself to be treated by her spouse, that she didn’t trust Carrie not to repeat the pattern of abuse. So she had allowed herself to be imprisoned by the Enemy in what looked like a deep underground cell, preferring to remain in that bondage, rather than suffering the possibility that Carrie could not retain her freedom. It was eye-opening to Carrie to realize how her spirit had suffered while she had rationalized and accepted the abuse as normal. This just shows that sometimes the wounded part is buried so deep that you have to work hard to find it, pull it out and away from the prison the Enemy has hidden it in, and take it to that secure place inside of you, where it can be introduced to Jesus and feel safe enough to become part of the healed spirit.
     7)  The Enemy will try to stop your progress.  It should go without saying that Satan doesn’t want you set free.  And he will do whatever it takes to stop you from growing and maturing in your faith and letting Jesus heal you. He will try to convince you that your freedom is only fleeting; that Jesus’s healing “didn’t take”.  He will whisper the lies in your ear and mind that worked to put you in chains the first time.  He will try to convince you that what the Holy Spirit has whispered to your heart, and the things that Jesus has shown you in your spirit are not true; they are just figments of your imagination. He will taunt you that you are not strong enough to keep your freedom, and he will send his demons to attack you to prove it.  That is the way he operates.  But you know that He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world, and you can resist and overcome the schemes of the devil!  You have seen Jesus work miracles in your spirit, and you know He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  He is your Victory! 
     8) Finally, I have learned that even Jesus needed times of rest and restoration.  I will tell you that once God laid upon our hearts the great need for willing workers to help Jesus heal the spiritually wounded and set the captives free, our world has changed.  We have to live in this world, and that means making a living and taking care of our physical needs.  But the demand (and our desire) to help hurting people is so great and taking precedent in our lives; but it can also be overwhelming at times.
     I am learning that we must be wise in getting enough rest, and it is important to restore our own spirits so that we can assist in the work Jesus wants to do in this hurting world. In Mark, Chapter 4, Jesus urged His disciples to get in the boat to cross to the other side. He saw the crowds and knew the amount of work that would be required of him — there were people to be healed, demons to be cast out, and lessons to be taught. Yet He laid down to sleep, knowing He would need to be rested to accomplish what needed to be done.  And there are other instances of Him removing Himself from the crowds to pray alone.  Those must have been times of asking for increased strength and stamina to do His Father’s work. I have to remind my husband and myself that we, too, need to occasionally be restored if we wish to be capable and competent partners with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In short, to be our best, we must be withdraw and rest.
     So, that is a summary of the most important things we have learned since the Lord has called us to take part in this ministry called spiritual warfare.  When I step back, I realize what a tremendous amount of information and confidence He has given us, and all in a very short time.  And I am extremely encouraged when I realize He is doing the same thing in others around me.  Although as little as two years ago, I would have been skeptical about this remarkable calling, I can tell you that the changed lives I have witnessed has convinced me, not only of the necessity of spiritual warfare, but the urgency of it. I can now recognize a spiritually wounded person in all the unhappy, angry, anxious, fearful people that I come into contact with — both Believers and nonbelievers. For my husband and myself, and for the growing number of spiritual warriors, it is our mission and our determination to foil the plans of the Enemy to take one more captive. I invite you to submit yourself to the Holy Spirit, allow Jesus to heal your spiritual wounds, and join us in God’s spiritual army.

Isaiah 42:16   “And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.”
   

What I Have Learned By Doing Spiritual Warfare — Part One

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     I know that Spiritual Warfare is a relatively new concept within the Modern Church (although the Early Church was well acquainted with it).  And I know that there are many Pastors who will say they don’t believe in it; or at least do not want to consider it as part of shepherding their flock.  Furthermore, while I believe that Jesus desires us all to engage in spiritual warfare, [in order to take territory from the Enemy and establish His Kingdom on earth], I do not necessarily think that everyone is equipped to do it.  It takes someone with precise and clear knowledge of their Bible to understand that though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).

      It is important to believe that you have been given the Authority to wage spiritual warfare, and then to believe that the Power of Heaven [through your faith in Jesus] is solidly behind you. You must wage this spiritual war for the right reasons — to perpetuate the works of Jesus: healing, deliverance, and salvation, thereby establishing His Kingdom.  And I will tell you, it’s a definite learning experience. As we boldly trust Jesus and the Holy Spirit to guide us, we are progressing and learning new tactics.  That results in God expanding our territory, and giving us harder assignments. But if you know that you have the Power of Jesus in you, who can defeat you?  It truly is a matter of trust and confidence in Him.
     That being said, I thought you might find it interesting if I shared some of the finer points of spiritual warfare that have characterized the experiences of my husband and myself. While they represent a common thread in the lives of people, I assure you that each person’s spirit perceives them to be unique to their life and circumstances.  And I’m pretty sure that some of what I’m about to share will sound too fantastic to be true, but it is my honest testimony of the Truths Jesus has shown me.
     Furthermore, it is imperative that you understand that the primary way in which Jesus and the Holy Spirit are able to communicate with a wounded and hurting person is through their imagination… Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered (Proverbs 28:26).  Here, Strong’s Concordance defines “wisdom” as the Hebrew word CHOKMAH, meaning experience, shrewdness, special abilities. The Concordance further states that “the prerequisite [for wisdom] is a desire to follow and imitate God as He has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, without self-reliance [and especially not in a spirit of pride]”.  All this to point out that we are spirits in physical bodies, and our spirits can supernaturally connect with our Savior through our minds and imaginations.
     And there will likely be those who say they see nothing of this sort in the Bible. But didn’t the Pharisees accuse Jesus of consorting with Beelzebub when He healed the blind and dumb man?  And unfortunately, as I pointed out in this post, our English Bibles only have one word for all the miraculous works that the Father did through His Son.  That word is healed and it connotes far more than physical healing.  Just in the single verse of Luke 7:21, Scripture tells us, In that hour He healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind He bestowed sight. That verse speaks volumes. If we were honest with ourselves, we would admit that there there are supernatural inferences in the Bible that we may never understand.  But I fear that this has resulted in man limiting all that Jesus can do when interacting (communicating) with our spirits. He has certainly showed me that nothing is outside His creative ability when it comes to setting a captive free!
     So, for now, I hope that at least you will consider that the word “healed” leaves us with a limited understanding of all that Jesus did.  In fact, Strong’s Concordance has shown me that the word “healed”, in this instance, is the Greek word Sózó, meaning to save, heal, preserve, rescue, deliver, [set free].  And when you look up the words “Blind” and “Sight” for this particular verse, the Concordance reveals this: Jesus is referring to people who were [metaphorically] “enveloped in the smoke of pride and self-conceit; lifted up with pride” (blind). But Jesus bestowed sight, which is defined as “intense, earnest perception”.  And what were they perceiving?  The Source of the Power by which Jesus healed them!
     It is time that the 21st Century Body of Christ perceives the Truth of the Word!  And just as in Luke 7:21, Jesus is raising up a spiritual army of men and women who are being “healed”; people who are throwing off their Doubt and Unbelief and Pride — the root sins that keep us from allowing Jesus to heal our physical and spiritual wounds, and to receive and use His Power within us. So, in Part One, I’d like to show you the most common responses we’ve seen to this uncommon ministry.  I want to share how the Holy Spirit has guided us in helping Jesus to set these captives free…
     1)  Why didn’t Jesus stop it?  This is perhaps the Number One question, and the biggest hurdle to overcome for anyone who has been oppressed by the Enemy.  And it doesn’t matter what the “it” is.  Whether it is child molestation, a parent abandoning them, bullying, infidelity, physical and/or emotional abuse, or any number of methods Satan uses to entrap us — it all spells P-A-I-N.
      Even if individuals can see in the spirit, and imagine Jesus being with them through the pain, they cannot understand why He allowed it to happen.  The fact that He never left them nor forsook them in their pain is not enough for some people to heal.  They cannot forgive Him for not stopping the act, whatever it might be.
     To be honest, I had difficulty in explaining it to both the person’s [and my own] satisfaction.  Explaining that Free Will is a principle instituted by God [and given to us all], and that He cannot violate His principles — in other words, pick and choose whose free will He is going to void; yours or your perpetrator — does not ease the pain, nor adequately explain to them why they had to suffer. Their pain is personal and they don’t understand why they had to suffer because of someone else’s free will decision.
     Like I said, that has been a hard concept to swallow, and hard for me to defend … UNTIL, in a recent session, the Holy Spirit gave me supernatural understanding into why seeing Jesus with them is so important.  When I point out that God didn’t even stop His own Son’s crucifixion, and that even Jesus questioned why His Father had forsaken Him, every victim suddenly realizes that Jesus chose to be there with them in their pain.  He is uniquely qualified to know how they feel.  He, too, understands what it is like to wonder why the painful event wasn’t stopped. Although He couldn’t stop it, He was there with them, to share in their burden.  And they begin to understand that God loves them so much, He allowed His Son to suffer (even though it was within His power to stop the crucifixion) in order that Jesus could identify with our suffering, meet us in our pain, and help us to begin to heal. I have literally seen the shadow of demonic torment be lifted from a person’s countenance with this revelation.
     2)  People are often angry with God.  That is only natural, and to be expected at first.  When you are an innocent victim of another person’s evil free will, it is understandable to want to blame someone. And if you are a Christian, it can shatter your impression of a loving, caring God.
     But to a Believer, this can also cause confusion and doubt.  We know God loves us.  To some, it seems blasphemous to be angry at our Creator.  To others, it completely changes how they view God, and their anger gets compartmentalized, because it is the only way they can move on and remain a faith-filled Christian. But whenever anger surfaces in someone, I have never sensed that the Holy Spirit judges or condemns.  It is understood that Anger is a spirit introduced by the Enemy and the power of Jesus is greater than any power of a demonic spirit.  It then becomes important to get the inner person, the victim, to be set free from the bondage the devil has imposed on them.
     3)  A victim is unwilling to see or look for Jesus in the event.  It has been extremely illuminating to see the different responses to seeing Jesus in hurtful circumstances. Some see Him right away and rush into His arms; one might see Him, but angrily refuse His open arms, wanting nothing to do with Him; still others are indifferent to Him, almost mocking the thought that He could comfort them.
     We know that Jesus is the One who heals, not my husband or myself, and the victim certainly has not been able to heal themselves, or they wouldn’t be suffering the oppression in the first place.  We have discovered that Jesus is the key to healing, and if a victim is reluctant to accept His comfort, or unresponsive to His presence, then the Holy Spirit has given us an alternate route to take.
     My husband is particularly good at listening to the Holy Spirit for cues, and this is what he has been shown… If a victim can’t let themselves see Jesus, or wants nothing to do with Him, we can ask them to picture a place that is peaceful and safe.  They may choose a beach or a mountain cabin.  It doesn’t matter where it is, as long as it has meaning to them. And you can see their body visibly relax as they picture that place.
     We have then been able to ask them to close their eyes, search their spirit and see if there are any younger versions of themselves that are struggling.  It is amazing!  Everyone has been able to identify at least one or more versions of themselves that are floundering, or not at peace — and it is usually a vision of themselves at an age that a painful event in their life occurred.
     We can ask them to just envision absorbing that younger self into their spirit, assuring them that they are protected, and taking them to that safe place.  We can ask them to do that for each version of a younger self that feels “out of the loop” with the adult self.  Once they are all comfortable in the safe place, the person is no longer fragmented by feelings of anger or fear or self-rejection.  Sometimes that’s enough to heal the confused spirit, or if necessary, it is a good time to re-introduce Jesus to the whole person, who is now able to accept His loving embrace and spiritual healing.
     I’m sure we have all expressed at one time or another … “I just don’t feel like myself”.  I would submit to you that the Enemy is exploiting some part of your soul, and keeping you in a state of division within yourself.  If he can get some part of you working against your spirit, who abides in Jesus, then he can lay waste to your peace, and your divided “household will fall”.
     By the way, if you have a theological difference, or can’t embrace this concept, then feel free to comment, and let’s talk about it. We need to have an open discussion on the subject and begin to have an honest conversation, because in the next post, I will be going even deeper.
     In Part Two of What I Have Learned By Doing Spiritual Warfare, I will explain the lengths to which the Enemy has gone to keep people in bondage, and how the Holy Spirit has guided us into more complex ways to help set the captives free. And I’m sure that they are not any more sensational than the works of Jesus in His day.  I simply hope you will be able to see how precious each life and spirit are to God, the Father, and to His Son.

2 Corinthians 3:17     “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom.”

Prayer and Fasting: Powerful Spiritual Weapons

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     As I have shared recently, both my husband and I are doing long-distance Bible studies with people who are new to seeking God.  By that, I mean people who have no experience of being introduced to Jesus in a Church; people who have sat in Churches for years, but realize they don’t know their Bibles; and even people who thought of themselves as having faith, but now understand they don’t really know this God we serve.  And what a blessing it’s been!  It has enabled me to spend time in familiar passages, and it has sharpened my abilities to explain what the Word says and means.  It’s one thing to be able to recite Scripture; it’s quite another to make the meaning of that Scripture clear to someone else and show them how it affects their lives [both now and eternally].
     And it is an awesome responsibility to present God’s Truth in the Bible, and not just a religious doctrine or my own interpretation.  Of course all that is part of the discussion, but the ultimate goal is to give each person a foundation of who the Most High God is, His plan for the Ages, the importance of  following His commandments, and the relationship He wants with each of us. And I must admit that I learn more about my Savior and His Kingdom with each venture into the Word. Because there are so many concepts and teachings that we, as Christians, accept without really understanding their significance, I wanted to take the time to explore just one of them.
     I have long been fascinated by the story of the epileptic boy whom Jesus heals in Matthew 17.  As you will recall, Jesus is approached in a crowd by the boy’s father who reports that he had taken his ill son to Jesus’s Disciples, but they had been unable to heal him.  Jesus shows His exasperation that the Disciples’ faith was so ineffective, and has the boy brought to Him, upon which He rebuked the demon causing the epilepsy and the boy was healed.  The Disciples later approach Jesus and ask why they were unable to drive the demon out.  Jesus reveals that due to their unbelief, they were powerless against the demon.  And then He reveals an interesting bit of information … But this kind of demon does not go out except by prayer and fasting.  And it is the significance of this verse that I wish to discuss.
     But before we approach the substance of this verse (Matthew 17:21), I have to tell you that there are some versions of the Bible in which it does not appear.  However, a more detailed version of this story is rendered in Mark 9:14-29, in which Jesus declares in verse 29 that prayer and fasting are necessary to throw this kind of demon out. It doesn’t bother me that this particular instruction appears in one place, but not another, because the Bible, in its entirety, is a complete revelation of God, and it is up to me to seek His Truth on a matter.  That being said, what are we to make of this comparison between faith and prayer/fasting?
     If you have any knowledge of religious doctrine, then you are most likely aware how the Church views the subjects of prayer and fasting.  They are often linked together, and as one of my favorite websites, GotQuestions.org points out, “Too often, the focus of fasting is on the lack of food. Instead, the purpose of fasting should be to take your eyes off the things of this world to focus completely on God. Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God, and to ourselves, that we are serious about our relationship with Him. Fasting helps us gain a new perspective and a renewed reliance upon God.”  I would agree with that.  Fasting is a way to deny our flesh in order to concentrate on our spiritual connection to God.  But Jesus seems to take it to a new level, doesn’t He?  He specifically relates prayer and fasting to casting out a demon!  That’s spiritual warfare!
     It is also obvious that there are degrees of evil associated with demons … This kind requires the extra power of prayer and fasting.  This suggests that there are levels or degrees of demons as well as degrees of how we wage spiritual war, doesn’t it?  Some demons might be cast out by our own ability [knowing we have the authority to do it]; some by invoking the Name of Jesus; and some even by praying [even from a minimal amount of faith] — all methods that had been taught to the Disciples by our Lord.  But ones like this one need more than our Authority, our use of the Divine Name, and our weak prayer.  This particular demon needed a higher intensity of power, and Jesus makes it clear that this power comes from seeking a higher degree of relationship with God through the combination of prayer and fasting.

     Scripture tells us that the Disciples had been previously successful in casting out demons without fasting.  They had apparently been successful until they found themselves in a spiritual battle over the epileptic boy.  So what is it about praying while fasting that can give us that greater faith to receive a greater power and defeat a stronger form of evil?  I would submit to you that fasting denies our body the distraction of food, and leaves us in a state of spiritual hunger for a deeper communion with God.  Combine this state with an intense level of passionate prayer, and it will release a commitment of Divine Power to defeat the Enemy.
     I would suspect that there was a learning curve for the Disciples, and this incident highlights their weak and imperfect faith, while presenting Jesus with an opportunity to add to their education.  In other words, they were developing their spiritual battle plans, and out of this defeat, Jesus had shown them a new strategy. Now, we do not know for sure that they had been previously taught this tactic, but Jesus’s exasperation — He called them an unbelieving and perverted generation, and wondered how long He was going to have to put up with them! — seems to indicate they had neglected the spiritual preparation to deal with this kind of demon.
     But let me ask you this question … Are we any different than those Disciples?  Do we even recognize that we are involved in a spiritual battle with demonic entities? (At least they recognized that demons are real)! And have we prepared ourselves spiritually for battle — let alone applied fervent prayer and fasting to our arsenal?
      When are we going to learn that we must educate ourselves and prepare to fight a spiritual battle in the spirit? When we seek to commune with God, spirit to Spirit, in prayer from our heart — and we fast, seeking God out of the hunger in our spirit — it is a powerful combination that produces a spiritual weapon capable of defeating the powers of darkness and taking back territory [from Satan] for the Kingdom of God.

     Can we see that fasting and prayer were powerful weapons throughout the Bible?  Moses fasted and prayed for 40 days and 40 nights on Mt. Sinai.  Hannah fasted and prayed for a son, and God gave her Samuel, one of the most important prophets in the Old Testament.  Nehemiah fasted and prayed when he was preparing to return from the exile to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.  Esther fasted and prayed when the Jewish exiles in Persia were threatened with extermination by Haman.  Daniel fasted and prayed throughout his exile in Babylon, and God gave Him great visions about what was to come upon the world.  John the Baptist and his disciples fasted and prayed; and the Christians at Antioch fasted and prayed when they sent Paul and Barnabas off on their mission trip.  And, perhaps as the perfect model for us, Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days and 40 nights to prepare for the ministry God assigned to Him.
     By now it should be apparent that fasting, accompanied by prayer, is a Biblical, intense God-seeking that releases an intense spiritual power. And each and every one of the examples of prayer and fasting [in the previous paragraph] resulted in spiritual power and territory that was taken back for the Kingdom of God. And that is the assignment He has given us!  We are to Seek first the Kingdom of God … and enter into this spiritual battle using strategies Jesus has given us to conquer the dark forces of evil.  Prayer and fasting sounds so easy, doesn’t it?  Yet we are have lost the sense of their power in this modern world.  And, sadly, the Enemy continues to take territory from us….

Isaiah 58:6    “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, To tear to pieces the ropes of the yoke, To let the oppressed go free and break apart every [enslaving] yoke?”

     
   

Can You Lose Your Deliverance?

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     As we Christians learn to walk out our “authentic” faith, we will have questions as suggested by the title of this blog.  And by the use of the word “authentic”, I will probably have a different meaning than popular theologians who use the word as a slogan or catchphrase in expressing their doctrine.  By authentic, I mean doing the things Jesus did, and following His model for establishing God’s Kingdom on earth.
     I know that I have explained what that looks like before, but because of the confusion among the Body of Christ, I do not think it can be expounded upon too often … When God revealed Himself on earth as the Son of Man and the Son of God, He came as our Savior, Jesus Christ, King of the Jews.  And on a very base level, we can recognize that what the King rules over is His Kingdom.  So while Jesus was on earth, we can say that His Kingdom had arrived (although His orderly rule among men had yet to be established — that is what He wants us to partner in setting up).  Also, Jesus made it very clear that the Kingdom of God is God’s rule in our hearts.
     As a representative of God’s Kingdom on earth, what were some of the acts He conducted when demonstrating what it meant to Seek first, the Kingdom of God? You are aware that I have pointed out the significance of His act of Healing as a signal of the Power of God on earth, and as a condition of the order and rule in His Kingdom.  And it is to the Glory of God that the Bible records that Jesus healed 31 individuals, including the Leper in Galilee; the paralyzed servant of the Roman Centurion; Peter’s mother-in-law in Capernaum; the man with a withered hand at a synagogue in Capernaum; the woman with an issue of blood; two blind men departing from Jericho; the infirmed man at the Pool of Bethesda at Jerusalem… to just name a few.
     But if you diligently search the Scripture, you will also find that not all of Jesus’s healings were defined by sickness or infirmities.  For instance, Matthew 15:22-28 reveals that He healed the Canaanite woman’s daughter who was “grievously vexed with a devil”.  Matthew 12:22 tells us, “Then was brought unto Him one possessed with a devil; blind, and dumb: and He healed him.”  Then there are those mass healings that took place, as in Matthew 4:24:  “So His fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them”.  And the last one (though not the final one) I will mention is in Luke 4:40-41:  “Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him, and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, You are the Son of God! But He rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that He was the Christ”.
     These are just a few of the healings that have been described in the Bible — cases of deliverance from both illnesses and demonic oppression.  But I would be negligent if I did not point out what John, the Apostle said, regarding this subject:  “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written”.  Our Bible very plainly says that Jesus performed these miracles as signs that the Kingdom of God was now being set in motion upon the earth.  Yet, we the Church, are largely ignorant that this is to be our duty as servants of the King — to continue His work!  And while my writing has concentrated on this, as our moral obligation to our King, I want to take a look at another aspect of what He taught in regard to Healing.
     As my husband and I have studied and communed with God and Jesus about our divinely-assigned ministry of deep (spiritual) healing, [and what others term as Deliverance], we are being shown a Truth in Scripture that is important for the Body of Christ to understand if we are going to truly seek to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth.  Yes, we are encouraged by the evidence shown us [in the Bible] that Jesus healed people from their torments and the oppression of the Enemy and his demons.  And we have partnered with Him in helping quite a few people to escape the captivity in which they were bound.  But we have also begun to see that just because a person is set free by Jesus [in the spirit], it does not guarantee that this freedom is permanent.  And although it’s taken me quite a few paragraphs, I’m finally ready to explore the question as presented in the title of today’s post … Can You Lose Your Deliverance?
     I’m going to cut right to the chase… I believe that yes, you can.  And I want to make it perfectly clear … this is not a question of Salvation.  I did not ask, Can You Lose Your Salvation? Nor do I assert that a person’s Deliverance is dependent on their Salvation (although I do believe that if a person experiences Jesus setting them free of bondage and captivity due to their sinful life choices, it can lead to acceptance of Jesus as one’s Savior).
     So here is the Biblical evidence that I believe one can lose their Deliverance (or Healing).  Recall, if you will, the story in the Bible of the man at the Pool of Bethesda as related in John, Chapter 5.  This man had been an invalid for 38 years, and has positioned himself at the edge of the Pool, where it is stated that an angel comes down to occasionally stir the water, upon which the first ones entering are miraculously healed. [And I want to state that I have no problem believing in this miracle; just as I can believe other places in Scripture that record supernatural events, such as the healing of Naaman in the River Jordan (2 Kings 5:10-14); and the healing of those who have the shadow of Peter fall across them (Acts 5:14-16)].

     But along comes Jesus, who notices the man, and asks him an important question:  Do you want to be healed?  I can tell you that in our experience, that is an important question indeed. We have found it quite common that as bad as a person’s current situation might be, at least they are familiar with it. They know it intimately. It’s familiar and doesn’t run the risk of surprising them. They can be more comfortable in their present misery [and bondage] than taking the steps they need to meet Jesus and be set free.  Believe it or not, as miserable as people will admit to being, they can’t always say they want to be healed.
     When Jesus discerns that the man could not be healed on his own, He heals the man, who immediately recovers his strength.  And what does Jesus tell him?  Snatch up your pallet, start walking and keep on walking.  This is the expanded Greek translation of John 5:8.  Note the underlined words which imply that our deliverance (or healing) is not confined to this one moment in time.  We must continue on the path Jesus has set us upon.  This is further clarified just a few verses later, when Jesus happens upon the same man in the synagogue.  This man has been questioned about his healing, as if the very fact of his healing is in question.  After all, the Jews ask, who had the authority to do such a thing?  And the man is hard-pressed to provide a rational answer, not being able to identify the Son of God as his Deliverer.  But Jesus speaks to the man in the synagogue and tells him, Behold, you have become well.  Do not go on sinning any longer, lest something worse happen to you.  Right there, Jesus presents the possibility that this man’s healing and Deliverance is dependent on him.  It is not unconditional — it is not a Get Out of Jail Free card with no expiration date. And the failure to keep his Deliverance runs the risk of a return to a life which is even more oppressed.
     I must tell you that this is a concern as my husband and I minister to people who are in spiritual bondage, and in need of both spiritual and physical healing. [It is not uncommon for physical ailments to be rooted in spiritual issues that need healing].  There is usually much cause for celebration as a person meets Jesus in the spiritual realm and He is able to deliver them from their spiritual bondage and deep soul wounds.  There is elation and a sense of freedom; a sense that they have seen the end of their oppression and misery.  But just like Jesus cautioned the man at the Pool of Bethesda (and the adulteress woman at the well), it is not a one-time, done deal.  We must “Sin no more” and Keep walking in the new direction that Jesus has provided by His healing.  Jesus makes it very clear that He is warning against a return to sinful lifestyle choices, which will only re-open Satan’s legal authority to once again attack and oppress you.
     I know this is a huge concept, but it is one that Christians in the modern world need to understand.  It ties into the concepts I’ve presented on the Court in Heaven, and Our Authority vs. Satan’s. But we desperately need to comprehend that Jesus’s words extended His mercy, but also demanded our holiness.  He is telling us that any return to the sin that subjected us to oppression and captivity will nullify any release or freedom we have gained.  In essence, if we do not fight to keep our Deliverance [and resist the temptations and urges to return to the comfortable state of sin that resulted in our spiritual misery], then Satan will take advantage of that weakness and renew his attacks, and most likely our return to captivity will be even harsher.
     This, in effect, is the principle as expressed in Luke 11:24-26: When an unclean spirit comes out of a man, it passes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ On its return, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and dwell there. And the final plight of that man is worse than the first.”
     If, through Deliverance, or deep healing, a person is rescued from a life of demonic harassment or oppression, but does not make an effort to fill their life with the newfound freedom from Jesus and seek to keep walking in His ways, then they are leaving themselves open to be revisited by the same whispered lies of the Destroyer.  In no time, they will find themselves back under the control of demonic influences and their freedom will vanish.  In short, it is our responsibility to STAY FREE if we don’t want to lose our Deliverance!
     In closing, I guess my final thoughts are these:  Jesus did not come to earth to establish a Kingdom that could be so easily won and lost [because we don’t make the effort to hold on to the freedom and territory that He helps us to receive].  Or you can look at it this way … It cost Jesus everything to come set us [the captives] free.  When He Delivers us from Satan’s clutches, we are being conformed to His image.  Why would we want to exchange our newfound identity to return to the tarnished image that Satan presents us? Why would any of us want to return to those prisons and chains?

Romans 6:17-18   “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness”.
   

God & His Remnant: Unlocking The Prison Doors

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     I was struggling about what to write about today; no clear subject came to my mind or my spirit.  Then I heard the prompting Share what you’re seeing.  My first thought was, “Lord, I’m not sure what you mean.  Are you talking about specifics of what I’m seeing in the spiritual arena; or what I’m seeing in the people coming to us in ministry?”  After being convicted that it was the latter, I had to stop and really think … “What am I seeing? And how could that benefit the readers?”
     You see, our ministry has, for lack of a better word, exploded in the last month or so.  And our activities are diverging to the point that nearly every day is a new experience — God has expanded our duties and our manner of spiritual deliverance and interaction with people.  My husband and I have pretty much quit following an organized format for ministering to individuals and are operating under the full guidance of the Holy Spirit. By now, we have the foundation down for beginning the healing process from spiritual wounds, and getting the captives free.  Now God is showing us that the sphere of healing in which we operate is unique and distinctive to each individual.
     I tell you all this to show you that once you commit to partnering with Jesus to release people from the prisons they are bound up in, all rules are off, and Jesus will begin to show you deeper bondage that they are subjected to, and the supernatural ways you can help release them.  Needless to say, we are experiencing Jesus in more miraculous and extraordinary ways, and seeing His power manifested in methods that we could never have imagined without the help of the Holy Spirit.
     And the really cool thing is that we are seeing His power demonstrated in the lives of both faithful Christians and the decidedly Lost; in the most religious of people and in the most worldly.  And they are coming to us unbidden; without any effort on our part to invite them to be healed by Jesus.  And in some cases, we are being presented with people who aren’t even at the stage where we can begin the healing process.  They don’t even know Jesus and without that knowledge, real spiritual healing cannot take place.  At first, we considered what some who are being called to heal the spiritual wounds of satan’s captives do … they decline to work with anyone who does not have a saving knowledge of Jesus.  After all, it is He who does the healing, not us.  And if one doesn’t recognize His authority, then He can’t do the work in their lives — it’s a two-way street, and necessitates at least some level of relationship with Him.
     But we strongly believe the Word when it says that God doesn’t want anyone to perish, so it is our responsibility as members of His Kingdom on earth to do what we can to introduce each person to Jesus.  We know that He can take our efforts, and if the person is willing, He can begin a relationship where there was none.  We are seeing that in two separate and contrasting situations that God has brought to us.  In the first, we received a phone call from a dear friend who we’ve been praying over for years; a woman I will call Ashley.  Although she didn’t approach us with any obvious spiritual wounds, she sent me a text one day out of the blue … Should you read the Bible chronologically, or front to back (Genesis to Revelation)? In order for you to understand how shocked (and ecstatic) I was to receive this text, you need to know that I have known Ashley since she was in her early 20s, and she is now in her mid-40s.  My husband and I are Godparents to her daughter, and we have prayed countless prayers that we might plant a seed that would cause her and her husband to seek Jesus.  They have always politely declined to accept our offer and in recent years they have become quite successful financially.  The temptations of trips to Europe, second homes in the mountains, and all the trappings that money can buy have lessened any thoughts that they might one day need Jesus.

     But after nearly 20 years, God is showing me that we can never discount Him, and patience is truly a virtue.  We followed up that initial text with a phone call to find out why she was suddenly interested in the Bible, and found out that she has been attending some Bible study classes at the Christian school where her daughter attends (at least our encouragement to go that route with our Goddaughter bore some fruit).  While the primary reason for attending may have been to be included in that social circle, she soon realized how limited her knowledge of the Bible was, and she knew she could come to us.  So now, my husband and I alternate a weekly Bible study with her (by phone since she lives a few hours away) to introduce her to the Jesus of the Bible, with all the expanded knowledge we have been shown.  She is seeing and experiencing Jesus from the Truth of the Word, and He is fascinating to her! There is no external doctrine or manipulation; just the facts of the Bible.  While at this stage she is unaware of any deep spiritual wounds that need to be healed, the Holy Spirit is already convicting her of the manner in which she has lived her life, and we will be there if any of Satan’s lies surface that reveal any spiritual bondage.
     In the second situation, we were asked to speak to a woman I will call Martha, who lives several states away, and who has been gravely wounded by the Church — 25 years of an affair with a married Pastor, who subsequently dumped her and moved away when he was approached with accusations of inappropriate behavior with other women.  Of course, she thought he loved her; she was the only one; etc., etc.  But now she lives in a deep depression, realizing that she gave up her youth and any hopes of a husband or family, only to realize that she is in her mid-50s and alone.  And as Satan will do, he has convinced her that because no one in the Church reached out to help her, that they are all hypocrites; and sadly, she still professes to love the degenerate pastor, and longs for that relationship again.  She reached out to us through a connection from another person we were counseling, and asked us to help her get her life back together.  Not only was she depressed and angry, but she was hearing voices that told her she might be better off if she ended her life.
     After an initial consultation, and some encouragement to fill out a questionnaire regarding specific details about her life, her family, and her faith, we got her to admit that her free will choices had played the majority part in her circumstances.  When she revealed that she had been in Church all her life, but didn’t feel she knew Jesus (and the 25 years she sat in that immoral pastor’s church, it was to pursue her relationship with him, not Jesus), I asked her the pivotal question…. Do you believe that Jesus is real?  She said, “No, not really”.  So while she was hoping that we could somehow magically do some mind tricks to get her to stop thinking about her illicit affair, and to miraculously give her a new life, we had to tell her that we couldn’t proceed with the spiritual healing sessions at that point.  BUT, if she would be willing to let us introduce Jesus to her through a study of Him in the Word, and IF she could honestly seek Him and come to an authentic relationship with Him, He could begin to heal those spiritual wounds, and the counseling sessions could be back on the table.
     How will I know that God hears me? That He’s working on me? Am I too far away from Him? At least those are questions that show she has not dismissed seeking Him.  And these are questions that reveal an honest heart, and honest fears.  And after just two nights, she is able to talk to God, and finds herself sobbing, wondering how He could ever love her.  I explained that this is actually good news!  Her spirit is being touched by the Holy Spirit, and if she will keep on asking, she will get the answers she so sorely needs.  Keep her in your prayers; Jesus wants to heal her, and I want to see her life restored.

     I have to admit, she is one of the most skeptical and willful people I have ever met.  She admitted that all those years she sat in Church she never considered God’s will for her life; she just wanted what she wanted.  Isn’t that the sin we all share in the flesh?  My husband agreed to begin a Bible study with her, and asked her to get quiet and seek God each night for the next week… to ask Him to reveal Himself to her and show her He is real.  This is proving to be very difficult for her.  She is asking questions like,
     So these are just a couple of the different ways that God is bringing people with varying needs to our doorstep– people outside the circle of wounded Believers who are in spiritual bondage.  But, don’t get me wrong — we are still partnering with Jesus to help set His Body free!  And with each situation, we are encountering new spheres of spiritual warfare — Believers who are seeing [in the spirit] warring angels come to their defense; Believers who are approaching the Court of Heaven [with their Authority] to answer charges by Satan and to protect family members; Believers who are reconnecting to the wounded parts of themselves and bringing them into Jesus’s healing Light — each and every person is different, and the means by which Jesus is healing them is unique to each individual.  And, all I can say is that He is blowing our minds!
     When I stop to consider all the people in my small domain (both Followers of Jesus, and those of the world) who are fighting to get out of their spiritual prisons, my spirit cries out for the Church to recognize the need for us all to understand Jesus’s power and authority that is available to us!  As I now see with spiritual eyes, I cannot ignore the pain and fear I see in so many lives.  I am encouraged by those who are now willing to see and hear, as Jesus asked us to do, and who I know will join us in doing God’s work in His Kingdom.  God is starting a spiritual revolution and the Enemy is quite aware of it.  He will not sit idly by, allowing the Body of Christ to get up to speed, without intensifying his efforts to lock more people up in spiritual prisons.  It is my prayer that God will supernaturally download [to every Christian] our ability to fight spiritual oppression!  I pray that each successful deliverance from bondage will be magnified and multiplied! And I pray that the Glory of our Lord in healing the multitudes will be evident to all His creation on earth, thereby nullifying the lies, temptations, and deceit of the Enemy!  I pray all this in the Powerful and Mighty Name of Jesus!

Proverbs 1:5   “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance…”

   
     

Validation By A Vision

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     I wrote yesterday’s blog post out of a sincere desire to help several close Christian friends overcome their reticence to letting Jesus set them free.  To be honest, I was beginning to feel as if I was failing them and Jesus because I have been unable to convince them of what my spirit is screaming is His Truth!  I have tried using Scripture to validate what has been revealed to me, but more often than not, these dear Christians are so entrenched in the Church interpretation of the Word, that they look at me with doubtful concern: “I can see that possibility, but it’s not what I’ve been taught my whole life.”  And the conversation usually ends there.
     Even those who have seen family members healed of their spiritual wounds [and are desperately searching for a way out of their own bondage] just can’t bring themselves to step outside the box. Something is holding them back; they are listening to a lie; and I haven’t been able to convince them that Jesus is bigger than we’ve allowed Him to be.

     So, I have, admittedly, been struggling. After expressing myself yesterday, through my writing, as candidly [and as creatively] as I could — hoping that I could find some way;  any way to help them understand a new insight to this powerful and innovative and unique God we serve — I found myself on my knees last night… and unable to pray.
     I honestly didn’t know what to pray; or how to pray for a breakthrough.  I had tried praying for ministering angels to reveal God’s Truth to them, as it had been revealed to me.  I tried praying, in the Name of Jesus, for specific spirits and strongholds to be bound and cast off my friends.  I tried going, in my spirit, to the throne room of God, where I knew [in confidence] that I could ask for mercy and find grace to help in [this] time of need. But all my prayers seemed flat and shallow.  As I climbed into bed, I didn’t feel defeated; but certainly deflated.
     Then, as I often do, when my spirit needs to connect with God, I awoke in the early hours of the morning.  Just past 4 a.m., I lay there wide awake, still struggling with how to get my friends delivered from the spiritual darkness they were experiencing.  But I couldn’t even focus my mind enough to pray coherently.  I was wide awake, staring at the ceiling, and it was as if my mind was trying to find its way through a foggy maze.  I couldn’t form a plan of prayerful attack against the Enemy.  So I just closed my eyes in the dark, and started telling myself, Be still and know that He is God… Be still and know that He is God.  And I tried to picture, in my spirit, the Light of the Glory of God… the Light shining in the darkness.
     I don’t know how to explain it in any other way, but the next thing I was cognizant of was that I was part of something like a mini-movie playing in my head.  I knew on some level that it was a dream, and it was like I was watching it; but it was also like I was one of the actors in this scenario.  The story played out like this:  Set in the early 1930s or so, a man and his family are traveling in their old pickup, when it develops engine trouble.  They limp into this small town, where they are greeted with hospitality by a man who seems to be the leader of the town. This leader also says he’ll be glad to help get the truck repaired, and invites them to stay a few days while he arranges for the truck to be hauled away to the shop.
     Now in this “dream”, I seem to be playing the part of the husband, who gets his wife and two kids settled in, while he strolls about this town, getting a feel for its citizens.  He quickly senses a reserve and restraint about the townspeople; they seem skittish and nervous.  The husband (me) tries to ask a few questions… what do the townspeople do for a living?  Is it a good town to raise a family? One of the men approaches him, looking over his shoulder, as if worried he will be caught doing something forbidden, and reveals that no one is allowed to do anything but what the Leader permits them to do.  No one is free to pursue his or her own interests.  The husband asks, Then why don’t you leave?  The townsman looks aghast and frightened at this suggestion!  Oh, that’s impossible!  The Leader won’t allow it!
     At this point in the “dream”, the scene switches to the Leader returning from taking care of the family’s truck, and now I’m playing the part of the wife.  I ask him what news he has on our truck, and he replies that he has taken care of the repairs and it will cost us $800.  Well, that was a fortune in the Depression of the 1930s, and I inform him that we don’t have that kind of money! And the Leader informs me that we will be unable to leave since he holds this debt over our heads.  I boldly scream at him, My husband will never give in to your demands, while the terrified townspeople look on, unable to believe that I would dare to stand up to the feared Leader.
     At that moment, the husband (me again) appears on the scene, questions us about the uproar, and declares to the Leader that he will not be subject to his dictates.  He gathers his family up, and standing in the town square, declares to all the surrounding townspeople that we are leaving; we will not be bullied or intimidated by this tyrant.  But the townspeople respond with astonishment and consternation… How can you leave? We are all prisoners here, subject to his command! And we don’t have the keys to unlock the gates to the town!
     The husband (me) looks at the panic-stricken townsfolk with pity in his eyes and heart.  Folks, you don’t need keys… there are no locked gates on this town.  You have been free to leave anytime you wanted to.  This deceitful and wicked man only had you convinced you could never leave.  Your freedom has always been there.  All you had to do was walk away from him and his lies.
     Suddenly I was awake from this strange “dream”.  It had been 2 1/2 hours since I had begun telling myself to Be still, and know that He is God.  But I had just “watched” and “participated in” what seemed like a full-length movie, in all its detail, color, and emotion.  It was as clear and visible in my mind as if I had just walked out of a movie theatre. I was baffled as I woke my husband up and told him the strange event I had experienced in my sleep.  It was such a strange little story; like it was perfectly scripted for my personal screening.  But I wondered, why that particular story line… I couldn’t really see any purpose to the plot.  

     Then it hit me!  It was an answer to my struggling attempt at prayer the night before!  God was showing me that I couldn’t make people see the truth of their bondage, anymore than I could (as the husband in my “dream”) make the townspeople see that they didn’t have to live by the dictates of the deceitful Leader.  Satan lies to us and convinces us that we can’t escape our chains, and that we live in an invisible fortress of bondage.  It’s easy to keep us in those chains, too, because he knows that too many of us will never believe that all we have to do is walk away towards the Freedom that Jesus offers.
     I will tell you that I have never had a “dream” like that before!  And I rarely remember every detail and conversation and emotion in sequential order, and in such lucid images.  My husband said, “I think God just gave you a vision”.  At first, I didn’t want to accept that because that isn’t any kind of language (or concept) that we modern and Western Christians embrace with any comfort or agreement.  But I then realized just how similar my experience was to what I have been studying in Acts, Chapter 10.
     Peter, who found himself outside the norm of Jewish tradition and Law, was staying with Simon, the tanner, in Joppa.  For a law-keeping Jew of that time, it was strictly forbidden to associate with anyone who routinely worked with dead animals. And according to Jewish Law, a tanner had to live at least 75 feet outside a village because of his ritual uncleanness.
     But God was laying a groundwork in Peter’s heart for a new concept that He needed him to understand, and Peter is less concerned about Jewish traditions and ceremonial notions than he was before.  Boy, can I relate to that!  This whole ministry that God has laid on me and my husband’s hearts necessitates that we be willing to look outside the Western Church’s traditions and rituals! And it has certainly set us apart from our fellow Christians.
     And what did God do next with Peter?  While he was praying on Simon the tanner’s rooftop, the Bible relates what it calls “Peter’s Vision”.  Scripture actually says he fell “into a trance”.  Now this happens to Peter around noon, hence the description of a trance.  I would submit to you that if it had happened in the night or early morning hours, it would have been described as a dream.
     So, Peter’s dream is every bit as clear and focused and vivid as mine was.  He even partakes in a conversation with God, and the dream comes to a definitive end.  It is not disjointed or disordered; it is articulated with a precise message.  And Scripture says “Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant”.  Like Peter, I searched for meaning and significance.  And, I will tell you that when it is that strong an image in your mind, you know how different it is from other dreams you’ve had.
     I understand that the traditional Church, [and perhaps many of you] will be unable to accept what I have related.  It will be rejected as my own rationalization or justification, and it is just too far outside the realm of “acceptable” Christian experience.  But I know in my heart and spirit, that it was a clarification from God.  It articulated the struggles and frustrations I have been facing, and validated that I am on the right path.  I was shown that I may not be able to change thoughts and theology in a Christian’s mind, but I am to continue declaring what I see as God’s Truth.  It is then up to each Christian to decide if they are too afraid to challenge the invisible chains imposed by the Prince of this world — or if they will take that life-affirming step and walk through the gates toward Freedom.  All I know is that I have been given encouragement and motivation to continue my walk with My Lord, and it was beyond extraordinary — it was supernatural!

Ephesians 3:20-21   “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

We Can’t Get You Out Of Jail; But We’ll Bring You Some Food

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     I want to give credit where credit is due… the title of this blog comes from a podcast by Steve Harmon, a fearless messenger from God on the healing power of Jesus.  But it really pertains to my subject today, so I hope he doesn’t mind if I borrow it.
     I’ve been contemplating the annual self-imposed reflection that so many people adopt this time of year in an attempt to better their lives.  It’s almost always focused on eating better, exercising more, and improving the outer man.  But what if more people’s New Year’s resolutions were centered on the health and condition of their spirits, rather than their physical bodies?  But how many are even in touch with, or conscious of their spirits?  We must come to terms that we are spirits living in physical bodies, and make the health of our spirits of primary importance.
     As Christians, we seek guidance from God on how to live a righteous life; one pleasing to God, and one free of the bondage to sin.  But I am concerned that we do not know that it is through our spirit that God enlightens us and leads us into His Light.  After all, Scripture tells us, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14).  And Proverbs 20:27 says, The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts. 
      It has become increasingly clear to my husband and myself that we Christians cannot renew ourselves, nor deliver ourselves, no matter how hard we try.  Too many of us suffer in our souls and flesh because our spirits do not truly know Jesus.  Our physical man is no match for the schemes and plans of the Enemy to separate us from the healing balm of Christ that our spirits so desperately long for.
     Just as we find our resolve weakening when it comes to keeping those New Year’s resolutions, our physical man will never be strong enough to endure the attacks of the devil.  Our flesh is weak; and the health of our mind and emotions are in direct relation to the state of our heart.  The heart is where the Holy Spirit abides in us and interfaces with our spirit.
     But if we rely on our physical efforts and think the Enemy will honor our professions of faith and our outward show of righteousness, then we are fooling ourselves.  In keeping with our New Year’s analogy, it would be like joining a gym, looking the part by wearing Nikes and Adidas, and talking about how many times we intend to go work out.  But all that doesn’t get us healthy and fit.  And we won’t be spiritually in shape, either, if we only act the part.

     So we find Christians entrapped in lives that are less than what they expected; some battle insecurity and doubt, while others experience serious bouts of fear and bitterness.  They involve themselves in activities that they hope will relieve their misery … seeking the help of God through Bible studies, community with other Christians, and asking fervently for prayer on their behalf.  There is nothing wrong with any of these avenues; all will benefit the souls of Christians — in other words, our minds will tell us we we are doing all we can; we will feel supported by our fellow Believers; and we hope that our prayers will be heard by our Father in Heaven.
     But God gave us spiritual armor, not physical armor, because that is where the battle is waged.  What we do in this world is easily defeated by the Enemy who has the advantage because he uses spiritual weapons, with which we have no defense in this world.  When our minds, and our emotions, and our free will are only being exercised in this world, we have left ourselves totally vulnerable in the spirit world.  That can leave our physical bodies and our minds open to attack.
     And that’s where the afore-mentioned activities are like bringing food to the jail, but not securing release for the prisoner.  Studying the Word is good — but faith and knowledge without action won’t stop the devil in the spiritual realm.  Community with Believers will give us emotional support in our daily lives — but it is only when our spirits partner with the Holy Spirit that Heaven’s Power is released against satan’s spiritual forces of darkness.  And we can pray for each other that God will end the misery — but God really wants us to reveal who we are to the spirits who are attacking us. We aren’t simply humans who are relying on a rescue from our God; we have the spiritual power of our God residing in us, and He has given us the right to use it as His children, made in His image.
     I know that Jesus tells us we will suffer for His Name, but He never told us it was necessary to suffer for our past sins or the sins perpetrated against us.  When we allow the cosmic powers of darkness to discourage us and lie to us, or the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places to keep us from the freedom Jesus offers us, then there’s not enough food (Bible studies, community, or prayers on our behalf) that will make our prison sentence (spiritual bondage) bearable.

     If I could say one thing to all my fellow Christians who are suffering, it is this … Rip off those bandaids you’ve been applying to your spiritual wounds.  There’s a key in the door of that jail cell you’ve been locked up in for so long, and the key has been on the inside all along.  You only have to reach for it, turn the key, and open that cell door wide.  Let Jesus lead you out of that darkness and let Him expose your wounds to His healing Light.  He wants to show you that you do not have to be a victim; that’s a lie designed to keep you from recognizing who you are … a child of God with access to the hosts of Heaven. Jesus has given you permission to ask for anything in His Name … and that includes the armies of heavenly angels to war on your behalf.  There is nothing you can’t defeat, in the Name of Jesus.  So, leave that jail cell and come into the Light… and feast on the abundance of God’s strength, power, and mercy.  Let Him deliver you, and taste the freedom that is yours when you commune with Him … spirit to Spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:17   “But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him.”

 
   

It’s Time to Deal In Truth!

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     God is beginning to reveal something to my spirit that is both disheartening and encouraging.  Let me see if I can share this insight, and if it makes sense to you.
     I have made it abundantly clear that I see through different spiritual eyes than I did even three years ago. My heart and my spirit know that it is Jesus’s deepest desire that all those who come to Him will be set free from their spiritual bondage.  Of course, He doesn’t want to lose even one person, and His invitation to faith and salvation is available for every human being.  But we all know that not everyone will accept that summons to eternal life, and many will vehemently reject Him.
     But my comments today are directed specifically to those who have answered His call and profess faith in Him as their Savior.  Of course, we must understand that faith comes in degrees as we journey through our salvation process; not everyone is equal in living out their faith, although Jesus will accept each one of us on an equal basis — all are welcome in His Kingdom. But we each must work out our salvation with fear and trembling; that’s where the concept of rewards and inheritance comes into play, and that is a discussion for another day.

     Today, I want to address the disparity in how we Christians receive the news that He came to set the captives free, and what I see Jesus doing in regards to that declaration.  First, let me say that I have found that those who are not entrenched in the “Church experience” seem to be more willing to accept and believe that Jesus really can set them free from their slavery to satan.  Since the Lord revealed to my husband and me that He wanted to use us to help people get free from their oppression and bondage, He has brought a variety of people to our doorstep.  And this is what we have observed:
1)  The people who are most desperate to have their “soul wounds” healed are the most receptive to allowing Jesus to heal these wounds and set them free from the lies satan has been whispering.
2)  They have reached the end of their rope, and there is nowhere else to turn.  They either do not trust the Church, or they do not believe that it can help them.  They are willing to meet with Jesus, up close and personal, in a manner that the Church is not even willing to consider, and it is because He is their last hope.
3)  As you can surmise, these are people who are generally dissatisfied with the Church, although many of them come from Church backgrounds.  So they are not affiliated with any Church, although they believe in Jesus. So, in essence, at this stage of their healing process, the Church does not come between them and Jesus and their deliverance from captivity.
     Now this is the part that might seem surprising, but so far, it has proven to be quite consistent …
4)  Christians who are faithful Church-attendees are just as likely to be desperate in their bondage, but are the most reluctant to let Jesus in.  I am not a psychologist, so I cannot verify my conclusions, but it seems pretty clear that they have a hard time breaking out of the box that their Church doctrine and experience have put them in.  I don’t want you to misunderstand me … they proclaim a real faith and belief in Jesus, just the same as their counterparts; often more passionately.  But it has been our experience that the comfort and identity they have as “Church-going Christians” can sometimes get in the way of really believing Jesus’s message of setting the captives free.
     Somehow, it seems easier for them to live with their oppression when surrounded by others that share a similar “Sunday experience” and membership in the Church club.  Sadly, I have seen too many wonderful, God-fearing Christians come to me with stories of oppression that they keep hidden from their Church fellowship.  Is it because what Jesus offers [in healing those wounds] is outside the mainstream of accepted Church practices?  Is it because their identity is all wrapped up in how the Church sees them, and they can’t let the mask slip?  Or is it, because deep down they don’t really believe that Jesus can do what He says He came to do? … to set at liberty those who are oppressed.  (Luke 4:18)
     My husband recently listened to a podcast by a former warlock, John Ramirez; a man who was steeped in the occult, and who vowed allegiance to the dark forces of the devil.  As a Satanist, he said that the first thing he would do to enslave a church would be to declare the spirits of Fear, Doubt, and Unbelief be manifested against it.  He said that the first one to engage in the spiritual battle over a church was the one who would likely win, and since churches are usually devoid of Christians knowledgeable in, or strong enough, to take that first step and wage the spiritual war, he said that churches were an easy victory for him.  This is a man who sees the “big picture” and has fought on both sides of the battlefield.  Thanks to his conversion and the saving power of Jesus, he now instructs Christians on how to let Jesus help them defeat the Enemy.

       I tend to believe his fantastic story because that’s exactly what I have seen in dealing with my Christian brethren who are spiritually tied to their churches.  If the spirit of Fear has not enslaved them, then Doubt and Unbelief will shut them down because they do not believe that they can go to Jesus and let Him heal their deep wounds.  And in reality, they are often not living their own life-Truths. I sometimes think they feel as if their wounds are too shameful or embarrassing to admit; that their fellow Church members would doubt that someone like them was worthy to be in their midst.  Or at the very least, they do not fit their own description of what a Saved person looks like. If only they believed what the Bible tells us in John, Chapter 8.
    In verse 28 of that chapter, Jesus says, I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And He who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him. Then Scripture tells us, As he was saying these things, many believed in him.  But, as theologian Leon Morris writes, “This section of the [Biblical] discourse is addressed to those who believe, and yet do not believe. Clearly they were inclined to think that what Jesus said was true. But they were not prepared to yield Him the far-reaching allegiance that real trust in Him implies. This is a most dangerous spiritual state.” That is so true! Remaining under the oppression caused by fear, or refusal to yield to His deliverance, only keeps the Christian from taking that life-saving step.  And Satan wins!
     And I believe that is where many Christians are today.  Jesus made it abundantly clear when He said, “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  Yet, I’m afraid that Christians find it difficult to live their own truth, let alone Jesus’s truth that He can set us free.  Satan has been able to infiltrate the Church (in ways like the former warlock, Mr. Ramirez, described) and sow Fear, Doubt, and Unbelief, and thereby keep Christians sitting in the pews in restricted power and authority.  They are either slaves to the hidden sins they are committing, or are in bondage due to the hidden sins committed against them.  Either way, they are slaves to the lies that the Enemy uses to convince them they are unclean and living under false identities.
     Somehow, I think they feel that if they face their truths, it will be more difficult to live as a Christian; that they are more comfortable in hanging on to the wounds while believing that Jesus has forgiven them, rather than taking the leap to a reality that they can finally be free of all the fear and anxiety and anger and bitterness and unforgiveness that clings to those memories of sin.
     I will tell you that those who are willing to surrender their fears and their pride, because they are tired of living under the burden of oppression, are truly new creations when they are set free. Jesus is able to show them how He sees them; they are not bound by their own perceptions of how they appear to Him.  That is not to say that the Enemy gives up and leaves the battlefield.  He knows the areas in their lives that are vulnerable, and the lies they have believed in the past.  But with each new attack that they repel through the Father’s power and authority that Jesus gives them, they become stronger, and the devil soon learns that he has a formidable foe.

