Standing for the truth of Christ and Him Crucified in our world today can be a lonely and often times solitary position. Recently, I found myself under a severe attack of the enemy as he tried to magnify that in my life. Even though we try to always appear so strong, the truth is we are but flesh and in a moment of fatigue and physical tiredness; I began to feel the emotional attack that was being launched against me. You see, when you minister to others sometimes you get a big target on your back spiritually speaking. Satan is not in sympathy with what we are preaching and he will do anything he can to hinder the message of the Cross in every way possible.
Rev. 12:10-11 from the Expositors Study Bible
10And I heard a loud voice saying in Heaven (presents the white-robe wearers of Rev. 6:10–11), Now is come Salvation, and Strength, and the Kingdom of our God (presents the triumph of Christ), and the power of His Christ (refers to the fact that Christ will rule this world, not Satan): for the accuser of our Brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. (This implies that either Satan or one of his fallen angels is before the Throne of God, accusing the Brethren constantly [Job, Chpts. 1–2].)
11And they overcame him by the Blood of the Lamb (the power to overcome and overwhelm the Kingdom of Satan is found exclusively in the Blood of the Sacrifice of the Son of God, and our Faith in that Finished Work [Rom. 6:3–5, 11, 14]), and by the word of their testimony (the “testimony” must pertain to the fact that the Object of our Faith is the Cross, and exclusively the Cross, which then gives the Holy Spirit latitude to work within our lives); and they loved not their lives unto the death. (This refers to the fact that the Believer must not change his testimony regarding the Cross to something else, even if it means death.)
Swaggart, Jimmy: The Expositor's Study Bible. Baton Rouge, LA : World Evangelism Press, 2005, S. 2200
In the above verse of Scripture, the Lord showed me a very important personal lesson that I want to try and relate to you. It is this: We Overcome by the Blood of Jesus (faith in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross) ; The word of our testimony (the message of the cross), and loving not our lives unto the death. I was missing it in the 3rd area. Let me try and briefly explain:
While I am learning new things about the cross everyday and have in no way arrived by any means, I do have a pretty good basic understanding of the message of the cross and that is my total testimony... I believe in the cleansing, saving, keeping, and delivering power of the Precious Blood of Jesus.... But I found myself focusing a little on love of my own life and in this way; while not threatened with physical death, I found myself almost craving an understanding word from others. Now, in and of itself, there is nothing wrong with that and I want to be clear that we should encourage and edify each other. But first and foremost, we must look to Jesus for all that we need, knowing and understanding that He provided everything we need at the cross.
As I minister to thousands on a weekly basis and really daily basis, I allowed my focus to get on my perceived need for an encouraging word from my brethren and when, for whatever reason that did not come, satan was there to hit me with discouragement. This was all stemming from not occupying my position of death to self and from me, very briefly, taking my eyes off Jesus and Him Crucified and trying to see my need for encouragement fulfilled by people instead of my Lord. There is something in all of us that sometimes craves the expressed appreciation of others. Again let me say, that if you are a believer, you should encourage others and go out of your way to do so. BUT, as a Christian we are never to look to man to meet any need that we may have. We must look exclusively to Christ. I spent a couple of days under needless attack because of focusing on my love for my own life in this way.
As soon as I realized the Lord was putting His finger on this in my life, I repented and said, "Lord, my life is yours and I am dead and hidden in you.. Take control of this" Instantly, the oppression lifted and victory was mine in Jesus, because of Calvary. At the Cross, Jesus purchased my wholeness and it is not dependant on the acceptance or rejection of any person or group of people. This is not always easy to learn and to stand on in the face of an attack but God will always give us the Grace to stand if our faith is in the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross.
I believe the Lord allowed me to experience this because of the days we are living in. The Message of the Cross is a last days message. It is a message for all time, but today, it is the dividing line between the true and the apostate church, even as it has always been the dividing line. As we stand and proclaim and defend this great truth, we will often find ourselves having to do so in the face of great opposition. Family, friends,loved ones, co-workers,and sadly, even many in the church will oppose us because they oppose the Jesus in us and they oppose the message. We must learn that whatere betide, we must keep our focus and our trust in the Lord at all times. He is our life.. He is our encourager, Jesus is our everything; our all in all. Galatians 2:20-21 from the Expositors Study Bible
20I am Crucified with Christ (as the Foundation of all Victory; Paul, here, takes us back to Rom. 6:3–5): nevertheless I live (have new life); yet not I (not by my own strength and ability), but Christ lives in me (by virtue of me dying with Him on the Cross, and being raised with Him in newness of life): and the life which I now live in the flesh (my daily walk before God) I live by the Faith of the Son of God (the Cross is ever the Object of my Faith), Who loved me, and gave Himself for me (which is the only way that I could be saved).
