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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Still Munching on the Apple

        The other day I was thinking about choices, and why those of us who confess Christ continue to follow in Eve's footsteps instead of living as free people. Eve's legacy causes us to repeatedly CHOOSE sin over freedom.  We continue to reach for the apple, even though its wormy bite leads to spiritual harm and bondage. I pondered on why we continue to chew its fruit, day after day, hour after hour, after awhile not even questioning our choices, forgetting really, that we actually HAVE a choice to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles," (Hebrews 12:2).

        Why do we choose sin over freedom?  Fear.  Animal, unthinking fear lies at the root of what we continue to do: our blinding compulsion to continue Eve's legacy.  For she, our flesh mother, grasped and sank her teeth into the evilly offered fruit because without it, she feared she would remain childlike and weak.  Without it, she wouldn't KNOW things. She threw away her innocence and right standing with God, her Creator and Sustainer, because she didn't trust Him, period.

               "He was not alone. There, only a few yards away from him stood the Witch. She was just throwing away the core of an apple which she had eaten. The juice was darker than you would expect and had made a horrid stain around her mouth...And he began to see that there might be some sense in that last line [of the sign at the gate of the garden: "For those who steal...shall find their heart's desire and find despair"] about getting your heart's desire and getting despair along with it. For the Witch looked stronger and prouder than ever, and even, in a way, triumphant; but her face was deadly white, white as salt...[The witch continued], 'You have plucked fruit in the garden yonder. You have it in your pocket now. And you are going to carry it back, untasted, to the Lion; for HIM to eat, for HIM to use. You simpleton! Do you know what that fruit is? I will tell you. It is the apple of youth, the apple of life. I know, for I have tasted it; and I feel already such changes in myself that I know I shall never grow old or die. Eat it, Boy, eat it; and you and I will both live forever and be king and queen of this whole world..."  From The Magician's Nephew, C.S. Lewis.

         Don't think we have escaped the apple, simply because we were not there in the garden with Eve. For we are daily, constantly tempted to eat of its lying flesh.  We bite the apple whenever we give in to that root of fear and choose to disobey the Lord. We are no different than our exponentially great-grandma, Eve.  We too fear that God and His destiny for us is not enough. We suspect we need more. So we go for the gusto, no matter what it costs us. We pretend we aren't sinning. We use words like"struggle" or joke affectionately about our little "slips," but truly, we taste despair, even as we search for fulfillment.

     The temptation to give into pride, anger, lust, gluttony, control, sexual addictions, status, money, power or even the frittering away kingdom time on entertainment and recreation all promise us the world and a bigger life, but make no mistake; bit by bit they erode our very souls.  Deep in our inward parts we FEAR that God isn't enough, that He won't come through for us, so we need to shore up this deficit by going after what our flesh desires.  Our fears bring on the sin of unbelief and we live as pagans and paupers, not sons and daughters of the Most High God.
       Loren Cunningham, the founder of YWAM wrote in Making Jesus Lord: "It is a rule of the Kingdom of God: Give up something good and receive something of greater value; give up your rights and receive greater privileges with God. Jacob wrestled with God, was wounded in his hip and became a Prince, a leader of a nation. But he limped for the rest of his life. Every strong man or woman of God has gone this route.The choice is yours: Remain in mediocrity and miss out on God's greater purposes for you, or walk with a limp and be a prince."

       You call me out upon the waters: the great unknown,
        where feet may fail
       And there I find You in the mystery; in oceans deep,
        my faith will stand

       Your grace abounds in deepest waters;
       Your sovereign hand will be my guide
        Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me;
         You've never failed, and You won't start now
        And I will call upon Your name
         And keep my eyes above the waves
        When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
         For I am Yours, and You are mine

         Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
         Let me walk upon the waters; wherever You would call me
         Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
         And my faith will be made stronger
         In the presence of my Savior
                 Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United


Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Sticky Subject of Healing

I struggle a chronic illness. On the one hand, I have friends telling me that if I exercise faith, Jesus will heal me.  On the other hand, Scripture does not necessarily support a life of earthly health, wealth and happiness.

We Americans (and the American church as a result) somehow believe we are entitled to a happy and prosperous life. We then use scripture to confirm our spoiled ideas, breezing over such passages as: 

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4.

Or: "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10.


"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5:3-5 

"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."1 Peter 5:10

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." Romans 8:18

"Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:7b-10

All this said, I want to firmly establish that I completely believe in and have experienced miraculous healing by the Lord. I have also witnessed others who were instantly healed of a physical illness. But more frequently, many are not healed. And whether that is our fault as believers or due to some concept of salvation we have not yet appropriated, the fact still remains that many, many passionate followers of Jesus have not (as yet anyway) received total healing.

Why some are healed and some not is perplexing, frustrating and even embarrassing to those whose tenant steadfastly remains: "...and He healed them all" (Matthew 12:15).  Yes, Jesus did. So what do we take from this?

