I CAN’T ASSOCIATE WITH THOSE PEOPLE…..

Ephesians 4:1-6 – “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” NKJV

 spiritual blog - My Turf

Those who know me well know how much I tend to harp on the UNITY OF THE SPIRIT and the BOND OF PEACE in the Church preaching COVENANT.  I have long been appalled at the ‘turf wars’, ‘place protecting’, ‘position guarding’, ‘numbers gathering’, andpersonal promotion’ while there is often abject failure to become fitly framed into a singular body in Christ.  Oh we may continue to have individual local sheep sheds but if we are the BODY OF CHRIST that sense of protectionism and competition MUST END.

One of the greatest detriments to the advancement of the Kingdom of God today is the lack of harmony and unity in the local churches.  It seems that each local fellowship deems itself as THE BODY OF CHRIST without comprehending they are a part of the body not the body.  They may be a hand a foot, a toe, or finger. They may be the lips, ears, eyes, noses, elbows, kneecaps, or some other less comely part but part is part and we are parts!  We want the CHURCH of Jesus Christ to be and it will be GLORIOUS but want that to happen in our local fellowship as the whole but the part will never be the whole.

As the human body’s parts lend that which is needed to the other parts to make it a functioning whole body so is it in the Kingdom of God.  It is not just each member in a local fellowship being fitted and framed into the position and come to the condition God desires it is for the local corporate entity to be incorporated in the Body of Christ Universal.  It is to realize that all we have locally belongs to Christ Jesus therefore if He desires it shared with other fellowships to enhance their ability and use what they have to enhance yours how that is deemed a bad thing.  Oh I know it is because we are keepers of the aquarium, tenders of the herd, counters of the coin, and growing our church into a success.  How can it be a success in God’s eyes if we fail to become fitly framed into the Body of Christ universal?  Isolated we are limited in what we can do even if we develop a mega church with tens of thousands members we could be much more powerful for the Kingdom and detrimental to the devil if we stripped away our competitive spirit, personal pride, and ceased guarding our turf and began seeking to advance the kingdom first and foremost and as new people come in we rejoice and report it turning immediately to helping them become fitly framed into the work of the Lord as they mature.

I recall a heated debate at a church convention where the contention was that church buses were picking up people too near another church and that there had to be a certain mileage restriction on how near churches could be established.  I infuriated on fine brother who was one of the most vocal and said it really is not a problem since it is Christ’s church not ours.  He immediately got in my grill and said, “Well you wouldn’t like it if they did that to you.”  I said and meant, “I don’t care if they run their buses through the parking lot at our church for if people choose to go with them they are not with us and we can only do what God has given us to do with those whom God has given us.  If they are not with us and committed then it is probably best they go down the road where maybe they will become committed and fitted.”  He and several others threw up their hands and walked away thinking I was either not being honest, or was one of those ultra-liberals who just didn’t get it, or heaven forbid maybe I wasn’t saved.  No I view the church local and the church universal as GOD’S CHURCH and if it is His Church then He can share assets, expertise, personnel, or anything as He deems best for the Kingdom and I will shout for joy whether I get any recognition or not.  This is not about being recognized it is about the Kingdom of God and the Harvest.  It is about fitly framing the living stones into the house where they can function powerfully.  It is about equipping the saints to do the work of ministry.

May God be with you as you go through your day!  Blessings!

HANDLING DIFFICULTIES IN LIFE….

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  NKJV

 Spiritual Blog - Light Afflictions

I have given this passage much thought many times and on one occasion while discussing it with some friends one said, “My afflictions are not light like Paul’s.”  I thought, seriously?  Do you realize how much the apostle was ‘underplaying’ what was happening and had happened to him?  If you continue reading in 2 Corinthians to Chapter 11 beginning in verse 22 you find a stunning account or list of things he has endured, things he calls ‘light afflictions.’  Consider his list of how he has been imprisoned, labored, received stripes from flogging and faced death.  Listen to his detail:

  • FIVE TIMES he received 39 stripes the maximum allowable by Jewish law.
  • THREE TIMES he was beaten with rods.
  • THREE TIMES he was stoned and I don’t mean drugs but rocks hurled at him.
  • SHIPWRECKED spending a day and night in the deep.
  • THE INVENTORY of serious issues he faced including dangerous journeys, perils in water, from robbers, danger from countrymen, Gentiles, in the cities he ministered, in water he traveled, wilderness, the sea dangers, and those of false brethren. In weariness he labored, in sleeplessness and hunger, being cold and improperly clothed or provisioned.

