The Battle

We all have had a lot of teaching concerning spiritual warfare. Much has been useful and much has little bearing on things. The spiritual realm is real and the warfare and activity in that realm heavily affects the earth realm and more specifically the hearts, attitudes, thoughts and longings of men.

We all battle things in our regions and yet it seems at times, we don’t know if we are gaining ground or losing it. We also don’t know exactly what we should be pursuing in a practical way to confront demonic forces. First, let me say demonic forces work through openings in men by way of influences, misdirection, partial truth, lies and a host of subtle voices. These forces are real and the outcome of their actions is felt by culture.

I have taught about all the demonic strongholds, how to do deliverance ministry in depth in our many different schools of ministry. I have had to confront witches in other nations, stared a witchdoctor down to stop human sacrifice, and broke curses off of people that in the American Church we won’t even agree could exist. I recently put together the two main spirits almost everyone is dealing with over regions and territories. I taught this in our night of intercession for our state and this blog will be the first time it will be public.

The obvious main spirit we all know is the religious spirit. It could also be called the spirit of anti-Christ, yet many spirits qualify for this title as the word ‘anti’ means ‘in place of’. Many things are taking the place of Christ but the religious spirit is an organized spirit to replace relationship with obligations, grace with law, and replace freedom with bondages to man-made doctrines.  Most of us can see a religious spirit a long way off. We have combatted this spirit for some time as Kingdom focused apostolic people, yet it seems we still struggle. The reason is this spirit is only the holding bin for those held captive by a different named spirit that captures peoples desire for spirituality.

This second spirit is also at work and it is the spirit of Nicolaitan that Jesus spoke of in Rev. 2:15. Now not many know of this spirit, but it works in partnership with the religious spirit and is the one feeding converts to religious systems. You see this spirit can be traced back to Acts 6:5and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch”. He was a pagan then converted to Judaism, then finally to Christianity. But the mixture of belief he carried is the same mixture of a Nicolaitan spirit. It is a blend of paganism, being under law and worldliness that does not have an absolute belief system of truth. In other words, truth is not the driving force but more likely past experiences, and a more open interpretation of scripture shape the follower. It holds no sanctification process, no finished holiness , nor a emphasis of change required. In other words, nothing is really expected or demanded of those participating. It breeds a noncommitment and an attitude that I’m fine the way I am and the way culture is. Yet the meaning of the name Nicolaitan means “to conquer or overcome the people.” It creates a ruling class of leaders who form a hierarchy over people instead of being equal to them.

Jesus spoke to the church of Ephesus. A church that is not growing but only sustained. (More on this in a few paragraphs). They despised the false apostles emerging and could discern them as false. (Rev.2:2) They had patience and labored faithfully holding fast. (Vs. 3) But they were rebuked for not doing the first works. (Vs. 5) But in verse 6, Jesus stated they hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans. The word ‘deeds’ speaks of the works and the word “deeds” is associated many times concerning things that make for weak faith.  It is doing things on your own strength and ability and not by the spirit of God. I think these things describes much of the apostolic church today.

In Rev. 2:12-17, He addresses the church that is a heretic. Specifically, in verse 15, He told them they hold fast to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. They refuse to be corrected or even consider the possibility of their mixture with the world. In other words, this was the source of the deeds talked about a few verses prior. Now its time to begin to connect things up.

First, let me say the spirit of religion reinforces the Nicolaitan spirit as that’s where the converts come from. The Nicolaitan spirit points to the religious spirit to help hold the converts. The religious spirit is spiritually dead, holding captive. The Nicolaitan spirit captures those seeking spiritual understanding and holds them captive. The Nicolaitan spirit creates the religious spirit. The religious spirit brings the law and traditions to a more advance stage. Without addressing the Nicolaitan spirit, we will never conquer the religious spirit. So how do we do that?

There are six areas the Nicolaitan spirit operates through and are easily seen working in the souls of men daily. Here are the six problems associated with the Nicolaitan spirit and what it works through. Sin, lack of Disciplines, dead works, church decline, the natural mind and false spirituality. These all work at capturing the totality of a person’s spiritual being and desires. Paul saw the problems the Church would have to face and wrote specific letters to address each problem and brought forth answers. He left a way of stopping the religious spirit by stopping the source, the spirit of Nicolaitans.

Here are the six letters (books) addressing the six problems:

  1. The letter to the Romans is the answer to the problem of sin.
  2. The two Corinthian letters are the answer to lack of disciplines.
  3. Galatians provides the answer to dead works.
  4. Ephesians is the answer to church decline.
  5. Philippians is the answer to the natural mind.
  6. Colossians is the answer to false spirituality.

We probably look at the list and know people who fit some of these to a tee. Combating the spirit of Nicolaitan is addressing these six issues in people’s lives. The answers for these six problems are found in each of these corresponding books. Now this is becoming a key to a practical way of preaching, teaching and confronting. These six areas are both capturing people and eventually holding them captive. Simply find which of the six problems are going on in a person life, read the book associated and minister the answers! Still not convinced? Let’s look at one more place.

