Friday, April 30, 2010

Shaken by His Love by David VanCronkhite

Change is inevitable, especially when kingdoms are clashing. The kingdoms of man are in for one tremendous shaking. And for primarily one reason: the Father of the Kingdom of God is in love with His people.

This shaking is not because He is so angry with us. The Book says He is slow to anger. Nothing surprises Him about our condition. He is never caught off guard by our rejecting Him to return to captivity like the Israelites for the smell and taste of onions and garlic.

Change has to take place for no other reason than somewhere along the way we, like the Israelites, have stopped seeking and trusting God. We have lost the Father, and in losing Him, we forfeit the most precious gift that Jesus came to announce: "I have come to proclaim a Kingdom; that is why I must go from town to town." He desired to set captives free from serving the religious, economic and political systems of man that steal our hearts away from Him.

God loved me enough to take me "to the sea" for several years, to allow me to shed my identity and validation that was wrapped around ministry, church, and performance to prove myself to God and man. He loved the mighty King Nebuchadnezzar enough to take him seven years into a beast-like existence, as an outcast of one of greatest kingdoms in history that he had created and ruled. This shaking would, indeed, be one of the most dramatic ever recorded.

Nebuchadnezzar witnessed the power ministry of Daniel and knew he had seen the God who ruled the cosmos:

Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth: May your peace abound! It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me. How great are His signs and how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and His dominion is from generation to generation. Daniel 4:1-3

The king gave this declaration based upon a power moment when he feared for his life and marveled at a God who gave and explained mysteries and dreams. He totally believed what he was saying. He knew this God was more powerful than he and could perform signs and wonders he only dreamed about. He grasped that God's Kingdom was everlasting, even generation-to-generation, while his could crumble at his death.

Problem was, Nebuchadnezzar didn't know God. He knew the God of Daniel, but He had not yet become the God of Nebuchadnezzar. God could see through all the language of the king when others could not. God could see the heart and knew the obvious. The king was too confident and powerful in his own kingdom. As big and great as it was, it was not close to the Kingdom of God.

Too familiar with a God we don't know

The number one man in the world was sounding as if he knew God, and God knew that was a lie. It's a little like what Bobby Conner declared to the crowd at a large meeting several years ago, "You guys are way too familiar with a God you don't even know." I could hear a few gasps, see the insult and offense expressed in some pointed chins. I was glad I was not one of those he was referring to.

Years later, I discovered Bobby was talking to me, about me. Just like Nebuchadnezzar, I had all the right words and the knowledge about God. Signs and wonders were taking place, as Jesus said they would; the blind saw, the deaf heard, the sick were healed, and the good news (as I understood it) was preached to the poor. But I had no relationship with the God I was proclaiming.

Theologically, I supposedly knew God because I had prayed "the prayer" back in the '70's. But for me--and a lot of others--this theology became a prison. It didn't line up with our experience, though we pretended it did so we could avoid being shunned by friends, family, and congregation and shamed by our religious system for not believing all it believes. Suddenly this skewed religious/political bent became the grounds over which we dis-invited one another to be our friends. We de-friended the very people God put us in the neighborhood to love.

Some of us are so steeped and secure in our religious theology today that it takes a seemingly heartbreaking moment or two to discover who we are before and in God. He is not concerned with what man thinks or says. He is concerned over our hearts toward Him.

No love-no awe

In my Nebuchadnezzar experience I discovered how little awe of God I had because I did not know how much He loved me. Oh, I feared Him and feared getting my just punishment for the slightest sin or misstep. But for Him, it's always been first about my relationship and identity in Him.

My presuppositions of God and the misunderstandings of His Kingdom ran so deep I had to start from scratch with my theology. I had replaced the awe of God and the mystery of a totally supernatural and relational Kingdom with some good--though not lasting--stuff. Evangelism, signs and wonders, and church growth; prophecy and disciplines; building spiritual family and such. All good but resting on a precarious foundation that was already shaking.

Once I recognized God's love and goodness to me, I found in my relationships with others those who could find the God in me when I couldn't. They loved me despite disagreements on issues and errors of my way. And my God used each and every one to fulfill His desire. All He wanted was to bring me home into a place of growing relationship on a foundation of love with not only the all powerful God and Creator, but with my Father, the Lover of my soul.

The days at sea were coming to a close, and I didn't know it. They would end as suddenly and mysteriously as they had started. In the years of solitude, I was led to the same conclusions Nebuchadnezzar came to. After seven years wandering as a beast in the pastures of the land he once ruled, he concluded:

            His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures
            from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth
            are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the
            powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can
            hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?"
            ...Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King
            of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways
            are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
                                                                                                Daniel 4:34,35,37

The last step of getting released from the sea is the first step to our next journey. But isn't that what life with our God is all about -- taking the next step of faith and facing the unknown? And what an amazing journey He has called us to: to watch Him reveal Himself as the God of love and bestow on us His Kingdom of love on earth.