Yet in all that his major concern was the health and safety of the churches never focusing on his problems or circumstance!  He faced multiple death threats, was physically abused, lacked proper food and clothing and in all that he declared that he had learned to be ‘content’ in whatever state he found himself. Why?  He had an incredible unshakable confidence in God being and doing what God had promised and just being God.  He reached the point that he had to decide whether he would live or die and while longing for his heavenly reward he saw the need as more pressing and choose to live, minister, suffer bringing hope to the hopeless and life to the lifeless.  Yet, he calls all this ‘light afflictions’.  I am shamed by this because there have been times when I faced a financial crisis I ‘complained’ to the Lord.  I faced an issue with family being falsely accused and even wept before God feeling sorry for myself saying, ‘God what is going on.  I would not treat my children this way.’  This was nothing more than a ‘pity-party’ in which I was not just questioning God but accusing Him of being lesser of a father than I.  He let me live in that squalor for a few days then arrested my heart and I wept bitterly for days repenting and was reminded of Paul’s sufferings and how he handled it.  From that time to this I have found that my choice is to see the good in my situation and see how God is working all things together for my good so I can be encouraged and encourage others to ‘stand fast’ in the faith and rejoice in Him.

Light affliction?  I met with some wounded warriors and while I had whined about my hip and back I observed them learning to use new prosthesis as their prosthetic limbs were fitted.  Some were learning to walk, use robotic hands and manipulate a motorized wheelchair due to being quad or paraplegic.  In that moment my shame was enormous, my cry of repentance deep and genuine and I shook myself, rose from there with a heart of thanksgiving for what I had.  I am blessed and I know I am.  I have a few aches and pains that go along with aging and years of abuse of my body but my mind is strong, my faith is solid, and my confidence is God is ever reaching toward the throne.  My afflictions are light’ especially in comparison to the apostle Paul and many of our wounded warriors.  God is working in my life and these light afflictions are teaching me dependence upon the Lord.  I am not promoting difficulties I am promoting the God who overcomes them and cause us to triumph in Jesus.

Be thankful for that you have and rejoice considering this a light affliction and minor in light of what God is doing in us.  We are more than conquerors through Jesus.  So may God guard, guide, and grace you as you go through your day.  Blessings!

ACTION AND AUTHORITY….

Romans 12:3-8 – “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”  NKJV

Spiritual Blog - Church

I find this a most fascinating passage for in it we find that one of the ‘key’ elements of who we are as Christians is that we are ONE BODY.  We are uniquely fitted and joined together in a spiritual body, the same as our physicals bodies in the natural.  The list contained in this passage speaks of the various ways the INFINITE CHRIST lives His life through His body – THE CHURCH.  It not an exhaustive list but comprehensive enough to give us a tremendous foundation for understanding the process!  Paul tells us, “You have a measure of faith.”  Therefore each of us has something we are uniquely fitted for in the Kingdom.

Having said that I always get the question, “How do I know what I am uniquely fitted for?”  LET ME SHOCK YOU!  When all is said and done, don’t bother.  I am serious, we try to make it far more complicated that it is and in our efforts tend to put God in a box seeking a formula or equation.  LISTEN CAREFULLY the ‘mark of maturity’ in Christ is to move beyond formulas and equations to God Himself and in so doing we live ‘spontaneously’ just being who He has made us.

The ‘new self’ in Christ through the ‘new birth’ is CHRIST IN YOU so just be you.  When you do that you the way opens before you, the door swings wide and the pathway is lighted.  You find yourself walking in that lighted path being who He has made you with the gifts and talents He has given.  That’s when you will find that you are walking exactly where you should be and everything fits.  In that condition God will speak, if necessary giving expanded instructions for sometimes God only speaks when we are about to make a ‘wrong turn’.

