Tag: pride

Are you smug in your Christianity?

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My, how smug we can be at times; yes, even as Christians.

“I’ve been saved thirty years, and I’m never tempted any longer.”

“I can handle anything that comes my way!”

“I’m God’s man of faith and power. I have on the full armor of God, and I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”

Well, isn’t that just dandy!

Look, friends, I’m not knocking it. God DOES anoint His people to do great and awesome things. His word declares such.

But it ALSO says, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT)

So many people, myself included, have, at times, exchanged humility for pride; becoming great in their own minds and thus a wide open target for the enemy.

We think (or act like we believe) that God is so happy we’re on His side. Like without us His Kingdom surely would have faltered.

It’s as though we are self anointed and appointed. We walk on water continuously, while the whole world watches in awe.

Smug in our Christianity.

Fall into temptation? Me? Why, that couldn’t happen!

Right.

Apparently Peter wasn’t as inspired as we thought, when he wrote: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.” (1 Peter 5:8 – 5:9 NLT)

Do you know what it means to stay alert?

It means keep your eyes open and your heart guarded. Know you have a target on your back. You are in your enemy’s scope and he’s just waiting for that perfect opportunity.

Pride boasts, “I’ve got this! I’m aware of my enemy’s movements and have all the bases covered.”

Humility says, “Will you help me?”

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23 – 139:24 NLT)

A man or woman of God shouldn’t trust their calling, gifting, or anointing to keep them away from the snare of the enemy.
Instead, they SHOULD trust God, ALONG WITH godly associates, to help them navigate life’s pitfalls and challenges.

If smugness defines your Christian walk, may I suggest you come up with a different strategy for living?

Understand God resists the proud but provides grace to the humble. The humble receive help, the proud push it away.

Words like, “Help”, “Thanks”, “Please”, and “Will you pray for me?”, are words spoken by every great man or woman of God.

Smug isn’t godly, cool, or becoming.

And it is one major reason why some people aren’t realizing their full potential in Christ.

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18 ESV)

Are YOU smug in your Christianity?

Please checkout my book, “Picked Off – The Target is You”. It explains why many people give in to the trials and temptations which come their way, and how to keep from being devoured by the enemy.

How to not be “Picked Off”.

Available in paperback or eBook version.

For information on “Picked Off – The Target Is You” Click here

Class in a Church Bathroom

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(Originally posted as “Troubled Waters”, 3/20/2013)

Lots of life’s lessons happen when we least expect them.

It all happened about 30 years ago, early one Sunday morning.

As usual, I arrived at our church around 5:30 in the morning. I enjoyed having extra preparation time, time to pray and worship God, and time to relax a little before Sunday School classes began.

You see, I saw myself as God’s servant, full of faith and power; God’s man for the hour. Superman!

Some simply referred to me as the pastor.

Our church wasn’t very old at this point, maybe 4 years, and we met in a 30’x40′ metal building that used to be a laundromat. The building had a sanctuary which seated 65 people, 2 classrooms, a hallway, and a unisex bathroom. The bathroom was beautiful, having a marble-like sink, nice big mirror, decent linoleum floor covering, and an average toilet.

The toilet. The place it all happened, early one Sunday morning.

Before I continue my story, I need to explain a thing or three.

First, stuff happens. To me, to you, to whoever. It just happens.

Second, the greater one thinks he is, the greater the pain when he comes face to face with an important truth: “I’m not as great as I think.

Third, to learn such an important truth, embarrassing situations beyond one’s ability to control sometimes must occur.

It was to be my first time having class in a bathroom.

Okay. I had a morning ritual not unlike most people, which consisted of spending some time on the bathroom throne with some good reading material. Of course, on Sundays my reading material happened to be my morning sermon notes.

I really must interject one important point here. I usually preached between 45 minutes to an hour. Meaning what, you ask? I had a lot of notes to review…(I have since learned length of sermon doesn’t equate to degree of anointing)

Just about the time I was finishing up with both tasks (multi-tasker that I am), I decided to trip the handle on the toilet for a “pre-flush.” Thinking everything was fine, I continued reading and making mental notes while the water swished and swirled beneath me. I was “the man of God” and would dazzle “my” congregation with my ability to “rightly divide the word of God.” I was somebody special and my “Kingdom Stock” was rising.