     So, while I am saddened, and often frustrated, at my fellow Christian’s inability to believe their own Bible, I am determined to be an instrument of my Lord’s mission to set the captives free.  In fact, I am beginning to see more and more instances of God ripping off the bandaids of fear, doubt, and unbelief, and confronting Believers with the truth of their lives.  I am discerning that time is running short, and Jesus wants people to be set free so that they can be powerful participants in His Kingdom.  It’s time that all Christians quit hiding behind whatever barricade or mask the Enemy offers in order to keep them oppressed and in bondage.  Whether it be alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, or the Church, it is time that we live (abide) in the Truth and the Light Jesus offers us.
    And it gives me great encouragement to hear from those who have received freedom!  Some have completely changed their family dynamics, and others are planning on helping friends and family get set free in the Name and Power of Jesus.  So, I am happy to see that Christians are being confronted with their need to live in Truth, and their need to surrender to Jesus’s healing Spirit.  While some come willingly, I believe that God is forcing the issue with others.  All of us are slaves to sin in one form or another.  But it is essential that we realize we cannot liberate ourselves. We cannot convert ourselves, nor can we be converted by any fellow-sinner.  The Liberator from our bondage must come from outside the ranks of enslaved humanity.  The only One who can do that is waiting for our agreement with Him.  He is determined to set as many people free as He can before our time runs out.  Don’t waste another minute living in bondage!

John 8:34-36    “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  

The Power of “Seeing” Jesus

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     I am always humbled and amazed and awestruck whenever I experience someone “seeing” Jesus during a deep healing and deliverance session.   My mere words cannot come close in describing the emotional and spiritual impact that can have on a person who is hurting.
     Imagine, if you can, that you are asked to recall a memory of the most traumatic event in your life.  You may be a Believer and have prayed countless times to Jesus and God, the Father, to help you deal with the agonizing consequences in your life that were a result of another’s free will decision.  You may have buried those feelings so deep, that you can’t even identify that event as the source of your current pain.  But having asked the Holy Spirit to be present and to help you heal, you find yourself back in that moment, with all the terror, pain, and torment of the event.

     Then you are asked to see if Jesus is present in the situation.  A majority of the people that we have been blessed with ministering to have a tremendous emotional breakthrough and exclaim, “He is right here beside me, holding my hand!”  Or, “He is kneeling beside me, crying along with me!”  Or, “He is standing behind me, supporting me!”  For each individual person, there has been a separate, distinct, and personal response.  Some have been quite unusual:  “I can’t see Him… Wait, He is outside the window watching me!”  And, “I see Him standing by the mailbox, and He is letting me know He is not leaving”.  But almost to a person, they can’t help saying, “He has been there all the time!”
     So, how does that happen?  Can we explain it in terms that our human minds can comprehend?  To be honest, I’m not sure.  As my husband and I continue to be obedient to the Lord’s command to “do the things He has done”, and to be in agreement with Him and to be His agent in “setting the captives free”, it has become quite clear that it is the eyes of our spirits that can see Him.
     You see, each of us has been a victim at one time or another in our lives of the Father of Lies.  He’s a master at his game, and he’s been at it a very long time.  He’s so good at what he does that he can twist the reality of our lives and make the Truth look like a Lie, and his Lie look like the Truth.  He works his plan [so well] to keep our hearts and souls in chains and bound to his misery,  that we can’t tell the difference between Truth and Lies.
     But when you invite the Holy Spirit to help show you the healing power of Jesus in your life, He can open the eyes of your heart and your spirit, and remove the dirty veil with which the devil has obscured your spiritual sight.  His lie that Jesus didn’t really hear your prayers or cries for help; or that He didn’t really care about you, are suddenly revealed as deception, and you clearly see your Lord  present and active, while experiencing His power in destroying the demons who have held you in bondage.  Through His Sovereignty, God gives us our imaginations as a tool whereby we can cooperate with Him to participate in securing our freedom that Jesus died for.
     This vision of Jesus in the midst of traumatic life events is powerful to demolish the strongholds in a person’s life.  And it happens in the spirit realm, which Jesus is quite capable of overlaying on top of this physical realm.   We are part of His Kingdom of God on earth, and as such, He wants to work with us and interact with us to accomplish His Father’s will “on earth as it is in Heaven”.  He wants to show us how we can defeat Satan’s lies by “seeing” the power of Jesus as He comes in contact with the events of our lives.  Just think how different your life would be if you could see the spirit of fear or anger that has plagued your life, submit to the Name and Power of Jesus and “see” Jesus drop it into a fiery pit.  One person even saw Jesus drop kick the oppressive spirit over a cliff in the abyss.  Another saw Him hurl a spirit like a javelin.  I kid you not!

     Who says Jesus can’t do whatever He pleases with Satan’s agents?  Are those methods any more outrageous than letting demons enter a herd of pigs and driving them off a cliff to drown?  And if we encounter a particularly stubborn spirit who thinks he doesn’t have to surrender to Jesus, it has empowered people to know that we can ask Jesus to send part of His spiritual army to force them to comply.  Seeing a towering warrior angel with a fiery hot sword compel a demon to obey our demand to enter a lockbox to be handed to Jesus, is an image that is not likely to be forgotten!
     But here’s the part that gives me such hope for the growing number of people who aren’t willing to stay in their bondage … after seeing Jesus “in the spirit”, each person possesses a powerful tool of the Kingdom to prevent recurring enslavement.  Once they have seen Jesus, they know He is present and available and that He can send His warring angels at our request, anytime and anyplace.  These people are able to recognize the old pattern of Satan’s attacks, and instead of succumbing to the onslaught of lies and the resulting turmoil in their lives, they quickly close their eyes, ask Jesus to send warring angels to protect them, or rebuke the spirit “in the Name of Jesus”, and command it to go where Jesus sends it.
     Remember the story in Luke 8, of the man who had been plagued for years by demons?  He had believed the lies for so long that they had oppressive power over him and he had lived in a state of desperate and hopeless agony.  Then Jesus showed up.  The demons, who before had seemed unconquerable, were reduced to cowering wimps, begging Him not to torment them.  That is the Power of Jesus and the power that is available to all of us, if we are willing to let Him interface with us.  And He can, in the spirit!
     The demons know Him and are afraid of Him.  When we let them know that we have the authority to call on Him and His host of heaven, and that we know we have access to the presence of God, we have real power at our disposal!  The Power of Jesus is His Truth that exposes the Lies of Satan and his demons.  His Presence and that Truth sets us free, and once free we don’t ever have to go back to a life of slavery.  And you know what else?  As we exercise our authority and see Him in the spiritual battles of our lives, that sense of freedom increases, deepens, and propels us to bear fruit and greatly impact the Kingdom.
     I want to conclude with this thought … we are more than flesh that must succumb to the Prince of this world and his followers.  We are spirit beings, as well, who are seated with Him in the heavenly realms from the moment we accept Him as our Savior.  We are united with Him, and a partner in taking back territory from the Enemy.  That is far easier to accomplish when we are able to “see” Him exercise His power in our lives, and show us that we have the authority to use it, too.  I can’t wait for the next captive to see Him in the spirit and experience the freedom that will make them a spiritual warrior and an effective ambassador for God’s Kingdom.
     Finally, there is a popular contemporary Christian song that says it perfectly:  Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, I want to see You … Pour out your Power and Love…”.  May all the captives “see” Him, feel His love healing their wounds, and watch His Power defeat the Enemy’s authority in their lives.

Hebrews 7:25   “Wherefore also, He is able to save completely those that draw near to God through Him, seeing He always lives to make intercession for them.”

The Spirits of War

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     As someone who has a member of my extended family engaged in the ongoing war in Iraq, I don’t have to tell you that I worry about the toll it will take on members of our military and their families.  As I have gotten more involved with spiritual warfare, it has become quite clear to me that the spiritual entities behind our nation’s wars have impacted generations of Americans.
     I am the daughter of a WW II veteran and although my father never showed any outward ramifications of serving in the Navy in the Pacific, I cannot believe that any 17-year-old who enters a war comes home unscathed.  And I recently ran across a testimony on Omega Letter by, I believe, Jack Kelley.  He related how he feels unworthy to be a spokesman for God (I can certainly relate to that statement!), and how he is far from someone who should be held up as a “model Christian” (again, I can identify).
     But it was the story of his relationship with his dad, who was also a member of the Greatest Generation and served in the last World War, that caught my attention.  He recounted the years of bad blood between him and a father he could never get close to.  Maybe it was the years his father spent in an orphanage, before escaping at a tender age and becoming a Depression-era hobo. He ‘rode the rails’, living in hobo jungles for much of the 1930’s. In 1939, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Regiment and shipped out for England.
     Maybe it was because his father fought in the first battle against the German-occupied port of Dieppe in 1940; or that he fought in North Africa, was wounded in Sicily, participated in the Normandy Landing on June 6, 1944, fought his way across France, and was among the troops that liberated the Nazi death camps at Dachau.  That is a lot of war and human suffering to experience, and it must have left deep spiritual wounds.
     Then I recalled an article I wrote a little over a year ago, in which I discussed contributing factors to the increasing rates of suicide among our returning veterans from today’s wars.  In the post, I referenced something very important:  “Veterans are saying it themselves, and identifying what I believe is at the root of their despondency; and it’s a darkness that encompasses them, a sinister energy that lies to them, sometimes even seeming to speak to their wounded souls.”  And I thought, “How many times have my husband and I ministered to desperate people who were hearing voices telling them to kill themselves”?  And in each instance, it was a demonic spirit that had been given legal authority to harass and oppress these people by some traumatic event in their lives.  What is more traumatic than war???
     My mind then seemed to go straight to a memory of reading somewhere that during the Viet Nam War, the native inhabitants placed a curse upon the land so that any foreign enemy who tread upon their nation’s ground would be spiritually attacked.  I have heard the same about the war in Afghanistan.  Is it an urban legend?  I honestly don’t know, but knowing what I do about territorial assignments given to the ranks of Satan’s army, it is absolutely plausible to me.
    A quick internet search on Wikipedia for “gods of war” or “war deities” turned up a startlingly immense number of gods and goddesses dedicated to war.  Just a quick count told me there were approximately 323 different gods, goddesses, marshals, lords, celestial generals, and commanders associated with war in various cultures.  And it was noted that this was just a “partial” list!  Of course, Wikipedia called all these “spirits of war” part of each nation or culture’s mythology.  
     But we know differently don’t we?  The names of these deities are not just part of a nation’s cultural stories or myths.  They are very real deities and gods, who have been given their power and territories by satan.  And what I found especially interesting is the fact that many of these gods are interrelated, or trace their origin or some connection back to ancient gods mentioned in the Bible.

Gurzil, son of Amon

     For instance, Gurzil was a bull-shaped war god of the indigenous Berber tribe of North Africa.  In the Berber culture, he became identified with the son of Amun (Amon) and was taken by the Berbers to their battles against the Romans. Amon was a major Egyptian deity and later rose to the position of patron deity of the Egyptian city of Thebes, where worship of him was fused with the Sun god, Ra.  All this makes for interesting stories of ancient peoples and their traditions and legends.  But, did you know that the Bible acknowledges the existence of Amon in Jeremiah 46:25?  The Word says, “The Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, said: ‘Behold, I am bringing punishment upon Amon of Thebes, and Pharaoh and Egypt and her gods and her kings, upon Pharaoh and those who trust in him’ “.  
     There are other gods of war mentioned in the Bible as well.  Just a few are Merodach or Marduk, a Babylonian war god (Jeremiah 50:2); Nergal, a war god of Cuth, one of the most important cities of the Babylonian Empire (2 Kings 17:30); Ishtar, or the Queen of Heaven, a goddess of war in both the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires (Jeremiah 7:18).  The Bible makes lots of references to the ancient peoples worshipping idols dedicated to these gods.
     Therefore, it weighs on my spirit that the world has seen so many wars in the last century, and the millions of men (and now women) whose spirits have suffered due to the demonic oppression associated with war.  It just indicates, to me at least, that Satan has been empowering his ranks of evil angels to attack those who have been impacted by war-time curses and/or traumatic events.
     It is imperative to understand that this new offensive in Iraq — and all wars fought by people and nations — is an extension of the spiritual war that is going on in the spiritual realm between good and evil.  In fact, Revelation 16:14 prophesies that in the near future (I believe), “three unclean spirits that looked like frogs, [will come] from the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet.  These are demonic spirits that perform signs and go out to all the kings of the earth, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God, the Almighty.”
     It is clear that demonic spirits are involved with war and influence men to battle each other, and they do it to advance Lucifer’s plan to defeat Jesus on the battlefield of Armageddon.  We know that the defeat will be Satan’s, but in the meantime, these spirits of war are bringing their darkness and sinister energy to our fighting soldiers, and our veterans are hearing the lies that devastate their souls.  And it is becoming clear to me that we have no idea how far-reaching these spiritual wounds will be.  Think about it … how many generations have experienced war in the last 100 years of this nation’s history?  How much legal authority have we given satan and the ranks of his spiritual generals to oppress our young men and women, and their families?
     We must begin to help those coming home from war to see that their wounds are more than physical.  We must begin to help them heal their spirits and the wounds that war has inflicted upon their souls.  We must teach them how to fight not only in this dimension, but in the next.  Our God is a spiritual Being, and He does not exist in the wooden or golden idols, carved and dedicated to the very real ancient gods of war.  He fights alongside us, going before us into battle, and He is the “Lord of Hosts”, who with His army of angels, will soon come with His justice to judge and make war of His own against the wicked and evil of the world.
     Until that day, may He have mercy upon those who go into battle at the beck and call of mere men.  May He be their refuge and their fortress, and may they feel His loving arms surround them.

Psalm 68:30  “Rebuke the beasts that dwell among the reeds, the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples. Trample underfoot those who lust after tribute; scatter the peoples who delight in war.”
   
   

       

The Body of Christ And Our Religious Spirits

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     What exactly is a “religious spirit”, you might be asking?  “I thought being religious is a good thing. Doesn’t it mean believing in God”?  The first thing we need to come to terms with is that we are made in the image of God, who is Spirit.  In fact, this flesh we call our body is just the temporary covering for our individual spirits.  Spirit is at the heart of who we are in God’s eyes.
     The next thing to realize is that not all spirits are pleasing to God.  For instance, if we possess a spirit of pride, or unbelief, or doubt, we are not being effective for the Kingdom of God, of which we are citizens if we are saved through faith in Jesus.

     And what does it mean to be “religious”, or what is “religion”?  Among other things, Religion is a cultural system of behaviors and practices, world views, sacred texts, holy places, and ethics.  Religious practices may include rituals, traditions, sermons, commemoration or veneration (of God or deities), sacrifices, festivals, feasts, meditation, prayer, music, public service, or other aspects of human culture.  In short, it is any man-made attempt to reach God through external works or practices.  And various religions have their own cultural histories and narratives.  By now, you should be getting a picture that Religion has a lot to do with how man connects with, or associates with his God (or god).
     One of the few times that both the words religious and religion actually appear in the Bible is in James 1-26-27:  If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.  I think we can clearly see that our Father in Heaven doesn’t require or ask for a lot of the man-made or human ceremonies, traditions, or rituals that have become a part of our religious expression.  He doesn’t want our external exhibitions or displays of worship; He wants us to act from a heart whereon He has written His Law, and to remain untainted by the world’s values and its impression of religious expression.
     But here’s the thing … the devil is always trying to deceive our heart and whisper the lies that inspire loyalty to religious concepts and practices in such a way as to oppose and [possibly to] counterfeit the true work of the Holy Spirit that is within us.  Satan knows it is in our human nature to act “religious” — to attempt to declare our awe of God by outward displays.  In other words, it is his goal to pervert our instincts about worshipping our Creator by sending deceptive spirits to deceive our hearts and minds.
     I’m going to just cut to the chase … A religious spirit is a demon that wages war against the grace of God in our lives and tries to destroy a true intimate relationship with our Father in Heaven.  Think that’s going a little too far?  Just consider some of the religious spirits that can affect the Body of Christ: judgmentalism, self-righteousness, religious pride, criticism, legalism, perfectionism, division, error (doctrinal falsehood), unbelief, doubt, confusion, argumentism, false holiness, salvation by works, guilt, condemnation, fear of losing salvation, fear of God (unhealthy, scared feeling), and intolerance.  Any, or all, of these are afflictions that can oppress Christians within the churches of our land, and which attempt to stifle the influence of the Holy Spirit.
     Jesus made it clear that it was His desire for the unity of the church to reflect the unity of the Godhead …  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).  Yet, consider for a moment the theological disagreements and bad relationships which exist between churches, and also within individual local churches.  How many call themselves Christians, seeing themselves as holy, righteous, and favored by God, while looking down upon others who profess different understandings of Scripture?  There is a spiritual power behind these kinds of confrontations and attitudes, and it is instigated and encouraged by religious spirits.
     One of the ways in which I am discerning that these false religious spirits are working satan’s plan is in the realization that men and women full of the mercy of God, their authority from Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit are coming under attack from within the Church itself.  When these faithful people begin to challenge religious people in churches with a different interpretation of the traditional concept of God’s Truth, the devil likes to get his demons stirred up, and if possible will provoke all kinds of unreasonable and malicious attacks on such servants of God.  If their ministries are outside the realm of the man-made traditions and religious teachings of the Church, they are automatically  looked upon as cults, or cliques, or heretical.
     Let me be clear — We must absolutely measure every word and teaching against Scripture, but I believe that God is pulling the scales off the eyes of His remnant and revealing the deception that satan has perpetrated upon the Body of Christ.  Our God is bigger and more personal than we’ve been taught; He desires our participation in His Kingdom; and He wants us to be who He made us to be, co-heirs with Christ!  We are beginning to see the power and authority that is ours in the Name of Jesus, and in the last days it will not only become more and more common to exercise it… but absolutely necessary!

     I want us to consider perhaps the most striking example of the religious spirit in the Bible; that of the scribes and Pharisees.  Jesus showed us His deep sorrow and anguish against these men, whose carnal religious spirits were in direct opposition to the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  In fact, Jesus expressed eight “woes” against these hypocritical religious men.  The word “woe” is the Greek word ouai, which is a deeply felt expression of grief. The word is also used to refer to those religious spirits that cause Misery, Affliction, Trouble, and Frustration, in addition to Great Sorrow and Grief.  I think it would do us well to take a look at each of these eight woes, and see how these religious spirits in religious people were opposing the Gospel of Jesus.     
     The first woe:  They shut up the Kingdom of heaven (Matthew 23:13).   Shutting up the Kingdom of heaven against men is a very common activity of religious people.  They neither advance nor increase in the things of God, or allow anyone else to, either. They stand as demonic guards and buffet the things of the Spirit of God – all in the name of religious duty. The religious spirits hinder and threaten those who are entering into a deeper Spirit-led relationship with the Lord by taking away the key of knowledge and a more accurate perception of Jesus.  The religious spirit then uses threat as a weapon to argue, complain, debate, and otherwise frustrate the plans of God for the Church through its own apathy.  All this shuts up the Kingdom of heaven.
     The second woe:  Religious spirits put on a show (Matthew 23:14).   We all know those professed Christians who like to put on a false demonstration by praying long and loud, but you never feel it is sincere.  And how many times have you seen people pray before a meal when they know others are watching, but you know it is not something they feel called to do when in private?  And then there are those who pray to impress others, but aren’t really speaking to God.  Jesus is not pleased with polished showmanship or the false pretense of the religious deceiver whose motive is the show.

     The third woe:  False disciples and spiritual sons (Matthew 23:15).  Jesus declares that the Pharisees are hypocrites that do everything possible to raise up religious sons just as legalistic as themselves.  The whole world is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19). People with religious spirits, however, are not interested in the development of true sons of God. They work on duplicating others after their own religious images, rather than sons of God who are conformed into His image. The religious spirit will scour the church looking for that perfect candidate for its religious indoctrination program.  This is a strategy of the religious spirit – to isolate its prey from true spiritual covering with false mentoring that creates unhealthy soul ties. The ultimate goal, of course, is to create false sons.
     The fourth woe:  Blind guides and fools (Matthew 23:16-22).  In this instance, Jesus zeros in on the Pharisees’ inability to lead the righteous. He labels them as blind guides and fools that have no spiritual understanding of the Word of God. A religious spirit can never lead people into a greater walk with Jesus because one cannot take someone to a place that one has not already been. Religious spirits may know the current religious buzzwords and Christian lingo and all the convenient snippets of Scripture, but they are faultfinders that put down those with true spiritual discernment while they live a life directed by man-made religion.  Their hearts are not focused on God, but on perpetuating man’s traditions regarding God.

     The fifth woe:  Legalistic hypocrites (Matthew 23:23-24). 
 Once again, Jesus exposes the true nature of a religious spirit – a hypocrite.  This fifth woe pictures the Pharisees again with their emphasis on externals. This is a picture of the average church today that is busy making the outside of the cup look clean by religious works but never deals with matters of the heart. They go through all the ceremonies, have the best sound equipment, chairs, buildings, etc. But all of the external ceremonies cannot clean up the corruption of the inner man; cannot set the captive free from the satanic bondage of his or her spiritual wounds.  This is a picture of a religious leader who is in the front row of the pews on Sunday, but allows his children to watch R-rated horror films, and yells at his wife in fits of anger.  Legalism binds the captives of religious spirits and keeps them from being set free by Jesus.
     The sixth woe:  Extortion and Excess (Matthew 23:25-26).  Extortion is the act of plundering, robbery and stealing.  Extortion is a predetermined plan of action with the intent to steal from someone. Jesus said the Pharisees were so full of excess that they had lost the ability to control their lust for more. Today we have modern religious merchandisers who steal from the people of God so they can lavish themselves with excess.  Have you ever attended a church that was clean and well-kept on the outside but inside there was no spiritual life?  That can occur in a small country church as well as in a palatial church with stadium seating that seats 5000.  The religious spirit will demand that the inhabitants of that church stick to the letter of the religious law in an effort to amass more authority for their outward appearance.  But that spirit neglects and starves the heart.
      The seventh woe:  A pretty tomb (Matthew 23:27-28).  It was commonly believed that if anyone could get into heaven, if anyone were righteous, surely it would have to be the Pharisees. Why? Because people were looking at their supposed pious and religious works. But Jesus called them dead, full of hypocrisy and iniquity. He then went on to say that they were full of uncleanness, which means they were full of impure motives and lust. One can only imagine the impact of such statements that Jesus made. No wonder they wanted to kill him.  White-washed grave markers are just pretty tombs.  They look nice but are nothing more than a house for the dead.  Let me ask you a question … Have you met the person that respects the great revivalist of history (like Calvin or Luther), but disrespects those who have the same revivalist spirit today?  Or what about a person who went to a theological seminary, but couldn’t find Jesus there?  Unfortunately, those scenarios represent the presence and impact of religious spirits.
     The eighth woe:  A murdering spirit (Matthew 23: 29-34).   This woe reveals to us the shocking murderous heart of a religious spirit, and is Jesus’ final and most stern declaration.  These same religious leaders that were honoring the prophets of the past were soon to crucify the very Son of God who was speaking to them.  How many modern Christians have been symbolically crucified for daring to bring a new understanding to Scripture?  Serving Jesus is more than being indoctrinated in Christian philosophy or religious theology; it is an active heartfelt love for our Savior and King, and a willingness to look beyond the boundaries of prescribed religiosity.  A murdering religious spirit quenches the Holy Spirit and denies the supremacy of Spirit-led life over a religious one.  These eight woes, as expressed by Jesus, make it clear that He hates any and all religious spirits.
     I wrote this post today to try and express my frustration against the presence of religious spirits in the modern Body of Christ.  These spirits are more prevalent among the faithful than I think we would like to acknowledge, and they are more interested in justice and punishment than mercy and forgiveness.  They are an instrument of the devil and only serve to make you feel distant from God, and to set you up for spiritual disaster through pride and self-righteousness.  Through their introduction in your life or your church, it is satan’s goal to nullify the work of Christ in your life, and keep you in bondage to man-made traditions, legalism, and division.  Being set free from religious spirits can bring major spiritual freedom and an enormous breakthrough in your relationship with God!  Religious spirits are just as destructive in the life of a Christian as any of satan’s other deceptive spirits.  They can keep you in bondage to man-made philosophies and traditions, while you are missing out on what Jesus wants to show you.  It’s time the Body of Christ shakes off the shackles that keep us tied to religion and come into the true Light of Christ.

 Colossians 2:8   “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”   
 

Let His Light Shine!

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     When the Lord decides to reveal Himself, there are no words to describe it.  In fact, I’m not even sure I can relate the very real existence of Him in terms that won’t sound overly dramatic or fabricated for effect.  So, I’m just going to let the words roll and I trust that you will hear the Truth.  

     It seems that the next few weeks of my life are nearly impossibly full.  My husband and I will be burning up the highway meeting new clients; taking advantage of business opportunities that are developing; enjoying my nephew’s senior year of college football; and looking forward, with excitement, to spending every moment I can with long-distance family members who will be in and out for that afore-mentioned football season.  And, oh, yes, I mustn’t forget a Deliverance Ministry training session with Dr. Charles Kraft thrown in the mix.
     It’s easy, with all the distraction this world offers, to forget that Jesus wants to interact with us and use us — that we must never get so busy that we neglect serving Him.  And when we are obedient … what a reward it is to see Him made real in someone’s life!  I have received such a blessing as this over the last few days.
     As my husband and I, whom I affectionately refer to as PLW (for Peace-Lovong Warrior — the meaning of his first and middle name), began our busy weekend with a two-hour drive to my nephew’s game, I received a cell phone call from a dear friend.  I do not want to reveal any details that will compromise her identity, and it is my hope that others will recognize themselves in her story and be as brave as he was.  I can tell you that I have known her for over ten years and am familiar with some of the issues of her life and have known of her struggles.  We don’t talk that often, but the connection is always there and our friendship is never in question.  So when I saw the caller ID, I knew this would be an important call.  And it was.  She was calling to ask if there was time in the next two or three days that PLW and I could maybe Skype with her.  She had a small window of opportunity in which she would be alone and was ready, actually desperate, to turn to Jesus for help.  
     The problem was, we were on the road, and not only would we be occupied with a football game that day, but the next morning we would be traveling to meet with a new client several hundred miles in the opposite direction and wouldn’t be home until late on Sunday.  To make it nearly impossible, PLW was leaving at 5:30 the morning after that for a three-day business event and her window of opportunity would be shut.  But I knew that we had to make time; somehow, some way.  When she mentioned that suicidal thoughts were present, there was no other option… she needed Jesus, and the hope that lies in Him, and we had to make it work.  I told her we would try to rearrange our schedule to be home as early as possible on Sunday, trusting Jesus and the Holy Spirit to work it all out so that she could receive the healing and restoration she urgently needed.  With that small thread of hope, she hung up and hung on.
     Let me first tell you that by the time Sunday night arrived, PLW and I were exhausted.  Between the hustle and bustle of college football, and meeting a new client, every hour was frantic.  Fortunately, the client agreed to meet us earlier than we had scheduled, and after driving nearly two hours home, we scrambled to get my husband packed and ready to leave early the next morning.  We wanted to move all hindrances out of the way so we could concentrate on helping our friend.  Somehow, we received supernatural strength and energy for the task ahead; the tiredness vanished and we prepared to make the call.  
     But the Enemy tried every which way to interrupt our plans.  She had notified me earlier in the day that her internet service went down, which meant that the questionnaire I had sent her months earlier (when she had expressed interest in a possible deliverance session) would have to be transferred to us in a different manner.  So she had snapped photos of each page and texted me the images, and PLW and I had discussed them during our drive home.  As the time came near to contact her, we hoped that the internet service had resumed so we could Skype or FaceTime… no such luck.  We would just have to work with her through a simple 3-way phone call.  But we had no doubt that God can work through the phone lines … He just needs servants willing to be obedient.  So with our hand-held land-line phones in hand (this is one reason we are not a mobile-only household), we made the phone call.    

     It is hard to describe what I would call a miracle.  How can Jesus work with two people sitting on their couch in Texas; using us to reveal Himself to a woman several states away?  How can He and the Holy Spirit make her see Him in every painful situation in her life?  How can I describe my own sense of awe (and my threatening tears) as she described, sobbing and with astonishment in her voice, “He was right there beside me the whole time!”  How do I convey the solace one receives when you feel Jesus hugging you?  How can I describe the sense of feeling the destruction the devil had caused in her life through the free will of others, and what it had done to her identity… the feelings of unworthiness, abandonment, self-rejection, confusion, doubt, unbelief, and the never-ending lie that God didn’t hear her cries for help?  

     But I’m here to tell you that I also heard, over those phone lines, the Truth that destroyed those lies.  The enemy spirits whispered so many thoughts to her — fear of being alone; anger towards family members who made her feel abandoned and rejected; how could she ever overcome the hurtful  actions of her husband; that all the death and destruction that followed her family might soon claim her.  In fact, a spirit who identified itself as Destruction, said he wanted her dead.  He invaded her thoughts and emotions with ideas of suicide, but he admitted that he could not get to her spirit because “Jesus is there”.  
     I  know this sounds absolutely crazy and impossible, but as the Holy Spirit introduced each of those dark entities to the light and power and authority of Jesus, they were defeated and she actually saw them all bound and Jesus throwing them, in her words, “into the pit of destruction”.  She couldn’t stop exclaiming, “It’s amazing!  I’m so amazed at seeing Him there the whole time!”  For the first time in months, maybe even in years, she could see clearly.  It was as if she had been looking through a dirty windshield and Jesus sent a cleansing rain to wash away all the filth and grime.  She could see the lies for what they were … attempts to cloud her thoughts and feelings so she couldn’t see that Jesus was right beside her.  She allowed the Holy Spirit to show her that those lies did not determine who she was; that she could step into the embrace of Jesus and all the pain was absorbed by His overpowering love.  And I heard the joy and the hope in her voice … and I heard her laugh; and it was the sound of freedom.   

     I’m not going to tell you that the Enemy will give up on my friend.  He will try to reclaim his territory, but she now knows that he only offers lies.  She has seen and felt and heard and tasted and been touched by the healing power of Jesus, and she will recognize the fiery darts of the devil.  I am giving her tools for her spiritual battle … how to reject each lie he whispers, while affirming (out loud) the truth of the Word.  The next time he tries to whisper that God doesn’t hear her, she will shout, “I reject the lie that God has abandoned me.  And I proclaim and embrace this Truth in the Name of Jesus:  (Romans 8:26): Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for, as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”  

     There is victory in the Word!  And I hope that I have adequately reflected the glory of our Lord in this situation.  Not only did I want to relate His supernatural power to heal our spiritual wounds and show you that the Holy Spirit is our powerful advocate and ally, but I wanted to emphasize that we must never let the affairs of this world get in the way of our servanthood.  We must remain ever ready to be obedient; to put our selfish desires aside in order to become willing participants in showing God and His Son to the world.  To me, that is such a picture of  Jesus’s command to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself.”  
     It would have been so easy to tell my friend that there was just no time to meet her request for help, and I will admit that the devil tried to convince me of that lie.  But I knew the Truth; I knew that Jesus wanted to work through PLW and myself to destroy the devil’s lies and show our friend how much He loves her.  We just had to be obedient and put aside our selfish concerns and be willing to seek the best for her.  All we had to do was say, “Yes”.  And what a privilege it was to see Him glorified and the Light invade the Darkness!  So, if Jesus is your Savior, and you profess that you love Him, how will you respond the next time you hear a cry for help?  How would you want Him to respond to you?  I pray that you will answer the call on your life, and imitate Christ.  Nothing in this world is worth turning Him down or denying His presence in the life of another.  Just say, “Yes, Lord”.
1 John 4:12    “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.”
     

The State of Our Faith

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     I was absolutely astounded at an article I found online about a study that measured what Americans, in the year of our Lord 2016, actually believe about God and the foundations of the faith of Christianity.  The survey/study was conducted by Lifeway Research, which was commissioned by Ligonier Ministries, and attempted to define where Americans stand on the belief system which supports the key doctrine of the Body of Christ throughout the last 2,000 years of traditional Christianity.
     As with any research, one must take into account the biases of the parties involved, so in full disclosure, we must understand that Lifeway Research is one of the largest providers of religious and Christian resources in the world, and Ligonier Ministries was founded by R.C. Sproul, who is a Reformed Theologian (believing that God communicates knowledge of Himself to people through the Word of God), and a Calvinist.  While I believe that the Word should be the focus of our knowledge of God, I do not believe in Calvinism, preferring to let the Bible determine my theology, rather than a man.  But, that being said, I found the research and survey to be enlightening on the subject of modern Christians’ beliefs, and frankly, it gave me cause for concern and alarm.  So let’s consider some of the findings of this research…

     As stated from the outset, the research attempted to discern “the beliefs of Americans about God, salvation, ethics, and the Bible in a way that goes beyond simple labels and religious affiliations.”  The first topic they approached was Evangelicalism, which is based on the idea that religious salvation can be achieved through adherence to the Word of God as delivered through the Bible.  Among those involved in the survey who self-identified as Evangelicals, the research showed something quite alarming … that “many self-professing evangelicals reject foundational evangelical beliefs. The survey results reveal that the biblical worldview of professing evangelicals is fragmenting. Though American evangelicalism arose in the twentieth century around strongly held theological convictions, many of today’s self-identified evangelicals no longer hold those beliefs.”  As proof of that statement, consider the two following statements …
Statement #6:  God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam.  Finding:  46% of self-identified evangelicals agree or somewhat agree with this statement.
The Truth:  The heart of the gospel is the truth that Jesus Christ alone is the way, the truth, and the life, and that His work alone accomplishes our redemption.  This statement undermines the exclusivity of Christ as the only source of our salvation.  The fact that nearly half of the surveyed group of evangelicals agreed with this statement shows how the foundational doctrine of our faith is crumbling.
Statement #18:  By the good deeds that I do, I partly contribute to earning my place in heaven.  Finding:  36% of self-identified evangelicals agree or somewhat agree with this statement.
The Truth:  Salvation is by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone.  Over 1/3 of these evangelicals believe that their work is possibly as important as the work of Jesus.  Can you see the emergence of self-worship beginning to raise its ugly head?
     Another area in which Lifeway Research uncovered conflict among these evangelicals was when they were asked to compare the validity of the Bible against the claims of Science. The research revealed that not only is there a great amount of confusion, but contradictory beliefs are quite common.  For instance, 43% of people who agree that God is the author of Scripture also agreed that modern science discredits the claims of the Bible.  It seems that Americans both consider the Bible to be a Divinely authored Book, and at the same time see the Bible as a book that fails to measure up to twenty-first century understanding. This issue is crucial for evangelicals and the Body of Christ!  Because the authority of the Bible is the first and fundamental link in the chain of our belief system, if it weakens, the whole chain of beliefs will collapse.
     This is a direction that should greatly concern us!  I can see the efforts of the Enemy to infiltrate our hearts; sowing doubt, confusion, and alternative answers and ideas.  Then, from our corrupted hearts flow false thoughts that undermine God’s Truth as spoken in His Word.  And the decay is rapidly growing.  Did you know that in 2014, 40% of professed evangelicals agreed with the following statement:  An individual must contribute to his or her own effort for personal salvation.  Today, in 2016, 50% agreed with that statement.  That’s a 10% increase in only two years!   Not only are American evangelicals adopting wrong beliefs, but they are growing stronger in keeping that false religion.   At this rate, there will soon be no acceptance of Christ’s redemptive work on the Cross.
     Without understanding exactly why Jesus paid our debt, or what that debt involved, it should come as no surprise that our culture is deteriorating when it comes to morals and ethics.  As we see evangelicals slipping away from foundational beliefs, we also see them rejecting biblical teaching on Christian living.   As the Church loses its hold on the culture, the public arena is taking its place, and people are sliding into sin.

     When evangelicals who professed to attend church once or twice a month were presented with the statement, “Sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin”, only 52% agreed with that opinion.  Likewise, only 48% of this same group of evangelicals agreed with the statement, “Abortion is a sin”.  Then there are the questions that would never have appeared on a survey of Believers just 25 years ago; questions such as “The Bible’s condemnation of homosexual behavior doesn’t apply today”.  The findings showed that 30% strongly disagreed with this statement, but nearly as many (25%) agreed with it, with 31% falling somewhere in the middle.  And the statement, “Gender identity is a matter of choice” only garnered 35% who strongly disagreed.  I contend that only 50 years ago, all these questions would not even have to be asked to know where the Body of Christ stood on these issues.
     I have only scratched the surface of the findings of this research study, but I think you are getting the picture.  Americans are less likely [today] to hold a committed stance on their beliefs and the foundation of their faith.  Half of Americans believe the Bible is the written word of God, but a similar number believe the Bible is open to each person’s own interpretation. While more than 4 in 10 agree the Bible is accurate, almost as many believe it is not literally true.  Those numbers are disgraceful, and deeply sadden me.
     What should be even more frightening is what Americans believe when it comes to heaven and hell.  Would it surprise you to know that 60% of those surveyed agree “Heaven is a place where all people will ultimately be reunited with their loved ones”?  Or that only 40% agreed with the statement, “Hell is an eternal place of judgment where God sends all people who do not personally trust in Jesus Christ”?
     Perhaps the saddest answer of all the statements revealed that only 50% of all Americans agreed that “God is a perfect being and cannot make a mistake”.  (97% of Evangelicals agreed with the statement).  Only 40% of all Americans agree that “Jesus is truly God and has a divine nature, and Jesus is truly man and has a human nature”.  (85% of Evangelicals believe this).  So my obvious question is, What has happened to that 15% of Evangelicals who don’t agree with that statement?!?  How has the Church failed them?  Where have we gone wrong?
     And the last area I want to discuss is that of our eternal salvation.  Only 40% of all Americans believe “Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin”.  A mere 33% of all Americans believe that “Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation”.  Interestingly, when it came to those two statements, it was African Americans who were the strongest believers in those truths (78% strongly agreed with the first statement, and 73% with the latter).  Makes me wonder where the other races have gotten off track.
     Ultimately, this entire project is a sad picture of the diminishing faith in our foundational doctrines and in the Word of God.  The word “evangelical” seems to no longer represent unwavering trust and confidence in the supremacy of God or His precepts.  And I think we can all see that there is a great deception being perpetrated upon the hearts and minds of all Americans — both those who are among the faithful and the unsaved.  The Enemy is the Father of Lies, and he seeks to mislead and confuse; even among those who profess faith in Christ.  We must bind up our hearts with God’s Truth and keep the Sword of the Spirit ever at the ready; never taking off our spiritual armor, but constantly reinforcing it so that our salvation, righteousness, and peace are guarded.  Then we must stand our ground with our shield of faith, trusting and having confidence in our Lord to deliver us, while acknowledging His faithfulness to protect us from the fiery darts of the Enemy.
     This is a spiritual war being conducted upon all mankind; and this research, completed in 2016, shows us that with each passing year, our battle becomes, not only more important, but more daunting.  We, who have steadfast faith in Yeshua, know that we win in the end, but the lives of so many others are at stake.  It is incumbent upon us to share the Grace and the Gift of Salvation that we have received.  No matter what the results of this survey, or the conclusion of 2017’s research, we know God always works with a remnant.  Let us determine that we will be a part of that remnant; that nothing in this realm or the next will deter our commission and our obedience to our Lord.  He knows the final numbers and I want to be counted among those who will rule and reign with Him!

Thanks to the website, Pulpit and Pen, for this making the results of this survey available.

1 Corinthians 3:10-11   “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 
  

What Are We So Afraid Of?

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     Fear is a crippling emotion.  It can kill our hopes, our dreams; even to the point of diminishing the person God made us to be.  I will admit that there are many things in this world that are fearful.  Those feelings of fear regarding our health, our family’s safety, our financial stability, the future of our nation — they are very real emotions about very real circumstances that affect us all.  It seems as if all human beings, at one time or another, experience this unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.  And in these days, the prince of this world is showing us lots of areas in which he would like us to feel fear.
     Yet, if we call ourselves Christians, we know that we are made in the image of God, and there is no part of Him that includes fear.  In fact, His Word very plainly tells us “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control] (2 Timothy 1:7).  So what do Christians have to fear?  Just what do we think that spirit of power refers to?  It is the power of Christ in us, right?!?
     So, if we have Christi’s spirit in us when we come to faith in Him, and that spirit includes His power, His love, His sound judgment, and His obedience to our Father — then why do we still see so much evil in the world?  Why aren’t Christians using that power — which is above all other power — to defeat the wickedness that threatens our families, our communities, and our churches?  I mean, the Bible makes it pretty darn clear.  Ephesians 1:21 says Jesus is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else–not only in this world but also in the world to come.  So why do we act as if we don’t have access to that power?  Why do we stop short of confronting wickedness and evil; why do we let them have their way?  Is it because we don’t really believe what God is telling us?  Because we don’t really trust His promises?
     I want you to consider this.  The Bible tells us that immediately after His baptism, Jesus was taken to the wilderness, where He was put to the test for 40 relentless days, opposing the evil that the devil brought against Him.  It is my opinion that during those 40 days, Jesus, the man, was being trained to stand in opposition to evil; He was strengthening Himself for all the trials to come.  And I believe that the Holy Spirit wants us to do the same!  I think we are called to stand up for God, and to speak up for Jesus.  But the thought of standing up to evil scares too many Christians.  And I understand the reticence.. we don’t want to step into territory that we haven’t been instructed to; nor do we want to falsely accuse.  But we also must be careful not to accommodate wickedness, when we know it exists.  There is no diplomatic way to manage evil.  And if there is a question if wickedness exists, shouldn’t we get the answer?  To do otherwise, leaves the door open for evil to strengthen and grow.  And I have deliberately not named any specific evil, because I do not want to place a limitation on which evil or wickedness we confront.  God hates all wickedness, and so should we!

     But anytime that we do not speak out against the sin or evil we see, then we are defeated by the powers of hell who want us to keep our mouths shut.  Why do we do that, when we have the “power above all powers” within us?  We have been given the authority to use that power in the Name of Jesus, yet somehow the Enemy is able to send his spirit of fear into our hearts and minds.
     Let’s go back to that time that Jesus spent in the wilderness.  He was driven there to be tempted by the devil, which really means to confront evil.  Matthew 10:25 tells us,  It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher.  Jesus was called to obedience to confront evil.  Our calling is no less.  And that means confronting the evil in ourselves, in our homes, in our friendships, in our businesses, in our communities, in our churches, and in our world.  But have we done that — or have we merely accommodated it, out of concern (fear) that it might somehow harm our relationships or bonds with those we are in relationship with in the world?
     I absolutely understand the desire to make sure that what we see as evil is identified in truth; that it is truly displeasing to the Lord.  But, if we are honest with ourselves, do we trust the Holy Spirit to reveal that — or do we seek validation from men?  Are we worried about answering to a higher authority?  But isn’t Jesus our ultimate Authority?
     It greatly concerns me that Christians are unwilling to expose or confront evil.  I know it is hard when it exists in yourself, or your family, and especially when it is in our churches.  But we cannot become so comfortable in our accommodation that we leave evil alone, and allow the devil to keep his territory. It should make us mad!
     If we call ourselves Bible-believing Christians, then how are we ever going to confront that demonic evil coming out of the pit of hell, if we can’t stand up to the evil practices of people around us?  Shouldn’t we be strengthening ourselves in the power of Jesus for those evil days?  Are we Christians ever going to train ourselves to confront the evil that exists in this world?
     What is our silence costing us?  For one thing, it is costing saved lives!  That loved one, or that admired leader will not escape the judgment of God if they are allowed to continue in their sin and evil ways — no matter how much they pretend at righteousness.  And I know we don’t go into any battle on our own.  In fact, the battle against evil is the Lord’s battle and He will go before us every time.  He could smite the evildoers at any moment without our help; but He wants to work with us, within our realm, to glorify Himself and reveal His power within us.  He just wants someone to step out in obedience and to be in agreement with Him!
     In the end, each person must search his or her spirit and soul to determine the way in which they will walk.  And we must ask ourselves if our decision is based on obedience to God, or on fear.  It can be a lonely decision, and I do not doubt that earnest Christians are truly seeking to serve the Lord. But I wish to remind all of us that the only fear that should ever concern a Christian is the fear of the Lord; a reverence for His power and glory; a proper respect for His anger and wrath, and hatred of evil.  Seek Him and acknowledge His authority over you and the way in which you should go.  The fear of the Lord is opposite of the fear that comes from the world; in Him we have security and a place of safety.  Nothing and no one can harm us.  Exposing evil is nothing to fear.  Ephesians 5:11-12 tells us, Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them.  For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret.  
     I pray that we Christians can come together in a spirit of boldness and confidence, knowing that our God is waiting for us to work with Him, and in the same spirit that the early disciples confronted evil.  We don’t need to allow evil to go on, protected and safe from denunciation.  We need to recognize it for what it is and expose it.  We need to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

Psalm 94:16    “Who will stand up for me against the evildoers?
Who will take a stand for me against those who do wickedness?” 

Taking Another Look At “The Veils” Of Our Existence

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     Nearly three-and-a-half years ago, I wrote a post titled The Veils Of Our Existence.  It was based on a theory proposed by the late Don Harkin, former Editor of The Idaho Observer.  Mr. Harkin suggested the existence of a world system of Power-Elites that the masses don’t comprehend because these Power-Elites have cleverly developed a virtual pasture so green that few people seldom, if ever, bother to look up from where they are grazing to notice that they are being led over the cliff.
     Three-and-a-half years ago, my level of understanding of these “veils” did not include the spiritual battle that was being waged at each stage.  I still think each of these stages exists and is valid, and in order to progress to a higher understanding of just how we are to maneuver through this existence called life, we must be able to pierce each successive veil and move to the next level.  It is part of our human journey on this earth… only now, I see this journey with the added benefit of spiritual eyes. So I would like to revisit this interesting speculation, and add a new spiritual perspective to Mr. Harkins’ conjecture.  I’m interested to know how many of you have grown in your understanding, as well.
       The First Veil = Politics. There are over 7 billion+ people on the planet.  Most of them will live and die without seriously thinking about anything other than what it takes to live and breathe for one more day.  That means that 90% of all humanity will live behind this first veil and never pierce it.  That leaves 10% of us who will vote, be active in our societies and have an opinion.  Our opinions are often shaped by government officials, MSM or other “experts” who claim to be voices of authority.  But of those with an opinion, 90% will never really think for themselves and will adopt the opinion of others, while 10% will pierce the second veil and move forward in their thinking.
     My New Perspective:  All this remains true, but now I see that there are spiritual forces behind those involved in the government, Mainstream Media, and “experts”, or voices of authority.  Of those of us within the 10% who form their own opinion, how many understand that politics is not the answer — that our power will not come from our affiliation with whomever wins elections, but from Jesus Christ?  And what small percentage of that 10% realizes that our time on this earth should not be spent supporting man-made power structures, but using our power from Christ to “do the things He has done, only greater”? (John 14:12).
     The Second Veil = History.  There will be 10% of us who will explore the world of history, the relationship between man and government, which will lead to the meaning of self-government through constitutional and common law.  Ninety percent of this group will live and die without going on to pierce the third veil.
     My New Perspective:  The Constitution is no longer my route to real freedom.  Man’s laws and self-government will only get me so far.  My true freedom lies in letting Jesus heal my spiritual wounds, and recognizing that I don’t have to suffer the “fiery darts” of the Enemy.  The history that consumes me now are the experiences of those — both from the ancient world, and the modern — who have learned what it means to transcend the tyranny and oppression from the spiritual realm to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.  That is true freedom.
     The Third Veil = Resources of the World.  Of the group that pierces this veil, 10% of us will come to realize that the masses are controlled by extremely wealthy and powerful families whose old world assets have been manipulated to become the foundation upon which the world’s economy is currently indebted.  (Think Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, the Royal Monarchs).  But sadly, 90% of this group will never pierce the fourth veil.
     My New Perspective:  Yes, the masses are controlled by these extremely wealthy and powerful families; and behind them are the spiritual forces of wickedness and evil.  I believe that they have sold their souls for earthly wealth and power that will prove false when the Day of Judgment comes.

 The Fourth Veil = The Illuminati, Freemasonry and other secret societies.  There are 10% of us that recognize these societies use symbols and perform ceremonies that transfer mysterious knowledge that is used to keep us ordinary people in political, economic and spiritual bondage to the oldest bloodlines on earth.  This has been seen frequently at Super Bowl halftime shows (Beyonce flashing “the Rockefeller” sign; Madonna sporting symbols of the occult) and during the Grammy’s (Nikki Minaj’s ode to “Roman”, the demon whom she says possesses her).  Just check out the Youtube videos for each of these demonstrations!  But once again, 90% of those who have reached this level of understanding will never pierce the fifth veil.
     My New Perspective:  Boy, has my understanding of this grown in the last few years!  The Lord has shown me just how much devastation has been sown on families steeped in these secret societies.  The oaths and curses taken during secret ritual ceremonies have resulted in great oppression among many Christians, who don’t even know these secret societies have permeated their families or their Churches!  And the evidence that these societies have infiltrated our entertainment industry is overwhelming.  I am literally seeing the signs and symbols everywhere I look throughout our culture.  Sadly, I believe that our country is steeped in the occult mysticism associated with these groups, and they are influencing every area of our lives.
     The Fifth Veil = Technological advances by these Secret Societies. I may lose some of you at this point, but I urge you to do your own research and study the Bible in depth.  There are hints of the knowledge behind this fifth veil, but you have to be willing to connect the dots.  There are 10% who make it this far in their understanding who learn that the secret societies are so far advanced technologically that they are able to do things that were considered science fiction just decades ago.  The inventions of Ray Kurzweil and his prediction of “man’s singularity with computers” is an example of such advanced technology.  But what’s interesting is that this technology is actually ancient, and compares to what Nimrod was trying to accomplish at the Tower of Babel; namely to become like God.    Are we getting dangerously close to that concept again?  Nearly 90% will never get beyond this understanding to the sixth veil.
     My New Perspective:  To say that technology has surpassed science fiction is putting it mildly.  Human-animal hybrids are being created in Great Britain, and a surgeon plans to reanimate human corpses.  Books are being written that tell us immortality is accessible to everyone, outside of any religious worldview.  Inventors and artists openly admit that they are “channeling” spiritual sources of knowledge.  All this is being downloaded from entities in the spiritual realm to control and deceive the human race.  We better understand who we’re dealing with.
       The Sixth Veil = Aliens and Monsters may be real.  It is going to take a huge leap for the 10% who get to this level of understanding.  But if you study your Bible closely, you will see mention of fallen angels mating with earthly women to give birth to Nephalim (Giants) (Genesis 6:4 and 2 Samuel 21:20, for example).  There are many modern-day Biblical scholars who are prepared to say that the minotaurs of old and the UFO and alien sightings of today are evidence of these fallen angels.
     My New Perspective:  My how far we’ve come in these last three-and-a-half years!  The growth of the remnant of the Church who understands the truth of Genesis 6 has been astounding!  I know that there are “spiritual monsters” and they are called demons.  I have encountered them in deliverance sessions, and seen them stare out of the eyes of people who had no idea they were being oppressed by them.  Savage and brutal and bizarre attacks upon people are increasing and are evidence that the Enemy is bringing the spiritual battle to our physical world.  Although, yes, these demons are real, we should have no fear because He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.
     If you have made it this far and can conceive of the concepts behind the sixth veil, then perhaps you can see that what waits for us behind The Seventh Veil = Peace of the Lord.  It’s hard to imagine, but I can foresee a small group of people whose soul is so evolved that they can exist on this earth, yet be unafraid of the evil that abounds in this realm.  The only way I can describe it is to have such peace from God that you are unafraid of death.
     My New Perspective:  Actually, my perspective has moved in a new direction on this veil.  It’s not such a small group that sees the evil ascending on the earth from the second heaven, or spiritual realm.  These last few years has seen an amazing growth in this knowledge within the Body of Christ.  It’s as if the Holy Spirit has done a massive data dump upon Christians!  We not only know that and discern this spiritual warfare, but we also have been given the knowledge that we have the Authority of Jesus to fight [in this war] through the Power of the Holy Spirit.  And that’s where our Peace comes from… knowing that we can rebuke the devil and he will flee; knowing that the Lord is our banner in this fight and goes before us; and we know that Jesus will not only never leave us nor forsake us, but He who began a good work in us will complete it.  That is called Peace!
     That brings us to Harkins’ Eighth veil, which can only be the pure energy, authority and life force that is God.  We can only hope to tap into that Power, and I think the closest we can come to that is to seek a personal, intimate relationship with the One True God, the Ruler of the Universe and abide in Him.
     My New Perspective:  Yes, a personal, intimate relationship is necessary to tap into that Power, but it is incumbent upon each of us to know that it is available to us.  We are not to be mindless robots, sitting idly by waiting for God to win this war all by Himself.  We are created in His image, exhorted to imitate Christ, and called to an inheritance in Christ.  He dwells in us!  That energy, authority and life force are not to be squandered, but used to gain ground in defeating the Enemy in our lives!
     So, as you can see, with each veil of understanding that is pierced, the number of people “who see” gets exponentially smaller.  When I first wrote this blog post over three years ago, I saw mainly through “worldly” eyes.  I was focused on “the low information voter”, and the gullible citizens who I saw as useful idiots and tools of the state.  I actually thought my vote really mattered and changing the politics of the nation would solve the world’s problems.  I didn’t see the spiritual component.
     I can honestly say that I believe I am at that Eighth veil, and I so grateful to my Lord and the Holy Spirit for helping me to see through the murkiness of the veils and how they obscured my vision of God’s Truth.  I see that my existence here on earth is more than just this physical realm, and my victory in this life depends on my readiness to work with Jesus and the Holy Spirit to do battle with the spiritual realm.  I now truly know that I do not battle against flesh and blood, but have the Authority and Power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit to free myself of spiritual bondage.
     I will admit that it’s a long road to progress through these veils, and if you are just beginning to awaken to their reality, then I hope you can see that living, breathing and thinking are just the beginning to greater understanding.  And there is nothing to fear… we know that victory is ours in the next life.  Until then, it an honor to stand for our Lord and represent Him to all we come in contact with, and to help others to push through the veils.  As we teach them the meaning of each obstruction, and show them how to move to the next stage, it will be one less obstacle between them and God.  That is a goal worthy of effort by every Christian.