Your function might be PROPHESY where you speak forth on behalf of God.  It is not just foretelling’ but ‘telling forth’ and being a spokesman for God.  Some are uniquely fitted for this function and that is what their role and purpose is.  Some are uniquely fitted for SERVICE.  Some are born to serve and if you put them in some other position they will fail miserably. They cannot lead.  Only in America do we have the mistaken idea that everybody can lead.  You might be fitted to be that ‘unknown’ person like the widow of Zaraphat.  Before you were born God carved out a niche for you and if it is service you will be a prince or princess in service.  For some it is TEACHING.  I have heard some contend their understanding, doctrine, or revelation is the TRUE REVELATION that they somehow are THE ONES. I suggest that you can only have Him who is truth you do not have a corner on truth, revelation or understanding.  Some are EXHORTERS, those who encourage. They are always there holding up the hands that hang down, pouring oil on the wounds, and water on the hands they EXHORT, EXHORT, EXHORT!  Some are GIVERS.  That is interesting because we all give but there are some for whom giving is their intercession or ministry.  God has put in the hands of some to be rich for the singular purpose they can GIVE it is their ministry!  Some are LEADERS.  Have you ever attended a meeting that flowed like it was oiled?  You hardly knew you were in a meeting because of the leadership then another time you go and it is an epic disaster. What happened?  They rotated leadership responsibility and handed the reins to one who was not gifted to lead.  Some show MERCY.  This too is interesting because we are all to be people of mercy but some are especially gifted in this ministry.  It is not something they think about they just do what they do.

That’s why some seem to have blinders on for a particular ministry because it is the driving force in their hearts and they cannot understand why everyone is not so motivated. There is a process and maturation in becoming what you are uniquely fitted to do.  We move from being spiritual children to teenagers to fathers.  Children can go into the garden to help dad but wander off and that is perfectly okay.  Teenagers will start a project and become bored and move on to something else that is part of growth.  Fathers have to get the job done they cannot go play or become bored they are FATHERS with responsibility and maturity.

There is tremendous authority and anointing when you have been placed and begin to function in that which you are uniquely fitted for.  So as you go through this day just be who you are and allow the Holy Spirit to provide the unction to function.  May God bless you richly!

IS IT A VISION OR DAYDREAM? – – Part 2

1 Corinthians 12:27 – – “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” NKJV

Spiritual Blog - The Church

Today I want to continue and address the characteristics of GOD’S TRIUMPHANT ARMY that we are to become.

  • THE TRIUMPHANT ARMY WAITS FOR A CERTAIN (SURE) SOUND FOR BATTLE.

        1 Corinthians 14:8 advises that we are not to go into battle UNTIL we hear a SURE SOUND.  2 Chronicles 7:14 not only promises ‘sins forgiven’ but our ‘land healed’.  God is concerned about His people and His creation.

  • THE TRIUMPHANT ARMY MUST HAVE DEFINABLE LEADERSHIP.

He has and is raising generals’ for His army and they will never be self-appointed but God appointed.  The troops must understand why they are fighting and some dying in the battle. The generals must become those who consistently go to God for their strategy not some ecumenical board.  Hopefully that ecumenical board is going to God.  They must become people who know how to sound the alarm and reject the temptation to fight the wrong enemies over symptoms rather than the purposes of God.

  • THE TRIUMPHANT ARMY MUST FIGHT WITH STRATEGY GIVEN BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.

John 16:7 – “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you…”  

Our Lord left us a Master Strategist who will lead, guide, inform and empower us for battle.  He knows the mind of God and the heart of every matter.  Nothing is left to chance.

  • THE TRIUMPHANT ARMY MUST HAVE ADEQUATE RESOURCES AND SUPPLY CENTERS.

        Imagine what would happen in just a short period of time if the CHURCH decided to share its resources with each other rather than competing.  Imagine the pooling or opening the door for computers, television equipment, revelation, skills and personnel.  Instead of collectively fighting the good fight of faith much of the church world is protecting its turf, guarding its territory and hoarding its resources failing to remember IT IS HIS CHURCH.

  • THE TRIUMPHANT ARMY MUST HAVE PROPER DISCIPLINE.

Undisciplined ministries open the door for religious spirits whereas discipline means seeing the job through to the finish and completing the assignment.

  • THE TRIUMPHANT ARMY MUST PROVIDE A PLACE FOR WOUNDED WARRIORS.

        Galatians 6:1 tells us “You which are spiritual RESTORE….”  The spiritual order that God is establishing in this Last Day’s Army will seek to and learn how to RESTORE the wounded rather than kill them.  They still have value!

  •  THE TRIUMPHANT ARMY IS BUILT IN AND ON TRUST.

Trust in the ranks is incredibly important in warfare.  How can you fearlessly face an enemy when you have to be concerned you will be shot in the back by friendly fire?  If the church could somehow lay aside its battle for turf and position and become THE BODY OF CHRIST the world would beat a path to our door.

