Learn to Listen - Listen to Learn

We have to learn how to listen more & talk less. We totally miss the point & misunderstand what people are saying and what they truly need because we are too quick to talk. We interrupt people with our answers because we are so filled with ourselves. So much chaos can be avoided by listening not to just a person's words but their heart cry. When we truly hear people we use less words & more wisdom to resolve problems & express God's heart & mind. One of the greatest expressions of love is to listen. Lord teach us to hear. 

The Pattern Among Fallen Pastors

I recently read this article by Garrett Kell and thought it worthy to repost here on my blog.

During my time in seminary I took a leadership course taught by the late, great Howard Hendricks. As we studied the life of David, Hendricks shared a study he conducted with a group of men in full-time ministry who had fallen into a morally disqualifying sin.
At the time, I had only been a Christian for a few years, but unfortunately the subject was all too relevant. During my early days I had witnessed several men whom I loved and respected fall into serious sinful compromise. At one point in those days, the falls came so frequently I felt as if I was on the spiritual beach of Normandy watching buddies’ lives get blown apart all around me.

Fallen Soldiers of Christ

The study examined 246 men in full-time ministry who experienced moral failure within a two-year period. As far as Hendricks could discern, these full-time clergy were born-again followers of Jesus. Though they shared a common salvation, these men also shared a common feat of devastation; they had all, within 24 months of each other, been involved in an adulterous relationship.
After interviewing each man, Hendricks compiled four common characteristics of their lives: 
  • None of the men was involved in any kind of real personal accountability. 
  • Each of the men had all but ceased having a daily time of personal prayer, Bible reading, and worship.
  • More than 80 percent of the men became sexually involved with the other woman after spending significant time with her, often in counseling situations.
  • Without exception, each of the 246 had been convinced that sort of fall “would never happen to me.”
As I reflect on this study, four lessons come to mind. These are applicable for pastors, plumbers, stay-at-home moms, and anyone else who seeks to follow Christ.
1. Sin thrives in isolation.
Satan lives in the darkness and longs to keep us there. Lies live best in the darkness. That’s why when God calls us to himself, he calls us into the church.
God has created the church to be many things, including a community of people who help each other fight sin and love him. He calls us into relationships where we speak truth to one another (Eph. 4:1525), confess sins to one another (James 5:16), and love each other enough to chase after each other if we stray (Matt. 18:10-20Gal. 6:1-2James 5:19-20).
Who knows you? I mean, who really knows you? Who not only has permission, but is currently acting upon that permission to ask you penetrating questions? Are you answering those questions honestly, or are you hiding details and painting over your sin to guard your image? Do not hide from God’s gracious aid of loving relationships.
2. If you flirt with sin, you will fall into sin.
Sin’s slope is slippery. The longer you walk along the edge of the abyss, the more likely that your foot will slip. The men in the study put themselves in dangerous situations again and again. They ignored the words of Solomon, who warned his sons to “keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house” (Prov. 5:8).
These men did not guard their hearts, or the hearts of the people they were supposed to be protecting. Instead, they became blinded by the deceitfulness of sin (Eph. 4:22Heb. 3:13) and were led into the ditch of destruction (Matt. 15:14).
What ways are you flirting with sin? What provisions are you making for the flesh with regard to lust (Rom. 13:14)? What guards have you stepped over? What details are you hiding? What e-mails are you deleting? What search histories are you erasing?
Sin is crouching at your door (Gen. 4:7), and the tempter is looking for an opportunity to pounce (1 Pet. 5:8). How are you making his aim easier?
Flee from sin, don’t flirt with it (Gen. 39:6-12Prov. 5-7, Rom. 6:12-132 Tim. 2:221 Pet. 2:11).
3. Pride blinds us to our weakness.
Many of us think this sort of serious sin would not happen to us, just as those fallen pastors thought. But 1 Corinthians 10:12 warns, “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” Let us not forget that Samson, the strongest man in the Bible; Solomon, the wisest man in the Bible; and David, the man after God’s own heart, were all overcome by the temptations of sexual sin (Judg. 14-16; 1 Kings 11:1-82 Sam. 11-12Ps. 51). No one is above the temptation to sin in grievous ways. If you doubt, you are on your way to a great fall.
Beware! Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
4. Purity is cultivated by loving Jesus.
Somewhere along the line, each of the men in the study began to drift. Prayers became less passionate. The promises of God in his Word grew dusty. Love for Jesus became something spoken of in the past tense. The seduction of sin and enticement to sacrifice all to satisfy inner longings became too strong to resist.
But Christ is stronger. Hear these words of promise afresh:
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:14–16)
There is no sweeter assurance of help than Christ Jesus the Lord. He stands ready at God’s right hand to supply the grace and mercy we need.
Do not allow your hearts to grow cold toward the Lord who loves you so. Draw near to him daily, moment by moment, in hopeful expectation that he is better than any fleeting pleasure that might entice your heart. Do not seek him only in days of desperation, but seek him daily. Walk with him. Rekindle passion. Plead with him to help you. He is able to do it, and he delights to do it: 
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-25)
Come Lord Jesus, come.

True Transformation

The fallen religious flesh in every man desires transformation, even if the desire is sourced from the depths of it’s own despair and dissatisfaction. This transformation may take on many different forms in a myriad of ways. But true transformation’s catalyst is not human will or religious fervor - it is an act of Spirit & Word of Grace.