2 Corinthians 3:16-17      “Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

The Never-Changing Game Plan of Satan

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     I love studying history.  I am fascinated how we have arrived at this point in time; and that includes us, as Americans and citizens of the world, as well as us, as followers of Jesus Christ.  What are the means that contributed to our success, and what have been the forces that have opposed us?  Has anything changed in the last two thousand years, and do the actions against the Church differ than those against the world?  In other words, does the Enemy have two different plans of attack to accomplish his goal of supremacy of this planet and its inhabitants?  These are the kinds of questions that swirl around in my head.
     And while preparing for our home church’s continuing study on the Book of Acts, an answer began to form in the back of my mind … see what you think.  By the time we get to the eighth chapter in this important epistle from the pen of Luke, we’re starting to get a picture of the schemes of the devil, and the counter moves from our God — just a little more of that cosmic chess match I’ve referenced before.
     At the birth of the Church, we see the religious and civil opposition of the Sanhedrin against those of “The Way”.  The Jewish Counsel didn’t approve of the focus on Jesus and his teachings, and at the same time, they were concerned that His followers were going to upset the nice little relationship they had with the ruling Roman government.  “Compromise” was the motto of the day.  Don’t upset the status quo, and for heaven’s sake, don’t try to make this Jesus the only way to eternal life.
     Is it any different today?  And does it matter whether you are in the Church or out of it?  Certainly, the Church began to suffer religious persecution in the First Century, and the True Church today is being harassed if they hold to true Biblical principles — even by others who claim they represent God’s real purpose for establishing the Church.

Satan is always on the field,
ready to make his next play

    The civil opposition against faith is apparent — prayer is no longer allowed in schools; it is coming under fire at your local city council meeting; and the world doesn’t want to hear that Jesus is the only way.  “Compromise” is not only the slogan among some elements of the Body of Christ, but among our civil and political institutions, too.  The 501(c)3 has become an idol with which the federal government tempts the Church to become part of the Beast System.
     But just as the Holy Spirit inspired the small group of Apostles and new disciples of Christ to stand for His Truth, there is a remnant today who are standing steadfast, and refusing to weaken or accept anything less than what He commanded.  Compromise with unrighteous religious leaders or a corrupt and wicked civil government will not deter the mission and purpose of our calling.
     Back to that First Century Church … Satan then introduced the sin of Pride into the Church by sowing thoughts of good standing and reputation in the hearts of Ananias and his wife, Sapphira.  In an effort to corrupt the motivations of Believers through self-promotion and aggrandizement, satan sought to diminish the true goal of the Body of Christ: to spread the good news of salvation and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.  He is certainly working that same game plan, as evidenced by all the mega-churches and the increase in power, status, and wealth among some of the Church’s leaders.The Gospel Message has become lost in the gospels of prosperity, inclusion, and universalism.
     But the sin of Pride is not the exclusive property of the Church.  Our Enemy uses it in the secular world, too.  Pride corrupts even the best intentions of worldly men.  Just look at our political scene, and the world of business, and the entertainment industry.  Pride is a favorite tool of the devil to draw the world away from their Savior.  But we know how God feels about Pride, don’t we?  And, in case you’re unsure, just look how quickly He countered satan’s move to instill it in the hearts of Ananias and Sapphira… they were dead in seconds!  So, whether one is part of the Body of Christ, or the world, Pride as a motivator for your own reward is a sure-fire sign that the devil is working on you.
     Next, satan tried to use disputes and conflicts among different groups to disrupt God’s plan for reconciliation with mankind.  There arose a quarrel and controversy between the Greek-speaking Jews and the native Hebrew Jews, as to the social justice issue of taking care of the widows among the new and growing Church.  If the devil could cause strife between different groups of people, then the message of Grace, Love, and Mercy could not flow from the Church.  God solved that evil plan by inspiring the appointment of a group, headed by the disciple Stephen, to share the administration of the duties in order to serve the interests of all.  The first deacons of the Church were ordained, and the Church survived.
     But we still see similar disagreements and quarrels among the different denominations within today’s Church; and between the traditionalists and the New Agers; and how many church splits has the Body of Christ endured in the last century alone?  But we also see our Enemy using this same ploy outside the Church, don’t we?  The racial tension between the black community and the white community is a result of satan’s influence, pitting one group against another.  Foreign refugees and native inhabitants of countries are victims of the devil’s subversion.  Muslim versus Christian; Gay versus Straight; Republican versus Democrat… it’s all the same game plan … divide and conquer; I guess the devil believes that to the victor belongs the spoils.
     Finally, when all else failed in those first important years of the establishment of the Church, satan employed jealousy, rivalry, false accusations and distortion of the message to try to defeat God’s plan.  He might have thought he had won that chess match when he whispered to corruptible men to spread lies about Stephen, who was becoming a bold and effective disciple, willing to stand against the Establishment (which was the Sanhedrin). Satan’s move resulted in the stoning death of Stephen, but the Enemy was not the victor.  Stephen became the first martyr of the infant Church, and his blood was the impetus for the Gospel Message to begin spreading across the land.
     All we have to do today is look no further than the next 60-second political ad to see the same jealousy, rivalry, false accusations and distortion of a message.  Then there are the recent terror attacks, where the lies and distortions are so apparent as to be laughable… only it is the devil who is laughing.  Although this form of corruption centers around secular and earthly affairs, it results in the same confusion and chaos that it does in the Church.  Satan is able to distract us from our real purpose and path, and keep us fighting amongst ourselves.  And rather than going to battle with the Lord against the Enemy, all this controversy keeps us in the devil’s tangled web of deceit.
     My intention for pointing out the similarities of satan’s game plan is to help us see that he tries to influence all aspects of our lives.  He is not only working in the world, as the prince of this world, but he has never stopped working in the Church.  From the beginning, we have seen him bring strife, conflict, pride, lies, jealousy, and even the power of the Church, itself, to bear against God’s creation. Now. it is more apparent than ever that we must be aware, and watch for his schemes and plots to undermine humanity and wreak devastation and destruction.  I truly feel he is putting his final battle plan into motion, and bringing his devastation to fruition.
     At the point I am in the Book of Acts, the Bible says that the Church began to be “ravaged by persecution”.  That is such an ominous word and one that I am afraid will soon apply to us.  But it is not only the followers of Christ who will be shattered, but the very foundations of civilization.  Thank God, that the Righteousness and Judgment of our Lord will prevail and the game plan of our Adversary will be destroyed.  The victory has already been won, and the spoils are our inheritance in heaven.  Come, Lord, Jesus, Come!

Job 1:7     The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”

   
   
   

You Can Never Hear It Enough: We Are Called to Freedom

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     Once again, someone who has been freed from their spiritual bondage has asked if they could share their testimony.  I will never turn down an opportunity for anyone to hear of the Power and Authority of Jesus over the darkness of slavery to our Adversary.  There is hope in this testament of personal struggle, and affirmation that you can be delivered from the deception, schemes, lies, and outright attacks designed to rob you of who you were made to be.  People who have experienced the freedom that Jesus offers can say it better than I ever can.  So, read these wise and authentic words and let your spirit respond to them.  It is for this kind of freedom, that Jesus came to die for us.

     I am at a place where I can look back on all the terrible events of my life and not feel pain. I gave my pain to Jesus and stopped looking back. I would like to share some of my story, because I couldn’t ever find anyone who could understand what was going on inside me. My goal in sharing is to help others see that it is possible to get free, and stay free. Please know you are not alone.
     A little background … I was raised in a church. I attended youth groups and went through confirmation. I had perfect attendance at Sunday school most years. I even taught Sunday school when I was old enough. Sadly, I never had any kind of relationship with God. Looking back, I’m not sure many people there did. I think we were all just part of a church, and we did what was expected by our family and community. I never heard anything about demons, that’s for sure!
     From the outside looking in, my family looked just as normal as anyone else’s. We went to church every Sunday, participated in community events, and we were pretty well known because one of my parents worked at the school. Nobody knew what my life was like, and for a long time I had no idea there was anything wrong with it.
     My parents were alcoholics. I lived in fear of the next time that they would drink so much that they would become violent with each other, or worse, me. My father turned a blind eye to his friends sexually abusing me for years. My mom turned a blind eye to my brother physically abusing me as well. When I was still pretty young my father died, and my mother began bringing home any man she could find at the bar. When I told her one of them was being inappropriate she didn’t believe me. I saw rejection everywhere I turned.
     The feelings I had led to my own self-destructive behavior. I started cutting when I was about 12. I would sit in my room for hours carving away at my flesh. It was the only thing I knew to do to numb the pain I felt. Then I started drinking. My parents provided alcohol to me and any of my friends that wanted it. I was able to numb my pain that way for a while. The problem with cutting and drinking was the pain always came back, and usually worse.
     My next attempt to numb my pain was sex. A married teacher of mine offered to have sex with me and I took him up on it. I thought if I could find someone that cared about me I would feel better. Obviously, a married man 20+ years older than me did not care about me at all, but I couldn’t see it at the time. I did whatever he wanted seeking his approval, but of course I never got it. It just made me feel worse and worse about myself.
     The first time I was raped, it was by a guy that I had gone on a date with. After the date we went to the place he was staying to make out, and he didn’t stop. I blamed myself for letting it go too far before telling him no. He told me it was my fault. I fought him, and when he was strangling me I realized that if I continued to fight he would probably kill me. For a year I kept that to myself, festering like a sore, until I just couldn’t keep it contained anymore. I wanted to hear that it wasn’t my fault.
     Statistics show that after someone is raped it is highly likely they will be raped again. Well that held true for me. I was raped by a group of 3 men at work. As a result, I got pregnant. It was the most horrific thing I could imagine. I hated who I was. I hated the thoughts that I had. I wanted to die.
     Throughout all these things I began to dislike God more and more. I couldn’t understand why he was letting these terrible things happen to me over and over again. I didn’t know what I did to deserve the things that were happening to me. I couldn’t talk about any of it, so nobody understood. I tried to lock it all away, but it would all come back like a flood and there was nothing I could do to control any of it. I tried to read scripture but I literally couldn’t make myself open the Bible.
     A good friend introduced me to Belle and her husband, and I thought they were all crazy. I had never heard of these demons they talked about and I didn’t want to do the work they seemed to think was necessary for me to be free. I was afraid to scare them away if I told them how truly bad it was. I gave them little snippets, hoping to not run them off. In retrospect I think they understood what was going on better than I did. I told them that I had a switch inside me that I couldn’t control. When the switch flipped I wouldn’t want help anymore. That happened several times. I would just completely shut down and get very defensive with them. I knew they were only trying to help, but I just couldn’t prevent that switch from flipping. I also knew without a doubt that I wanted help, but I didn’t know how to make them understand that. One day as I was leaving, after basically wasting everyone’s time, I got to my car and realized I just couldn’t leave. I sat in the dirt and stared at the chickens for a very long time. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Leaving felt like giving up on myself, but staying wasn’t an option either.
     A few months later I had a near death experience, and realized that I couldn’t die like I was living. I didn’t want to spend eternity in hell. It was time to get free, no matter what it took.
     I called and talked to Belle’s husband, who seemingly has the patience of a saint. I cried and begged him for one more chance, and for some reason they gave it to me. Walking in the door that day I knew I was going to come out a different person. They walked me through some of the exercises. The biggest for me was replaying those terrible events from my past and seeing Jesus physically present at each one. In some scenes he would be sitting in the corner, sometimes standing right beside me, but always weeping. He couldn’t make those terrible things stop, but seeing Him cry for me changed everything. He loves me the way I always wanted to be loved. I never got that love from my parents, or the men that I slept with. I finally could stop seeking that, because now I knew what unconditional love was. I was finally at peace with the things that had happened to me. I was able to forgive those people that had hurt me, even the ones that never asked for it. I got free that day, and I will never go back to that old me!
     Today, my life is so much different. I sleep at night. I don’t stress over things I can’t control. I give my problems to God. I have the most amazing relationship with Him. Most importantly, I cannot wait to see Him in the throne room because I know I am saved.

     I know that this may have been hard for some of you to read… it is raw, sometimes brutal, and very emotional.  But it is not uncommon.  It makes me sad that so many Christians are suffering pain and spiritual wounds because they have not been taught that satan can use not only your sins, but the sins of others that have been committed against you, to keep you in spiritual bondage.  Could Jesus intervene and stop the abuse?  Absolutely!  But one of God’s sovereign characteristics is that He does not interfere with the free will of those He has created — even if it means we might be damaged in the process.  To do otherwise, would not glorify Him when we allow Him to show us that He was present during our pain.  And in the process, He helps us to forgive those who have sinned against us, just as we want to be forgiven our own sins.  And we come out the other side of Deliverance a changed person; a transformed person; a free person.  Praise God for His Sovereignty and His Abounding Love!

Ephesians 2:8         “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”

Burning Man 2016: Can A Christian Find God At A Pagan Celebration?

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“DaVinci’s Workshop”
Burning Man 2016 Theme

    Once again, the images coming out of the festival called Burning Man remind me of a New Age Woodstock; or as one attendee described it, “It’s kind of like the Star Wars bar scene in a Mad Max movie”. It is variably called, “a counter-culture phenomenon”; “the largest pagan celebration in the world”; and “an experience of spiritual connection”.  But connection to what, or whom?
    Larry Harvey, the founder of the Burning Man Festival on the Summer Solstice in 1986 says, “I’ve never believed in a Supreme Being, but I do believe that Being is Supreme.  That’s a subtle distinction; but a spiritual notion”.  Really?!?!  Harvey, in case you haven’t guessed, is a self-professed atheist, and his statement has about as much substance as “the nothingness” in which he believes.
     But an interesting fact about Burning Man appears to be that more and more Christians are attending, and I was curious to see how the event was represented, both from a cultural perspective and a spiritual viewpoint.  This year’s theme was Da Vinci’s Workshop, and the symbol of this year’s festival was DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man.
     The Burning Man website described the 2016 festival as “inspired by the Italian Renaissance, when an historic convergence of inspired artistry, technical innovation and enlightened patronage launched Europe out of medievalism and into modernity. Our story will focus on … humanist ideals, a rediscovery of science, and funding from a newly moneyed class of entrepreneurs [which will fund] a revolutionary cultural movement that [will] redefine Western civilization. Five centuries later, we will attempt to recreate this potent social alchemy by combining Burning Man art, maker culture and creative philanthropy to make Black Rock City the epicenter of a new renaissance.”  I think I can sum up that high-sounding characterization in a few words … Man as Creator; creating a bridge between science and spirituality.
     DaVinci himself called his symbol “The Magical Proportions of Man”, and explained it like this:  “The outstretched arms and legs of a man form a square and a circle: the square symbolizes the solid physical world and the circle the spiritual and eternal. Man bridges the gap between these two worlds.”   So … I wanted to know how it was possible to seek true spirituality while attending a festival that is described as “notoriously hedonistic. There are naked people, and a lot of sex, drugs, alcohol, and all-night raves. But for many, Burning Man is also a spiritual pursuit.”

     I read over a half-dozen accounts (and watched a documented film version) of people claiming to be Christian, who have attended the Festival over the last few years, and I guess I wasn’t surprised to find a wide difference of opinion.   Here is what George Otis Jr., president of The Sentinel Group (a Christian research agency), wrote of his experience in the year 2000:  “On Saturday night, the hell-themed [festival] reached its crescendo in the form of a drama….These people were literally celebrating the fact that one day they would enter hell. To simulate their journey, the camp’s center stage was transformed into the “Vestibule of Hell.” The guest of honor was none other than “Papa Satan.”….As the lecherous Papa Satan bowed in mock chains before a placard reading “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” a group called “Idiot Flesh,” [supposedly Christians] dressed as hooded executioners, began to play a discordant dirge accompanied by flashing strobes. When the crowd started its torchlight procession toward the Gates of Hell and an eerie, sculpted castle called The City of Dis, I sensed an unmistakable chill in the air. Our march had been joined by unseen, malevolent guests….nudist and a moving sea of devil banners [also] moved around us….At the tri-tower City of Dis, our descent into the Inferno reached a demonic sanctuary….While massive loudspeakers pumped out a hellish bass tone accompanied by tormented screams….people dressed as demonic insects celebrated by copulating with other captured souls. It was a scene that looked as if it had been plucked from a horrific nightmare. Mesmerized by the evocative music, the performers began to chant, “Devil’s delight, fire tonight!” Wood piles inside the towers of Dis were ignited, causing orange flames to belch forth from the eyes and mouths of demonic gargoyles built onto the turrets. As the heat became more intense, the entourage danced around the towers. Satan had defeated the church.”
     Then in 2015, the website Christianity Today, featured an article written by Dr. Rick Richardson, an Anglican priest, and Associate Professor of Evangelicalism at Wheaton College, a Christian Liberal Arts college.  Dr. Richardson attended the festival at the invitation of his son, who did not connect with the organized church.  At first he saw the gathering as one big party, which he concedes it was, but soon found himself praying for a young woman whom he sensed had a broken heart.  I will let him finish telling you about his encounter:  “I prayed for the presence and power of God to heal her heart and fill her and use her in the lives of others. At the end of the prayer time, she wept and expressed that she had come 1000 miles to hear that word from God. I told her about Jesus’ love for her and she responded over the next several days, becoming open to Jesus for the first time in her life.”  

A worshipper praying to her pagan god, Osiris,
at Burning Man 2013

     Dr. Richardson continued, “Here is one thing I have already discovered. Many of the people driving the rise of these new spiritualities that mix Buddhist, Hindu, Native American, and New Age ideas, come from the church. That’s right. They are the formerly churched. And they are not hostile to their background. Not at all. It just never captured them … but [they] are still hungry for spiritual connection and meaning. Nature abhors a vacuum, and these new spiritualities are filling the spiritual vacuum left by unsatisfactory church connections.”
     But what spirits are they connecting to?  Just because you’re having a spiritual encounter, you can’t assume it is with YHWH! Or maybe that doesn’t really matter to the attendees!
     Then there was an interview on the documentary video I watched with a woman pastor in a tent called “The Freedom Lounge”.  The film admitted that this was the “charismatic” flavor of the presence of the Church at Burning Man.  She said, “We invite [the people] to have an encounter with the One who made them.  When they meet the Holy Spirit, which we call the Spirit of Truth, they are rocked!  Personally, I am a follower of Jesus, and that’s where my power comes from.  But I am seeing that there is a lot of anger here about the structure we put around the Church.  When we show them they can have a personal encounter, and feel the presence of that Love, and get filled up with it, then they have a spiritual connection that is very real”.
     Okay, so that leaves me with a couple of questions … Is the move from pure self-indulgence in 2000, towards spirituality in the last couple of years, centered in ecumenicalism?  In reality, isn’t humanism what’s really being worshipped?
     In my research, I had no problem finding quotes from attendees who expressed that they listened for the voice of “the Spirit”, and had a spiritual encounter.  Remember the Anglican priest from Wheaton College, the Christian college?  He also said that many of the values of Burning Man are “worthy of Scripture, including radical inclusion (what Christians call grace!), community effort, civic responsibility, and leaving no trace on the environment. Burners also practice a culture of gifting (everyone brings a gift to the community, reminiscent of the Body of Christ) ….  If we can learn from spiritually diverse Burners why they have embraced new and alternative spiritualities, and if we can learn from Christian groups who are reaching them, maybe we could see a new Jesus movement in this decade, not unlike what happened in the 60s”.
     But the question, for me, becomes who is influencing whom?  Because there is no room for compromise when it comes to the One True God.  So, is this just another attempt by “the Church” to appear accommodating to alternative spiritual paths?  And then there are the stories and images of attendees seeking portals; worshipping idols and false gods; making sacrifices to honor the earth … all things that God detests.  Yes, we are to engage with the world by taking the message of Christ to them.  But I think we flirt with danger when our priority changes from speaking God’s unyielding Truths to trying to understand and appeal to alternative spiritualities.
     Unfortunately, this approach is very appealing to our youth, the unchurched, and those recently disillusioned with religion.  But here’s what it looks like to me:  Combining mysticism, rationalism, and humanism with an alternative form of Christianity in order to create a new definition of “church”, “faith”, or “spirituality” still looks like paganism to me.  And, in the end, I just have to ask, Does this please The Most High God?

Ezekiel 20:7    Then said I unto them, Cast away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

“Stranger Things”: Seeing This Secular Production Through Spiritual Eyes

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     With a nod to nerds and the popularity of science fiction, the Netflix series Stranger Things has taken the entertainment industry by storm.  It has been interesting to hear the disparate reactions of those whose spirits discern a dark, spiritual undertone, and those who just see the slick and scary surface image that Hollywood is so good at projecting.
     I wanted to write this particular post because I want Christians to start seeing the world through spiritual eyes.  I want them to begin discerning the spiritual warnings that are hidden in plain sight, so they can be prepared; with their spiritual armor on and the Sword of the Spirit at the ready!
     Why do I think it is important enough to talk about this specific mini-series?  Because this is one more instance of the New World Order [as an agent of satan] revealing their agenda and de-sensitizing us to what they have planned.  I find it very interesting that the series was originally titled Montauk, which references The Montauk Project, an alleged series of secret United States government projects conducted at Camp Hero (or Montauk Air Force Station) on Montauk, Long Island for the purpose of developing psychological warfare techniques and exotic research including time travel.  Other alleged experiments by our government and military included teleportation, mind control, contact with alien life and staging faked Apollo Moon landings.  If nothing else, the allegations about The Montauk Project certainly served as the inspiration for the popular mini-series.
     While there are those who might consider all this just a bunch of conspiracy theories, I cannot discount them as such.  There is simply far too much research and interviews with people who claim they were involved with the project.  And it certainly explains some of the strange occurrences and violence we are seeing in the world today.  Add to this the speculation that The Montauk Project was an extension of the Philadelphia Project, an effort to study the possibility of rendering things and people invisible.

     Here’s a little of that history:  In 1933, Nikola Tesla, famed inventor, physicist, electrical engineer, and futurist worked with a coalition of scientists at the California Institute of Technology which included Albert Einstein, Dr. John Erich Von Neumann, and later a team of scientists that were coming to the U.S. from Germany until WW II started in 1939.  All this led to the Philadelphia Project, which was an alleged military experiment that is said to have been carried out by the U.S. Navy at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania some time around October 28, 1943. The U.S. Navy destroyer escort USS Eldridge (DE-173) was claimed to have been rendered invisible (or “cloaked”) to enemy devices. 
     The fact that Tesla was involved in both the Philadelphia Project and the Montauk Project — he was Chief Director of Operations —  makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.  If you recall an earlier blog post I wrote, in which I connected the dots between Tesla and Fallen Angel Technology, you will understand why.  (I wrote that post nearly two years ago, and to this day, I get comments that decry my suggestion that Tesla’s experiments with energy and light involved information he received from demonic entities).
     But the truth is that Tesla and others were hired by the government to work with energy reactors and light streams to rip a hole in the atmosphere (otherwise known as portals) — all under the guise of experimenting with electricity, but with a clandestine plan to look into other realms.  Think about it, the best scientific minds in mathematics and physics all come together to work at the same facility, and you can honestly say they would be incapable of developing space-time quantum physics?  Yet, that’s just what they did; bending physics in the atmosphere and opening up holes into other dimensional realms.  The results were other-worldly, to say the least, and you can read more in-depth details here.
      Naysayers will label these claims as hoaxes and say none of the allegations about the experiments have ever been proven.  Yet, here are few of the assertions about the experiments that took place, and they sound eerily familiar and would explain some of the bizarre events we are witnessing today:
•  Homeless people and orphans were abducted and subjected to huge amounts of electromagnetic radiation to test mind control technology and remote brain programming. Few survived.  Doesn’t that make you wonder about this statistic from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: roughly 800,000 children are reported missing each year in the United States — that’s roughly 2,000 per day. Of those, there are 115 child “stranger abduction” cases each year, which means the child was taken by an unknown person.
•  Mind control experiments were conducted and runaway and kidnapped boys were abducted and brought out to the base where they underwent excruciating periods of both physical and mental torture in order to break their minds; then their minds were re-programmed. Many were supposedly killed during the process and buried on the site. Others were released with programming as mind-slaves with alternate personalities to be sleeper cells who could be activated to perform missions.  Doesn’t that make you wonder about the unexplained incidents whereby normal people suddenly “snap” and commit horrendous crimes?  Wouldn’t this be a valuable weapon in the hands of evil people who wanted to do great harm to this country?
•  Contact was made with alien extraterrestrials through the Time Tunnel and technology was exchanged with them which enhanced the project. This allowed broader access to “hyperspace”.  This makes me think of the Tower of Babel and if it isn’t possible that Nimrod, who “began to become a mighty one” received advanced technological information in order to know how to construct a tower that would reach to heaven.  And wouldn’t that mean a hole in the atmosphere would have to be made?  Was that the first portal? And were Tesla and his cohorts just continuing that exchange of advanced ideas?

•  Mass psychological experiments, such as the use of enormous subliminal messages projects and the creation of a “Men in Black” corps to confuse and frighten the public, were invented there.  We see all of this in the spectacular mini-series Stranger Things.  The series points to mind control, subliminal messages, DNA experimentations to create hybrids, and time travel, which all speak of spiritual warfare to me.
     I know there will be many who ask why I am even bothering with this topic, or who fail to see the connection to parallel universes, overlapping dimensions, and real evil.  What does it have to  do with Scripture or what God wants us to know?  Well, have you considered that in Isaiah, Chapter 38, God adds 15 years to Hezekiah’s life, and turns the sun backwards 10 degrees?  Both of these events would seem to indicate distortion of time.  And what about Jesus’s warning of “As it was in the days of Noah”?  I certainly see the indication of demon spirits or evil angelic beings trying to pollute and corrupt the human race through forced DNA experimentation.
     And it does not escape my notice that all this, plus the theme of Stranger Things, furthers the theory of “ancient aliens” being promoted by the History Channel; a theory that in ancient history, extraterrestrials landed on Earth, where they were hailed as gods and helped shape human knowledge by giving primitive man the knowledge of the solar system, concepts of engineering and mathematics, and knowledge that became the basis for humanity’s religions and cultures.
    Then take it one step further, and consider what the miniseries suggests; that mankind, in their attempt to gain more power by harnessing the knowledge of otherworldly entities have crossed the line, opening portals that have allowed these evil entities to enter our dimension.  That is essentially the fear that surrounds projects like the Large Hadron Collider at Cern.
     I know this all sounds completely crazy, but can you see it yet?  Technology has always been a tool that the Enemy has used to entice man to help the false god set up his kingdom on earth.  And one branch of that technology has created the entertainment industry, which not only shows us what the Adversary’s mission and plan is for mankind on earth, but lulls us into an acceptance of it by subliminal messages and repetitive conditioning.  Stranger Things may look like just another harmless science fiction show with scary monsters, but I contend that it is mirroring the planned spiritual attacks that will be launched by another round of fallen angels that will visit the earth … just like in the “days of Noah”.
     So it is okay to enjoy this fantastically entertaining mini-series, and to look forward to a much-anticipated Season Two.  Just know what you’re really being shown; look at it beyond the surface level and discern the message with spiritual eyes.  Yes, it’s a message of a corrupt and nefarious government, but it’s also a picture of a very real and physical spiritual war that is prophesied in the Bible.  There’s a reason those of us with spiritual discernment are seeing beyond the obvious…

Revelation 12:9   “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”

   
   

A Personal Testimony: Jesus IS Our Deliverer!

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     I decided today that I wanted to share with you a most encouraging email that I received.  Oftentimes, I receive requests asking for more information on spiritual deliverance and how healing the deep spiritual wounds in one’s life is possible.  Most of the time people are open to letting me share the method that the Lord has shown me to set them on their path to being set free from satanic oppression.  Every once in awhile I will hear from someone who desperately needs to be freed, yet they cannot let go of their church doctrine and see the deeper truths in Scripture.  I get accused of seeing demons in every corner — that’s a favorite accusation of those who cling to what the Church has taught them [or in most cases, not taught them], and have trouble accepting any other viewpoint outside their experience.  But I don’t let the naysayers discourage me; those with ears to hear, will hear.
     And then there are the people who have amazing testimonies; those who have been willing to let Jesus and the Holy Spirit heal those wounds.  They have come out of the darkness of their lives, into the Light that is Jesus.  Their lives are truly transformed.  And rather than hearing me give my opinion of the necessity of spiritual warfare [one more time], I thought you’d like to hear from someone who can affirm the power and authority we have in Christ.  Allow me to share some of her “before” and “after” testimony.  
     First, let me tell you that the very first email I received had one single word in the subject line … “Help?”  And this is a little of what that first desperate cry for help sounded like … 
   

     This letter has been long in coming.  It’s been in my mind for months now, but it’s taken this long to actually write it.  Part of the warfare, I’m sure.  I know that Satan does not want me to write it.  He does not want me to ask for help.  He does not want me to learn how to actively fight him.  I have been much too easy for him to manipulate and oppress…
     I have never written a letter like this to someone out in the internet, but this urge has not gone away in several months, so I am going to just go for it.  Thank you for listening.  Right now I literally have no one to listen to me, or to help. I am feeling more vulnerable and under attack than I have ever felt in my life.  It feels like it is incoming from every single direction possible.  A good description of me right at this moment would be a little girl, curled up in a ball, trying to withstand the blows and hoping they will end soon.  I honestly don’t know what has happened to me.  I am a fighter.  But the fight is taking its toll on me and I just feel like a sitting duck.  It is so bad that I don’t even know what to do or where to start.  I am tired, broken and feel like I’m hanging on by a thread.  The one thing I hang on to is my certain knowledge that my Redeemer lives.  But, I can’t get to Him. I pray and I ask and yet I still feel like I’m on the other side of soundproof glass and I can’t make contact.  I know He’s there.  I know He has the power to heal me.  I know He can demolish my foes with a single word.  And yet, I can’t get there, no matter what I do.
     I am usually an eternal optimist.  I always hang on to hope, and I believe that God uses all things for my good.  I know all that in my head, but it is not translating out into my life.  It’s getting harder and harder to hang on to the hope.  There is something blocking me from the healing power of God.  I have had so much ministry through the years.  Deliverance, healing, breaking strongholds, so much, but there is still something there that is not right.  I need help!  …  I feel so confused….and helpless…Please, Belle….what can I do?  How do I get started?  How do I fight?  My usually happy, upbeat spirit feels crushed….I can’t stop crying….I can’t stop the pummeling…and now I am going to take a huge leap of faith, and push “send”.

     This is the email I received from her a couple of months after we did multiple sessions… and all either by phone or FaceTime!  I was concerned about how I could help her since we lived so far apart, and my wise husband said, “Don’t you think God is big enough to work with her through the internet?  After all, the Enemy does!” … Such a wise man!

     Well, what can I say???  It really does just keep getting better!  Words don’t even come close!  I don’t even feel like the same person….I am handling life, but more than just handling it….I am so full of joy!!  The depression is completely gone!  I haven’t had a single sad moment since our very first session!  I am honestly a totally changed person!!  I am NOT exaggerating!!  I finally have that peace I have been looking for ALL of my life!!!  Things that would have normally knocked me down, are not.  The wall is down…I will never forget as long as I live the picture of Yeshua literally tearing that wall down, brick by brick, and releasing me.  I am so excited and happy!
     There are so many things I could share….so much happening…so much the Lord is showing me!  Every single day there is some new revelation about so many things.  I am getting so much understanding on so many things.  And I am learning how to do life in a completely different way.  It’s almost like I’m outside of certain situations and have an understanding of what is actually happening that I’ve never had before.  For example, when there’s a problem with a person, I’m not focused on what is happening physically, but instead, I’m aware of what is happening in the spiritual realm.  So, things that would have “pushed my buttons” before, I now can tell what the real issue is.  Does that make sense? I’m more aware of the spiritual component, which makes me handle things so much more differently.  I am just so much more loving and understanding.  Where before I would have been offended, or hurt, or reacted, I am finding that I go pretty much immediately to God, ask Him what is REALLY going on, and how I should handle it…what I should say, etc.  It’s sure made for much more peaceful times.

     And this is the latest email I received, just a couple of days ago, and nearly 2 years from the first time she contacted me:     

     Just a quick note back to tell you thank you….and  STAY THE COURSE!!!  And BE ENCOURAGED!!!  You and your husband are doing such a great and needed work!!! I pray that there will be a hundred more of you!!!  I was led to you almost 2 ½ years ago and because of that one small, God-led click of a link, my whole world is changed!!!  Everything is different when seen through the eyes of healing, spiritual warfare and deliverance!!  Everything!!  Nothing is the same!!      After having Satan “mop the floor” with me, and my family, I am truly learning to stop taking it and fight back.
     What the Lord has really been impressing on me lately is how I am to be part of these Last Days battles and the need for training and practice….and the significance that it has in the heavenlies, since I have been redeemed from an  “organization” that we are fighting against!! Just being free from it all is a true blow to enemy forces!! What was meant for evil, God has used for good!!  Everywhere I turn I find “Masonic”, “Illuminati”, “Hiram Abiff”, etc.   Interesting, isn’t it, that six months ago I didn’t even KNOW how deep and satanic those Masonic ties were….and now, everywhere I look, there it is and it is a huge part of the enemy’s plans for this world!!!  I’m still so new and have so much to learn….but I see everything through a different set of eyes than I ever did before….and it all makes so much sense to me now!!  How privileged we are to be alive today!!  That doesn’t mean I’m looking forward to what’s coming…but, it does mean I’m excited to see what God is going to do!!!
     Anyway, just wanted you to know what a blessing you are to me…and so many others!!!  … If I could help even one person to step out into the great unknown and receive healing and deliverance, I would be thrilled!

     Can you see the difference between the first email and the subsequent ones?  I remember telling her when we began talking that if she would allow Jesus and the Holy Spirit into her memories, and let them heal the wounds that have been inflicted upon her throughout her life, that she would have a powerful testimony of what Jesus meant when He said, “I came to set the captives free”.  And now she is glorifying Him to anyone who will listen!
     I just wanted to give you a break from hearing my voice and let you hear from someone who is speaking through experience and Truth.  Her testimony is more credible than mine … she has lived it and is now shouting God’s Truth:  Jesus Is our Rock, our Fortress, and our Deliverer!

Psalm 34:4    “I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”

   

The Exercise of God’s Sovereignty & How It Works With Our Power and Authority

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     The concept, as laid out in this post title, has been rattling around in my brain for awhile. And now I hope the Holy Spirit will help me elucidate the complexities of this topic.  To be sure, this is a very difficult idea to understand … As followers of Christ, we believe that God is Sovereign and Supreme in all aspects of the Universe that He created.  But what exactly does that mean?
     Can we agree that His Sovereignty means He has the ability to exercise His will in unlimited power and ways?  But does that mean He always carries out His will?  It is my opinion that God’s Supremacy is unrestricted, but I also believe that the Sovereignty of God has its parameters.  In other words, ultimately God is in complete control of all things, though He may choose to let certain events happen according to limits He has established — again, a matter of His Sovereignty.  So, I believe that God is totally independent and does as He pleases, without having to answer to us.  (As one of my favorite theologians and deliverance ministers, Dr. Charles Kraft, says, “God doesn’t answer Why questions”).  Then, it is apparent that the next question is, “What might some of those limits be?”

    First of all, God cannot do anything that goes against His own character.  He can’t lie; He can’t be tempted by evil; He keeps every promise He makes; He can’t contradict Himself; and He won’t revoke what He has given or promised us… and that includes our free will. That speaks to His character trait of Immutability — He does not change.  So that inherently means that if He has given us free will, He will not take it back, nor infringe upon it.
    The Bible is full of Scripture and examples of man using his free will to go against the will of God… Adam and Eve chose to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; the nation of Israel (God’s favored people) chose to rebel and follow after false gods.  Do you think either of these outcomes is what God desired, or what best served His purpose?  It is just as Joshua exhorted, “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve…”.  We have been given the choice to obey God, or not.  Could God, in His Sovereignty, have made Eve reject the serpent’s temptation?  Or closed the hearts and minds of the Israelites to the snare of the foreign gods?  Of course, He could have! But He, in His Sovereignty, He chose NOT to!
     So, how does this connect to our Dominion, or our Power and Authority; and does this change our opinion that God is in control of everything?  Let me reiterate one idea regarding God’s Sovereignty … He has the ability to control everything, if He wants.  But does He?  Let’s look at the case of spiritual and demonic attacks upon Believers.  It is a well-entrenched idea within today’s Body of Christ that prayer is a vital part of a Christian’s life… and I totally agree!  But I fear that it is sometimes looked upon as the primary tool in our arsenal against the evil forces of this world.  As Christians, we want to be obedient to Christ, and prayer puts our hearts in the proper “frame of mind” to desire that obedience.  We cannot pursue a relationship with our Lord without communing with Him; that’s the truth.  And we are exhorted to pray without ceasing; to keep those lines of communication open.
     But somehow the Enemy has convinced us that prayer is all we can do when we are confronted with his spiritual attacks.  And when those prayers aren’t answered, then he whispers that it was God’s will that we suffer and be brought to our knees in order to gain a closer relationship with Him.  I am not disputing that God allows discipline in our lives to correct our errant ways,and bring us back into obedience, but I cannot subscribe to the theory that it is always the case that we “just have to keep praying and hoping God will answer our prayers” … that somehow we didn’t pray hard enough, or our faith wasn’t strong enough for God to answer our petitions.
     What if He is desiring that we call upon the Power and Authority that has been bestowed upon us by our Lord and Savior?  What if He is wanting us to demonstrate to the forces of wickedness that they no longer have dominion over the earth; that the Kingdom of God now exists on earth and we are the stewards of that Kingdom?  Or, that the dominion and power that was usurped from Adam and Eve has been re-bestowed, so to speak, upon us by the coming of Christ into the world, so that the Kingdom of Heaven is now present … on earth as it is in heaven!  How sad, to me, that we don’t recognize that and continue to languish in bondage, when we have been given the power and authority, in the name of Jesus, to be set free!
     Let me ask you this:  When you are continuously oppressed by demonic attacks, and you pray night and day, with no results, how do you explain that?  God just isn’t hearing me; I must pray harder?  Or, maybe you tell yourself that for some reason God is wanting this to happen, because He controls everything; otherwise the attacks would stop.  But when we pray for release and rescue, asking God to take it away, aren’t we are basically asking Him to do something that He told us to do?  Didn’t He say, And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give”?  But what were we freely given?  The power and authority to do these things!  And with that authority comes the responsibility to use it — not sit idly by, waiting for God to do the work He has told us to do!
     And let me suggest this thought … Can you find any instance in the Bible when Jesus prayed out a demon?  No!  He always cast them out!  And did He ever ask His Father to do the casting out for Him?  No!  He used the Power and Authority given to Him by His Father [and now transferred to us as co-heirs] to cast the demons out Himself.
     Now, I know some of you are thinking about the verse where Jesus tells His disciples that the reason they couldn’t cast out some demons is because those particular demons required prayer and fasting.  I believe that He wasn’t saying they should’ve prayed and fasted instead of casting out the demons, but that their faith levels weren’t high enough to cast it out, and that they needed to spend more time in prayer and fasting before they could drive this particularly strong demon out:  “Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief…“.
     So, to bring this full circle — in the short time my husband and I have been involved with healing spiritual wounds and conducting our Deliverance Ministry, nearly every person who comes to us has tried desperately to pray away the oppression they are under.  If God is in control of everything, and He honors the prayers of His children, why wasn’t the oppression lifted?  Could it be that He wants us to follow Christ’s example?  Just as Jesus called upon His Father’s power to cast out demons and set the captives free, we who are Believers now have that same power available to us.  We just need to use it!  Jesus promised, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8).  If you are saved, then you have the power of Heaven on your side!  I wish I knew when and why we lost that Truth; but it sure goes a long way towards explaining why so many Christians suffer demonic oppression in a helpless state … My people perish for lack of knowledge never made more sense!

Mark 16:17      “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils…”
   

     
 
   
   

“Be As Wise As Serpents, and Innocent As Doves”

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     In our Home Church’s study of the Book of Acts this past weekend, we made note of the ways that satan attempted to disrupt the growth and influence of the newly-formed First Century Church.  He tried to discourage the Apostles from delivering their supernaturally-charged message of “Jesus as Messiah” by inciting the civil and religious ire of the powerful Sanhedrin.  When Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, shows them he is unafraid of their threats, the devil then whispers the sin of Pride into the hearts of Ananais and Sapphira and they lie to the Holy Spirit about their false generosity to meet the needs of the multitude assembled in Jerusalem.  God thwarts that plan by striking them dead on the spot.

     The next move in the cosmic chess match was to try to instigate division among different groups within the new Church, but Stephen, a man of remarkable faith, steps up and leads the congregation to reconciliation.  In retaliation, satan whispers lies and false accusations against Stephen, which results in a trial before the Sanhedrin and a death sentence for blasphemy — ironically the same sentence brought against Jesus, whom Stephen proclaimed.  Again, the Adversary thinks he’s poured cold water on the fire of Christianity, but God defeats his move by raising up the first martyr who is willing to die for his witness of Christ.  And all of this has happened in just the first seven chapters!
     But Jesus had warned the Apostles that this would be their lot; in fact, anyone who is willing to witness to the world of eternal salvation through Jesus, the Son of God, can expect that there will be a hard road before them.  In Matthew, chapter ten, after commissioning His twelve disciples and instructing them to continue the work He was doing, he then warns them that He is “sending them out as sheep in the midst of wolves”, and then comes that turn of phrase that I wish to explore further … “So, be as wise as serpents, and innocent as doves”.  Just what did He mean by that?   

     The first half of that admonition is easy enough to discern.  Sheep are vulnerable in the midst of wolves, and are targets for attack.  As Matthew Henry explains it, “Wicked men are like wolves, in whose nature it is to devour and destroy.”  This is the very definition of the goal of satan.  So, then what are we to make of the advice, first, to be “wise as serpents”?  

      I have seen some explanations from sources that I admire; John Piper and David Guzik both adhere to opinions that witnesses for Jesus should follow the example of serpents, or snakes, and “get out of the way; go under rock”, or that “serpents are attacked by everyone, and must use creativity and wisdom to survive; so, avoid unnecessary trouble”.  While both viewpoints accurately describe the action of snakes, I would like to offer another possible interpretation; one from a spiritual warfare point of view.
     Do you think it is plausible that Jesus could have meant for them to be wise from this standpoint … to be wise and to have sharp and perceptive discernment and understanding of people and situations, and to be alert and aware so that you can maintain sound judgment in dealing with different  circumstances. 
     I suggest that both Mr. Piper and Mr. Guzik might put forth the argument that a snake’s most common form of self-protection is avoidance.  Therefore, when confronted with persecution, we should seek practical and artful ways to avoid trouble with the Enemy, and seek a path of escape.  And I agree that this might sometimes be the best option and approach we should take.  
     But remember, it is the objective of wolves to “devour and destroy”, and this is the task that satan desires to accomplish through any manner possible.  And what is Jesus’s admonition in the face of satan’s attacks?  Be wise as a serpent.  So, as we attempt to fulfill our commission from Jesus, we must discern how we are going to counter these attacks, and listen to the counsel of the Holy Spirit.  I contend that currently, the Church’s only modus operandi is to follow a plan of “avoid and escape”.  But is that the only approach that Jesus means for us in His advice to be wise as serpents?  Are we always supposed to run and hide?  What if He really meant something else?  
     What if being as wise as a serpent means to know and understand the Enemy’s tactics?  It seems to me that by being aware of how our enemy thinks and acts, that we could be more effective in defeating him.  I’m not saying that we should go looking for the fight at all!  But I am suggesting that avoiding the fight at all costs  — with no understanding that we have the power and authority of Jesus behind us — we are giving up valuable ground to the forces of wickedness and evil.  Sometimes understanding our enemy — instead of avoiding him — might give us the opportunity to better protect ourselves.  Instead of defenseless sheep facing an onslaught of wolves, we can mount a supernatural defense, being wise as to how our enemy operates.
     Now for the second half of Jesus’s instruction,  Be as innocent as doves.  John Piper says this means, as you go forth spreading the Gospel Message, “don’t give them any legitimate reason to accuse you of injustice or immorality. Keep your reputation as clean as you can.”  David Guzik prefers the version which says to be harmless as doves, and implies that “remaining harmless would keep them from giving in to the temptation of retaliation.”  He also quotes theologian Charles Spurgeon, who said the Christian “must be of a guileless [innocent, genuine] mind (without deception), that he do no harm.”  
     I agree with all these learned men, and I would like to suggest one caveat to their discerning viewpoints.  In the realm of spiritual warfare, we really fight on two fronts, don’t we?  One front is the spiritual realm, in which we battle the powers and forces of spiritual wickedness and evil.  The other is the physical world in which we counter the attacks of satan and his demons with the powerful message of Jesus’s love and sacrifice.  So while we should be wise in knowing the enemy’s tactics and how to defeat them in the spiritual realm, we also need to be wise about how we present His message to those who are lost in this world.  Remember the context in which Jesus is speaking: He is sending His representatives out into the world to spread the Good News.  That is a powerful counter-attack to satan’s plans to “devour and destroy”.
     We cannot approach the world as if we are going to war against them.  We must be a safe haven for them to hear the Word; we must not use His Message to cause harm; and we must be blameless in our approach and our testimony.  There should be a sense of peace about our delivery; after all doves are a symbol of peace.  And what better way to counter the devil’s destructive attacks in a person’s life than to battle back with a message that brings peace to a man’s soul and spirit?  Being innocent as doves is a significant and powerful part of our spiritual warfare arsenal.
     Now that I’ve explained another way to look at this passage, I’m sure there are readers wondering, “So, what exactly, does being wise as a serpent look like?  What should we be knowing in order to understand the Enemy? I’d like to suggest just a few things that come to my mind:
1)  Studying exactly how God feels about oaths and curses, and what effects they have upon our lives.
2)  Studying secret societies like the Freemasons, Opus Dei, Skull and Bones and knowing the oaths and curses they take and what they mean to these groups.  And, as a believer, if these associations are connected to your family, you need to know that they can be renounced in the Name of Jesus, and you can be freed of their destructive consequences in your life, and the lives of your family members.
3)  Understanding what “legal authority” means from a spiritual perspective, and what it allows Satan to do.
4)  Understanding what a “stronghold” is and how satan uses them to oppress us; unforgiveness being one of the strongest and most oppressive.
5)  Researching and understanding that there is a very real satanic calendar; days on which sacrifices and evil practices are carried out.  These dates are not contrived on my part — they have been followed for thousands of years; ancient, pagan rites passed down through the centuries and honored by modern followers of satan.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the list here.  Christians don’t even know they exist, so the enemies of mankind are allowed to carry out their diabolical rites without one prayer against them!
     What I am not saying is this:  that we should make this knowledge our priority, or that it should have equal standing with knowing and understanding God.  But I do not believe that He wants us to simply be sitting idly by, waiting for Him to come to our rescue.  He wants us in the battle and participating with Him, and that means getting out of our comfort zones, and our comfortable seats in the pew, and becoming more than robots.
     These are just a few of the ways that we can be “wise as serpents” — by studying and understanding what the serpents do and how they operate!  In Luke 10:19, Jesus says, I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy”but, up until very recently, I had no idea what that meant or how to go about it.  I suspect it is the same for many Christians.
     The Church and the Body of Christ have done a good job about understanding and being “innocent/harmless” as a dove.  But I can’t help thinking there is some significance to our Lord telling us to be “wise as a serpent” first … and then to be “innocent as a dove”.  If we are restricted in our witness and the bearing of fruit, due to the deep spiritual wounds that go unhealed, just how effective will we be in representing the power of Jesus’s love?  If we at least consider getting free of our bondage to sin first, then I believe the sharing of our testimony and the Gospel of Jesus will be so sweet on our lips that it will be irresistible!
     To summarize … Shouldn’t we first understand how our Enemy operates, then listen to the Holy Spirit as to whether it is most prudent to avoid this confrontation, or to call upon our power and authority in Christ to confront it and defeat it?  And finally, I want to leave you with this interesting analogy from my pure Texas husband … God wants us to use the brains He gave us; we’d better start understanding the schemes and tactics of the devil [and how to deal with them through the Lord], or when the evil that is prophesied to come upon the world occurs, it is going to look like Opening Day of dove season in South Texas! What a sobering thought….

2 Timothy 1:7    “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

     

A Time To Reflect; A Time to Revive and Restore

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     It slipped right past me.  I’m not much for celebrating milestones, and Lord knows, I don’t need or seek accolades for myself.  But today I have occasion to be greatly humbled.  Since I began this blog nearly five years ago, over 1 million people have taken the time to consider what I have to say.  That totally blows me away!  Considering that I am not at the same place that I started — in my thoughts, my goals, or my faith — I find it astounding that so many have taken this journey with me.
     Perhaps you began where I did.  In December of 2011, I was three years into realizing that profound changes were coming upon my country.  At the same time that my conscience was telling me that our society and culture and national experience were deteriorating, my spirit was telling me that I would not find the answers or solutions I needed in this world.  I was hearing “PREPARE” in the recesses of my mind and my soul, and after seeking the Lord on the matter, my spirit validated the message.  So I began a two-fold approach to dealing with whatever was coming our way.  I joined the ranks of people known as “preppers”, and learned new sustainable skills and tried to become as independent of the “system” as I could.  But I had a second component; one that ultimately taught me the true path I needed to be on.  I added the Bible as the primary element of my readiness plan, and soon realized that I needed to prepare for more than what this world was going to throw at me.  Yes, there were enemies, foreign and domestic, that I needed to be aware of; but there were spiritual enemies, as well — and these adversaries would, in the end, influence everything and everyone I might need to face in the future.  But I also learned that I could face this uncertain and frightening future because there was a greater purpose to my life than my personal safety and security.
     I was to speak out loudly and forcibly about what my Lord wished to do with those who believed in Him.  There is work to be done in preparation for His return, and it involves each and every one of us getting ourselves in fighting shape for the battle to come.  That doesn’t mean that we abandon His message of love and tolerance and salvation and caring for others.  That message has been well covered by the Church.  But it is absolutely necessary that we go beyond those themes and minister to the spiritual needs of His people; ready them for the troubles and sorrows and suffering that He warned would come before His return.  That assignment has woefully been ignored by the Church.

     So, now you find people like me, whom the Church sees as misfits, mavericks, or nonconformists trying desperately to share what the Holy Spirit is urging us to communicate.  You can believe that our spirits are truly being pricked by the Spirit … or not … but if we are right — can you afford to turn a deaf ear or a blind eye?  Our Lord, Himself, said, “Do you have eyes, and not see, and do you have ears, and not hear?”  I’m just saying’…
     So, now I find myself not only reflecting on where I started, but where I need to go!  So I want to give a quick synopsis of my understanding of this world and begin to develop the next phase of this journey upon which God is taking me (us).  I feel it’s time to stop and get our ducks in a row; revive the mission of all Believers and restore the apostolic characteristics of our commission.  So, here’s the way I see it…
     From the beginning of the Bible, it is established that spirits play an important part in this world.  God is Spirit, and we are made in His image.  In fact, we are embodied spirits; spirit beings housed in human bodies.  There are disembodied spirits called demons, who are Satan’s agents and representatives on earth.  They are spirits seeking human bodies to use to control the world, spread sin and establish the Kingdom of Darkness. They use human bodies to perform the work assigned to them, and to carry out Satan’s instructions. Their sole purpose is to carry out Satan’s will, which puts them in total opposition to the Believers in Christ.  They follow Satan’s instructions by trying to destroy mankind through every imaginable natural or supernatural device. All violence, anger, hate, horror, war, death, and destructive influences against man can be attributed to demonic influence, and it all comes from Satan.
     At this point, I need to reiterate something I believe very strongly … Christians cannot be possessed by a demon, but they can be oppressed.  When a person receives Christ as their Savior, the human spirit is regenerated and the Holy Spirit lives there, so nothing else can take possession of our spirit.  Christians can, however, have demons that attack their minds, their emotions, their free will, and their bodies — that is called demonic oppression. So, how does that work, exactly?
     It is my opinion that just because a person experiences salvation (which I also believe is the starting point of our journey towards eternal life), it doesn’t mean that he is no longer without sin.  There is only one man who has walked the earth that was without sin.  But, as our Master has told us, we can confess our sin, repent of it, and ask forgiveness, and we greatly reduce the effects of innate sin upon our lives.  But here’s the thing … sin is what Satan thrives on!  And our particular sins — or those perpetrated against us! — are what makes us vulnerable to the assignments the devil gives his demons when they attack us.
     I want to make it clear that not all our sin is demon-driven.  Our free will can open us up to the temptations that satan offers.  Pride, Self-interest and Unbelief are just a few of the sins with which he can manipulate us.  But once he knows we are vulnerable in that area, he can assign a spirit to us and keep us in perpetual conflict between our faith and our sin.  Discernment is required to determine the root cause of all our sin.  Is it our own free will, demonic, the result of someone else’s sin carried out against us … or a combination?
      Deliverance Ministry can help you determine the root cause and allow a Christian to connect his spirit with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, in order for the cleansing and healing to be accomplished.  BUT, I want to stress that sin must be confessed and repented of, and forgiveness is essential!  Yes, Jesus wants to set you free, but He wants us to approach Him with an honest, truthful, and sincere spirit.  It is essential that we take responsibility for our sins, and forgive others, as we desire to be forgiven.  