Look at the seven churches in Revelation; we can easily see six of the churches had issues that were addressed. Each had come to the full and a decision point moment. Each was confronted to repent. All six had different issues and was presented as unable to continue a healthy path until an issue was resolved. They were examples of these 6 problems become mature in a body and how because of certain things being done people felt they were in right standing with God. That’s the spirit of Nicolaitan for sure. So, looking at a couple we see the church of Ephesus fits to a tee. That’s the church in decline losing first love and not doing first works. The church with Jezebel teaching in it and having a platform, fits false spirituality. I’m not going to give you the entire list laid out, but challenge you to do your own study and see how each fit. John, like Paul saw the outcome of the spirit of Nicolaitans working on the churches and saw the opportunity for repentance before the religious spirit could hold a grip. This gives hope to all gatherings of the body of Christ that they are not in a hopeless place but can shift and change.  Examine your own life first. Examine your own minsitry second. Then begin to minister to people with understanding and save them from the Nicolaitan spirit and let’s defeat the religious spirit. It’s time we begin to fight, not as one beating the air, but in a strategic and practical manner.

Advertisements

Accusations

How exactly should a person respond to accusations in the Church that are false? Many times people who are accusing others are responding from hurts and disappointments. Others times they are lashing out because of unmet expectations. I have been on the receiving end recently of the “accuser spirit” and we must realize we are indeed dealing with a demonic spirit. So when these things come, I know how to walk through them, but right now several in our ministry are having this accuser spirit come after them. So I use these times as teaching moments to help others.

Even our judicial system recognizes the damage accusations can cause: the defaming of character and releasing serious doubt and trust issues into others. Suffering of reputation that has been put in print on an open media forum can be a cause for libel. Slander and libel are serious accusations having the potential for lawsuits to be filed for damages incurred. The main goal in accusations is the damaging of a person’s reputation and character. Most accusations are focused into these areas.

But for the Church, there is a proper process of accusation to be dealt with. If the accusations hold any weight of validity, then the facts can be presented and presented to the spiritual oversight such as a leadership team, board , or the spiritual covering. Accusation is always a time for a re-evaluation and a searching for the Holy Spirit. If there is no conviction, then there is nothing to shift or change or repent of. You keep moving forward knowing that your heart is clean. If facts cannot be presented, then the accusation is more of a private interpretation of events or conversations and this is where the waters really become muddy. These types of accusations are not meant to correct things nor are they sent as warnings. They are simply sent to inflict pain.

I have had many accusations come against me and most of them slide off like water off a duck’s back. Those that seem to bring the biggest struggle come from those that you pour your life into and then they falsely accuse you. But we must remember we are dealing with a spirit and the person is simply the tool the accuser spirit is using. The carrier of this spirit has a real or imagined offense that has not been dealt with. They lash out in their desire to inflict that pain of offense towards someone else. It is usually directed toward a leader of a ministry or their team.

The word ‘offended’ is not so much the action of a person against someone as it is the spoken attitude of the heart of the one bringing the accusation. They never safeguarded their heart or had never been convicted to come into alignment with God’s love. The word ‘offended’ actually means I am willing and going to spread slander about you. It has nothing to do with the words or actions of the one supposedly causing the offense, but has everything to do with the one saying they are offended. It is an attitude of the heart that is unwilling to change so it tries to discredit others to justify their current position. Offenses are held in the place of bitterness in the heart even for months and years before the opportunity is finally seen to unleash it by accusations.

Many times, the accusation is the very thing God is dealing with the accuser in their own lives. They project it outward instead of dealing with it inward. It is definitely a place of being self-deceived and playing right into demonic activity. It is giving yourself to the spirit of the accuser of the brethren. You end up submitting yourself to demonic influences and those demonic forces know right when to unleash the accusations.

The accuser spirit works hand in hand with the religious spirit. The bulk of accusations I hear of come in the Full Gospel circles, rather than the denominational circles. It is a religious spirit that comes against freedom and truth. It is a religious spirit that won’t recognize fivefold gifting and their function opposing specifically apostles and prophets. You see, the accuser spirit comes and convinces a person their actions will save others. It comes masked in godliness but the words have no lasting fruit of the Spirit. It comes to speak not truth but falsehood. Not only does it bind the person doing the accusing but also tries to bring others into the same accusation. It looks for the disgruntled and unhappy ones. It preys upon those not solid in faith. It’s amazing to me the power it holds over a person for such a length of time. A person offended once can be found to be offended again, even years later as it stirs the deposit left behind that was not dealt with.

It is under a religious spirit that it will have a form of godliness and deny God’s power (His nature) to be formed in them. The religious spirit is the principality at work and the accuser spirit is the power to go along with it. It is a religious spirit that is trying to steal the potential from a person and their spiritual inheritance. The religious spirit keeps the person bound by the accuser spirit working through them. Every accusation, every wrong judgmental word keeps freedom from them and the deception is that they believe it is the person/people  they are accusing that’s binding them when in reality, it is the bitterness and hurt in their own hearts.

The accuser comes at key pivotal moments of spiritual advance and growth: Times immediately after breakthrough meetings, times of God’s Spirit moving, Spiritual advance in a region, etc. They also come when the future is about to open up before you. They come to discourage and even come against the promises of God and His plan. At the time of this writing, I had four written slanders about me come to my attention. At the same time, the ministry is growing, we have advanced and expanded into new areas, opportunities are opening, new plans are given, we are experiencing healings every service, people are starting new ministries that will impact culture and the Lord spoke to me that it is time to start writing the next book. Why wouldn’t accusations come in written form? I hope you see what I mean. Last week another ministry just had a large breakthrough. Things were shifting and guess what- accusations came, disagreement, a refusal to talk or be teachable. One thing I found to be true, those who leave a ministry without a face- to-face talk will fall into the accuser spirit.