Transformation begins with the spirit of the mind being renewed - Eph 4.23. That prompts us to present our selves as a living sacrifice to God being transformed via the agency of spiritual mind renewal - Rom 12.2. When we are transformed we begin to prove or manifest the will of God which is quite invisible to the world, the flesh and the atmosphere. 

Transformation takes place at the Cross, a daily Cross we take up where we surrender all our issues, hurts, opinions, juxtapositioning, and self-righteousness at the foot of that Old Rugged Cross. There we exchange our self life with Christ’s life and we experience a quickening spiritually and deliverance from the chains of sin and our fallen nature. In this transformation the righteousness of God is revealed from as we progressively trust Him in His Plan from faith to faith - Rom 1.17. We then are co-conformed to the image of his Son by the action of the Cross that we take up - Rom 8.29

It is crucial we understand that transformation is an act of the Word of the Cross. Because the fallen flesh in all of us desires change and to be God-like but with the exception of a Cross. The flesh has an aversion to the Cross. Lucifer desired transformation and God-likeness but without denying his angelic self-determination. He desired to “ascend the sides of the north” to be “like the Most High”. Yet his transformation was not through the catalyst of losing his own will but through his own self-determination. This led to deception and to his downfall - Is 14.14

Satan has transformed himself into an angel of light - 2 Cor 11.14. He has done so without a cross and this is the spirit of anti-chirst because it it denies the purpose and mission of Christ coming in the flesh - 1 Jn 4.1,3. Satan has his ministers of “righteousness” today in the world system who have transformed themselves into ministers of righteousness without the agency of the co-crucifixion with Christ - 2 Cor 11.15. These ministers do things in the name of Christ, they perform miracles, lead many people into deception and they themselves are slaves in bondage with no true freedom. They have an appearance of God-likeness yet deny the power of Christ - 2 Tim 3.5. In the end they will be rejected by Christ as He will say - "depart from me I never knew you” - Mat 25.41. Why? Because they refused the transformation power of the Cross of Calvary and mind renewal. They were disqualified due to the self-determination of the flesh - the flesh has one agenda, self preservation and self-exaltation and that is in direct opposition to God’s beneficial authority in this world. 

God’s transformational power is real. It is changing peoples lives today. Our ultimate purpose in this life is to be conformed (co-transformation in the Greek) into the the image of Jesus Christ. This is critical as we live in a evil world that desperately needs to see Christ and His transformational grace, love and truth.



Ukrainian Black Sea Summer Camp - 2015

Yes another famous GG Black Sea Camp! July 23-31. Located on the beautiful beaches of Karolino Buhaz 30 km from Odessa we will gather for a time in the Word, fellowship, edification, worship, challenge, growth and FUN! P. Christian Moore and others will be our guest speakers this year.

See our Facebook Event page for more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/801258953290641/801260453290491/

Та ще один знаменитий GG Чорноморський табір ! Розташований на красивих пляжах Кароліно Бугаз 30 км від Одеси. Ми зберемо на час в Слові, спілкування, повчання, поклоніння , виклик , росту і FUN! - П. Крістіан Мур та інші будуть наші гості в цьому році.

Да еще один знаменитый GG Черноморский лагерь ! Расположенный на красивых пляжах Каролино Бугаз 30 км от Одессы . Мы соберем на время в Слове, общения, назидания , поклонения , вызов, роста и FUN! - П. Кристиан Мур и другие будут наши гости в этом году.

Good Friday - Dealing with Stunning Disappointment in God’s Plan

Good Friday and the events that ensued were a stunning disappointment for those that loved Jesus and followed him all the way into Jerusalem. None of His disciples fully understood what was happening. They were still in a state of elation from that Palm Sunday when they entered Jerusalem and the cheering people of the city met Him at the gate with Palms. This for sure was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Zech 9:9,10 for them yet they didn’t get the full picture. Before Jesus would reign as King making Jerusalem His world capital - He would first have to be falsely accused, delivered up to the masses and crucified. The disciples themselves were not ready for that to be fulfilled, as they argued among themselves days before His death, “who is the greatest among us?" This lack of understanding resulted in the overwhelming disappointment and confusion in the minds of His disciples and those that loved Him. The discouragement and fear caused all to flee and the disciples to go back to their previous careers. 

Yet this is how it is often in the Plan of God. We hear His promises and misunderstand the bigger picture of things, that there are events, both highs and lows, that first must come to pass. There are those mysterious words of Jesus about His death that puzzle His disciples - that seem to contradict what He is promising - to become King.

This presents a great difficulty for us and His disciples, as finite people, understanding only in a limited sense due to what we see, hear and can touch. There are aspects of the Plan of God that puzzle us today as we stand and look at the promises from God in our hands that we are persuaded that we received from God - that seemingly contradict what we are experiencing today.

What we must do is to trust the veracity of God by faith, and go through the stunning disappointments in our lives that are searingly painful. There is a bigger plan that has enlarged itself beyond the boundaries of our understanding. Yes, Jesus will be King as He promised but first He must die, we must die to ourselves; to our understanding, to our senses and wholly trust Him - that the Forerunner of our Faith, much to our chagrin, must pass through death and rise on the third day, just as He said. 

Trust His Word only, though it we will be sustained in our tragic disappointment and heartbreaks - seeing later that in the end His Plan is altogether good. 

12 Characteristics of Unbrokenness - Lack of Surrender

Recently I preached on these 12 Characteristics of an Unbroken Man. Many have asked me for these points so here I post them.

Psalms 51:17
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.