     So, how is it that so many Christians today seem to be miserable in their state of salvation?  Why do we see so many Christians experiencing physical illnesses characterized by multiple and conflicting diagnoses; weird personality disorders that never leave; odd nightmares; repetitive bad dreams;  depression; chronic addictions (food, drugs, porn, medications, gambling, sex, etc.); uncontrolled periods of rage; lust and cursing; chronic dysfunctional families; arrogance and pride; phobias and illogical stress conditions; spiritual apathy; chronic broken relationships; and frequent unemployment, and perhaps the biggest problem of all …  SO MUCH FEAR? 
     This is not what Jesus died for!  He sacrificed Himself so that we would not die in our sin(s).  Yet, far too many Christians live under the oppressions I listed above.  No wonder the secular world has no interest in our message!  They don’t see us authentically living what we preach!  They aren’t being drawn to us, even though the Bible says when we walk with God, “through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere”.  The sad truth is that the Church offers neither fragrance nor fascination to the world.  In fact, our aroma is either non-existence or unpleasant.
     So Who is the fragrance that spreads through us and the Church?  Who dwells in us, seals us, works truth in us, testifies about Jesus, and helps us to produce “fruit”?  It is the Holy Spirit, and I oftentimes wonder if He hasn’t left the Church building.  Have we traded the Holy Ghost for theology; exchanged His power for powerless academic teaching; reduced His Authority in favor of attracting “the world” with more tolerant standards?
     As I am studying the Book of Acts and the New Testament Church, I am seeing the presence and the influence of the Holy Spirit everywhere!  I see Him supernaturally changing the hearts of the Twelve Apostles and 3,000 new believers.  I see Him supernaturally effecting the preaching of Peter and Stephen.  I see Him influencing Philip, the Evangelist, and the hearts of Simon, the Sorcerer, and the Ethiopian eunuch… and all in the first eight chapters!  Ultimately, I see the POWER and AUTHORITY of Him on display for all to see … and nowhere more powerfully than in the life of Paul!  He is evident in all His Might for the Church to witness.
     But in today’s Church, we talk about Him, then leave little or no time for Him to perform His Mighty Miracles in our services because of fear, confusion and the threat of doctrines of demons.  We are afraid of Holy Spirit manifestations like those that happened in the First Century Church, because when you invite the Holy Spirit to be present, there will be inevitable opposition from the Prince of this world, and the simple truth is that the Church does not know how to be Holy Spirit warriors.  When we become “seeker friendly” congregations, and life-coaches and counsellors, instead of spiritual, armor-clad soldiers for Christ, we are left with scared and confused Christians who are ineffective against Satan’s army.
     But here is why we should not be fearful of engaging in spiritual warfare … the spirits or demons that Satan assigns to us fear the Holy Spirit more than anyone else in the universe!  Why?  Because He has as His weapons the Blood of Jesus, the Name of Jesus, the Cross of Christ, and the Word of God!  And because He indwells us, we, too, have access to those spiritual weapons!  

     And the knowledge of this Truth is where I’m at in this point of my journey with the Holy Spirit.  I am optimistic that the Holy Spirit is waking up the remnant within the Body of Christ, and the testimonies of those set free from demonic influence will embolden the Church to return to its roots.  It is the success of Believers delivered from oppression and bondage that will convince authentic Christians that spiritual warfare is a reality and a necessity.  I am praying that Spiritual Warriors, in league with the Holy Spirit, will have an extraordinary and undeniable impact upon both Christians and Secularists; and will defeat the forces of evil that have gone unchallenged for far too long.
     I also am trusting in the Holy Spirit to infuse Christians with their purpose; to be genuine examples of the power and authority of Jesus, as given to us by our Father; and to realize that we have been commissioned by God.  We each have been given a definite task and specific assignments to advance the Kingdom of God.  What are yours?  Preaching the Gospel Message is part of our commission, but we are also Ambassadors for Christ, and we are not powerless servants.  We are to exhibit the power in our relationship with Jesus … the same power that raised Him from the dead and commanded a legion of demons to come out of a man.
     We will need His power in the future.  And it is ours for the asking.  The question is, when the real pressure from this world comes to bear, will we stand firm and steadfast?  Are we prepared, both in our human form, and in our spirit, to declare ourselves competent for the task at hand?  We can be … if we recognize that our power comes from God; that He is sufficient to go before us in battle, and we can be confident that our victory will come through Christ!
    Yes, it’s okay to reflect where we’ve been in our Christian walk.  But it is imperative that we revive and restore our faith to become authentic Christians; reveling in the power of the Holy Spirit to embolden the Church so that it has the impact it was meant to have upon a sinful world.  It’s not too late … but time is running out.  I don’t know how much further we have to go in our journey, but I am determined to serve the Kingdom in His Power and Truth.  Join me!

1 Corinthians 2:4  “And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom [using clever rhetoric], but [they were delivered] in demonstration of the [Holy] Spirit [operating through me] and of [His] power [stirring the minds of the listeners and persuading them]…”

The Prayer of Jabez Revisited

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     Remember about 20 years ago when the Prayer of Jabez took Christianity in the United States by storm?  It was like this one small verse was newly discovered to offer powerful insight and encouragement to the modern Believer.  It was a small book, written by Bruce Wilkinson, and for some reason the Holy Spirit has been bringing it to my mind over the last few days.  It actually took me a little while to recall the exact message that I took away from the book.
     And then I remembered … like most people at the dawn of the new millennium in the year 2000, I was focused on my own well-being and my future.  Although, I had been a Christian for over 12 years, I was still struggling to find how Jesus fit into my worldview and how I was supposed to incorporate Him into my everyday life.  After all, my husband was trying to establish his art career, and I had all the worries and insecurities that came from managing on one paycheck.  Trusting Jesus was something I knew I was supposed to do, but how was I supposed to accomplish that when I couldn’t see Him in the midst of my doubt and unbelief?  Then that little book with it’s promising title appeared on the scene … The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life!
     The Christian world gobbled up the idea that by saying a simple prayer, God would give you what you asked for and bless your life.  First Chronicles 4:10 became the most memorized Bible verse that year:   Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would indeed bless me and enlarge my territory, and that Your hand would be with me, and You would keep me from evil so that it does not hurt me!” And God granted his request.   (Some versions of this prayer have Jabez asking God, “keep me from harm, so that I will not cause any pain.”  That is not the substance of the prayer in most translations, or in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible.  In my opinion, promoting the idea that Jabez is asking for blessings and enlarged territory, while praying that he not harm others, doesn’t make sense in the context of the prayer, and is a distortion of Scripture).  
     So, the point of the book seemed to be that heartfelt prayer, in devout communication with God, does make a difference in your life; that praying continuously and consistently will yield results.  It seemed to point out that Jabez was a man who wanted — and was not afraid to ask God for — extraordinary blessings in his life.  And apparently that did not offend God, because the previous verse tells us that “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers”.  But critics of the book claimed that it promoted the “prosperity gospel”; that it is impious and ungodly to seek God’s blessings for oneself.  But when the author, himself, stated that he had been praying this prayer every day for over 30 years and, as a result, he experienced many blessings in his life, then the critics were no longer heard.  The Christianity community flocked to this positive message about blessings and success, and the book was received with open arms.
     But how come we never hear about it anymore?  Did the message prove false, or at the very least, disappointing?  And did American believers abandon their quest for blessings, and move on to other variations of the prosperity gospel?  I’m not really sure what happened to its popularity, but when the Holy Spirit continued to bring it to my mind, I felt I was supposed to see if somehow, it was still relevant these 16 years later.
     Needless to say, I am not in the same place I was in the year 2000.  So I figure, maybe, I am to look at this simple prayer with new spiritual eyes and see what it is about it that the Holy Spirit wants me to discern.  And there it was!  I found that it was still relevant, but in a whole different way!  I now see it within the context of spiritual warfare — instead of as a self-serving method to receive personal blessings.
     Just as yesterday, in my post on the Gadarene madman, the concept of “regions” or “territory” has surfaced.  This has several implications.  It is not just about physical territory, or actual real estate in this world, as many interpreted it in 2000 — although that could certainly be part of the big picture.  But I am of the opinion that the perspective we should consider here is our “spiritual territory”.  You see, I believe that every believer has a spiritual territory entrusted to us; a sphere of influence which is ours to govern — some permanent, some temporary.  Just as Adam was given the Garden of Eden “to cultivate it and keep it”, I believe that God has ordained territories of dominion for us to develop in the spiritual world.
    In his prayer, Jabez is asking to be blessed with more territory — not for his own benefit, but for the benefit of serving God’s Kingdom on earth.  Since Scripture deems him as “more honorable” than his brothers, perhaps he has proven himself a faithful steward of all God has given him, and he desires to develop more of the Kingdom for God’s glory.  And in the context of spiritual warfare, Jabez knows that this is an invitation for the Enemy to come against him.  The more he accomplishes for the Lord’s Kingdom, and the stronger he gets in battling in the spiritual realm, the stronger is his opposition.  So the next part of his prayer is to ask that God’s hand be with him, to keep evil from harming him.
     He knows where his protection comes from … and he knows that Jehovah Nissi will proceed him in the battle; will go before him to clear his way. When you engage in spiritual warfare, you can expect that the Enemy will throw his full force against you.  But this obviously doesn’t scare Jabez off — my spirit discerns that what he is saying to God is this:  “I have conquered the allotted spiritual territory you have given me, Lord, and it was an honor to serve and glorify You.  But I am not content to stay in this place of accomplishment. Please bless me with the honor of claiming more territory for You!  All I ask is that you not abandon me, and deliver me from any evil that is brought to bear against me.”
     Now, I’m pretty sure that this perspective would never have flown with the believing community back in the year 2000.  And perhaps it has been brought to my mind again for the specific purpose of pointing out a new viewpoint in this season of our Christian experience.  All I know is that my spirit can no longer recognize it as a prayer for prosperity; instead it speaks clearly to my heart and mind and spirit as a prayer asking for more opportunity and authority to go forth into unchartered territory to conquer it for the Lord.  It is a prayer that is unselfish in motive; courageous, yet wise enough not to enter new territory unprotected.  Jabez is wise and confident enough to ask for the hand of the Lord to be upon him.
     In being honest, I have no way of knowing if this was the intention of Jabez’s prayer.  The Bible is unclear as to why this single verse is stuck in the midst of a long list of the descendants of Judah.  But I know that the Bible is a living document, and it speaks to every generation as God wills.  Perhaps this verse has been brought to mind at this time to encourage us in pursuing the truth about spiritual warfare — to encourage us and to bless us with the hope that we so desperately need in these times of great spiritual assault and apostasy.  God is waiting to bless us if we will work with Him!  Most people live in fear of ever venturing outside their comfort zones.  It is time we become like Jabez — asking for more territory, and never fearing that we fight the battle alone; resting assured that His hand will always be with us.  It is a prayer worth praying, and your rewards will supersede any prosperity here on earth.  And that only leads to more blessing and more glory for God!

Psalm 18:36      “You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.”

  

The Only “Cover” I Need Is Jesus

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     As I related to you in the previous post, my husband and I attended a Deliverance Ministry training session this past weekend, and continue to be encouraged by the Holy Spirit that we are doing the will of God.  We were heartened, motivated, and validated by the team of deliverance ministers from Luke 4:18 Ministries, and enjoyed sharing experiences with other attendees.
     But I have to say that I was surprised by one question that we received.  But first, I must disclose that most of the people in attendance were there to learn on behalf of their churches.  The interesting thing is that it appears to be a common occurrence that the church leadership doesn’t necessarily buy into spiritual warfare — and definitely not deliverance ministry — but is willing to give their permission for someone within the church to learn what they can about it.  In fact, when I attended Dr. Charles Kraft’s conference, Defeating Dark Angels, last winter I assumed that everyone was there because they had established ministries within their churches, and they were the assigned leader for that ministry.  Imagine my surprise, when one woman sitting at my table informed me, “Oh, honey, we’re all here in spite of our churches”!
     My husband and I are always the exception to the rule whenever we gather with church or ministry-led conferences because God has pulled us out of the established Church and we are part of a small home church.  I’m always a little saddened by some of the reactions that news receives, as if somehow we are less qualified to be doing a ministry.  I say “a little” saddened, because my spirit has no doubt that we have been called by God to partner with Jesus and the Holy Spirit to help set people free.  What “church people” think about that has no bearing on our service to the Lord.  And that leads me back to the sincere question that we were asked at the recent training session we attended.

     A young woman from Bangladesh approached the table where my husband and I were sitting.  She had been involved with a deliverance ministry under the auspices of her church in her home country, but since moving to the United States, she could find no church that had such a ministry, nor any church leadership that encouraged the pursuit of a deliverance ministry.  So her question to us was, “How are you able to do this deliverance ministry without “the covering” of a church”?  That question struck such a chord with me, because it represents so much of the resistance and opposition that I have felt from the church in recent years.
     In fact, some of the more negative or unfavorable responses I have received in regards to spiritual warfare have come from pastors and church leaders who do not believe it exists!  But God has shown me that so much of the struggles and pain that Christians experience is due to oppression by demonic forces.  But because they hide behind the “Christian culture” in their church — the culture that has been blinded to the bondage that so many are under — they will never see, nor admit, that they are hurting.  And sadly, they have discouraged members of their churches from seeking any knowledge or experience on waging spiritual warfare.  Therefore, without “the covering” of their pastor, Christians continue to be unenlightened about defeating the Enemy in their own lives.
     For the life of me, I cannot discover where the idea originated that believers need to be “covered” in order to serve God and minister within Christ’s Body.  How many people are living Christian lives under the shadow of this fear that without “covering” you dare not minister, preach, teach, pray, or do a myriad of other things you’re called to do by the Spirit of God, because you will somehow be ministering without protection?
     (NOTE:  This same kind of argument is used to discourage women from teaching because they are supposed to “be submissive” or “under the authority” of a man.  Unfortunately, this incorrect understanding has applied Scriptures such as 2 Timothy 2:12, and 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, and taken them out of context.  Then the last 1600 years of social and cultural influence have somehow cemented these ideas in the Church.  For a different take on this interpretation of Scripture, check out my blog post here, and the source of my suggestive theory, here.)
     Now back to how I feel about having to be “covered” to do deliverance ministry.  I truly feel that this doctrine places the authority of man over the authority of my God.  If the Holy Spirit convicts me that Deliverance is something He wants me to do — and that Jesus wants people healed and wants me to facilitate that healing — then why do I need to seek any further approval from men?  And why would I turn down that calling just because a pastor or church leader does not recognize the need for it? Are we not instructed by Scripture to submit ourselves to God?  As born-again believers, we daily make a choice to submit ourselves to God for the work that the Holy Spirit does in us to “conform us to the image of Christ.” That image of Christ is one of servanthood, as He sought to do what God instructed Him to do.  That included healing, and casting out demons, and spreading the Word about God’s mercy unto salvation.  Can we have no higher calling than to imitate Christ in this manner?

     Please understand that I am not advocating disrespect or rebellion (out of pride) towards God’s Church or the Pastors and Shepherds He has placed in positions of authority.  But when confronted with a choice to follow a clear commission from the Holy Spirit, and the will of my Father, or an opinion from a man (no matter how well-intentioned) then I have no choice.  When my spirit is told that I have been sanctified to do this work for the Kingdom of God, then I know that my “covering” — my defense, my protection — will come from the Lord Himself.  I go forth to do this ministry in full confidence because I am covered by the Blood of Jesus!
     1 John 2:20 speaks so strongly to my conviction on this matter:  But you have an anointing from the Holy One [you have been set apart, specially gifted and prepared by the Holy Spirit], and all of you know [the truth because He teaches us, illuminates our minds, and guards us from error].  Just before we were introduced to this concept of spiritual warfare and deliverance, my husband had a recurring dream in which God told him that He wanted us to sanctify our property, our home, and each other with holy oil.  Then, in the dream, there was a clear message that YHWH, Himself, was going to sanctify us.  It took him several days to tell me this, but after consecutive nights of receiving the same divinely-inspired communication, he knew he had affirmation that it was from the Lord, and he shared the message with me.  At the time, we didn’t know what that meant, or why He was anointing us and sanctifying us.
     Since then, we know that the anointing was so that He could impart the knowledge of His truth regarding spiritual warfare to us; and we were going to be sanctified, or set apart for God, to do deliverance ministry under the Authority of Christ and the Power of the Holy Spirit.  We wanted, so desperately, to share this Good News with the Church and let them know that God wants us to partner with Him in these Last Days … but they didn’t want to hear it.  In effect, we could not, and would not, receive any approval of “covering” from The Church.  And that’s when it became crystal clear that we were not to seek it; that God would be our covering — He will go before us and protect the work that He has assigned us to do.  He will be our shield and our shelter as we continue the work that His Son came to do, namely to set free those who are in bondage to satan and his forces of wickedness.
     I guess, in a way, the Apostle Philip is kind of a model for what happened to us.  He was personally reached by Jesus himself. While Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, and Andrew brought Peter to Jesus, no one brought Philip to Jesus. Instead, Jesus came right to him.  And Philip went where God told him to go, reaching people that would never be drawn to the newly developing church.  And that is our similar experience … God personally revealed His purpose for our lives and is bringing people in bondage directly to our door; people who do not feel comfortable approaching the Church.  All they know is that they want to be free, and we have the answer … it’s to experience Jesus healing their spiritual wounds!
     So, if you find yourself in a situation similar to the young woman from Bangladesh, and you feel called to a deliverance ministry, but find no support from the establishment of the Body of Christ, then ask the Holy Spirit for confirmation that this is how you are to serve the Kingdom of God.  If this is to be the purpose of your life, then God will open doors for you that men cannot close.  Trust Him to be your “covering”, believing that if He is for you, no one can be against you.  The freedom you will feel in setting others free will inspire you, stir your spirit, and clear the way for unprecedented fruit in the lives of others.  Don’t be afraid to step out!

Psalm 91:14   Because he holds fast to Me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows My name.
   

A Legacy For The Kingdom

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     For some reason, today my spirit is wishing to share some personal thoughts and revelations… I don’t receive a lot of comments or feedback from my blog posts, but that’s OK.  I don’t need accolades for me; I’d rather read and hear God being praised, but when I do, they are often times humbling and give me more credit that I deserve.  Readers are too quick to praise me for knowledge and inspiration that, quite frankly, I don’t feel worthy of.  The truth is, there have been people who have been instrumental in shepherding my foray into spiritual warfare, and who have validated the direction that the Holy Spirit is leading me.
     I am no different than any of you … My experiences and knowledge can be obtained by anyone wishing to receive guidance from the Holy Spirit and to earnestly serve the Kingdom of God. Perhaps I am just a tad more bold or daring; in fact, I have had other Christians tell me that I should be more cautious and less passionate.   But I have confidence in my discernment, and I am not one to waste time if I hear the Holy Spirit counseling me to step out in faith.  So, today, I’d like to inspire you by introducing you to a woman who has inspired a growing army of spiritual warriors for this Time and Place.

     First, let me say that I have been tremendously blessed to have a husband who has been an aggressive warrior in his own right.  If you’ve been reading this blog for quite some time, then you know that his first and middle names literally mean “Peace-Loving Warrior”, and he exemplifies that strong and commanding image.  Together, the Lord showed us a couple of years ago where He wants us to stand, and the important work He needs done in His Kingdom here on earth.  By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we were led to study the spiritual realm and its influence on Christians.  Through encounters with entities from this realm, we have both been exposed to satan’s attempts to discourage the followers of Jesus from claiming their power and authority in the Name of our Savior.  And then, by Divine Appointment we came into contact with the woman who would become our mentor, our advisor, and our trainer in our Deliverance Ministry.
     Her name is Barbara Bucklin, and she is a tireless champion and advocate of Jesus as our Healer, our Deliverer, and our Savior.  She has more energy and passion than people decades younger than herself.  We first met Barb when we attended a conference she arranged, and which was taught by Dr. Charles Kraft, entitled Defeating Dark Angels.  At the time we knew, and were seeing, that Christians were being attacked and oppressed by demonic forces, but knew nothing other than praying for protection as a means of defeating them.  Dr. Kraft changed all that … He revealed that through his many years of missionary work and the thousands of Christians he had counseled, that most problems are spiritual, resulting in emotional difficulties that keep us from the freedom and intimacy with Christ that we (and He) desire.  And we learned that deep-level healing is the answer.  What exactly is this deep-level healing?  It is a Deliverance ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit that is aimed at bringing healing to the whole person:  spirit, body, mind, emotions, and will.  It is about hearts being set free.  And we, as the servants of Christ, are fully capable (through partnering with Him and the Holy Spirit) of continuing His work to “set the captives free”.
     The valuable information I received from a subsequent training season with Dr. Kraft was orchestrated by Barb, and in the months that have followed, she has been there to advise and instruct my husband and me as we enter into this new frontier of Christian spiritual warfare.  In fact, we just returned from a Healing and Deliverance training session with Barb this past weekend.  Thirty-five people signed up to hear Barb share her experiences in seeing hurting, scared, damaged Christians — people who have been subjected to the wiles and schemes of our Adversary — but who were transformed by a very real experience with Jesus as their Healer and Deliverer.  She conducted this seminar to encourage and instruct us in Deliverance Ministry; to give us a roadmap in which to work with Jesus to help those being oppressed by the Enemy.
    Now, 35 people may seem like a small number, but it is momentous when you consider that, very likely, each of these individuals represent 35 churches or communities who are in desperate need of receiving evidence that Jesus still heals and delivers His people.  If each of these people are fulfilling their commission to continue the work of Jesus, just think of the numbers they can impact.

     And impact is what Barbara Bucklin is all about.  She is an active supporter and vibrant part of what some call the “Texas Prayer Movement”.  She is a fervent believer that through Prayer and Intercession which is led by the Holy Spirit, Christians can chip away at the darkness that envelops the world, and let the Light of God shine through.  She is believing and trusting God for a revival in the Texas capitol city of Austin; that prayerful Christians can provide firm support for what God is working on to accomplish in that city, in its businesses, ministries, families, personal lives, and government. She is believing God that He will transform the City of Austin … and believe me, you don’t want to doubt her.
     She is also the President of Luke 4:18 Minstries.  That verse is the foundation of her belief in Jesus’ mission statement as He picked up that scroll in Isaiah 61 – out of all those other scrolls — and read it when He went into the temple. He said that the scripture was fulfilled that day. And what exactly was fulfilled?

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; too set at liberty those who are oppressed [downtrodden, bruised, crushed by tragedy]…”

     Her testimony, I believe, is similar to what God is doing throughout His remnant.  He is showing us that, if we are ready to listen, and use the tools He has given us to see people transformed and restored, He has a mission for us.  Barb listened, and beginning in 1999, she set about fulfilling her mission… and just like what has begun happening to my husband and myself, people began showing up at her doorstep.  They were people that could not be reached inside the four walls of a church building, because they were never going to approach the Church for the healing they needed.  They are people, as in the case of Barb, who were homeless and living under the bridges in Austin; or people the Church had failed to help, because the church was blind to the message of Luke 4:18.  And they were simply people on the margins of society, who were not even in view of the Church, because Church members were focused inward instead of outward towards the lost and hurting … the very people Jesus came to Save, Heal and Deliver.

     Listen to Barb, and see why she is such an inspiration and motivator for God’s spiritual army … “I believe that as we pray for people and see Jesus set them free, they are able to move into their gifts more fully and our city is being transformed one person at a time.  We see His Body move forward and unite in a different way, because it’s easy to unite when hearts are healed.  It’s difficult to work together when you’re suffering from pain, unhealed abuse and other hurts. Wounded people find it difficult to work together. But, once you have healing and joy restored, you have a new resiliency and vision and then you move into a Kingdom perspective and a desire to see His ‘Kingdom come and will be done’ … {Through our ministry], we want people prepared and equipped in ministry, that is why the gifts have been given to us — to equip the Body for ministry and to advance the Kingdom. We need to be walking in freedom and maturity so we can do the good works prepared for us … We also need to be alert, having our minds transformed to align with His words, increase our faith, and understand the prophetic nature of these days.”
     Perhaps most importantly, this faithful woman of Christ believes that God’s restructuring the Church. A while back, she says she got a word that He was rewiring, realigning, restructuring, and then re-anointing His Body.  She admits that this transition of the Church currently involves only a small number of the Body.  Most Christians are satisfied where they are; being comfortable and not liking any sort of challenge.  But she believes that the stirring within the Body towards ministries like hers [and that of my husband and myself] is actually God causing this discomfort; drawing us back to the basics, talking about the Cross and the Blood of Christ.  And she has done all that for me.
     She came into my life at a time when God was continuously trying to show me that He had work for me to do outside the walls of any Church.  Make no mistake, He didn’t tell me that the work of those inside the Church was necessarily unproductive — just that He was anointing me and my husband to do His work in a new “old way”, if that makes sense.  And then He pointed me to models that were according to His will … and that were working!  And that’s how I ended up being a part of the Healing and Deliverance Training Session this past weekend. I sat among 35 brave people who have been willing to go where the Lord is leading them, and to be mentored by a willing servant and her team;  all of us followers of Jesus who desire to see our fellow Christians walking in physical and spiritual freedom and restoration.  I am truly blessed to be a part of this faithful group.
     I want to leave you with one final thought … we all stand on the shoulders of others God puts in our lives.  I have heard from many of you that you are hearing from God, and know that the struggles in your life are spiritual; that you recognize that Jesus is the answer.  I urge you to seek a credible deliverance ministry, and then once you are healed and restored, then please help another person attain the freedom that Jesus has given you!  This is the structure of God’s Kingdom that has been shown to me by the Holy Spirit, and modeled so well by men and women like Dr. Charles Kraft and Barbara Bucklin.  There is no need to fear the unknown.
     As we ended our conference this weekend, Barbara circled the classroom, anointing each of the participants with Valor.  Our modern English definition of this word is “bravery, courage, boldness”.  But knowing Barb, I’m pretty sure that she anointed us with Valor, under the Hebrew interpretation, which indicates “the physical strength, power, and ability to perform in the battle that is in view”.  She knows, and has seen, [as we have] that we are engaged in a spiritual battle for the souls of men, both lost and saved.  She knows that we do not fight alone, but under the Authority of Jesus and through the Power of the Holy Spirit.
     In this one classroom, in one city of the United States, there were 35 people joined in fulfilling the mission we have been given … the mission that All are invited to partake in.  Just think what we can accomplish for the Kingdom of God, one person at a time; one community at a time; one nation at a time.  Let it begin with you!

Mark 13:34    “For the Son of Man is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper [guardian] to watch.”

Connecting More Dots

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     Chaotic events in the world are beginning to happen at breakneck speed; like contractions during a birth.  Dallas … Nice, France … Turkey … Baton Rouge … all in less than two weeks.  And we are facing the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this week; God help us!  I fear that the New Living Translation of Matthew 24:8 is playing out: “But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.”  

     Saturday evening into Sunday morning I wrote the following post and think it is important enough to still run it this morning.  But I wanted all to know that I am not impervious to the tragedy that happened in Baton Rouge yesterday.  Sadly, it is a continuation of the rage that I believe is being orchestrated against all of us in the country, regardless of our race.  It is spiritual in nature, and regrettably, there are far too many people with hearts of stone who are only willing to listen to the devil’s lies, and those of his collaborators.  If you know nothing else to do, just get on your knees and pray.  (Click here for my suggestion, if you’re not sure how to pray). Ask the Creator of all men to change the hearts of wicked men.   Recognize Him as Jehovah Nissi, our banner or battle standard.  He is our forward Guard and our rear Guard.  As long as we are under his banner, our victory is always assured.  If we ever depart from it, our defeat is a certainty.  
     We need to face it — this Christian life is a picture of warfare.  Just as in ancient battles, we are to obey every command of our King, and run to His banner, which is the Cross, when the fight becomes too much for our flesh.  But we also need to realize that the battle is won in the spiritual realm, and we are to put on our full armor of God and get to the battlefront!  No matter what the news says today, or tomorrow, next week, or next year … trust in our Lord and Savior!  These birth pangs will soon give way to His justice and righteousness.  We are in the heat of the battle at the moment, and we need to keep drinking the Living Water that is Christ!

     Over the weekend, as I followed the events in Turkey, I couldn’t help but discern that God gave me a huge download of knowledge that connected more dots in the evolution of His cosmic chess match with the devil.  I’m still trying to fit all the pieces together, so I hope you’ll be patient with me, as I try to write this down as fast as I’m receiving it.  Hopefully, it will make some sense to you, or one of you can expand on what I’m presenting.
     My journey over the last few days began with receiving a book that my Spiritual Warfare mentor suggested I read, called Rulers of Evil, by F. Tupper Saussy.  At the expense of offending faithful Catholics, I must recommend this book as a fascinating book of the history of the Catholic Church and its influence on the world empires, as well as the founding of America.  Moreover, the author gives an intriguing account of the history of Biblical knowledge and how it interacts with the Roman Catholic papacy.  PLEASE, I am not recommending this book under the pretense of Catholic-bashing!  I am a lover of history and the author is able take a vast amount of historical information and present it in a chronological and coherent manner.  I had barely begun reading (page 24 to be exact) when I saw a link between what happened in history to what is unfolding in Turkey and here in the United States.  Let me start with the historical impetus for my “aha” moment….

     As a student of history, I have been aware that the reading of the Bible was largely limited to Kings and Church leaders until the invention of the Guttenberg Press made it accessible to the masses.  The control and domination by these rulers could be undermined if the general population ever learned that they had direct access to the Bible and God’s Word.  (That’s an over-simplification of all the intrigue that surrounds the maintaining of power among history’s ruling class, but it gives you a general view of how things work).
     As I was reading this fascinating book, it was inevitable that the conflict between Martin Luther and the Catholic Church would surface.  In case you’re unfamiliar with the background of this story, Luther was a Catholic monk who defied the edict of the Archbishop of Mainz against unauthorized Bible reading, and began reading the first edition of the Greek New Testament, printed by Renaissance theologian Desiderius Erasmus.  That led to Luther’s explosive document, Ninety-five Theses Upon Indulgences, which he promptly nailed to the door of the castle church of Wittenburg. (The historic idea of Indulgences was centered upon a grant by the pope of the remission of punishment in purgatory that was still due for sins, even after absolution. The unrestricted sale of indulgences by pardoners was a widespread abuse during the later Middle Ages … as an example, for the payment of four ducats, one could be forgiven for murdering one’s father; or Sorcery was pardoned for six ducats — you get the picture).  You can see how the ability for the common man to begin reading and understanding the Truth within the pages of the Bible could seriously erode the authority of those who claimed divine power.
     But it was more than these familiar historical facts that I was seeing; I suddenly saw the collusion between Pope Clement VII, Niccolo Machiavelli, the inventor of modern political science, and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Chancellor of England. These men determined that the printing press could now be used to their advantage — they, themselves, could produce literature that would ultimately confuse, diminish, and marginalize the influence of the Bible. Cardinal Wolsey characterized this project as putting “learning against learning”.  (Remember that phrase, because it is going to come back into focus as I connect the dots to what happened this weekend).  The result of this vast amount of printed material was the famed Medici Library– which opposed the Bible’s teaching that man could have eternal life simply by believing in Christ’s death and resurrection on our behalf, in favor of Gnostic teachings that man could achieve eternal life by doing good works (Christ-centered learning versus man-centered learning).  So extensive was this Library’s philosophical influence, that many scholars today consider it the cradle of Western civilization.
     Martin Luther, discerning that this learning against learning philosophy was the future of Christianity, prophetically wrote in 1520, “Though our children live in the midst of a Christian world, they faint and perish in misery because they lack the Gospel in which we should be training and exercising them all the time.  I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount [my emphasis].  Schools will become wide-open gates of hell if they do not diligently engrave the Holy Scriptures on young hearts.  Every institution where men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt”.  (While I also have huge problems with Luther’s later opinions regarding the Jewish people, he hit a home run with this school of thought).

     So, now let me make a huge leap, by connecting this dot with one from this weekend.  As I awoke Saturday morning, I was curious to see what had happened in Turkey overnight.  As I often do, I took a look at what foreign news outlets were reporting; often finding them less restrained in their communication of facts.  The UK’s Daily Mail was showing astonishing pictures of the citizens who backed President Erdogan confronting and attacking the members of the Turkish military who had dared to try to overthrow the President.  One particular sentence jumped out at me:  “Erdogan has blamed his old scapegoat, Fethullah Gulen for orchestrating the uprising. Muslim cleric Gulen, the president’s rival who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, as the head of a billion dollar religious movement, has often been blamed for political unrest in Turkey.”
     If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you might recognize the name of Fethullah Gulen.  I wrote posts here (2013) and here (earlier in 2016), regarding this imam’s influence in our American educational system.  Yes, you read that correctly … Trained as an imam, Fethullah Gulen gained notice in Turkey some 50 years ago, promoting a philosophy that blended a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue.  Erdogan has long accused Gulen of plotting to overthrow the “officially secular government” from a gated 26-acre compound in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, which has a population of about 1,100. The President of Turkey is now asking for Gulen’s extradition, but Secretary of State John Kerry says our government is unlikely to comply.
     Why should the internal politics and history of political rivalry in Turkey be of particular interest to us here in the United States?  Because, as I have made mention in past blog posts, Fethullah Gulen and his Gulen Movement (his liberal Islamic transnational religious and social movement) runs the largest charter school network in our nation – the list is at 146 to be exact, with sad to say, 45 schools in my state of Texas!  How could this be, you ask?  Well, he is very clever … the name of these influential schools go by different names in each of the states.  In Texas, they are the Harmony Science Academy; in Ohio, the Horizon Science Academy; in California, the Magnolia Science Academy … you see what he’s doing, right?  Appealing to the ever-competitive nature of the American psyche, he promotes his schools as academies of higher learning to help Americans excel in math and science; so that students will get a higher level of education than they do at public schools.  And it is a multi-billion dollar business!
     And students get a higher “level” of learning alright!  While the schools are not overtly teaching Islamic philosophy and religion, I contend that Fethullah Gulen’s influence is predicated on eliminating and destroying Christianity’s influence among our nation’s youth.  That’s where the dots are connected!  Remember Luther’s concern over learning against learning?  Well, we are seeing it in action before our very eyes, and we are blinded.  I say that because Gulen’s influence has not only infiltrated our education system, but his tentacles reach into banks, newspapers, universities, charities, research institutes, and the halls of Congress, where according to an article by Ariel Cohen, and a USA TODAY investigation, over 200 trips for congressmen and congressional staff have been sponsored by Gülenist entities.
     All this being said, I have to admit that I sometimes feel like I’m shouting in the wilderness.  I have written several posts now on this man, and pointed to others who have done extensive research on him, and now the name of Fethullah Gulen pops up once again in the attempted coup in Turkey.  If you’re tired of me harping on this subject, I apologize, but the chance that I would receive this fascinating book, and read of the anti-Bible reference to learning against learning, at the exact moment that an influential Islamic businessman (deeply ensconced in our educational system) is suggested as influencing the attempted downfall of a sovereign nation … well, I could not ignore it.
     I will leave you by reporting the words of Martin Luther …  I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount.  Schools will become wide-open gates of hell if they do not diligently engrave the Holy Scriptures on young hearts.  Do you think that the mega-success of the Gulen Schools shows us that man-centered learning is surpassing Christ-centered learning in our culture?  And what happens when the Word of God is eliminated entirely, in favor of Islamic-flavored curriculum?  The fingerprints of satan have been on the knowledge of man from the beginning, and this is just another of his strategies.  We must be diligent in our discernment, and continue to connect the dots!

Colossians 2:8    “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”

Ezekiel 38:2-3

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Son of man, set your face against Gog of the land of Magog,
 the chief ruler of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him,
  and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against you, 
O Gog, chief ruler of Meshech and Tubal.”

     Since, lately, I have been led by the Spirit to focus on the spiritual realm, I thought I would tackle one of the most controversial couple of verses in the Bible.  During this Age in history, many Christians are discerning that we are in what Jesus called “those days”, or “the end”; when “the beginning of sorrows” and “great tribulation” shall befall men on the earth.  We commonly accept these days as “The End Times”.  
     Historians, eschatologists, scholars, and well-intentioned Christians have searched the Bible for years for prophecies from the Lord; Scripture that will give us a clue as to how to recognize when the Judgment of Christ will bring horrific persecution, death, famine, and ultimately the return of our Lord.  Although we are not worry about the time or day, it cannot be denied that Ezekiel, Chapter 38 is often cited as one of the most explicitly prophetic Books in the Bible.  
     If you are the least bit interested in eschatology, I’m sure you’ve heard a variety of explanations for this particular passage.  Here are just a few, which have been well-documented on watchmanbiblestudy.com:
1.  Hashemite Kingdom Theory: The Islamic Nations will come against Israel either by an Iraqi-led, Jordanian led, or Turkish led coalition. The enemy from the north refers to the areas of Syria, Turkey, and Iraq. These Islamic nations make up the lands occupied by Magog, Gomer, Togarmah, Meshech and Tubal.
2.  Caucus Theory: Gog and Magog are the Arab nations in an alliance with the Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union. This theory leaves out most of Russia, and includes only the southern part.
3.  All Europe theory: Gog and Magog are the sons of Japeth thus the originators of the European races.  Gog and Magog therefore indicates all of Europe. This is not a widely held theory and I could find little support for it.
4.  Russian Theory: The Hebrew word ‘rosh’ in verse 3 is identified with Russia, ‘Tubal’ with Tiblisi or Tobolsk and ‘Meshech’ with Moscow, therefore Gog and Magog refers to Russia. This is one of the most commonly held views and is based on a different interpretation of the Hebrew word Rosh (used as a noun rather than adjective), similarities in the pronunciation of words, and the Greek translation of Rosh referring to a tribe of people found in what is now Russia. (Given Russia’s obvious involvement in giving arms and technology to Iran and Syria, I believe they will be a big player in the attack if not actively involved in it.)
5.  Indo-European Theory:  Gog and Magog include the nations descending from Japheth: Russia, the Caucasus (Turkey), Iraq, and the Islamic republics of Central Asia. The coalition is an alliance of Arab nations, Muslim republics, Georgia, southern Russia and the Black sea area. 
     It’s also possible that you have heard combinations of these different theories, and even heard Russian President Vladimir Putin identified as Gog.  This theory is often proposed because God says in Ezekiel 38:15. And you [Gog] shall come from out of your place in the north parts…”.  However, “the north” or “the north parts” has often been understood to be the heavens, and in this case, the second heaven, where satan and his fallen angels and demons live.  But, for centuries, that hasn’t stopped people from trying to relate specific humans and geographic locations on the earth, when dissecting Ezekiel 38.  But in taking counsel from the Holy Spirit in regards to the spiritual war in the heavens, I am beginning to see a different picture.  
     What God and the Holy Spirit are showing me can best be explained by what might, at first, appear to be a confusing description of Gog and Magog on Wikipedia:  The first mention of the two names occurs in the Book of Ezekiel, where Gog is the name of an individual and Magog the name of his land; in Genesis, Chapter 10, Magog is a person and no Gog is mentioned; and in Revelation, both Gog and Magog appear together as the hostile nations of the world.
     OK, now I’m going to ask you to follow me and connect the dots; try to consider this possible interpretation… Let’s start with Genesis, Chapter 10, in which Magog is listed as a son of Japheth, who, himself, was a son of Noah.  Genesis 10:5 tells us that from these men, “the nations were separated and spread into their lands, every one according to his own language, according to their constituent groups (families), and into their nations”…  so the fact that Magog is usually understood to be a nation or country makes sense; having been named for the descendant of Noah who was given that land.  Just think of Washington, D.C. named for George Washington, or America, named for the explorer Amerigo Vespucci.  Naming a land after a specific person makes sense to me.
     But then who is this Gog that our God is prophesying against?  In Ezekiel 38:3, he is called “the chief ruler of Meschech and Tubal”.  In other versions of the Bible, this verse reads “O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal”.  Before we try to identify Gog, let’s clear up the discrepancy in the use (or lack of) the word Rosh in that verse.  Some versions of the Bible translate the Hebrew word ‘rosh’ in verse 3 as a noun referring to a place in Russia. The least credible support for this view is that Rosh sounds like the modern-day name Russia and Meshech sounds like Moscow. In this translation they treat rosh as a proper name. Other versions of the Bible translate ‘rosh’ as an adjective, a disjunctive form of grammar, that indicates a pause.  So, verse three would read:
“Behold, I am against thee, o Gog, the prince, {pause} chief of Meshech and Tubal”

Rather than:
“Behold, I am against thee, o Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal.”

     It is not as important to me to understand where Gog is chief ruler or prince, as it is to know the identity of who Gog is.  I can accept that he rules over the nations of Meshech and Tubal, and I can agree, without any problem, that those nations may comprise parts of modern-day Turkey, southern Russia and Iran.  It is important to know who this Gog is, and why the Lord God is against him.  
     So, now I’m going to finally tell you the understanding that I have come to, after much study and prayer.  I believe that Gog is one of the demonic rulers (or princes) that satan has assigned to particular nations to carry out his evil directives.  Once again, I feel that’s why Paul made such an effort in Ephesians, Chapter 6, to spell out for us that we do not fight against flesh and blood!  (Could he have been telling us to not try to identify flesh and blood men as these enemies?) These rulers and princes are the forces of spiritual wickedness that coordinate the game plan and align demonic forces on the battlefield of each nation.  
     And I do not believe they are constrained by time or place.  Gog has obviously been assigned to govern and administer the nations of Meshech and Tubal at a time when they will be unleashing their armies on Israel.  Since I often find that the Bible expresses overlapping and dual prophecies — a word from the Lord that is specific to an ancient historic event, but that also applies to an End Times scenario.  In this case, the Old Testament prophet Amos says, Thus the Lord showed me, and behold a swarm of locusts were coming, and, behold, one of the young devastating locusts was Gog, the king. 
     Then in the New Testament, in Revelation, Chapter 9, the Apostle John is given a vision of the Fifth trumpet being sounded, the bottomless pit opening, and the power of the locusts descending upon man to torture him.  In verse 11, John says, And [the locusts] had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.  It is well understood in the 21st Century that this king will be the Anti-Christ.  So, it is certainly possible, and it is my opinion, that the “devastating king of the locusts, that the prophet Amos saw is the same king of the locusts that John saw.  “Gog” could just be the designation of his title or position, such as President; and at the End Times he will be known by his proper name, Abaddon.  
     Nonetheless, I think we must consider that Gog is a demonic spiritual king [chief ruler or prince] who isn’t limited in the length of time he lives or functions.  He can rule over many nations at different times; simultaneously or throughout the centuries.  But I think it is clear that he is an agent of the devil; with specific duties to battle against God’s plan of reconciliation.  I believe that when God commanded Ezekiel to set his face against Gog and prophesy against him, the prophet was being instructed to battle in the spiritual realm against this demonic ruler, and to tell him the Lord God was against him and would defeat him.  That was in the Old Testament.  In this New Testament Age, I contend that we can do the same thing … declare to the demonic forces in the spiritual realm, in the Name of Jesus, that God is against them and they are defeated.  
     I’m sure that this may be a new and very difficult concept for you to accept, since it is virtually never discussed in the Church today.  And maybe, you are one of those Christians who doesn’t feel it is necessary to understood Old Testament prophecy.  But the God who spoke to, and instructed, Ezekiel is the same God who wants to speak to us today through His Word … all of His Word!  For me, it is a matter of knowing that His character never changes.  So if God was against the demonic rulers in the spiritual realm in Ezekiel’s time, He is against them today.  And if He asked Ezekiel to set his face against that demonic ruler, I believe he wanted the prophet to take a stand, with God by his side, and announce the defeat of the evil entities.  I believe His command and His desire is for us to do the same. 


The Rulers Of This Present Darkness

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     Once again, the weekend finds me needing to break the pattern of blog posts.  The deaths of innocent people on the French Riviera, along with the martial law and military coup declared in Turkey compel me to make a short statement about how I view these world events.
     First of all, the fact that the Muslim murderer in Nice followed nearly step-by-step instructions posted on an Isis terrorist website, is evidence that this was a terrorist attack.  Secondly, I am writing this on Friday afternoon, and the news regarding the coup in Turkey is fluid; by the time this commentary posts on Saturday morning, more details will be known.  At first glance, it seems that the military is attempting to remove the President of Turkey, Recep Erdogan, and reestablish what they are calling “the rule of law and human rights”.  Sounds good … but then late last night the coup was declared “unsuccessful”, and this morning’s news states that civilians reclaimed Turkey from their own military after President Erdogan urged them to “keep on owning the streets”.  We will have to wait to see how this all shakes out.
     Now, those opinions are based on my physical worldview. My Biblical worldview is another thing.  It has become increasingly clearer to me as I make the effort to study the multi-dimensional implications of Biblical history, that the actions of nations and their leaders are really spiritually dictated and determined.

     Take the familiar account in Daniel 10, when a heavenly messenger (likely the angel Gabriel)  explains to the prophet Daniel why he is so late in answering his prayer summons.  Gabriel tells Daniel he was on the way, “But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.”  It is well understood by Biblical scholars that the prince of Persia is a reference to an evil spiritual entity that wielded authority over the ancient kingdom of Persia. And Michael is the archangel in charge of protecting Israel.
     Throughout the Bible we see nations and their leaders affecting what happens to the nation of Israel and God’s chosen people.  But the Word also tells us that many times, it is God who is in control and using those leaders and nations as instruments of not only His blessings and discipline, but His severe Judgment.  In Habakkuk, Chapter 1, God relates His intention to raise up Babylon, a “ruthless” and “dreaded” nation, to achieve His purpose.  Keep in mind that God did not create the ruthlessness of Babylon, but He uses it and controls it to bring about His ultimate Glory.  Follow me one more step, and you see in Ezekiel, Chapter 28, an amazing description of satan as the Prince of Tyrus.  Then in Romans 13, we have Paul telling us that ” the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”
     Can you begin to see that these world events are not simply the random acts of bad people?  Can you discern that Satan is using his rulers and powers and spirits of wickedness to cause this present darkness we are seeing come upon the world?  We cannot hope to dispel such evil by human means.  We must pray and partner with God to battle the spiritual forces that are behind these nations and leaders.  The Prince of Persia in the Book of Daniel was not a flesh and blood man who was fighting with the angel Michael.  I believe he was one of the angels who fell with Lucifer, and had been given the nation of Persia to rule from the spiritual realm on behalf of satan.
     Without question, I believe that every nation on earth has been given such a ruler by satan, a prince to try and control the destiny of that nation, and move into the “win” column for the devil.  It is up to us to pray and ask God to send His heavenly armies, with angelic leaders like Michael, to thwart the enemy’s plans.  As of this morning, the prince of France and the prince of Turkey are gloating over the chaos they are causing.  Let’s be like Daniel … the Bible said that he “mourned” what he was seeing happening in his world, and he began to pray.  It seemed like ages before he got an answer, and it was the angel Gabriel who told him,  “From the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words.”
     Don’t waste another minute trying to figure all this out yourself … we need to appeal to God with fervent prayer and ask for Him to respond.  And then have the faith of Daniel, knowing that He will!

Colossians 2:15    “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities [those supernatural forces of evil operating against us], He made a public example of them [exhibiting them as captives in His triumphal procession], having triumphed over them through the cross.”

It’s All About Our Hearts

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     I have been so impressed with some of the interviews I have seen following the horrific events of last week.  The shootings in Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and Dallas, have rocked this nation.  I am saddened by the continuing vitriol, but I am also very hopeful at what I am beginning to see happening.  I think you will agree, as you read these interviews that each of the conversations came from the heart, which is the part of us where our emotions dwell.  I think we can all agree that as humans, we are flesh, soul, and spirit.  The soul is comprised of our mind, our emotions, and our will.  But while the heart would seem to be a part of the soul (because our emotions and desires dwell there), I actually believe that there is a spiritual component to our hearts.  I want to explore this further, but first, I want to share why the statements by these individuals moved me so much.
     To begin, all three people just happen to be Black.  But it wasn’t their skin color that spoke to my spirit; it was what emanated from their hearts.   I think Benjamin Watson, the tight end for the Baltimore Ravens has given one of the most impressive interviews I’ve seen.  On NFL Access, he stated that the number one issue to tackle in our nation’s attempt to heal from racial division is honesty.  “It’s about stepping into someone else’s shoes… and sometimes it hurts.  There’s pain; there’s tears that need to be shed; there’s repentance that needs to happen, and forgiveness that needs to happen on all sides.  Healing comes when people’s hearts are open to the truth; when they are open and honest and willing to get uncomfortable.  Racism is uncomfortable!  It’s not easy to sit here and talk about this issue, but if this nation is going to get to a better place, then we have to realize it is a heart issue; something inside us and not necessarily something effecting us from the outside… We have to respect each other, and see people how God would see them.”  On Fox News’s The Kelly File, Watson said, “[We have to solve our race problem] through Truth, Justice, and Righteousness.”  This man gets it!
     The other two interviews were held with Shetamia Taylor, a shooting victim from Dallas, and a surgeon who treated the officers that were killed, Dr. Brian Williams.  I highly urge you to click on both links, and watch them express their experiences that day.  I dare you not to shed a tear!  When discussing the current state of race relations, Ms. Taylor said, “It’s disheartening. I’m angry and I’m frustrated because, of course, we want action, but you have to think first before taking that action. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m not going to stop. I want my community to be unified, I want my people to be unified, I want all of us to come together.”  Dr. Williams stated, “I understand the anger and the frustration and distrust of law enforcement, but they are not the problem,” he said, his voice choking up. “The problem is open discussions about the impact of race relations in this country. And I think about it every day, that I was unable to save those cops when they came here that night. It weighs on my mind constantly.” And then here is the honest and uncomfortable part of the discussion that Benjamin Watson encouraged all of us to have … Dr. Williams continued, “And I want the Dallas police to also see me, a black man, and understand that I support you, I will defend you and I will care for you. That doesn’t mean that I do not fear you. That doesn’t mean if you approach me, I will not immediately have a visceral reaction and start worrying for my personal safety.”
     Can you see the expression of the heart in each of these individuals?  And why is that so important, and what part does it play in spiritual warfare?  The term “heart” refers to the inner person, and it is central and vital to our spiritual existence.  It is very important, in the context of spiritual warfare and our spiritual life, to understand that God is deeply concerned about the inner man or the condition of the heart.  In fact, He make this point clear in 1 Samuel 16:7:  But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  Could that pertain any more to our what our nation is experiencing?
     It is obvious from this passage that God searches the heart.  Why?  He plainly tells us that Where your treasure is, there will be your heart, also (Matthew 6:21).  Everything about our lives — how we act, our works, our desires and pursuits — stem from our heart.  If our heart is sick with sin, then it produces sickness on the outside.  That’s why God promises those who will follow Him that He will give them a new heart, and take away their “heart of stone”.
     The website Bible.org sums it up precisely:  Since the heart is so important to what we think, say, and do, we each need to regularly do open heart surgery with the scalpel of the Word under the guiding hand of the great physician, the Lord Jesus. We accomplish this through the teaching, guiding, convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit. Like a sharp two-edged sword, the Word divides the inner man asunder to reveal the true condition and needs of our hearts, because this will truly reveal if they belong to Him.
     Do you remember the blog post I wrote a couple of weeks ago on the verse Mark 4:13 and the Parable of the Sower?  I invite you to go back and revisit it.  But here is a summary that ties into what we’re talking about today:  “Three out of four of the types of ground, or soil, received the seed; they were saved.  But not all experienced the same thing over the long haul.  It had to do with the state of the ground upon which the seed fell.  So what does the ground represent?  Remember, when asked by the disciples what the parable meant, He told them the mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to those who have teachable hearts …  The Kingdom of God (where God resides and governs from) works with our human hearts (our belief system and depth of our faith).  But when the world challenges us through its problems — bills that are due, family issues, health threats — we choose fear instead of faith.”
     If those types of ground, or soil, represent the condition of our hearts, and the seed represents the Word sowed into our hearts, can you see the schemes of the devil to keep that seed from being firmly implanted?  Can you see that preparing the soil of our hearts to become fertile ground for the Word of God is an important weapon in our spiritual warfare arsenal?  The Enemy may disrupt your planting season with his lies, or with unfortunate happenstances that destroy the condition of your heart.  Or, as in the case of last week, he might send agents to kill and murder, sending a fiery dart of hate, causing the condition of your heart to be like barren ground.
     When I wrote my commentary on the Parable of the Sower a little over two weeks ago, the challenges brought about by the shootings in Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and Dallas had not happened.  Can you now apply what the Bible says about the state of the heart to Benjamin Watson’s point that how we react to these tragedies is “a heart issue”?  That we need to repent and forgive in our hearts — possible only through the conviction and presence of the Holy Spirit — before healing can begin?
     If we allow satan any access to our heart, he will take advantage of our fleshly emotions and desires and sow his rocks, weeds, and thorns; reaping hate, division, and rebellion in our hearts.  That is why part of our spiritual armor is the breastplate of righteousness which protects our hearts and allows the Word to germinate, thrive, and produce much fruit.  That is the righteousness that Benjamin Watson says we must seek as we examine our hearts.  He’s right, you know.  Unless we seriously deal with our heart issues — fertilizing our hearts with the Word and rooting out the weeds that choke the spirit out of us — and then allowing ourselves to be uncomfortably honest, and seeing each other as Jesus sees us, His healing balm can not mend our broken hearts.
     I may be an eternal optimist, but my faith gives me hope, and I see hope in the conversations these three remarkable people were willing to have.  There was honesty, which leads to Truth and the readiness to begin to forgive … and those are powerful weapons against the an enemy that seeks to enter our hearts and make them “deceitful and desperately wicked”.   We would be wise to listen to the words of Solomon ….