The best example for handling accusations is Nehemiah building the wall. His assignment was sure, the opposition was great, and breakthrough was occurring. The voices rose up against him but he stayed focused on the promises and the task before him. He did not empower the voices by giving them much recognition but recognized them for what they were, a demonic force trying to stop forward motion.

Sadly some who accuse think they are helping others see faults but are actually moving in extreme evil that inflicts deep pain. The devil knows that to simply accuse from afar off has no real effect upon us. But to accuse close to the heart will cause disappointment, discouragement, and hurt. We need to be aware of his devices and not fellowship with the accusing spirit or those who carry it, or those who support them. If we look, we actually see so little fruit (the way we are to judge) and a dissatisfaction of life, it actually saddens me that someone could fall prey to this.

The pain the person feels of being falsely accused is real. It does not come from the accusations themselves. The accusation actually holds no real weight, it only holds weight because it comes from someone we know and love. If the same accusation came from someone we don’t know, we would never even consider it. The pain comes from disappointment in the person we thought we knew. We were walking out life together and investing into each other and then suddenly the accusation comes. It is a pain of feeling deceived. It is what the Bible says: Proverbs 27: 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Friends will point to things in your life but will remain friends, willing to walk out and help correct issues. But the unwillingness to walk out the issues means the wounding was not to help change but to pass judgment and the accuser has moved from being a friend to a place of opposition. So how does a person work through this process?

  1. First of all, remember this is a spirit at work. The same accusing spirit is making accusation before the throne of God night and day. Meaning it is relentless and accusations will be coming again in the future. The same spirit that wrongfully accused Jesus is the same spirit at work against you. The man, Jesus, understood that He was in a plan of God far more reaching than an accusation. He stayed focused on the course before Him. He did not take the accusations personally, but saw them as an accusation against God Himself and His plan upon the earth. Nehemiah did the same thing refusing to stop the work he was called to do and entertain or fall prey to the accusations requiring a defense. He simply stated the promise of God again and declared the purpose for which caused the accusations to come.
  2. Secondly, realize God is your defense. He will defend His beloved and He will defend His word and His actions. God does not like being mocked and an accuser spirit is mocking what God is doing. In some forms, it is bordering on blasphemy. Most accusations attack the work of God and call it demonic, wrong, unbiblical, or not doctrinally correct, etc. The Bible says blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the only sin not forgiven. That’s pretty heavy but consider what the word means. ‘Blasphemy’ means ‘to declare that something that God is doing is not from Him but is from the devil’! When you consider the word ‘offended’ meaning ‘slander’, accusation is opposing what God is doing; we are getting very close to blasphemy. So God will defend what He is doing. It might take years before a person runs into the conviction of God to cause change, but conviction will one day come and their eyes will be open and they will see the damage their words have caused to others and the plan of God upon the earth.
  3. Thirdly, you break fellowship with the person. The Bible says in the last days men will be false accusers (2 Timothy 3:3. The Bible also states in 2 Thes. 3:6 to “draw yourself away from any brother or sister who is walking disorderly.” ‘Disorderly’ means ‘not with the rule of spiritual law, out of rank, out of order, those who do not show up, those who are refusing to do the work’. In other words, we are not to associate with evil. Most of the time we still fellowship with them. When in reality, they should feel shame for their actions and learn to realize the hurt they have done the Body of Christ and will break free from the accuser spirit. You see Apostle Paul when he was still Saul, had the accuser spirit operating under a religious spirit. The only way to be free from this is the Holy Spirit needs to reveal truth while having an encounter with Christ! Our convincing will not do it.
  4. Fourth, confess daily Isaiah 54:17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; And every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord. This is a very powerful promise. When accusation comes to my attention, I confess this daily, several times a day for several weeks. Accusations come to nothing.
  5. Fifth, if the accusation is given publicly before others, then the accusation needs to be addressed publicly. When we address private accusation publicly, we become victims of the same spirit. Jesus only addressed public accusations publically with truth. He wanted others to see that truth was greater than presumptions.
  6. Sixth, operate at a higher place of character and honor. Do not lower yourself and come to their level but maintain the standard by which you want to be known. The Bible says in 2 Tim 3:9 that their folly will be made known to all men. The word ‘folly’ is interesting. It comes from two words “son” and “one lacking understanding and madness expressing itself in rage”. The root words of both of these means “the offspring of those incapable or unwilling to understand.” This is how God sees them and this is how we should see them. This is why they end up being numbered with the spiritually poor that we would have with us always.

I have had people call me years after their accusations with such urgency in their voice to talk. They had held things against me in their hearts for years. They had spread slander and now had come under the conviction of God’s Spirit. One poor woman soon realized everything that was going wrong in her life was because of this judgmental attitude she operated in. It finally piled on her and God began to deal and convict. She was in a most miserable place and had to make amends with a long list of people. Once she did, everything turned for her and the blessing began to flow. No one had cursed her; she had cursed herself by her words. You see accusation is a pronounced curse. If not accepted it returns back on the person. Their own words could end up cursing them.