2 Corinthians 4:7
Cast Down but Unconquered
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

Characteristics of an Unbroken Man:

  1. A lot of battles in the flesh.
  2. Chronic Temptation
  3. Living in the past - worried about the future
  4. Consistent confrontation with their own limitations
  5. Self centered - ego-matic - I must be in control
  6. Constant dissatisfaction
  7. No spiritual hunger
  8. No love for God or for people
  9. Cannot receive and hear truth very well. They take what they want to hear and forget the rest.
  10. Cling yet they don't want intimacy. No intimacy without brokenness.
  11. Passive people are easily offended. When they don't have life go their way than they don't know what to do.
  12. Very occupied with external conditions and circumstances
When we are not broken we block the revelation of Jesus Christ

God Can only use the Broken

People throw away broken things because they are useless - but God seeks out the broken because they are most useful to Him. 

Harry Ironside said it well - "God is not looking for brilliant men, is not depending upon eloquent men, is not shut up to the use of talented men in sending His Gospel out in the world. God is looking for the broken men who have judged themselves in the light of the Cross of Christ. When He wants anything done, He takes up men who have come to the end of themselves, whose confidence is not in themselves, but in God."

When we consider effectiveness in ministry as a leader or a Christian worker we must understand that a powerful spiritual work of God in a city, a family or in an individual's life is contingent on brokenness. For it is only then that the Treasure is revealed and lives are transformed forever. Without brokenness our preaching and serving are powerless and we struggle in frustration as we labor seeing no release from sin, addictions, from the system of the world and the bondage of fear.

You see, Gideon's army had to break the earthen clay jars in Judges 7 for the blinding light to shine out - thus effectively sending the enemy into chaos and defeat. It hasn't changed, the same goes for today - our clay earthen vessels need to be broken in that dramatic way as in millennia past so that the Treasure of the Light of Jesus Christ be shone forth to send the enemy scurrying away. "Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us." 2 Cor 4.7 (Holman).

But what you may ask is being broken? When Paul talks about the outer man being broken - what actually is being broken? Is it the physical body? Then ensuing circumstances in a famine or war or some other catastrophe? When we traveled to the former Yugoslavian provinces after the war in the '90s we expected to see broken people open for the good news of the Gospel. But instead we discovered bitter and war hardened people. Not broken at all. That is because very rarely do externals break people. Sin doesn't break. We hear people say, "that brother's sin and lifestyle will eventually break him", but that is incorrect. Sin hardens people, poverty may make people arrogant with entitlement. 

But what actually needs to be broken? The flesh? The body? Neither. It is the soul-life. Jesus said it in Matthew 16:24-25 “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." - The word He used for "life" in saving and losing was the word that points to the human soul - "psuche". Jesus in affect was saying that it's in the soul-life that loss takes place - not the physical body. The soul-life is that place where identity and personal preference resides. It's where our opinions, thoughts and value system lives. It is in essence who we are. 

Thus the soul-life must be interrupted, disturbed, offended - broken. Otherwise we serve in the power of our soul which is limited, and ineffective. If we as a pastor, leader, or someone that as responsibility in the ministry of family - are not broken we serve in the power of our soul which is finite. The result is always the same. Burnout. Refreshment doesn't take place in the soul but rather in our spirit. It is the Spirit, the Word and Anointing that quickens, transforms and sets people free - Is 10.27. When true brokenness takes place then the Anointing iss revealed and people's chains fall off. 

Brokenness is not something I get to declare to God - "behold God I have made myself broken!", no it does not work that way. He breaks us as He broke the bread that had surrendered powerless in his Hands at the Last Supper. Then and only then can your life be shared and nourish the disciples. Otherwise we are useless in the Kingdom. 

What broke the Prodigal Son from his chain sinning? It wasn't the terrible circumstances that he found himself in but rather when he remembered the Father's love in the household. There is only one thing that truly breaks us and that is His Grace. Rom 2.4 - "It is His goodness that leads ... to repentance" 

Take Peter for example. He with the others had labored all night fishing "catching nothing" - Lk 5.5. Yet at the Rhema of Christ Peter let down the net having come to the end of his own energy and professional experience in the matter. It was at that moment that the catch came and it was so large and so abundant. Upon the miracle happening Peter fell to his knees before Christ broken saying "depart from me for I am a sinful man". It is only the miraculous goodness of God that break us.

Yet we fight the process of 2 Cor 4.8-9 having no idea that it is from God. We react, fight, squirm, complain and pray against the very thing that God desires to lead us to brokenness so that He may shine through us. It is imperative we discern the work of God and not be ignorant of His Will - Col 1.9. 

When God's Gracious Plan is surrendered to and we cease from our own selves and all that self desires to do for God or for self, then He causes Light to shine out of darkness 2 Cor 4.6. But the vessel must be broken first for the power of His Grace rest upon us and His Strength is made perfect in our weakness - 2 Cor 12.9

It is so sad to observe a well loved, high profile Christian, who for many years served God then fall on very hard times and they act like a child throwing a spiritual tantrum with no understanding of any aspect of God's Will and His desire to bless. I may sound harsh and insensitive, I do not want to make light of anyones' calamity - but let us not be ignorant of His Plan to break us with His Goodness. 

Remember the endgame of His Doings is to shine though us and pour out a blessing on our lives as He did with Job of old and that lives would be changed. People need to see HIM and that only happens when our soulish clay-vessel is broken. Then and only then we are truly happy and content!

May I challenge you?

