Is There Any Word From The Lord?

It was the question Zedekiah, king of Judah asked Jeremiah the prophet (Jeremiah 37:17), when he was faced with destruction of the kingdom by Nebuchadnezzar.

Coronavirus, Self-Quarantining, Ventilators by Ford Motor Company, whole hospitals dedicated to stopping or at least slowing a minuscule, but deadly virus. Masks, gloves, social distancing, washing our hands until they chafe and bleed, searching grocery store aisles for the precious commodity, “hand sanitizer.”

It’s a verified, first of my lifetime (almost 71 years) pandemic, a definition of which is “a disease prevalent over a whole country or the world.”

We’re hearing new words and cryptic descriptions; we use advanced medical  terms as though we truly understood them, that somehow, since a deadly and unseen monster migrated from China to the entire globe, we know all about it when the truth is, if you’re anything like me, you don’t have a clue about the all the dangerous realities and the ultimate prognosis accompanying this pandemic. And those masks that have changed the portraiture of whole cities and nations. We’re told to wear them on Monday and by Tuesday we’re informed that masks don’t work.

Economic turmoil, “rumors of wars” nation after nation shuddering in the cold reality of societies unhinged. And the biblical Books of Daniel, Ezekiel, the Revelation. Gog and Magog, Seventy Weeks, Seven Seals, Seven Bowls, Seven Trumpets, signs in the skies, Antichrist, Tribulation, “the Rapture” of the church. Deep State Conspiracies, Pestilences, Swarms of locusts, a massive Dust storm from Africa, fear and trembling, hearts “troubled” at the things coming upon the earth. And in the midst of all these, the question must be asked,

Is There Any Word From the Lord?

I was formally trained in the classical sense; I attended a brick and mortar university where professors lectured and instructed and probed the strength and the efficacy of our faith and God-knowledge. Men and women dedicated to educating rising generations of God-called preachers, pastors, missionaries, teachers and all manner of Christian leaders prepared us to seek to discharge the various ministries of the church and the kingdom of God.

We were taught “truth” in the orthodox and established sense of the word, meaning that truth is fixed, it is static, it does not change, cannot be re-defined, is not subject to any re-imagining of the thing that Christ revealed would set men free (Jn.8:32).

My undergraduate major, and the study that I gave effort to in the ensuing years was the discipline called ‘theology,’ simply defined as “the study of God.” Our primary text was the Bible itself. We learned lower and higher biblical criticism, discussed Immanuel Kant, became familiar with various and sundry theological ideologies, theories and philosophies. We learned to apply biblical hermeneutics to the interpretation of Scripture. Hermeneutics, the study of the methodical and essential principles of interpretation of the Scriptures was a discipline I had never known until I became a second-year theology student. Summed up, we learned to trust our eternal souls and those of every human alive on the absolute veracity of the Word of God.

It was assumed by our professors from the first day of our under-graduate education that we would leave their campus with some certain and solid grasp of a systematic theology of the Christian faith (and the teachings of non-Christian faiths and religious beliefs s as well).

It has been nearly fifty years since I first experienced a reality that we Pentecostals understand in a theological and not primarily a cultural sense. I may speak with tongues, but I don’t handle rattlesnakes. Snake handling or poison imbibing has nothing to do with knowing the God who revealed himself to man through His Son, Jesus Christ. Those activities also are the result of a very poor to non-existent hermeneutic.

I have laid hands on the sick and have witnessed instantaneous healings, deliverances and freedoms. I’ve seen creative miracles, such as the woman in Manila, the Philippines who had been born blind, without even eyeballs until, at about 30 years of age God created and placed within her face two, beautiful and perfectly functioning eyes.

I have prophesied (in the biblical, New Testament, New Covenant sense). I have experienced the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. I have been the vessel but not the source of manifold words of knowledge (See on 1 Cor. 12:8).

I’ve heard easily hundreds of voices raised to prophesy everything from life to death. I’ve heard revival being promised, “new waves” of healing or liberty or transfers of wealth from dirty, rotten sinners into the hands of the holy minority (the church), to YOU, Christian!

I’ve heard of coming “tsunamis” bringing either revival or destruction, based upon, it seems the mindset and theological persuasion of the speaker. I’ve heard prophecies promising that “God has had it; He’s really angry now. This time, judgment will fall, and no amount of repenting will change His mind. This time. I’ve seen God’s mercy and grace in dimensions I would have otherwise thought impossible.

Sadly, I’ve seen pitifully few of those prophecies bear any fruit – any fruit, of any kind, good or bad, helpful or not.

I’m not suggesting that prophecy is not a mechanism used by God to speak to His people (and even those who are NOT His people). God does speak through prophets and even those who are not called to fill the New Covenant office of prophet.

Yet I remain aware whenever prophetic-sounding words arise that “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1, 2a).

Allow me to repeat a phrase, dear friend, “in these last days (God) has spoken to us by His Son…”

A relevant word: the Hebrew writer declared “in these last days.” Christ followers in the past five months have asked me, over and again based upon the malady of a mysterious corona virus, collapsing economies of nations, unrest, rebellion, destruction, earthquake and anarchy and the simultaneous appearance of all these challenges, “are we living in the last days?” My answer: The disciples of Jesus understood that they were living in the last days and now two thousand years have expired since the question was first asked. Yes, these are the “last days.”

Now back to my main thesis. Concerning words from heaven, prophecies, words of direction, encouragement, wisdom and knowledge, the Second Coming of Christ:

We ought to listen first for the sound of the voice of the Son more than we are fascinated by the sound of the voice of the modern-day prophet.

At the same time, the role, gift, office, the ministry of Prophet and of prophecy remains vital and necessary among the church of 2020.

And lest we become distracted by the many voices seeking a hearing in these turbulent days, allow me to echo the Hebrew writer, “…. (God) has spoken to us by His Son.”

The primary Voice, the principal provider of understanding and direction and wisdom and truth is the Son of God, Jesus Christ. John, who walked with the Savior and absorbed His teachings declared, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God. The same was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1,2).

In the beginning

Was the word

The word

Was with God

The word

Was God

The Psalmist wrote, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.” Creation, “in the beginning” was accomplished through and by the Word of God, the preincarnate Christ” (Ps.33:6). And “He upholds all things by (the same) word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). The word of His power, the Logos, Christ, a Nazarene carpenter appearing in the form of a man called ‘Jesus.’

And once we have established the identity of “Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and because His identity as God, Himself is not hidden by Scripture but rather is laid before us to plainly see and to know, we can know and understand that no matter how violently the storms blow, if we are found to be “in Christ,” we have no reason to fear or to dread. “Christ in you” is more than sufficient to overcome every threat and worry and every demon of hell. We, who are “in Christ” need not fall victim to anxiety, alarm or terror, because “He that is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

Jesus spoke of two men, one who built his house on sand while the other built on rock. And when – there is a “when” to every life, to yours, to mine, to everyone – and when the storms raged and the winds blew and the rains assault, the man who had built on sand saw his efforts vanish while the man who had built on rock experienced the same “when,” with rain and flood and wind and his house did not fall, because it was founded on the rock. And the Rock is Jesus.

No matter what happens, no matter the blasting of hurricane winds or the raging floods of destruction and persecution and violent storms, “in Christ” we are secure. “In Christ” alone we are not only comforted, but we know that He has gone to prepare a place for us, and if He has gone to prepare a place for us, we know that He will come again back for us. “If it were not so, (He) would have told us.” “He will come again, and receive us to Himself; that where He is, there we may be also.”