21I do not frustrate the Grace of God (if we make anything other than the Cross of Christ the Object of our Faith, we frustrate the Grace of God, which means we stop its action, and the Holy Spirit will no longer help us): for if Righteousness come by the Law (any type of Law), then Christ is dead in vain. (If I can successfully live for the Lord by any means other than Faith in Christ and the Cross, then the Death of Christ was a waste.)
Swaggart, Jimmy: The Expositor's Study Bible. Baton Rouge, LA : World Evangelism Press, 2005, S. 2052
Colossians 3:3 from The Expositors Study Bible 3For you are dead (dead to the old life by virtue of the fact of Christ dying on the Cross as our Substitute and, in effect, us dying with Him [Rom. 6:3–5]), and your life is hid with Christ in God (all made possible by the Cross [Jn. 14: 20]).
Swaggart, Jimmy: The Expositor's Study Bible. Baton Rouge, LA : World Evangelism Press, 2005, S. 2084E
As we look to Christ and Him alone to meet our every need, we can rest assured that He will do so and always in the ways that are the very best for us..... Victory is mine... Victory is mine... Victory today is mine.... God told satan, get thee behind, Victory today is mine.... ALL BECAUSE OF THE VICTORY OF THE CROSS. THANK YOU JESUS...........................
Self effort can minister to one's self importance... The Holy Spirit can humble us if our faith is in the finished work of Christ upon the Cross, thereby fixing our motives and giving us a humility of spirit and rest of faith..
I love this passage from James 2 from the Expositors Study Bible from Jimmy Swaggart Ministries; 14 What does it profit, my Brethren, though a man say he has Faith, and have not works? (This presents the fact that proper Faith will always produce proper works.) can Faith save him? (This should have been translated, “is that Faith able to save him... See More...The truth is God will not recognize that type of Faith.) 15 If a Brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in Peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit? (This refers to claimed Faith which blesses no one, simply because it’s not true Faith. True Faith will help the person.) 17 Even so Faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone. (As stated, proper Faith will produce proper works. If not, the Holy Spirit says here that it is “dead faith.”) 18 Yes, a man may say, You have Faith, and I have works (proclaims the efforts by some to divide the two): show me your Faith without your works, and I will show you my Faith by my works. (This proclaims the fact that the profession of a lifeless Faith is profitless.) Swaggart, Jimmy: The Expositor's Study Bible. Baton Rouge, LA : World Evangelism Press, 2005, S. 2146
Proper faith and proper works are never to be divided... Works become improper when we trust in them to produce righteousness. But Proper Faith Will produce the proper kinds of works in and through the life of a believer.
Someone said "o you are implying that we have to be obedient!!??" NO.. I am saying that IF you are in proper faith (Christ and Him Crucified) and you are being progressively sanctified by the Holy Spirits working in your life; You WILL be obedient... AND if you miss and fail , REPENT and keep your faith in Christ and Him Crucified which will result in being sanctified unto obedience. It is a life long process....
A human operating in the flesh is incapable of rendering proper obedience to God. BUT, when we put our faith in Christ and Him Crucified, the Holy Spirit comes to our help and performs His work IN us..
disobedience is sin and the way to victory is faith in Christ and His finished work at the Cross.
If the Christian puts their faith in their performance then they will always be trapped in disobedience because self effort is incapable of rendering proper obedience to God, thereby constantly trapped in sin because disobedience is sin. So the Believer needs to place their faith in Christ and Him crucified which will give them the help of the Holy Spirit; allowing them to break the sin/disobedience cycle.
I do not have to run to and fro; hither and yon; I do not have to lose the peace of Jesus. I do not have to move half way around the world. RIGHT HERE WHERE I AM, if I will put my faith in HIS sacrifice on Calvary; JESUS WILL MINISTER HIS PEACE INTO MY LIFE...... It is for you today too.......
After talking and listening to alot of conversation today; I can say with all my heart that the grass is not always greener somewhere else.... Learn to grow and flourish where you are at....
We may change our outer environment but only God can change our heart...
Love looks through a telescope.... Envy looks through a microscope....
The Power of Belief: What you believe translates directly into what you do.
Move away from Law church... "thou shalt wear this", "thou shalt not wear this"; "this is what you should do", "this is not what you should do". STOP IT, STOP IT, STOP IT.... Man looks on the outward, God looks on the heart; PREACH CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED......