David -

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


The Father’s heart:
I have not been alone in hearing from God and issuing a prophetic word that God is moving his people from the age of salvation to the age of the kingdom of God, from focus on self, personal healing and individual blessing into a focus on demonstrating the power of the kingdom of God beyond the walls of the church for the sake of all those Jesus came to save. But He has also been calling us deeper into His heart – a message often lost. Sooner or later, power exercised without the loving heart of the Father results in foolishness and abuse, even when it’s heaven’s power. The kingdom of God operates on the law of God and the order of God. He is, after all, a King. His law and His order are the expression of His own nature and character. In the days to come the apostle John’s affirmation that “God is love” (I John 4:8) must become incarnate in our lives and ministries at a deeper level than ever before lest the power of the kingdom of God now being poured out become a temporary manifestation mishandled and misapplied by those who don’t understand its implications. Pastors and leaders (whether women or men) must minister the Father’s heart. Prophets must become shepherds in the Father’s heart. Churches must be infused with the heart of the Father for the healing of lives.

Prophetic warnings for the days to come:
1) Beware the growth of strange theologies and subtle twistings of the Scriptures as teachers seek to impress the body of Christ with “new” revelation and as believers hunger for the power they lost when they surrendered the simplicity of merely being sons and daughters. Have you ever noticed how we moved easily and simply in signs and wonders in the beginning of renewal and revival, but now feel we must go to conferences and schools to learn to do them? Thinking to become mature, we surrender the humble simplicity of childlikeness which is a prerequisite for true heavenly power. Unless we become as children, we cannot inherit the kingdom of God (Matthew 18:2-3, Mark 10:15 and Luke 18:17). At heart this means that only in the simple innocence of being children, sons and daughters, can we truly walk in the power of the kingdom that has come to earth in Jesus. After a lifetime of moving in renewal and revival circles, I no longer aspire to be a miracle worker. I only want to be a son in the confidence that as a son I’ll be a miracle worker. Jesus healed people not because He knew HOW to heal. He healed because He was and is the Son of God who knew His Father and moved in oneness with Him. Ultimately we who have been adopted as sons and daughters through Jesus will not do miracles because we’ve learned how to do them, no matter what we might think. We will only continue to minister the power of the kingdom if we’ve been rooted in the Father’s love and have become one with Him as sons and daughters.

To sum it up, in days to come we must be certain to hunger after the right things for the right reasons. As a son of my Father, I hunger to grow up to be like Him. This begins and ends with a transformation of heart that enables us to walk in the height, depth and breadth of His love that passes understanding. This is our family heritage and inheritance. This is the source of our power and authority.

2) Beware those who teach the impartation and exercise of kingdom power without the necessity of walking in the character of the Father and the Son. This leads to abuse, foolish actions, bad prophecies and inflated egos. When power and glory rest upon a foundation built of insecurities, fleshly ambitions, bitterness and judgments, destruction results. Witness the tragedy of King Saul whose broken foundation resulted first in disobedience, then in jealousy of David and finally in the loss of his sanity when the weight of destiny came to rest upon him. In recent years we have seen a long list of national and international Christian leaders fall to immorality and other failures for the same reasons that took Saul down. This must stop. Let this be a season of the broken spirit and the broken and contrite heart that God accepts as true sacrifice (Psalm 51:17). Too many godly approaches to inner transformation in the Father’s love have been sown into the body of Christ for us not to use them.

3) Beware the adoption of absolute statements put forth by those who teach the transfer of the power and sovereignty of God to human hands as if these were under our control to wield at will. Not even Jesus wielded power by His own volition, but said instead, "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works” (John 14:10). The use of the present tense in the Greek word “does” indicates ongoing action in the present. As the Father moves, Jesus moves. Heaven’s power does not flow at our beck and call. The Holy Spirit does not obey us. We must rather obey Him. We must move as He moves when He is moving.

4) Beware ever more popular teachings that in any way deny the sovereignty and foreknowledge of God and place the future in the hands of human beings. This may flatter our egos and fill us with a sense of power but it reduces God to a being as bound by time as we are. Time is a created thing. God is not. He knows the end from the beginning because He spoke time into existence. As the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, all of time is contained within Him while He can be contained by nothing. In this we can rest while continuing to take responsibility for our own decisions. We can believe in the sovereignty and foreknowledge of God while holding to the freedom of man to choose. We will never understand it, but God can never be limited to our finite human understanding.

I see danger of shipwreck for the renewal movement in all these things. Let us hold the course of humility and truth and seek the depths of the Father’s heart.
(Prophetic Moments is an occasional bulletin produced by Pastor R. Loren Sandford, New Song Fellowship, Denver, Colorado.)

The Holy Spirit Is Not an ‘It’ by Lee Grady

We charismatics celebrate the Holy Spirit, yet our theology of the Spirit is often off balance.
Two popular charismatic speakers stood on a stage two years ago and decided they should demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit. One guy pretended to throw an imaginary "fireball" at his friend, who promptly fell over as if he had been zapped by the divine power. Then, feeling equally playful, the guy on the floor stood to his feet and threw the "fireball" back at his friend—who fell after the "blob" of God hit him.

Everybody laughed and had a hilarious time at this outrageous party. There was just one problem. The Holy Spirit is not a blob, a fireball or any other form of divine energy that can be thrown, manipulated, maneuvered or controlled.
"It's incredibly sad that many of us who wear the charismatic label have forgotten what the Scriptures teach about the third person of the Trinity.