It’s not the word of the television newscaster or the political pundit or even the preacher in his pulpit that I am listening to: It is the word of the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, appearing in flesh and the life-giving, soul-saving blood alive, eternal and full of mercy.

Look to Him. Seek Him. Listen to Him. Follow Him and you will never be left alone since He will “never leave you or forsake you,” but He will be with you, especially at “the end.”

Is There any Word from the Lord?

There is . . .  “Maranatha!”














The Compass, The Anchor and the Stormy Seas of Life

We have arrived at an hour in the history and experience of the Church when there is much confusion, many questions and a multitude of heretofore unheard and unexpressed doctrines and spiritual practices being promulgated by so-called “revivalists,” “apostles” and “prophets.” I have italicized these titles, because I am convinced that a fair number who claim such designations are not what or who they claim to be. This in no way is intended to denigrate the legitimate among us, but rather to differentiate between the true and the false, between the authentic and the counterfeit.

Without doubt, no generation since the crucifixion of Jesus Christ has been faced with more questionable and previously unheard of teachings than the current generation of believers.

This is a time when mature believers who have been grounded in the incorruptible Word of God must stand up and let their voices be heard.

In the balance are potentially millions of souls who are naive, gullible or ignorant of the devices being employed to destroy their faith in the Sovereign God.

Sadly and dangerously, we also have come to an hour when anyone who questions currently claimed revelation or “present truth,” regardless of how spurious it might appear, is held in absolute contempt and disregard and is relegated to the ranks of the hyper-heresy hunters, doubters-of-everything good, and the Pharisaical accusers of the brethren or even as outright enemies of the Cross.

Because of the immediate and violent attacks any honest enquirer might be confronted with, many have been effectively silenced because of the scorn and retribution meted out by those who embrace extreme and extremely questionable doctrines.

The writer of this article has no reputation to protect and no empire to preserve, and thus welcomes any and all attacks from those who oppose honest questions from simple believers in Jesus.

I am only one voice, but I am a voice. Those who choose to indict my faith and insult my intelligence by hurling their own accusations at the straw dogs they may carefully construct will not intimidate me. So long as God gives me breath, I will speak the truth as it is revealed in His holy, pure and incorruptible Word.

In this article, I have been kind I think, generous and even positive in my assessments of what I have witnessed by those involved in various Charismatic, Pentecostal and Evangelical movements, renewals and outpourings. I have not attacked and will not accuse any singular person; I refuse to condemn any individual. My observations are about doctrine and practice, and not personal criticism. I remain supportive, as a Brother in Christ to those with whom I disagree and who disagree with me. This is about positions and practices and not personalities.

I have not accused any man or woman of being demonically controlled or of being adherents of New Age teachings. I have maintained the position that the Lord of Hosts would eventually reveal either the truth or the error of events in and around various revival movements. I believe that ultimately, a righteous and holy God will deal justly with those who would lead even one of His own elect astray. I continue to refrain from personal attack, even though those affected by this article may feel otherwise.

Finally, this writer is no enemy of renewal and revival; on the contrary, I have been both a student of revival and a participant of a powerful move of the Holy Spirit which began in my own life and church in 1995 and continued unabated until 2005. The effects of that move of the Spirit remain with me today. There are those who will make the claim that since “the voices of the former move of God will always condemn the current revival” I am obviously guilty of the same. I sincerely hope that is not the case.

Whenever I learn of moves of God here or revival there, my initial sense is always of support and not opposition. I caution anyone against attacking any revival before the fruit of that revival may be seen, and some fruit takes longer to appear than other fruit.

After spending many (now 48) years among Pentecostal and Charismatic fellowships, and after having seen the genuine, the precious move of the Spirit of God, the lives transformed, healed and set free, I also have witnessed abuses, excesses, gross error and rampant disregard for the solid Rock of God’s word. I am compelled to speak for the sake of the innocent and the hungry and for the future of revival in a world so desperately in need of a genuine visitation from heaven.

Approaching a trans-oceanic vessel from water level, an ocean-going ship appears monstrously huge. Its hull was laid with the effort of men and machines and with much sweat and muscle and exertion. Gazing at such a massive craft, one would likely not notice or pay attention to something as mundane and minuscule as a compass, or even an anchor. Yet without these two devices, any journey would be fraught with danger, even suicidal, for one provides direction while the other assures security. It is the compass that ensures the seaman of his course and of his eventual destination. It is the anchor that grips the sea floor and holds the vessel in place when wind and waves would shatter the ship on rocky shores.

If I have perceived anything regarding some current expressions of “revival” as manifested in various places around the world, neither instrument is prominent, and without both a compass and an anchor, an eventual collision between the ship of revival and the jagged rocks of reality is inevitable.

The compass and the anchor of which I speak is the singular instrument of the Bible, the divinely written, inerrant, perfect, complete and holy Word of God: A book possessed by virtually every modern believer in Jesus Christ, but one which either is untouched by or largely unfamiliar to far too many Christians.

Biblical Knowledge has been Trumped by Spiritual Experience.

We live in an era of general biblical ignorance, where the value and emphasis of experiential Christianity trumps the old, “boring” disciplines of learning and applying the scriptures to one’s life. The Bible itself warns, when people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is happy (Proverbs 29:18 NLT). We want this verse to refer to divine guidance as experiential revelation, but the context of the verse leaves no room for misunderstanding, “. . . whoever obeys the law is happy.” The “Law” refers to The Book, The Word of God. Jesus explained that “you shall know the truth (His Word), and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). If freedom is what we as children of God desire, God’s word will take us there.

Experience Finds its Source in the Word of God, not the Reverse

Many have quoted the well-used line, “A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.” That is a patently false, misleading and dangerous statement: If someone has an experience that flies full in the face of the revealed word of God, are we to accept that experience over and above the clear teaching of Scripture? If however a person reports an experience that is upheld by the Word of God, the very reliability of God’s word trumps any other experience, because all spiritual experience must flow from the word of God, and not the other way around.

Merely because someone physically shakes is not an indication that the Holy Spirit is the primary causa of that physical experience. Falling to the floor or being “slain in the Spirit” in itself offers no certain evidence that God is involved in the falling. Speaking with other tongues, or glossolalia, while impressive to the ear is not in itself necessarily expressive of the Spirit’s activity.

Physical responses, often called “manifestations” may be the result of the activity of the Holy Spirit, but they are not certain indicators of God’s presence. I’ve watched Satanists shake and Hindus fall to the floor in trance-like states. I am not persuaded that God is present just because someone shouts unintelligible syllables into a microphone. I’ve heard men shout “hula, hula, hula,” “boola, boola, boola,” and “yoi, yoi, yoi,” among other unintelligible phrases. I’ve never felt particularly spiritually encouraged or especially blessed in the hearing of these utterances. I am, however impressed when the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk.

Indeed if the Spirit’s work in an individual is to place him into a state of ecstasy wherein he can merely mumble incoherently, please tell me how that person will effectively be a witness for Jesus in the marketplace of men. Will a non-believer suddenly cast off his unbelief and embrace Christ if I chant, “hula, boola, moola” to him?

Heart and Character, Not Trances and Dances

The acid test of all spiritual encounters is this: What happens to the character of the person experiencing that manifestation? If I have been genuinely touched by God, should I not expect to be benefited in my heart and in my character? As has been said, “When a man is truly born again, even his dog ought to know it.” Any person touched by heaven will reflect something of heaven to those around him or her. That’s Bible: You can trust your life – your eternal life on that Book, and only on that Book.