There was another person who spoke slander about me to leaders in my state for years. I did not know what to do and even went to their covering to see if they could step in. They basically refused. I held my voice and continued with the assignment I had been given. A few years passed and people saw my heart was right. Many had been convinced I was like the accusations from this other person. At a corporate gathering of about 120, the conviction of the Holy Spirit fell and the person stood and asked me publicly for forgiveness for the damage done. I forgave them and made sure things were clean before us publicly in front of everyone. Were things delayed?  Yes. Did God prevail, YES! With the accusation exposed and removed publicly that had been done publicly, people saw me in anew light as who i was and not through the eyes of accusation.

A person is known more by their actions than their words. How we respond is important. Do we still love? (You can still address things in love). Do we maintain an open door once repentance is seen? Do we cut off the vehicle or the way accusations come? For me, when someone begins to accuse me, I distance myself from them. Many times this can be seen as rejecting a person, when it is rejecting the accusation.

Here is my post from Face book again:

Today I come against every accusation you are experiencing. Isaiah 54:17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; And every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.
The weapon of accusation will not produce, advance or have any effect, upon you, your family, your calling, your ministry or what you believe in God! Every person, every voice, every written word that rises, judging your actions, heart, motives, and mandate from God, coming to not just wrong but evil conclusions, we and God have condemned. We say these voices are guilty of coming against the servants of God and God Himself. May God have His vengeance. May God have His defense. May God have His convicting power loosed upon their lives. May God have mercy upon their souls for the harm they have done, the evil they have released and the pain in the heart they have done. May they come to the end of demonic voices and truly hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Saints of God hold fast you your convictions. Hold fast to the pure word of God. Hold fast to the assignment given. Hold fast in faith believing. All will be made know and revealed. All will be seen openly. A day of reckoning is coming when some will suffer shame for their actions. Some will suffer reproach, yet the faithful will have the full reward, both here upon the earth and in eternity. We count it all joy to be ridiculed and mocked and despised. We are accepted by God for what we endure. His Glory will be seen upon the saints who have been tried, not accusers of the faith. His glory will be upon the saints who have held fast, unwavering and voices, and not the ones used by demonic influences. I use my authority and LOOSE this word over your LIFE!!! NOW LET GOD BE SEEN AND HEARD!

Spiritual Fathering

Spiritual Fathering

This is indeed the season of the sons and daughters returning to fathers. If you have been a son or daughter and have a broken relationship with your spiritual father, you need to repent and turn back to the heart of the father. Perhaps in the past, you experienced abuse by one you looked at as a spiritual father. They may have been that in words but not in heart and actions. Let me tell you there are real fathers out there, not a huge number, but ones with huge hears who can heal your brokenness. But fathers can only invest into those whose pride is removed and allow that investment to come to them.

The spiritual fathering relationship is more than getting some counsel from time to time, or being another number in a network, or just another stop in a preaching circuit. That is not fathering. A spiritual father invests into the life and purposes of the sons and daughters. They do this unreservedly and not based on the return from the son or daughter. They see their hidden potential and see it fully healthy and functioning. There are many claiming sons and daughters with no real relationship and the motive is not for the betterment of the person but to add numbers to their own tribe. The motive was wrong so the actions were also. This sickens me as many are getting only a portion of fathering without full investment.

All spiritual fathering relationships are required to have the expectations in them understood by all involved. They have safeguards in place as well to make sure things do not get off base. If Jesus could only father the 12, Paul had less, and Timothy was instructed to look to find them, then fathering is limited in the number you can truly be effective with. In the past few years, spiritual fathering has become another buzz word. I have seen many claiming sons who never spent any time investing in them but “absorbed” them already matured to claim they have sons. Or they absorbed them into their network without really helping to perfect them in the faith. To me, this is having the rewards and affirmation of peers, over the reward of seeing a son or daughter blossom.

Relationships change as seasons of fathering are completed. You can have 50-60-100 sons but you probably are only truly fathering a handful into the very depths of fathering at any one time, because if done right, like natural fathering, there comes a day when they stand on their own and have grown up. You will always be their father but it will change in function. If a spiritual father has many immature sons, then it is a sign that the father is still lacking in how to father properly.

Fathers love it when their kids come to see them and I love it when my spiritual kids come to see me. I’m in a season of life where many of those I have fathered that went out across the world to do ministry are reconnecting with me again realizing the investment I have done in their life has led to the current motion of God in their ministry. Many have come and spent time with me in my home. I also am seeing many, many come back that were prodigal or disconnected in the process. (As I write this another comes home.) This is equally rewarding as though they had never left. I can testify firsthand for the fathers who never disconnected their heart from their sons and daughters, no matter how they treated them in leaving, the hearts of those sons and daughters are being convicted and they are turning back to their fathers. I have some specific ones I am waiting on right now with faith and expectation for their heart to turn. My prayer for them is that it won’t take calamity like one of my sons overseas. He had been successful in ministry and became a “big man” in his nation. His wife died and in his ‘bigness’ he had no one to share his grief. I had heard his wife had died and reached out to him. Three months later, he contacted me in heartfelt repentance confessing he used me to climb up the ladder. The relationship was restored but his shame has kept it from being the same as it once was.