The Holy Spirit will put holy in you; but you can't get there by rules and regulations.
I do not try to preach intellectualism or using lofty prose that leave my listeners scratching their heads.. The Gospel is the simplicity of Christ and Him Crucified. So simple that even a little Child can understand it. That is my take on it.
The Cross is made of none effect if we try to reach God through our mental capacities alone. OR any time we have anything as the object of our believing other than the finished work of Christ upon the Cross.
1 Cor. 1:17-18 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Even your own past has to bow to the mighty name of Jesus and free you from its grave of regrets if God has called you.... The Cross has eliminated everything in the enemies arsenal of weapons that could possibly render your life ineffective. Cling to that old rugged Cross... Preach it...Proclaim it... It is the good news; the Hope of all mankind....
Reputation is what man "thinks" you are... Character is what God "knows" you are.....
Man can not qualify or disqualify a God called minister. No matter what man says; Keep Preaching Christ and Him crucified. If God accepts you on the basis of the finished work of His Son, that is all that matters. No man can be your covering; The Blood Of Jesus is your covering.
Acts 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
Prayer earns me nothing but does have many benefits and it is the responsibility of the preacher to explain those benefits and encourage the body of Christ to enter into a prayer life.
When I embraced the message of the Cross; God poured His compassion in me. Compassion acts.. This is a great ministry to help the worlds poorest kids to have something to eat. We need to work to allieviate their suffering. We are Christians.
Bear in mind, you do not earn any righteousness for yourself by helping the poor. You do it because of the love of God in you and to show that kindness and love to them. It is not about you; its about Jesus.
When I say I put my faith in Christ and Him Crucified for souls to be saved, what do I mean? I mean that because of Calvary God will deal with the hearts of men and when a believer talks to them about their soul or as a preacher is preaching, the Holy Spirit will anoint that situation.
It DOES NOT mean I can la la la around and not talk to anyone about Jesus, The Cross and Salvation....Rom. 10:13-17... Mark 16:15
It DOES NOT MEAN that I merely "believe" souls will get saved. I must tell them the good news of the Gospel........The EXPOSITORS STUDY BIBLE says that this is the responsibility of EVERY BELIEVER... Notes on Mark 16:15
we do not witness to sanctify ourselves, we witness to get OTHERS saved. People who call witnessing works have a focus problem,; Its all about them... I witness because it is all about Jesus.... AND because I don't want souls to go lost to hell forever and forever... The people who are calling witnessing works (though we can turn it into law) are a shame to the movement.
Believing in the message of the cross doesn't mean we stop soul winning... If really believe it correctly, we will reach out MORE and try to get people saved.... Trusting in the Holy Spirit to bring them in....
I am reading the book "Wigglesworth: A Man Who Walked With God." by George Stormont. In reading the section on the personal evangelism (soul winning) of Smith Wigglesworth, I can't help noticing the vast difference over today. Evangelism is not "helping" it is getting souls saved. Every Christian should read this book.
Witnessing your faith is not works... It is commanded by our Lord. And we do it out of Love.
Some people are too ignorant to realize that we do not witness to sanctify ourselves, we witness to get OTHERS saved. People who call witnessing works have a focus problem,; Its all about them... I witness because it is all about Jesus....
Every preacher in this world that knows and loves the message of the Cross is trying to get people saved... Duh.
It is our responsibility to tell those in our circle of influence about Jesus and His salvation because of Calvary. That is what my believing produces.
1 Peter 1:2 2Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."
I want to be ready at the slightest breath of the Spirit, to go aside and spend time with the Lord. Smith Wigglesworth once said, "When the child of God ceases to hunger after righteousness and purity, then satan gets in".
I am useless to all the people in my life without the touch of the Lord on my life and the guidance of His Spirit leading me in all His ways.
If your faith is in Christ and Him Crucified, then the works the Holy Spirit births through you will be pure works... But if your faith is in your works, God will not accept them and, in fact, labels them all as impure...
Jesus did not say go into all the world and build a mega church... When you preach the truth (Christ and Him Crucified) the crowds may not be as large.. But No One should ever come into your church FOR ANY REASON without hearing the Gospel... To offer them social programs and leave their souls unattended is compromise......
An Open Letter to Peter Wagner, Dutch Sheets & Other "Apostles".
I recently received a report of a new "Apostolic Network" headed up by Dutch Sheets which held a gathering in Florida last week to "carve up" territories for it's 'apostles', etc. I need to put in writing what I believe the Lord would say to these men.