This is in no way meant to be a guilt trip or sound heartless, nor is it something said because numbers are low or offerings are poor because neither are the problem here. But as pastors we often observe how people feel obligated or compelled to tell us why they miss church or meetings as if we are The Judge in the matter. It seems that some believe that by telling us reasons why they miss it in some way appeases their sense of regret and they've been excused as if they missed school. But we're not God. We do not judge but we as shepherds are heartbroken at times to see what people miss in God's Plan by making excuses to be MIA. We as pastors are not offended when people come 2 times a month because our joy and peace are in Christ alone. What do people miss? Answers. Peace. Wisdom for this weeks' problems and pain.They miss the encouragement by a group of people that are so excited to see them. They miss everything that they need. God waits to be gracious to you in the Body of Christ. There are things God will tell you in private without the Church but there are things He will only tell you in Church through His Body on earth. He has answers for you! Stop being a victim of your circumstances, stop living in what people have done to you in the past, stop complaining about your job, marriage, & personal situations. Stop being familiar with God, stop staying away because of people - draw near to Him, God is bigger than people - His Plan is bigger than your failures and unbelief. Expect great things from God for your life & come to be a part of the greatest and hottest thing happening on planet earth today - CHURCH!

An Eternal Loving Purpose that Dispels Anxiety Disorders

In our series on Joshua we touched on the subject of Anxiety and how Joshua dealt with the immense load a new leader has leading over 2 million of God’s people into the land that God prepared for them. He did so by the Promise of God. Josh 1.1-10

We can only imagine the pressure and responsibility upon Joshua as he took up the lead of God’s People. It could be that he secretly struggled with some aspects of fear hence the many times in chapter one he was affirmed: “be strong and very courageous” 

Joshua had the opportunity to live in Anxiety, to internalize it and allow it to paralyze him, but he discovered something about the Presence of God and His comfort. Joshua had an Eternal Purpose that delivered him from any anxiousness and the disorders that anxiety produces.

In this short article I’d like to address Anxiety, some of it’s disorders and how we as God’s Children overcome it. This is not an exhaustive treatise on the subject of Anxiety nor am I a qualified psychologist or physical that can make professional diagnosis on the subject. But God’s Word certainly has a say on this matter and that is what we will focus on. The following are notes from last Sunday’s message. 

Anxiety Defined
Anxiety is an undefined, abstract fear that is caused by the suppression of unresolved issues, these unresolved matters remain unresolved in the subconscious & unconscious mind - remaining unresolved to God’s Viewpoint. In this state we feel separated and isolated from the security of purpose we were created for and suffer dissatisfaction, boredom, and nervousness. 

God’s Gracious Thoughts and Purpose - Jer 29.11, Rom 8.28:
  1. We are different creatures than in the animal kingdom: God has put His Spirit in us - He has placed Eternal Purpose in us: "He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy” - Eccl 3.11b (Amp)
  2. We are created for purpose - Eph 2.10 - For God’s good plan, not pleasure alone. Too much pleasure and entertainment steal purpose, it intoxicates and spiritually stupefies.
  3. The godless world system we live in ("Kosmos") seeks to nullify the eternal purpose in a believer’s life - Forget the Illuminati, the Masons, "alien shadow government" - it’s called “spiritual wickedness in high places” - Eph 6.12
Unresolved: 
People say: “It is what it is”, but that is a defeated attitude towards things that people are not able to resolve themselves. 

3 Major Unresolved things in people's lives:
  1. Sin - It’s crucified, buried, forgiven & forgotten. Gal 2.20, Romans 8.1
  2. Conflicts with people - Preferring one another in love. Rom 12.10
  3. Relationships - unresolved problems in relationships healed by trusting God for people - We can’t change people but we can trust God for them who can turn the hearts of even kings! - Prov 21.1
  4. Not understanding our value and unconditional love in our lives. Jude 20,21
Rejecting the Purpose of God such as Jonah did causes misery - Jonah 1.1-3,17;4.1-10. Anxiety Disorders compound in complexity when the Purpose for which we were created is rejected and we go our now way. The result is dissatisfaction, and a process begins that medication cannot thoroughly address. When Jonah rejected God’s Purpose he entered into a process:
> Rejecting the Call to Nineveh.
> Suppressing unresolved obedience to God’s Purpose.
> Suppressed issues leads to Anxiety
> This lead to loneliness & depression

"Psychomotor Agitation” complex ensues with resulting symptoms:
  1. Fidgety, nervousness, restlessness, no inner peace
  2. Panic attacks - something inside, the inner man fears for his existence 
  3. Depression - middle aged & elderly especially experience this.
  4. Agression
  5. Mental disorders
  6. Physical & Eating disorders
  7. Addictions
Eternal Purpose never changes though Life Situations & Dreams Change
Dreams and endeavors may change dramatically & tragically but His purpose is always the same: Phil 3.10 & Job 14.7. 3 Aspects of our Purpose in every Life Situation:
  1. To know Him and the power of His resurrection
  2. Count everything else as worthless compared to Christ & His Calling
  3. Determine to Win Christ in every conflict. 
How to get an understanding of your Eternal Purpose:
  1. Total Surrender of ourselves and all of our "stuff" at the Cross: - Rom 12:1 & Lev 1
  2. Daily yielding - personal cross - Rom 6:13,16,19
  3. Daily quickening in revelation of Jesus Christ - Acts 26:15
  4. Daily participation in the Body of Christ - Rom 12:10
  5. A prayer-life - God tells the man who cares - Acts 9.11
How to Function in your Purpose:
  • Get a personal Rhema about your purpose and that revelation will keep you when times get tough
  • Understanding our Eternal Purpose produces concentration which leads to consecration. Oftentimes more than not, people lack concentration in their life because of a lack of consecration.
  • Without singleness of purpose we suffer distractions and wandering minds.
  • Make a commitment and be accountable to God’s Purpose such s Joshua did before the Children of Israel. 