My “stock” wasn’t the only thing rising.

I suddenly “sensed” something happening that brought me back down to earth; specifically, back to the classroom.

I was feeling water where water shouldn’t be felt!

That’s when things really began to happen. I quickly stood up (wouldn’t you?), turned around, reached for the top of the toilet tank, while keeping my eye on the whirlpool below me. I tried to reach the water shutoff valve while removing the tank top and guess what? I dropped the top onto the floor.

As it hit the floor, I witnessed it breaking into two halves. Nice!

Well, with water rising, me in a precarious position, toilet tank top in pieces on the floor, I finally got the water turned off. Great! Now I can get things cleaned up and get back to my “superman” mode.

I turned back around, preparing to take my rest for a bit longer, while I finished my interrupted job. I sat down and happened to glance at the floor. To my chagrin, I saw brown spots on the floor where I had just been standing. Little spots, trampled spots, lots of little, trampled spots – all over the floor.

And, on the bottom of my shoes.

You know what?

At that point, I forgot all about my sermon and becoming the next spiritual Clark Kent! All I could think about was getting the mess cleaned up before people started arriving.

That “classroom” experience gave me a whole new appreciation for Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.” (NLT)

Or, “Pride Goes After The Flush.”

“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.”(Romans 12:3 NLT)

Prejudiced Thoughts

Every so often I get bummed by things the Lord shows me about my life. 

Today was one of those days. 

I’m sure others have seen imperfections in my life, but usually people can’t read my mind. So I can do the right things, you know, the acceptable things, and seemingly get by with thoughts that are less than perfect. 

Until the Lord decides to show me the truth about my thoughts. 

My prejudiced thoughts.

My stinking thinking. 

My wife and I enjoy shopping at secondhand stores. Great buys, lots of choices, and you never know what you’ll find there. That’s the best part for me.

Today we went to a number of places. We were looking for something specific, and although we never found it, we had fun looking at all the wonderful treasures. 

But that’s where I got into trouble. 

I found myself looking at certain people, ones who looked down and out, kind of scroungy, a little dirty, and not as sophisticated as me (I’m saying this facetiously).

They just didn’t measure up to my standards of what’s socially acceptable. 

I even wondered how many of them were saved. 

I never heard God speak audibly, but I sensed His displeasure none the less. I didn’t realize my thoughts had been traveling down that road until I sensed how grieved the Holy Spirit was. 

I thought I was beyond having those kind of prejudiced thoughts. I didn’t think I was capable of such small mindedness. 

But I was wrong. 

I’m reminded of a passage Pastor James wrote to his church members. Apparently some of his flock were acting a little hoity-toity around the “lesser ones”. 

“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” (James 2:1-9 ESV)

James WAS NOT saying it’s sin because the judgment took place in a church service, but that it happened at all! In church, out of church, wherever; judging people based on appearance, their bank accounts, or how many tattoos they have is wrong. 

Wrong equates to sin.

What do YOU think about people who may look different than you? How about the scruffy ones? 

Or, maybe it’s a different kind of person for you. Like someone dressed to the nines, and drives a big Lamborghini.

Or perhaps it’s a man who wears a turban, or a woman wearing a headscarf. 

I’ve got more growing to do than I realized. The Lord has uncovered areas of pride and prejudice I thought had been wiped out. 

I’m thankful for His patience with me, and His commitment to complete the work He began in me some 40 years ago. 

But it sure is humbling. 

Oh, one more thing. Please don’t judge me too harshly for this recent setback; I’m sure we can all find some way in which to apply this little message. 

If not, maybe I’ll meet you at the Iowa State Fair next August and we can talk about it.

 

Educated Fool

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I’m really not out to make anyone mad with this post. Honestly, I’m not.

I’m not anti-education. I’m not anti-school, anti-learning, or anti-study.

I am anti-stupidity, anti-ignorance, and anti-anything that would hinder someone from a genuine walk of faith.

Faith in Jesus.