Proverbs 4:23       “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

The Way I Pray For America

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     As I told you yesterday, all of us who believe in the power of prayer can have a tremendous impact on the spiritual war being waged against America.  God has increased my knowledge about the roots of the problems that plague our nation; and politics, money, and human power will never solve them.  
     As I have studied spiritual warfare over the past few years, it has become very clear that our country is under demonic opposition and attack.  The deterioration of our society is ample evidence of the Enemy’s influence through the assignments given to satan’s provocateurs and generals.  However, I have also come to know the importance of Prayer and the Word of God as powerful weapons in our battle to destroy satan’s strongholds.  So, I would like to give you an example of how I am praying for our country. 
     I have no formula, and I do not mechanically pray, but when I pray I have a very clear idea of how I want to approach my God and who I am battling.  I will show you how I pray (and why I specifically pray in that manner).  

Heavenly Father,

     I humbly, yet boldly, approach your throne as part of the privilege I have as your child.  Your Word tells me in Hebrews 4:16, that I can “approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that our nation may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [Your amazing] grace to help in this time of our great need.
     Father, I bow down at your throne, and ask that you consider my request as you did the requests of Moses when he pleaded on behalf of the rebellious Israelites.  Over and over again, when they turned their backs on You, You forgave them and restored them to Your favor.  I confess, Father, that we have turned away from You and opened spiritual doors for Evil to transform us in ways that dishonor You and threaten our eternal souls.  So, I repent of the sins of this nation, ask for Your forgiveness, and humbly request that You send Your warring angels on our behalf.
   

     And now, Father, I specifically ask that You make us into a strong, bold, spiritual army.  I speak Your Word into the spiritual realms:  “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do.  We use Your mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.  We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing You.  We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ”. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
     Father, in the name of Jesus, I renounce the spirit of AntiChrist and the demonic spirits of anger, hatred and murder that have overwhelmed our country in recent days.  I renounce, in the mighty name of Jesus, the demonic spirits of division and discord that feed upon our sins, and I pray that Your heavenly hosts would be put on assignment to place every spirit of disharmony and disunity under Your authority.  I invite you, Lord Jesus, to take the throne of the realm of this nation, and rule over this territory with Your rod of iron.  In Your name, Jesus, I bind all of satan’s gatekeepers and I place each and every portal access belonging to him and his followers under Your authority.
     I place the blood of Jesus upon every portal and open door of evil and seal them with the Holy Spirit.  I take the sword of the Spirit and the Word of God, which are the strongest weapons I have, and I cut this nation free from satan’s realm and his inheritance.  I appeal to Your Justice, Father, and declare that as a man sows, so shall he reap.  Therefore, I pray that satan and his prince of America would now reap a hundred fold return for all of the evil sown against us individually, and as a nation.
     In the name of Jesus, I take authority over every demon that has been operating under the authority of satan and the rulers assigned to the United States, and I declare that they are discovered, apprehended, bound, pierced through, and thrust off us for judgment.  I declare that these demonic spirits will be sent to where the Lord Jesus sends them. And I place the Cross between them and this nation, so that they may never return.
     Father, in this day, when we mourn the senseless deaths that plague our nation, and when it seems that godless men and godless laws are destroying the very foundation of our lives, Your Word brings courage and strength to us.  You have promised that “whoever listens to Me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil” (Psalm 112).  Father, raise up an army of faithful people who will obey You and overcome the evil that is invading our land.  Protect us as we battle our spiritual enemies, and do not let their evil schemes succeed.
     And now, Father, I put on the armor of God; the complete armor you provide me in these days of battle … I put on the belt of Truth, which is Your Truth — not the truth of the world, not my own truth, nor the truth of the Enemy.  It is the truth of Your character and Your promises; it is the truth that is the foundation of my life.  Next, I put on the breastplate of righteousness, which protects my heart, where your laws have been written.  It is a free-will choice that I make to put that breastplate on and to determine to walk in the footsteps of Christ.  And in the midst of heated battle, that breastplate is also a symbol to those in the spiritual realm — they recognize which I side belong to, and Whom I obey.  I also strap on the sandals of the peace of the Gospel; the Good News that “He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”. That brings such peace to my spirit and soul.  I know there is a purpose ordained for my life, and God will see it through to its conclusion.  I also embrace the peace that comes from knowing Jesus is forever with me; He will never leave me nor forsake me.  I then pick up the shield of Faith, which is my trust and confidence in Jesus Christ as my Savior.  It is also the faithfulness of You, Father, in protecting me from the fiery darts of the Enemy.  I praise You for the countless times I have been protected and shielded without even knowing it.  And lastly, I wield the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, who is Jesus, my Savior, and the Lord and Master of my soul.  When I speak the Word of God out loud in this physical realm, it is a mighty weapon to defeat any spirit that might come against me.  When my spirit speaks the Word into the spirit realm, it may not be heard in this world, but it destroys strongholds in the spiritual world.
    So, I now proclaim Psalm 18:2-3:  “The Lord God is my Rock, and my Fortress, and my Deliverer.  He is my strength, and my God in whom I trust.  He is my Shield, and the power and strength behind my salvation, and He is my tower of refuge.  I will praise the Lord, for He is worthy to be praised, and I will be saved from my enemies”.  And I declare Ephesians 3:20-21:  “Now, to Him, whose Power is at work in me; who is able to carry out His purpose (in my life and in the world), and to do it more abundantly than I could ever dare to ask or think; to Him be the Glory in His Church, in Yeshua, my Savior, and to all the generations to come.  So be it!  Amen.”
 

     This is just a sample of the way I pray.  It is always in the name of Jesus, and I claim the power and authority that He has given me to trample on snakes and scorpions (demons and fallen ones), and to overcome all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19).  He tells me that nothing can harm us.  Mind you, I never overstep my authority… I am bold in battling spiritual enemies, but always partnering with Jesus and the Holy Spirit… never in my own power.  The Bible tells me that my spirit is seated in the heavenly realms with Jesus, so this is not just a battle in this physical realm.  The Holy Spirit helps me to picture my spirit, in complete armor, battling side-by-side with the army of holy angels, striking down strongholds of the enemy.  The Spirit helps me to identify the specific demonic weapons and spirits being used against me and the nation, and enables me to bind them, in the name of Jesus, and render them powerless and ineffective.  I can actually visualize the battle!  
     I know this may seem bizarre to many of you; you’ve never heard it in the Church.  And that’s the problem!  Our prayers are weak and ineffectual because we have lost the sense of our power and authority in the spiritual realm.  Read the Book of Acts!  It is the model for what the Church should be, and how we, as followers of Christ, should be continuing His work on this earth.  For nearly 2000 years, the devil has had a field day, lying to us and counterfeiting the Gospel Message and twisting it into one of tolerance for godless ways, hostility, and love for ourselves, rather than others.  Once we abandoned God, we gave ourselves over to the temptations of the evil one, and opened the doors for demonic oppression and persecution.  We have lost the way to fight back; and we have lost the knowledge that the Apostles taught the First Century Church.  Therefore, we are “tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching [and shifting doctrine]. We are influenced by people who try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth” (Ephesians 4:14).  
     I cannot tell you the fruit I have seen in my life, and the life of others whom I have prayed for after I searched God’s Word regarding spiritual warfare.  It’s there for us to see … IF we have the eyes to see it, and the renewed heart to discern it.

Deuteronomy 28:7   “The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.”


   

“On Earth, As It Is In Heaven”

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      I would like to think I am an optimist.  And my spirit is desperately crying out for a shred of hope.  It is apparent that our nation is at a time of great testing.  There is a fear that hangs over our collective consciousness … How do we stop a race war?  Is there any way to dispel the distrust and hatred?  How do we forgive, rebuild, and restore human decency to each other?

     The one thing I can say is that at this moment in time, I am extremely proud of my state, and especially the city of Dallas.  From the Governor, to the Mayor of Dallas, to the Police Chief, to the citizen in the street (both black and white), there is a sense of “we’ve had enough”.  There is some kind of innate discernment among all groups involved that, yes, there is a war being provoked … but we’re not going to participate in it.  And whether or not the public understands that the war is spiritual, I believe that the righteous of this nation are combining their voices in powerful and effective prayer, holding the spirits of chaos and disorder at bay.
     Let me put it another way … my spirit is sensing that not only is there a war in the streets of America, but there is a war against America in the heavenly realms.  And in the early hours before dawn this morning, I lay awake in bed, trying to figure it all out.  I asked God to show me what that looks like, hoping for some clear download from His Throne Room; for a voice or a vision to make it all clear to me.  Nothing came; no supernatural revelation or unveiling of a divine mystery … just a sense that there is something big happening.
     Then you are probably going to think I’m crazy, but I found my mind wandering, and all of a sudden I pictured that scene in one of the installments of the classic movie series, Aliens; the scene where Ripley wanders into a vast cave-like room and finds the Queen of the alien monster/demons and her nursery of unborn demon pods.  Maybe I just have an active imagination, but in that moment, I got a picture of what the battle against America might look like.
     First, let me tell you that this past weekend, my husband and I participated in an advanced spiritual warfare conference, and I will tell you that my mind was greatly challenged.  One of the important things I learned was that within the second heaven, or what is commonly referred to as the spiritual realm, there actually reside many realms …. realms within the realm, if you will.  And within each of those realms, the Enemy has placed a throne on which sits one of the high-ranking commanders within his evil army.  (Remember when Paul refers to the rulers, the powers, the world forces of this [present] darkness, the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places?  This is what he is talking about).
     Well, that image from Aliens gave me a picture of what might be satan’s battle plan.  Each of those pods is a ruler our adversary has placed over some area of our national experience.  Think of it as a commander controlling abortion; a general over race relations; a king in charge of sexual perversion; a prince covering the Church.  And the Queen Mother of the Aliens is the Prince of the United States, much like the Prince of Greece and the Prince of Persia mentioned in the Bible.  I don’t know the name of this Prince of America — the principality of satan that claims authority over our country — but I do know that he is trying to gain authority over every domain of this nation.  But I also know that he is no match for the host of heaven that the praying saints can call down to destroy his schemes.
      I have heard numerous stories of people on both sides of the issue that has consumed our nation for the last several days, vowing to not let the madness lead them down the road to further mistrust and hatred; pledging not to turn against each other.  They are rising above the rhetoric of politicians and agitators, to extend the hand of mercy to another human being.  And believe me, that is not what the Enemy wants.  He doesn’t want us to reach out to those who may not be of our clan, our tribe, our race, or our nationality.  He wants us to sow the seeds of blame and judgment instead of showing compassion to each other.  And most assuredly, he does not want us to experience healing.
      And that’s when my picture from the movie, Aliens, comes back into view.  I see Ripley taking that flamethrower and destroying those alien/demon pods, and I see the prayers of the righteous within our nation ascending to the throne room of God.  He uses them like a holy fire to scorch and incinerate the spirit of hatred that the enemy is so desperately trying to sow.
     Then this verse of Scripture comes clearly into view: “But the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”, and I believe that is exactly what is happening today.  The word “availeth” has such a powerful meaning.  According to Strong’s Concordance, it means “to be strong, to have efficacy (effectiveness), force or value; this word denotes strength, to prevail, and indicates a more forceful strength or ability than dunamai, or what we can accomplish on our own”.  In other words, I believe that the calm we see in Dallas and among other communities can be effected by our prayers which can call down heavenly fire and armies of angels to do battle on our behalf among these spiritual realms.
     Don’t get me wrong, the war is being fought with deadly power in the second heaven.  There is an assigned ruler over Baton Rouge, and one over Atlanta, and one over every major city where we are seeing protests and violence.  And we will continue to see small victories by the Enemy’s agents, but I am going to keep on believing that our prayers can and will have a mighty and binding impact upon the spiritual forces determined to take control of this nation.
     The Enemy and his wicked forces have tried to make us a culture of sin and death, and to divide us by the color of our skin.  They are trying to sow seeds of wickedness, violence, chaos and division, and the people of this nation are suffering from the fruits of the Enemy’s strife and discord. But I believe that impassioned prayer can soften a hard heart, and I know the hearts of this nation are tender and broken right now.  But we can endure and survive.  Our prayers can strengthen the fabric of this nation and allow God to rebuild us and restore us.  As we pray, we need to repent, and confess our sins, and ask our Father in Heaven to redeem us and heal our land.  So, keep praying, and trust God to hear your prayers — even if we see continued strife and hatred.  Just picture your prayers igniting His holy fire and destroying all the plans of the Enemy and his operatives; those in the heavenly realms and those here on earth.  And remember … His Kingdom come, His will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.

James 5:16    “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.”

Does Your Spiritual Armor Have Dents In It?

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     Yesterday’s post tackled the hypocrisy of our spirits; when there is an imbalance between the false image we project to the world, and the true state of our inner spirit.  When such a disparity exists, then we are ripe for bondage to satan, and we are ineffective as a spiritual warrior for the kingdom of God.
     Today let’s consider the possibility that some Christians understand the need for spiritual warfare, and the fact that there is a battle raging in the spiritual realm — a battle that, as Christian soldiers, they are called to engage in.  But for whatever reason, they face barriers to putting on the armor of God, and are willing to just sit on the sidelines, unprotected.  Note:  it is God’s armor that we put on — not our own!  We are actually protecting ourselves with weapons that belong to God; that are part of Him, and keep us “conformed and transformed” to His image.
     So what are some issues that would keep us from putting on this armor and getting into the fight? The first thing to consider might be indifference or apathy towards the fight.   This attitude is expressed by Christians who just aren’t interested in fighting, or who think that it is unnecessary to fight … “God is in control, and there is nothing we can do to change His will” kind of people.  They feel like the fight is not theirs, that all the combat is between God and the devil; they are just on the sidelines waiting for the Big Boys to duke it out … besides Jesus has already won, right?  The victory has already been declared, so what is there to fight about?
     So why does the Bible tells us there is continual conflict with evil, and to “fight the good fight of the faith”?   We must push back against the forces of evil, and that calls for a fight!  It’s not about aggression and militancy; it’s about God first loving us, and then us loving others so much that we are willing to fight for them to enter the kingdom with us.  You can’t be apathetic and uninvolved, and expect to beat the enemy.

     The second attitude that would keep a Christian from putting on God’s armor is doubt or skepticism about the fight.  How many of you have tried to talk to your fellow Christians about the battle being waged in the spiritual realm, and the part we play in the battle plan?  Have you received those glassy-eyed stares; or have you had your Christian neighbor take a step backwards, intimating that “Oh, you’re one of those … a fringy Christian.”
     That always amazes me, because I just wonder what they do with Ephesians 6:10-17?  Is it just religious speech or dialogue to them?  If they are Christians that believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, then how do they dismiss the specific admonitions of these verses?  If they don’t believe in the fight, or the necessity of it, then they would have no use for the armor, and somehow manage to ignore this passage or explain it away in some trivial manner.
     But to anyone who has ever engaged in a real spiritual battle, these verses speak the language of war, and a spiritual warrior recognizes them as a call to arms.  However, a Christian who doesn’t believe in spiritual warfare simply thinks, “I’m just experiencing a season of bad luck”, or “God is allowing this to come upon me to discipline me and draw me closer to Him”.   They do not possess the knowledge that the same satan and demons whom Jesus fought — and who were very real — are the same entities we are fighting today.  They are not symbolic or metaphors for our sin; they are very real beings who have the capability and power to get directly involved in the affairs of human beings, and who are intent on beating us on the battlefield of our lives.  We must put on the armor God gives us and get in the fight!
     The third attitude that can befall a Christian is when they become demoralized or disheartened in the fight.  Let’s face it, fighting in a war is hard and exhausting work.  No soldier can stay at a constant state of readiness without wearing himself out physically, psychologically, or emotionally.  Add “spiritually” to that list if you are considering the spiritual warrior.  We must learn to pace ourselves; to give ourselves time to praise our Lord for all the times He protected us from the fiery darts of the enemy during our seasons of battle.  As I’ve read articles that Pastor David Ireland has written about spiritual warfare, no words have struck me so squarely between the eyes than when he wrote, “This battle lasts a lifetime. It starts when we’re born, and it should take on a new clarity when we’re born again. [The battle never ends in this lifetime]; it ends when we die. The battle ends when heaven’s gates open to us.”
     So we must learn to conduct our service as a spiritual warrior at a slow and steady rate or speed in order to avoid overexerting ourselves and becoming discouraged or dispirited.  We must conduct a balanced life; one that finds equilibrium between our family, careers, taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally, spiritually … and going into warrior mode when needed; alert and prepared.  We need to find encouragement through interaction with other warriors and we need to be realistic about our fight.  Demons and devils aren’t lurking around every corner, but we must never let our guard down — just don’t become obsessed and “on” all the time.
     Finally, the last attitude that can disassociate a Christian from God’s armor is contempt, scorn or condescension for the fight.  This attitude pervades the minds of Christians who are beset by hopelessness, or who think “What’s the use”?  And, interestingly enough, the disdain for spiritual warfare is shared with those Christians who will say that we are saved by the grace of God, not by our works; so putting on the armor of God and fighting is taking things into our own hands and not relying on God for our salvation.  They will say things like, “If God wants me delivered, He will deliver me right here and now.  And if He doesn’t want me delivered, I won’t be.  It’s not my place to interfere in God’s plan for my life”.  But He wants us to partner with Him; to exert the power of Jesus that resides in us to defeat our enemy. He doesn’t want us to be robots, just waiting around for Him to do all the work.  How does that glorify Him?
     This kind of Christian will never put on the armor of God because he’s afraid to trust it in the midst of the battle.  Therefore, he never even steps onto the battlefield, and when the enemy attacks him, he is left defenseless with no protective armor nor weapons.  His prayers will most likely be ineffective because there is no belief that he has the power and authority of Jesus backing him up.  And when his prayers go unanswered, he will just default to defeated mode.
     Pastor Ireland explained it another way:  “Just as some people enroll in the U.S. Army because of the fringe benefits—a striking uniform, tuition assistance and future veteran’s benefits—God’s army attracts similar inductees. Some people come to Christ only because of the promised salvation and ticket to heaven—which I admit should not be passed over. Yet they have a disdain for fighting.  [But] the calling to be a Christ-follower does not stop with being born again. It progresses to discipleship, which is synonymous with representing Christ on your knees in battle for the souls of men. Paul’s words to Timothy hold true for us today: Endure hard times as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
     My final thoughts are these … just as soldiers in the wars of the world suffer injuries, pain, and wounds, we spiritual warriors will encounter our share of trauma.  But we do not battle alone.  Jesus, our General, accompanies us into each and every battle, and commissions the Holy Spirit to guide us through the minefields.  If we suffer bruises and affliction, we can rest assured that They will heal us and restore us; They will give us rest and peace; and They will strengthen us to renew the battle for another day.  Yes, our spiritual armor may have dents, but at least we know we can depend on it to carry us to victory!

Psalm 18:39    “For You have encircled me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.”

Closing The Gaps: Our Spiritual Hypocrisy

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     Everyday I receive an email with an inspirational message from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a Christian sports ministry to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.  Frankly, although I am not an athlete, I still enjoy the sports analogies that accompany the emails, and I also enjoy receiving a message each day about how to honor God.
     One particular email really spoke to me, and I think it pertains to the Christian community’s difficulty in embracing the spiritual realm and spiritual warfare.  Dan Britton, who played professional indoor lacrosse for four years for the Baltimore Thunder wrote that day’s message.  Dan serves as FCA’s Executive Vice President of International Ministry.  He chose to speak about spiritual integrity.  Here is his testimony:  “As a lacrosse player, I knew some of my teammates to be big partiers. Despite their lifestyle, I learned that they had nothing to hide. Actually, I came to find out that they lived with more integrity than me! As a Christian who had a “testimony” to protect, I tried to hide my gaps. What they said and did, however, were the same things. No gaps. Just the basic “what you see is what you get” lifestyle. They were partiers, but not hypocrites. It all lined up with them. Unfortunately, we as Christians often will say one thing and do another.”
     What Dan refers to as his “gaps”, I prefer to think of as our deviation from our true self, or our imbalance.  The true identity of our spirit often doesn’t match what we project to the world.  Our Inside doesn’t match up with our Outside.  Integrity is the state of being whole and undivided; the condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction.  That means we are consistent in our character, conformed in both body and spirit, just like Jesus was … we are the same, whether it is according to the spirit inside of us, or the physical image that the world sees.
     In the aspect of spiritual warfare, can you see how the Enemy can take advantage of us when there’s an imbalance between our inside and outside?  Too many Western Christians care more about the image they project to each other than who they project to the world.  At the same time, they are desperate to keep the spiritual side under wraps because it is so dissimilar to the physical side they promote.  And the Enemy swoops in and begins to whisper his destroying lies:  you’re a fraud … you profess trust and confidence in your Savior, but inside you are full of doubt and unbelief … if they knew the dark things in your past, your fellow Christians would denounce and reject you … keep it hidden; hide your fear/anger/bitterness/unforgiveness, and keep on pretending … The lies go on and on and on.  And millions of Christians live their lives in defeat and ineffectiveness.  Oh, they put on a good show, but as Dan Britton’s message says, when they look in the mirror, there are gaps between the spiritual and the physical that don’t line up.  They see the holes where satan has taken up residence in order to oppress them.
     And they’re too afraid to look at spiritual warfare as a way to transform their lives, get free from satan’s bondage, and to become the whole person — inside and out — that God desires them to be.  They can’t get beyond their suspicions that working in the spirit realm with Jesus and the Holy Spirit is somehow … I don’t know … maybe too mystical, or speaks of unnatural and unbiblical practices.  But why are Christians unable to understand the truth that Jesus Christ is living in us, through the presence of the Holy Spirit?!?  Why would we choose to ignore His presence and His help when satan begins to attack us with his lies?  Why would we choose to remain powerless, impotent, and unfruitful?
     An image was just given to me by the Holy Spirit … in the context of Dan Britton’s “gaps”, when we do not allow Jesus to transform us to wholeness — when we do not call on His presence that is right there, within us! — those gaps become spaces and holes through which the Living Water seeps out of our lives, and it’s impossible for us to be nourished.  We do not bear fruit for the Kingdom of God.  It is not enough to live a moral, ethical life on the outside. We are called to produce fruit for the kingdom, and we can’t do it through the activities of our Outside self; we can only do that through partnering our spirits with the power of the Holy Spirit.
     Once Christians experience the power of Jesus working with them and through them to deliver themselves or another out of the crippling bondage of satan’s lies, they will close those gaps and become their true, authentic self — everything in alignment with God and His purpose … to glorify and exalt Jesus as our Savior.
     If you haven’t experienced a spiritual attack, you will.  If you are growing spiritually; if you are exposing the Enemy; if you are invading his territory; if you are trying to break away from the world and its temptations and distractions; if God is preparing you for a great work for His kingdom … get ready, you will be spiritually attacked.  But there is no need to be fearful!  We have Jesus living in us, and at our invitation, He and the Holy Spirit will be your armor as you go into battle.  Remember, He’s as close as the mention of His Name.  Just call, and He will come.

Proverbs 18:10    “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”

How Do We Love Our Enemies?

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     Today I need to get a little personal … in the sense that I need to discuss an issue that I know is troubling many of my fellow Christians.  I know this because I have received a heartfelt email from a reader whom I know is sincere in her faith.  And I know that I need to try to write about this because it is something each of us needs to come to terms with in our own spirits and hearts — and that includes me!

     I believe I can write about this without betraying her confidence because it was an email that millions of Christians across America could have written.  In short, this reader wrote to ask me for suggestions on how she can walk out her faith and learn to love the unsaved Muslims in our country.  Now, I want each of you to be honest … haven’t you at one time or another struggled with what you know are unChrist-like emotions?  We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t battle feelings of anger towards the radical Muslims who are filled with so much hate for our nation and way of life that their goal is to take innocent lives in some perverted sense of obedience to what we know is a false god and evil ideology.
     And I believe we would be unwise if we didn’t acknowledge the Islamic doctrine of Taqiyya (taqiya, taqiyah, taqiyyah), which is a form of Islamic deception. The Quran (16:106 and 3:28) allows Muslims to lie in order to protect themselves or to protect the Muslim community.   And I think we would be foolish to not feel disappointment in our government’s lackluster efforts to defend us, and their denial that there is anything to worry about.  Furthermore, I suspect that many of us are confused over how — as law-abiding citizens concerned about our rights — we have become a threat (in our own country) to the liberty of refugees and foreigners!  Finally, if you are like me, you are perhaps worried over how easily our youth are tempted to adopt the false religions of the world.  My husband and I encountered a young employee at Home Depot, and as he often does, my husband asked the young man about his tattoos (he is always interested to know why they have chosen the symbols they have).  This young man had a tattoo which he said “symbolizes the moon god because that culture interests me”.  All I could think was, “Father, forgive him for he knows not what he does”.
     So all that addresses our human emotions and thoughts.  But what about our spiritual struggle with these issues?  If we are to be honest and faithful Christians, then we know that we are to “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us”.  Jesus made that very clear in Matthew 5:44.  I will be the first one to admit that this seems like an impossible commandment … and one that our ultimate Enemy, satan, will use against us in order to convict us of a powerless and faithless life.  Loving an enemy that hates my faith and wants to kill and destroy me and my family is a difficult thing to do, but anything less does not follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  Remember that He willingly laid down his life and asked His Father to forgive those who killed Him.  And He did not hate them.
     I can hear the disagreements now … Jesus would not want us to bow to political correctness, or not defend our families or faith.  The Bible tells us that we “must hold firm to the trustworthy Word as taught, so that we may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”  But loving our enemies?  What does that look like in the wake of events like Orlando?
     Perhaps we can start by determining what it does not look like.  Yes, Jesus tells us to love them unconditionally — no matter what they do to us — but it doesn’t mean that we agree with what they do, or make excuses for it.  My reader commented on how difficult it was becoming to see Muslims begin to dominate in our culture, and to see unvetted refugees streaming into the country in the wake of atrocities that have been committed in their home nations.  She knows it is God’s desire that none should perish, but in the face of what appears to be unreconcilable differences, and blatant and obvious hatred towards us, she is finding it difficult to imitate Christ.
     I’m afraid that I have no quick fix or easy solution.  For myself, I have decided to try to discern what God has told us throughout the Bible when it comes to living among people who are enemies.  God never changes, and what He commanded His people to do in the Old and New Testaments, remains the standard by which we should live our lives.
     First of all, as I told the reader, God did not ask His people to accommodate new religions or politically correct viewpoints.  In fact, He commanded them to resist compromising with corrupt nations; to never adopt false religions or gods; and to keep His statues forever.  Of course, one of those statues is to pray for, and to love our enemies.  As evidenced by the growing number of jihadist murders in our country, the enemy is no longer at the gate, but firmly embedded within our culture, with more likely inserted among the thousands of refugees admitted to our shores.  So how do we live our faith and be imitators of Jesus?
     I can tell you that I can’t do it through my human will.  I have to pray in my spirit, bowing down before the throne of God in heaven, and asking Him to protect our nation from this enemy — that the scales be removed from their eyes, and that they meet Jesus.  That is what I do in the spiritual realm.  In this physical realm, we do everything we can to stop the invasion against our laws and our culture. And when given the opportunity, you meet their hate with the love of Jesus.  Like Jesus, we do not return their hate with malice.  Jesus held no grudges; He never added insult or injury to those who injured Him; He was kind in the face of vitriol, criticism and anger; He was forgiving of those who hated Him; and He never counseled revenge.

     I know that this attitude and these reactions seem contrary to everything our minds and emotions tell us.  But remember, we are not to act according to our flesh, but in agreement with our spirit, which is seated in the heavenly realm with Christ.  Hence, through our gift of salvation, we are to show the unsaved what it is like to be in relationship with Jesus Christ … as difficult as that might be in the face of murderous hatred.  And each time we show love to our enemies, it is one more strike of the Sword of the Spirit in the spiritual realm.
     I am in no way intending for this to sound as if it is simple and everyone should be able to do it easily.  We are no longer viewing a long-distance enemy, but one who is literally in our backyard.  But we need to see this as the spiritual battle it is.  Fighting the enemy with human effort will never completely banish him.  The physical battle we see today is an extension of centuries of the same physical war.  In order to defeat the enemy, we must do it spiritually, and with Divine help.
     Jesus never asks us to do something He did not do as a man, Himself.  As simple as it appears, He gave us a good example of how to follow Him.  It is expressed in Luke 6:27:  Do good to those who hate you.  Doing good to those who hate us displays [to them] the love of God. And maybe, maybe, if we show them the love of God, they will experience something they have never experienced before, and will want more of it. That is what I am hearing from a young friend who is part of a missionary team of college-aged Americans who are on a summer trip to the heart of Europe and the refugee camps to share the good news of Jesus Christ and His love.
     She has shared such amazing testimonies among the people she has met; people from Germany, Romania, Italy, Morocco, Turkey, Syria, India, UK, France, Algeria, Bulgaria, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Cameroon, Rwanda, New Zealand, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Indonesia, Tunisia, Afghanistan, and the Congo.  She believes that God is touching the lives of Muslim refugees, the rest of Europe, and in turn the rest of the world.
     Keep in mind that Europe has suffered horrific jihadist attacks in the last year.  Yet she tells of one of her teammates who was sharing the gospel with a Muslim refugee, and the man kept saying “don’t stop, please keep going, I need to hear this.”  And there are many more stories like this one among the Muslim populations of the world.  And to quote a sermon I read on the website, Redeeming God, “[In order to stop] the cycle of hate and the cycle of revenge, the cycle of retaliation [must] stop with us. You can be angry at a person for what they do, and yet still love them. Jesus was upset at the people of Jerusalem for how they abused and murdered the prophets, and yet He still shed loving tears over the city. Jesus, as always, is our best example for how to live out such principles.”
     If you still find yourself unable to do this, and the devil has gripped your heart in a vise of bitterness, hostile thoughts, and hateful emotions, then speak into the spiritual realm and declare the Word of God.  Find all the verses in Scripture where Jesus tells us that love conquers hate and proclaim to spirits [who actually hear you] that you belong to Him and you will not give in to satan’s temptation to hate.
     There will be those who will be unable to go beyond their human capabilities.  And working in the spiritual realm with the Holy Spirit is a learned skill.  But you have to try in order to be able to do it; and you have to do it to become confident in your power and authority [in Jesus and the Holy Spirit] in order to conquer the spirit of hate that comes from the Evil One.  As I’ve said repeatedly … it’s not easy.  That is evident by the history of war through the ages.  But it should also be evident that humans cannot replace hate with love by their own volition.  We must appeal to Jesus and fight this battle in the spiritual realm as well as the physical.  After all, that is exactly how Jesus did it!

Luke 6:27-28       “But I say to you who hear [Me and pay attention to My words]: Love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, [make it a practice to] do good to those who hate you, bless and show kindness to those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
   

A Match Made In Hell

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     Last week Breitbart.com reported that the Satanic Temple had launched a pro-abortion crusade to come to the aid of America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.  That really doesn’t come as any big surprise to me.  In the fall of last year, I wrote an article titled Is There A Connection Between Abortion and Satanism?  In the blog post I referenced the testimony of Zachary King, an imposing figure, and an ex-Satanist and former High Wizard of a satanic coven.  Mr. King gave a riveting account of his association with the occult and a “large abortion provider” in pushing satan’s agenda, including ritualistic abortions.
     Mr. King, who is now an avowed follower of Jesus Christ, reported that, as a satanist, “when trying to get satan’s approval to give you something that you want, killing something (or someone) is the best way to go. Killing something is the ultimate offering to satan, and if you can kill an unborn, that is his ultimate goal.”

     This kind of horrific child sacrifice is nothing new … the Bible records the detestable practice among the Ammonites to their false god, Molech.  And satan’s ability to seduce man to make such an abhorrent blood sacrifice has not been limited to ordinary lost men, such as Zachary King once was.  Israelite kings such as Solomon, Manassah, and Ahaz were persuaded to sacrifice children and do “evil in the eyes of the Lord”.  Manassah and Ahaz even sacrificed their own sons!
      It is so difficult for me to imagine the power behind the lie that satan whispers in a person’s ear to convince them that this practice is acceptable or desirable.  What did Manassah, Ahaz, or Zachary King hear that told them it was alright to become part of a ritual in which a baby’s blood is offered to the devil?  And how does satan convince Margaret Sanger, the founder and revered “mother” of Planned Parenthood (that’s ironic, isn’t it?) to  become involved in Rosicrucianism, a combination of occultism and mysticism, in which members believe they possess secret wisdom that was handed down to them from ancient times. (The same “wisdom” that Solomon, Manassah and Ahaz thought they received?).
     I started this post by saying it doesn’t surprise me that there is a modern link between the Satanic Temple and Planned Parenthood.  I think that link has been there from the beginning!  Sanger, who lost her five-year-old daughter to pneumonia, attempted to connect to her dead child through séances and occultic rituals.  Combined with her Gnostic spirituality and an extramarital affair with author H.G. Wells, the devil found, in Sanger, a useful servant to help continue his ritual of child sacrifice.  Her belief that it is human knowledge that enables the redemption of the spirit, not God; and his belief in Social Darwinism and racial dominance, provided the perfect merger for demonic reasoning.
     When one disavows God, it opens up fertile ground for satan to put down roots.  The Enemy convinces men that they possess a mind that is capable of determining their own eternal destiny, and that Science can light the way to all the knowledge necessary to one’s life.  Consider the early writings of H.G. Wells:  “Science is a match that man has just set alight. He thought he was in a room in moments of devotion; a temple, and that his light would be reflected and display walls inscribed with wonderful secrets and pillars carved with philosophical systems wrought in harmony. It is a curious sensation, now that the preliminary sputter is over and the flame burns up clear, to see his hands lit and just a glimpse of himself and the patch he stands on visible, and around him, in place of all that human comfort and beauty he had anticipated … darkness still.”  To me, this sounds like a man who was unable to see beyond his own existence, and to see a Light that shines in, and overcomes, that darkness.
     Somehow, satan was able to infect Margaret Sanger with his darkness; an evil that would result in quotes like these:  “The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it”;  and “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population”.  She believed in an American Baby Code which would result in selective births.  She believed in population control, sterilization, and social planning via quotas.  And perhaps worst of all, she would become an inspiration to another of satan’s emissaries, Adolph Hitler, who was a student of Sanger’s eugenics policies.
     Together Planned Parenthood and the devil have made a diabolical duo.  Their legacy has led to satanic rituals in abortion clinics, such as described by Zachary King; to the selling of aborted baby  body parts for profit, as revealed in videos by the Center for Medical Progress; and to this video of a demonic exchange between an abortion doctor and a pro-life advocate.  The exchange occurs less than a minute into the video and shows the doctor growling and speaking in a clearly demonic voice, denouncing Christ and proclaiming his love of killing babies.  The devil isn’t even trying to hide his influence over humans any longer.  But why should he?  As the Christian Church, we haven’t done much to hinder his killing of over 1.4 billion babies worldwide since Roe v. Wade (over 59 million in the U.S. since 1972, and over 2,000 just today).  He can afford to put a display on before the cameras.  He has no need to hide his agenda or his partners in crime.
     As I sit here, in utter despair for the grief that mankind’s unrepentant actions have caused God, I give thanks for those mothers in my life who could have chosen to listen to the lies of satan, but instead walked in the Light of God and gave birth to the children who have graced my life and filled it with such joy and love.  Abortion is just one of the ways in which the devil fights his spiritual war against God’s creation.   When the Bible says he came to kill, steal, and destroy, this is what it looks like.  And his battle wages on, more in the open than ever before, as the Satanic Temple joins forces with Planned Parenthood.  Perhaps they sense that Jesus, the Righteous Judge is coming soon, and this is their last stand.  As we wait on the Lord, let us renew our strength and be just as bold as the Enemy … let us declare that Victory is ours, and his final defeat is near!

Psalm 139:12    “Even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”
       
   

Appeasement Will Be Our Ruin

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     Whether in politics, in our culture, or in our religion, appeasement has become the byword of this generation.  Webster’s dictionary defines the word as “To pacify; to dispel anger or hatred; to make quiet; to calm; as to appease hunger or thirst; to reduce to a state of peace; to still; as, to appease the tumult of the ocean, or of the passions.”  In other words, to appease is to use diplomacy and compromise to forestall a confrontation.
     We are seeing appeasement today, almost everywhere we turn… on the world stage, our government seeks to placate potential enemies by surrendering our national sovereignty and defense; culturally, we have yielded moral ground to segments of society that threaten to disrupt the foundations of our character and conduct; and religiously, we are allowing other gods to usurp the supremacy of YHWH, and diminish the Authority and Victory of Jesus.
    This infection of appeasement has now reached a stage I never thought possible.  The Southern Baptist Convention, the US’s largest Protestant denomination, is now helping to build mosques.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Don’t believe me?  Here is a direct quote from BaptistNews.com: … a legal dispute between a Muslim community and a New Jersey township is showing a different side of inter-Christian relationships. Baptist and other Christian organizations accustomed to cultural and legal sparring have joined the fight for the construction of a new mosque.  “It’s good when we can join hands with … folks we are sometimes on the other side of,” said Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.  Those folks include the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and the International Mission Board, both agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention. The National Association of Evangelicals is also supporting the mosque-building case.
     Apparently, it is in the name of religious liberty that the Southern Baptists (along with other evangelical groups, Jews, Buddhists, Hare Krishnas and Sikhs) have determined that it is a Constitutionally-guaranteed right to build mosques — even though there is the potential that American legal institutions are beginning to come under threat from Islamic codes and sharia law.
     So, here is something I think we better consider:  Have our denominations and churches become “American” first, and “Christian”, secondly?  As Bud Ahlheim, a writer at Pulpit and Pen, recently wrote, “Proclaiming there is no other name under heaven by which men may be saved seems uncannily hollow when you’ve just joined hands to help build a Christ-denying mosque. Once again, Christianity becomes just another flavor of religion to an onlooking world and our witness as Southern Baptists diluted by our religious liberty defenses.”  Sadly, one has to ask, “Are these Christians still willing to make that proclamation?  Or has the Church decided that the way to peace is to appease the Islamic faith — and thereby attempt to pacify and calm their anti-Christian rhetoric and beliefs — by declaring that we all worship the same God?”
     The most recent example of appeasement in history led to genocide and world war.  Less than 80 years ago, the world attempted to appease Hitler and we know that was a mistake.  The 1938 Munich Agreement was a settlement permitting Nazi Germany’s annexation of portions of Czechoslovakia, and it started Hitler on the road toward the extermination of over 6,000,000 Jews.  I fear that the American Church may be traveling that same road.  By choosing appeasement towards a faith whose radical elements have sworn death to our nation, and who have demonstrated their willingness to generate their own genocide of Christians and Jews, the Church is treading on dangerous ground.  They may think they are exemplifying American Christian justice and grace, but I have to wonder if any of the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention have stopped to seek God’s will in this matter.
     What has God told us in His Word?  Pastor John Rothra, a Baptist preacher himself, has written an excellent article concerning this subject.  He points to the Book of Judges as a guide to what God thinks when we choose our own path, rather than the one He has commanded.
     Joshua had just died. There was no single military leader, but instead each tribe was responsible for conquering their respective regions. God was to be their king and they were to be God’s people.  You will remember that God instructed them to destroy all the native inhabitants and to completely conquer the lands God promised them through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  But Israel decided on its own, that this was too harsh an action.  Rather than conquer the enemy, some tribes chose accommodation, peace treaties, enslavement, or mutual cohabitation…. in other words, appeasement.  That might have seemed more humane to the ancient Israelites (and to us today), but it was not God’s will.

     As Pastor Rothra points out, in order to appease and cohabitate with her enemies, Israel adopted false gods, heretical practices, and abandoned God’s righteousness for a righteousness of their own. This was not an accident. They did not fall into sin. Rather, the Israelites chose this sinful path.  The Israelites did not maintain the Supremacy of the One True God, and began accepting other gods and beliefs as equal to their own.  To put it simply: the people did whatever they deemed was right in their own minds.  Isn’t that what the Southern Baptist Convention is doing?
     There will be those who will concentrate on the fact that this is a problem of the American Church, and I cannot deny that.  But as my wise husband pointed out to me, satan has been trying to destroy the relationship between YHWH and those whom He calls His own since the beginning.  We see that in the ancient Book of Judges.  And it only took a century after the Church was founded for the Enemy to infiltrate it and try to utterly destroy it.  But the seeds were planted and it was the will of God that faith in Jesus should spread to the ends of the globe.  The devil is still trying to destroy the Church by any means he can.  Today, when people (and the Church) seek to mirror the world, we see that we will do whatever we must to ease the conflict among us; to pacify our enemies; and to obtain peace and conciliation.
     But I have to add another aspect of this apostasy, from my spiritual warfare perspective.  You will recall that in Ephesians 6, Paul warns us that we are fighting against various ranks of the Enemy’s army.  They are spiritual and not made of flesh and blood; they have specific assignments, such as the Prince of Persia in Daniel, Chapter 10.  Among the Rulers, Powers, World Forces, and Spiritual Forces are the retinue of satan’s false gods who are assigned to battle against God’s people on earth.  Allah is a very real entity, and just one of those Rulers who is in dedicated conflict with the Most High God.  We must not lose sight of that fact!
     We must face the reality that we can’t have it all — we can’t profess faith in YHWH, the One True God, and yet help to build houses of worship to a false god.  We can’t let political correctness and religious liberty supersede the position of YHWH.  We can’t profess to be part of God’s Church, yet put our own desires to be magnanimous and inclusive before God’s will.  That is merely a form of self-idolization, and results in the lukewarm Laodicean Church.   And what does Jesus say He will do with that Church?  He will spew them out!
     That is the warning that I think all Christians must take seriously!  Is appeasement of our faith pleasing to God?  What is He more interested in … His Church gaining political power, influence, and unity among all religions and false gods — or seeing that we are committing ourselves to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  The last time I checked, Islam rejects the deity of Christ.  How can appeasing that religious philosophy be, in any way, pleasing to my God?

Galatians 1:10    “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

   
       
   

Hebrews 10:30-31

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 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”  
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

     I write this post with profound sadness.  More than anything else, I love being in the company of dedicated and committed Christians; men and women who truly love God and His Word, and seek to honor and glorify Him in this fallen world.  That is becoming more and more difficult as the established Church turns toward compromise and concession with the world, instead of standing for God’s Truth and being willing to endure persecution for His sake.
     I have shared with you that my husband and myself are not members of any chartered church, but rather worship and study the Bible as a part of a “home church”.  But we also commune with a small number of members of a local church, and we are united with them in our shared faith and commitment to God; often praying together, sharing Bible studies, and engaging in long discussions and examinations of the Word.  We rely on each other and are brothers and sisters in the Faith, even though we are not joined by church membership.
     Now these beloved Christians are faced with a crisis in their church that threatens to tear it asunder.  Without going into all the details, it has been revealed that certain members in the church are involved in an organization that diminishes the exclusivity of salvation through Jesus Christ.  This organization is a secret society that presents itself as a doer of charitable causes, but at the heart of it are secret oaths and worship of a universal, ecumenical deity.  If you call yourself a Christian, this is in direct conflict with your faith.
     And this shows the devious design of the Enemy.  What better way to infiltrate and influence the Church than to deceive self-avowed Christians into believing they are still serving God, while also serving in an organization that allows any god or “supreme being” to be equal to Jesus?  Remember, our Lord told us, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”  The Enemy has now subtly and calculatedly wormed his way into the church through these members, and no one is the wiser.  The question then becomes, “What will true and faithful Christians do once that influence is discovered?”  
     As the writer of Hebrews expresses throughout Chapter 10, it is Jesus Christ, and Him alone, that provides our salvation through His sacrifice.  When Christians, through their own fleshly pride, are willing to compromise on this issue, and with a determined will and selfish resolution, despise and reject Christ as the only Savior — or allow that influence from another member to remain in their Church — then I have a problem with being associated with them.  That is why the established Church is in such decline today, and I am in fervent prayer for my faithful friends.
     Too many times, the Church has turned a blind eye towards apostasy and abandoned God’s principles and commandments in order to find favor in the world.  How have we fallen so far, that to suffer the slings and arrows of a sinful world is too much to bear for our faith?  How is it, that we would rather renounce the gospel’s teachings in order to ingratiate ourselves with Babylon?  Does the horrific sacrifice of our Lord for the sake of our eternal salvation mean so little to us?
     Throughout the Bible, God has shown us what happens to those He has called when they choose to give in to their rebellious nature, or ignore that of others.  The judgment may be swift or drawn out, but it is always deliberate.  He will not be mocked!  He says it plainly in these two verses in Hebrews, Chapter 10:  Vengeance is mine.  I will repay!  The Lord will judge His people”  And that last sentence should grip our hearts … It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God.  God’s anger will be felt by a perverse and unfaithful generation.  It happened to the ancient Israelites over and over.  And it can, and will, happen to us, if we do not repent and turn from our rebellion.
     The Church’s destruction is self-generated, and it is only delayed because God is retraining His hand of judgment.  God’s power to judge should be terrifying to the Christian, yet too many today shrug Him off, relying on His grace and mercy.  But the Bible tells us that His wrath burns hot against the wicked; and that the wicked stand condemned by God’s law which is written on the heart, and they are deserving of hell.  Nothing will save them from eternal punishment except a saving faith in Christ.
     Yet Christians and the Church seem to have forgotten this Truth, and perhaps relegate it to a theological doctrine more attuned to Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God.  It is said that his powerful sermon “left people in the pews trembling and weeping”.  Oh, how I wish Christians today could be moved to work out their salvation with such fear and trembling.
     And that brings me back to my faithful Christian brothers and sisters, who I pray will receive strength and courage and wisdom from the Holy Spirit as they attempt to root out unGodly influence within their church.  They will most likely be a small remnant within the body of that church; those who truly understand that compromise is not acceptable to a true Christian, nor to a Righteous God.  We must never take the wrath of our holy and infinite God lightly.  At the same time, we must simultaneously remember and embrace the knowledge of how excellent His love is and how terrible His wrath is; the God whose hand of wrath will destroy the wicked is the same God whose hand of mercy will save the repentant.  I pray that repentance and mercy and salvation will come to this little local church, and they will stand as an example of true Faith and commitment to the Lord.
     
     

What Are We Missing?

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     As I have shifted my focus towards sharing my knowledge about spiritual warfare, I am encouraged by the number of people and readers who have responded favorably.  Even more than that, I am reassured by the honesty and courage of those who have told me they know this is where the Holy Spirit is taking them, but they’re not quite sure what to make of it, or where to start in gaining a Biblical foundation on the subject.  I’m so happy that they are willing to take that first step and to be honest about their need for more wisdom and experience!

     First of all, I am seeing that there is a remnant within the Church who are waking up. It’s as if they are receiving a wake-up call after a long slumber, and are becoming alert to an unsatisfactory situation and they want to take action to remedy it.   It’s as if someone has just unlocked a secret door that promises a whole new level of understanding of the Word… and they are curious and eager to explore it within Scriptural boundaries.  And what is exciting to me is that these are the same people who a year or two ago were resistant to my own emerging awareness that we Christians are in a spiritual battle on this physical earth.
     Once that truth is realized, I think it is important to take a good look at why Christians have been reluctant to accept this premise and what has been missing from the Church’s message to believers.   Frankly, I’m pretty much convinced that the dispensationalist teaching of the Age of Grace has convinced Christians if we have faith in Jesus as our Savior then we live in kind of a bubble of security.  This man-made philosophy is a religious interpretation of time periods, fostered by a 19th Century Bible teacher, John Nelson Darby, and then popularized by Cyrus Scofield’s Reference Bible (another 19th Century theologian).
     I could write an entire post on Dispensationalism and why I do not subscribe to it, but I want to just briefly mention it here as a means of explaining why we have been unable to focus on the reality of the spiritual realm’s interaction with the physical world, and why our own power and authority have been unrecognizable.  In short, Wikipedia gives a well-informed definition of Dispensationalism:  this philosophy considers Biblical history as divided deliberately by God into defined periods (or ages), to each of which God has allotted distinctive administrative principles.  The typical seven-dispensation scheme lists the periods as follows:  the “Ages” of Innocence, Conscience, Human Government, Promise, Law, Grace, and the Millennial Kingdom.  As you can guess, those who believe that God has divided history into specific time periods, see the Age of Grace as existing from  the cross to the Second Coming.  It will end with the wrath of God, culminating in the Great Tribulation. Some use the terms Age of Grace or the Church Age for this dispensation.
     The reason that I do not subscribe to this philosophy is because nowhere do I find evidence of God deliberately stating that He will act a certain way within a determined time period or age.  He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  Now, if a man wants to say he can see some distinctions about God’s attributes throughout history, that’s one thing.  But I point out this philosophy to you because it greatly colors how we Christians view our relationship with God, and our position and purpose within His Kingdom.
     We modern Christians tend to think that Grace is ours because it has come by salvation through faith in Jesus.  But Salvation has always been by the grace of God, received by faith.  Abraham experienced it:  And he believed the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness.  The people in the Old Testament, before Jesus’ death and resurrection still had to trust in the Lord—a trust they showed in offering the sacrifices. The Old Testament worshiper, by sacrificing an animal, was saying, “I trust God will save me despite the fact that I am sinful.” Christians take the same approach today, spiritually, but the practice is different. Instead of offering repeated sacrifices for sins, we trust in the one-time sacrifice of Christ.  But because we have been convinced of a man-made philosophy that we live in the Age of Grace, we are just waiting here on earth for the Second Coming.  Any difficulties in our lives or our relationship with the Lord are explained away as “times of testing” or “God growing our faith by teaching us perseverance and reliance on Him”.  Sadly, this leaves many Christians in a perpetual state of defeat; beaten down by the Enemy who takes advantage of our spiritual ignorance.

     Another by-product of the Dispensationalist viewpoint is the doctrine of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.  The thinking goes something like this … If we have received Grace by our faith in Jesus, then we have found special favor in the eyes of God.  Our acceptance of Him as our Savior means we will be saved from God’s wrath and we will be swept up into Heaven before God’s Judgment and Wrath come upon the earth.  I do not intend to argue against this doctrine in this post.  I only bring it up to point out that those who subscribe to a Pre-Tribulation Rapture are likely to view the attacks of the Enemy as something they just have to endure until Jesus comes to rescue them.  And I believe that is a strategy of the devil that keeps us from leading spirit-filled lives and renders us as ineffective partners and co-heirs with Christ.
     If we think that our only way to deal with destructive issues is to rely on God’s grace (which is very real and available), then we attribute the attacks upon our lives as coming from the visible and physical world — our boss, our lack of money, family members … anything and anyone, but the real perpetrator.  If we could come to know and understand that there is something we can’t see; powers and forces working in the spiritual realm that are manipulating and controlling our physical existence, we might come to the truth of who the real enemy is!
     The truth is, we not only underestimate the power of our spiritual enemies, but our own God-given power found in God who lives in us, the Holy Spirit.  And we have been given authority by Jesus to use that power to live in victory!  What is especially sad to me is that we don’t really know how to believe in God for our deliverance and healing, even though Scripture repeatedly tells us that Jesus is our Deliverer and one of the names of God is Jehovah Rapha, “the God who heals”.  It is because the Church, itself, doesn’t teach this reality in any kind of definitive or tangible instruction.  Have you ever heard your pastor preach that you can be physically healed through the power of Jesus, just as Jairus’ daughter was?
     Because we don’t know how to embrace this Biblical truth the devil spins a doctrinal lie that convinces us we are being faithful when we continue to stay in our suffering, relying on God’s grace to get us through.   We come to believe that our endurance and perseverance begets character and faith.  But I do not believe that it is God’s desire to have us live this way!  He takes no pleasure in watching us suffer through unwarranted guilt, or unforgiveness, or bitterness, or pride.  He wants us living in the victory that His Son died for!
     If we Christians could only understand that it is within our power and authority to bind those attacks from the Enemy; that through prayer and petition, we can partner with heavenly forces to take the fight directly to the source of our sufferings.  Instead of letting the devil whisper his lies of deception and blame, which point to earthly foes and take our eyes off our spiritual power, we need to re-focus our spirits on trusting God to pull back the curtain so we can see what is really attacking us.  And then by asking Him to re-create in us a new mind, we can “see” in our spirits the way He is able to take all those hindrances of pride, unforgiveness, anger, etc. and destroy them, placing the Cross between us and the spiritual forces of evil that come to steal, kill, and destroy.

     I know this sounds surreal and supernatural to you.  But guess what?  We serve a supernatural God!  And this scenario is exactly what happens in the deliverance ministry God has brought to me and my husband.  I don’t know any other way to describe it … people are able to picture Jesus in their minds as He hugs them and tells them He has been with them through every sorrow in their life, and He is able to heal the wounds to their spirits and souls, removing the fiery darts the Enemy has used to derail their lives.  As they forgive those who have harmed them (just as Jesus has forgiven us), they are set free from the bondage that kept them enslaved, and their spirit is released to live in the freedom that Jesus’s death bought them.
      But the most important thing is that they now know that the Enemy has no power or control over them.  We each have authority to approach Jesus in our spirits and to partner with Him to use His power to defeat any demon or spiritual force of wickedness that attempts to put a barrier between us and God.
     God’s Kingdom is anywhere God is, so that means it is on this earth.  We are His children, designed to rule and reign in the righteousness wrought by Jesus.   As co-heirs of the Kingdom, God can use us to rule with Him and Jesus.  BUT, the Enemy will rule with man, too, if he can.  Our existence on this earth is a partnership, whether for good or evil.  But we can’t do it alone, and we can’t do it under our own power.  Church, it is time to understand the truth about who we are, and what we can accomplish for our Father’s Kingdom.  Let’s deny the devil the weapons of Doubt and Unbelief; let us join with Jesus to get ourselves free and then combine forces with Him and the power of God to free our fellow Christians.  Let’s be bold and trust God for who He says He is … our Deliverer, our Healer, our Shield, and the Horn (Strength, Power) of our Salvation.  Let’s live like we truly believe Him!