Conclusion:
The Eternal Purpose of God is one and the same as His Love. To be in His Purpose is to experience His Love - and to experience His Love is to function in God’s Eternal Purpose. The result is that Love heals us from Anxiety as we begin to know that we are in a secure atmosphere of Love and Grace of Christ’s Purpose - Eph 3.11. God’s Love is that unifying factor that causes us to understand we are one with God hence healing us from the Anxiety of separation from our purpose. Whenever we apply Divine Perspective via the Word of God to circumstances in our lives we are allowing Ultimate Resolution in those matters. The result is inner peace, a sense of being loved, that "all is ok" and the satisfaction that the matter is not left unresolved. Our capacity to trust God grows for issues because of His Promise - as with Joshua - and things, relationships, and problems are not left unresolved. We can then relax and see the end of Anxiety in our souls. 

"The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety." George Muller.










True Friendship

I read this excellent post by CHS in his devotional "Faith Thoughts" - it handles the subject of Friendship and deficient toxic friends that steal energy and cause compromise in people's lives. I am taking the liberty to quote the whole article on this blog today. 

"John 15:12-15, Friendship is a blessing and a provision, but it must never be permitted to replace the priority of Christ's Lordship. The test of true friendship is whether it honors the Word. It does not lead to compromise, but builds up both believers in the faith and in the Body of Christ (the church). Friendship is not to be used as a support system, but as a communication of love. True friends may be separated for long periods of time, yet enjoy a closer fellowship than people who are together every day. Friendship does not compromise obedience to the cross, but encourages the daily appropriation of the truth of the finished work! Rather than a relationship centered around self-gratification, true friendship expresses the burden and heartbeat of Jesus Christ to redeem believers to Himself. Subjective, personality rapport relationships are destructive, but godly ones will result in doctrinal rapport around the principles of truth. Lonely people often seek gratification and fulfillment through friendship, but this is a selfish motive based on temporal needs. Friendships that are premised upon eternal values bind the hearts of men in spiritual oneness (2). This type of relationship is only possible because of the grace of God functioning in the heart of man. This is through identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thus, we see that the Word of God is the basis for true friendship."

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. - John 15:12-15

From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. - Ephesians 4:16

7 Stages of Joshua's Preparation to Lead the Hebrews into the Promised Land

This past Sunday we began a series on Joshua. We covered the 7 stages of preparation of Joshua before God could use him. Many have asked me for the notes so here they are. 

Joshua 1.1-9 
The great promise to enter the promised land came after years of preparation - preparation of heart and inner discipline 

Joshua wasn’t chosen then prepared but rather prepared then chosen. Many fail to enter into the land God has for them because they resist the preparation process. 


1. Learned how Moses interceded for Israel in battle with Amalek - Ex 17.8,9  - The battle was won through intercession and the holding up of Moses’ arms.
2. Learned how Moses received from God - the Tablets - Ex 24 - Joshua though he was invited to go up with Moses, could not go all the way up because what Moses was to receive for Israel, came by intimacy and a relationship with God that Moses cost Moses much.
3. Learned how Moses dealt with the fallen hearts & failure of God’s people. - Ex 32.
4. How to dwell in the Presence of the Lord in prayer - Ex 33.11
5. How to deal with jealousy & God using other people - Num 11.26-29
6. How to walk by faith into God’s will despite discouraging circumstances - Num 13.16, (Num 13 is where Joshua’s name is changed from “helper” to Yehoshua - “Jehovah is Help”) Num 14.
7. Joshua is promoted with little fanfare & paired with Eleazar the priest  - Num 27.12-23, 34.17

Integrity in Leadership - The Heart of the Art

Psalms 78:72 - So he [David] shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.

Jesus, the True Shepherd, raised up David, a shepherd after God's own Heart, to lead Israel into God's Plan. David is given two characteristics in this verse: integrity of heart and skillful was of hand. He had "heart with his art".

A Godly leader must have these two qualities to be utilitized by God in the lives of His people. There must be Truth on the inner man, Ps 51.6 as well as wisdom from Him in what a leader is doing - skill.

Today there is too much development of talent without the inner character of integrity. A heart of integrity is the inner momentum of balance in the gyroscope of leadership. Without inner integrity and the discipline of personal sanctification there is a loss of balance resulting in the inevitable tipping and failing of the endeavor.

Walk before God in your inner secret life and see God promote you in your ministry and call as it was with Abraham, Gen 17.1. He will use that kind of leader to guide His People into possessing their possessions in God's Promised Land for them.

We can't cut corners with integrity, because in the end, what's in a leader's heart is always revealed.

The Place and Outpouring of Prayer

"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel." -Ephesians 6:18-19 

"The fountain of prayer and all supplications is sourced in the limitless flow of the Holy Spirit who knows the "deep things of God" - 2 Corinthians 2:10. The Spirit reveals those deep and secret things hidden in the darkness, Daniel 2:22, dark not because some evil or horror dwells there, but dark due to the ignorance of many to its riches. 