But first I need to remind us all of something. On June 23rd, 2008, a group of "apostles and prophets" under Peter Wagner's headship stood on a stage in Lakeland at the Todd Bentley revival - to lay on hands and commission him, etc. But it was far more than that. Peter Wagner called it an "apostolic alignment." He made the following statement before all the TV cameras and all the people:
"I take the apostolic authority that God has given me and I decree to Todd Bentley: -Your power will increase. -Your authority will increase. -Your favor will increase. -Your influence will increase. -Your revelation will increase. I also decree that: -A new supernatural strength will flow through this ministry. -A new life force will penetrate this move of God..."
Onlookers might have thought that Wagner was 'prophesying' the above statements. But actually what he felt he was doing was "decreeing" these things over Todd - since he was the 'head apostle'. In a letter the following day, Wagner called this a "groundbreaking event" and stated that, "We are now in a place in what I see as the Second Apostolic Age..." (In other words, a "new era" of real apostles).
So how did that work out for you, Peter? Well, literally within weeks we found out that many of the "miracles" at Lakeland had no foundation, and then Todd Bentley's wife separated from him apparently over an affair he was having - and the entire 'revival' fell to pieces in the worst way possible. That's how it worked out.
All the big Charismatic leaders that had stood on that stage hardly knew what to do with themselves - they were so embarrassed. And none more so than Peter Wagner - after making an "Apostolic decree" like that. -Probably the most colossal disaster of his life.
So who pulled the rug out from under your "apostolic alignment", Peter? I need to tell you that there are two responsible parties. One is 'yourself' - clearly. And the second is GOD - because He is now pitted against you and your so-called "apostles". He is the one who did this to you.
You and your friends have presumed to an office and a place over the Body that is simply not yours, and God is in the process of taking you 'apostles' down - and all your "networks" with you.
Dutch Sheets - can I ask you please, what gives you the right to carve up the Body of Christ in North America and parcel it out like McDonalds franchises to all your buddies so they can be 'apostles' over their own "territory"? Do you have any idea what you are playing with? Don't you know that if your buddies are not real New Testament Apostles then all they are doing is painting huge targets on themselves and begging for the judgment of God? How dare you treat the Body of Christ like a piece of Real Estate that you can carve up for your own aggrandizement?
Because of men like you, God is about to judge the leadership of the church. Do they call themselves an "apostle"? Well, God is going to put them to the test. If they are not the real thing, they make themselves His 'enemy' because they are blocking His real Reformation. Every self-proclaimed "apostle and prophet" is about to be put to the test. Oh, you call your group an "Apostolic Council of Elders" or something similar? Expect God to come calling, and if you are not the real thing, expect Him to take you down. The Lord God is coming to take back His church with great violence. And you guys are standing directly in His way.
I've heard that one of these big "apostles" in Canada once told his network that their "apostle-ness" would be judged by the 'noses and nickels' that they represented. (In other words, their "numbers" and their reaping of money). Hmmmm. If I didn't know better, I would call those the words of a hireling and a wolf.
As Lee Grady wrote about this 'Apostle-Mania': "In some circles apostles demanded total allegiance from the leaders who were "under" them. Some required a policy of "tithing up," creating a monstrous organizational structure similar to a spiritual Amway. So-called apostles with huge "downlines" made exorbitant amounts of money. One leader even offered pastors the opportunity to become "spiritual sons" by contributing $1,000 a month to his ministry."
And yet here is what the TRUE apostle Paul wrote: "I think that God has set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death... we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace... we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things..." (1 Cor 4:9-13).
Now THAT is true apostleship. Tell me, Mr. Modern Apostle, do you match up to the New Testament apostles? If not, what on earth do you think God is going to do to you if you claim that title falsely?
I believe that many true Apostles, when they do arise, will simply REFUSE to carry such titles in any way. They will "minimize" themselves, not exalt themselves. That is the heart of a true leader of God.
In closing, let me again warn those who have titled themselves "apostle" or 'prophet' in the modern church. God is coming to "clean house" and if you are not the real deal, expect Him to start with you. It is as simple as that. You need to repent urgently of your utter presumption. You have been warned.
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Which will you choose. You cannot have both. They are tremendously opposed to each other. You will have to choose which worldview you will hold to.
In this blog, I am not going to attempt to give you the history of modern day psychology. I am simply going to highlight some of the contrasts between these two divergent paths; The psychological way vs The Way Of The Cross. Modern day psychotherapy has its roots in atheism, evolution, and humanism. Sadly, most denominations in modern Christianity have opted for the psychological way and have cast aside the way of the Cross.