Your brother/sister is not your enemy.  There is no armor for the types of battles and wars we wage within the church world today.  The Whole Armor of God is for offensive warfare not protection from the rear.

Jesus is raising up His church and it will be a triumphant army and an army that is disciplined, unselfish, and singular in purpose.  If that is not what you see then I suggest that you may miss out on the most significant and powerful move of God in the history of man.

            God bless you and may God be with you as you go through this day!

IS IT A VISION OR DAYDREAM?

1 Corinthians 12:27 – – “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” NKJV

 Spiritual Blog - Vision

In Matthew 16:18 Jesus declared ‘upon this rock I will build My church.’  My title embodies a very important question for the Body of Christ today.  Is what we see when we say Church a ‘vision’ or are we living in a fantasy land of ‘daydreams’?  Sadly, some, if not much, of the Christian world is living in a ‘daydream’ rather than following a God inspired ‘vision’ that consumes them.  So I ask you, ‘What is the mental image or descriptive term, thought or idea that comes to mind when you hear the word church?’

  • When we speak of the FUNCTION of the church we think of it as a BODY.
  • When we speak of the church RESPONDING TO GOD in praise & worship we call it a TEMPLE.
  • When we focus on the FELLOWSHIP & RELATIONSHIPS of the corporate body we call ourselves a FAMILY.
  • When the church is addressed as a GOVERNMENT or KINGDOM we call it a NATION.
  • When we speak of the BELIEFS of the church we call it the HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH.
  • When we speak of the BATTLES of the church in the spiritual realm we call it an ARMY.

Therefore what you see is very important because it identifies the focus, function, ministry and purpose we are addressing.  The Old Testament prophets spoke boldly of the conditions of our generation.  Their words address the circumstances of our lives at this very moment.  Amos 3:7 tells us that God will do nothing without first revealing it to His prophets.

If we are to understand our purpose and destiny we must come to a clear understanding of what the prophets have declared and attend to our mission in this life.  Following a God inspired vision is not doodling in daydreams and fantasies.

WHAT DID THE PROPHETS PROCLAIM?

  • MICAH – – Cried out for JUSTICE and MERCY and exhorted God’s people to do the will of God.
  • ZEPHANIAH – – Promised RESTORATION of a PURE LANGUAGE [3:9] God dispersed the human language at the Tower of Babel but the prophet spoke of a time when all people would hear a PURE SOUND that they would KNOW and UNDERSTAND.
  • HAGGAI – – Depicts God’s covenant people as being His SIGNET RING, His STANDARD, His WITNESS to all people [2:23] It is what they are not just what they do.
  • ZECHARIAH – – Declares that the nations will come to the anointed places to worship. [1:14-17]
  • HABAKKUK – – Instructs us to WRITE the vision and PUBLISH it. [2:2]
  • MALACHI – – Instructs us on how to FINANCE God’s plan [3:8-12] Then he finishes by prophesying FAMILY RESTORATION both natural and spiritual [4:6]

The prophet JOEL warned us to prepare for WAR. [3:9] He prophesied the release of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh.  EZEKIEL saw that SPIRITUAL ARMY. [37] Both Joel and Ezekiel saw the birth of a new prophetic order and Peter declared its beginning on the Day of Pentecost.  Although the church has taken a number of detours we are, I believe, coming back to the reality of Joel and Ezekiel’s prophesies.  We are going to become an ARMY that is VICTORIOUS in battle!  I want to take this one step further and will do so in the next post but until then may the Lord be with you watch over you, guard and guide you as you proceed through your day.  Blessings abundantly!

FALSE FREEDOM….

John 8:34-36 – “Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.  36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”  NKJV

 Spiritual Blog - False Freedom

I heard or read a definition of Christian Freedom once and do not recall where or from whom that I thought was excellent.  Christian Freedom:  “A life controlled by truth and motivated by love.”  I believe this is a direct result of a growing developing relationship with Jesus Christ who is TRUTH.  It is, to me, a powerful condition and/or position for it carries a complete absence of ‘guilt’ and ‘condemnation’. 

In Christ, there is wonderful freedom but there is a false freedom to be avoided.  This so-called freedom comes not from heaven but hell and those who practice it are not free at all but in bondage of the worst kind – religious bondage.  I believe it is clear from scripture that God wants man to be free, His method of attaining freedom is truth, and His revelation of truth is Jesus Christ.  My consuming passion is to enter in and help others enter in to this freedom.