Some folks don’t get it. But it’s nothing new. It was that way in Jesus’ day.

“About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. The Jews therefore marveled, saying, ‘How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied'” (John 7:14-15 ESV)

People couldn’t figure out how Jesus could have understood so much. After all, He hadn’t gone to their fine, elite and expensive school.

Thank God for schools! It’s great to develop good study disciplines, and the school structure helps people build those habits into their lives.

But there are many things we need to learn that can’t be taught in a school. 

Faith, hearing the voice of God, spiritual gifts and manifestations, prayer and intercession are just some of the things you’ll never master in a classroom setting.

Of course the principles regarding the aforementioned topics can be taught, but the real learning comes by putting the Word into practice.

The Apostles of old were recognized as ignorant, uneducated, common men. Yet they astonished the educated elite of their day because they not only knew more about things which truly mattered; they knew God!

And it left the others speechless.

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition.” (Acts 4:13-14 ESV)

It’s not a sin to be educated. But don’t trade your childlike faith for it.

Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote:

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:25-29 ESV)

Paul was one of the most educated men of his day. Yet he learned that all of man’s wisdom isn’t worth a plug nickel compared to the wisdom which comes from God.

Paul didn’t throw away all he had learned prior to coming to faith in Christ. But he knew that whatever he learned by the spirit of revelation must take precedence over everything else.

Long, long ago, hundreds of years before Christ, there lived a young Hebrew man named Daniel. He was part of the group King Nebuchadnezzar took to Babylon after he conquered Judah.
Old Nebuchadnezzar didn’t want to waste good talent, so he set aside the nice looking, educated, cream of the crop young men for extra schooling to “teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.” (Daniel 1:4 ESV)

Daniel’s keeper, the one responsible for his education and overall well being, had been instructed by the king to give the Hebrew young men the same foods to eat as their captors. Which, according to God’s word, was strictly forbidden.

It wasn’t as though Daniel was turning up his nose at the plate full of pork ribs, saying, “I don’t like that!”

Daniel’s faith was being challenged. 

He asked his keeper to allow a test, letting him and his Hebrew friends eat foods compatible with their faith. The keeper agreed to a ten day test.

“At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.

“As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.” (Daniel 1:15-20 ESV)

Ten times better. Because Daniel kept his faith perspective, and didn’t cave in to the world’s pressure. 

“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.” (Psalm 119:97-100 ESV)

God’s not against you going to school and learning all you can.

But whatever is not of faith is sin. So, whatever you spend time and money learning, keep faith in God and His word as your mind’s gatekeeper. Let it help you use your newly attained knowledge.

Don’t be an educated fool. 

The Anointing Is Missing 

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Something’s missing. 

I realize people may think I’m a goofball for saying this, but I’ll say it anyway.

Something’s missing.

When I tell you what it is you may try and correct me by telling me I should have said “SomeONE” is missing; because the Spirit of God is a Person.

What’s missing? The Anointing of God. 

The Anointing is missing!

The Spirit of God isn’t missing; He’s here and will be for some time. But His tangible magnificence, the kind that changes lives, breaks addictions, and destroys all the works of the devil is, by and large, missing.

It’s not God’s fault.

It’s our fault. 

It’s the church’s fault.

It has nothing to do with a politician’s sin, or Planned Parenthood’s ruthless and unconscionable practices.

It’s not the result of liberalism creeping into the church. And yes, liberalism is making great inroads into the church.

But that isn’t why the anointing is missing.

If the anointing was evident, as it was in the early days of the church, hell would be rocked back on its heels, trying to find some way to put out the flame of God’s Spirit. 

But for all practical purposes, the flame’s extinguished.

It’s missing.

Why?

It’s not because pastors wear jeans, drink coffee, or have a piercing or tattoo.

So why isn’t there as much evidence of Heaven’s power today, as in days of old?

Well, primarily because we, the church, don’t need it.

We’ve developed better ways to reach the masses and build our churches.

We really have a much better understanding of life’s difficulties than say, a hundred years ago.

There’s really no need to humble ourselves before God any longer.

We’ve got it all figured out.

And that’s why the anointing is missing.