The Bible holds ALL the answers of human behavior 2Peter 1:3 Psychology also claims to hold all the answers of human behavior. The Bible tells us that man is an eternal soul St John 3:16 Psychology has as its foundation, evolution. The Bible says that man is a sinner Romans 3:23 Psychology says that man is a victim.
The Bible says that the problem of man is an evil heart (Jer. 17:9) and that man is inherently evil. Psychology says that the problem is man's environment and man is inherently good. The Message of the Cross treats the very depths; the very core of man's problem, the heart. (Ez. 36:26-27, Eph 3:17, etc....) Psychology treats only mans symptoms. The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the answer (St. Matt. 11: 28-30) Psychology says that therapy and "professional help" is the answer. Most psychology "professionals" will denigrate Faith and say that the minister of the Gospel is not qualified to help humanity.
The Bible tells us to deny self and crucify the flesh ( Matt. 16:24, Gal. 5:24). Psychology says we should love "self" and pamper "flesh". The Bible directs us to the Cross, which assures us the help of the Holy Spirit. Psychology directs us to the flesh. The Bible directs us to Faith in God (Mark 11:22). Psychology directs us to self effort. Self cannot improve upon self. Remember that.
The Word of God, The Bible, Leads us into repentance (Acts 26:20) and restoration (Gal 6:1). Psychology offers only remorse and referral. The Bible IS TRUTH.... Psychology is mere, mortal, flawed mans opinions. The Bible says that God's truth is unchangeable (Psalm 119:89). Psychology says that truth is determined by the majority and by culture.
There are many, many more contrasts that I could list for you but the bottom line is this; One simply cannot believe in the Bible and the message of the Cross; at least not as one ought, and also believe in psychology. It can't be done. If you as a believer put your trust in anything other than Christ and Him Crucified, no matter how well intentioned, you are committing spiritual adultery. Rom 7.
Psychology puts man as the center of all things. Our Faith, from the Bible, puts Christ as the center and the ONLY answer for man. The two cannot be joined. Preachers of the Gospel who attempt to join the two will help no one. The only true help that is available is found in the word of God which is The Message Of The Cross....
The Word Of God; The Bible, has many things to say about the Last Days. From time to time, I am going to be coming on the blog with one or more prophecies from Scripture as it regards the Last days. Many of these prophecies will not climax until the Tribulation period but there are many we are seeing the early stages of fulfillment right now....
1)The Bible is clear that in the last days there will be False Bible teachers that will bring in heresies. They will have many followers, and also cause many to reject God's Word. One scripture that foretells this; there are many, is 2 Peter 2:1-2. These false prophets will be money hungry, smooth talkers 2 Peter 2:3. A huge number of today's TV preachers are prime examples of this. Regrettably, most of this comes from the so called word of faith movement. It is not true Bible faith. True Bible faith is Faith in Christ and Him Crucified. Most of today's word of faith movement twists and perverts the scripture, uses misleading words, in order to make merchandise of you. Also the vast majority of the modern day prophetic movement also falls under the category of "false teachers". You would do well to beware of anyone who puts experiences above the word of God. Anyone who claims visits from female angels every other day; (any day for that matter) is being mislead by dark forces. ( There are no female angels in the word). The verses that they use to justify this from the book of Zech. refers to evil; not to female angels of God. Any preacher or teacher who says that the blood does not atone, you need to run from that preacher/teacher like you would run from a poisonous snake; for that is really what they are. Anyone that denies the Cross, the Holy Spirit or the Power of God can not be trusted in these last days. Stay away from any minister that teaches the Jesus died spiritually doctrine for it will surely lead you into more darkness. Put your faith exclusively in the finished work of Jesus upon the Cross and keep your faith there.
There is so much more that I could bring forth on this but I think you all get the point. Please keep watching for the next last days prophecy that we will list. God bless you all. KEEP YOUR FAITH IN CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED.........
I personally believe that the church has been purposely "dumbed down" to the point it has become Theologically illiterate in order to prepare it to receive esoteric experiences and they value those experiences above the Word.
Hwee-Jong Jang a new age business professor in South Korea claims that through revelation communicated to him through channeling, dreams, and energy readings; he can explain countless mysteries and prepare people for a "coming great change". I see this same type of thing at work in many churches under the guise of the modern prophetic movement.
The key to all victory for a Christian is to put their faith in what Jesus did at the Cross and then, leave it there. Do not transfer your faith to any formula, ritual, law, rule, or anything else; Keep your faith solidly anchored in the Cross of Calvary and the work that Jesus there did.