This scenario happened in a charismatic church—a place where the ministry of the Holy Spirit is presumably honored and understood. It's incredibly sad that many of us who wear the charismatic label have forgotten what the Scriptures teach about the third person of the Trinity. At the risk of sounding way too elementary, I'd like to offer this basic layman's guide to pneumatology—the study of the Holy Spirit and how He works: 

1. He is the Spirit of the Lord. He is not a force (as in Star Wars), a magical power or an "it." The Holy Spirit is God, and we should revere Him as God. The concept of the Trinity doesn't make sense to the human mind. Yet Scripture reveals God as a triune being. As theologian Norman Geisler writes: "God is one what (nature) with three whos (persons). This is a mystery but not a contradiction."

2. He is our Regenerator. Jesus told Nicodemus that we are born again by the Holy Spirit (John 3:5). True conversion is the most supernatural thing we will ever experience! When a person puts his faith in Christ for salvation, it is the Spirit who opens the heart and quickens divine life. He then indwells us. While this is an invisible process, it is no less miraculous. When we are converted our hearts cry out, "Abba! Father" because the Holy Spirit is "the Spirit of adoption" (Romans 8:15); He gives us confidence that we are now children of God.

3. He is our Empowerer. When we are baptized in the Holy Spirit we are "clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49, NASB). The Spirit who already indwells us fills us to the point of overflowing. Jesus said the Holy Spirit's power would flow out of us like "rivers of living water" from our innermost being (John 7:38). This overflow releases supernatural boldness (Acts 4:31) as well as the anointing for various gifts of the Spirit including prophecy, speaking in tongues and healing.

4. He is the Spirit of Truth. The Spirit has access to all the wisdom and knowledge of God. When we abide in Him, He leads us continually into truth—causing us to grow and mature spiritually. He wants to fill us with the treasures of heavenly revelation. We can fully trust Him because He never does anything to violate the Word of God. As our teacher (1 John 2:27), He knows the difference between truth and error, and those who depend on Him will walk in discernment and avoid deception, pride and carnality.

5. He is our Counselor. This word is also translated "Advocate," "Comforter" or "Helper." The Greek word, parakletos, means "one called alongside to help." It implies that the Spirit comes to our legal defense when we are accused or troubled; it also means He is a close friend who offers encouragement, consolation and direction when we face any difficulty. He is truly a friend who "sticks closer than a brother" (Prov. 18:24).

6. He is our Intercessor. This is probably one of the greatest miracles of grace. The Spirit who lives inside of us "intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words" (Rom. 8:26). Even when we don't know how to pray, the Spirit prays the perfect will of God. No matter what kind of dark difficulty we face, the Spirit travails for us until we emerge on the other side.

7. He is our Unifier. Like the master conductor of an orchestra, the Holy Spirit pulls together each individual Christian—with all of our diverse gifts—and causes us to flow in synchronization as one body. The Spirit distributes His gifts to individuals (1 Cor. 12:11) and He brings about the "fellowship of the Spirit" (2 Cor. 13:14)—a supernatural, loving harmony among believers that overcomes jealousy, envy, strife and bitterness.

8. He is our Refiner. The Spirit took the form of a dove at Christ's baptism, but He is often portrayed in Scripture as a fire. He is the "refiner's fire" (Mal. 3:2-3) who purifies us of selfishness, pride and wrong motives. The Holy Spirit is indeed the fire of blazing holiness, and He can be both grieved (Eph. 4:30) and quenched (1 Thess. 5:19) when we disobey His promptings.
As we prepare to celebrate the day of Pentecost in less than a month (it's on May 23), let's meditate on all aspects of the Spirit's work in our lives—and invite Him to fill us in a fresh way.

J. Lee Grady served as editor of Charisma for 11 years and is now contributing editor. You can find him on Twitter at leegrady. His newest book is The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What has God put on your heart to do? by John Paul Jackson

Is there something you’ve been considering doing lately? Do you have a thought rolling around in your head that maybe you should be paying more attention to? What has God put on your heart to do?
You are probably familiar with Jesus’ metaphor of new wine and new wineskins (Matthew 9:17). The general explanation is that when God is doing something new, we need to be open to it. Many of us rightly equate this metaphor to moves of God that seem large and obvious, such as churchwide or citywide revival. But it can also apply to our lives on a more individual, everyday scale.

Some of us have been Christians for so long that we have become rather set in our ways. Perhaps we’ve even adopted a type of spiritual atrophy and aren’t doing anything other than what we have done in the past. However, throughout Scripture, the people of God who are known for their great faith had to bend with the Holy Spirit. They had to leave behind their normal schedules and typical behavior in order to follow the plan of God for their lives. They accepted the “new wine” when it was presented to them, and they were open to the often radical change it had on their plans and life goals. 

New wine — the new thing God is doing — requires new wineskins: people who are willing to be soft and pliable in God’s hands. They change shape as God pours into them, and they listen when He speaks. 

What is God asking you to do that may require a bit of bending on your part? What have you been considering doing that maybe you should just go ahead and do? Is it getting up earlier to spend time with Him? Is it exercising regularly? Is it being kind to someone? Is it writing the book you’ve been thinking about writing or applying for a different job? Perhaps this recurring thought you’ve been having is something you should listen to.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:10, “God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” The Holy Spirit is the Great Communicator who searches the very deepest parts of God and then reveals them to us. The Spirit of the Living God dwells in, empowers, prepares and equips us so that we can get where we need to go and do what God has called us to do — so we reach the purpose for which He created us. Our next step could be as simple as paying attention to the idea that keeps coming up, the thought that keeps returning to us.