I realize in making such a statement that there are believers, followers of Jesus who do not hold to a time-worn and time-tested reliance upon the Word of God as the singular infallible, divinely inspired, inexhaustible rule of faith and conduct. I recognize that in some Christian circles today, such language is considered out of date, pathetically cerebral, without anointing or unction, but, dear reader, those very terms – anointing and unction came to us not by a revival-spawned revelation but by anointed men of God, moved upon by the Holy Spirit.

The biblical phrase “inspired by God” in 2 Timothy 3:16 is translated from a single Greek word qeopneustos. The first word is qeos. It is the word for God. The second word is pnew which means “to breathe” or “to blow” and is also the verbal form of the Greek word pneuma, meaning “spirit.”

The resulting understanding from Second Timothy is that “all Scripture is God-breathed.” The very breath and Spirit of God is infused into the words of Scripture. This is why we refer to the Bible as the Word of God. If reliance upon the Word of God, the very God-breathed words of God is somehow unspiritual or out of date, what then may we rest our souls upon and in what may we place our trust for our eternal future?

In support of the veracity and genuineness of what many Charismatics and Pentecostals call renewal or revival, various devices outside the Bible have been utilized which, under scrutiny fail to bear the weight of authenticity. Following is a non-inclusive listing of the most objectionable teachings and or practices I have witnessed by the proponents some of these movements and the extreme prophetic, “mystical” movement.

  1. Use of Well-Known Personalities to legitimize and justify an experience, renewal or revival. The appearance of and endorsement by known apostles within the Charismatic church is not an assurance of biblical accuracy or of ministry appropriateness.

It was no less a recognizable name than the Apostle Paul who declared, “though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).

I care not one whit if Smith Wigglesworth or John Wesley themselves are trooped across the stage in support of any so-called move of God; if their testimony is not consistent with the eternal word of God, their presence means absolutely nothing to me beyond the astonishment of seeing the dead raised to life.

With reference to well-known and beloved ministry personalities, I will doggedly hold to Paul’s counsel in Galatians 1:8, cited above. I may love and honor such persons, but they are not equal with or superior to the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God.

It is biblically and spiritually appropriate that we recognize and honor any man or woman whom God has used mightily, we are never encouraged by Scripture to place our trust or our hope in any human vessel. The world has never seen any faultless, complete or sinless figure outside of the Person of Jesus Christ Himself. To place final trust in any man or group of men is to invite spiritual disaster. God’s Word and not God’s creation must be our ultimate and final authority. This is especially and critically true with regard to those who claim prophetic gifting, calling and office. Vast numbers of hungry believers have been devastated because of foolish, presumptuous and even down-right silly so-called prophetic direction.

  1. Relating with Contemporary Society by adopting the language and the behavior of the culture outside of Christ.

Simulating the use of illegal drugs, and using the language of the illegal drug culture is not a legitimate way of reaching the “lost.”No exceptions and no apologies. Terminologies such as “Godka,” “Toking the Ghost,” “Jehovajauna” (pronounced Jehova wauna) and “Holy Ghost Bartender,” among many others do great dishonor to the character and nature of a holy God. To reduce the Holy Creator of the Universe to a joint of marijuana or a bottle of alcohol is a crime I am convinced no true, sensitive follower of Jesus could ever allow him or herself to commit.

“Toking the baby Jesus” as was demonstrated in one online video is blasphemous. Strong language, I know, but the images I have viewed of such behavior also are strongly objectionable and trivialize the Holiness and the Purity of our God and of His Holy Spirit.

Further, consider one specific meeting where the leader advocated and demonstrated the procedure for locating and injecting a vein with heroin. The “leader” then mumbled, “that’ll hit you in about half an hour.” Imagine someone in that meeting who had recently (even not recently) been delivered from mainlining heroin or from any other illicit drug: How will that person respond to such a suggestion?

  1. Use of New Age or Misinterpreted Terminologies and Practices will never be conducive to a true, Spirit-engendered practical theology and faith. I have listened to one “revivalist” use terminologies such as coming into the state of the “ecstasy” of God wherein he describes the spiritual states of “Mystical Union,” “Absorption Ecstasy” and “Concentration Ecstasy” as conditions that thirsty Christians should seek to experience. These terms are mentioned in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) where, on page 996 under the heading of “Prophet” (dealing specifically and exclusively with the question of how “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” in 2 Peter 1:21) and hails to the unio mystica discussed by J. Lindblom in the aforementioned text.

From the ISBE, I quote regarding the unio mystica, or mystical union, “The ecstasy of the true prophets did not usually display itself in peculiar behavior, for their ecstasy was basically a private experience of the conscious reality of God’s presence. The prophets’ profound spiritual experiences should not, therefore, be confused with mystical experience, nor with the frenzied and irrational behavior of heathen prophets.” Please note that final sentence: “The prophets’ profound spiritual experiences should not . . . be confused with mystical experience, nor with the frenzied and irrational behavior of heathen prophets. “Hula, boola schmoola?”

  1. Uncorroborated Testimonies of Healings and Raisings from the Dead. Nothing will kill the reputation of revival quicker and more decisively than making claims of miracle healings and raisings from the dead which cannot be substantiated by outside medical sources. Expecting believers and non-believers alike to simply “swallow” these claims without evidence is not only arrogant, but stupid. If a person were raised from the dead at a hospital, do you actually believe that no nurse, no physician, no friend or family member at that hospital would be aware of such a miracle, and be willing to talk about it?

Over the years, secular journalists who have heard reports of conspicuous miracles – the dead being raised, cancers dying, diseases disappearing, have sought to receive from the related ministries medical corroboration of such phenomena. Time after time, generalized testimonies and incomplete information, coupled with evangelistic gobbldy-gook has not only substituted for simple, direct medical evidence, but has also given the Church a black eye in the view of the unbelieving public. Verifiable testimonies and medical documents go a long way in substantiating claims made and establishing the veracity of any claimed move of God. Yet the media packet held no proof beyond names, locations and contact information which had been blacked out.

If God – not a contemporary evangelist or the Apostle Paul or Greg Austin – if God is raising the dead, we should expect to see evidence of these miracles. We should be able to see these people on camera, listen to interviews with them, and hear the astonished physicians’ statements of the veracity of these claims. These would surely honor God, but refusing to provide anything specific beyond claims that “we have X number of people raised from the dead and counting,” is both dishonest and dishonoring to God.

  1. The Centrality of Angels and Apostles to the neglect of the true centrality of the Person of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit does not desire to be noticed, but He always points our hearts to Jesus. The Holy Spirit has come to us to guide us into all truth: Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” The Holy Spirit magnifies Jesus. Never do we find the Holy Spirit exalting angels. Indeed, Paul asks the Corinthian church rhetorically, “do you not know that we will judge angels?” (1 Cor. 6:3).

Much emphasis today has been placed upon the title or office of Apostle. I have watched with some concern at what I believe is an unhealthy and unholy veneration of those called “Apostles.” As I read through the New Testament, I see the apostles as servants; men and women with hearts of humility and grace, who desired that the work of God and the Kingdom of God should be advanced far more than their own work and their own were benefited or that their own names should be known or remembered. The Bible speaks of apostles as “foundational” gifts to the church. These are they who establish and maintain the flow of spiritual ministry based upon the revealed word of God. Nowhere in scripture is there any indication that apostles should be worshiped, or their words taken as the inspired word of God. Apostles champion God’s word; they do not seek veneration from any man.