Yes, God has always had a remnant. There have always been people who don’t have any qualms about taking God at His word.

And there are people like that today.

But before you pat yourself on the back, or high five your deacon board, ask yourself this:

Are we experiencing ALL God has? 

If you believe you are, then I’m sorry for you. Pride and arrogance have found their way into your heart.

But if you believe there’s more, as I do, then the next step is the step of faith and humility.

He fills those who are emptied of self and are hungry for His ways.

And He is STILL able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all we can ask or even think.

And THAT is what we need.

Here are some words to a little song I wrote years ago, along with a few supporting scriptures.

“There is an anointing,

Your precious anointing,

It heals the broken-hearted, 

And sets the captives free.

It’s like a river flowing,

The lowest places filling,

Yielded hearts receiving,

Your precious anointing.

You fill the hungry with good things,

The humble receive from Your hand

We acknowledge our need for Your blessing,

Fill up our hearts, heal all our pain,

We don’t look to ourselves, 

But call on Your Name…

We need your anointing,

Your precious anointing.

“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” (Psalm 107:9 ESV)

“he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.” (Luke 1:53 ESV)

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;” (Isaiah 61:1 ESV)

“how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38 ESV)

Forgive Thyself?

IMG_7174.PNGWe ran into a friend of ours the other day at Lowe’s Home Improvement store. A friend who just happens to be a counselor.

While my wife and I visited with him, catching up on a couple years of stuff, we also reminisced about some of our counseling sessions from 20 years ago.

By the way, this counselor was one of the heroes God had in place to save my life and our marriage some 22 years ago. Wow!

Anyway, while we were chatting, our friend told us about something he’d been mulling around in his heart and mind for a while.

I haven’t been able to set it aside.

There’s a saying that’s been passed around for years; when it began I haven’t the foggiest.

WHERE it came from I have more than a sneaking suspicion.

The saying?

“You’ve got to forgive yourself.”

Or, to make it sound a little more righteous and spiritually authentic, just use a little of the King’s English, “Forgive thyself.

You’ve heard it, haven’t you? Maybe even said it?

But is it true?

No.

Self-forgiveness is something concocted by the devil to keep us away from TRUE, GENUINE FORGIVENESS. 

Adam and Eve TRIED to “forgive themselves”. But THEIR covering could never prove to be adequate. It took something much more substantial, much more personal. It required God’s intervention.

You may find the saying on the Internet, but you won’t find it in God’s Word, the Bible.

Why? Because you and I aren’t powerful enough, or pure enough, to expunge or earn our own forgiveness.

“But what if we sin only against ourselves?”

That is impossible. Because even IF no other human is affected, God is.

Sin affects God.

God forgives sin, through His Son Jesus Christ, and we forgive OTHERS who may have sinned against us. OTHERS can forgive us, but no one can forgive themselves. 

“But I feel like I need to, because of what I’ve done in the past.”

Do you feel the guilt and shame over something you’ve done in the past? Have you asked God to forgive you, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ?

Have you asked those affected and offended to forgive you? Have you made the necessary restitution, if possible?

The “need” to forgive yourself is rooted in distrust and pride.

Distrust because God didn’t really mean what He said about forgiveness; at least where you’re concerned.

Pride, as your sin is far greater than the power of the Name and Blood of Jesus.

Yes, I really do understand the uncomfortable feelings of humility and the overwhelming sensation of complete brokenness because of how many people I hurt by doing something stupid AND morally wrong.

Sin has consequences, and some of them are extremely hard to stomach. 

If you’re in that very unpleasant spot, forgiving yourself is not what you need to do. You can’t.

What you CAN do, after you’ve made things right with God AND others, is this:

1. Remember the pain, humility, harsh words; anything that resulted because of YOUR actions. On purpose. Don’t whitewash them, and don’t try and throw off any of YOUR guilt. Own YOUR ACTIONS. Do NOT attempt to justify any part of YOUR actions, like “I wouldn’t have done what I did IF…”

2. Take your pain, all that you’re remembering, and mentally place it on the cross with Jesus. It may help to read some of the verses I’ve included on this post. It also might benefit you to read, aloud, Isaiah 53:3-6. 