What is God telling your heart to do? Are you doing it? Whatever it is, it is sure to be a grand adventure, and it is sure to produce change.

Uncultivated Fruit by Bob Mumford

Is the seed still in the barn?[1)

When I was young, my Dad took me to visit my Grandfather. There was a lot of arguing between them, but I figured that was just how adults acted. Pork chops had been served for dinner and there was one left on the plate in the middle of the table when an electrical storm hit and all the lights went out. In the dark, both my Dad and my Grandpa went for the last pork chop, but Grandpa beat him to it and my Dad ended up jabbing him in the back of his hand with his fork. Then, in my memory, all hell broke loose and my Dad packed us up and went home. I assumed that because they were Christians they would act a certain way, so I was rather shocked that as soon as the lights went out both of them acted in their own best interest. I now understand that they had the seed of God in them, but that seed was essentially left uncultivated so it never grew to the point of producing the fruit of Agape.

Uncultivated Seed is kept in the barn rather than planted, or under the clod[2] and never germinated. When the Agape seed remains uncultivated, it lays dormant in us. It has potential, rather than realization; theory, rather than experience; and doctrine in the place of fruit.  

Unfruitful Seed falls into several categories: trampled, eaten by birds, withered because they had no roots, and choked by thorns.[3] When seed is trampled on or eaten by birds, it cannot find soil deep enough to take root or the soil is so shallow that is unsuitable to grow anything. The Seed can also be choked by thorns meaning it is crowded out or overpowered by all kinds of legitimate things in our life. However, without fruit, we are considered useless and unproductive. One of the more frightening descriptions of being fruitless is: “…men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted.”[4]

Most new believers with weak foundations or inadequate spiritual root systems have been battered beyond comprehension by inner voices and by God’s own people using Scripture in an accusatory and condemning manner. Psychological techniques and the wrong use of Bible verses do not necessarily bring harmony, neither are they able to effectively repair something in disarray. The Seed may yet be in the barn and not have experienced the necessary planting, death, and resurrection that release the life of Agape.

Not all conflict we experience is about us; much of it surrounds the Seed that has been inseminated within us. The growing process can be painful as fruit is birthed.[5] This process is critical because the whole creation[6] is waiting for the Agape seed to come to birth in us.

Thoughts & Questions

*  Describe what it means to have uncultivated seed lying dormant in you?
*  Why are we useless without fruit?
* Is there any unfruitful Seed in your life that Father is asking you to cultivate?

[1] Haggai 2:19
[2] Joel 1:12
[3] Matthew13:3-7
[4] Jude 12
[5] John 16:20-21
[6] Romans 8:19-21

Intimacy of Wholeness by Greg Austin

An old Seinfeld episode has Kramer being burned with coffee and filing suit against the coffee company. Meanwhile, his attorney convinces Kramer that he won't get much in settlement. However, frightened by potential negative press, the coffee execs determine to offer a substantial settlement, including free coffee for life and a healthy sum of money. When the parties meet, the company spokesman begins with the offer of free coffee for life: "Mr. Kramer, we're prepared to offer you free coffee for life, and . . .” – far too greedy to get something of value, Kramer leaps up, shakes the exec's hand and shouts, "I'll take it!" Cosmo gets lattes for life but misses the money.

Our spiritual "lawyers" have taught us that healing is the apex of God's favor and of our desire, shortchanging the intention of heaven in providing the greater blessing of wholeness.

A question: Did a blind Fanny Crosby suffer without the healing of her eyesight, or did she live with wholeness, but not healing?

I was a participant in a particular miracle in Manila, Philippines when God created brand new eyes for a 30-something year old woman who had been born blind. I looked into empty, hollow eye sockets one moment, and the next, there were beautiful, brown eyes and she was leaping with astonishment and joy - HEALED! But did she also receive with the healing, the wholeness the woman with an issue of blood was given? I don't know, but I know that I would far rather move through this world in physical blackness and enjoy the intimacy of wholeness.

Sister Crosby gave us, I think from her personal walk with Jesus, "Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine; O what a foretaste of glory divine."
She wrote songs such as, "Close to Thee," "Near the Cross," "Safe in the arms of Jesus," and "Draw me Nearer" among many others. Notice the repeated theme of these listed. Could it be? Fanny lived unhealed but whole? And would she have exchanged one for the other? Give up wholeness in order to activate one of five senses available to most? I think that question is rhetorical and its answer obvious.

To the woman plagued with a blood disorder in Mark 5 (and in Matthew and Luke), who the gospel writers do not mention by name, and who had lived her life ostracized and alone, disconnected from society and normal interpersonal relationships, hearing the title, "Daughter" coming from Jesus must have been earth-shifting.

I'm positing this likely because of my admittedly personal, current physical condition. A heart disease not yet healed or repaired places me in a more alert state of awareness that life is but a vapor that appears for a little while. I cannot describe here the joy and the glory of the intimate knowledge and fellowship of His presence which I have experienced during the most difficult and painful moments of this illness. I truly feel that while I have not yet experienced healing, I am glorying in wholeness.

At the risk of sounding boastful or of appearing spiritually superior to anyone else, I think I have an understanding beyond what I've previously known concerning Paul's (foreign sounding) discussion of a third heaven experience, when he says "he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it) not lawful for a man to utter" and speaks of not boasting "except in my infirmities." 