Once the spiritual fathering relationship is started, the father’s heart is always there for the sons and daughters. As I tell my sons and daughters, if I started this relationship, I already have decided the investment needed, the time required and the privileges I will give. I tell all my sons and daughters they have the same privileges as my own natural sons. They can call at any time and they have both privilege and priority. This is the hardest thing most sons and daughters seem to struggle with the most. They don’t want to be a bother or to take my time, yet ministry opportunity tends to come when it is not convenient and will always cost something if it holds any value. This is my first test starting in the relationship, will they even call me? Do they want this so badly that they are willing to take a chance in calling?

For the most part, sons and daughters are coming from an orphaned spirit. Perhaps their relationship with their natural dad is skewed. Perhaps they have been spiritually rejected, deemed of no value or pushed aside. These things are the second things I begin to press into to see them get healed and whole. Without these things complete in them, then all other perspectives and perceptions are really out of focus. These areas are probably the reason for the relationship. Identity is also a large part of this second step. Without a proper identity, you may never function correctly as function comes from identity not identity coming from function. This reversal is a hard one for most sons and daughters as they have always performed to have a place in the ‘pecking order’. For them to see the value of who they are to God takes time. This is the real heart of fathering. Patience. Long suffering. Right perceptions. This step is about helping the person to become whole in the midst of their confusion, perceptions, and self determined value.

The third step is the step of releasing potential. Giving opportunities for that potential to come forth and walking out life together. It is about helping with mistakes together and learning together. This is where ministry truly begins to happen and the person’s ability to rise above their past and into the future becomes present in their life. The core spiritual DNA is now drawn upon to see stimulated growth. This is new territory not fully explored, even if the person is currently doing ministry. This is destiny of the person’s life and how they will leave their mark on the earth.

These steps are paraphrased here to the simplest terms. Some of these steps will be occurring at the same time. Some will need to be done in a set order. Each relationship is different and requires truly knowing the heart of God for the person and having vision for who they are to God.

Spiritual fathering is an art form more than a taught way of ministry. You cannot read about it in a book and do it but it comes from a heart that has been formed over time. That same forming of the heart in the spiritual fathering is forming young hearts after they have been made whole.

To Go or Stay

I want to address a real issue affecting Kingdom works: it is the placement and alignment of people in the Body of Christ. First of all, let me say I am not trying to cause a mass exodus but to look at things through a Biblical perspective. We all have heard such discontentment from a multitude about the current lack at the places they gather for fellowship, worship and spiritual community. Many are waiting and hoping, though not really in true faith believing, for changes to occur so it will be what they desire in their heart for it to be, which is life- giving. But when confronted with leaving that which does not bring life, the answer almost always is “God has not released me”.
A release from God means there is an assignment given that has not been completed. What is the assignment so many seem to be on and what authority do they have to complete it? How were they sent? If no real assignment has been given and a person is just waiting for changes to occur, perhaps it is not God releasing as much as you deciding to move. Perhaps it is a reluctance to leave what is common and comfortable. Perhaps a person thinks they are the catalyst for change instead of the Holy Spirit.
Soul ties and obligations seem to be the real hold, yet Jesus said “There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.” Luke 18:29-30. If we are truly Kingdom minded, we would not allow ourselves to be stuck in frustrations when there might be real options. If we are on a Kingdom assignment, then we would be seeing progress and also be positioned to influence for the sake of the Kingdom. I have seen people wait for years in false hope when there were options they allowed to pass on by. I knew a woman who waited for 17 years faithfully praying for change in one church and nothing occurred. She finally gave up and and moved to another place only to step into a place of similar lack. She prayed for 11 more years and finally gave up. It is hard to move on after investing so much. We don’t want to believe that the things we desire will not come. Perhaps where we have placed ourselves is the real issue. Maybe in that time there were not any options but now in this season with the apostolic and Kingdom government emerging in force and strength, options for true spiritual growth are available.
God has placed you in the Body as He sees fit — to grow you spiritually. If you are not growing, either you are in rebellion, have things in your heart that need to be addressed or you are not in the right faith community. Thinking of it in a practical sense, why would God decide to sacrifice you and stagnate you in spiritual understanding of Him? Why would a loving God frustrate you? Or perhaps you are frustrating the grace of God to bring change. It is just not what you might be thinking of changing, what you are connected with, but changing your perceptions and maybe your alignments to something more life giving. Perhaps you placed yourself in your current faith community and the next location will truly be the place God has placed you.
Even Jesus could not perform miracles or healing even though the anointing was present in some places. Just because a person’s desire is in place to see God move, does not necessarily mean He will. He will not overstep the will of people and specifically the will of a leader. What a leader is currently allowing to occur in a meeting is the most you will see, unless there is a real heart change. You can’t change what you are not in charge of. You might influence but that will be at a price of rejection. So if you are complaining about it, then you are not really in an assignment as any assignment has a specific grace to endure. You can only grow to the degree your leader is growing. That is why it is imperative for leaders to constantly be studying and advancing themselves.
Paul, at times, was not accepted because he could not do anything. But the big, big, difference is that Paul was on assignment and not attending a place to be taught. For the most part, fellowship is what holds people, but it only can produce a certain degree of growth. Think of this: the early Christians left the temple and all the practices for what was life- giving. They left prestige, position, influence, family, obligations and comradery, for a new life-giving flow. There are no examples of people leaving a community of believers in the Bible as all were being taught and growing. The only time we see a departing is when there was doctrinal error and someone was being sent. The commitment to a life- giving community was very evident. That community was formed by God in such a way to grow all the members of that community into deeper relationship with Him.
Now let me say this: the commitment I am talking of, I do not want to be misunderstood. It does not apply to a place that does not produce life and true disciples. That is more a friendship obligation than a pathway to spiritual life. It does apply to a place that is producing disciples and life. This means submitting to real leaders for true spiritual transformation. It means becoming part of a spiritual community that esteems each other and recognizes gifting. It also means becoming involved with the spiritual DNA God has given you. I have seen rashness in young adults coming from the culture around them to abandon if the things being contended for corporately in a Kingdom setting did not come quickly. In this case, the leaving was unjust; they did not have patience to endure to attain the prize. I know of 2 cases in our ministry that they gave God a time limit and said ‘if this does not occur by this length of time, then I’m leaving’ and they did. Imagine the immaturity of that kind of thinking. But this has been caused by an instantaneous culture with rewards and levels attained. It also occurs by not putting your whole heart in play because it shows reluctance and a withholding of full faith.
I had conversations with a man over several months concerning the current body he was attending. He was a prophet living in frustration. Control and secrecy was evident in the body he was in. He would come to me and ask about doctrinal issues that were very skewed. There was a lot of liberty being taken in some areas and in others, things were overlooked. It seemed to be more about money than people. And when it did come to people, it was certain people who got the most attention, the well-to-do people who fit the classification the whole ministry was trying to become. Finally one day I told him, I can no longer meet with you to help you and listen to this. You need to stop attending. He asked ‘why’? I responded with two questions. “Are you attending there?” Obviously the answer was ‘yes’. “Are you tithing there and giving offerings?” The answer was ‘yes’ again. I then said “By attending there, your presence is endorsing it. By giving there, you’re actually supporting it. Both actions are empowering it to remain the way it is. Unless you stop endorsing it and supporting it, no one will stop to take notice of anything wrong.”
Perhaps it is time to shake the dust off your feet. Shaking the dust off is a sign of being on a long journey and the conclusion is before you. You shake the dust off before you enter a house to rest. It is leaving all the excessive baggage you have collected, the dirt, disappointments and weariness and entering into a new place for which you have been destined.