“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:3-6 ESV)

3. Receive, by faith, again and again if necessary, the forgiveness JESUS purchased for you and I. You may need to pull out Psalm 103:2,3, reading it every day. “…Who forgives ALL your iniquities…”

4. Open your mouth and “confess” you are forgiven by God Almighty! Confession isn’t only about acknowledging sin. The word “confess” means to speak the same thing. The same thing as who? The same thing as God. When the Lord calls a thing wrong, or sin, then do the same. “This is wrong.” If you’re guilty of such a thing, confess it; “I am wrong.”

But when you’ve done that, and have asked God to forgive you, then confess His ANSWER, “God has forgiven me based on His Blood and His Word (then begin reading the pertinent verses OUT LOUD).

Here are some scriptures for you to read and learn. Don’t try and make do with a fig leaf. Get your REAL covering, AND complete forgiveness from the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.

“Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.” (Psalm 25:18 ESV)

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” (Psalm 32:1 ESV)

“Lord…You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin.” (Psalm 85:1-2 ESV)

“For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.” (Psalm 86:5 ESV)

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.” (Psalm 103:2-3 ESV)

“If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” (Psalm 130:3-4 ESV)

“…and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:12-15 ESV)

“…But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” (Matthew 9:6 ESV)

“So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35 ESV)

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 ESV)

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,”  (Colossians 2:13 ESV)

“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” (James 5:14-15 ESV)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV)

“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.” (1 John 2:12 ESV)

 

Loose in the Church

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Years ago, while attending a Full Gospel Business Men’s luncheon, I was asked about the church I pastored.

“I’m an Assemblies of God pastor”, I replied.

“We attend a WORD church”, they informed me.

That phrase has stuck with me for over twenty five years.

Back then, some sectors of the Body of Christ acted as though they owned the market’s share of God’s Word. Like, if you didn’t go to a WORD church, you just weren’t Christian. Well, you might be a Christian, but you weren’t one of God’s favored ones.

There are still some who act that way, but there’s a different emphasis now.

The word now is PROPHETIC (of course, I could be wrong; it may have changed again).

Are YOU prophetic? A guy said to me one time, not that long ago, “I didn’t know you were prophetic!” Wow!

I remember thinking at the time, “I didn’t know I wasn’t.”

Back in the WORD days, people listened a lot to Hagin, Copeland, Capps, Savelle, Hickey, and others. I did, too. They were known as WORD preachers. They had their own followers; groupies. Though I denied it, looking back, that’s exactly what I was. And proud of it.

“Brother Copeland said…”

“Brother Hagin said…”

“Sister Prophesies Longandloud said…”

And when I could quote them, man did I feel big and important.

I don’t believe it’s what the ministers wanted, but Christians can be really weird at times.

People, myself included, have a tendency to use their affiliation to make themselves look and feel more important than they really are.

Now days there is a different group of people to follow: Johnson, Vallatron, and anyone associated with Bethel Church in Redding, California.

Or, Bethel Music (which, by the way, I do enjoy).

Also, there’s IHOP, Hinn, and hundreds of prophetic ministries serving up a prophetic word to their subscribers.

For a while it was Brownsville and Toronto. Other times it’s been whatever church was promoted on TBN.

So what’s wrong with that?

The Big Time

IMG_1866Sometimes we believe things we shouldn’t. Like, things people say about us.

Good or bad. It makes no difference. If our focus is on ourselves, we can be easily turned. Turned to follow our own desires and cravings, rather than God’s will.

Paul gave a word of advice to each of us:

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (Romans 12:3 ESV)

Don’t think more highly (or lowly) of ourselves. Instead, think soberly. Another way of saying it is, “Think accurately and truthfully”.

Years ago, in 1981, God was beginning to use me as a worship leader around the central Iowa area. I began to minister somewhat regularly at the Full Gospel Businessman’s Fellowship monthly dinners. I was “making a name for myself”, yes indeed. People would tell me what a wonderful job I did, and, of course, I humbly agreed.

Did you know that praise can lead to more trouble than a naked woman on the internet?

“Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised.” (Proverbs 27:21 NLT)

About a year later, 1982, I was sure I had hit the big time. Indeed. A radio minister from the Kansas City area had contacted me after hearing of me through the FGBMF area leaders. The Kansas City minister was coming to Des Moines and needed a worship leader. So, God’s man of faith and power for the hour was ready and willing to minister.

Wow! I knew I had hit stardom when my wife, son, and I were given a motel room to stay in during the 3 day conference. I’d never been treated that way before. And to go along with my new, big time image, I brought 7 different suits and sport jackets to change into. I didn’t want to wear anything more than once.

The big time!

Shortly after that tremendous ministry to nightly crowds of 20-25, I was given an opportunity to meet Kenneth Copeland’s band leader. Handing him a cassette of some songs I had written, we listened to the demo together. He really liked one particular song, and played it for Kenneth.

Soon I was sent a contract to sign allowing them to arrange and record the song on their next album. It was 99% guaranteed to be on the album which followed the “He Is Jehovah” record.

The big time!

I was counting my royalty checks and dreaming of moving to Dallas/Fort Worth to be a full time song writer (my plan, not theirs). I became so obnoxious… but, whatever. I was hitting the big time! People were just jealous.

But shortly before Kenneth and band went to the recording studio, the song was cut from the list of songs to record. I was crushed.

No more big time!

However, the seed of self greatness became lodged in my soul and then, with ten years of feeding and nurturing such a prideful spirit, I finally became so blind to truth I was ready to throw away everything of real value in my life for a another chance at the big time – Nashville.

Well, I never did make it to Nashville, but I almost lost my marriage, family, and friends. I DID lose the church my wife and I had planted.

I let the same thing turn my head that once turned the devil’s – the desire for the big time.

Thank God for forgiveness and restoration. Thank God for another chance.

I’m aware how sneaky that egotistical spirit is, and how quickly it can appear, ready to deceive. I really want to do big things for God and his kingdom, and with the Lord’s help, I will do only, exactly, what he instructs me to do – nothing more, nothing less. With the right attitude, the attitude John had:

“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” (John 3:30 NLT)

Jesus IS big time! Now, I feel honored and privileged to just associate with him.

Drunk with Power (part two)

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Belshazzar, the king of Babylon, was drunk with power, and full of his own importance. But something happened to him when God gave him a message.

“Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lamp-stand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote. Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. The king called loudly to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers. The king declared to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and shows me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or make known to the king the interpretation.” (Daniel 5:5-8 ESV)

His color changed, his thoughts alarmed him, he couldn’t control his arms or legs; in short, he was a mess. And though he didn’t know what the message was, it affected him like nothing else ever had.

He was probably close to wetting himself; he was so shaken.

Up to then, he had always been in control. Calm, cool, collected. Never a worry, never a concern. And if he was ever in a bind, there was always someone who could either take the blame or pay the piper for him. After all, he was the king. He was in charge. He could decree anything he wanted and it would be established.

He had the pen and the phone.

But all of a sudden, with the mysterious handwriting on the wall, he was completely undone. He didn’t understand its meaning, so he called his cabinet, advisors, press secretary, and even Psychic Suzy and her troop of troublesome tarot translators to reveal the coded message.

But God’s message can never be understood by using simply the brightest and the best, or by the consensus of a majority.

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV)

So, finally, the king had to ask God’s man.

This scenario is coming to this nation; the United States of America. As I mentioned in a previous post, “Drunk with Power”, the handwriting is coming to America’s walls. A message that will shake the strongest of men. A word that cannot be understood by the king’s men and women.

The president will have to ask for help. The politicians will have to seek help from a group they’ve tried so hard to ignore, and have loved to demean.

Not the wimpy, weak-kneed church they’ve come to know and love, but the radical, God loving, Bible believing, faithful followers of the one known as Jesus.

And those who have spent time praying for the king and for all who occupy places of authority, will have a word in season; a right now message for the nation’s leaders.

It’s on its way. A message written on America’s walls. A message unlike any other, interpreted by people who’s beliefs are completely opposite of America’s leaders.

The people who pray for their leaders will hear the interpretation, and have access to the leaders ears.

They will pray over the message, over the leaders, over the nation.