As a Charismatic Christian, I believe Jesus bought salvation for ALL when He redeemed us on the cross. The word "sozo," in the Greek is defined as to "save, HEAL, and deliver." Amen! So how do I reconcile my illness with sozo?

The Gospels and books of Acts teach us that healing SHOULD be the norm for Christians. To walk in the healing power of Christ and carry it into the world is our inheritance. We are Kingdom people and we possess ALL of Christ's power, therefore we can expect these attributes as part of our salvation gifts!...But...what to do when we don't see our own or loved one's health restored?

Do we continue to proclaim we are healed when we so obviously aren't? I can't do that. It seems false and childish...magical thinking, if you will. On the other hand, Scripture teaches that "Faith is the substance of things HOPED for, the EVIDENCE of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1). So there you are. Different folks interpret the expression of faith differently.

For me, it has come down to: I have a chronic condition. I don't know yet whether I will be healed or not. I HOPE for healing; I pray for healing. Others lay their hands on me and command healing. I proclaim Christ's SOZO redemption for myself and those I'm praying for, for their soul, spirit and flesh. I am, on a weird medication to hopefully diminish my chronic pain and fatigue.  "Is that faith?" many will ask. I don't know.

Last week my husband and I went to "Son of God" at the theater. During the crucifixion scene I grieved at the excruciating pain our Savior endured for us, and the thought struck me (I was in physical pain myself, but a pittance compared to what He suffered through), that nothing I have had to bear so far in this life can even touch what He experienced for us. His human life was relatively short and not given over to luxury and hedonistic pleasure. He had one purpose and He pressed on toward it. He had no romantic life, produced no children, had no home, lived in relative poverty and not once did He stray from His Father's will. How much then can we endure our cross and live like Jesus?

"But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, nd so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." Philippians 3:7-11.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Invaded and Broken Soul

I have been slowwlyly reading through my bible again, and yesterday I sleepily opened to 2 Kings, chapter 25.  As I dutifully read through it, revelation dawned, as is so often the case with God's Word.  The story begins by describing Babylon's siege of Jerusalem. I began to see how narrated siege and resultant captivity relates to the wounding of the human soul (often during childhood) and how such wounding leads to weakness, captivity and ultimately, a broken and visionless spirit.

Verses 1-2 reads:
             So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it. The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.   
Herein we have the initial attack, the two-year siege. The attack was inevitable, as the Enemy's entire purpose is hunting down a vanquishing prey. Reading on in verse 3 we see the result of the siege:
By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat.
Famine has set in. The city's supplies have been cut off, and reserves have run out.  The enemy has succeeded in depleting and weakening the inhabitants.  In desperation, the once assumedly strong army (with the King, who abandoned his city and people) breaks down it's own walls, under the cover of darkness, and flees, desperate for survival and no longer caring about the fate of the collective.
            Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah [word meaning wilderness which could mean a state of non-prosperity!]
The enemy was not content to let the army flee, however (there's no rest for the weary!):
but the Babylonian army pursued the king (Zedikiah) and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered, and he was captured.
I believe the King represents the will of a person: the command center and decision-making apparatus.
Continuing with the rest of verse 6 and on:
He was taken to…Babylon [place representing oppression] at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him. They killed [his] sons before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.
Continuing with the allegory theme, the eyes represent spiritual vision. His precious sons (representing his inheritance) were destroyed right in front of him, and then his (spiritual) vision was annihilated.  Grief and loss of spiritual vision result from the brutality, so that he can no longer see the plan of God for him and the hope and destiny he's called to.
Skipping to verse 10: The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem. 11 Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon. 12 But the commander left behind some of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields.
Here the walls are broken down and the enemy invades and carries the inhabitants off into EXILE, leaving the POOREST in the land to carry on.  This particular passage struck me as crucial: Satan's (and his minions-the demonic hordes) ultimate goal is to render us completely weak and incapable of grasping the essential truth: Our destiny is to RULE over this world, both physically and spirituall.  His diabolical (and often vilely effective) plan is to ensure we spend our brief lives broken and subdued, brainwashed into thinking we are incapable of greatness. 
13 The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the Lord and they carried the bronze to Babylon. 14 They also took away the pots, shovels, wick trimmers, dishes and all the bronze articles used in the temple service. 15 The commander of the imperial guard took away the censers and sprinkling bowls—all that were made of pure gold or silver.
Here the enemy desecrates the temple, removing its glory and the valuable objects that identified the place as holy.  We too have been desecrated by the enemy, often at the hands of loved ones who have been unwittingly used as tools to hammer at our identities.
Skipping ahead to verse 19:  Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men, and five royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land and sixty of the conscripts who were found in the city. 20 Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 21 There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed. So Judah went into captivity, away from her land.
The warriors were stripped from the city, and then Judah went into captivity.  Satan loves nothing more than to strip our fighting spirit. Without the knowledge of who we are in Christ, we are without strength and easily led into captivity, whether to lusts of the flesh (addictions), lust of the eyes (insatiable need to acquire material goods or security) and/or the pride of life (bolstering our own egos at the expense of others or constantly thirsting for affirmation, approval or power to gain value). 1John 2:16, KJV.
All this, of course is highly depressing and we ALL to some extent have suffered this pillaging of our identities. What then? 
This verse, of course! 
            But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. (2 Cor. 2:14)
Jesus won't leave us as captives and slaves. BUT we have to cooperate with Him in this. We have to be willing to do the hard work of letting the Holy Spirit PILLAGE us.  To plunge down deep into our wounded souls and rout out the crud, bringing forth refined gold from the wounded, dead and decaying parts of our identity.
I am convinced that nothing comes without a fight.  My son recently reminded another friend (and I took it to heart as well), that "the kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent take it by force." (See Matt. 11:12).  We need to VIOLENTLY reclaim our inheritance and identities back.  We are not to passively sit on our hands and wait for the Lord to miraculously swoop in and fix us.  Without our active collaboration with the Holy Spirit and our willingness to let Him into the dark and scary parts of our psyche, we will remain stagnant and unchanged. 
Listen: Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24).
Time to yield, time to let Him dredge up our pain and anger, time to let Him heal and restore, time to pick up our swords and enter the fray and take back the Kingdom.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