How Does Jesus Measure Success?

Coming out of a leadership meeting recently, I found myself somewhat in a quandary. We had talked about many different changes we could make to help facilitate the ministry. Many were God inspired ideas and many were just plain practical. Like everyone’s meetings, the underlying tone was that each idea would help us to grow numerically as well as spiritually.

Change is always hard and requires lots of effort. As a ministry, we have had some very high moments of both numerical growth and spiritual understanding established. But these did not happen in a moment, it took time. Each person was taken from a starting point and eventually ended in fruitfulness. Each person was hungry for God and that made the transformation easy. What we see as success is the finished product. We don’t see the work as the success even though it is the true success and the finished product is only the by-product of the work or success.

Many can say if you did this or that, I would come, or if the meeting was held at a different time, or you had child care, or you had… we have all heard these excuses before. The thing that makes lasting change is desperation for change and hunger to find answers. When you get desperate enough, you will do anything and pay any price to find change that will last.  The hidden place of the heart is where success is only seen by God. I have always said the number of people who come is only the number of those interested. The hearts that are changed are the numbers who are serious. As leaders, our role is to grow people in Christ, not grow large administrative works. We are trying to get a lot of people interested, so we can grow our works and in the process, we may be losing our success.

It appears that most people don’t want to really do the work of the ministry unless there is a guarantee of a finished product or measured success. I see many pastors desiring change but uncertainty of the outcome stops them from every trying or making an attempt. The emerging generation has this perception as well not knowing what to do, but at least more willing to attempt. Human natures DNA has within it a willingness to do the work, as long as a guarantee of result is given. But many times the results can be lacking, so do we still look at that as success or failure? Thank God Jesus did the work of the Cross and put into place the success of it for us, even though others would deny the cross! In many ways it could be looked upon as a failure, like how the early disciples saw it, it’s all in your perceptions.

We have all kinds of ways today that we measure ourselves to see if we are attaining our goals. Much of this is how we compare ourselves with each other; this is a much skewed way of measuring. It is measuring different gifts, callings, assignments, personalities, strengths, weakness, understandings, revelations, etc. against each other and expecting the same results or outcome. Paul was right when he said in II Corinthians 10:12,13  “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves are not wise. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.”     The measure of the rule of Christ is the measurement of His righteousness established in our lives. It is looking at our lives and seeing how we are in measurement of the righteousness of Christ. Where is righteousness lacking? Where is it strong and settled? What is Christ desiring of me in areas? Now that is how we are to be looking: not outward but inward.

I talked to a neighbor just yesterday who has left the organized church about 8 years ago. He is discipling people in his home who have been so burned by religion and are hurting. He said “It does not matter to me if I have 2000, 200, 20, or even 2. If this is what God has given to me in my hand then so be it, then this is what I will pour my heart into!”