There was a season among the charismatic church when "sozo" was popularized. The teaching of sozo was helpful in that it considered salvation as more than merely freedom from sin or even soundness of body and touched upon making one whole and complete, spiritually, mentally and/or emotionally and physically.

While it can be argued that sozo should be interpreted in a narrow and restrictive manner, i.e., to deliver or to be delivered, this is to do harm to the broader understanding of the term, which includes "to save," "to keep safe and sound," and in the case of the KJV, "to make whole." Of interest to me is contained in the Greek definition of sozo to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance, which would include Isaiah's proclamation concerning One Who would bear our griefs and carry our sorrows, One Who would be wounded for our transgressions and would be bruised for our iniquities. Isaiah notes "the chastisement of our peace was upon Him," suggestive of a more complete work than merely the deliverance from sin and the salvation of the soul.

The shortcoming, I think of some of that teaching was the overt insistence that we must receive and experience all those things, all the time, in the right now. The weakness was in not viewing the subject of salvation in the context of eternity. The day is yet to come, I think, when God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no death, nor sorrow, nor crying and there will be no more pain.

Doubtless the anonymous woman of Mark 5 (and also of Matthew and Luke) would experience tears, sorrow, crying and would eventually experience death following her day of healing, but through it all, she was now "daughter," and He was "Father." Certainly there is a wholeness there implied which I fear the majority of modern Christians have yet to experience.
 Greg  -

"Visionary Advancement Strategies" Weekly Articles April 25, 2010

Pondering Quote of the week - Who has time for a hurting friend when it is easier to be with the healthy ones? "Newsflash" we all are part of the imperfect tribe of humanity. When we errantly dismiss people, we hinder their growth by ignoring gifts that are often buried in their wounds. Agape Ambassadors know that strength is hidden in weakness, and that true community is a fellowship of the weak with a very strong God.



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    Bad Fruit by Bob Mumford

    So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.
    A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.[1]

    One of God’s first instructions after He created the earth was “be fruitful and multiply.”[2] He expected seed to bear after its kind and bring forth life. Agape is not a gift; it is a fruit. Fruit is the result of the Eternal Seed that has been planted, cultivated, and brought to maturity in us. He planted His Agape Seed in us at our new birth, expects it to grow, and holds us responsible for the watering and nourishment of that Seed. Agape cannot be imitated or manufactured; it is something we learn and practice. We are instructed to keep ourselves in the Agape of God.[3] This is something we have to continually practice and cultivate so that we have something of God’s Seed to give to a hurting world. Fruit is a product of righteousness that is sown in peace.[4]  No one is excluded from the expectation of producing fruit. The Kingdom is given to those who will bring forth the fruit of that Kingdom. 

    In Greek, the word for bad fruit is porne meaning to take hold of someone in such a way as to do them injury. Bad fruit is described in Hosea 10:13, “You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your way….” Bad fruit is when our life or testimony does injury or harm to ourselves, our neighbor, and Father’s reputation in the earth. Bad fruit is a result of something inside us that has been twisted by eros. We can eat the bad “fruit of our own way and be satiated with our own devices”[5] for many years. Absence of good fruit leaves a vacuum in which religious and ascetic behavior can flourish. Paul strongly encouraged us to “not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.”[6]

    Many people think anger is bad fruit, but anger is not the real issue; it is our response to anger that reveals the fruit. I remember checking into a hotel where I was to speak the next morning. The hotel did not give me the right room and frankly, I was angry. One of the hotel staff got on the elevator as I was going up to my room and I was so wrapped up in myself that I responded harshly to her. I have done this with my children, with my friends, and with people I’ve pastored. This was undeniable evidence of bad fruit in my life. No excuses. No shifting blame. The reality is that when bad fruit appears, we are accountable to ourselves and to the King and His Kingdom. Father has to show us how to expose unfruitful deeds of darkness and what it means to walk in light so we actually treat people with Agape even when we are irritated. This process begins with repentance. Jesus must take us out of eros and teach us how to walk differently, which requires a reformation of our whole person. Freedom is walking into Light.

    Thoughts & Questions

    v  Why is Agape not a gift, but a fruit?
    v  What are some results of bad fruit?
    v  Describe how bad fruit has affected your own life.

    [1] Matthew 7:17-19
    [2] Genesis 1:28
    [3] Jude 21
    [4] James 3:17-18
    [5] Proverbs 1:31
    [6] Ephesians 5:11

    Are You Waiting on the Lord? by James Ryle

    “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

    The imagery of the language here is not only beautiful, it is astounding. For its unfolds to us the secret of a full and meaningful life. It shows us in the simplest of ways what it takes to be a man or woman who enjoys the bounty of a life that is well lived.

    The secret is found in the Lord’s presence — as we wait upon Him.

    How few there are who will wait! Especially in these days of hurry and worry. We now live in those days that the prophets of old foretold, when people “run to and fro throughout the earth.”

    Hustling about for the deal of a lifetime they boast too much, pray too little, act too soon, think too late, and change too slowly. Eventually they bowl over, burn out or blow up — because they were built for life of a different kind; a life well-lived in the blessings of the Lord.

    Did you know that there is a better way? You can experience a renewal that brings such a supply of God’s blessings that you “fly like an eagle!”