During His temptation, Jesus told the devil, “’You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Lk 4:8). To a Samaritan woman who desired to understand true worship, Jesus said, “worship the Father” in John 4.

When a messenger from heaven appeared to John in Revelation 19, John says, “. . . I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

When certain Greek seekers came to Philip, their request was straightforward: They said, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” The point in all these scriptures is that there is only One Who is worthy of our worship and our adoration. I thank God for those true apostles who quietly and decisively carry out their calling and their office, but a true apostle would be the first to warn us “don’t worship me.”

In all that I have said, I am not suggesting that no miracles have taken place in any revival or renewal atmosphere. I have listened to more than one testimony from individuals I personally know who have testified to receiving healing or miracles as they sought God during such meetings. But here is the key: They were seeking God. A principal upon which we may rely is this: God will not deny Himself, and if an honest seeker reaches out to God in faith, regardless of what personality may be present on a platform, God will honor such faith. One of the greatest dangers to any leader is to believe that when miracles are taking place in his meetings, he is somehow responsible for those healings. 

The Word of God is the only reliable compass for negotiating the spiritual realms of life. The Word of God is the singular anchor that will hold us when the storms of life arise.

Any reliance upon any other device for direction, doctrine or practice than God’s inspired and immutable word; any use of so-called revelation that takes one beyond the boundaries of the revealed word will lead surely and ultimately to disaster.

Forgive my repetition, but it bears reiterating: “though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).

There is no legitimate “progressive revelation” that will carry us beyond the parameters of “the faith which was once for all delivered.”

Jude writes (Jude 3) “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Please observe, “the faith which was once for all delivered . . .” “Once for all.” There is no progressive revelation that will carry us beyond the parameters of “the faith which was once for all delivered.” The principles of the Word of God have been established for all time and eternity. The thrice repeated declaration of Jesus should settle our hearts on this matter: “heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall never pass away” (Mt. 24:35; Mk 13:31; Lk. 21:33).

God’s word is all inclusive; that is, whatever man needs to know or may know about the secrets of the Kingdom of God or the world to come has already been provided within the covers of our Bibles. If we waver on this crucial issue, we lose the whole structure upon which our faith is built.

May we grow in our understanding of the increasing depths of God’s word? Absolutely! Is God’s word so deep and so rich with spiritual truth and meaning that we may not, in a dozen lifetimes understand all its secrets? Without doubt. But once again, all the truth which may be known concerning faith and Christian practice is contained within God’s word.

There exist mysteries which finite man cannot know. There are unknown realms man cannot approach because we are creatures of time and space and not of eternity – yet. It was John, the Apostle who declared, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 Jn 3:2).

Please notice, “it has not yet been revealed what we shall be.” There are unknowns, ambiguities, secrets unrevealed, undisclosed until the Day of Christ.

The natural instinct of man is a desire to teneo ultra, “know beyond.” When the serpent approached Eve in the Garden, her vulnerability was the thirst to “know beyond” what God had revealed. The entry point for the venom of sin was the desire to teneo ultra, to “know beyond.” The serpent played upon her desire for knowledge beyond what God had provided. While every tree God had placed in the garden was available to her and to Adam, one tree was forbidden of God to be touched. But the curiosity, the desire to “know beyond” what God had revealed drew Eve inexorably into sin like the mesmerized Ulysses of Homer’s Odyssey is drawn to the seductive song of the Sirens, who lured men to their death on the rocks around their island. Interestingly, Homer depicts the Sirens song promising “wisdom and knowledge of past and future.” And so Eve attempted to satisfy her desire for “wisdom and knowledge,” and in the process committed an act that would require the sacrificial death of God’s own Son to remedy.

New Age practitioners, cultists of every ilk, and myriad false religionists and magicians play upon the same, instinctual need to “know beyond” in order to ply their trades and fill their coffers. When a Syracuse, New York banker named David Hannum (not P.T. Barnum) proclaimed, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” he was merely affirming the truth that man wants to know and is willing to commit intellectual suicide or pay exorbitant material and perhaps eternal, spiritual fees in order to know even what cannot be known.

Many claims have been made by various revivalists of visitations to the “third heaven.” Support for those claims comes from Paul’s statements in Second Corinthians 12 of his own (singular, so far as we can read) translation into the third heaven. He writes, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago–whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows–such a one was caught up to the third heaven.”

Follow Paul’s discourse regarding that incident in Second Corinthians, chapter twelve. Does he speak of revelations that surpass contemporary knowledge of the things of God? Does he reveal deep revelations of angelic encounters or of prophetic knowledge beyond what other apostles were aware of? Paul’s own words are notably absent of any such claims. In fact, he divulges no deep secrets to his readers. He speaks of “inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” He makes no claims of super-revelation, he is decidedly not lifted up in pride and arrogance. He is silent about what he saw and heard while in Paradise, but instead tells us that he is careful not to boast of the experience, and even goes on to describe his personal caution.

He says, “I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.”

A Final Proverb

In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus and his men have landed on the island of the Lotus-Eaters, and Odysseus sends out a scouting party of three men who ate the lotus with the natives. This caused them to fall asleep and cease to be concerned about going home, with only a desire to eat the lotus.

Odysseus went after the scouting party, and dragged them back to the ship against their will. He set sail, with the drugged soldiers tied to the rudder benches to prevent them from swimming back to the island. Unrealized by the stupefied sailors, Odysseus not only is saving their lives, but he is returning them to the true desires of their hearts; to their homes.

After a life of pursuing truth and the knowledge of God’s Son, the Apostle Paul bursts forth with the heart-cry, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10).

There are, I fear, those who only desire to “eat the lotus” and not to know the Jesus Whom Paul pursued and was willing to lose everything in order to find.

My heart cries out for these “scouting parties” who have fallen prey to the “lotus” of false spiritual experience and subjective revelation. I want to reveal the truth of God’s word, and with Odysseus, drag them back to the ship of faith in order to save their eternal lives.

The false, temporal substitute of the Lotus – of temporary psychological, emotional, physical manifestation and experience crumbles and falls to the earth in pieces when confronted with the superiority and supremacy of a solid and true faith and experience in the Christ of God’s Word and in the Word of God’s Christ.

I am thankful to God for the Compass of His Word and the Anchor that holds us in the swelling tide. “On Christ, the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

Several years ago in Derry, Northern Ireland, I was conversing with Clive Price, a free-lance journalist from England, (now a resident of Northern Ireland). We were discussing the very topics I have written about here. Speaking about certain extreme practices and unsupportable claims I said, “Clive, I believe God is calling the church to clean up its act, and if we won’t do it, the world will do it for us, and the world won’t be benevolent when it starts cleaning house.”


I Just Need To Say . . .

As my desktop computer flickered to life this morning, I sat at my desk feeling a complete lack of inspiration or direction to address any certain doctrine, topic or theme. Some days are like that; it is frequently our traditional and religious upbringing and training that spurs us, that drives us always to produce, to create something, to make full use of the moments and hours and to waste not even the idle seconds that form minutes and, in turn, days and weeks and years.

And this morning, I needed to say or to do . . . nothing.

Indeed, nowhere in God’s word is there a demand or requirement that we, the children of God should be driven, always busy praying, preparing, preaching, studying, delivering, In fact, God’s perfect word encourages us, “Come to Me . . . I will give you rest.” “There remains,” the Bible teaches, “a rest for the people of God.” God, Himself gave us an example when He rested after six days of creation miracles.