My perception had begun to change. I talked with a spiritual son yesterday and he gave me some good perspectives.  As an apostolic work, I have a desire to see the Body grow up but also to see the organized religious structure limiting. As a Kingdom center, we have always tried to maintain a position of neutrality, even holding meetings at different times than the organized church, etc. But after all is said and done, we have not seen those leaders support or help promote what we are doing. We did not want to compete with them, but now I am coming to a point of saying ‘perhaps we should be meeting at the same time and allow people to make a choice where they put their time, commitment, and resources’. Have I compromised for the sake of not being offensive? Could I not be fulfilling the will of God for the sake of helping keep the organized structure thriving by not having a choice or option for those seeking at the typical Sunday morning time? Am I doing and using everything available in my decision making to best put a tool in place that would change hearts?

What I do know is this; I must fulfill the things in my heart. That means even if no one else wants to participate or the number of followers seems low. Just because others deny, does not mean what you are doing is any less or more. It’s like preaching, if you are preaching the Word and you don’t see the results, it does not mean what you preach is wrong, but what people are doing with it is probably lacking.  The bottom line will not be the size of our ministry or the amount of people we produced or succeeded with. Nor is success how busy we are, thinking that equals results. Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the better thing to simply sit at his feet. When we stand before God, we will be asked something similar to this: “What did you do with my Son and His righteousness in your life as you fulfilled what I asked of you?” The work of success is righteousness and the outcome of righteousness is God’s will fulfilled!

Building Antioch

There are three distinct churches being built. This is also reflective in three distinct types of ministry styles that have been birthed from these influences. Though each has things to offer, only one is truly the more Biblical approach. These three styles are seen in Acts as the Church at Jerusalem, the Church at Ephesus and the Church at Antioch. Let’s make this more real. These three are the people assembled to conduct spiritual government and implement the intentions of God at Jerusalem, Ephesus and Antioch. These are not necessarily structures but are people.

Jerusalem was the place the Church was birthed but it was not until Antioch that they received their identity. As grand as the birthing was, the people were not without problems. They were reluctant to spread the gospel of the Kingdom being more focused on their city than even their region. Yet the command was to be witnesses to Jerusalem, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world. Jesus had given them their assignment but also was describing the transitions that would be occurring.

The Church in Jerusalem was single culture focused. They went ever deeper in their own culture and never truly reached out in the community. Yes, the outpouring came and yes, many were added, but the Church in the years following never did have another major move of God. You see we become stagnate when we interpret through cultural perception and not through scriptural interpretation. If a ministry is singular in culture or focused on culture itself such as blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians, etc., they have taken on the Jerusalem model of church.

This means it is personality centered and relies on the person who has the greatest charisma or ability to hold the church or ministry in place. The people are followers with very little activity and influence affecting the future destiny of the Church. Most of these models are pastoral driven under a central form of government. Board meetings and meetings in general are the norm. Conformity and not creativity is a major pressure point. Unity as a goal, programs to engage and relationship that are more obligation than genuine. Most in this model are looking at temporal solutions and not permanent ones.

The Jerusalem church was very weak in developing leadership and leadership teams. We see this in Acts 5 of not being able to meet the needs and having to resolve it by putting into place leadership that they had not raised up but God has raised up. Mostly the focus is not on raising people beyond thier problems through a death process, but more so trying to restore them out of an unrepentant heart. Over time, they lost the Kingdom lifestyle and even more so, world missions outlook. This is why there was a scattering from Jerusalem instead of a sending. God waited long enough and stepped in.

Perhaps one the biggest things I see overall today is our constant desire and longing for another outpouring like we see in Acts 2. I believe this is due to us not reaching towards maturity and longing for another experience to solidify our faith. For the most part, denominations fall into the Jerusalem model. But so do many charismatic, Full Gospel, and Pentecostal churches. I see most of the ministries to homeless, jail ministry, and especially pastor group meetings falling into this model. It is easy to see the lack of response when a God- inspired moment comes and even less response when something is required of the people.

Building around its own activities, dates and programs, the Jerusalem church spent all its resources and manpower to maintain the existing church as a caretaker. Today’s pastoral driven churches either fall under the Jerusalem or Ephesus model, both are churches we should not be modeling to build after.

The Ephesus church was a church in proper focus but not properly aligned with apostles and prophets. There may or may not be a willingness to align and relate. We see the Ephesus Church doing much warfare and had much demonic activity allowed in its sphere of influence in the region. The Temple to Diana was set in strongly along with other occultism. Perhaps the meaning of Diana could best describe the Ephesus church. It means ‘fully enlightened but flow restrained’.

We see this in the Epistle to the Ephesians that Paul wrote where he addressed their spiritual enlightenment, their activation, demonic battles, Kingdom government, stewardship of grace, the power of God for transformation, and a host of other things that were lacking. These were things not so much in place but lacking! The Ephesus church is a church who will hear the heart and direction of apostles and prophets and be slow to implement it or possibly not at all. The apostolic thrust of Paul was available to shift the culture and impact society, but it hinged on them becoming active in the instruction given to them.

The Ephesus church is rebuked in Revelation 2. They are hardworking and many times have made it on their own merits. They have preserved and even tested the apostles and prophets and when they found a false one, they rejected not just that one but all of them from that point forward. But they have lost their first love. The excitement of God is hard to find and the zeal has been replaced with programs. The Spirit is no longer leading but is found along the way. The passion has been lost. The apostolic has come to bring renewed passion if accepted.