    Look at the verse again. “They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
    It all hinges on that one word: wait. The word means “to bind together” — like the strands in a rope, intertwining together.

    Waiting upon the Lord is an exercise full of purpose and action.  There is power in this season of “intertwining” with the Lord. An awesome merge is occurring in which a great exchange will take place.

    “they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31).
    When things seem at their lowest, God is often preparing us for that which is highest. When we feel the farthest away, that’s when we are closer than we realize. When we think all is lost and there is no hope, we are actually on the verge of a great breakthrough to a bright and wondrous season.
    That’s the sentiment of this poetic passage of Scripture. By yielding our lives to the process of waiting, especially when everything else around us is on the move, a great exchange is taking place.

    The Bible says, “they shall renew their strength.” The word renew means to exchange; to pass from one to another. In other words we are exchanging something with the Lord — our strength, for His!
    Where we once were weak, He gives us His strength. Where we once were faint, He makes us vigorous. Where we once were unstable, He makes us firm. Where we once were fruitless, He increases our capacity to produce — even beyond what we thought possible.
    The words of the old Gospel hymn, by William T. Sleeper, perhaps sum it up best –
    Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,
    Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
    Out of my sickness into Thy health,
    Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
    Out of my sin and into Thyself,
    Jesus, I come to Thee.
    Out of my shameful failure and loss,
    Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
    Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm,
    Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
    Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
    Jesus, I come to Thee.
    Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
    Into Thy blessed will to abide,
    Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
    Out of despair into raptures above,
    Upward for aye on wings like a dove,
    Jesus, I come to Thee.
    Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
    Into the joy and light of Thy home,
    Out of the depths of ruin untold,
    Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
    Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
    Jesus, I come to Thee

    A New View of the World by Dudley Hall

    The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:22-23 (ESV)

      When we operate on the basis of appearances, we can easily conclude that the forces that govern the world systems are not only hostile to our faith, but also insurmountable. We begin to feel overwhelmed by the blatancy of ideologies that deny or mock the God we know.  Many believers have chosen to retreat from public society to try to survive in closed communities where the atmosphere is more easily controlled. Others never leave, but yearn for simpler days and a return of the old time religion of their fantasies. Some are motivated by their hope of a soon coming destruction that will finally give the wicked what they deserve. They long for an Armageddon where those who oppose us will get their come-uppance.  And many simply become a part of the systems and don't even realize there is a tension. They just endure life at the level of reality that the world presents.

         But Jesus prays for us to have a different perspective. Since he always prays according to the will of the Father, we can rest assured that this is what the Father is doing in us now. He wants us to represent him in such a way that the world will experience the love of the Father. The wicked are ignorant of this love. The reason people do evil things to creation and to each other is because all of us have fallen from the original love design of God the Father. Cut off from unconditional and unstoppable love we look for selfish contentment and control over our circumstances. If anyone or anything gets in the way of our quest, we will destroy it.

         Wars are fought on many levels of society to prevent the worst of mankind from being in control. But even the conquerors have wickedness in them, and other wars will have to be waged to maintain some state of peaceful coexistence. Some claim that we should abolish wars because they never solve the problem. It is true wars never change people's hearts; they can't. All victory is temporary. The war that goes on inside the unloved man or woman will inevitably break out into conflict at some level. Unless checked, it will create larger and more destructive wars.

         Jesus prays for the ultimate success of his mission. He prays that we as believers will be so conscious of our union with the Father and the Son that we will reflect the peace of being loved like the Son is loved by the Father. Loved people are not antsy for a fight with each other. Content with the Father's pleasure in them, they are free to give themselves for the benefit of others. It will be "loved people" who beat their spears into plowshares and pruning hooks.

         There have been numerous attempts to create a form of unity among the body of Christ so that we could fulfill the prayer of Jesus. These ecumenical attempts are usually aimed at doctrinal and structural issues. Unity, however, will be evident when we are sure we are loved like the Father loves the Son. Those jockeying for position and manipulating to gain favor will be replaced by those who exult in the victory of the greatest war ever waged. Standing in that victory over sin, death, and hell, they will be able to confront the world with the hope of true peace.

        People want to be loved, but they don't know they need it and don't know what it is. We have the advantage. We are not victims cowering in fear of wickedness. We are witnesses of a love that goes beyond human comprehension.

    Saturday, April 24, 2010

    Ten Kinds of People I Cannot Help by Joseph Mattera

    To download this article click here.

    As a pastor for more than 26 years, I have a desire to help everyone. But, I have learned the hard way that I cannot help every person who attends our church or who comes to me for input.
    The following are ten kinds of people I have identified that are so entrenched in certain habit patterns that I cannot help them advance to the next level unless they make the necessary shift in their attitude or behavior. 

    I. Those who do not take responsibility for themselves
    The first step towards self-improvement is to remove all excuses for mediocrity or failure. Those that continually blame other people for their failures will never go to the next level. Leaders can complain about their spouses, the income level of their congregations, the lack of staff, etc. but I have learned that within every challenge is the seed of opportunity for success which requires the creativity of problem solving. 

    II. Those that do not have a heart to seek God
    The Bible teaches us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). Those who do not respect God enough to seek Him and study His word so they can make wise decisions in life are violating Scripture (Joshua 1:8-9) and cannot be helped either by myself or any other leader or minister. Those who do not obey what God requires for success have decided to try to be successful in life without God’s blessings! 