Prayer sourced in the Spirit is true worship - John 4:23. It has been weaned from the obstructions of sight and the tantrums of the restless soul. It is prayer that rises above the opaque columnous clouds, above the cyclic rise and fall of the worldly fray, above the frivolous opining of men and far above the frenetic traffic of the "Prince of the Power of the Air". 

When we have entered into the Holiest of Holies, having passed through the outer court of the world and the flesh, passing through the veil by the Cross of Jesus Christ, we discover that meager ability of the soul is too incompetent to comprehend what awaits the believer at the Throne of Grace. Only the prayer whose path was made by our Hero, Jesus Christ the Forerunner, can bring us there. 

That Holiest Place is the altar where the atoning Blood has been applied. There is true freedom from the bonds of the corrupt nature of the flesh and the chainsof theself-consciousnessofthehumansoul. That Holiest Place is the sphere of the Spirit, where we hear the voice of the Word of God speaking to the deepest parts of us, seeing us, knowing us, and counseling us. 

The "Mystery of the Gospel" of which Paul spoke is not an esoteric mystery that cannot be known, it is this very thing - the mystery of knowing the depths of God: His Mind, His Plan, and His Grace. All these await the believer in the Word and in prayer. When we have been alone with Him in prayer and have opened our mouths in prayer, there in secret, we will observe that the Witness of God accompanies us as we preach the Gospel. Prayer sourced in the Spirit always guides us to the Gospel of Christ. Prayer's ultimate heartbeat is to bring the lost sinner into communion with God and his new creation in Christ. 

Prayer without the Gospel is not prayer. Prayer and preaching are married and undivorceable. One cannot be without the other without both ceasing to exist. For when we find ourselves in the midst of His Holiest, time will not tarry long before we hear "Who will go for us?" - Isaiah 6:1-8 

Prayer instills the mystery of a power in us that did not exist there before. It gives us hunger for holiness, missions, service, compassion, and the desire to serve. 

Let our knees be marked with the inscriptions of our floors, let our lips be filled with His Praise, let our souls be stilled in His presence, let our heart burn with the matters of the Lord, and let our minds mull the burdens of the Lord . Let us be those men and women that have the marks of our Savior, that we too may be known as "those that had been with Jesus." For God knows this dying world desperately needs it. 

"There is a place where thou canst touch the eyes Of blinded men to instant, perfect sight;
There is a place where thou canst say, “Arise”
To dying captives, bound in chains of night; There is a place where thou canst reach the store Of hoarded gold and free it for the Lord; 

There is a place–upon some distant shore–Where thou canst send the worker and the Word. Where is that secret place–dost thou ask, “Where?” O soul, it is the secret place of prayer!" ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Story of Squanto - a Little Known Thanksgiving Hero


In the early 1600s, the Wampanoag (Wam-pa-NO-ag) Indians covered the coast of what we now call New England. They raised crops, living close to the ocean in summer for seafood, moving inland in winter to set up hunting camps. Their encounters with Europeans over the years were mostly friendly.
One exception: In 1614 Captain Thomas Hunt captured several Wampanoag, along with a Patuxet named Squanto, to be sold into slavery in Spain. A Spanish monk purchased Squanto's freedom, taught him English, and introduced him to Jesus Christ. In 1619, Squanto returned to his native land, only to find his tribe wiped out by an epidemic. Thereafter he made his home with the Wampanoag.
Meanwhile, in 1608, a British group called the Separatists fled to Leyden, Holland. There they found religious freedom, but also poverty, grueling work hours and a secular culture that threatened to undo the values they had carefully instilled into their children. In 1620, they sold everything and indentured themselves for seven years to finance their journey to America.
On the Mayflower, the Separatists were joined by those seeking the new land for other reasons; these they called the Strangers. The two groups, 102 altogether, were called the Pilgrims.
Their journey lasted nine weeks. In one of those "accidents" which change the course of history, the ship lost its course and landed far north of its destination at what we now call Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Once outside the territory covered by the King's Charter, the Pilgrims became responsible for their own government, and so they wrote a set of laws called The Mayflower Compact.
On December 21, 1620, they began their new life at the place they named Plymouth.
It was a devastating winter -- whipped with wind and sleet and snow. Half the Pilgrims died. Still the Separatists clung to their faith; not one chose to return to England with the Mayflower that spring.
But spring brought unexpected relief w the help of a noble and generous Christian brother -- Squanto. He taught them how to grow corn, use fertilizer, stalk deer and catch fish. William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth, wrote of Squanto that he was "a special instrument sent of God for good beyond their expectations."
And so their first harvest was good. Governor Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to God and the Pilgrims invited their Indian friends. Chief Massasoit and 90 members of his tribe came, along with Squanto, bearing venison and wild turkeys for all to share. Together in harmony, the Pilgrims and the Indians feasted, played games, ran races and showed their prowess with bow and arrow and musket.
How thankful were the Pilgrims? The first Thanksgiving took three whole days!

No Distance Between You & Your God in Prayer

Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. - Daniel 10:12-13

"If thou art running to Christ, He is already near thee. If thou dost sigh for His presence, that sigh is the evidence that He is with thee. He is with thee now: therefore be calmly glad." - Charles Spurgeon
It is of great comfort to read the words penned “from the first day...thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.” Be glad child of God for our words are heard “from the first day”! This should cheer the wavering saint who labors in prayer!