The greatest form of rest is not physical, but spiritual. Looking to Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of our faith we find that all of the work of redemption, all the effort producing salvation has been accomplished and there remains nothing for us to do or to contribute in order to become recipients of so great a salvation.

The Cross of Jesus Christ, upon which the Son of God anguished and died comprised the full work and effort that would bring us, you and me to a place of divine rest wherein we might dwell in His eternal peace and present comfort and in the sure knowledge of His redemptive work.

This penchant that many of us experience for the exertion and exercise of the soul and even of the physical body in the form of works does not find its genesis in God, but in our misunderstanding and failure to embrace the Gift that has come to us through God’s holy Son. When Jesus uttered those three words, “It is finished,” He brought together all of history past, all of the present and all of history future.

As we understand, Jesus did not speak English and therefore did not literally declare, “It is finished,” but rather He used Greek words to convey the English, “It is finished.”

The word He used is “tetelestai” which means to bring to a close, to complete, to fulfill. But it is the Greek tense Jesus used that is so powerful and revelatory: He speaks on the cross in the Perfect tense, something that is extremely rare in the New Testament and which possesses no English equivalent. The Perfect tense combines the Present tense and the Aorist tense. This may be too much information for some to consider, but it is important and liberating for us to understand. The Aorist tense indicates that something has happened at a specific point in time; a moment. There was a moment, the moment in time that Jesus announced, “It is finished.” The Present tense is linear, meaning something that continues on into the future and has ongoing implications.

The combination of these two tenses in the perfect tense as used in John 19:30 is of overwhelming significance to the Christian. When Jesus says “It is finished” (or completed) what he is actually saying is “It is finished and will continue to be finished”.

When we recognize that, regarding the eternal salvation provided by Christ through the cross of His execution, such salvation reaches backwards in time to the beginning of our lives, it affects our immediate “now” and it moves forward in time, continuing to be finished. Once we have come to the recognition of Jesus’ actual words and intent, the lack of effort, works, deeds, demonstrations, keeping spiritual score fades into oblivion.

We can rightly state, “I was saved, I am saved and I will be saved,” not by past, immediate or future effort, but by simple faith, by trusting in the Word of our Savior.

When this morning I experienced no need to exert myself, to extend myself towards heaven in order to be found pleasing to God, I was closer to the heart and character of God than I might have been in straining forward, seeking somehow by my efforts to please God.

Trust more, try less. Believe, rest, fall into His loving arms. Find and know the place of “tetelestai” and be encouraged, “It is finished.” It is finished and It will be finished.

John Keating: Friend of God

The news came, as it typically does, in the midst of a full schedule of commitments and responsibilities. My wife and I had just returned home from four days of ministry and fellowship at a gathering in South Carolina.

We were tired, and glad to be home. Our oversized mailbox was filled to overflowing, our dogs needed loving attention and after taking care of these, we left home again for another commitment in our city.

I discovered the news when we had returned home the second time, at around 1:30 in the morning.

John Keating has died. Some of my readers never knew John, but he was closer than a brother to me.

John and I first met in the lobby of the Seattle Revival Center in 1997. John was an Irishman, scheduled to minister among us. I had walked into the lobby and saw a room full of people, among which was one man who stood out in stark relief among that crowd of saints, at least, to me. I walked up to him, we exchanged appraising looks and then we moved together into a warm and Christ-filled hug. We somehow ended up on the floor, legs and arms askew and our hearts meshed inseparably.

John was far from a typical preacher, minister, apostle, prophet; he didn’t fit anybody’s image or expectation. He was rooted in another world, joined to a kingdom not of this world. And because he was much more a member of an eternal kingdom than he was a member of a temporal world, John seemed odd to many people. Well, he was odd. And I suppose, so was Paul and Peter and Steven and the whole host of First Century follower-leaders of Christ.

We ministered together in America and in England and in Holland and in Northern Ireland and in the Republic. We worked together from Cork to Coleraine. We were in Omah just after the bombing. We prayed through Londonderry – or Derry – your choice. We laughed in pubs and preached in pulpits and met men and women in the streets and we watched our God bring peace where it was claimed no peace could be found. In 2004, John and I made a quiet, private tour of the North and then drove into the South. John wanted to purchase a pub and serve as barman and it would be a church – a John-kind-of church. Under the radar. Non-conventional. Effective.

He didn’t buy a pub, but we toured a lot of them. And John moved on. Under the radar. Non-conventional. Effective.

Last night I was scrolling through Facebook Messenger and found a video clip of our Fireland days. I commented to my wife that the music we were listening to were songs we sang during those heady days of revival in Northern Ireland. And then, unexpectedly, a dam broke in my soul and tears rushed from my eyes and all I could do was roll into a fetal position and cry.

When John first came to America, he was enthralled with this giant land we Americans call home. He wanted something American to wrap himself in and that something became a fine, leather coat. We went shopping and John found just the coat he was looking for: A heavy, well-made leather coat. John wore that coat proudly until one night he or somebody, I’m not certain who looked at the tag inside the coat: “Made in Ireland.” John was so disappointed, but I thought to myself, “You can get John Keating out of Ireland, but you can’t get Ireland out of John. He was passionate about the Irish and the land and the history, of Celts and Vikings and the Irish who endured and he was passionate about Ireland becoming Fireland as the fires of God’s Spirit burned through the land, touching hearts in every city and county and region.

The cloud of witnesses that has cheered John, and you and me onward toward the Prize has grown this week with the entry of John Keating.

I grieve for Sandra and for John’s family, both biological and spiritual. I grieve for the cities and the churches and the people that now will never hear John’s rich and simple voice, urging us upward, onward, inward toward the high calling in Christ Jesus. I trust that God knows what He’s doing, and for what He has done with Johnny. But I miss the lad. You know, I miss you, John.

Greg Austin

The Coming Heavenly Tsunami

The critical hour in which we live calls for a mindset and an understanding that is Strategic and not primarily Sympathetic.

That is not to say that there is no sympathy in the heart of God for all people, all the time or that the church lacks or should show no sympathy in its ministries and at its heart, but when an army goes to battle, regardless of individual sympathies and impassioned individual concerns, the army goes forth to battle with singleness of purpose which is to defeat an enemy to win a war and that army must therefore be focused, committed, determined, steadfast and singular in its purpose, intention and deployment.

Strategy is the great plan and specific design that an army uses in order to confound, contain and conquer an opposing militant force. And while hell has its strategies, so does heaven have strategies born in the mind and in the heart of our God and Savior through His Christ in conjunction with us, the church that Jesus promised He would build against which the gates of hell shall never prevail.

If we have not learned in the past half century of ecclesiastical history that the devil, our adversary, Lucifer and his wicked minions are intent on destroying the church and the plans of God, we only need to survey a segment of recent church history and view the carnage that litters the spiritual battlefields of our world for understanding.

Beginning in the late 1960’s and 1970’s a great spiritual awakening took place primarily among the youth of America and Europe especially.

We call it today the Jesus People Movement. Beginning in 1967 and flowing through some of the most unlikely personages, the Holy Spirit of God moved outside of the mainstream church into coffeehouses and homes and streets where a whole generation of youth defied sacrosanct religious sensitivities and conformities and long-haired hippies began proclaiming the Good News of the gift of salvation through the blood of Christ and the power of the Cross. And thousands upon ten thousands of young, desperate, hungry hearts responded to that message with completely and fully sacrificed lives.