    III. Those that create distance so they are not accountable
    There are certain people I have met in our church who only let others get so close before cutting off the relationship. Many go from one church to the next because they fear becoming too close to a leader who will hold them accountable. Often some will attempt to attend a megachurch where they will be able to hear the word of God in the context of a large crowd so that no one will really know who they are. Whether it is fear or rebellion, those who live like this have put a low ceiling on their lives and will not grow past the infant stage concerning their potential in life. 

    IV. Those who insist on having a negative outlook on life
    There are some people who refuse to exercise faith in God or think positively as the Word of God commands us in Philippians 4:8. This is because some have a propensity to expect the worst in life so they are never disappointed by anyone or anything! This is a weird way some folks attempt to shield their emotions from the pain of disappointment; it is a very common practice with many people.  Jesus often told people that they would receive according to how they believed (for example Matthew 8:13). Proverbs 23:7 teaches that as a person thinks in their heart so they will be. I cannot empower a person who refuses to think God’s thoughts about themselves and about life. 

    V. Those that refuse to have a vision for their future
    There are many very talented and anointed people I have been in relationship with who live their lives without any strategic plan or vision for their future. They are just living from day-to-day to prepare for their retirement. Those who are successful have a compelling vision that drives them daily and which feeds their souls even more than the desire to make money! Inside of every believer is a God-given kingdom vision for their future. If a person refuses to tap into that as their guiding light--and value that vision as their barometer for success--then my continual pep talks will not do the trick either! 

    VI. Those who live in self-deception
    There are many people who are living lives of denial regarding their relationships with God and their families and all things regarding their inner and outer lives. The sad thing is that denial is the first step to outright deception in which a person concocts an alternate, false reality that continually feeds their mind and emotions the things they want to hear about themselves and their key relationships. This insulates them from the word of the Lord from others and the Holy Spirit. When you confront people like this they become upset and blame you for not understanding them or for wrongfully accusing them of something. These are the people I cannot help unless God steps in and delivers them from satanic deception (read 2 Timothy 2:23-25). 

    VII. Those who do not want to pay the price for success
    There are many in the church that want the perks of success but don’t want to pay the price for success. 

    When I was a teenager I had a goal of becoming a master guitar player. For seven years I practiced the guitar for 3-8 hours per day as well as playing in numerous bands. While my friends were outside playing ball or wasting time doing drugs I would shut myself up in my house and study jazz, rock, blues, classical, etc. and spend hours doing scales on my guitar (which I often did even while watching television). Because of this sacrifice I gained mastery over my instrument in various kinds of music and was in high demand as a musician. 

    Whatever we do in life, we are called to sacrifice our time, invest our talents, and be committed to a long, grueling process with many setbacks until we reach our peak performance. This kind of sacrifice is needed in every area we desire success in including our marriages, relationships with our children, leading a company or a church, etc. 

    Consequently, I have found that I am not able to empower a person to the fullness of their destiny if they don’t want to work hard at self-improvement. 

    VIII. Those whose primary agenda is individualistic and not kingdom-oriented
    There are some people whose only agenda in life is to advance their own agenda. They don’t want to work with a team or flow in the context of a local church. They want me to pour my life into them but they are rarely ever willing to pour back into the church and serve in the Kingdom of God. I have learned that those who only want to use the church or God to advance their own agendas (even if it is ministry related) have greatly limited their own lives. Thus, I back away from these people until they change. This is because we are all called to seek first God’s kingdom in which we need to die to our individualistic sense of destiny and sacrifice and invest our time for the good of the Body of Christ. This in turn will do more to release our greatest destiny--even more than if we only concentrate on our own agendas! 

    IX. Those who refuse to keep covenant
    I have been with very talented individuals with great calling on their lives that I had to back away from because they did not know how to remain faithful to their obligations or because they broke confidence by continually talking behind other people’s backs. God says that a person who doesn’t keep their word (whatever the cost) and who slanders their neighbor cannot dwell in His tents (Psalm 15:3-4) so who am I to think that this kind of person can dwell in my inner circle for personal development! 

    X. Those who lack transparency, humility, and integrity
    The Bible teaches us to walk in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7). It also teaches us to confess our faults to one another and pray for one another that we may be healed (James 5:16). Those that do not admit their faults and confess their sins cannot have the kind of relationship with a mentor suitable for personal growth. It is important for me to have a transparent relationship with those I am mentoring since a person who conceals their sins from me is not giving me a chance to fully speak into their life and help them in their areas of weakness. Those who want to progress in their spiritual formation have to learn to practice the spiritual discipline of confession of sin (Proverbs 28:13).

    ¡Espere ver la Gloria de Dios! Por Francis Frangipane

    La luz brilla en las Tinieblas
    No es suficiente saber que Dios existe. Si vamos a vivir en la consciencia de lo celestial, debemos ser libres de los límites de lo terrenal. Para despertar la fe, el Espíritu Santo nos conducirá por tiempos donde la presencia de Dios no puede ser claramente discernida. El objetivo del Señor es hacer madurar  nuestros sentidos espirituales.