When we think of international communication and how back in the day it used to take weeks to have a painstakingly written letter delivered to it’s eagerly awaiting addressee, we can truly appreciate the fact that there is no distance between the seeking soul and the listening God. We tend to think of God naturally, in terms of distance, that He is far away in the heavens on a throne, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
In the sphere of prayer there is no distance, no interference, no walls, no obstacle to catch our rising prayer and cast it to the ground. God is closer to the believer than the believer is to himself. As a matter of a fact, before we pray He knows our prayer altogether - Psalm139:4.

In warfare it is critical to know that there is no distance that our prayer must travel. A whisper of a prayer can be more powerful than a prayer of shouting and pleading with God. Often due to a delay of the answer, we assume there is distance, but contrary to appearance, He instantly hears and He instantly acts.
Yet there are times of a hindering of the execution of that prayer as we see in Daniel’s case. Though Daniel did not immediately know of the delay of an answer due to warfare and hindering, Daniel continued to fast and pray. It is of utmost importance that we cease not in prayer, that we knock until the door is opened. Because the answer is coming and your constancy in prayer is part of the warfare being waged. All too often answers to prayers in transit are halted due to the breakdown of prayer.

When a person begins to discover the power of prayer, the Prince of Persia, the unseen authority of Ephesians 6:12, will begin his hindering program. He will use feelings, pressure, circumstances, people, or personal distractions to get the praying warrior to stumble in his prayer and stop. He will project impulses, fears, bad news, or whatever he can send to stop the prayers.

Were Daniel’s prayers a part of the victory in that Michael the Angel was sent to help get the words to Daniel of the vision? I think so. For when we read the disciple’s prayer of Matthew 6 we read “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The distance between the will of Heaven and the will of God accomplished on the earth is only a prayer away. When we pray, God's will is accomplished. When we abide in prayer, we are an acting agent, an ambassador, that becomes a conduit of the accomplishment of the things of God on this earth.
!We must remember that the devil is the "Prince of the Power of the Air" so he has authority in the air, but not absolute authority. When believers live in their flesh, in the wisdom of this world, they become conduits of the air giving place for the devil, even speaking his mind about God’s people and God’s work. That is why when we are Spirit-filled we can detect demonic activity when we enter certain locales of entertainment, carnal activity, or territories given over to sin.

Be ever aware of the words that you speak and what you put out into the air. Negativity and fear, carnal comments, natural deductions, and personal opinions devoid of truth actually give the devil a stronghold to traffic in the air causing pressure and oppression over people.

It can be clearly observed when we travel to certain countries, and cities that are ruled by corrupt Godless political leaders, how the atmosphere of the country is heavy and oppressed. It is a great joy that when we pray, the atmosphere in which the Prince of the Power of the Air dwells, cannot stop or slow our prayers. Actually when we pray, the atmosphere is confronted and is cleared. Nothing was more effective in clearing the air in the Bible than the spoken Word of God and the prayer of the saints. Just as the air in a lightning storm is ionized and purged, so is the thick atmosphere of Satanic activity in warfare when the prayers of you and I arise.

Closing the Gap between You & the Millennialists, Gen Y & Gen Z

With every new generation the cycle seems to repeat itself. The gap between the older generation widens with the younger generation. It’s almost as there is a language barrier that forms. Historically it seems these generational characteristics cycle, repeating themselves almost every 100 years. In every generation we can see characteristics of earlier generations - but with different emphasis'. My parents' generation "Baby Boomers" (the loyalists and hard nosed Cold War-ists) and my generation "Generation X" were somewhat idealists - we grew up learning definitions to words, principles, loyalties, rules, & absolutes. Because we were expected to adopt responsibility at a young age (had my first job at 14 was on my own by 18) we learned how to interpret our ideals from our parents into practicality because of dire need to - we were thrust into an understanding via that great crucible coined "sink or swim”  

Here is a short outline of what is considered by many as the Gens:
"Builders": 1920-1945 The Great Depression and World War II produced a generation with a strong work ethic, financial conservatism and respect for authority.
Baby Boomers: 1946-1964 - Born in an era of financial prosperity, they are vocal on social issues and liberal in outlook.
Generation X: 1965-1979 - Cynical about authority and open to new forms of spirituality, but insecure about their financial future.
Generation Y: 1980-1994 - Labelled as flighty and transient, they are known as the “me now” generation.
Generation Z: 1995-2009 - Tech-savvy, creative, confident and with a strong work ethic – the result of more mature parents and the economic downturn. 

But Millennialists or Generation Y (born 1980-1994 - the "Pepsi Generation") grew up in an era where the internet came alive and a  budding social media craze and grew. Facebook created a "Me now” society that is very self aware and self centered. They are not idealists like us and our parents - so black is not black and white is not white to them. Rather many of them balk at absolutes, principles, clear definitions and God-lingo. They will poke at and push a little against ideals and absolutes to see if they stand - and when they do Baby Boomers & Gen X will be shocked and get a somewhat insecure - "what do you mean? you can't question that - that's just the way it is." - but that's exactly why they do that - they need to know how strong it is. They are all about practicality - not the abstract of ideals but "what does this mean to me practically today now? - I can't get a job or get over this addiction! What does grace mean to me in a day to day application, not just a theological definition”. They are having kids and living in many cases unmarried with a set of values that are more situational ethics rather than principles, that is where we see them hungry for practical principles for living. 