2 Corinthians 10:4-5     “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the [true] knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,”

   

   
   

In Their Own Words: War Has Been Declared!

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     This is a very difficult post to write.  My heartbreak over the terrorist attack in Florida comes from the depth of my human faculties.  And I will admit that my flesh and my spirit discern this tragedy from different perspectives.  I want to try to describe to you what is going through my mind, as well as what is being revealed to my spirit.  This is a convoluted and divisive situation, and my opinion is full of twists and turns.  I fully expect that my viewpoint will not be universally accepted, whether one is secular or Christian.  But this is an exercise of trying to figure out exactly where I stand on multiple issues, and I hope it will give you pause to think about your own faith and our shared humanity.
     I had a heartfelt discussion this weekend with a very dear friend who happens to be gay, and who came to this country from Israel as a teenager.  He told me that “it was the Constitution and Bill of Rights that inspired him to become a US citizen.”  His maternal grandparents survived the Holocaust camps, and his father fought in the Israeli War for Independence in 1948.  Both his parents served in the Israeli military, fighting in the Six Day War in 1967 and the 1973 Yom Kippur War.  The spiritual war against God’s chosen people has been imprinted on his DNA.
     My friend told me that his grandparents’ experiences in the camps, along with their survival and the tenacity and sacrifice of his parents (to give him a better life) has given him both strength and conviction regarding his faith and our freedoms.  He told me that having survived Hitler’s murderous regime, his grandfather “continuously warned that what happened with the policy of appeasement by governments, and that [the] hatred of Jews and Christians would happen again during my lifetime.”  And now, we see evidence of that in Orlando, Florida.
     Coincidentally, you may have easily dismissed the killing of singer Christina Grimme in Orlando just one day prior to the travesty at the Pulse Club.  Allegedly, police now suspect that her murderer traveled from St. Petersburg to Orlando, a distance of some 107 miles, with the specific intent to kill the contestant from NBC’s ‘The Voice” — possibly because of her outspoken Christian views.  Here is an excerpt from her webpage:   In the western world, especially American civilization, when asking for a person’s religious standing, the most common response you will encounter is simply “I’m a Christian.” Most people subtly just think to themselves “Oh, okay good. I was worried for second.” But as I have traveled to Israel recently, fervently prayed and studied Scripture, and examined the culture around me, I have found that when someone says “I’m a Christian,” I should be more worried for their soul than if they said “I’m an atheist.”
     Before you stone me to death with your subconscious judgment, let me explain. If you will, come explore with me what it should look like when a person claims Christianity. Come with me, and let’s take a look at the most overused word in the English language. What is this “Christian” stuff all about anyway? 
     Here was a young woman who obviously took her faith seriously, and was beginning to ask serious questions about what it means to be a Christian.  I suspect that she was becoming outspoken and challenging her generation to start recognizing their position in the Kingdom of God.  And the Enemy needed her silenced.  So can her untimely death be associated in anyway with a jihadist terrorist who slaughtered so many of the gay community in Orlando?  I think it can, and here is why.  It is time that we Christians understand the reality of a single Bible verse.  It is Revelation 12:7 and here is what it says:  Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back.  

     We must see the events of the past few days for what they are … part of the devil’s strategy in the ongoing spiritual war.  And this war is being conducted on multiple levels.  If we try to limit the scope of Christina’s murder and the murders at the Pulse Club  by calling them hate crimes or a terrorist attack; or by calling for more gun control, then we fail to see the “bigger picture”, if you will.  They must be seen from the viewpoint of the war being waged in heaven.  The men who committed these atrocities — one who hated a young woman’s Christian faith, and one who pledged allegiance to ISIS — are both soldiers in that war, infected with the ideology of a false god, doing that god’s will.
     I have heard news commentators saying that the nightclub murderer was “inspired by a foreign terrorist organization”.  The truth is that he was inspired by a spirit commanded by the devil — one of the ranks of the Enemy’s army that Paul refers to in Ephesians, Chapter 6.  And being the Father of Lies, satan can use his influence to convince our leaders that this is a hate crime; or because of the easy availability of guns.  There are those who will say that we are losing this war because of political correctness.  That is only partially true.  We are losing this war because of our spiritual ignorance!
     As a nation, we are failing to connect the dots.  We need to see that these active shooters — the one who attacked at the Gay Center in Tel Aviv, Israel; or the two in Orlando; or the one who attempted to attack the Gay Pride Parade in Los Angeles yesterday — are soldiers in the army of satan.  They are demonized followers of a false god.  To get sidetracked with how to accurately “label” the atrocity is a distraction and part of the devil’s strategy to keep us chasing our tails.  When a shooter shouts “Allahu Akbar” before beginning his deadly rampage, then it is crystal clear that he is glorifying his satanic master, and worshipping a false god in his holy war.
     As I said earlier, this spiritual war is attacking our faith on different levels.  I would be insincere if I did not address the facts that these attacks are coming against the gay community.  I’m sure there are those Christians who will determine that this is an act of God’s judgment against the LGBTQ community.  That is a verdict that I, personally, cannot make.  God loves His creation, and desires that no one be lost. He “is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).  I have no doubt that He is grieved over the loss of those men and women in Florida.  And, as a Christian who has gay friends whom I love with a heart like Jesus’s, I mourn those who have died because a false god is promoting “a month of conquest and jihad”.
     That being said, hear me clearly … I am not saying that I approve of a sinful lifestyle — anymore than I excuse the sinful lifestyle choices that I have made in my past.  There is a common saying:  Love the sinner; hate the sin.  I know that the Bible does not say that in those precise words.  But it does say: And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.  I know that whoever does not love, does not know God, and I believe cannot show God to others.  So it is my belief that I am to show mercy for the sinner, while maintaining a healthy hatred of sin and its effects on a person.
     God, on the other hand, can perfectly love and hate a person at the same time. This means He can love him as someone He created and can redeem, as well as hate him for his unbelief and sinful lifestyle.  Therefore, I leave it up to Him to work that out, while I try to continue to show others the benefit of my salvation and redemption.
     But because our actions in this physical world (and the battles in the spiritual world) affect and influence each other, I am left wondering just how the flagrant defiance of those involved in the Gay Pride parade in LA will effect satan’s allies in this world.  Make no mistake!  I do not believe God approves this rebellion against Him.  But I also believe that this month of Ramadan has special significance for those wishing to sacrifice their lives to their false god.  And demonic orders are being given in the spiritual realm to those responsible for carrying them out on the earth. Homosexuality is “illegal” in sharia law and according to Islamic law, homosexuals are subject to being thrown off the top of a building, then stoned.  It has been reported that anti-gay messages, attributed to ISIS followers, are now appearing on Twitter and other social media sites.
     So, as a final summation, my thoughts and emotions are still in turmoil.  I deplore the loss of human life, and I believe God grieves for all His creation.  But I see this heinous act from my spiritual consciousness.  This is part of something much bigger than what we see before our eyes.  It stretches beyond a single gunman in a nightclub in Florida.  It extends all the way to the heavenly realms where a war is being waged between God’s angels and satan’s demonic followers.  Jesus has defeated the devil, but the conquered enemy hates the presence of God, and will use his influence to command his generals and his soldiers to kill and destroy.  In history, Christian warriors used their weapons of faith in God’s Truth, and perseverance in battle to overcome the power of pagan idolatry. We must do the same today.  But we must realize that we have access to the power that raised Jesus from the dead; and the Enemy’s demonized soldiers are no match.  There is a war being waged — and we better recognize the purpose and goals of our enemy; those both in this physical world and in the spiritual realm!  The war in heaven is being manifested on earth.  Our enemy has declared his intentions and, as Christians, we can no longer ignore him or neglect our responsibilities in God’s Kingdom on earth.  Be courageous and stalwart!

Revelation 13:7     “The beast was permitted to go to war against the saints and conquer them.  He was given ruling authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation,”

The Devil’s Game Plan: Conflicting and Contradictory Messages

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     No wonder the Church is so ineffective today, and Christians cannot seem to “unite with one mind”.  We no longer seem to be “of one heart and soul”.  Those terms are how the Early Church was described in Acts, Chapter Four.  And when I say “early” Church, that’s exactly what I mean.  These terms were used to describe the body of believers shortly after the Day of Pentecost when the Church was born.  In the midst of their tumultuous beginning, the new believers were unified in their faith and commitment to the teachings and deity of Christ.
     The Sanhedrin were agitated and frustrated at the preaching of Peter and John about this man Jesus, whom they had recently crucified.  They thought they had quelled His grassroots movement and silenced His influence, and here were these men continuing to spread His seditious message.  So the Book of Acts tells us that the ruling class delivers their own message to the followers of Christ:  “We have the power. If you are allowed to preach, as you have been preaching, it is because we have permitted you to do it.  Anytime we want, we can arrest you and carry you off to jail.  We demand that you be silent about your disruptive faith”!

      Kind of feels like we’re headed towards that same scenario ourselves, doesn’t it?  When we cast a discerning eye upon our culture it is easy to see the discrimination and growing persecution of our faith.  And it is not always blatant. The Enemy is very crafty and subtle … it begins with the suggestion that we should become more tolerant towards the sins that the Bible renounces and condemns, while slowly and gradually, we end up with the month of June being declared as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month — by Presidential proclamation, no less.
     But that doesn’t sow near enough confusion among the faithful.  We also have an Episcopal priest writing articles for a liberal-leaning website in which she argues for the power of “queer virtue” to combat “heteronormativity” and revitalize a Christianity that is too wedded to traditional ideas of human sexuality and marriage.  In her article, the Reverend Elizabeth M. Edman asserts that “Pride” is central to the LGBT movement and integral to an authentically Christian life. 
     Excuse me, I’m no theologian and have never been trained by a certified School of Divinity.  In fact, my only instruction has come strictly from the Bible and the Holy Spirit, but if I recall correctly, Pride in the Bible always seems to be about self-worship.  God abhors pride because it hinders an individual from seeking Him.  In fact, it seems to be that those who hang their hat on Pride are so consumed with themselves that their thoughts are far from God and they think they have no need of Him or, worse, that God should accept them as they are because they deserve His acceptance. After all, it was pride that captivated Lucifer, who is the picture of self-worship, seeking to become like God.  And can you see the confusion and contradictory message he is spreading in this denomination of the Church?
     Edman goes on to extol Pride as a virtue, claiming that it should be redeemed and embraced (regardless of what the Bible says) and that “Christians must become aware of and resist the impulse, conscious or subconscious, to deny the existence of LGBTQ people”.  I don’t believe that there is anyone I know in the Christian Church who wishes to deny the existence of LGBTQ people.  We just wish to stand by the commandments of God on how a Christian is to live their life.  Everyone must make their own life choices, and certainly has the free will to do so.  But, as a Christian, I cannot abandon the dictates of my Savior.  Edman makes it clear that her objective is “to proclaim a more authentic gospel” and to dismantle (within Church doctrine) what she calls “heteronormative impulses”, and what I call disobedience and rebellion against God.  She wants to “strip the Bible of its “heteronormativity” and remake Christianity in the image of a society that glorifies gender fluidity and pansexualism.”  With that philosophical doctrine, I would say she has successfully embraced Pride.  And I’m going to be bold enough to declare it a lie from the devil.  Pride is not a Biblical virtue, nor will God exalt it.
     But that is not the only misguided notion and deception being perpetrated by the Enemy upon the Church.  The leading mega-Pastor in the country, Joel Osteen, is also spreading a misleading message.  In one of his latest sermons, he is quoted as saying, “God will fight your battles if you’ll stay at rest. If you’ll quit worrying about the medical report, if you’ll quit being upset over the contract you didn’t get, if you’ll quit being stressed by those people who are talking about you. If you’ll remain at rest, God will fight your battles.”  This is akin to what Osteen and fellow evangelist Joyce Meyers say is the key to peace in our lives … keeping a positive attitude.  But I do not believe that is enough to ward off the attacks of our Adversary.
     And that philosophy goes against the Bible telling us to put on the full armor of God.  If He is going to fight all our battles for us, why do we need any armor?  We must get in the fight and we can do that in a number of ways: by sending our prayers directly to the throne room of God; and declaring our testimonies to the spiritual realm; by binding and rebuking, in the Holy Name of Jesus, those demons and spirits that come against us; and participating in the healing powers of the Holy Spirit to set people free — that is the way you defeat the spirits of worry, anger, stress and depression.  Because that is what Pastor Osteen fails to tell you; those are very real spirits that are attacking you and causing all those emotional reactions.  Your real rest comes when you stand steadfast, confident in your authority and the power of Christ to work with you in victory.  That’s when you find real rest and peace in your spirit.
     But the devil is doing a darn good job of tossing grenades behind our lines…. deceiving us with messages [from within the Church] that Pride is a virtue; and that we just have to stay positive and wait for God to deliver us from our troubles.  And there is a false message that is becoming increasingly louder, in both the Church and our culture:  we must reduce or diminish the Gospel of Jesus Christ because it might offend others.  The whisper has grown into a shout: that we must become more inclusive and less intolerant; that there is more than one way to Heaven and we can get there through faith in more than one god.
     I say that it is imperative that we recognize this message as heresy and unacceptable.  We have already allowed God’s enemy to infiltrate His Church and gain too much ground.  Just reading back over these various viewpoints produces so many emotions:  sadness, anger, exasperation, and a heavy spirit.  How have we fallen so far, so fast?  Where are the warriors for the faith; those who are willing to stand and declare God’s Truth against this apostasy?  Where will the Church be in another decade?  And will those of us who declare the truth of God’s Word even be allowed to speak in defense of our faith?  Yes, the devil has done a good job; Christianity is under clear and organized assault.  It’s time to fight back for ourselves and the generations to come.  It’s time to glorify God, His Word, His Character, and His Church.

2 Corinthians 10:5    “We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ,”    

The Portals Are Opening

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     The boldness with which satan is showing himself on the world stage is blatant and unrestrained.  By now, you may have heard about the bizarre and strange “celebration” commemorating the opening of the Gotthard Train Tunnel, which is billed as the longest and deepest train tunnel in the world.  It is a feat of engineering, stretching beneath the Swiss Alps, and its completion is being hailed by world leaders this past week as unifying Europe.  This feat was observed at a ceremony that has been characterized as nothing less than a satanic ritual.  I have to agree.
     You can view it for yourself by clicking  here, but I want to warn you it is a disturbing video, and you will be left with no doubt that the godless of the world are summoning Lucifer from the abyss.  In an avant-garde, theatrical production world leaders, dignitaries, and common people are introduced to what Russia Today called a spectacle of “naked torsos and horned beasts”.  The production begins with a military formation of “zombie-fied” miners, marching towards a large screen featuring the rocky formation of the Swiss Alps.  As the miners perform a near tribalistic act of breaking through the rock, they simulate climbing and falling off the mountain as the hole in the mountain is dug.

     It’s not long before you get the sense that the workers are getting more and more animated, soon disrobing  and engaging in orgiastic and riotous movements.  Incorporated within this display of digging the tunnel is the Swiss folktale about the Devil’s Bridge.  According to historian Meinrad Lienert, the tale tells how the people of Uri, Switzerland recruited the Devil for the difficult task of building a bridge across the pass of the Schöllenen gorge, a critical point above the Gotthard Train Tunnel route.  The devil requested to receive the soul of the first thing to pass the bridge in exchange for his help.  To trick the devil, who expected to receive the soul of the first man to pass the bridge, the people of Uri sent across a goat by throwing a piece of bread, and the goat was promptly torn to pieces by the devil.
     Enraged at having been tricked, the devil went to fetch a large rock to smash the bridge. While taking a break from exhaustion from the task of carrying the rock back to the bridge, a Christian woman secretly marked the rock with a cross. The devil was then unable to pick up the rock, and was forced to abandon it and flee. This 12 metres tall, 220 ton rock was named “The Devil’s Stone”,  and in 1972, the stone was moved 127 metres and is now situated at the entrance of Gotthard Road Tunnel.  The folktale represents a defeat for the devil.

     But the ceremonial celebration on stage this past week was obviously meant to represent a victory for satan.  As the actors portraying miners continue with digging the tunnel, an image of the devil appears on the screen, as if coming out of a portal (the tunnel) with fire surrounding him, and an actor takes to the stage as a goat with rams horns.  Simultaneously, Egyptian scarab beetles were suspended in front of the screen upon which satan had appeared.  The symbolism of these scarab beetles was obvious:  It seemed to the ancient Egyptians that young scarab beetles emerged spontaneously from the burrow where they were born. Therefore they were worshipped as “Khepera”, which means “he was brought forth.”  At this point in the ceremonial production, the devil has been summoned out of the abyss; and dances on stage with trumpets blowing.  The message is clear … Lucifer is coming out of the abyss.  The orgy of dancing and debauchery tells us that people are proclaiming him and inviting him to come out of the tunnel.
     This is spiritual warfare front and center!  This is an in-your-face satanic ritual, with powerful leaders of the Western World in attendance and endorsing his appearance.  Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Switzerland’s President Johann Schneider-Ammann, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s President Francois Hollande stood and applauded the ceremony which showed satan’s involvement in this world throughout history … from ancient paganism and druidism, to the Industrial and Technology Ages, as the dancers portrayed bestiality, trangenderism, and transhumanism.

     A ticking clock appeared on the giant screen, as the dancers groveled before the goat-ram devil, bringing him offerings and bowing down at his feet.  This was not so much a dedication to the opening of the historic tunnel, as it was a worship service for the devil.  It’s not being disguised or hidden.  As I said, world leaders were openly applauding the opening of the tunnel to the abyss and the appearance of the devil.  It was a ritualistic ceremony in which they took part; it was a summoning of the devil.
     Where is God’s Church, and are we expending as much time, energy, and initiative to call forth our Savior?  This event in Switzerland may seem like bizarre, crazy European-style performance art, but I guarantee it has satan’s hand all over it!  I believe he is instructing his followers to come out into the open because he is nearly ready to make his appearance.  So we see the Satanic Temple getting bolder in performing their rituals in public.  We see the unveiling of a Baphomet statue with people cheering “Hail Satan,” as they rush up to pose with the scultpture of a winged Baphomet with a human body and a goat’s head, and a little boy and girl gazing upon it with devotion.  We see the “nation’s first state-sanctioned Satanic Ceremony in history” being carried out on the steps of the Michigan state capitol.  We see TV shows glorifying a suave and debonair character named Lucifer, and we are seeing increased satanic performances at the Super Bowl, Grammy’s and even Country Music awards shows!
     If all this has not come up on your radar, it should!  We need to start paying attention to the rise of satanic rituals in our entertainment venues, in world events, and in our public squares.  We need to be preparing ourselves for the spiritual battle of our lives.  I believe that the deception in the Church [that there will be a Pre-Tribulation rapture of the saints] will leave many Christians vulnerable and victims of the devil’s evil plans.  We must become as diligent and tireless as our enemy in this spiritual battle.  We need to be on our knees asking Jesus to come quickly with His heavenly host to defeat satan and his army of demonic soldiers.  As evidenced by the satanic worship ceremony in Switzerland this past week, the sounds of the battle are within earshot, and the spectacle of the war between Jesus and Lucifer is in view.  The devil’s troops are openly preparing and shouting for his appearance.  Are you raising your voice to the heavens for Christ’s return?  Are you seeing the approaching battle, and are you readying for it?  Pray for endurance, strength, and wisdom to stand on that day … it’s not far away.

John 14:30   “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me…”

   

The Battle Is Right Before Our Eyes

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     For those who think spiritual warfare is simply a theological concept, with no real-world application, then I invite you to open your eyes and ears to what is going on around us; it’s in the headlines nearly every day.  Have we become so blinded that we merely blow off or ignore the implications of what is being reported?

     Take today for instance.  It is June 6th … or 6-6-16, if you will … and the day that Satanists have claimed as a day of celebration to their god.  Simply put, it is a sacred day to them for worshipping satan.  And it is a salvo in their spiritual battle plan; an aggressive act in satan’s campaign to win the spiritual war here on earth.
     But how many of our countrymen — or fellow Christians, for that matter — will even take notice?  Who will understand what this means and act appropriately to defend against this vigorous attempt to defame and defeat YHWH?  In case you don’t know the details, here they are:  The religious sect which calls itself The Satanic Temple plans on placing the five points of a Pentagram star around the city of Lancaster, California, located in northern Los Angeles County.  Spokesmen for the group claim that “drawing this symbol around the city represents a solemn promise from the Satanic Temple of Los Angeles to stand with the good people of the City of Lancaster and struggle for their constitutional right to individual liberty, freedom of expression and the separation of church and state in the community”.
     Here’s what we all need to understand … this display of rebellion against God is no different than the Enemy’s plans that have been revealed and recorded in the Bible.  I just finished reading the Book of Jeremiah, and I could not help but identify with the ancient prophet’s frustration over the blatant disobedience and defiance of God’s commandments to those who professed to follow Him.  Just like in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the people of our nation have followed after, and are worshipping, false gods.  But do we understand that these gods are not just names of “things” we idolize like celebrities, houses, and cars, or carnal pursuits such as wealth, fame and power?  Do we realize that behind these idols are spiritual entities that are very real and their desire is to influence and control you to win the war?

Bel, aka Marduk

     In Jeremiah, the prophet records numerous warnings from YHWH about the destruction coming against nations and the gods they worship; the spiritual entities that satan has placed over them in governing positions.  Jeremiah 48:42 says, Moab will be destroyed as a people because he has exalted himself against the Lord.  Jeremiah 50:2 records these words from YHWH: Announce to the nations; proclaim and raise up a signal flag; proclaim and hide nothing.  Say: Babylon is captured; Bel is put to shame; Marduk is devastated; her idols are put to shame; her false gods, devastated.  Again, Jeremiah 51:44 says, I will punish Bel in Babylon.  I will make him vomit what he has swallowed.  The nations will no longer stream to him; even Babylon’s wail will fail. 
     It is important that we get this!  Bel and Marduk are not just some wooden statues that the nations bow down to.  And Babylon is more than a city and a nation. They are real spiritual entities — gods, although false — who involve themselves in the lives of real people and in the existence and actions of nations.   They were able to influence God’s chosen people and induce them to rebel against God and turn aside from their covenant with Him.  It is no different today.
     As noted prophecy expert Paul McGuire tells us, “Currently in America there is intense competition among various belief systems, religions, philosophies, and ideologies. This competition is expressed openly as different groups and faiths seek to promote their belief systems and win converts to their religion or cause.”  That is what happened as the Israelites entered the Land of Canaan and became exposed to the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Edomites; and later when they were taken into captivity in Assyria and Babylon.  They were introduced to the gods of these other nations, who are every bit as real as YHWH.  But they are not the One True God and they are under the guidance and supervision of Lucifer, the fallen angel who proclaimed himself the god called Satan.
     So, now in 21st Century America we find ourselves inundated with all kinds of false gods vying for our attention and our worship — Islam, Mormonism, Scientology, Hinduism, Buddhism, Satanism, Wicca, and Paganism to name just a few.   As Mr. McGuire points out, “Wicca, along with witchcraft and paganism, is currently the fastest growing religion in America. Islam is also a fast growing religion. Christianity, and specifically Evangelical Christianity, is declining faster than most people realize.”  Do you get that?  Can you see that the battle lines have been drawn and these other gods have their troops engaged in battle plans like encompassing entire cities within a Pentagram and dedicating the people and land to the devil?
     What are God’s people doing?  What is our battle plan?  Are we actively praying against the influence of these other gods?  Are we asking YHWH how He wants us to execute against His enemies?  Do we know how to defend against the enemy’s attacks?  This generation of Christ-followers have been lulled into “Christianity Light” for too long, and are woefully unprepared, as the Body of Christ, to take on the Enemy forces who have centuries of plans and victories under their belts.  Our world is going to be shaken like we’ve never seen, and the self-centered gospel that has been the center of the Modern Church will offer little defense.
     It is time we fight back, putting on the full armor of God, and seek the help of His heavenly host as we stand our ground against the onslaught of evil coming our way.  Take a moment to pray against the Satanists around this nation who will be performing their evil rituals today.  Ask God to send an army of angels to surround any areas claimed for this false god.  Picture the battle in the spiritual realm, and know that it is real!  We must start seeing with spiritual eyes and get in the fight!  We need to recognize when the Enemy is advancing, call on the Lord, and engage in the battle with Him!  Are you willing to join me in this mission?

Isaiah 54:17   “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from me,” says the Lord.” 

Eyes to See and Ears to Hear

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     If you are still sticking with me on this new direction of my blog, then I’m assuming that you agree with me that we are engaged in spiritual warfare.  I also figure that you believe we are battling unseen, spiritual enemies that seek to rob us of our peace in this world and our eternal security in the next — both of which are found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
     I assure you that if you identify with me on these points, we are among the minority of those who share our Christian faith.  But knowing these principles doesn’t make us exempt from attacks or necessarily free of bondage.  We know that ultimate victory will be ours when Jesus returns, but we still have to learn battle strategies to defeat the enemy in the conflicts and assaults we will find ourselves in on this side of Glory.  I’d like to take the time to talk about one of these strategies today.
     As I have shared with you in the past, my husband and I, through Divine inspiration, have been introduced to a ministry concept that involves us partnering with Jesus to help accomplish deliverance from spiritual wounds.  That word, “Deliverance”, is not a widely understood or accepted idea in the Modern Church, and I find that rather peculiar, to be honest with you.  First of all, the prophets of the Old Testament declared that the Lord was their Deliverer (from slavery and bondage in Egypt) and foretold of a Deliverer who would come forth from Zion to set them free for all time.  All four Gospels of the Bible were written with different audiences in mind, and give slightly different details about geography and people.  But all four are vital to the New Testament’s purpose of proving that Jesus is the Messiah, is the Savior, is the Redeemer God who came to save His people from their sins … He is the Divine Deliverer for all who seek Him.

     But remember, Jesus is all about relationship, and He needs us to partner with Him; to learn how to interact with Him on a spiritual level (since He is no longer present on the earth).  He isn’t interested in waving a magic wand and handling all our problems for us, while we sit like robots, waiting for the hurt to go away… not that He couldn’t do that if He so desired.  But He’s all about relationship!  If we are to defeat the attacks launched against us, we must work with Him and incorporate Him into our strategy.  So how do we learn to do that?  One of the techniques that I have learned to help myself (and others), in our spiritual battles, has its roots deep in Scripture.
     How many times throughout the Bible does Jesus refer to “eyes that see” and “ears that hear”?  In fact, He often extends an invitation … “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”!  “He who has eyes to see, let him see”!  On one level, Jesus is definitely talking to those who had the opportunity to discern who He was because He stood before them in the flesh, declaring the words of the prophets who had described the Deliverer who was to come.  He was challenging them to put their knowledge and their faith to work and to recognize that their Deliverer was present.
    As often as not, Jesus also referred to unseeing eyes and unhearing ears to give warning of the spiritual blindness of those who could not — or would not — recognize Him.  They refused to see His miracles as evidence of the Father who had sent Him; or to see that He fit the description of the Messiah, the Deliverer that had been prophesied.  Additionally, they rejected His message from God; would not hear Him, and their hearts were hardened and they could not understand who He was.   These are valid and true interpretations of Scripture and Jesus warns that those who have “eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear, dwell in the midst of a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 12:2).  Is it possible that, like the rebellious House of Israel, the modern Church has eyes, but refuses to see; and ears, but refuses to hear?
     This simple supposition — that God made us with eyes to see Him, and ears to hear Him — lies at the heart of what He wants to accomplish as our Deliverer … to set us free from satan’s bondage, and to heal us.  And, as the Holy Spirit has shown me, it is our ability to see Him and hear Him in that invisible, spiritual realm that can effectively deliver us out of the clutches of the enemy.   You see, His ability to deliver us is not confined to a single event at our conversion, or His return at the End of Days.  And it is most certainly not confined to this physical realm.  As Christians, we believe that He is with us at all times.  He said so … “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”.  That means He won’t ever abandon us, or leave us stranded or alone to deal with the enemy’s attacks.  That means He is available to us, in the here and now, to help us wage war in the invisible realm, and against the invisible spirits satan sends against us.
     You see, I have experienced and seen the power of Jesus to Deliver and Heal when Christians are able to surrender to Him, and see Him and hear Him.  I have witnessed Christians who recognize they are under spiritual attack, and who are able to suspend the doubt and unbelief fostered by the Church.  They are willing to invite Jesus and the Holy Spirit to be present, and to allow their own spirit to interact with the Divine.  They are able to “see” Jesus in the events of their lives that have generated fertile ground upon which the Enemy can wage war and enslave them.  I have witnessed a person being able to “see” that Jesus was present during physical abuse, or an abandonment, or any act that wounded their spirit.  And they have been able to “hear” Him say that He not only took the abuse with them, but washed them clean by the power of His blood, and hear Him say He loves them.  It all happens in the spiritual realm, where our spirit communes with Jesus and the Holy Spirit — our spirit can actually “picture” or “see” Jesus and hear Him as He heals us.  It’s no different than the experiences the writers in the Bible describe.  Jesus is the same today as He was then, and He can be seen and heard the same today as He was then — all it takes is for us to believe!
     Now, I understand that many in the Church cannot accept that this concept is Scriptural.  But He clearly says in Matthew 13:15:  For the hearts of this people have grown dull.  Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.  Doesn’t that describe a “rebellious house”; a Church and Body of Christ who have dulled their hearts and minds and spirits to the possibility of a supernatural and invisible spiritual realm in which Jesus can commune with our spirits and heal us?
     He asks us to “understand” and “turn” to Him so He can heal us.  We Christians talk about “turning” to Him, but I think we have limited ourselves to reaching for Him in our minds and our hearts, and how we live our lives in the physical world.  Why do we restrict ourselves from reaching for Him in the spiritual realm?  Isn’t that where He resides?  Why are we limiting ourselves?
     All I can tell you is that I have seen lives changed … when a person who has been in bondage since childhood is able to experience the presence of Jesus and hear Him set her free from all the lies and deception the devil has heaped upon her; when the Holy Spirit serves as Guide and Comforter and shows that person how Jesus sees her — washed white and in His embrace.  There is a weight lifted off souls and spirits that can only come from interacting with our Deliverer; through seeing Him and hearing Him in our spirits.   I truly believe that this is another dimension of what the Word is telling us; another example of the immensity and magnitude of Jesus’s ability to deliver us and heal us.  It is not to be dismissed lightly or carelessly, and He and His Power to deliver are not to be restricted by our limited understanding.

Ephesians 3:20-21    “Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

   

Memorializing Spiritual Warriors

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     Today is the day that our nation honors the warriors who have fought and sacrificed their lives for our freedom.  They answered the call and put their own lives aside in order to serve others and something greater than themselves.  It is an act and a life choice worth honoring, and I pay tribute to all those, in the history of our country, who have given me the opportunity to live in liberty, without being enslaved to a tyrant or oppressive ruler.  We have been fortunate in this country to have experienced such unparalleled freedom.
     But today I would also like to honor those spiritual warriors of the Bible, who long ago made those same sacrifices and answered a call that benefitted each and every one of us.  Just like our modern soldiers who are well trained and equipped in the art of waging war, these spiritual warriors were trained by God to identify the enemy and his tactics.
     If you really think about it, in the Bible, our faith is often compared to warfare. Indeed, it is a very real aspect of the way that those who follow Christ must live. Those who desire to live this way will face many battlefield and battles that MUST BE WON if we are to make it into the kingdom of God, and defeat the enemy. There is effort involved—energy must be expended in the day-to-day life of a true Christian — fighting the attempts of Self, Society and Satan to disrupt our relationship and eternity with Christ.  Yes, Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross and our belief in Him gives us an entry into the Kingdom via trusting Him and having confidence in what He has done on our behalf (faith).  Our decision binds our spirits with Him, but once that decision is made, we must face the fact that the rest of our lives will find us in battles for our souls (our minds, will, and emotions).
     Just as our forefathers had to recognize and identify our nation’s enemies in order to keep us free, we must realize that our Spiritual war is a war between the forces of God (including angels) and saved humanity versus Satan and his fallen angels.   Just as on the battlefields of the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the continuing wars in the Middle East, the Spiritual war is being fought in heavenly realms on the battlefield of the minds of humanity.  This physical world is merely a byproduct of the events taking place spiritually.  When souls come to salvation, territory is taken away from Satan.  It is a battle of strategy and ultimate power.
      And fortunately, we have some great role models of men in this physical world who battled the enemy successfully and won vital territory for mankind.  Each one of the apostles answered the call to advance the campaign against the enemy and claimed new territory for God’s Kingdom.  And each of them paid the price with his own life.  At least two were crucified (Peter and Andrew), and eight of them died martyr’s deaths (James, son of Alpheus, was thrown down from the temple by the scribes and Pharisees; he was then stoned, and his brains dashed out with a club).

     Perhaps one of the most extraordinary examples was the Prophet Elijah.  I agree with one website, that says, “Elijah stands out in the Old Testament as [one of] the great Spiritual warriors.  He was the prophet to Israel during the Baal counterattack when only 7,000 believers were left in the Northern Kingdom.  He opposed the Evil King Ahab and Jezebel, his wife, the foremost example of the Prostitute of Babylon.  Elijah and Moses are believed, by some, to be the two witnesses who will be called back to serve in the Tribulation in Israel’s darkest hour.  And Elijah’s prophecy of no rain for 3.5 years will become the standard for the division of the seven years of the Tribulation (in half) to mark the beginning of the Great Tribulation.”
     Elijah’s service to God and Israel was costly and difficult, and he was tested in his battles and fought his own weariness and reluctance.  But God always provided shelter and sustenance, and fortified him in his moments of doubting.  And just like us in our spiritual warfare, Elijah had to learn some important lessons in surrendering to the power of Christ in order to fight the devil.  He had to learn that he had his eyes on himself and his problem, and not on the Divine solution; that (at times) his normal methods of fighting off the attacks of the enemy were not working.  That’s when the Lord humbled him and demonstrated His power in three Judgments: a storm, an earthquake, and fire. (1 Kings, Chapter 19).  The three Judgments were followed by “the sound (whisper) of a gentle breeze”, which symbolized a paradigm shift in Elijah’s warfare tactics and he became aware that he could become more effective by partnering with Christ.  With this new strategic objective, Elijah moved into spiritual maturity, and he was instrumental in defeating Ahab and Jezebel, satan’s instruments.
     It is not lost on me that the continual wars that the world faces are spiritual in nature.  I believe that satan has placed his partners in strategic geographical areas of the world in order to further his cause and promote conflicts, campaigns, and bombardments (all with spiritual implications).  Just as our modern soldiers form “bonds of brotherhood” in their theaters of war, we, too, must form partnerships with our fellow warriors.  And, together, we must work with Jesus and the Holy Spirit to carry out their commands, being equipped with the Authority and Power mandated to us.
     Like Elijah, we are not born spiritually mature, but by answering the call of our Lord, we can discern that we are each born for a purpose — to confront the greatest evil in the history of mankind.  We can be effective spiritual warriors by recognizing that we have the Law of the Lord written on our hearts, and we live by His Grace through our faith and obedience.
     Today, we honor and memorialize those military warriors who have died for the perpetuation of our earthly freedom.  Let us not forget those Biblical warriors who perished for our spiritual freedom. Every warrior’s death is important in the eyes of God.  He chooses the time, place, and manner of death.  War is a horrible part of our human existence, and we must never forget that it is not God’s desire.  But, even in the midst of such battles, God can be glorified.  As we approach the enemy’s endgame, we can rejoice that our Victory has already been won.  In the meantime, we must ask for more of His Spirit, His help and His protection—along with the strength, desire and determination needed to fight each and every battle, each and every day. So, I continually pray for all of our warriors, past and present, and God’s people and the ministry of effective spiritual warfare.

2 Timothy 2:3-4   “Take with me your share of hardship [passing through the difficulties which you are called to endure], like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  No soldier in active service gets entangled in the [ordinary business] affairs of civilian life; [he avoids them] so that he may please the one who enlisted him to serve.”
   

Schemes and Plans

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     There is so much that I want to say regarding our discussion on Spiritual Warfare, and so many trails we can go down as we walk this path.  Thank you for being patient as we set the foundation in our knowledge of this war.  I believe it is vital that we take a look at why Christians must come to a knowledge of the truth that our enemy is real, and he is waging war against us.
     That being said, we’ve been talking about the need to recognize that we are involved in an invisible spiritual war, with spiritual entities that interact with our physical world from an invisible spiritual realm.  It is hard enough for Christians to wrap their minds around that truth, even though the Bible is full of examples of this fact.  Once we are aware of the battle, then we need to recognize and identify our foe.
     Most of us would acknowledge that our opponent is satan, or the devil.  But would you be surprised to know that the Senior Pastor of the largest Protestant Church in the United States allegedly views the devil as largely symbolic?  That he “likes to make [the concept of] the Enemy broader.”  He actually preaches, “Sometimes the Enemy can be our own thoughts. We’ve trained ourselves the wrong way. Or the Enemy can be our own lack of discipline.”  Of course, I’m talking about Joel Osteen, and this philosophy, in my opinion, is alarmingly similar to that of Anton Levey, the founder of the Church of Satan.  Lavey preached that satan is not an entity but is only a symbol of certain human traits.

     But we make a grave (and potentially eternal) mistake to dismiss, not only satan’s very real existence, but just how formidable a foe he can be.  The Bible tells us he has plans and schemes against us, and we better recognize what they are … to terrorize your soul, to render you impotent as a believer, to make you worthless to the cause of Christ, and to make your life one of misery and spiritual defeat.  It’s kind of sobering to think that there are spirits and forces from that invisible world whose sole goal is to do those things to us.  Yet I have seen too many Christians who live their lives in anger or unforgiveness, or who experience guilt-ridden rationalizations because of some action in their families.  They are unaware that their misery is an attack by satan.  They do not understand that they are living their lives in defeat, and they don’t have to!
      How many of us are familiar with the following Scripture:  “Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  And then how many of us take that warning seriously?
     Actually, Peter painted a pretty good picture for us.  What do lions do when they’re prowling?  They are constantly looking for something that is vulnerable and will be easy to consume and demolish.  Is that the person who stumbles across pornography on the internet, and just can’t pull themselves away?  Is that the man or woman who decides that they are unhappy or unfulfilled in their marriage, and deserve more?  Is that the pastor or church leader who decides to ignore the “hard” passages of Scripture because it doesn’t win him accolades from his congregation, or fill up the collection plate?  Is that the person who has a hidden secret that torments them night and day, or the person who can’t quite forgive God for a tragedy in their life?
     And these are maybe what we might term “the non-murderous” plans to steal and destroy, but let’s not forget the devil’s schemes and plans that end up with the vile and evil physical harm that actually kills another human being.   They are all examples of just how formidable and deadly our foe is.   But here is what is so sad to me:  pastors like Joel Osteen (and believe me, he is not the only one) lull Christians into a false sense of entitlement with passages like this from his book Your Best Life Is Now … “If you develop an image of success, health, abundance, joy, peace, happiness, nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you”.  Where in the Bible is that “prosperity gospel” preached?
     And do you see what an effective tool that is for satan to use against us?  If we believe that all God wants is for us to be happy; that all you have to do to reach your goal to be happy is to love Jesus, read your Bible, pray, and go to Church — then how are you going to handle it when satan launches his attack against you and you lose your job, your marriage, get cancer, or your child tragically dies?
     I do not dispute that God loves and wants to bless us.  But He doesn’t want us to buy into this lie that life is a picnic in a beautiful park.  He want us to be aware that we are living our life in the middle of a battlefield.  Now, don’t get me wrong … He doesn’t want us to be obsessed with the devil or look for him in every event of our life that doesn’t go our way.  We are not to cower in a corner, afraid to venture out.  He needs us active in this world, and bold on His behalf.  But we need to be conscious that our enemy is always planning and looking for ways to launch a strike.  That’s why our spiritual armor is so important.  Never neglect putting it on!  That’s one of the things that gives me peace of mind.  I don’t sit and worry, or look over my shoulder every minute of the day.  If I am suited up in God’s Truth, His peace, my efforts to live life in the Righteous manner of Jesus, growing in my salvation process, strengthening my faith, and relying on the Word, I can approach each day with confidence and trust.  That may seem like a tall order, but believe me, when you make a conscious effort and you make it part of your day each morning, you know when you are fully dressed in your spiritual armor.
     If accepting the fact that satan and his force of demonic spirits are real is just something that you find hard to digest, let me suggest this to you … didn’t Jesus think they were real?  Didn’t Jesus, Himself, have a personal encounter with the devil in the wilderness; and didn’t He spend an awful lot of time dealing with demons and casting them out of people?  We need to realize and accept that when Scripture tells us about satan, he is not as a metaphor of speech, or a symbol of transgressing against our Creator.  He is a powerful fallen angel, who led a rebellion of a third of the angels of Heaven, and he now seeks to destroy all that is good, and all those who have been consecrated by God.

     The one thing I want to make perfectly clear is that we must respect our enemy, but we are not to fear him.  We need to become very aware of his methods and his plans and his schemes; but we are not to become obsessed or preoccupied with him.  Fear and obsession are issues that can give our foe a foothold in our lives.  We do not need to give him that power over us.  We need to study the Word for clues as to what those methods and schemes are, so we can recognize them… plans to slander us or other people in order to cause dissension; plans to tempt us and seduce us into worshipping false idols such as fame, money, or beauty; plans to introduce thoughts that will captivate our minds and corrupt our walk with the Lord.  And yes, there are those instances when he incites pure evil … when he convinces a young mother that she is to drown her children; or persuades a person to strap a bomb to their body in the name of holiness; or convinces a generation of young adults that they can enter his spiritual world and experience the freedom that Christianity denies them.  And he makes all these things look shiny and attractive, and convinces us that it is the right path to take.
     Then, if, as a Christian, you fall for the seduction, he will condemn you and make you feel guilty, dirty, unredeemable.  And if he can lure individuals, think of the destruction he can cause when he attacks God’s people by directing entire governments, deceiving men in leadership roles, destroying life through the sacrificial rite of abortion, persecuting the saints, and preventing our service to the Kingdom through intimidation and fear.  His power is real — we can see it all around us — but remember this:  it is limited!  He’s not omniscient — he doesn’t know all things.  And he is not infinite, holy, or sovereign.  He is just a created being; although a powerful one.
     In order to be ready for battle, and to stay engaged in this invisible war, we need to develop our  wisdom (knowing who he is and how he acts) and our balance (be aware of him, but not obsessed with him).  We need to recognize that we fight a formidable foe, but never forget that we fight our battle from victory, not for victory.  The victory is already secured through Christ!  We need to know that we’ve already won the final victory, and we are invincible because we fight in Christ’s power, not our own!  We have Christ’s authority and power to resist the devil and withstand his attacks.
     So don’t fall for the lies and false theology that tells you that Christians are not subject to the wiles and schemes of the devil, or that God just wants to make you healthy, wealthy and wise.  Those are the lies of false security that the devil offers you, and they will render you defenseless when he comes prowling.  Rather, recognize when you are being attacked and stand firm in your spiritual armor; and demand that satan and his demons leave the battlefield in the Name of Jesus.  Recall that the Bible tells us they quake at the mention of His Name!  The devil is a created being, and so are we — but we are made in the image of God.  He is not!  We have nothing to fear and our victory is secure!

2 Corinthians 10:3    “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.”
   
   
   

It’s A Matter of Recognition and Our Authority

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     It has been my experience that the question of our Authority on earth to wage spiritual warfare has been one of the biggest hangups for Christians.  In fact, that is usually the first argument I get whenever I try to broach the topic.  I will hear something like this:  “Yes, the Apostles were able to cast out demons, and heal the sick, but all that ended with their deaths.”  This is pretty much the basis for a theological position called Cessationism.  
     In strict theological terms, this refers, in Christianity, to a doctrine that says “spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophecy and healing ceased with the original twelve apostles”.  Notice that, in this definition, casting out demons is not even mentioned!  Yet, the apostles did that work, too.  So, in the intervening centuries, the Church has simply glossed over these facts and no longer even knows how to address it.  
     And, now that Believers are awakening to the Truth of John 14:12, we are having to determine just how we regard this important part of our commission as workers in the Kingdom.   (Please take the time to click on the link and see these important words from our Savior).
     With that counsel from our Lord, I have seen, in my newfound knowledge, two distinct disciplines:  Healing and Deliverance.  We will explore those in coming days, but for now I will tell you that, in my opinion, Healing is using the authority and power from Jesus and the Holy Spirit to bring the healing of physical ailments to suffering Christians.  The ministry of Deliverance finds us using our authority and Their power to help heal the spiritual wounds caused by the Enemy’s attack on their flesh and soul.  Very often, both of these disciplines work together because there is interaction between the spiritual and physical realms, and they affect both the spiritual and physical parts of us.  In other words, Jesus asks us to work with Him and the Holy Spirit to help “set the captives free” from demonic oppression — this is one of the “things He did”, as mentioned in John 14:12, and to which He wishes us to do in even greater “outreach and extent”.
     This concept that there is interaction between the spiritual and physical realms is also a difficult position for Christians to accept.  That’s why I said in yesterday’s post, that we modern Christians “don’t see the unseen world from the same point of view as the ancient Biblical writers.”  They were familiar with the invisible world of the spiritual realm.  They interacted with it!  Let me give you these few examples from various passages in the Bible:

     •  In Genesis 28, Jacob was given a clear vision of interaction between the physical and spiritual realms.  He dreamed that there was a ladder (stairway) placed on the earth, and the top of it reached [out of sight] toward heaven; and [he saw] the angels of God ascending and descending on it [going to and from heaven].  Jacob may not have fully understood what he was seeing in his dream, but he awoke with the realization that “Without any doubt the Lord is in this place, and I did not realize it.” He knew that God had interacted with him, and that his physical world had been affected by the presence of God coming to him from the spiritual realm.
     •  Moses certainly experienced the interaction of the spiritual with the physical, when he witnessed the burning bush and the voice of God in its midst.
     •  The prophets in the Old Testament continually gave witness as intermediaries between the spiritual and physical worlds for people who could not see. False prophets spoke from their own minds and imaginations.  God opened the eyes of His prophets so they could see into the spiritual realm and explain what they saw to the people.  Ezekiel saw wheels moving in unison.  Isaiah saw “the Lord, high and exalted seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.”  He also saw the angels that surrounded that majestic throne.  Elisha was able to assist his servant to see into the spiritual realm during a frightening episode when their city was surrounded by an army of horses and chariots.  Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:17).
     •  But it wasn’t only the Old Testament Prophets and Patriarchs who had knowledge and experience of this interaction.  Stephen described what he saw in the spiritual realm, just as he was about to be stoned to death:   “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:54-56).   Peter was released from prison by a spiritual intervention:  “Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists” (Acts 12:7).
     Even Jesus, as fully man, encountered the spiritual realm while on earth.  His baptism saw an intrusion of the Holy Spirit (in the form of a dove) from the spiritual realms, and the voice of God confirmed it.  And I sometimes think we Christians forget that Jesus’s ministry on earth always originated in the spiritual realm of Heaven.  Jesus continually tells us that He only did what His Father had shown Him.  How could that be, if He wasn’t being shown things in the spiritual realm?   And how can we dismiss what happened at the Transfiguration? Jesus parted the curtain between the physical and spiritual realms, so Peter and John could see that Moses and Elijah were living with God!
     •  While all these examples show us that there were many good and glorifying experiences of interaction between the physical and spiritual realms, we must not ignore that the Enemy also has used this ability to interact with this world.  When he tempted Jesus in the desert, he was able to show Him, in the spiritual dimensions, all the things of power and fame he could give Him, if Jesus would  only bow down and worship him.
     And I find another interesting episode of interaction in the storm which arose when Jesus accompanied the apostles on their boat.  The Greek translation says that “a great storm arose in the sea, an earthquake of the sea, its waters stirred to their depths”.  This suggests to me that the forces of darkness understood that Jesus was a risk to them.  He was casting out demons, and they were powerless.  He was healing the people they had inflicted with sickness. They knew that they had to deal with him, before He really got going. So they stirred up the sea and the wind in an effort to kill Him.  That’s why He rebuked the wind in the same way as He rebuked the evil spirits He was casting out in people.
     Can you see how both God and the devil — both Good and Evil — are able to interact with us through the overlapping dimensions of our physical world with the spiritual realm?  There are many more examples in the Bible of such experiences, and if Christians throughout the centuries (after the inspired Word of God had ended) were to write down their testimonies of spiritual interactions, it would fill untold numbers of manuscripts!  And guess what?  It is still happening, whether we recognize it or not!

     So, it is imperative, if we are to serve our Lord as He purposed us to do, that we recognize and acknowledge that there is an invisible world just as real as this physical one, and it comprises the spiritual realm.  It was created just as certainly as this rock we live on.  These two realms overlap and the forces that aligned with Satan have access to our realm, but we are not powerless to withstand them!  We need to understand that we have access to Jesus and the power of God — the same power that He used in His ministry on earth to deal with those collaborators with the Enemy.  And He has given us His permission to call upon those powers (it is His Name that activates them!) to resist the devil and his schemes to oppress us.  That is our Authority!
     We desperately need to understand and get this concept!  We need to know — I mean really know, deep in our spirit — that we are involved in a visible and invisible world that intersect, and there is a war going on, a cosmic conflict that has eternal implications.  The souls of every man, woman, and child on this earth depends on us knowing that!  And we need to know that the Enemy seeks to blind us, and convince us that this is not Scriptural.  And he has been winning on that front for quite awhile now.  The state of misery that so many Christians are living in is proof of that.
     So I can imagine that he is none too happy that more of us are waking up to the Biblical Truth that Spiritual Warfare is part of our commission as the Body of Christ.  Our eternal Victory has been won on the Cross for those of us who call Jesus our Savior.  But there are millions of lost souls who are in the cross hairs of the Enemy, and it is our calling to share our salvation story.  With that, we can expect skirmishes, battles, and sometimes all-out war with the Adversary.  And that means that we need to be more vigilant than ever to put on our full spiritual armor, as Paul advises in Ephesians 6.  We need not be afraid or timid, or go searching for the fight.  We just need to stand firm in the knowledge that there is power in Name of Jesus, and we have access to it and the authority to use it.  With that recognition comes the victories that will allow us to fulfill our purpose on earth.  And that is what God and Jesus desire for us!

1 Corinthians 2:13     “We also speak of these things, not in words taught or supplied by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual thoughts with spiritual words [for those being guided by the Holy Spirit].”

   

We Need To Understand The Spiritual Realm!

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      I guess various reactions are to be expected when we Christians become bold enough to speak publicly about “Spiritual Warfare” and “Spiritual Realms” and doing battle with “Spiritual Beings”.  There will be those who do not share my faith, and are either agnostic or atheistic, and see these subjects as contrary to their scientific mindset, and those who believe in rationalism, a theory that opinions and actions should be based on reason and knowledge rather than on religious belief.
     But we should also expect that our fellow Christians may have differences of opinion with us; especially over terminology and just how far we are to go in waging our battle.  We must remember that, as 21st Century Christians, the theology of spiritual warfare is largely unrecognized and we are essentially, still trying to come to terms with what it all means.    

     I happen to believe that the Christian “Church”, or Body of Christ if you prefer, is largely uncomfortable with the idea that we live in a supernatural world, and that the Bible is a supernatural Book.  Oh, you will hear Christians agreeing that the Bible is a supernatural book, but then they are so clearly skeptical when you try to point out the supernatural implications of Scripture.  I’m not sure what it is … if certain charismatic denominations, and individuals, have given a bad name to the spiritual and supernatural side of our faith; or if we have just closed our minds to the possibilities of the supernatural in our faith, so that we keep it at arm’s length, and only refer to it in whispers.
     Because of these two distortions, Christians suffer from a fundamental problem:  they don’t see the unseen world from the same point of view as the ancient Biblical writers.  One group assigns the spiritual and supernatural to the periphery of theological discussions; while the other group is so obsessed with experiencing the supernatural, that they are indifferent to whether their theology is Scriptural or not.
     That’s why I think it is important for us to examine and recover a Biblical context when discussing spiritual warfare, and we must not dismiss, ignore, or wrongly interpret what the Bible is telling us.  I find it interesting that most people, whether devout in their faith or not, will agree that God exists.  Yet how do they see Him?  If forced to define Him, I suppose most would agree that He is not flesh and blood like us, but is a Spirit.  So they can conceive of God, the Creator of the Universe, as a Spirit, but these same people can’t agree that there are evil spirits, or that Satan is real.
     I think that it all comes down to a fundamental lack of knowledge about what occurred in the Garden of Eden.  Let’s start at the beginning:  The Bible reveals to us that God and the Word (Jesus) have existed eternally.  That’s what John 1:1-2 plainly says.  As Genesis tells us, They created everything …. the earth and all things on it; the first and second heavens (our sky, and the heavenly realm beyond our atmosphere); and all the plant and animal life.  God also created angels to help Him create, govern and manage His creation. Angels are ministers, agents and helpers in God’s creation. They are servants of God, playing a critical role in fulfilling His eternal purpose.
     Lucifer was created to hold a special office:  one of just two cherubs covering and protecting God’s throne.  Ezekiel, Chapter 28 gives us a good vision of how God saw this angel He created, whom He refers to as the prince of Tyre.  He describes Lucifer as having “the full measure of perfection and the finishing touch [of completeness]; Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.”  God created and educated Lucifer for his assignment on Earth’s throne, which was placed in the Garden of Eden—before human beings were even created! Lucifer received this special training from the “holy mountain of God,” God’s throne!  Yes, God had great plans for Lucifer to manage His creation of Earth for Him…. that is until we get to Ezekiel 28, verse 15:  “You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created until unrighteousness and evil were found in you.”
     We all know the rest of the story.  Lucifer, in his pride and arrogance, sought to usurp God’s throne, and when God (and Jesus) created man to have dominion over the earth and manage their creation, Lucifer became known as Satan and plotted to steal back what he believes is rightfully his.  Through Satan’s tempting scheme, mankind experienced The Fall, and we have been in battle ever since with Satan and the angels that chose to follow him.
     The Kingdom Watcher, really explains the bigger picture well.  “The physical realms consist of the earth, the sea and the sky. It includes people and the things they have made.  The Bible refers to the “heavenlies” as a label for the spiritual realms that exist alongside the physical world. The spiritual realms are just as real as the physical world that we can see. These two realms overlap and interact with each other.  We live in a multi-dimensional universe in which the spiritual dimensions exist in parallel to our three-dimensional physical world. The spiritual realms operate in continuity with the physical/natural world that we observe. Most humans cannot see into the spiritual dimensions, so we can only observe the physical side of existence. However, events in our physical world are shaped by activities in the spiritual realm. When we look at the physical world in isolation, we miss much of what is happening in the universe.”