    Por lo tanto, no acepte que Dios se ha escondido de usted  para siempre, aunque durante épocas de pruebas pueda parecerlo. El nos esta enseñando a ver en la oscuridad y a escuchar en el silencio. El se esta haciendo conocer a nuestro ser interior de forma tal que, independientemente de nuestras circunstancias externas, podemos continuamente ser guiados por Su Espíritu.

    Para ver a Dios, amado, es imperativo que nuestra visión se torne espiritual y no simplemente sensorial.  Para escuchar a Dios, debemos aprender a enmudecer el clamor de nuestros temores y deseos terrenales. El resultado de esta obra espiritual interior es una creciente percepción de que nada es imposible para Dios.  El tiempo de tinieblas, viene como un enemigo, en realidad nos impulsa a buscar a Dios con más ahínco;  aprendemos a reverenciar aun mas la luz de Dios. Nunca confunda la oscuridad temporaria con la ceguera permanente, porque la formación de hoy es el proceso mismo que nos establece  para ver la gloria de Dios. Mas allá de todo, descubriremos la verdad de lo que Isaías escribió, que “toda la tierra esta llena de Su gloria” (Isa. 6:3).

    Señor, ¡Abre Nuestros Ojos!
    ¿No se sostuvo Moisés como “viendo al invisible” (Heb. 11:27 RV60)? Ciertamente, la Biblia fue escrita por individuos quienes realmente contemplaron la gloria de Dios. Y ver la gloria de Dios es  también nuestro llamado. Nuestra visión espiritual no es un dispositivo imaginario de la mente, sino aquello que procede de la unión viva del Espíritu Santo con nuestros corazones. ¿No prometió nuestro Señor que los “de limpio corazón… verán a Dios” (Mat. 5:8)?  ¿Y no es razonable esperar que, si verdaderamente Cristo habita en nosotros, deberíamos percibir la vida con mentes sin velo? Tal como esta escrito,

    “Pero nosotros todos, con el rostro descubierto, contemplando como en un espejo la gloria del Señor, estamos siendo transformados en la misma imagen de gloria en gloria, como por el Señor, el Espíritu” (2 Cor. 3:18).

    Sí,  si removemos los velos del pecado, la vergüenza y  el ensimismamiento, si persistimos en buscar a Dios, permaneciendo enfocados en Su Espíritu y Palabra, deberíamos esperar ver la gloria del Señor. Tal develada percepción es bíblica y ¡debemos ir en pos de ella! Todavía, hay quienes dicen que acceder a realidades espirituales mayores es una esperanza falsa y una herejía. Yo digo, cuidado con la levadura de los cristianos incrédulos. Porque tales podrían hacerle aceptar una religión sin visión como si ver la Gloria de Dios fuera un pecado.

    Considere cuantos en la Biblia realmente vieron la gloria del Señor: Abraham vió la gloria de Cristo mientras estaba en Mesopotamia. Isaías Le contemplo en el año que el Rey Urias murió. Ezequiel cayó rostro en tierra delante del  vivo  junto al río  Quebar. David, Habacuc, Salomón, y Zacarías todos vieron la gloria del Señor (Hechos 7:2, Isaías 6:1, Ezequiel 3:23; Samuel 6:2; Habacuc 3:3; 2 Crónicas 7:1; Zacarías 1:8).  Moisés Lo contemplo, luego Aron, Nadab, Abihu, y asimismo los setenta ancianos de Israel. El libro de Éxodo nos dice que estos hombres realmente “vieron al Dios de Israel.” La Biblia describe este increíble escenario diciendo que “había debajo de Sus [de Dios] pies como un embaldosado de zafiro, semejante al cielo”   (Éxodo. 24:10). El  pensamiento concluyente es abrumador; dice, “y ellos vieron a Dios y comieron y bebieron” (Éxodo. 24:11).

    Piense en ello: ¡Ellos vieron a Dios!  ¿Puede algo ser más maravilloso? ¿No hay en usted un celo por esa experiencia – de realmente contemplar al Dios de Israel?

    Esté seguro, contemplar la gloria del Señor no solamente es escritural sino típico, especialmente durante pivotales décadas entre eras (que es donde estamos hoy en día). El hecho es,  más de seis millones de israelitas vieron la gloria de Dios en el Monte Sinaí. Jóvenes, ancianos, niños – gente de toda edad y condición física – todos vieron “la gloria del Señor  {cuando ella] reposó en el Monte Sinaí.” ¡Y luego estas mismas personas realmente escucharon la audible voz de Dios hablándoles! (Ver Éxodo. 24:16.)

    Aun, esa revelación de gloria no se detuvo en el Sinaí. La nación Hebrea por entero siguió una nube de gloria de día y fue iluminado por un pilar de fuego de noche. Esto ocurrió no una o dos veces sino ¡cada día durante cuarenta años! ¿Cuanto más se manifestara el Señor de gloria a nosotros al final de los tiempos?

    Si usted es un buscador de Dios, exceptuando los tiempos de oscuridad cuando el Espíritu refina sus sentidos espirituales, usted ¡debe esperar ver la gloria de Dios! Debe haber una expectativa de que, cualquiera de estos días – al ingresar a su cuarto de oración o salir a caminar, o en un sueño – el Espíritu de Dios se le va a aparecer en alguna maravillosa y transformadora manera.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Tomado del mas reciente libro del Pastor Frangipane, "And I Will Be Found By You". (Aun no disponible en español)
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