Todays esoteric prophets (so called) who are basing their walk with God on experiences and extra biblical "revelation" rather than on the Word, the Cross, and the Blood of Jesus; are conditioning the church for the greatest deception in recorded history.
NOTE: Darren Smith runs an extensive ministry to the homeless in Galveston, Texas - and is currently speaking with Andrew Strom throughout the Southern states.
FIVE POINTS of REVOLUTION -by Darren Smith.
After much prayer, I have decided to release these points of revolution. I pray that you will pray over them and let God show you what to do. Time is short, we must act now.
1. We must return to the pure faith that Christ ordained for us to follow. Man has complicated faith to the point it is hard to find true faith on this earth. We have far too many man-made doctrines that lead us away from true simple faith. We have sought after knowledge to the point that knowledge has taken place above Christ. From this, the simple relational Gospel has been lost and replaced by systems of religion that are only designed to build themselves.
More people are concerned with their doctrine than carrying out the work of Christ on this earth. We have very educated people who have a great head knowledge of Christ but lack the heart knowledge that fruits of the Spirit flow from. These doctors of Theology put on a show week after week, letting their preaching skills dazzle the people, but their fruit never shines forth. Let's get real. How many of these men would preach if their salary was taken away?
From these halls of religion, men echo a self-centered gospel that really is no gospel at all, it brings forth no fruit. Today's church has become a business simply put, putting out products to enrich itself. It has become a Babylonian institution that only a revolution can change. We must stop feeding the monster.
Pure simple faith is Loving God and Loving our neighbor. Do we love God if we don't obey His commands? Jesus said that we don't. If we are not doing the things Christ said, we are not in obedience. Jesus taught us to live a life of simplicity building relationships and making disciples, not building lavish buildings and a comfortable life for our self. Are we loving our neighbor when we overlook his needs? Would God rather us use our money to build temples and ministry payrolls or to feed the hungry and take care of widows and orphans? Would HE rather us buy the system's books and tapes or spend our money spreading the Gospel to the lost? Shouldn't our resources go to the work of the ministry? This will anger those that are changing money in the name of the Lord and making ministry a business. But it must be said, not only said but shouted.
2. We must examine our life by the Light of the Word. We cannot examine ourselves by the doctrine of religion - only the Word of God. Men build doctrines that are to be more accepted by the world. Take for instance the prosperity message plaguing the body today. It's designed to make you feel better about yourself and the life you live. The people who are in leadership prosper by design, those that follow pay the bill, but worse a false sense of hope is sent out to people who simply can only be helped by the simple truth. If you examine yourself by this doctrine or any other manmade doctrine you cannot get a clear picture of where you need to be or what you should be doing. Look at this simple principle in 2 Cor 13:5 - "Test yourself to see if you are in the faith." See if Christ is in you. That's a simple test so why not so it? Do I love God? Am I keeping His commands? Do I love my neighbor? If so, how do I show it through my actions? Am I taking care of widows and orphans, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked? If not, am I obeying Christ? Am I forgiving? Without forgiving you cannot be forgiven. Why is this not taught today?
Am I kind, patient? Or am I full of envy and pride? In 1Cor 13:4-8 you can give yourself a simple test. Take out the word "love" and place your name there and see if it fits. If Christ is in you, you have the ability through Him to be all these things. Doctrines of man give us excuses not to go deeper into relationship with Christ. They teach us how to put up a facade of holiness, like how we look or act on the outside, or rituals that we find comfort in - like church attendance and tithing to the church. Christ asks for childlike faith, simplicity in loving Him and our neighbor - a daily relationship. You can't get this from religion, only from relationship. If you're not passing the test, ask the Lord what you must do to pass and HE will guide you. Religion will give you a list of things to do and a list not to do. Christ will give you life and peace.
3. You must become temporary residents or travelers in this world. We have put our roots down in a world that we are only passing through, to the point that the culture has overtaken faith. 1 Peter 2:11. Peter tells us to be aliens to this world and to abstain from fleshly desires that war against us. What are these things that war against us? The very culture of self that we live in today - from sexual perversion to self-centered greed, to the attitude that we deserve anything we want. This culture has brought down basic values and destroyed the family in this nation. Just like Lot in Sodom, we have grown so comfortable with the life it provides us we don't even care about the sin around us. We have adjusted our religion to fit the culture. We are at a point where nothing shocks us anymore, but as long as we can keep our comforts it's OK. We love this world and the things it affords us so much, we have missed the narrow path and are trying to turn a deaf ear to the warnings of God for us to repent.