And the ultimate fate of America will be in the hands of its leaders. America will either yield to the prophets of God, or become filled with rage and punish the messengers of God’s holy revelation.

Saints of God, pray for our “king” (president) and everyone else in authority…

Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, Independents; whatever. Every one of them need support through prayer.

Prepare your hearts. Let the love of God fill you. Set your mind on things above.

A shaking is coming to this land. With that, a message to be seen on America’s walls.

Be ready in season and out, for life turns very quickly. What you’ve prayed, prepare to preach. What you’ve preached, prepare to stand on it.

The “king” will someday summons God’s prophets into his throne room. He’ll seek to find the believers, not the doubters and naysayers; for he will recognize, supernaturally, that the word of God brings light, and gives understanding to the simple.

“The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand.” (Psalm 119:130 NLT)

A lot of changes are on the way…

The Man Who Would Be King

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Once upon a time in a world much like our own, lived a man who had only one ambition.

He wanted to be king.

It didn’t matter to him which nation he ruled; he just wanted to be king. As far back as he could remember, he wanted to be king.

Each night before he went to bed he’d brush his teeth, floss, and stare in the mirror for five minutes repeating his narcissistic mantra.

“I will be king, for I was created to be king. I will rule over others for that’s why I was born. It is my destiny, it is my rightful place in this world. King Mamba Carob. Yes, I was made to be king.”

Mamba was an only child; the son of a man with an explosive temper, and a woman who lived to please her man; whichever one she had at the time. Yes, he was merely a child when the idea of becoming a king began to consume him. And watching his mother interact with her “men” helped shape Mamba’s worldview; become king, gain servants, keep people under your thumb and never have to answer to a soul.

His mother wasn’t exactly what you would call beautiful. Poor thing. She was however quite intelligent, except where it came to men.

As for the men in her life, if you’d line up ten of them, with all but one having great jobs, wonderful people skills, plenty of savings in the bank, and faith in God, and tell her to pick one of the men to date; she’d pick the one loser in the bunch. That’s just how she was.

As Mamba’s mother bounced from man to man, from one abusive relationship to another, Mamba saw his mother sign up for one government program after another. She called it surviving; he saw it as his due. She was thankful for the help. He believed he deserved more.

After all, why should so many have so much when he had so little.

Oh, but that would change. Yes, indeed.

All through the years of his youth, and on into his young adult days, Mamba kept his dream, his destiny, alive and thriving. Nothing and no one mattered as much as his kingdom. His very own kingdom.

It didn’t matter what he had to do, who he must walk on, or whether he needed to fabricate a lie just to get past a particular line of questioning; he was ready for the task. Conscience? A luxury he couldn’t afford to have if he was to be king.

And he WAS going to be king!

“A king can’t afford to be close to anyone”, was one of his favorite phrases.

Nothing meant more to him than the kingdom; Mamba’s kingdom. And he had learned “kingdom philosophy” from some of the best teachers in the land. His parents.

The dads lived for their own pleasure. His mom behaved like a groveling sycophant who was afraid of her own shadow. Be the king of your own life, your own little domain. Control how others think and behave. Don’t be answerable to anyone but yourself.

And he came so close. So, so close.

But he never made it. You see, there can be only one king. Only one. And no matter how much you want it, or how many people you trample into the ground while attempting to secure your own kingdom, it simply won’t work.

Oh, sure, you can rule your little world and force everyone around you to bow before you three times a day. You can succeed in fooling everyone into believing you are something wonderful and grand. But there’s someone who knows who you really are; your fears, your flaws, and your foolish beliefs about your self importance.

No matter how big you are, there’s someone bigger.

Regardless of your intelligence, there’s always a person who is smarter.

And you may be the richest, best dressed, most powerful person in your world; most generally, that’s how we all like to see ourselves.

You may have had a better childhood than Mamba, or you may have had to fight and scratch, beg borrow and steal for every little worldly treasure. Some may believe you have the bull by the horns and are sitting in the catbird seat.

But there’ll always be someone you must answer to.

Always.

So why not start now?

Yield to the only one who has the right to be king. King Jesus.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)

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