I was one of the recipients of that move of God and on May 15, 1971, while I was alone in my parent’s bedroom, Jesus Christ appeared to me and transformed my life. I was born again when I didn’t know what born again was. I was saved before I realized I had been lost.

I was converted, not to a religion or a denomination or a theological system, but I was born a second time into a relationship with the risen Christ. I was saved more from myself than from any real or perceived devil. I was converted from a fleshly heathen to a holy saint of God. I was saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost on a Saturday morning before I placed a foot in a church building, or understood denominations or wrestled with the question of Calvinism versus Arminianism.

I didn’t know about Wesley but I knew about wellness and healing in my soul. I didn’t understand Augustine, but I knew that Austin was OK with Jesus.

I’m not minimizing the need for solid theology and biblical doctrine, but I’m making the point that Jesus saved me and not a church, a building, a system, a pastor or a missionary. It was Jesus in 1971 and it’s Jesus in twenty-eighteen.

Members of my generation who either were brought to Christ in that great move of the Spirit or were believers already recall those days with great wonder and nostalgic reminiscence.

But as so often is the case, we find ourselves in the year 2018 blinded to the forest for the interference of the trees.

And is so often the case, we look at the generic whole of a revival and miss the specific intention of the visitation of God’s Spirit into our lives and into our world.

We naturally embrace and personalize what God intends to be supernaturally embraced and spread, scattered like seed to the whole field and not to our private little garden plots of spiritual life and understanding.

Millions of people around the world came to Christ through the JM and many of those men and women have affected millions more and are church leaders today. Pastors, Missionaries, Evangelists, Prophets, Apostles, Presidents and Bishops and Superintendents of major church denominations can point to that great, brief revival movement among the youth of the world as the cradle and conservatory of their spiritual journeys.

So now as we move towards the second decade of the 21st century, we survey the arena of the church in much of the Western world and view a growing stream of men and women exiting the organized, institutional church in search of something, the description and appearance of what they don’t cognitively understand and therefore cannot define, but they are leaving with an “I’ll know it when I see it” attitude.

Following the Jesus Movement came both the Word of Faith movement and the Charismatic Movement. Through these two came revelation, the opening of hearts and minds and spirits to the essential recognition of faith and of the active moving and ministry of the Holy Spirit of God.

Through the Charismatic movement, hundreds of thousands of believers in mainstream protestant movements and even within the Roman Catholic Church were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Glossolalia, or speaking with other tongues, speaking in a heavenly language became almost commonplace in Lutheran, Methodist and other mainstream churches.

As the Charismatic movement began to become accepted in, the church was being prepared for the next phase of God’s strategy in the earth: Beginning in the early 1990’s, in the midst of an economic holocaust in Argentina, a desperate businessman named Carlos Anacondia walked into a fallow field and cried from the depth of his soul, “God, save Argentina!”

That move of God was filled with manifestations of the Holy Spirit. The move of God ushered into the church a whole, new understanding of Who God is. Millions have been changed in their thinking and in their understanding of the ways of God, but all this was preparatory. All that God accomplished in those years of refreshing was leading to the next, great move of God.

And now, in 2018 we have arrived at a place of knowledge and experience in the kingdom known to few,, former generations.

We know how to worship God. We know about David’s tent. We know how to cast out demons, heal the sick, we know about intercession and 24 hour prayer. We understand the anointing and we walk in revelation, but what good is a bank account of millions of dollars without anything to spend that money on? Money is worthless if there’s nothing to purchase.

Knowing how to shout and sing, dance and pray and worship and cry and take authority and decree and proclaim and believe is of no worth if those things are not used, employed, expended.

We must live out, walk out, breathe out, see out the principles and the secrets of kingdom living.

A dying, broken, wounded and terminal generation cries for an answer to their desperate lives. Something, some vital truth and action awaits a coming forth from the church of the living God.

And there are three commands that God has issued in this hour that will begin to answer that cry:

Be the church
Know HIM
Do what Jesus left us on the earth to do

We are a mature church; we are not spiritual infants.
We are an educated church; we are not an ignorant church.

We know the principles of the kingdom of God, we have read until we’re overfilled with knowledge – but too many of us have perfected a form of godliness while in our daily experience we deny the power thereof.

I began this evening talking about strategy – There are strategies of men and of devils and they are many; but the strategy of heaven has never changed and remains the same as it was thousands of years ago when God placed a tree in a garden.

That strategy is simple, it is powerful, and it will prevail in any environment and among any circumstance. That strategy is love.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 Jn 4:7,8).

Spiritual Warfare – What It Is and How To Win It

I was born again (in the classical, biblical, evangelical sense) on May 15, 1971. In the context of world history, May 15 was a dull day. Phil Pfister was born that day. He grew up to become an American strength athlete although I had never heard of him until I Googled “May 15, 1971” today. Oh, and “70, Girls, 70” closed on that Saturday at the Broadhurst Theater in New York City after 35 performances. Never heard of it. Phil was born and “70, Girls, 70” closed, and I died to self and was reborn into the Kingdom of God.

Before I had turned one month old in Jesus, I was introduced by my Christian mentors to something they labeled as “spiritual warfare.”

In those days, we battled unseen, but dangerous demons of every sort. We were taught that these spiritual entities were assigned by the Devil himself to attack our lives, harass our spirits, confuse our minds and wreak general destruction among the church and the world alike.

Much of what we were taught was and is indeed true and real. And much of what we engaged in during those early days of Jesus Life was just so much psychic silliness.

I was first taught that spiritual warfare was akin to gladiator-versus-lion in a Roman Empire coliseum or the raw, bare-fisted combat of a spiritual boxing ring. In the early 1970’s, fasting, anointing, screaming at demons, puking up green devils into sandwich bags (after discovering there was an imp behind every fence post and tree) was not only common among many of us “Jesus people”, it was a daily anticipated function of the Jesus life.

Then Loren Cunningham (think YWAM, or Youth With a Mission) showed me the true secret and power of spiritual warfare – (it may be good here to pause long enough to re-read Matthew 5 and 6).

The thing Loren taught that breaks the devil’s strongholds and disrupts his efforts is primarily found in obeying the commands of Jesus. You know, “If you love Me, keep my commands” and “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.” And His Word is enveloped by, drenched in, lubricated with and marked by, love. Indeed, His own word declares that God is, He does not merely possess or reflect or participate in, but God IS love.

The chief command Jesus gave to us is to LOVE. He taught, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Not, “this is my commandment, that you ‘labor for the Master from the dawn ‘til setting sun’” or that you drag your body across bruising stones in order to prostrate yourself before heaven’s high and holy throne.

Jesus taught that if one would defeat the devil, if we would stymie Satan’s evil agenda, we ought to love as Christ loves us.

Satan can and will argue doctrine with the saints of God (and win!). The devil isn’t stupid as some believers vainly suppose: he knows scripture better than you (and I) do. He has caused the mighty to fall and the powerful to stumble. He has ruined ministries and destroyed the anointed of God. But the one fortress that our enemy cannot penetrate, the wall he cannot surmount is the love of God. And when all the shouting has silenced and when all the methods of warfare have ceased, there remain these three, faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.

Please note: I am not discounting the appropriateness, power and occasion for casting out demons or cleansing homes and yes, even or especially church buildings too, but I am suggesting that before we begin our war with devils we “put on” the royal and impenetrable robe of love.

To love is to become like the Savior who, because of love gave Himself, “that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

To love like God is to love the unlovely, to love the least of humanity, to love the loser and the liar and the robber and the persecutor and the accuser and the hater and to embrace with a life transformed by the love of God the unworthy and the utterly evil and sinister and devious among us.