Many times the Ephesus type church will hold to a past move of God or a past truth that was brought forth to be dominant for a season. They are reluctant to embrace new revelation and will pick and choose what to embrace and what prophetic words to engage with. They focus more on the dominant gift and gifting that is present and dismiss any others. Under the Ephesus structure, an apostle will not be effective in bringing these churches together for instruction to establish them in greater faith and truth. The apostles’ hands are basically tied and the gifting is dismissed. The prophetic gifting will be embraced as long as it affirms the vision already in motion.

The Ephesus church today is the Spirit filled churches not connected or aligned with apostolic and prophetic voices. This again is the House of Prayer movement, many missions’ organizations and especially Spirit filled churches under pastoral leadership. Many times these types of churches have experienced great growth and success and believe they do not need any governmental guidance from apostle and prophets. Yet these foundational gifts have been given to expand and advance the works already in place. The Ephesus church again is not the model by which we should be building.

This leads us to the Antioch model. Antioch is where the Church or ecclesia received their identity and were called Christians or Christ like or little Christ. To have this name, they were required to be flowing in revelation, performing healings and miracles, casting out demons and to be connected in Holy Community with a culture of love and honor. If a person slipped from one of these things, then he was no longer looked at as being a Christian but being a disciple again.

Antioch had a defined ordered structure and a way of advancement that all could participate in. Plurality of leadership and a defined mandate were present. World mission and Kingdom advance require everyone to work together for the common cause of Christ. When it was time to send out people, they did not send who they could get by without having around but they sent the best they had to offer. This was reflected in the lifestyle lived and the functional expression of it.

They were a group that prayed, fasting and ministering to the Lord. They worked as a team that heard the Holy Spirit and then acted on it. The structure allowed for team expression, growth and development. There was no fear of others, no restrictions or limitations placed upon people. This enabled each ministry gift to develop more fully and move in their calling at a greater capacity than any other model of Christianity.

They had not only a culture of honor for each other, but also respect and honor for leadership and their authority. They were break through believers who broke free of cultural restraint and fear of men. The believers became the force to implement the vision and assignments laid out by the apostolic leadership. They had a “let’s make this happen” attitude.

As Antioch grew, it birthed other apostolic expressions. Each was autonomous and was allowed to have an individual expression but all related to Paul as an apostolic father they were in covenant relationship with. Paul helped bring a holistic spiritual perspective and brought in the ministry gifts based on need. The relationships were not in name only but functional and accountable. Antioch churches became regional bases of resources and have a region and even a state focus, not protecting its local expression but reaching out to others to bring the Kingdom. Antioch churches carry the burden for an entire region and will release people to impact where they are planted.

The commitment level is deeper than an Ephesus or Jerusalem model and since it is apostolic driven, the Antioch model requires a response to the truth spoken, the assignment given and the vision presented. Antioch churches know the destiny of each other is interconnected and will only be released through a corporate means.

Antioch churches are functionally connected and aligned with prophetic and apostolic oversight. They are regionally focused and many times much of the real work is not done within the walls of the local gathering but outwardly. They will travel anywhere there is a desire for the Kingdom. This final model is the pattern we are to build with to advance the Kingdom. Though small in number now, perhaps this teaching will enable us to drop the Jerusalem and Ephesus patterns and portions we have allowed to attach to us and fully come into the Kingdom expression we know is deep in our hearts!

The Restoration of the Lord

I recently am seeing many different process of how God is restoring people. But for most we are not realizing how this process works and at times it can even be confusing. Some things seem demonic and other things seem all God. How can both exist in the same process?

God is in the restoration process and for the most part everyone is in one from of restoration. Some are seasonal, some are completed and others might be ongoing. Some of the restoration process we really enjoy, and others times it is gut wrenching and soul searching, yet it is still restoration. Here is three of the most restoration processes we will experience. I only choose these three as it is the progression from being a believer, to being a disciple, to being a Christian.

The easy way of restoration is when we are born again or rededicate our lives to the Lord again. It is a time where everything is new and fresh. It seems everything falls into place and its like a honeymoon with God. The word is fresh. Life is exciting and expectation is high. It does appear all things are new. Sin is being conquered and the world in us  is disappearing. This is restoration of relationship with God.

Another time or season is when other people and especially family are brought back into our lives to make things right with. A realigning of broken relationships or hurt from past are healed. It can be again the breaking off of relationships that are detrimental and adding new friends who will help bring us into our future. An evaluation occurs and values are set. Vision for purpose and destiny in life also comes into existence where it was not before. We see our life has a reason for existence and we begin the search for it. A shift in placement of affections and time begins to occur. We drop things off and begin new habits. We see a larger picture and have decided to place ourselves in the picture. We find the promises of God for our life.   This is restoration of inheritance and heritage.

Sometimes we seem to be stripped of everything in life. From past experience this is the most severe and confusing of all restoration process. The striping away of things seems like God at the same type has demonic activity it appears. A lot of questions are formed in this process and most are spelled with only 3 letters…why. Two things are going on simultaneously. God is working a deep work of character and faith in the person. The tool he is using is demonic activity as it appears to be working effortlessly around us and affecting our lives. Some of the things we hold onto so tight are not to be taken into the next season and may have been a distraction. God is restoring and that means not only adding to but taking away out of our lives. It also means closing past season to open new ones. It is a restoration process for service for God.

These are just a few of the ways of God in restoring. It does not mean everything stripped away is not bad, but it may be excessive things to carry along and distract from restoration or slow its process way down.