School of Circuit Riders LA Summer 2013 My Lecture Notes, #5

7/29/13 Brian Brennt at PiHop (Pasadena International House of Prayer)

Sometimes in the prophetic we have to strain to see.  In this time of prayer and preparation, God has redirected us to the first commandment of LOVE.  We are no longer hating people to motivate them to love!  No more guilt/forcing.

The GOSPEL is the greatest love movement in the world.

Three love killers:

1. Anxiety over making things happen. This is the antithesis of trust.  Fire anxiety! Hire trust. You can't make your future happen!
2. Pride infection (also self-preoccupation). This is basically thinking we're better than others. We are all learners. Get used to learning from the younger generation. There is so much hatred within Christianity.  Get rid of the opinion machine. Don't be a pride robot. The mandate of a pride robot is to have no fun and give lots of advice.  Get on the humility wagon.   Let's start a love revolution with practical humility.
3. Power: you can't be in charge!  Jesus is in charge. Only be in charge under mandate from God.  Jump on the Jesus wagon.  If I like being in charge I won't be listening to anyone, including Jesus.  Listen with a pure heart. Enjoy listening!  Be a discoverer of the human heart: ask lots of questions. Be confident because you are a LOVE MACHINE.  Remember:  just love the one in front of me.

7/30/13  Notes from the morning session:

Spend time with the Lord of Love!  Drink from the well of the One who loves perfectly.  Bring Him the sacrifice of praise; for in HIS presence is fullness of joy.

Live in a culture of love: 1 Timothy 1: ("The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. We know that the law is good if one uses it properly," verses 5-7.)  The law points to the gospel!

Live in a Culture of Honor.  Honor what each person brings to the table. Live in humility realizing everyone has value, gifts and experiences that I don't have. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

School of Circuit Riders LA Summer 2013 My Lecture Notes, #4

Actual Circuit Riders' Training, Day 1

7/28/13  Andy Byrd: on Unbelief

We have a T-ball God-one who cheers us on and approves of us even when we can only smack the T and the ball falls off and dribbles a few inches 

Jesus did all of life (even the tiny things) in the realm of faith.

Loving your neighbor has a multiplication effect in the supernatural. Acts 2:14, 41, 47- One by one we lead people to Jesus! 

We are like Jesus in that we are both natural and supernatural at the same time.  Unbelief attacks us to disqualify us supernaturally. We need simple, practical, everyday faith.

Reinhardt Bonke quote, "I said YES to Jesus."  That's it; we don't have to be amazing and deep!

God will give me my action plan in simple steps: Gal. 5:6. 6 "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."

7/29/30  Sammy Rodriguez: Tasty Treats of Evangelism

       Don't be:  
                Captain Serious, but be Captain Joy  
                     (we have freedom to fail!)

                Captain Religious, but be Captain Love

                Captain Theology, but be Captain Simplicity
                             (Keep it simple!)

                Captain Repentance, but be Captain Grace:

Simply lead others through the 4-R's (REPENT of the sin, RECEIVE Christ's death on the cross and forgiveness of our sin, REBUKE the enemy and his lies to us in this area, REPLACE the lie we have been believing with the truth of God-speak scriptures out loud that proclaim the truth!