As much as I know this will make a lot of people mad, I must add this point. Our national pride as Americans has helped us down this road as well. We feel we are God's own nation even as we have become more and more against God. Blinded by rhetoric and blind patriotism we have let this country sink to an all-time low. From abortion to gay marriage, we flaunt our rebellion before God and then claim to be God's nation. If anyone dare say anything about it, you are attacked for being anti-American and an extremist.
Well, I have news for you, Jesus himself was an extremist and views on religion and government put Him on trial and the cross. Can you make the point realistically that we are a Godly nation? I think not. We must be willing to become aliens to this world and its ways. The American dream is not from God. God wants us to be citizens of the Kingdom of God and live accordingly. This means that we are going to have to make some hard choices about what to do in this world, some that will have very tough consequences to our flesh.
We must come out of Babylon and every one of her systems. This means letting go of life as we know it and embracing the cross of Christ. This will cause you to take stands that will be totally counter-culture and revolutionary and most people in your life will not understand. Don't forget that Jesus said that he would cause division. As you pull away from this world, most will question your actions and critics will tear at your every idea. If you are a traveler here, it really doesn't matter.
4. Repentance and transparency are a must. We must get real with ourselves and with others around us. Every time we cover up sin and shortcomings we give our enemy weapons to use against us. This is why true relationship in the body of Christ is so important. We need to be able to minister out of our heart, and if we are not clean, we become poison instead of healing. Some of the most unforgiving and meanest people I have ever met I met in church. I know men who stand and teach God's Word before others, that are full of hate and unforgiveness. True relationship exposes these issues and gives a chance for repentance to take place. I know men that claim to love God but are racist and because of the facade the modern church has built, they teach Sunday after Sunday with this hate in their heart.
How can anyone help you if they are not open about their own struggles? How can a man preach against adultery and have that very thing in his own heart? We must get clean and open in the Body to see the fullness of Christ in His Body.
It is from our weakness He is able to use us and we all have our own areas that we have failed, and only through His love and grace are we able to gain victory. I believe in being transparent and sometimes I am told that I am too open about my life and struggles, but I know if it is hidden, that the enemy will use it to destroy me. I have preached meetings that when I asked everyone to raise their hand if they have hidden sin such as porn and adultery in their life that every man in the place raised their hand. At this I asked them to come forward and repent and confess before God and man - so they could be set free.
Hidden sin kills your spirit and robs you of your God-given destiny. It must be dealt with. We must plant New Testament Fellowships that teach these truths and put them into action so people can be free. This level of openness is not comfortable, for we will all have to admit that we have faults and problems. This will cause us to have to deal with marital problems instead of running to divorce court. We will have to be accountable for our actions and live life without any excuses.
5. Absolute commitment to the cause of Christ. We must be willing to lay down our life for Christ. This is easy to say but hard to put in practice. Most believers say that they are willing to die for Christ, but live a life that says just the opposite. Most will not put off their self in even the simplest things in life such as giving from their abundance to further the cause, much less taking time from their life to serve. Many ask me how we left a comfortable home in the country to live and serve in the inner city among the addicts and prostitutes and homeless. I tell them God sent me here, I had no choice in the matter. I'm not special, I just simply told the Lord, I give you my life! Many sing these words over and over in songs, but in reality they don't give Him anything that costs them time or money.
Think about how silly it is to say you would die for Christ but you're not willing to give up anything of your own for Him. There are very few people committed to the cause of Christ to the point of giving their life, even though this is what He requires.
If you can't be faithful in giving in your daily life, you will not give your life. If you can rest on the excuses of not having time or enough money to help, you can rest on the excuse that you're not called to this level. Let's go even deeper. If you can rest with the condition of this nation and the church, then you are not a revolutionary and there is no need for you to read any more of this letter. But, if you can't rest in the excuses or in the condition of this land, it is time for you to take action even at risk to your life.
In closing, I would like to share a few thoughts with you about revolutions and revolutionaries. Many people are fascinated with people who will risk it all for their cause and because of this they will stay just close enough to watch and take credit for being a part if anything they think is good happens. But as soon as the battle gets too hot, they turn and run and deny they had any part. For the most part it is a lonely road that the revolutionary walks. Most of the time there is nothing to show that they are winning, the isolation takes a toll on them and at times they question if the fight is worth it at all.