We Baby Boomers and Gen X are calling them Millennialists (because that's what we do - we define things - they chuckle when we call them Millennialists because they don't see themselves that way. As a matter a fact - hey don't really look at other gens)

What I see the Millennialists and later gens need is a very practical, honest, authentic, down-to-earth Gospel message that is Truth oriented and not idealistic or exclusive or judging but inclusive - real love from God that is demonstrated with straight words. The more curious intellectual Millennialists have dived into apologetics because they are seeking to define their culture for who they are in contrast to idealistic stereotyping they could be labeled with. Don't get them wrong though, they are not wanting compromise or anti-authority - as we would interpret it because they question - they want real truth, love and relationship.  The last thing they want is Gen X - (their parents) to try to be like them - they are looking for value. 

When we've had Millennialists come to our church here in Philly they are not so impressed by programs or vocab but by straight truth, honest talk, and genuine care. 

Case and point - the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus walks 24 miles to her - she did not walk to him or follow Jesus due to a miracle he performed. The conversation began with it being all about her. Once she understood that not only was it all about her but that Jesus knew her and her life without judging and condemning. She had real dialogue about real things with Jesus. Not religious ideals. He won her by his one on one authentic dialogue that was based in love and value for her soul. It was then she asked about who He was and then came the revelation to her that religion and ideals could not break through. She walked away amazed at the discovery of the “Gift of Eternal Life” and it transformed her life. 

The Millennialists, Gen Y are now in their 20’s and early 30’s as another generation is growing up, Generation Z who are in their teens and graduating from High School. They are very adept in technology, and information gatherers. 

There is yet another new generation upon us today. Babies born in the 15 years from 2010 will be known as "Generation Alpha". And they’re set to be the largest generation yet, as we experience a birthrate spike larger than the post-WWII baby boom. According to social researcher Mark McCrindle, the name was selected because, just as in science, once the Latin alphabet was exhausted they moved on to Greek letters. “This generation is likely to be the most formally educated in history. They will begin schooling earlier and study for longer.” Brought up in an era of information overload, they are expected to be even more tech-savvy and materialistic than their predecessors, Gen Z

The biggest mistake that Gen X and the Baby Boomers could make today is to underestimate their importance in the lives of Gen Y - the Millennialists, as well as the newer generation. The older generation has much that Gen Y needs - but Gen Y needs it in their language. Like Jesus did, he broke it down into practicality and real loving talk with inclusivity. Remember, God’s Love is trans-generational, trans-cultural and it is transformational. - Christian

Absalom Acts Out His Rebellion – From Inner Wounds to Conspiracy

522242_438110639533545_2070088432_nYesterday in our series on "The Life of David" we dealt with David's son Absalom, his wounding, shunning and his reaction that all led to the great rebellion Absalom led against his father. This is an eye opening study as there were 6 stages that leads to Absalom acting out his wounds. Here they are:

1. 2 Sam 13.1-19 - Amnon, David’s son thru Abigail, Absalom’s brother rapes his sister Tamar - incest and casts her out. 
The original wound = David is in a state of inaction over the incestuous violation of his daughter Tamar. Most likely because he has some what of a guilty conscience from his affair with Bathsheba.
2. 2 Sam 13.2-33 - David does not act to discipline Amnon so Absalom waits 2 years and conspires to kill his brother with his men and does so. The attempt to rectify = Absalom - a man with a type of a strong sense of justice as his father is deeply wounded for his sister. this wound festers for 2 years unhealed.  Finally Absalom takes matters into his own hands and with his men kill Amnon in vengeance for raping his sister. 
3. 2 Sam 13.34-39 - Absalom flees to his grandfather - the king of Geshur and lives there for 3 years. The festering wound = Absalom desperate for family connection in his pain and sense of justice less to his grandfather’s in Talmai. The separation from his father only causes a festering wound that is not being mollified. 

4. 2 Sam 14:1-24 - David allows Absalom to return to Jerusalem to his own house but not to see his face. The rejection = David reacts to amnion’s murder and shuns his son for 4 years while he is in Talmai with his grandfather. This compounds the pain as now Absalom has two wounds - the second being that he is rejected by his father. 

5. 2 Sam 14.33 - David finally allows his son who is highly favored and loved by many in Israel because of his winning personality and good looks - to come into his presence but only on a formal filial level. The festering continues with no reconciliation = The festering wound in Absalom grows as he is gravely disappointed in his meeting with his father. He was wanting more. 

6. 2 Sam 15.1-12 The conspiracy begins. The final blow = Finally after he has his moment to see his father - with no reconciliation seals the inner poison bomb.

Absalom had a wounded spirit - Proverbs 18.14 - The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear

The writer of Hebrews writes describing the destructive power of bitterness and unhealed wound and how it destroys those closet to us - Hebrew 15.15-16 - "Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord. Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it—That no one may become guilty of sexual vice" - (Ampl)

The wounds Absalom has were bitterness due to sexual vice - when Amnon his brother raped hi sister Tamar. 
What was Absalom to do? When we are wounded and victimized by life, people and situations we must learn what to do with those wounds. Otherwise they cause a root of bitterness and defile many that we love. 
The answer is this: we take "all our stuff", our anger, all the reasons we are hurt, what people did to us, how we were mistreated, how we were betrayed, how we failed and all of it - and leave it at the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ. There we find Jesus took it, He took it 2000 years ago, and crucified it at the cross. It is no longer ours to remember, to poses to us as our crutch or chip on our shoulder. There we are set free from it and we can be healed by the love and forgiveness of Christ.

Friends, this is our only option. Lest we stop receiving grace and a root of bitterness springs up hurting many around us.