 Use CLASP as an evangelism guideline:
                        C= Chat
                        L= Listen
                        P= Pray

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

My School of Circuit Riders LA Summer Lecture Notes, #3

Jason Maas

On Revival:
2 Chronicles 7:14 "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 

Revival = God's grace

Acts 1:  assembled together, baptized with/in the Holy Spirit to be witnesses (martyrs-unto death).

We are not called just to be witnesses to individuals, but to cities and nations.

The presence of God comes through repentence, humility and prayer.

Revival is not enough- we need REFORMATION, of every sphere of culture.  What this looks like:

1. Power of God revealed
2. Purpose of God established.

Revival = relationship, community and purpose tranformation

Let your works define your faith!

Pastor Ché Ahn

Evangelism should be an overflow of the Holy Spirit in me as I'm doing life!

Eph. 5:15.  Ask to filled continually with the Holy Spirit just as I thirst after water.  Zech. 4:6
Day 2 of Circuit Riders' LA School 2013, July 26, (Love Santa Ana Event), Part 2.

We are on the verse of another Jesus movement in South California. Col. 20:27

1) Be filled with the Spirit
2) Be led by His Spirit: John 5:19, John 10:27 (my sheep hear my voice); Acts 2:17-18 (First  manifestation of Spirit=prophecy)
3) Pray for open doors and divine appointments!
4)  Preach the NEWS!  (Mark 16:17)

Francis Chan

1 Chronicles 16:9  For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

Eph. 5:16: make the best use of the time

In 1 Chr. 15:8 King Asa did not seek help from the Lord rather relied on others.

Revelation 3:2 "Strengthen what remains and is about to die…"

We need FFO:
F = Freedom
F = Fearlessness
O = unOffendable hearts

The American dream sucks J!  It is wealth that ties us down and independence that lets us die a lonely death.

The older we get the more risks and sacrifices we need to take.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

My School of Circuit Riders LA Summer Lecture Notes, #2

Day 2 of Circuit Riders' LA School 2013, July 26, (Love Santa Ana Event), Part 1.

Speaker # 1 Adam Edgerly (Site Pastor of NewSong LA) teaching: The Spiritual Discipline of Civic Engagement-how to be an agent of change for the downtrodden.

Jesus said, "Go into ALL the world…" Therefore we the Church need to live a disciplined spiritual life (Biblical example of Nehemiah and King Artexerxes). Nehemiah showed patience, after all, Rome was not burned in a day!

We are to be Revolutionaries.  Characteristics of a revolutionary:

1. Willing to experience Pain (Nehemiah's grief in Neh.1). We are not ready to be used by God until we weep with those who weep.
2.  Willing to risk relationships in order to have hard conversations.
3. Willing to be disciplined. 4 levels of discipline:
            a. Investigative: collect facts on injustice
            b. Negotiate
            c. Self-purification
            d. Non-violent civic demonstration
Pray that "we would be one as the father and I are one."
4.  Devoted to praying for reform in this country.

Speaker #2 Brian Brennt:

Overcoming the "Sharing your Faith" Paralysis:

1. Have a humble heart and realize you too were rescued. Coming from a higher position is out!
2. Realize you're proposing JESUS!! Not a religion. Religious insincerity is out!
3. Listen, don't lecture. What does he/she have to tell you?
4. Ask yourself-"Do I know my own (Jesus) story?"  Be ready with your story when the opportunity arises.  How can you connect your story with theirs?
5. Relax! The Holy Spirit does the work.  All you need to do is strike up a conversation and ask questions.  Be ready to say, "How can I pray" or "How can I help?"
6. Be ready for the religious police! Don't worry about being perfect.
7. Overcome fear; you don't need more training! That is a lie-fear of man is a killer. There is no perfect way, so don't force a preconceived idea…flow with the Spirit.
8. Share the love!

Speaker #3 Jason Aguilar:

On Evangelism:

1. Take the risk of failure-be willing to MESS UP!  Remember when the gift of faith starts operating, the rest of the gifts rise up too.
2. Fix my eyes on Jesus! Not on myself, my gifts or wisdom.
3. Remember that wherever I walk, Jesus comes with me, bringing the POWER OF GOD into the situation!
4. Learn to rejoice in the small things. The more I rejoice, the more miracles will come.
5. Yield to God-the filling of the Spirit comes with yieldedness. The book of Acts came out of yielded people.
6. Ask "Do I know what God is doing in my city?"  This is important, for this information lets us know what, where and when God is going to do something, and I can show up with faith.
7. Realize that being Spirit led has to be preceded with prayer, fasting, and conquering the desires of my own flesh.  Prayer is vital!
8. Rely on the Grace of God. Grace=power and gifts of the Spirit. This will bring favor, access and influence.
The bottom line is to remember that GOD is the giver of all gifts. HE gives them to whomever He pleases.  My vision should be bigger than my capacity!