In our case, the fight is worth it because it is the Lord's. Many times, the change that is brought about is long after the revolutionary has given his life in obscurity on a forgotten battlefield. Then someone will stumble onto the cause and the passion that he held for it and stories from his time will inspire the next revolutionary to pick up the cause and lose his life for it's sake. Many times then, the man who gave it all and died in a forgotten battle will become known and many who are not willing to pay the price will sit around and tell stories of this great man who gave his life. But it is the one that is inspired to take action that carries the battle forth without any regard to his own life. We must be willing to die on our own forgotten battlefield in this revolution for it is not ours, it is the Lord's. The battle lines are clearly drawn, it's time to choose our side and commit our life. Are you ready?
'AVATAR' and PAGANISM - Movie Review -by Andrew Strom.
'Avatar' is an enormous worldwide blockbuster movie - the first to use truly lifelike 3D - a huge leap forward that is sure to revolutionize the entire industry. I managed to see the movie in 3D this week, and like everyone I was utterly wowed by the lifelike 3D images and special effects. But there were some things about the film that truly disturbed me.
Maybe we should expect spiritual outrageousness from Hollywood by now. After all, they hardly seem to be able to make a spiritual statement in their movies without alienating every Christian in the audience. (They have been warned about this before. As Michael Medved has stated, Hollywood loses billions of dollars simply by offending Christians and church-goers - who number in the hundreds of millions in America). They often don't seem to care.
But Avatar takes this to a new extreme. Many critics have commented that it has a deeply pro-environmentalist message. And indeed, it seems almost loaded with every touchy-feely New Age environmentalist theme that you can imagine. Some critics are calling it "Dances With Wolves in space." But it sure does look amazing - in fact, stunningly real. It truly is a work of art.
The futuristic story revolves around an ex-marine posted to a planet with rich mining deposits - who has to inhabit an alien "avatar" body so he can infiltrate the local tribe that opposes the mining. Thus he becomes one of these blue-colored humanoids.
Though the film's images are stunning audiences worldwide, the spirituality in it is at the far extreme of New Age. And it is not "subtle" either. It is a huge part of the story. More and more you see the "Gaia"-type 'Earth-goddess' stuff - plus pagan or wicca-like rituals - until half the film seems almost saturated with them.
As I said, most people have grown to expect this stuff from politically-correct and spiritually-weird Hollywood by now. But we are talking here about the most expensive ($300 million) and most revolutionary new film in history. Surely they have to be concerned that preaching such a message may lose them hundreds of millions of dollars in potential revenue? Apparently not.
It always strikes me as sad when these great breakthroughs in the arts fail to glorify the One who gave us creativity in the first place. And sadly, this is one of those times. And I guess that is why, even after the awe and wonder of seeing one of the greatest visual spectacles of our age, I left the theatre feeling pretty flat. And I wonder how many others felt the same - even non-Christians. I wonder how many left sensing there was something very wrong at the core of this story. I would guess it might be quite a few. (There have been a lot of complaints about the storyline). Even many non-Christians may not like seeing the "Earth mother goddess" getting all the glory. Which is why I think this movie will never take top spot as the most-watched film in history - despite all the money spent on it. And also why I think the sequel will never earn the kind of money that they hope for.
Will Hollywood learn its lesson? I strongly doubt it.
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If God has called you to be really like Jesus He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility, and put upon you such demands of obedience, that you will not be able to follow other people, or measure yourself by other Christians.
Other Christians and ministers who seem very religious and useful, may push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans, but you cannot do it, and if you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.
Others may boast of themselves, of their work, of their successes, of their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.
The Lord may let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hidden in obscurity, because He wants to produce some choice fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade. He may let others be great, but keep you small. He may let others do a work for Him and get the credit for it, but He will make you work and toil on without knowing how much you are doing; and then to make your work still more precious He may let others get credit for the work which you have done, and thus make YOUR REWARD TEN TIMES GREATER when JESUS COMES.
The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you, with a jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feelings or for wasting your time, which other Christians never feel distressed over. So make up your mind that God is an Infinitely Sovereign Being, and has a right to do as He pleases with His own. He may not explain to you a thousand things which puzzle your reason in His dealings with you, but if you absolutely sell yourself to be His love slave, He will wrap you up in Jealous Love, and bestow upon you many blessings which come only to those who are in the inner circle.
Settle it forever, then that you are to DEAL DIRECTLY WITH the HOLY SPIRIT, and that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that He does not seem to use with others. Now, when you are so possessed with the living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this PECULIAR, PERSONAL, PRIVATE, JEALOUS GUARDIANSHIP and MANAGEMENT OF the HOLY SPIRIT OVER YOUR LIFE, then you will have found the vestibule of Heaven.
SOURCE: Faith, Prayer, & Tract League, Tract #76; Grand Rapids, MI 49504.
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