  • Freedom to be all God would have us to be.
  • Freedom to live without condemnation or guilt.
  • Freedom from man-made traditions.
  • Freedom to accept our responsibilities in this world.

            We see this FALSE FREEDOM in 2 Peter 2 where false prophets and false teachers bring destructive heresies to the church.  They use covetousness to exploit and deceive and the corruption they bring takes no holiday but continually corrupts.  Peter identifies them as ‘wells without water’.  They speak convincingly with empty words and lead people toward the lust of the flesh promising liberty but are slaves of corruption.  Their lives are controlled by lies and motivated by lust.  Frequently their targets are new converts knowing they are impressionable and more easily manipulated.  Peter gives three reasons why the freedom they offer is dangerous.

  1. Dangerous Because Of Where It Comes From.

It comes from false teachers and is birthed in hell not heaven.  (v.1) – They secretly introduce destructive heresies – They are not honest.  (v.10) – They despise authority and are proud projecting the image that they are the only ones right.  (v.3) – They use feigned words.  The Greek word is (plastos) and is the word from which our word Plastic comes.  He also says ‘they make merchandise of you’.  Graft and corruption is part and parcel of what they do.

  1. Dangerous Because Of What It Offers.

Freedom without responsibility is offered and that is incredibly dangerous.  Freedom without self-control will lead into bondage and corruption.  The Prodigal Son is an example for he wanted freedom but without responsibility and there can be no freedom without responsibility and accountability.  Freedom without reckoning is offered and today there are those who preach that no one will go to hell for a God of love could never allow that forgetting that God is also Holy!  They offer Freedom without repercussions preaching a false and cheap grace suggesting there are no consequences for our actions.

  1. Dangerous Because Of Where It Leads.

It leads to bondage (vv. 19-20).  In the new birth we have been offered tremendous potential and promise.  We are FREE to become that which God desires and FREE to fulfill our potential to the Glory of God.   In the freedom that Jesus brings comes LOVE and in His love FEAR is banished.

We are FREE to BE!  So as you go through your day go in the grace, peace, and freedom that Jesus brings!  Blessings!

PREACHING IS NOT JUST A SALES JOB…..

1 Corinthians 1:18 – “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. “  NKJV

 Spiritual Blog - Gospel

I interviewed for a sales job once and the interviewer commented, “Well I guess you are qualified after all preaching is the ultimate in sales.”  I have thought about that many times since and disagree.  Someone once asked if I knew the definition of a salesman and I knew he had what he considered clever to offer so I played the game and said no.  He said, “A salesman is some who convinces you to buy what you don’t need at a price you can’t afford.”  That may be true of some but certainly not true for all who are in sales.  Although sales involves convincing someone to purchase a particular item I do not consider preaching a ‘sales job’ or a ‘pitch’ it is the presentation of GOOD NEWS pointing to the door of salvation and life.  It is more of a ‘public service announcement’ than ‘sales pitch’. 

Once in witnessing to a particularly difficult individual and presenting the GOOD NEWS he stopped me and said, “You are quite the salesman, aren’t you?”  I said, “No sir, I’m not trying to sell you anything I am simply offering information that, if received, will completely transform you”  I make no commission, the price has already been paid, and the warranty is eternal.  It is up to each individual to decide if they will receive the offer or reject it.  If the Holy Spirit is tugging your heart strings then I urge you to accept.  I know that this might be splitting hairs but I have never considered preaching the gospel as sales or politics.  I not seeing a sale or garner a vote I am seeking to see a life transformed.

The apostle Paul packaged what the gospel is in a beautiful package in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8.  He identified that Christ died for our sin, was buried, rose on the third day, and seen by eyewitnesses.  He continues in the next verses declaring that there is a resurrection from the dead for Christ arose.  If Christ did not rise then our faith is in vain and we are still without hope and all we have is here and now making that a pitiable existence.  But, Christ did arise and we have hope!

The word gospel means ‘good news’ and the image is that of a newborn calf skipping in delight as it leaps and plays.  The GOOD NEWS makes our hearts leap for joy for it is transforming us from children of darkness into children of light.  We are ‘born again’ and become ‘new creations’ in God where the old is gone and the new has come to life.  So today I come with a ‘public service announcement’ that Jesus is alive and is extending the offer of salvation to whosoever will.  Harken to the call of the Spirit of God if you have not and if you are a child of the King then allow Him to live His life through you completely.

            May God be with you as you go through your day!