     But here is what we need to know!  When God created the earth and “the heavens”,  He created a spiritual world that exists in parallel to the physical world. God created a multi-dimensional universe.  We can only see the three dimensions of our existence … height, width, and depth … along with the dimension of time.  The website called,
     Here’s what we need to understand … God operates in the spiritual dimensions of our reality, but He also created and sustains the physical world.  The sad fact is that the ancient Biblical writers understand this concept, and up until about 300 years ago, so did modern man.  But then a European intellectual movement of the late 17th and 18th centuries, called the Enlightenment, emphasized reason and individualism over accepted traditional thought. Combine that with modern education, and we all but wiped out our awareness of the spiritual world.
     But there’s another important concept to understand when it comes to recognizing the overlapping of the spiritual and physical worlds.  It is the concept of AUTHORITY.  God had authority over all the angels in heaven.  At some point, when Lucifer rebelled, one-third of the angels decided to follow him and he was allowed to set up an alternative kingdom, under some semblance of his authority.  (Remember:  nothing happens without God allowing it, even though we may not understand His Sovereign choices).  God created the earth and placed humans in it. He gave authority over the earth to the people He created, but kept authority in heaven for Himself.  Satan wrestled authority from Adam and Eve by persuading them to believe a lie. This gave his spiritual forces of wickedness a place in heaven and authority over the earth, but it was stolen authority. The devil also devised a place in the spiritual realms by acting as accuser /prosecutor of God’s people before the presence of God.  (We see that played out in the Book of Job).  And now, all this is being played out in our lives, and upon the earth and the heavenly realms.
     This is what it looks like:  Sin and The Fall destroyed the unity that had existed in the spiritual realms. God still dominates the spiritual realms, and two-thirds of the angels remain loyal to Him. However, Satan drew together the angels that had rebelled with him and squeezed them into an alternative power structure within the spiritual world.  This division in the spiritual realm results in struggles here on earth between the Kingdom of God and the forces of wickedness.  That is why Paul tells us “we do not struggle/wrestle with flesh and blood” — there is an overlapping and interaction between our physical world and the spiritual realm.
     I realize that this leads to all kinds of questions … questions that we will consider in the coming days and months.  A question that naturally occurs at this point is, God is Sovereign.  Why doesn’t He just stop Satan (or people) from carrying out their wicked plots and schemes?  That is a tough question, and I do not claim to know the mind or counsel of God.  But perhaps He plays by His own rules and His immutability (His unchanging Character).  When He gave authority over the earth to man, it is not in His character to take it back, even when man so carelessly gave it away.  Or perhaps, once man handed over his authority to Satan, God planned a way for us to get it back, but it would involve making a choice on our part to believe in His Co-Creator, Jesus.  I’m not sure we are capable of answering that question, or that it even matters.
     I believe, however, that prior to The Fall, Adam and Eve could see into the spiritual world. They were able to walk with God in the cool of the evenings and speak directly to Him. They were even able to see the devil, when he came to tempt them. But after they disobeyed God, they were blinded and could no longer see into the spiritual realm.  I believe that this is the state in which most of us find ourselves today.  I also believe, that at His discretion, God is able to restore sight to those Christians who can forego their doubt and unbelief and accept His direction.
     But I also believe that Authority will come into play as we near the final struggle for dominion over this earth. God is revealing exactly what we’re dealing with, so that we can prepare ourselves for the battle that Satan and his wicked partners plan to bring against us.  They know that Jesus is readying Himself and His army to stop the reign of the Lawless One and take back Authority over His creation.  Until then, He has given us a measure of His authority, and that’s what I want to explore with you on my next post.  That is where it gets exciting for me, and I can’t wait to share with you what that can look like!

Ephesians 3:10    “So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”

   
   

   

The Invisible War

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     I hope you will allow me to begin this new phase of my blog by starting at the beginning.  I don’t want to offend anyone by suggesting that you need to be reminded of the basics of spiritual warfare.  I know that this audience is part of the remnant God is preparing for the End Times.  But, I want to share what the Holy Spirit is teaching me in an ordered fashion, so I am going to explain my understanding of spiritual warfare as if to a new Christian.  And, to be honest, I am feeling that there may be someone out there who is hearing this for the first time.  I want each of us to know what spiritual warfare is, how to recognize it in this world, and how to win the war.  May the Holy Spirit reach each of you where you are in your walk, and may He reveal His truth!

     As the title of the blog suggests, that is what our spiritual war is … invisible.  But make no mistake, just because we can’t necessarily see our enemy, doesn’t mean we can let our guard down.  As I have told you in many posts on this blog, I have witnessed the personal battles that so many of our fellow Christians are engaged in.  Oh, you would never know they are fighting for their souls.  (Mind you I said souls … their mind and thoughts, their emotions, and their will in fighting the flesh.  If they are a Christian, their spirits are indwelt by the Holy Spirit).  Neverthelss, they have developed very effective masks which they hide behind, and the Church has done a good job of painting a picture of what the “good Christian” looks like… just be in the Church pew every Sunday; keep busy in the Church’s activities; teach a class or two (by following some designated format); have a “go-to” Scripture or two that shows you know your Bible; and never — I mean never — admit that you are scared, or suffering, or that you just cannot conceive Jesus really rescuing you from your torment.

     So, doesn’t that make you wonder how many Christians are in a spiritual war and don’t even know it?  And if they don’t know it, then how in this world are they going to ever win even one single battle?  What’s worse is the Christians who recognize demonic attacks, but don’t have a clue how to defend against them.
     I mean, if you’ve never heard a sermon on Satan and his demons in your church, then, my friend, the time is right for you to be attacked.  Maybe you are a Christian that tends to skip over those verses in the Bible that teach us that we have the power that Jesus and the Apostles had to cast out demons, in favor of the verses that teach us that if we just stay in the Word, and abide in Jesus, then anything we ask in prayer will be given to us.  But here’s the deal.  They are both true!  We must declare the “whole counsel of God”!
     I happen to agree with D.A. Carson, who is a theologian and professor of the New Testament, who gives this explanation of what it means to consider “the whole counsel of God”:  it is the burden of the whole of God’s revelation, the balance of things, leaving nothing out that was of primary importance, never ducking the hard bits, helping believers to grasp the whole counsel of God that they themselves would become better equipped to read their Bibles intelligently, and comprehensively.
     Here’s the way I see it:  If we are going to call ourselves Christians, then the Bible is the only manual we have to go by.  And we can argue that it has been corrupted by man (through all the different versions); that there are books taken out of the Bible that should be in there; and even whether parts of it are allegory or to be taken literally.  I guess that’s something everyone has to decide for themselves.  As for me, I believe that the Word, in its entirety, is an active and living representation of my Savior, and He tells me in Matthew 24:35 that “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”  And He means All His words.  So, I choose not to duck the hard passages that speak of the unseen world and demonic or territorial spirits.  At the same time, I do not look for demons around every corner, and I do not neglect the grace and mercy in which I live as I grow in my salvation process.
     So, lest anyone think that by believing in Spiritual Warfare, I neglect the wonder and amazement of Christ’s work on the Cross to defeat the Enemy, let’s agree to agree on the following, OK?  Let’s agree with what the Apostle Paul wrote about in the Book of Ephesians.  Through the Word in that notable Book, we can agree that if we are a true Christian, then we have undergone this stunning spiritual transformation; we are a new creation.  We are accepted as a child of God.  We are blessed and redeemed.  We can agree that we were a part of the kingdom of darkness and sin, but Jesus ransomed us, and we are now a part of “the Church”, which is the mystery that God had planned from the beginning for those who believe in Him (both Jew and Gentile, alike).
     We know that through this new relationship with Jesus, we now have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, which helps us to walk in His righteousness; in His Light.  And we can agree that we have been given a picture of what that looks like … how to walk in love and purity as the Church; as a husband and wife, and in various relationships.  All that is covered in Ephesians, Chapters 1-5.  And then we get to that pesky Chapter 6, and Paul talks about putting on armor; and fighting against rulers, and powers, world forces in [this] present darkness, and even against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.  And what do we, people of the 21st Century, and our pastors do? We either skip right over that passage, or we attempt to explain it away as only being relevant to that particular time.
     But that’s not what Paul intended!  Chapter 6 is just as relevant to us as the first 5 Chapters, and just as relevant as to the First Century Church!  Paul is simply continuing his teaching in Chapter 6.  He has told us what it means to be a Christian; how to do it, and what it looks like. Now, he is reminding us that although we are a new creation, we live in a hostile environment; a fallen, sinful world.  And we must realize that our “newness” and our new “identity” are a threat to the powers that control this hostile environment in which we find ourselves.  And who might that be?
     As Christians, we all think we know the story of the fall of Lucifer, but I wonder how many truly understand the significance in each of our lives today?  I think Pastor Chip Ingram, founder and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international discipleship ministry, says it better than I can, so I want you to read what he has to say:  “There is an ongoing battle between the Holy Spirit and the flesh of man, and there is a supernatural, angelic being, who fell from Heaven, and who took a third of the angels with him.  His job, and his goal, and his strategy, is to destroy your life, to murder you – spiritually, emotionally, relationally, physically.  He wants to take you out.  He wants to ruin your life.  He wants to ruin your marriage.  He wants to ruin your children.  He wants to split your church.  He wants to have you overwhelmed, deceived, believing lies, and be rendered completely ineffective in this new relationship with Christ, so that the Church and the Gospel are discredited, and you become a miserable person, and all the work of God, and the work of the Cross, and the Resurrection is for naught.”
     So, Paul, in Ephesians, Chapter 6, says it about as plain as one can say it to a fellow Christian … and it is exactly what I want to say to you:  you’re in a war with invisible beings that are out to destroy this “new you”; this new creation you’ve become, and the relationship with the One who saved you.  You are in this war whether you want to acknowledge it or not.  You can be aware of it, or you can ignore it.  But you will not escape it.  And that is what is going to be my focus from now on.  I want us all to be aware of the battle we are in, and to be unafraid, and to be engaged.  So we are now on a journey together — to see this invisible war, and learn how to defeat our Enemy.
     And I want to leave you today with the first step towards winning your war.  Let’s start at the beginning of how Paul begins to teach us to wage battle in this invisible war.  He tells us to “Be strong in the Lord”.  But unlike so many weak sermons that I’ve heard from the pulpit, he actually tells us how.  He doesn’t leave us in the dark, trying to figure out what to “be strong” in the Lord means; and he doesn’t give us a man-made quip that isn’t Scriptural.  And he certainly doesn’t suggest that we are to be strong “in” our own power.  In fact, Paul tells us we are to be strong “in” the Lord.  Paul tells us plainly and explicitly.  He tells us to “draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him, and in the power of His [boundless] might.”  The Greek rendering tells us that this power is “manifested” power, meaning it is evidence of, a reflection of, and a display of power from God.
     So, there is real power in Christ, coming from God, and the power He exhibited while on earth is on loan to us!  Did you get that?  We aren’t to fight the battle with the unseen forces ourselves.  Yes, we have all the good benefits that Chapters 1-5 tell us come with our new identity as a Christian.  But I also believe that we have the power which was given to Christ [by the Father] available to us, as well.  And I further contend that if seeking the love and grace and mercy and righteousness of Christ were enough, then there wouldn’t be so many hurting and suffering and tormented Christians.  We have weapons that are available to us and we don’t know how to use them!  And they are all encompassed in the awesome and formidable power that raised Christ from the dead!  And that power, which — let me say it again — is available to us, scares the hell out of the devil.  As long as he can conspire to keep us ignorant of it, then the world — including Christians — are subject to his power and “the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places”.
     My friends, we are no longer going to remain ignorant of that power, and we are going to explore the Word and its teachings on this subject, and we are going to apply it to our lives.  We are going to begin to live in victory, and we are not going to shy away from proclaiming the power of Jesus to set us free!  Thank you for your encouragement and I’m excited to see what God reveals to us!

Luke 10:19    Listen carefully: I have given you authority [that you now possess] to tread on serpents and scorpions, [a reference to demonic powers or spirits] and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you.
   

Listening and Turning

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     It’s time for a change.  If you have been a long-time reader of this blog, perhaps you have noticed that I have been struggling in my writing lately.  My spiritually discerning husband sure did.  And I am grateful that he made me see that I was striving too hard to stay a part of “this world”.  Let me try to explain.
     I could see where I had come since beginning this blog in December of 2011. I had moved from a “prepper” mindset, into relating my Biblical perspective of world events, and was beginning to share that God was showing me we are engaged in spiritual warfare.  Somehow, I let the Enemy whisper his lies and convince me that “enough was enough” on that subject.  And I felt that perhaps I was supposed to back off from sharing this inspired knowledge.  But when I did that, I knew that I was weary of what the world was showing me; “all politics all the time”, so to speak, along with the various social breakdowns that make for news headlines.  And it is no accident that I used the word “strive” in that first paragraph to describe my writing, because here is what it means in a Biblical context:  To strive means to specifically struggle (fight) over words; to wrangle about empty and trifling matters. 
     I knew I wasn’t happy in what I was saying, and I was dissatisfied at the end of my efforts.  And it took my husband reminding me that I needed to stop and listen to what the Lord wanted me to say, instead of striving with the world’s empty voice.  After all, this was the initial purpose of my blog way back in 2011.  So I am announcing that I am making a change; I will no longer run from what my spirit wants to say.  I will no longer listen to the lies of Satan telling me that people are tired of reading about spiritual warfare.  I am listening to what the Holy Spirit is telling me because, honestly, all that other nonsense is what the rest of the world wants to hear.  I know that what I have to say appeals to a very small segment of the population, but I can no longer shy away from declaring what I am being shown.  I’ve skirted around this position, and it’s time to make a commitment.

     I know that I may lose some readers, but there are plenty of other blogs and websites that can feed an appetite for the worldly perspective  — it’s never been about the numbers for me, anyway.  If what I say speaks to one person for the Kingdom of God, then that was my purpose that day.  From now on, I am going to show you, and share with you, what my spirit says is really happening in our lives.  I will still point out what the world wishes us to see, but I will no longer stifle the Holy Spirit and the spiritual aspects and warfare that is our reality.  And it starts today!
     Perhaps the most important knowledge I can share with you today is the realization that we were born into a spiritual war zone, and we can choose whether we want to win or lose.  There is no neutral ground! Now, that’s not what the secular world will tell you.  In fact, they’ve spent a lot of media time, classroom time, and tax dollars trying to convince us that the world’s problems are because we are not tolerant of views, beliefs, or behaviors that differ from our own; that we are bigoted, narrow-minded, prejudiced, discriminating, and suffer from any number of hyphenated “phobias”.  If we would just be more sensitive to the differences between us, then there would be more peace in the world.
     Of course, that “tolerance” does not rely on any moral standard by which we are to judge its value or benefit to society.  Therefore, all standards are acceptable and we create a huge “neutral” ground wherein anything and everything is acceptable.  But, you see, that neutral ground only exists in our man-made belief system.  There are spiritual realms that have authority over this earthly domain, and in the realm that directly controls us there are only two authorities … Good and Evil.  They are at war with each other, and we only have two outcomes available when interacting with them; we either win or we lose.  There is no third neutral authority or outcome; no choice called “uncommitted”.
     We all have a choice to make as to which side we are on.  The unbelievers of the world have made their choice, whether they see it or not.  Ever since the “shining one” appeared in the Garden of Eden to tempt Adam and Eve, mankind must make a choice as to whom he will follow and obey.  Satan, who was the Deceiver with Divine Knowledge, convinced them to give over their authority to him.
     Remember, that in Genesis, mankind was made in the image of God and was given dominion over the earth.  The word dominion means “rule or power over.” God has sovereign power over His creation, but delegated the authority to rule His created world to mankind.  But we handed over that authority for a chance at eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  If man had entrusted God to be the Keeper of that Knowledge, we could have lived eternally in peace with Him.  But when we relinquished that authority, we instituted the battle that has raged since that very moment; the battle between the authority who champions Evil, and the Authority who is Good.  And we cannot remain neutral.
     And because we have to choose, there will be consequences for the choice we make.  Those who choose the side of Good can expect opposition from the forces of Evil in the spiritual realm, because we threaten their dominion, or rule or power, over the masses on this earth who have not yet chosen.  Sadly, the world — and many Christians — do not know or admit that this battle wages on.  But it so clear to me!  And that’s why I want to press forward to do what I feel called to do; to write what it means to live in this spiritual war zone; what it looks like to the unseeing world, and how it affects our everyday lives.  I want to wage war in the heavenly realms the way God’s Word teaches me and to reveal the deceptions that are keeping others from making the right choice.
     So, I hope you will join me in this new direction.  If it’s not where your head and your heart are now, then I understand.  But I hope you will check in from time to time.  Because you just might receive a word of knowledge or encouragement to help you make that crucial choice.

1 Timothy 1:18    “This charge I entrust to you, (insert your name), my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare…”
   

   
     

It’s Time For ALL Of Us To Wake ALL The Way Up!

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     I would venture to say that more people are becoming aware of the real substance of our lives every day.  To begin, it’s not hard for us to see that we’re being lied to.  I mean, novelists and clever marketers are hired to “create” the narrative of our foreign policy, and it is sold to the American public in 140-or-less characters on Twitter, and that becomes the story.
     Forget that in days gone by, veteran reporters would dig for the truth, and politicians couldn’t escape authentic journalistic scrutiny.  Now, what is dispensed as “on the record”, has been carefully crafted and pre-packaged with “talking points” that will not be denied, and everyone with a computer “reports” them as truth.  The digital age is a willing and convenient accomplice to such deception.
     At the same time, digital technology has allowed us to see behind the curtain, so to speak, and if we are discerning, we can tell that Iran is thumbing their nose at us, and the Iran “Deal” is a sham.  It’s also obvious to us, when our family members and friends have been laid off, and companies are closing their doors and moving to Mexico, that the positive job numbers we’re being sold are false.  Also, how many people are beginning to seriously question the effectiveness of vaccines; the very real existence of chemtrails and what they are doing to our health; and the legitimacy of our election process?  The availability of the internet has allowed us to do our own research and not rely on the media or “experts” to tell us what they want us to know.

     While I think it is a good thing that Americans are starting to think for themselves, there is still a majority, I fear, that are victims of their own normalcy bias (of which I wrote about here in 2012).  And of those who are starting to awaken, it is my opinion that they are still just dealing in surface levels of the truth.   If we are going to survive this forced transformation of our world, then we have to quickly move beyond these first stages of perceiving the truth, and step out in boldness to see “the big picture”.
     I will admit that it’s hard to face those dark truths.  It’s hard to admit that there is collusion between those whom we’ve elected to represent us and the medical/insurance conglomerates who profit off our illnesses and diseases.  It’s difficult to accept that the food industry sells us unhealthy food products.  And it is especially unfathomable that the military/industrial complex could initiate wars and global conflicts in order to profit from the inherent destruction and subsequent rebuilding.  Those are all sinful and evil practices.
     But sometimes that’s as far as people are able to go in their awakening process.  To go further means to contemplate a truly frightening world in which human beings are under the influence of dark forces, and we must admit that our limited human capabilities are unable to defend against them.  Far too many people are willing to remain in a state of ignorance, rather than go there.  If they just don’t look at the evil, they tell themselves, then perhaps it doesn’t really exist.  I’m afraid I’m one of those who, once awakened, doesn’t want to go back to sleep.  Once I’ve seen the curtain pulled back, then I know that in order to survive the forces I see coming against us, I must know the Truth, and all of it… not just enough to try to secure my safety and that of my loved ones; but know the depth of the Truth so I can be victorious against the threat of Evil!
     That’s why people like me can look beyond the corrupt policies of the medical/insurance industries and Big Food conglomerates and see the next layer of Truth … that’s why, as reported on the website, NaturalNews.com, “we begin to understand why glyphosate herbicide is sprayed on wheat crops (that aren’t even GMO) to promote cancer and infertility. [We] come to realize why vaccines in Africa are covertly laced with sterilization chemicals and why high-level virologists openly talk about wanting to genetically engineer viruses that would wipe out humanity.”
     That’s when we start reading between the lines of speeches by Bill Gates, in which he says, “If we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower [global population] by perhaps 10 or 15 percent.”  Suddenly, all the experimentation with Ebola, Bird Flu and biological weapons makes sense, doesn’t it?  And why do you think we are suddenly hearing so much about replacing physical workers with robots?  We’re constantly being told that the world’s food supply is shrinking.  Do you think there’s any suggestion that less food equals less people (due to starvation); and a less-populated planet relieves global warming and pollution?  After all, robots don’t have to be fed, right?

     So, if you’re able to go that far, why not go all the way?  Why not peel back the surface layers and see into the supernatural realm, where all the things we see in this world (the wars, the pharmaceuticals, the transhumanist/robot agenda, etc) are, in reality, the manifestation of the spiritual war between Good and Evil.  If you can begin to see that all the “good” and “bad” things happening in our society and culture are a part of this spiritual war, then perhaps you can begin to see what it is going to take to defeat the forces of our enemy.
     It is time to see that we are living at the beginning of a dark period in which all the forces of Evil are joining together for a final assault, in order to defeat Good (and God) forever.  As difficult as it might be for my fellow Americans (and even my fellow Christians!) to believe, it is imperative that we understand what is going on.  At the highest levels of national and global institutions are people who are being influenced by dark, demonic forces to ultimately destroy this world.  It is as old as the creation of this earth, itself.
     Those of us who believe in YHWH serve a Lord who promises us eternal life and rewards in His coming kingdom.  But we need to understand that those who harvest organs from aborted fetuses and partially-born babies, or those that allow the children of Flint, Michigan to drink poisonous water for almost a year without telling them, also serve a lord that has promised them rewards in this life. We cannot continue to look at these acts as misguided attempts by ignorant or misinformed people.  They have given their souls (their minds, their emotions, and their wills) over to a force intent on ruling (and plunging) this world into darkness.
     It is time to fully awaken to this reality, and to fully engage in the war to defeat this darkness.  If you know Jesus, then ask Him to equip you for the battle, because I promise you, it is coming in our lifetimes.  It’s already here!  We have just been slow in acknowledging it.  And if you don’t know my Lord and Savior, Jesus, then please don’t waste another minute without asking Him to reveal Himself to you.  He is the only way for you to win the battle each and every person will be forced to face.  Take just a moment and step back and look — really see — the world and what is happening in it.  Can you deny that humanity is under attack?  I urge you to please shake off your lethargy and come awake!  Join me in the freedom that comes from knowing the Truth and clearly seeing the Enemy we face; and I promise you, with that comes peace and courage and ultimate victory!

Romans 2:6-8   “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”

From Boredom to The Beast

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     Can you contemplate the possibility that with all the distractions we have in this Age of Technology, that we could actually find ourselves “bored” in our day-to-day lives?  By bored, I mean that we have become so over-stimulated by Facebook and all the other social media avenues, that if we are not constantly hooked up to it, then we feel we are missing something.  By bored, I mean that our brains are so aroused by the highly visible special effects in action movies, or the explicit and graphic sex scenes in R-rated movies and TV, that our normal everyday existence can seem unexciting and discouraging.

     Basically, the more we are entertained, or stimulated, or engaged in sharing our every waking moment, the more we need of whatever triggers a sense of excitement in our lives.  In other words, we don’t want to tolerate the average; we want more of the sensational.  That’s why people are bored at their jobs … sitting in meetings, or writing reports becomes intolerable and tedious.  Listening to a professor lecture, or studying for exams becomes monotonous and uninspiring.  Changing diapers, doing laundry, or preparing meals for your family becomes repetitive and mind-numbing.  We have become so accustomed to the instant gratification of our technology, and so reliant on it to take us outside our normal existence, that we cannot appreciate our “real” life.
     Dr. Sandi Mann, Senior Lecturer at the School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, writes, “Our attention spans are now thought to be less than that of a goldfish (eight seconds). We are hard-wired to seek novelty, which produces a hit of dopamine, that feel-good chemical, in our brains. As soon as a new stimulus is noticed, however, it is no longer new, and after a while it bores us. To get that same pleasurable dopamine hit we seek fresh sources of distraction … Does any of this matter? Research suggests that chronic boredom is responsible for a profusion of negative outcomes such as overeating, gambling, truancy, antisocial behaviour, drug use, accidents, risk taking and much more. We need less, not more, stimulation and novelty.”
     Of course, all of these negative side effects of boredom are alarming, especially when they result in keeping us from reaching our full potential.  But let me tell you about another side effect that secular psychologists like Dr. Mann may not consider. As a member of the pre-Millennial generations, it is pretty easy for us to see the consequences of our rapidly increasing technology — in effect, we can measure it from a “before and after” perspective.  It is easier for me to see the negative ramifications of too much technology in my life because I have reference points … I remember what it was like to actually engage in a face-to-face conversation, or at least telephone conversations with friends or loved ones.  So when I find myself avoiding that personal interaction in favor of non-verbal phone texts, I can recognize that I need to disengage from technology and make that human connection.
     Or, I can remember when the entertainment I chose to watch was more wholesome and respectful of human relationships and the family, so when I see something in a movie or TV show that transcends those older moral values, I can recognize that it is probably not something that I need to expose myself to.  But the Millennial generation has only known the continuous, highly suggestive version of the most creative minds in the technology and entertainment industries.  And here is the area in which I am most concerned … when those two businesses combined forces, this generation of kids and young adults have been inundated with a steady diet of ever-increasing supernatural concepts.  They receive it in their video games, in online movies, in their music, on TV, and even in books (if they can take the time to read one).
     Harry Potter books, to Katy Perry’s songs, to The Twilight movie series, to The History Channel, to The Terminator, Transformers, Aliens, Star Wars and Star Trek; all of which have spanned a couple of generations in successful movie franchises.  There is even a video game called Supernatural!  Our kids have been shown so much of the supernatural in movies, books, and music that they want to see a demonstration of it in their everyday lives.  It’s become such a part of their psychological makeup that they instinctively know it is real, but it’s never talked about.

     Think about it … witches, and aliens, and demons abound in all those sources of entertainment that I just mentioned.  The Supernatural has been featured in everything from the
     Their parents don’t know how to explain it; the Church can’t address it, because it has nearly lost the supernatural sense of its own Bible and the God it serves.  So, out of boredom, or restlessness, or dissatisfaction, or just the sense that life has become too slow and dull, they begin looking for further stimulation, and sadly it often leads to the dark side.  I’m afraid that we have failed to recognize this in our youth.
     It can be something as evident as a young man or woman, who was raised in the Church, and begins to question the validity of God, and ask all the questions that are natural in our human frailty … Why would God let a young child die tragically? Or, Is there really life after death?  But sadly, technology is expanding those questions and doubt.  They now begin to think thoughts such as This God I’ve been told about all my life is too restrictive, and following Him is not very exciting.  The internet is showing me that I can astral project and actually leave my body and experience supernatural trips.  I want to experience what’s beyond this realm NOW! Maybe there’s more out there than what God is offering me here. 
     During a trip to minister to our wounded warriors at The Fisher House at Fort Sam Houston, one of the chaplains shared with our ministry group that he was having a difficult time getting the young soldiers in the Army to attend Bible study classes he taught.  When he questioned a few of them, they said that Christianity was too boring; they preferred attending classes taught by the Wiccans or the Muslims because they were more exciting and stimulated their imagination.  We have gone so wrong in the Church by refusing to recognize, embrace, and teach that the Bible is a supernatural book about our Supernatural God!
     But the Enemy has not been so shy.  He has taken advantage of our reticence and twisted the supernatural aspects of our faith, and exploited it for his own benefit.  So our kids instinctively know that the supernatural exists, but they’ve only been shown the dark side’s version, and with the help of technology, they have been convinced that this version is not simply the only version of the supernatural, but it is more real and true for their lives than the staid and conservative paradigm of their parent’s theology.
     Those of us who see clearly what the Lord wants us to know for this time and age, are aware that the supernatural is about to collide with this realm.  And it is imperative that we strengthen our younger generations with the Truth of just what a Supernatural God we serve.  We cannot let the boredom that this generation perceives be used to lead them away from the most exhilarating and intoxicating and enthralling relationship they will ever have, this side of Heaven.  We cannot refuse to see the supernatural in our Bible and we must share the truth that Jesus constantly interacted with the natural realm supernaturally.  We can to, through the power of the Holy Spirit!  And that’s anything but boring!

Acts 9:11-12    “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.”

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

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 “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

     This is a powerful piece of Scripture!  And I wish every Christian would fully embrace the comprehensive message that the Apostle Paul is trying to tell us in this passage.  I’ve always thought of it as a companion to his message on the “full armor of God” in Ephesians.  But I am continually surprised at the number of my fellow Christians who apply his instruction on a limited basis.
     In Ephesians, Paul tells us that we do not fight against flesh and blood.  In other words, our enemies are not human like us, but are “cosmic” and “spiritual forces”.  He even gives us the rank and serial number, so to speak, of Satan’s army… rulers, authorities, powers, forces.  He tells us who we are fighting, and then tells us how to protect ourselves, and with what armor … fasten on the belt of God’s Truth (who He is, and who you are in Him); put on the breastplate of righteousness; put on the sandals of the gospel of peace; take up the shield of faith in all circumstances, and the helmet of salvation, along with the sword of the Spirit (which is the Word of God).  He then instructs us to pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
     First of all, there are many Christians who do not understand that we are to put on the armor and all those components because WE ARE AT WAR!  Somehow, they think that putting on the armor is simply part of our daily walk with God.  But why would Paul use imagery of war and a battle, if he just wanted us to know God’s Truth, be righteous, live a peaceful life, be faithful, accept our salvation, and read the Word?  The picture of putting on armor means you are going to be going to war, and are engaged in a fight.  He even tells us who the enemies are in the preceding verse!  But somehow some Christians ignore the first part of his message, and refuse to see the obvious… that we have very real spiritual enemies and there is a battle that needs to be waged — why else put on armor?
     Then there are Christians who will get to Level One by admitting that they can see the implications of a spiritual battle, but cling to the part of the verse that says “pray at all times… with all prayer and supplication”, as if that is the only thing we can do.  Please don’t misunderstand!  I am not diminishing the power of prayer, but as Paul tells us in the Scripture I have selected for today, there are weapons of warfare that we need to employ.  Notice the plural of that word?  Prayer is important; it is vital in our battle plan, but it is not the only weapon we have at our disposal!
    I want to reiterate …  in Ephesians, Paul tells us that our enemies are not flesh; but in 2 Corinthians, he tells us that our weapons are not of the flesh.  I think it is important to understand that he is trying to tell us that our human efforts are not enough to fight the spiritual enemies that Satan will send against us.  Notice that he says we “do not wage war according to the flesh”.  Also note that he isn’t as specific in 2 Corinthians, as to what those weapons are.  Let me share with you what the Lord has shown me.
     First of all, I believe today’s passage shows us that we must be ACTIVE in using our weapons, in order to be effective.  Each of the weapons I am about to suggest involves us being active, and taking a stand; using a specific weapon to overcome the activity and influence of Satan and his army.
      The first weapon that I believe can be especially effective is PRAISE.  The devil hates to hear people praising God.  When we speak praise out loud, it releases the presence of God in our lives, and a divine connection (and protection) is initiated that the devil cannot penetrate.  Michael Fackerell, a Christian missionary to Romania, has explained the power of praise as a weapon, better than anyone I’ve ever heard.  He says, “Many of our problems would be solved if we could only get Satan and his demons to SHUT UP. They operate by injecting suggestions into our minds which seem plausible, but are rooted in unbelief and rebellion towards God. The suggestions come as if they were our own thoughts, when they are not at all! We lose battles when we believe and trust these demonic suggestions. These suggestions, thoughts and imaginations work to sow discouragement, confusion, fear, doubt and unbelief in our minds. PRAISE – be it spoken or sung to music, however, works to SILENCE the enemy. Perfect praise led by God’s Holy Spirit will completely silence the enemy.”
     Please note that he has shown us how to be active in using the weapon of Praise, and how it brings us into partnership with the Holy Spirit.  That is the “divine power” to break strongholds, that Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians!
     A second weapon we have at our disposal is the Word of God.  We can see that this is the same weapon Paul says is part of our spiritual armor in Ephesians 6.  And it is the only piece of armor that requires action on our part; the only offensive piece of armor.  Everything else is defensive.  Once again, we see that actively speaking the Word of God out loud is a weapon that will overcome and defeat the Enemy.  He cannot stand against the Word!
     The next weapon that is active and effective against the devil is the Blood of Jesus.  We all sin, and by His blood, we are all cleansed, when we accept Him as our Savior, repent, ask for forgiveness and begin to walk out our salvation.  We must never listen to the lies of Satan, and let him condemn us by our sin.  We must actively apply the Blood of Jesus as a weapon in order to cover us and restore us to a place of acceptance with God, and peace with ourselves.  Remember that Revelation 12:13 says the saints “overcame the devil by the blood of the lamb”…. This is a powerful weapon in our arsenal!
     Now we come to the weapon that Christians are most familiar with — and oftentimes limit themselves to… Prayer.  We must prevail in prayer, keep praying, and believe in the power of prayer.  But prayer is not simply our request made known to God… it is so much more!  We can actually, in prayer, boldly enter God’s throne room (in our spirit) and petition Him for help in a particular need (Hebrews 4:16).  The Bible has a lot to say about prayer, but perhaps we should pay particular attention to how Jesus told us to pray:  to acknowledge that our Father is in heaven, and His name is holy.  He also asked us to pray “that His kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven…”.  In other words, when we pray, we want to ask that our desires and our circumstances, here on earth, be brought into alignment with God in Heaven.  
     We know that God only wants what is best for us, and that if we are in dire straits here on earth, it is because the devil is being successful in attacking us through our sinful nature.  If we have anything that is separating us from God … whether it be unforgiveness, unbelief, anger, bitterness, envy, self-rejection, or any of a myriad of weapons the devil can use against us … then we are not in alignment with Heaven, and that’s not how God wants us to live.  So we have to fight the devil with effective prayer; with the kind of prayer that destroys the stranglehold that the devil can get on us, so that our lives are out of kilter with God’s kingdom in Heaven.
     Another powerful weapon is our Testimony.  Again, when we share our testimony of how God has delivered us from our bondage, and broken the chains of slavery that bound us to the devil, then that is an active word that the spiritual realm hears, and it is a very real strike against the forces of the Enemy.  You are taking an active part in the battle to win souls to Christ, which removes a target from the spiritual battlefield.  You may very well have snatched a victory out of the hands of the devil, and struck a blow for the glory of God!
     I can not over-emphasize the power of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Remember, this is a spiritual battle we are engaged in, and God, through His Holy Spirit, has given us gifts to help defeat our Enemy — whether it be a Discernment of Spirits (to identify what kind of spirit or stronghold Satan is using to attack a person); a Word of Knowledge or Wisdom (a direct revelation from God);  the gift of Faith (in which the Christian receives a supernaturally strong and bold faith for a particular work God wants to do. This faith is far beyond the normal faith level of that person); a gift of Miracles (and yes, I DO believe that God still performs miracles today.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever — and He has given us the authority and power, through the Holy Spirit, to do the things Jesus did).  If He performed miracles in the past, He performs them today, and we can expect them tomorrow.  Any of these gifts are powerful weapons in the hands of Christians who fully comprehend the spiritual battle that we must fight.
     The Name of Jesus is also a potent and essential weapon as we fight in the spiritual dimension.   Jesus gave the 72 disciples He sent out into the world t(o spread the Good News) the most powerful weapon He could … His Name.  They reported back to Him in Luke 10:17, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”  In every instance in which Jesus interacted with the demonic influences on earth, they knew who He was, and they feared Him.  They also were subject to His every command.  And they still are!  When we encounter demonic activity in our lives, we can declare that it be bound, it stop, and it be cast away from us, In the Name of Jesus!  But here’s an important addendum… we have to Believe it can be so!  Without Faith on the power of His Name, then Satan can just send a spirit of unbelief to sabotage our weapon.  It is imperative that we believe what the Bible tells us, if we are going to be victorious in our spiritual battles!
     The last weapon I want to point out is the weapon of Fasting.  It is more than just doing without food to cleanse and detoxify our bodies.  Fasting creates a hunger in our soul to be brought into line with God’s will.  We can use Jesus as our role model.  Fasting precipitated His showdown with demonic power.  Jesus fasted in the wilderness (in those days he ate nothing), and Satan came at the end of it to test Him.  By speaking the Word in the face of great pressure, Jesus defeated Satan and was qualified to move in the power of the Holy Spirit as a MAN. That is the purpose of fasting as one of our spiritual weapons — to prepare us to move in the power of the Holy Spirit, not our own.
     So, I hope I have shown you that we have an array of spiritual weapons in our war against the Prince of this world.  Prayer is a powerful one, but we should not rely on it as the only weapon in our arsenal; and we need to specifically realize that prayer in our own power is far less effective than when we utilize our other weapons to strategize and win victories over God’s Enemy.  When we only pray in our flesh, we miss out on so much of the divine power available to us through our other spiritual weapons of warfare.  Remember, in our Scripture today, Paul tells us that our Weapons (plural) “have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”  Are you willing to trust in his advice, and rely on the Word?
     

“A Wind In The House of Islam”

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     Admittedly, these are frightening times in which we live.  The world seems on fire with hatred and persecution; and ISIS openly warns “the nations of the Cross” in Europe that “either you join Islam, or pay tribute, or freeze the war.  If it was Paris yesterday… tomorrow it will be London, or Berlin, or Rome.”  A recent video montage showed the attacks on New York City, Paris, and Brussels; and boasted of the bloodshed in Brussels.  It would appear that the news in regard to the followers of Islam is growing darker and more hopeless.
     But that is not the news that Missionary David Garrison brings to us in his astounding book, “A Wind In The House of Islam”.   This is not a new book — it was published in 2014, I believe, but the book is the result of 2 1/2 years of research and involved Dr. Garrison traveling more than 250,000 miles to conduct interviews with more than 1,000 people around the Muslim world.  In his book, he declares that, “we are living in the midst of the greatest turning of Muslims to Christ in history.”  In total he found 69 movements that had started in the first 12 years of the 21st century, in comparison with virtually no voluntary movements of converts to Christianity in the first 12 centuries of Islam.”
     During his extensive travels around the world, Dr. Garrison wanted to know what it was about Jesus Christ that moved Muslims to faith in Him.  So he traveled throughout the Muslim world — from West Africa to Indonesia — collecting hundreds of interviews and personal stories of former Muslims from within these movements who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Garrison wanted to understand, “Why now?” “How is God at work in our day to see more Muslim movements to Christ than at any time in history?”
     What he found was that something is happening in the Muslim world, something unprecedented in history… something that should give us all hope.  Dr. Garrison set out on an amazing spiritual journey, tracing the work of the Holy Spirit as it blows through the nine rooms in the House of Islam. And, in case you are like me, and are familiar with the terminology of the “nine rooms” of Islam, it is explained as follows … The House of Islam can be divided geoculturally into nine distinct regions or “Rooms”.  These “nine rooms” are:  1) West Africa; 2) North Africa; 3) Eastern Africa; 4) the Arab world; 5) the Persian world; 6) Turkestan; 7) Western South Asia; 8) Eastern South Asia; and 9) Indo-Malaysia.
     When he began his 2 1/2 year journey and research, Dr. Garrison said he he started out with a “healthy scepticism” about the number of new believers among the Muslim population, imagining that the figures might have been over-estimated. Instead, he found that numbers were often vastly under-reported.  “What is exciting is not just how big the movements are … but how many of these movements there are now, and that they’re not limited to one corner of the world, but we’re seeing them from West Africa to Indonesia, and virtually everywhere in between,” he says.
     So why is this turning to Christ happening now? “God has brought several elements together uniquely in our time,” he says. “Some of them are old elements – Muslim violence is not new, – but what’s different is today when Muslims experience this violence, they can see an alternative… they can switch on their Internet, they can turn on their television and hear an evangelist speaking Farsi or Kazakh or Uzbek.”
     All I can think of at the moment is, what Satan meant for evil –with pornography, jihadist recruitment, distraction away from God — our Father can use for His good.  As proof of this, Dr. Garrison point out that it’s also the combination of Bible translation, alongside the potential for multimedia evangelism, and the growth of international travel that appears to have facilitated this change. “It’s a great day that God seems to be orchestrating for this [conversion] to happen.”
     And there is no reason to doubt that these conversions are still happening, despite the increase in violence by ISIS and other jihadist groups.  After all, Satan knows his time is short and we all know that he is going to be pouring on the steam to destroy as many lives as he can before our Lord comes in His righteousness and dispenses His wrath against the ungodly.
     It may be hard to come to terms with what I’m about to say …. we are living in terrifying times of suicide bombers and massive attacks upon the West … but these are the days of salvation for Muslims! We must pray for what God wants, which is that no man be eternally lost.  And we have to face it, for much of the last 13 centuries, Christians in the West have been “failing” to bring Muslims to Christ and instead losing many Christians to Islam. Although “the tide is turning”, Dr. Garrison points out that it’s happening “over there”.  Another challenge for the Western Church, therefore, is to be a part of this change, both locally and globally – through reaching out to Muslim neighbours, and being prepared to take the gospel to unreached communities abroad.
     It is both heartening (and personally frightening), but I have a young college-aged friend who is planning a trip to Brussels this summer as part of a Christian outreach program.  She is young, blond, and obviously American; but she is also bold in her faith and willing to take the gospel into that hostile territory.  She knows that fear is not our birth right as followers of Christ.  She knows that Christ is all about taking what man intends for evil and turning it to good.  So I will be covering her in prayer with the blood of Jesus and praying that she does mighty works in His name.

     I can do that because I believe that our God can work in the midst of the rampage and violence that is engulfing Europe today, just as Dr. Garrison found Him working in the nine rooms of Islam.  Consider this:  West Africa and Eastern Africa are filled with Muslims from largely animistic tribal backgrounds. The Arab world, where Islam originated, was previously Christian and home to many of Christianity’s earliest Church Fathers. The Persian world was predominantly Zoroastrian before its seventh-century conquest by Islamic armies. Central Asian Turkestan was the home of shamanistic Turko-Mongolian tribes with scattered communities of Nestorian Christians before Tamerlane and the Golden Horde eradicated them in the 14th–16th centuries. These same Turkic conquerors subdued the peoples of what is today Afghanistan, Pakistan and western India in the centuries that followed. Islam’s advance eastward toppled Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms in what is today eastern India, Bangladesh and western Myanmar.  By the 13th century, Islam had already gained a foothold in the Indonesia archipelago, gradually converting the Hindu spiritualism of what is today Malaysia and the largest Muslim country, Indonesia.
     YET, even with this seemingly strong footprint among the nine houses of Islam, God’s presence is growing and He is shining His light into this darkness.  There IS a “Wind” in the House of Islam, and it is God’s Holy Spirit!  There is a supernatural spirit sweeping through the darkness in this world, and the response to Him is shining light into that darkness.  We must not become discouraged, disheartened, or dispirited.  And this is how one Muslim woman explained why she has not fled from the violence that is ISIS:  “When God wanted to reach men, He became a man. If God had wanted to reach hyenas, He would have become a hyena. If we want to reach our own people, we’ve got to stay in our community to reach them.”  May God’s mercy and the power of the Holy Spirit shatter the darkness that the Enemy is spreading.  And may His Truth destroy every evil intent of our Adversary!

Isaiah 9:2    “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.”
   

You Wouldn’t Believe It If I Told You!

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     But guess what?  I’m going to tell you anyway.  Rather, one of my faithful readers is going to tell you in her own words.  Because Christians and non-believers, alike, need to know the truth of what is blatantly happening in and around the world.
     God is revealing to those who are called by Him, that there is a very real war taking place against His people, and Satan’s servants in the spiritual realm are becoming more and more visible in their attacks.  Yes, I’m talking about demons and dark entities; those spiritual forces of wickedness that Paul talks about in Ephesians, Chapter 6.  Those powers that he says are fighting us from the spiritual realm.  But they are not only attacking us from the spirit world, they are now becoming bolder and manifesting here, in the physical world.
     I personally know of several instances of people I am close to who have encountered such entities and were willing to talk about it.  I think it would amaze you to know the number of Christians who have been physically attacked and are too afraid to admit it.  How do you explain to the Western Church that you have experienced something they don’t even admit exists?
     Well that isn’t a problem in the rest of the world, and I am always glad to hear from readers who want to share the power of Christ in dealing with such dark forces from the Enemy.  So, in the hopes that others will “come out of the closet”, so to speak, I want to introduce you to the personal experiences of one faithful Christian woman who wants to glorify God in her testimony.  Here is her story….

     I was raised in Burkina Faso, West Africa … my folks were missionaries. It is naïve [for Christians] to believe that there is more Satanic oppression and possession going on in Africa than there is here in America … but one big difference is that in Africa, it is MUCH more recognized.  And it can’t be dealt with until it IS recognized!  Africans see the truth that we are spiritual beings who happen to have a temporary body; while here in America, even most Christians don’t recognize that we are primarily spiritual beings.  Here in America, Satan and his demons are dressed up and masquerade behind suits and “cultured-ness”… but are every bit as dangerous. 
     When my folks and I went back to Burkina Faso in 2001 (my first time back home since I left at 15 years old in 1965!), I’ll never forget driving back one night from one of the bush stations we visited, where Daddy, some 55 years before, had evangelized the village, then established a pastor and built a church.  Our driver was conversing with another pastor who was with us in the vehicle, telling about how one time while returning home on his bike from a service he held in that village, he saw spirits appearing as lights, jumping from tree to tree above him, no doubt trying to scare and dissuade him from allowing God to use him in the lives of those villagers.  It was stated so naturally and calmly, as though they were discussing the weather. 
     There are so many stories like that!  One time late at night on our way home from a bush service, my mother saw a half-human, half-lion “creature” (read: demon) run across the road in front of the car, in the process of changing shape.  You would have to know my mother to know the kind of solid character, depth of her walk with the Lord, and uncompromising life, to understand how if she said she saw it, she truly DID see it.  I’m sure it too was for the purpose of scaring them from carrying out their ministry.
     One of our Bible school students was the son of a witchdoctor.  He was sharing with us one evening how someone from his village had been murdered, but they didn’t know who the killer was.  They were in a procession, in the process of taking the body for burial when,  following some kind of incantation by the witchdoctor wanting to discover the identity of the killer, the “body” on the bier sat up and pointed to his killer, then fell back down dead again … and the procession continued to the burial site!  (This shows that even the dark side has tremendous power!)
     Another time, in an effort to force a girl who was a new Christian to recant her faith and make her willing to marry a non-believer chosen for her, a witchdoctor sat her on a stool in the middle of a hut, on the floor of which were three baskets.  He opened up one of the baskets and let out a venomous snake—which instead of biting the girl, slithered in a circle around her, then went back into its basket.  The witchdoctor opened the second and then the third baskets and each time those snakes too did the same thing—crawled around her without touching her and then went back into their baskets.  The witchdoctor declared there was a power at work greater than his, and said there was nothing else he could do to force the girl to recant.  (She went on to marry one of the Bible school students!)
     Another time a demonic-controlled woman was prayed for by one of the bush village pastors, and she was immediately restored to sanity.  But until she grew stronger in her faith, she stayed living with the pastor and his wife in the walled-in living area of their huts.  As long as she was in the enclosure she was safe.  But if she went out alone to go to the bathroom, she would return all beat up from demons having attacked her.  However, if the pastor’s wife accompanied her as she went outside the enclosure to go to the bathroom, nothing happened to her!
     Then there was the day another insane (demonic-controlled) woman who lived out in the fields and had little contact with her family except to get food from them, had a dream that one day she would see four white people come to the village, and that when she saw them, she was to go to them and she would become whole.  Not too long after that, my parents visited that bush village, but the lady didn’t come to them as she saw only two white people.  (And most of those living in the bush had never before seen any white people!)  Some time following that, my brother and I went with my folks to that village.  She saw the four of us, came up to my parents and the pastor, was prayed for and beautifully delivered.  The Lord gave her such a gift of song and understanding of Scripture that in spite of her previous condition, she was immediately, and mightily, used in teaching gospel truths to the villagers! 
     Christians need to WAKE UP and recognize the evil lurking behind the façades Satan has erected—evil they’ve invited into their homes, families and lives through TV shows, movies, books, music, etc. If they don’t make becoming strong in their spirits a priority in their lives, there’s no way they’ll be able to stand against what is ahead of us! 

     Please don’t think that this is something unique and peculiar to Africa; that somehow they are a nation that is inherently wicked or open to such attacks.  I would venture that some of the most righteous and genuine believers exist among those who have simple and more difficult lives.  They NEED Jesus more than we comfortable Westerners do, and they recognize His presence and power in their lives much easier than we do.  And they also experience the Enemy and his wicked servants, and are not afraid to expose the practices and means by which they openly and boldly attack those who profess a faith in Jesus.
     So, if you haven’t experienced such an attack yet, I believe that it will become more common among all Believers as we advance toward the final showdown between Yeshua and Satan.  Our kids are messing with the spiritual realm; we invite spiritual wickedness in when we entertain mystical religions and other gods; and our culture is actually paying homage to pagan rites, rituals, and entities through our entertainment industry and a false façade of “enlightened” humanism.  Make no mistake!  The Enemy will take advantage of these opportunities we open ourselves up to!  If God is not our priority, and not the One upon whom we are focused, then He will be replaced with the one who will lead us to destruction.  What this reader disclosed in her personal testimony is not limited to the “dark continent of Africa”.  I assure you of that!  BE AWARE and guard your life against the growing forces of evil.  The prince of this world is gathering his forces, but we serve the Holy King of Righteousness.  We will win this battle!

Jude 1:13    “…  wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.”

   
   

There Is Much To Be Learned

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     You know, I just realized something … God’s revelations are not limited to our timeframe.  I have to admit that it can get frustrating to KNOW that God is revealing something to you that He wants all His people to understand, yet you are met with blank stares or looks of dismay because your message is so unconventional or atypical from the accepted belief.  Let me explain …
     You’re probably pretty tired of hearing that God thrust my husband and me into this ministry of spiritual healing; that everywhere we look, we encounter people who are in such dire need of being set free from the Enemy’s attacks.  Yet when we present the idea to fellow Christians, I can see them default to a position of “but I’m saved, that doesn’t apply to me.”  They never seem to ask themselves why they are so miserable in their salvation… as if that is just an accepted part of their humanity; that we are all called to “suffer with Christ”.

     Once again, I want to shout NO!  And I will reiterate what Christ, Himself, said:  that He came to set the captives free; to deliver those who are oppressed by the Enemy.  How many of you can say that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, yet there is not at least one area of your life in which you feel victimized, downtrodden, bruised, wounded, crushed, or broken down?  How many feel powerless to change these attacks upon your spirit?  Oh, how I wish I could convince you that you are not meant to  live in this manner!
     So, I know that I’m repeating myself, and I have no real credibility among the Body of Christ, other than my testimony of personally witnessing people who have been healed by the power of the Holy Spirit and the presence of Jesus.  But that doesn’t seem to be enough … sometimes my fellow Believers need to hear the same message from a pillar in the Christian community.  And you know what?  As long as they hear the message, it doesn’t matter if it comes from me or not.
    And that is what I see happening in a small Bible study group that I am associated with.  Our group of Ladies decided to revisit a revised study by Beth Moore, an evangelist, author, and Bible teacher.  The title of the series is Breaking Free, and I was fairly squirming in my seat as we listened to the first video presentation.  I heard her say so many things that alluded to what I have tried to present to our home church group, and about which I have spoken to various Christian friends.  She made a specific point of stating that “the blessed people of God” can live under great oppression.  Guess what?  That translates into Christians!  Yes, we are blessed by God’s grace and faith in Jesus, but it is the Father’s desire that out of our salvation experiences, we will bear much fruit for His Kingdom — while it is the Enemy’s goal to make us live unproductive and barren lives — to be fruitless and useless for the advancement of the Gospel; to be in bondage to the attacks of the devil and his demons.
     Now, Christians are accustomed to bandying about such words as bondage and strongholds, yet they rarely recognize that the words apply to them.  They seem to think that only non-believers could be trapped in bondage to sin, or be held captive in an enemy fortress that keeps them isolated from God’s healing power.  They are also unaware that such oppression can come from their generational line, making it hard to recognize that the past sins of the fathers is affecting them.  How often do you just attribute your misery to “that’s the way it is in our family”?
     So, you can understand how excited I was to hear Beth Moore teach the same understanding that God has revealed to me!  I don’t know how far she will go with breaking free from Satan’s oppression … this revised study is already 7 years old, and it is 17 years after she wrote the initial teaching of Breaking Free.  A lot has changed in the world in the last 7 years.  The attacks of the Enemy have become more targeted, and I believe that God has pulled back the veil even more to show us that there are very real demonic spirits at the heart of our oppression.  I say that, because I have seen them!!!
      I must be prepared that this teaching will still be shy of what I would like to hear her say, but if her credibility opens up hearts and minds … and those who have ears to hear, will hear … then perhaps it will start some on the journey that God desires them to take.  But I hope they heard the heart of her message, and I hope they discerned two very important points she made … 1) That we have been given Divine Power to demolish the strongholds in our lives (the Divinely-given power did not end with the Apostles) and 2)  Oftentimes the Church building becomes a shelter in which we can hide our strongholds and oppression.  As Moore pointed out, we can show up every Sunday with our Bible, sing our songs of worship, quote our favorite Scripture, and clothe ourselves in an appearance of right relationship with God.  But the real truth is that our spirits are full of anger, resentment, bitterness, self-rejection, pride, envy, self-loathing, feelings of abandonment, and any number of strongholds the Enemy has us in.  Christians who feel they are leading productive lives for God by being in Church every Sunday usually don’t realize that Jesus did not ask us to be productive within the four walls of our Church building, but to bear much fruit for Him out in the world!
     We must be honest with ourselves as Christians.  If there is anything in our lives that is hindering us from coming into the fullness of what God has to offer us … then we are in bondage!  That is not why Jesus came; not the state He desires us to be in; and it certainly is not why He conquered Death for us.  It is time for Christians to break free from all their chains and tell the world what that looks like and feels like!  Until then, we are going to continue to see Christian lives that look good from the outside, but are lacking the fullness of God on the inside, and thereby producing little fruit or hope in the world.  This revised study of Breaking Free may be a little dated, but its message is needed now more than ever!