Hell has a strategy to defeat every confessing Christian, and that strategy is sadly successful in too many lives. But hell has no weapon, no strategy, it has no offensive or defensive ability to conquer the love of God.

If you want to see the devil discouraged and defeated in your life or in your church, love one another as Christ loved (us) and gave Himself for us.


Came a Gentle Whisper . . .

Among the means by which our God and Father communicates through us, there exists both the declarative and the contemplative word of the Lord. The Old Covenant prophet Elijah knew it by experience; the “still, small voice” is seldom spectacular and rarely is it the thrilling, supercharged, goose-pimple producing “thus saith the Lord” revelation men so frequently clamor for. On the other hand, the thundering, awe-inspiring, earth-shattering sound may be, but seldom is the true Voice that is above every other voice.

It is not volume, but value that reveals the difference between the counterfeit and the authentic. The brand name ‘Rolex’ doesn’t make the watch genuine, it’s the materials and workmanship inside that validates genuineness.

Indeed, Elijah had perhaps more New Covenant comprehension than did any of his contemporaries. He was no stranger to raising the dead. He called down fire from heaven and entered paradise alive in a whirlwind without tasting death. He was superintendent of the school of the prophets and knew intimately and personally the voice of his God.

And God said to this man, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper’ (1 Kings 19:11,12).

The first instructive words are these, “the LORD was not in…” Oft-times, perhaps more frequently than we want to admit, God is “not in…” our carefully structured plans and programs, our schemes and our suppositions and our limited understandings of the things of God. God may be fully engaged in our worship songs or He may be nowhere in sight when these same songs become more show than worship, more narcissistic expression than humble adoration of the King of all glory.

It is right to want Him, to want to hear His voice, to see His hand extended, to experience Him in full display of divine mercy, grace and goodness, but it is wrong to insist that He move by our schedule; that He descend when we declare, that He comes when we command. He is no wish-fulfilling genie in iridescent garments with whom we have to do. There is a bigger reason, a grander purpose that He has for our lives than we can possibly hope to comprehend in our limited imaginations and narrow thoughts.

The human psyche seeks irrepressibly to rise… above. It is both a natural and an evil desire. It was observed by the pre-incarnate Word who “saw Satan as lightening fall from heaven” after the same declared, “I will…!” Five times he declared. Five times he insisted. Five times he made known to the heavens his insistence that glory should surround him to the want of the King of glory. (See Luke 10 and Isaiah 14).

Unless we should think too highly of our spiritual estate, scripture reveals that it was Lucifer, the son of the Morning, the beatific being who reflected God’s luminescence more magnificently than any other angel who would fall to the lowest and meanest estate and spiritual condition. Lucifer: powerful, intelligent, beautiful, proud, intimately near God’s Person and throne. Yet tragically, perhaps inevitability, he fell.

Hear his ancient declaration, “I will…” “I Will!” Hear it through the centuries and with the expanse of history from the beginning until now: “I WILL!”

So we must exercise great caution and humility when the desire rises from within to shout our will; to invade heaven with our demands. We want to declare and watch our demands take shape and form. We insist that our decree is His decree. But if caution is not exercised, we will appear as the children of Israel testified of the divine origin of their creation when they certified that a golden calf fairly materialized from the flames of man-made fire.

Our every motivation and desire must always be not what we demand, but what He desires. Rather than insisting that our decree become His decree, we ought always to determine that His decree should become our decree.

Scripture gives us divine order: “Delight yourself also in the LORD; and he shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). The key here is found in the words, “in the Lord.” Note that it is not “in our understanding, in our desire, in our wish,” but it is “in the Lord” that He gives us the desires of (our) hearts. “Delight in the Lord” brings “the desires of your heart.” This is so because when we truly find our “delight” in Him, His desires become ours. We then find ourselves praying, claiming and declaring in His will and not in ours. Remember the words, “…not my will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42).

In our desiring and our declaring, we must consider that above, beyond; of chief priority to the redeemed heart is the desire and yearning of the perfect and matchless God of all creation, our heavenly Father. What does He, what do You desire, my sovereign Lord and my all-consuming King, my gracious Savior and my Lord?

Before we hazard to declare, before we utter what we presume to be God-generated pronouncement, may we hear Him; may we hear the singular Voice of whom it is made revealed, “in these last days has spoken to us by His Son.”

Oh, it is true that ‘wherever two or three of us shall gather in His name, there He is in the midst of us.’ Indeed, our very humble bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. It is Christ in us, the hope of glory. Scripture abounds to indicate and to qualify that when Christ is “in us” we are accompanied and indwelt by the fullness of the triune God.

Yet He chooses often silence over sound and gentle breeze over hurricane wind to speak to us in the depths both created and plumbed by the same Creator and Sustainer who is our God.

Listen. This is my plea. Hear Him. Hear Him clearly. Before rising in the midst of the assembly of the saints of God to declare, first discern. Loud and rumbling thunder may shake hearth and home, but booming sound does not guarantee life-giving rain. There are many “clouds without water, carried to and fro of the winds” (Jude 1:12).

“A great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”

As comes a gentle whisper, may we provide a listening ear.



The Limp of Life

In October, 2012 I suffered a devastating fall from a tall ladder onto unforgiving concrete. Despite the best efforts of good surgeons, I live each day with unwanted limitation, imperfection, disability and discomfort.


The falls of life, either literally or figuratively bring limitation to us all. The critical thing is to understand the purpose of collapse and crushing and to know how to respond to them.

On almost a daily basis I find myself wishing that having sustained various injuries and following prayer and surgery, I could be ‘over it.’ But I’m not.

Adding to the mechanical limits caused by the replacement of bone with steel and the “after market” installation of screws and pins is the ongoing experience of a congenital heart disease called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy or ‘HCM’ as it is typically abbreviated.

Jacob ‘wrestled’ with the Lord and noticeably, conspicuously limped for the remainder of his days. A limp is an indicator of limitation, of frustration, of imperfection and finally, of surrender.

Two years prior to the ladder incident, I underwent a complex surgical procedure to alleviate a condition that should already have killed me. At the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, my heart was removed and detached from my body to enable Dr. Hartzel Schaff to carve out an enlarged muscle that was preventing the heart from doing its job of pumping blood into and out of the organ.

Following my surgery, Dr. Schaff informed me, “I removed the muscle that has blocked blood-flow, but you still have the disease.” I didn’t fully appreciate the gravity and full meaning of those words then, and only with time have I begun to understand and to accept my ‘new normal’ as opposed to my “old normal.”

Through the cross of Jesus, God has removed the influence (our sin nature) that blocked the flow of life, but until we are made fully and divinely perfect, we still have the disease (of being human and error prone)

I often, with or without exercise become almost completely breathless. If that sounds romantic, it’s not. It’s downright frustrating; sometimes scary; always unwelcome when my lungs are screaming for air and my pulmonary system refuses to respond as it was designed.

It’s very much like the feeling of having run a 100 meter dash. You know the feeling: Your body bends at the waist; your hands jut out to grasp your knees. Your chest heaves with the activity of refilling lungs with life-giving air. You’re dizzy, and the atmosphere  begins to blur and to fade. That’s the way I often feel; but without the running. And it’s frustrating. It’s restrictive. It’s uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s actually scary. And it’s an imperfect way to live.

But that’s my life. It’s yours, too: Imperfect. Partial. Limited. Flawed.