Galatians 5:1    “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

   

It Feels Like It’s All Falling Apart

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     It’s not only the fact that the Italian ANSA news service reported that local sources in Syria told them that Islamic State militants stormed the city of Deir al-Zour in eastern Syria over the weekend, reportedly decapitating upwards of 150 people, including women and children, and abducting hundreds more.
     It’s not just that the assaults and rapes perpetrated against young women in Europe by Middle Eastern refugees is rising at an alarming rate.  And it’s not just that Britain’s former Archbishop of Canterbury is warning that the Church of England is only “one generation away from extinction”, while those of the Muslim faith in that country are exploding in numbers.
     And it’s not just the scary proposition of a new TV show called Lucifer, which will focus on, you guessed it, Lucifer, “who is bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell and resigns his throne and abandons his kingdom for the beauty of Los Angeles, where he gets his kicks helping the LAPD punish criminals.”  I enjoy a creative and clever show as much as the next person, but this is an example of our culture embracing one more aspect of Satan’s deception and attempting to “mainstream” it.  Among other powers, the main character, Lucifer Morningstar, has a supernatural awareness of any person’s hidden desires and can compel them to speak the truth. He enjoys using these abilities to expose sinners in public.  I can only imagine how this makes the real Lucifer more attractive and engaging, and will impose his supernatural and satanic influence on gullible audiences.
     All these topics and headlines point to the spiritual decline that is descending upon this world.  But there is more …. when Walmart and McDonald’s announce significant closures, it signals that our nation’s economic foundation is crumbling, as well.  Even when mild recessions hit the economy, stores that offer low cost value such as Walmart, or dollar menus, such as McDonald’s were always a good fallback plan for families to stay within tightened budgets.  But the fact that hundreds of stores are closing is pretty good evidence that families can’t even afford rock bottom prices.  That means the buying power of Americans is declining, along with the depressing news that even more of those same Americans who worked at those stores will be out of a job.
     Then there is the sad state of race relations within this country, when being white is now reason to be ashamed, as evidenced by “White History Month” at Portland Community College.   It all centers around an  “educational project” which explores how the “construct of whiteness” creates racial inequality.  Let me put it more succinctly, according to the description of this project:  Whiteness “does not simply refer to skin color, but [to] an ideology based on beliefs, values, behaviors, habits, and attitudes, which result in the unequal distribution of power and privilege based on skin color.”
     I know it may sound naive and simplified, but why do we need to look at each other’s skin color at all?  Why can’t we just love each other based on our hearts and spirits?  I have people in my life whom I love very deeply; family members of every color, including black, brown, white and in-between, and when I look at them I see their eyes, their smiles, and their spirits.  Skin color just doesn’t come into play.  We are all children of God and He made every one of us just as He desired.  So why does diversity have to be so labored, so forced?  I know that this is just one more area that is being exploited by those who will benefit from the friction, but I just wish God would make us all color-blind!
     So, there you have it … a pretty wide range of spheres where it seems like it is all falling apart.  Whether it is the continued atrocities perpetrated by evil men; the demise of Christianity in one of Europe’s oldest countries; the publicity campaign to reform the reputation of Lucifer; the failing American economy; or the efforts to push the racial divide to its limits, it all spells the same thing.  We are rapidly coming to the point of no return; a time when a difficult or important decision must be made by every human being.  Whose side will you choose?  Will you accept the salvation bought for you on the cross at Calvary?  Or will you foolishly believe that the Prince of this world can offer you a better future?  The signs are everywhere.  He is making his move and we will soon have to declare our allegiance to one or the other.  I beg you … Spread the Good News of our Savior and shine His light into this Darkness!

2 Corinthians 2:14    “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere.”

The Founding of America: What Is The Truth?

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     In yesterday’s post I broached the subject of the founding of this nation and our Christian roots.  Today I will attempt to put forth my personal opinion that, from the beginning, there was a battle between God and the Devil; between Christianity and false gods, for control of the destiny of this nation.

    Before I present my views, I have to admit that I have always unabashedly believed that America was a Christian nation from the beginning.  I can remember studying American history in school and learning how nearly all of the colonies were founded for religious reasons; by people seeking to worship the Christian God without interference from kings or governments.  
     Yet, as I have studied this phenomenon throughout the years, it has not escaped my notice that, at their formation, all of the 13 colonies had some form of state-supported religion, while only 8 of the 13 had an official religion.  If one takes the time to study this deeper, I think it is fair to say that we should understand this to mean that religion played a very important role in the founding of this nation.  Faith in God was seen as a positive and valuable commodity for the foundation of a successful society.  We, of a certain age, remember our history lessons of the Puritans and Pilgrims, who wanted to base the laws of their respective colonies on the laws of God.
     You can study the various charters of the original colonies and get a good idea of how important they felt Christianity was for the future of their citizens.  And the importance of worshipping the Christian God was always at the forefront.  In its Declaration of Rights, the colony of Virginia stated:  “That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”
     The 1683 New York Charter of Liberties and Privileges stated:  “THAT Noe person or persons which professe ffaith in God by Jesus Christ Shall at any time be any wayes molested punished disquieted or called in Question for any Difference in opinion or Matter of Religious Concernment”.  
     The 1776 Delaware State Constitution required the following oath from anyone serving in the legislature:  “I _______, do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, One God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old Testament and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration.”  I could go and on, but you get the picture.  If you’d like a closer inspection of the original colonies and their charters, click here.  
    But before I leave this portion of my argument, I just want you to see that early colonial laws and constitutions such as the Mayflower Compact, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, and the Massachusetts Body of Liberties are filled with such language—and in some cases, they incorporate biblical texts without apology.  Perhaps more surprisingly, tolerant, Quaker Pennsylvania was more similar to Puritan New England than many realize. The Charter of Liberties and Frame of Government of the Province of Pennsylvania (1681) begins by making it clear that God has ordained government, and it even quotes Romans 13 to this effect.  (In all fairness, it is important to note that while the founding documents of each colony point to state-supported religion, the requirement that states support particular religions, or mandate participation in religious practices, was discontinued after 1850.  This does not mean that they opposed religion, but rather left it to the conscience of the individual, instead of being required by law).
     And that old familiar argument that the Founding Fathers were Deists, rather than Christians doesn’t really hold up under closer inspection.  History tells us that only a handful of the Founders —  Benjamin Franklin, Ethan Allen, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and (if we count him as an American) Thomas Paine — might have actually embraced this viewpoint.  But one cannot deny that they were heavily influenced by Christian doctrine and ideas.  That is not to discount the influence of the Scottish Enlightenment, which asserted the fundamental importance of human reason combined with a rejection of any authority that could not be justified by reason; or John Locke’s “Natural Rights Philosophy” which stressed the rights of the individual to life, liberty and property.  There is strong evidence that the Founding Father’s were greatly influenced by these philosophies some 150 years after Jamestown and Plymouth.  But there is equally strong evidence that they still believed in Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop’s vision of “a shining city upon a hill” (a reference to Matthew 5:14). Like the Puritans, the Founders separated church and state, but they clearly thought the two institutions should work in tandem to support, protect, and promote true Christianity.
     I understand that if you are not Christian, and do not want to see our country as a “Christian nation”, then nothing I can say will convince you.  And most likely, any mention that there was a competing force for the spiritual allegiance of America will fall on deaf ears, too.  But I would like you to consider the following…
     Is it possible that there is a very real paradox in regards to the founding of this nation?  Is it possible that our Founding Fathers were patriotic Christians while simultaneously pledging Masonic oaths?  It is certainly something that I cannot deny.  In fact, in the late 1950’s and early ‘60’s, the Masonic Service Association published a series of documents highlighting Freemasonry’s connection with the early history of the United States, and these are among the numbers they reported:  
•  Signers of the Declaration of Independence: 8 confirmed Masons, 24 possible, 24 with no affiliation.
•  Signers of the Constitution: 13 confirmed Masons, 7 possible, 19 with no affiliation.
•  General Officers of the Continental Army: 33 confirmed Masons, 15 possible, 26 with no affiliation.
     In a 2012 article, written by Jamie Brendan for Endtime Magazine, titled, Founding Fathers: Christians or Masons … or Both? the author writes, “Not unlike many Masons today, it’s very likely that a number of the founding fathers who were members of the Lodge failed to understand the spiritual significance of Freemasonry – principally that the Lodge is a universal melting pot of religions and mystical concepts. In fact, of all the accusations made against Freemasonry, this is one which the Lodge gladly promotes—religious universalism.”  
     And I contend that it is in fact, this very universalism, that the Bible predicts will overtake mankind as part of the New World Order, and a One World Religion.  Just read what the Masonic Service Association has to say:  “Masonry is not Christian; nor is it Mohammedan nor Jewish nor to be classified by the name of any other sect. The power which has held it together, the chemical which has caused its growth, the central doctrine which makes it unique, is the opportunity it affords men of every faith, happily to kneel together at the same Altar, each in worship of the God he reveres, under the universal name of the Great Architect of the Universe.”
     So, for those who have insisted to me that their fathers and grandfathers were Masons, and it is not a religious organization, but rather just “a union, of sorts; founded on the history of bricklayers, etc.”, I would like to ask the following question:  who are they kneeling to at the Altar?  It certainly is not YHWH, the One True God!  And I do not disagree that those who are at the lower levels of Masonry do not have any idea of the true purpose of the Lodge.  They will consistently proclaim that it is to do charitable work and to provide needed services to the poor.  But believe me, I have read the oaths taken at the highest levels and they are blasphemous to my God!  

      And it does not give me any solace that, as Jamie Brendan writes, “the one place where historical Freemasonry is most evident is in Washington DC.  It’s at this vital governmental hub that Masonry has left an indelible mark on the nation’s fabric. The Capitol Building, the White House, and many other federal buildings were either designed by Masons or dedicated by a Masonic ceremony of “corn, wine, and oil.”  In fact, the entire city of Washington DC – including large sections of its street layout – is liberally laced with the fingerprints of Freemasonry and astrological symbolism.  Moreover, Washington Monument, the tallest structure in the capital city, is an openly recognized Masonic edifice, with a meaning directly connected to ancient Egyptian belief systems [so too are many other obelisks scattered across the United States].”

     I’m sorry that I am unable to explore this paradox to the extent that it deserves… it would take several days of research and posting to do it justice.  But suffice it to say that the paradox is real, and both sides of the argument have merit.  America does have a Christian heritage.  The earliest Americans recognized the importance of Christian morals, church life, and a degree of common sense based on God’s Word [the Ten Commandments, for example].  Also, our history of thousands of immigrants who fled to America because of the persecution they experienced while standing for Christ in their homeland proves that America was a beacon of Christian hope.  And I do not think we can deny that there were real, faithful men of Christ among those who forged our new nation.  
     But it is not the whole story.  While the founding of America was based on Christian values, we also must admit that America has been guided by men who belonged to secret societies (not only the Masons, but the more modern Skull and Bones Society, comes to mind).  We need to realize that America, along with Europe is experiencing a clash of our historic roots; that is what we are seeing today.  We Christians need to stop focusing on the past and denying that our influences have changed, and that outside forces are attempting to transform us.  As much as it hurts me to say this, we need to face who we are becoming as a nation.  We Christians have no intention of changing, but there are those spiritual forces who are combining with those who embrace secret societies in order to force us to change.  Yes, I am still prepared to say that we were founded as a Christian nation… As I said yesterday, God intended for this nation to be dedicated to Him — but the devil was not going to let that happen, if he could help it.  As noted above, freemasons had influence on our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.  
      The truth is, there has been a battle over America since its founding.  Our Christian roots are real and they are solid.  We are the heirs of our forefather’s commitment and obedience to Jehovah.  But we need to realize that there is a battle for the soul and spirit of America, and the Enemy’s forces have been organizing and following their plan for nearly 240 years.  We need to get on board with God’s battle plan if we are to save this nation.  Our Founding is in the past.  We need to let go of the romantic vision and come together to defeat the Enemy.  His forces are marching toward globalism, ecumenicalism, and his New World Order.  Maybe we need to concentrate less on preserving the sentimental image of the United States of America, and join forces with the angelic hosts to bring in the Kingdom of God.

Job 12:23-24    He makes nations great, and He destroys them; He enlarges nations [and then straightens and shrinks them again], and leads them [away captive].  He takes away understanding from the leaders of the people of the land and of the earth, and causes them to wander in a wilderness where there is no path.

What Do You Know About “Grave Sucking”?

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     Strange question, huh?  If you’re like me, you knew nothing about it.  But apparently this is a distorted view, among some Christians, of the spiritual powers that are available to us through our faith in Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
     I have shared with many through this blog, and through personal relationships, the direction that God is taking me in regards to spiritual matters.  Both my husband and I have discerned from our many hours of Biblical study, and listening for the Lord’s guidance, that we Christians are engaged in spiritual warfare, whether we acknowledge it or not.
     This new awareness has led us to the Scriptural knowledge in the Gospels and throughout the New Testament, that Jesus has empowered us with the Holy Spirit to partner with Him in continuing to carry out the works He did in the Father’s will, while on earth.
     This is oftentimes (actually, most of the time) met with skepticism or resistance by the traditional Church.  I can understand that… this insight has not been taught nor encouraged in the Western Church.  The thought of real demons afflicting Christians is a foreign concept, and one that just doesn’t fly in the face of our “God is Love and Grace” and “Prosperity Gospel” messages.
     Yes, God IS Love, and He DOES pour out His Grace and Mercy on us, but the Devil is real, too, and if he can deceive us into dismissing this piece of our Christian walk, then just think of all the havoc he can cause in our lives!  Or better yet, if he can substitute a false teaching… but one that mimics (and resembles) our authority from Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, then he can lead Christians down a path away from true Biblical instruction and towards an unholy indoctrination and empowerment.  Such is the case with a phenomenon known as “grave sucking”, or “grave soaking”.

     It even sounds evil, doesn’t it?  And to be honest, I had not heard of it until my husband brought it to my attention, and apparently it is a very real practice among those who think that it is Biblical.  Just what is it exactly?  I found the following description on a website called Youth Apologetics Training, which seeks to help teens understand and defend Christianity — which tells me that this strange practice may be gaining popularity among our younger Christian population.  The website debunks the unscriptural and unholy exercise, and explains what it is:  Grave sucking, or “mantle grabbing”, is the belief and practice of pulling the supposed Holy Spirit powers from the dead bones of a previously empowered believer.  It is taught that when a Spirit-empowered individual dies, their mantle or mission dies with them.  In other words, God’s mission for that believer was thwarted when that believer died.
     Maybe that believer had a gift of healing.  Maybe they were an apostle, prophet, evangelist, teacher, had the gift of serving others, or of encouragement.  From my understanding, there are those in the Christian community that believe, with that person’s death, God’s plans for that particular anointing are placed on hold.  So, how does God correct this and get his plans back on track?  They actually suggest that we, as believers, must find a way to retrieve the mantle, or anointing, from the rotting corpse six feet under.  Only then can we get God’s plans back on track.  This is achieved by placing hands on the gravestone of the deceased, or lying on top of the grave.  Sometimes a prayer will be offered to God to aid in this perceived power transfer.
     How perverted and unholy is this exercise?  As if God Almighty actually needs us to intervene and claim His lost anointing, and bail Him out and get His plan back on track!  What happened to the Sovereignty of God in that whole messed up scenario?  And doesn’t it suggest that the Holy Spirit is trapped inside that dead body, is confused, and doesn’t even realize the person is dead — that is, until He senses someone above ground seeking that untapped spiritual power and just decides to give them the supernatural God-given abilities?  Doesn’t that belittle the Holy Spirit?
      How can anyone who calls themselves a Christian believe in this?  But, remember, our kids have grown up in a generation that promulgates wizards, vampires, zombies and the soft-sell of the occult. This would make sense to them.  And where do they find the evidence that this bizarre understanding is Biblical?  The whole foundation is based on one verse in Scripture:  (2 Kings 13:21)  And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.  Supporters of grave sucking suggest that the man lived because there was power left in the bones of the prophet Elisha.  But this “charismatic” teaching is reaching way too far; even to the point of being ludicrous.

     First of all, it distracts from the One True Source of our anointing.  All anointing comes from God, and it cannot be “transferred” from one person to another.  Secondly, the idea that any God-given gifts can be imparted from the body of a dead person is taught nowhere in the Bible — no matter how hard someone might try to distort 2 Kings 13:21.  I’m not saying that God couldn’t extend a generational legacy from one person to another, but it would be a Divine appointment, not obtained from “sucking” the power or gift from the grave!
     Then, there is our Biblical knowledge that when believers are absent from the body they are present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).   Doesn’t this tell us that our spirit leaves our body when we physically die?  The Holy Spirit that was imparted to a believer is no longer on the earth, and thus that Divine power is no longer in the grave.  Any attempt to retrieve a spirit or power from the dead comes perilously close to necromancy, which is defined as communicating with the spirits of the dead, which in turn involves witchcraft, sorcery and black magic.  Who would want to take the risk that you could conjure up a spirit from the dark side?
     Furthermore, this unholy practice threatens to further divide the Body of Christ by discrediting any experience of the power of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life.  I have personally witnessed the Holy Spirit at work in a person’s life, and the power He has over demonic spirits.  But it was all done through the authority of Jesus, and the power came from the Holy Spirit — not from power being summoned and transferred from one person to another.
     There is nothing in the Bible that tells us we can “absorb” the spiritual gifts from another.  And I like how the Apologetics website for teens disproves this unscriptural teaching:  “In this view of the Father [and “grave sucking”], we have a God who both gets His plans foiled because His Holy Spirit-empowered followers die; and then to make matters worse, He forgets to tell His believers how to resume His plans by retrieving the powers from a grave site.  Then, it takes God several thousand years to realize He goofed and reveal this new information to His modern day “prophets”. ”  See how ridiculous the whole concept sounds?
     The sad thing is that kids (and some adults) are being easily deceived to follow this unholy practice.  If they would just study their Bible, they would realize that there is no foundation for this concept in the Bible, and that it does not fit the Divine Nature of God.  Why would God tell His followers to lie down on an unclean grave site to receive a lost portion of the Holy Spirit?  He is Greater than that and does not need our intervention to fulfill His purposes here on earth.  I find it incredible that people who call themselves Christian could be so deluded and confused about who God is and how He acts in our lives.  This is just another sign that Satan’s power to deceive is getting stronger … even in the Church.

Isaiah 8:19     And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?

She Gets It!

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    I came across a story on The Blaze that mirrored my experience of the last couple of days.  The story is of an American psychologist, named Dr. Bethany Haley Williams, who is also the founder of an organization called Exile International.  The mission of her organization is to restore rescued child soldiers, and children orphaned by war, to become leaders for peace through art therapy and holistic, rehabilitative care.

     In Central and East Africa, armed forces and rebels have abducted more than 100,000 children, and most of these children are left with deep, emotional scars because of the trauma they have been forced to endure, or tragically, to commit themselves.  The evil acts perpetrated against them have succeeded in making them prisoners of the very Evil that seeks to entrap us all.
     On a group trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in June 2008, Dr. Williams, encountered a darkness she had never seen before: child soldiers who asked her to be their mother, women who attempted to give over their children, stories of women sexually abused time and time again, and children so traumatized they showed no emotion.  Realizing that the evil she witnessed could only be countered by the power of Jesus’s love, His redemption, and their ability to forgive, Dr. Williams was determined to look the darkness dead in the eye, and help heal these children.  She says her spiritual journey was “turned upside down.”
     I can say the same thing after the last two days I spent training with Dr. Charles Kraft to help Christians who need deep, inner healing.  The methods I learned may be different than Dr. Williams’s, but the result is the same… whether we are talking about an actual child in Africa, or our own “inner child”, we all need to heal from the emotional scars that have damaged us.
     How many Christians do you know that want to get closer to Jesus, but just can’t seem to get there?  They read their Bibles, they pray and attend church faithfully, but something is still missing.  That intimacy that the Bible talks about, and that they long for, just isn’t there for them.  They often deal with feelings of anger, depression, or fear … those very emotions they are told Christians should not feel because we are “new beings” in Christ.  They are often left feeling disappointed and wonder, “Where is the freedom and peace that Jesus promised me?”
     What I discovered under the tutelage of Dr. Kraft is that most problems are spiritual, resulting in emotional difficulties that keep us from the freedom and intimacy with Christ that we (and He) desire.  And I learned that deep-level healing is the answer.  What exactly is this deep-level healing?  It is a ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit that is aimed at bringing healing to the whole person:  spirit, body, mind, emotions, and will.  It is about hearts being set free.  And notice that I said in the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is not me healing the person, but Jesus’s power through the Holy Spirit; and I can work with Him to help effect that power and healing.  He has given me the authority to work in the spiritual realm with Him and the Holy Spirit, and it is quite clear in Mark 13:34:  “For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.”
     What I learned is a loving way to counsel people to identify the origin of those emotions and thoughts that block the freedom and intimacy that they so desperately seek.  By using visualization exercises, with Jesus present at every stage in your life, you can identify what the “triggers” are that keep you from experiencing intimacy and freedom.  I witnessed counseling sessions in which Dr. Kraft healed the deep, inner soul scars that Christians suffered from a feeling of unwantedness (that often times comes when conceived out of wedlock), miscarriages, sexual molestation, and many other open doors to spiritual harassment by the Enemy.
     Once memories reveal what is at the root of a Christian’s sense of despondency, we can ask them, “Can you see Jesus there with you at that moment of crisis?”  If you are a faithful Christian, you know that God and Jesus are Omnipresent; they are everywhere — so we know that He was there with them in their moment of despair.  Remember, He has not promised to keep us from all such bad experiences — only to be with us in them.  So, when we experience Jesus in our memories, we know He was present in the actual events of the past, and we can give Him the crippling reactions [to that event] — which are stored in our memories and have intruded on our peace.  Then we can experience His intense desire and power to heal us… to take those painful feelings and cast them away from you, as far as the East is from the West.

Hearts Set Free

     And it is ALWAYS the power of Jesus through the operating of the Holy Spirit in that moment that heals the person.  For most people, picturing Jesus there with them during the hurts of their lives, and handing off the paralyzing emotions, and then being able to visualize Him hugging them and feeling that intimacy, is enough to free them into a more satisfying spiritual life.
     But there are some with such devastating experiences that demons have slipped in and are subconsciously controlling the Christian’s mind, will, or emotions.  But that does not stop the healing!  We simply declare the authority given to us by Christ to free the captives, and employ the power of the Holy Spirit to identify them and command them to leave.  The deliverances I witnessed were done in such a loving, calm manner by Dr. Kraft, and it was truly empowering to realize that we do not need to fear demons; they may hinder a person’s peace, but they can’t take away the person’s salvation.  Sadly, the Church has forgotten that we have been commissioned by Jesus to bring freedom to all mankind.  He told us that we would do what He had done, and even greater things (John 14:12).  But we forget that Luke 4:18 describes what He came to do, and that freedom He wishes to give us:  to announce release (pardon, forgiveness) to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed (downtrodden, bruised, crushed by tragedy).
     I want to be very clear that what I described in this healing process has been over-simplified.  Much time is taken to get to know the hurting Christian, and to identify the underlying issues (or demons) that are blocking their freedom and intimacy.  Healing that “inner child” requires a careful, attentive, and thorough effort to free the adult Christian.  The important thing to remember is that there are multitudes of Christians who need to be set free, and Jesus is waiting for us to get involved and agree to work with Him and the Holy Spirit in completing our commission.
     Who wouldn’t want to partner with Jesus, and to experience working with Him?  We get to share in the blessings He brings to our fellow Christians through us.  We get to see forgiveness, gratitude, and new joy, steeped in peace and love. It doesn’t take any special spiritual gifts; after all, Jesus worked with ungifted disciples.  It just takes a willingness to obey His command and experience a closeness with Him that you have never had before.
     And I have to agree with Dr. Williams, when she says, “I see redemption at its deepest level. It is not of this world.  And, I believe, it is only the beginning.”  She’s right!  This kind of healing is not of this world!  These past two days, I have experienced a new reality in my relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  I now know that Jesus is not some far off, distant God!  He truly is right here beside me, and I can do all things through Him with the power of the Holy Spirit.  And most of all, I can see and feel and personally experience the freedom of my fellow Christians as they receive the Peace that surpasses all understanding.  And that only comes from allowing Jesus to heal you.  We are simply His instruments to achieve that Peace.  And we receive something as well, for being willing to trust His Word and engage with Him.  As Barbara Bucklin, one of the facilitators of Dr. Kraft’s ministry said, “Nothing is a bigger faith-builder than to know your authority.”  Amen to that!

For more information on Dr. Charles Kraft and his deeper inner healing ministry, please visit www.heartssetfree.org.

Galatians 5:1    “It was for this freedom that Christ set us free [completely liberating us]; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery [which you once removed].”
       

The Gift Of Freedom

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     How do I write about what I experienced over the weekend?  How do I impart the words of knowledge and freedom that I received, with both gratification and glory to God for His revelation, and without offending His Church and the Body of Christ?  That’s a very difficult tightrope to walk.
     But, I guess the message I am getting from the Holy Spirit is this:  “Just tell the truth.”  So here goes… You know that God seems to be leading me and my husband on a path towards accepting our position on the battlefield of Spiritual Warfare.  So, this past weekend, we had the privilege to attend a 2-day conference taught by Dr. Charles Kraft, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary for 40 years.  The title of the conference was “Defeating Dark Angels”, but the central topic of the meeting was based less on the sensational-sounding aspects of that title, and more on the Scripture-affirming concept of inner healing to help deliver defeated Christians as they battle their demons.
     There is no way in a single post that I can elucidate all the insight and understanding that my spirit was given during the intense instruction.  So I will try to give you the points that opened my eyes, my mind, and my heart to the truth of who I am meant to be as a follower of Jesus.
     Let me start by saying that Dr. Kraft is unlike what the secular world — and for the most part, the Church — views as a “Deliverance Minister.”  He is a soft-spoken, gentle man, who never raises his voice.  He does not employ any of the histrionics of the so-called “healers” or “exorcists” that characterize the modern perception of evangelists who cast out demons — there is no melodrama, theatrics, or artificial showmanship; no Benny Hinn, here.  There is no writhing on the floor, no yelling, and no dramatic vomiting. As he reiterated many times throughout the conference, “If the healing is not loving, it’s not from Jesus.”
     To begin with, he makes it very clear that there are two levels of demons we encounter in our spiritual warfare.  The “ground level” troops are the fallen angels that we call demons or evil spirits; those who envy us our bodies, and who look for someone to inhabit.  The “cosmic level” demons are those we encounter in Ephesians 6:12– the principalities, powers and rulers that command the ground troops.  They have different personalities, are destructive to the peace that Jesus has promised His followers, and they differ in power and wickedness.  All that sounds like we’re waging a losing battle, doesn’t it?  Sadly, many Christians are living their lives in defeat, rather than through the victory that is ours in Christ.

     Interestingly, Dr. Kraft wrote that although most Christians recognize that much of the New Testament was written by the Apostle Paul to the new Christian Churches, they fail to acknowledge that 80% of Paul’s Epistles tell us of Jesus’s Power, and about 20% talk about the Love of Jesus.  The average Christian knows about Love, Faith, and Redemption, but they are weak on Spiritual Warfare and the Power and Authority of Jesus that He transferred to us.
     As a missionary in Nigeria, Dr. Kraft asked the people he had come to serve in Jesus’s Name, “What is your biggest problem?”  Their answer?  “Evil spirits.”  I think it should be clear that we are all made in the image of God (as spirit beings), so why would we be any different?  Oh, yeah… the prosperity, the level of comfort, and our ability to hide from our demons through the means of entertainment, addictions, and a myriad of other distractions.  So, in the end, we continue to ignore the attacks and continue in our bondage, while focusing on loving Jesus.  We base our Christian Worldview on the 20% of Paul’s writings that talk about Love, and turn a blind eye to the 80% that tell us He has given us Power in His Name to be free of all the oppression, pain, and spiritual domination.
    The first step towards this freedom is to make two major changes in this worldview towards accepting our role in Spiritual Warfare:  1) Believe there are demons, and 2) Be able to effectively use our conferred Power and Authority (in His Name) to deal with these dark angels (demons) and to “set the captives free”.  It was an eye-opener to me, when Dr. Kraft pointed out that there are three things that are most important to Christians:  Salvation, Freedom, and Habits.  We’ve got the first one down; we understand the origin and process of Salvation pretty well.  And we’ve gotten real good at the last one; our habits are entrenched in our Sunday attendance and all the ceremonies and traditions of our denominations.  As Dr. Kraft expressed so well, “Our churches are full of people wonderfully saved, but they’re not free.”
     We seem to have lost sight of the fact that Jesus obviously took Satan and his demons seriously.  And, even more importantly, He expects us to take demons seriously and to use His power to get rid of them.  That is very evident in the Scripture that instructs us on His Great Commission:  Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20).
     I have pointed out this Scripture in the past, but now I have an even greater understanding of it.  Jesus passed on to His disciples all of His power.  He set aside His God Power, and never once used it on earth.  He only acted as a human being, using the power of the Holy Spirit.  He intends for us to do the same!  We modern-day disciples of Christ are no different than the famous Disciples of the Gospels.  We are to see ourselves as Jesus sees us.  He tells them to go and make disciples of all the nations (and disciples is who we are); to baptize; and to “teach them to observe (or do) everything that I have commanded you.”   Down through the centuries, each succeeding generation of disciples concentrated on evangelizing and baptizing, but failed to teach how to defeat demons using the power of the Holy Spirit.

     But the one thing I want you to get from this abbreviated summary of the conference is this: There is no deliverance from our demons without inner healing first.  As a visual person, it helped me a lot to picture Dr. Kraft’s illustration on what that looks like… “Where you have garbage, you have rats.  If you just get rid of the rats, and don’t get rid of the garbage, the rats will come back.  But if you get rid of the garbage first, [the cycle] of the rats gets weakened, and it is usually easy to kick them out.  The rats, if they are there, are always the secondary problem, not the primary one.”
     So his model of “Deliverance” is to accomplish the inner healing of the Christian first, then see if there are any demons present.  In other words, the “garbage” could be a number of things resulting in unresolved pain and hurt in one’s life.  It could be broken relationships, areas of unconfessed sin, involvement in the occult, or sexual or physical abuse in your past — anything else that gives the Enemy a “legal right” to influence you, either from the outside or the inside.
     When we deal with the “garbage” and get healed from that — through getting in touch with how Jesus sees us; this Jesus whom we know as our loving Savior who created us, chose and planned us from before God made the world — then the demons lose their hold on us, and we can often kick them out of our lives without a fight.
     But now comes the part that is difficult for me.  How do I express my frustration with the Church for their inability to see this dynamic?  How do I make my fellow Christians and members of the Body of Christ understand that if Jesus instructed us to be taught on how to use His Power and Authority through the Holy Spirit to defeat Satan and his demons — yet we don’t recognize that authority, or refuse to consider it — then I humbly see that as irresponsible on our part, as His disciples.  This Power and Authority is available to all who follow Jesus, and is meant to be a means to offer Freedom to those held captive by Satan.  I will agree that certain people of faith seem to have a “knack” or “gifting”, if you will, to “take the ball and run” with the power and authority.  But as Dr. Kraft so wisely counseled us, “Obedience precedes gifting.”  If we will only be obedient to Jesus’s command of John 14:12, (We will do the works He did, and do even greater things), I believe we will find that our ability to engage in His Power and Authority, through the Holy Spirit, will come in greater measure.
     We should not be afraid of our Commission, and we should not shirk our responsibility to follow our Savior’s commands.  As 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].”  THAT, my fellow Christians is living in true Freedom!  And THAT is why Jesus performed the will of His Father on the Cross… to give us the ability to use the same Authority from our Father, and the Power of the Holy Spirit to not only live a free life ourselves, but to help set other captive Christians free.
     You see, “Deliverance” doesn’t have to be a violent, theatrical show of God’s Power and Authority.  It can be just like Jesus showed us … loving; practiced by any Christian; and it leads to healing, not just deliverance.
     But ultimately, the choice to practice His Power and Authority is still ours.  I agree with Dr. Kraft… God will not violate our Free Will.  He will not force the use of His authority upon us, nor will He change our free will.  But He can change the circumstances that result from our free will when, in the Name of Jesus, we take authority over demon spirits and break their power in Jesus’s Name and through the Holy Spirit.
     The final thought I want to leave you with is this … Deliverance is not a science; it is a journey of faith.  Jesus has given us tools to empower ourselves in our spiritual warfare, and they do just that… empower us; but they don’t fix us.  We are in a spiritual war, and no war is won in a single battle.  Throughout our journey through life, we will engage in many battles, and growing into a mature faith is our goal.  But God has a goal, too.  He always wraps His Power in His Love, with the goal of setting people free.  My prayer is that His people will learn to use that Power and Authority to heal themselves and others from the attacks of the Enemy, and to free those whom Satan has in captivity from “the sins that entangle us.”  It’s time for all Christians to begin that journey of healing towards true Freedom.

I have been given a great blessing to be able to spend the next two days in training with Dr. Kraft, as I learn how to use my Authority from Jesus and the Power of the Holy Spirit to help Christians achieve inner healing and deliverance.  So, if I am a little late in posting any of your comments, you will understand.  I hope to be able to bring you even greater understanding of the amazing God we serve.

Psalm 32:8    “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you.”

Acts 4:18

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So they sent for them, and commanded them not to speak 
[as His representatives] or teach at all in the name of Jesus [using Him as their authority].

    The other day I heard Russ Dizdar, ordained to the ministry by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1978, and now an outspoken advocate for Spiritual Warfare and Deliverance Ministry (among many other disciplines) say that the most powerful aspect of the Church (found in Acts, Chapter 4) has not been realized.  First of all, that’s a pretty strong statement; and knowing his honest and direct appraisal of the modern Church, I just had to see exactly what he was talking about.
     The chapter begins with the arrest of Peter and John because they have been openly “teaching the people and proclaiming in [the case of] Jesus the resurrection of the dead.”  You see, they were declaring the power of God to resurrect men from the dead, and had been exercising the authority given to them by Jesus (the Son of God) through the power of the Holy Spirit, and had healed a lame beggar.  And because of this attesting miracle of the power of the ascended Jesus, 5,000 men heard the message of salvation and accepted Jesus as the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).  You can imagine how that upset the conventional religion of the day.  So, the Sanhedrin (the High Jewish Court) had them arrested, and on the next day, they convened the high priests of the Jewish people to interrogate Peter and John.
     Scripture says, “they repeatedly asked, “By what sort of power, or in what name [that is, by what kind of authority], did you do this [healing]?”  Peter wasted no time in making it very clear to the Church leaders exactly what happened:  “let it be known and clearly understood by all of you, and by all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you [demanded be] crucified [by the Romans and], whom God raised from the dead—in this name [that is, by the authority and power of Jesus] this man stands here before you in good health.” (Acts 4:10).
     Now, the members of the Sanhedrin recognized that this miracle had been seen by thousands of people, so there was no denying it.  But they were unsettled about the threat this posed to their own authority.  So they asked, “What are we to do with these men?”  And they decided ” to keep it from spreading further among the people and the nation, let us [sternly] warn them not to speak again to anyone in this name.”  Acts 4:18 gives us their charge to Peter and John:  “So they sent for them, and commanded them not to speak [as His representatives] or teach at all in the name of Jesus [using Him as their authority].”
     But Peter and John knew that God had a purpose in these miracles, and that the power and authority of Jesus had been predestined to be passed on to mankind through the Holy Spirit, and they could not deny His will.  So they prayed, “And now, Lord, observe their threats [take them into account] and grant that Your bond-servants may declare Your message [of salvation] with great confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders (attesting miracles) take place through the name [and the authority and power] of Your holy Servant and Son Jesus.”  
     After reading this entire Chapter, I get what Russ Dizdar is saying.  The very same Church leadership that opposed Peter and John teaching the authority and power in the name of Jesus is at work today.  Church leaders, whom I respect and admire, are saying the same things that Annas and Caiaphas, the high priests, were saying in the First Century… “I don’t think it’s a good idea that you pursue this line of teaching.”  But just like the high priests of old, instead of studying it themselves and praying about it, they are quick to pass judgment that it doesn’t fit the accepted or mainstream religion of our day.  
     The religious leaders of yesterday (and today) should have listened to Peter and John!  Never did they claim that their actions and their results were by their own power…. it was ALWAYS in the name of Jesus Christ!  And so it is today.  Those of us who read the Scripture and take Jesus at His Word … whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Fatherrealize that the authority and power given to Peter and John, has also been given to us.  
     Jesus didn’t say, “You Twelve who believe in me”, or “You 70 that believe in me”.  He said “Whoever believes in Me…”.  If, as some are of the opinion, this power and authority was only meant for the Apostles, wouldn’t He have made that distinction?  And to think well, that doesn’t apply to us because we have Jesus now, doesn’t make sense to me.  He was telling the Apostles that He would convey His power and authority to them (through the Holy Spirit) so they could do the works He had been doing because He was going to the Father.  We are in the exact same condition as those humble, simple men who followed Him.  He was no longer in their presence, and it was their faith in Him that precluded the transference of His Authority and Power to them through the Holy Spirit –the authority to pray to the Father, seeking His will; and the power to carry out His Divine purpose.  Just like those normal men, who became Apostles, we have heard the message of salvation, accepted Jesus as our Savior, received the Holy Spirit as our Guide and Counselor, and have access to that same power and authority they did after He went to the Father.  
     You see, nothing has really changed, except that we are not doing the works He did, and have therefore not done greater things.  In fact, we have allowed Satan and his minions to exercise their power and authority, and done nothing to stop them!  And, in my mind, Jesus must be frustrated to know that we have been given the Authority and the Power of the Father, just as He was, to carry out the Father’s will, yet we don’t use it!  Could Jesus step in and save every abused child or damaged marriage or evil intentions of man?  Absolutely!  But He gave us the authority and power to defeat the Enemy In His Name — because it glorifies Him!!
     What has remained the same is the reluctance of religious leaders to examine His Word, and to realize that we have relinquished that power and authority He meant for us to use.  Russ Dizdar is right — the most powerful aspect of the Church has not been fulfilled, and Satan has taken full advantage of it, as he operates unopposed and unchallenged.  It’s time to take back our power and glorify our Savior!!

Should We Be Building A Wall?

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     I ask this question in light of some of the news I am seeing in the world.  For instance, the government of Hungary took extreme measures to protect the sovereignty of their country after experiencing up to 10,000 people stream across its borders daily since the summer influx of migrants escaping the mayhem of the Middle East.
     After constructing a razor-wire fence early Saturday, barely a month after it shut its frontier with Serbia, only 41 people crossed into Hungary this past Sunday.  So it would seem that erecting some kind of barrier has worked for this EU member state.
     Then there is also the news that Israeli police have begun erecting a wall in East Jerusalem to protect a Jewish neighborhood that has been subject to firebomb and stone attacks launched from an adjacent Palestinian village.  Of course, if you read my blog yesterday, it should not surprise you that critics of this move see it as a division of the capital of Israel.  But if it is effective in reducing the number of attacks on innocent civilians, is it justifiable?
     That is the same question that the citizens of this nation are asking.  We can no longer ignore the warnings of ISIS that they are coming to destroy us, and we all know that the number of illegal immigrants flooding across our borders is unsustainable.  But how do you stop the perils that threaten to harm the very existence of our country?  Isn’t a fence or wall at least a feasible solution?  I mean, don’t airports have fences around them to keep out those who seek to cause harm?  Most concerts I attended in my youth had fences to keep those out who tried to sneak in without paying.  And even the White House has a fence around it…. so why is it labeled such an intolerant idea to consider that we protect our nation from those who could actually, or potentially, destroy our way of life?
     And I’m sure it won’t surprise you that I take a Biblical look at the notion of walls.  What does God think of walls?  We read lots of verses about physical walls in the Bible… the walls of Jericho; the walls of the Temple; and the walls that Nehemiah would construct to rebuild the city of Jerusalem… just to name a few.  But these walls also had great spiritual significance.
     Remember that Satan accused God of putting a hedge of protection around Job so that he (Satan) could not accuse him.  In Hebrew, that word “hedge” meant to shut in for protection or restraint; a fence.  It was a spiritual “hedge” or fence that surrounded Job.  Remember, also, that God placed cherubim with flaming swords at the entrance to the Garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life.  They were, in essence, a wall that could not be breached.  And, finally, we see in the last book of the Bible, Revelation, that there will be a massive and high wall surrounding the holy (sanctified) city of Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, and having God’s glory [filled with His radiant light].   In fact, there are seven very detailed verses in Chapter 21 that describe these very walls of the New Jerusalem.  Walls obviously mean something to God!

     So what should that tell us about our own considerations of a protective wall around this nation?  I can tell you one thing — Satan hates walls because God has used walls to protect what is valuable to Him.  Shouldn’t we be doing the same?
     I recently ran across a Bible study that covered this very topic, and it asked some very pointed questions that I think lend weight to our discussion…. Do we have a wall to keep the enemies of God’s way out of our lives and homes? Have we set boundaries against the world, or have we torn down the wall? If we have a wall, are we leaving the gates open and unguarded? Are we willing to fight to defend our families and our church? Or do we just let the enemy stream in unchallenged?
     Notice that all these questions have both a physical and spiritual aspect.  We can apply these  queries to our human enemies and social problems, as well as to our spiritual foes.  Remembering that Satan hates for us to put up walls, and that God puts a wall around His people to keep Satan at bay, (as in the example of Job), I think it is essential that we have a thorough conversation on constructing our walls.
     The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 10:8:  “He who digs a pit [for others] may fall into it, and a serpent may bite him who breaks through a [stone] wall.”  Now, that can be interpreted a couple of ways:  first the aggressor that breaks through the wall God has erected to protect His people can expect to be bitten by the serpent, which God will allow.  It can also mean that those who let their spiritual wall crumble will have opened up an entrance for Satan to strike.  Either way, the protection of the wall is gone.
     The final point I want to make is this:  God is our ultimate wall; our protection.  But that protection hinges on us maintaining a sanctified relationship with Him.  It is within His rights and character, as Creator, to tear down our walls because of our sins.  And He is under no obligation to honor or rebuild the wall He offered us, especially if we reject Him.  The surest way to restore the wall is through sincere and complete repentance, both as individuals and as a nation.
     So, while I am intrigued that Hungary and Israel have built new walls and fences to protect themselves from the enemy storming the gates, I have to wonder about the soundness of their spiritual walls.  And I must admit that I have little confidence that America will ever build a wall to protect itself — either physically or spiritually.  And should Congress somehow appropriate the money to begin construction of such a wall, if God is not in the building of it, it will crumble at the smallest strike by the Enemy.  Until we get serious about restoring the foundations of the protective hedge God once applied to this nation, the physical wall we propose to build will collapse because of its inherent weakness and the lack of solid spiritual material.

Ezekiel 13:10-11:   “… because when one builds a [flimsy] wall, behold, these [lying] prophets plaster it over with whitewash; so tell those who plaster it with whitewash, that it will fall! A flooding rain [of judgment] will come, and you, O [great] hailstones, will fall; and a violent wind will tear the wall apart.” 

2 Timothy 2:3-4

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You therefore must endure hardship 
as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  
No one engaged in warfare entangles himself 
with the affairs of this life, [so] that he may please Him 
who enlisted him as a soldier.     


In the vein of previous blogs on Spiritual Warfare, I would like to present you with a sample of correspondence between a Christian soldier and his Commander-in-Chief.  Whenever you think you are too weak, or not equipped to be in the battle, or are unproductive, read this.  There are none of us too small in God’s army to take the fight to the Enemy!  And when the battle becomes heated and we are exhausted and ready to fall, remember that we serve a King with inexhaustible power to sustain us.  

TO:  Jesus Christ, Commander-in-Chief, Spiritual Armed Forces
RE:  Request for Transfer

Dear Lord:
I am writing this to You to request a transfer to a desk job. I herewith present my reasons:
I began my career as a private, but because of the intensity of the battle, You have quickly moved me up in the ranks. You have made me an officer and given me a tremendous amount of responsibility. 
There are many soldiers and recruits under my charge. I am constantly being called upon to dispense wisdom, make judgments, and find solutions to complex problems. You have placed me in a position to function as an officer, when in my heart I know I have only the skills of a private. I realize that you have promised to supply all I would need for the battle. But Sir, I must present You a realistic picture of my equipment.
My uniform, once so crisp and starched, is now stained with the tears and blood of those I have tried to assist. The soles of my boots are cracked and worn from the miles I have walked trying to enlist and encourage the instructed troops. My weapons are marred, tarnished and chipped from constant battle against the enemy. Even the Book of Regulations I was issued has been torn and tattered from endlessuse. The words are now smeared.
You have promised You would be with me throughout, but when the noise of the battle is so loud and the confusion is so great, I can neither see nor hear You. I feel so alone. I’m tired. I’m discouraged. I have Battle Fatigue. I would never ask you for a discharge. I love being in Your service. But I humbly request a demotion and transfer. I’ll file papers or clean latrines.
Just get me out of the battle — please, Sir.
Your Faithful, but tired soldier.
Shortly thereafter, the soldier received this letter from his High Command:

TO:                  Faithful, but Tired Soldier, Spiritual Armed Forces
LOCATION:  The Battlefield
RE:                  The Transfer

Dear Soldier:
Your request for transfer has been denied. I herewith present My reasons:
You are needed in this battle. I have selected you, and I will keep My Word to supply your need. You do not need a demotion and transfer. (You’d never cut it on latrine duty.) You need a period of “R and R” — Renewal and Rekindling. I am setting aside a place on the battlefield that is insulated from all sound and fully protected from the enemy. I will meet you there and I will give you rest. I will remove your old equipment and “make all things new.”
You have been wounded in the battle, My soldier. Your wounds are not visible, but you have received grave internal injuries. You need to be healed. I will heal you. You have been weakened in the battle. You need to be strengthened. I will strengthen you and be your strength. I will instill in you confidence and ability. My Words will rekindle within you a renewed love, zeal and enthusiasm. Report to Me tattered and empty. I will refill you.
Compassionately,
Your Commander-in-Chief,
Jesus Christ

‘My People Perish For Lack of Knowledge’

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     There has certainly been enough news across the airwaves lately to keep us all excited and stimulated … Russian airstrikes in Syria; the Russian/Iran/China partnership; upheaval in our political process; warnings of a global economic collapse, just to name a few.
     Yet, the conversations I am hearing from people around me, and through this blog, are not as concerned about these admittedly frightening prospects.  Instead of concentrating on praying for our nation and world leaders, I am receiving requests to pray for individuals who are being overwhelmed with confusing and distressing spiritual attacks.  Let me rephrase that … Christians are in much need of spiritual knowledge because they have been ineffective in fighting the Enemy.  In fact, they often don’t recognize the true nature of their burdens and why they feel under siege.
     So, what comes to my mind, is a word that the Lord spoke to the prophet Hosea… My people perish for lack of knowledge.  For a long time, I felt that this Scripture referred to the absence of genuine Bible study among avowed Christians; that we lacked understanding and comprehension of the Bible as a whole.  But I now think that this verse is directing us to a specific knowledge that we lack, and therefore it is contributing to our perishing.

     So what is this particular, or specific, knowledge that we don’t have, but desperately need to possess?  Does it have anything to do with the countless number of Christians who are suffering psychologically and emotionally?  Is there something lacking in our understanding of how the Kingdom of God works, and how we are to practice our faith?
     First, let’s start with this question:  what is your understanding of the Kingdom of God?  Christians have a hard time expressing the meaning of this important theological term.  One of the best explanations I have seen is the following:  The Kingdom of God embraces all created intelligence, both in heaven and earth that are willingly subject to the Lord and are in fellowship with Him. The Kingdom of God is, therefore, universal in that it includes created angels and men. It is eternal, as God is eternal, and it is spiritual—found within all born-again believers. We enter the Kingdom of God when we are born again, and we are then part of that kingdom for eternity. It is a relationship “born of the spirit” (John 3:5), and we have confident assurance that it is so because the Spirit bears witness with our spirits (Romans 8:16).
     Now, consider the Scripture where Jesus is opposed by the Pharisees because He has cast out demons from a blind and mute man (Matthew 12).  The Lord is accused of using the power of Satan to deliver the man of his demons.  And what does Jesus say?  “If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God is come unto you.”  It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that the demons were defeated!  And if we, as born-again Believers, are part of that same Kingdom of God, and are co-heirs with Christ, then we, too, can call on the power of the Holy Spirit to defeat the Enemy.
     But we are perishing because we do not possess, nor act, on that knowledge!  Instead, we fall victim to the demons, who are servants in Satan’s kingdom here on earth.  The devil has given them his authority over our human activities; over cities, places and territories; over social organizations and groups; and they influence sinful behavior — even in Christians.  But the faithful followers of Christ have no knowledge that by invoking the Name of Jesus, they’ve been given a greater authority in the Kingdom of God (by Jesus, Himself); and that they have the power of the Holy Spirit to command Satan’s demons to leave them alone.
     I can’t tell you how many young women I know who are suffering from long-ago and unspoken child molestation, which opened the door for Satan to assign a demon to harass them.  Through years of being silent and unaware of the authority and power they have in Jesus’s Name, they have succumbed to Satan’s temptations and attacks involving lustful activity, addictions to alcohol and drugs, attraction to the occult, and harmful self-inflicted wounds…. all to mask the pain and chaos that keeps them under the authority of Satan’s demons.
     Other people have experienced bewildering bouts of depression and anxiety, or are subjected to debilitating attacks of worry and unfounded fear.  Still others have actually undergone physical attacks by nameless, faceless entities who keep them from operating in their full capacity as Christians.  If these Christians only possessed the knowledge that there is a war between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan — and that we are participants, living in enemy territory —   they might seek ways to equip themselves for the fight.
     Jesus said, “As the Father sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21).  He then enlisted those of us who follow Him to join in His commitment to “proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed” (Luke 4:18).   Did you get that?  I am proclaiming that Christians DO NOT have to be held captive by Satanic attacks!  Just like Jesus did when He walked the earth, we need to fight Satan’s kingdom, in the power of the Holy Spirit.  He has given us His Authority (“I send you”), and we are to fight, in obedience to Him and our Father.
     If all the afflicted persons I have mentioned had this knowledge, they would not be perishing.  That is why I feel it is so important for Christians to become educated on this topic.  Of course, one must be careful to seek out educational tools and ministers who practice deliverance in a Biblical manner.  There are always false teachers ready to lead us down an unScriptural path.
     Books by Derek Prince, John Eckhardt and Charles Kraft are all superior in their teachings on spiritual deliverance.  Those who are suffering intense attacks should seek out a minister who is well-versed in Biblical deliverance ministry.  Pastor Jimmy Low of Harvest Church in Temple, TX; Pastor William Lau of the Elijah Challenge Ministry; and Dr. Erica Shepherd of the Integrated Healing Prayer Ministry come to mind.  I am sure there are other competent ministers, but I am hesitant to recommend anyone that I am not familiar with.
     But, for me, the bottom line is this, and the reason I wrote this blog today…. It is unnecessary for Christians to be living their lives in defeat.  Look around you.  How many Believers do you know who are suffering?  Maybe you are one of them.  Please educate yourself!  Learn what you need to know so that you can stop perishing, and become a vital, active part of the Kingdom of God.  I read a quote once, and it makes so much sense… “The fight is real.  The victory of Christ on the Cross and His resurrection is final, but not yet fully realized.  Evil continues to exercise its limited, yet significant power until Christ returns in His glory.”  And so we must stay in the fight, freeing people from the Enemy’s attacks, in the power of Jesus.  We are Christians.  We have been chosen and blessed to be on the winning side.  It’s time to fight back!

Luke 10:17     The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”

     

Preparing For Spiritual Warfare

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armorThere was an article posted on The Blaze last week about a man who entered a church with the intend to do harm. Now for this article the religion of church he entered doesn’t matter nor does the profession of the religion of the bad guy. The point of this article is a reminder that […]

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