Maybe your limitation and frustration isn’t caused by a heart disease that you contracted by being born with flawed DNA. Maybe your limitation and frustration is caused by something else. Maybe your limitation is your fault. Maybe it’s not. As we eventually all discover, and as Alexander Pope observed: “To err is human.”

The apostle Paul was human and imperfect even as he strove for divine perfection. He called his limiter, his frustration a ‘thorn.’[1] He testified, speaking of perfection (resurrection), “Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature …”[2]

And he isn’t the only Good Guy of scripture to have experienced imperfection. Moses lived the bulk of his days anticipating his entrance into a land that flowed with milk and honey. He never got there. He saw, but he did not possess his heart’s desire.[3]

Jacob, of Old Testament fame wrestled – a graphic and apt but somehow unsuitable sounding word to the religious-minded crowd who want squeaky clean, unsoiled, and so largely untested biblical heroes. Jacob ‘wrestled’ with the Lord; a messy, sweaty business and noticeably, conspicuously limped for the remainder of his days. A limp is an indicator of limitation, of frustration, of imperfection.[4

What’s your limp look like? What’s your limitation? Your frustration? We all have one. Or two. Or more. Where did your limp come from? How did it come to be?

David, Samson, Peter, James, and on and on the list goes until it includes you and me and everybody we know – none of us gets through this life without challenge, difficulty, failure. None of us is perfect. None of us can claim that we are without imperfection, limitation; without the limp of life.

Paul’s resume’ doesn’t stop with “Not that I have reached the goal (of resurrection from the dead – consider this not physical death, but dying to himself, to his “old” nature and dying to the world that he might be raised in newness of life), but he writes to the Philippian church, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”[5]

The power of the resurrection cannot be known without our first becoming conformed to death.

We will never know perfection until we have tasted imperfection. We cannot experience full ability until we are intimately familiar with inability.

In Old and New Testament terms, we can’t know the value of Grace until we understand the weight and the price of the Law.[6]

We were all, every one of us born “in sin.” We entered this world with a fully functioning “sin nature.” In our original, seemingly innocent condition, as sweet, little infants, we each arrived with a proclivity for iniquity.

The purpose of our imperfection is to both reveal to us and to lead us to “that which is perfect.” And “perfection” has a name; it’s a person, and his name is Jesus. Paul’s explanatory continues: “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it (perfection), but one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.”

My imperfection then is engineered by God’s own hand to produce, eventually, perfection. My limitation is designed to encourage and to enable me to press forward. John Wesley explains it as being “stretched out over the things that are before – Pursuing with the whole bent and vigour of my soul, perfect holiness and eternal glory. In Christ Jesus – The author and finisher of every good thing.”[7]

Wesley is careful not to ascribe the effort, the struggle, the process of perfection as the result of our own, valiant and persistent effort. His final, victorious declaration reveals that it is “Christ Jesus (in us) – The author and finisher of every good thing.”

Simply put, we cannot, by any measure of effort or valiant struggle or dogged determination be made perfect. “It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”[8] “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”[9]

No wonder the words of the Apostle ring loud and clearly through the ages until we find them resounding in our own hearts, “the life that I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”[10]

Perfection is achievable, attainable, reachable, only as we give way so that He can have his way in our lives, through our imperfections, in spite of our inadequacies, despite our limping, wobbling weakened conditions. So long as it is “Christ in you,” there is more than hope for your tomorrow; there is promise, divine promise, from the God who will never leave you, or forsake you and who cannot, in any sense, fail. [11]

The Hebrew writer discloses concerning those faithful saints of history, all these died, and “none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.[12]

And until then? Until the day of perfection? Until then, we see in part, we know in part,[13] we live in partial fulfillment of the promise that surely, one day will be achieved and we shall be presented, without defect or flaw, before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy —“[14]

[1] 2 Corinthians 2:7-10

[2] Philippians 3:12

[3] Deuteronomy 34:1-

[4] Genesis 32:22-32

[5] IBID

[6] Galatians 3:24

[7] Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

[8] Philippians 2:13

[9] 2 Corinthians 4:7

[10] Galatians 2:20

[11] Colossians 1:20

[12] Hebrews 11:39,40

[13] 1 Corinthians 13:9

[14]  Jude 24,25

Why Are We . . . ?

Why are we here? Why are you here? On this earth, living in the nation where you live, with the career and the family and the conditions in which you are found; why are all of us here?the-thinker-by-rodin-1233081

As believers. As followers of Christ. As members – representatives of the kingdom of God, why are we here?

We are here to bring heaven to earth. We are here to reconnect heaven and earth. We are created to become conduits of the atmosphere of heaven, flowing into and transforming the atmosphere of earth. We are here to become the mechanism that will accomplish the appeal that insists, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

We are not here to convince people to attend our churches or to sing our songs or to pray our prayers or to adopt our theologies or to support our charities or to be impressed with our state of the art technological lighting, sound, smoke and effects. We have not come to the kingdom for “such a time” and purpose of popularizing Christianity among a host of world religions.

We are here to bring heaven to earth. We are here to re-join the disconnected. The connection that was broken, the relationship that was injured, the original association between Creator and creation, Father and sons, these were damaged, broken, fragmented, lost.

Where we feel disused, overlooked, passed by, ineffective as evangelists is in the place where we misunderstand: we think we are called to preach a sermon, produce a song, argue or embellish or convince those “without” so that they may desire to be found “within.”

Ours is not a calling or a responsibility to perform spiritual magic tricks that will persuade unbelievers to join the ranks of we believers. No, ours is the calling to represent, to embody, to contain, possess, to carry within our very beings, at the very core of what we are, the character and the image and the glory and the very Person of the Christ who came to enable us to be both reconnected and to reconnect others with heaven.

Why are we here? Why are you here, on this planet, in this time, in this place? We are here, you are here to reveal, to demonstrate, to become and to be and to be seen as the true manifestation of the sons of God in the earth.

“…When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” And as sons, these would become they who would reflect the image and share the DNA and become accurate representations of the Father.

By “being” and not primarily by “doing.”

Salt does nothing. Salt, “is.” Salt possesses an augmenting effect; it enhances a flavor already present. Salt “enlivens.” We are called to be something that does nothing but something that simply “is.” We are salt that enhances a substance that already is present; the substance of the kingdom and therefore of the very nature of God.

“Light” exerts no effort. Light, “is.” Light produces an environment; it creates a canvas upon which content may be seen, perceived, comprehended, understood. Light dissolves darkness; pushes back that which has pushed forward. Light “displaces” darkness, simply by existing.

The Genesis account describes the condition that allows displacement. The phenomenon is found in the action of placing something – or some one into a medium, water, which then causes the water level to rise. When you, when we are inhabited by God’s Spirit as followers of Jesus, we cause a displacement, a movement of the powers that were because of the power that is, which is the kingdom of our God and of His Christ. Where righteousness moves, unrighteousness must, by the law of displacement, retreat.

In that first account, God caused a displacement, ““And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.” God separated the waters above from the waters below. Something, the presence of light and of love and of the Lord of heaven caused the displacement, the movement necessitated by the introduction of some “firm” appliance into the atmosphere that was.

We are alive for the purposes of God, for the purpose of being, of simply being salt and light until the world has seen, has perceived, has comprehended and received the love of God

And so it is that when we, as believers, as “temples of the Holy Spirit” are introduced into the atmosphere of what was, we create, by our presence, what is: The kingdom of God comes to earth, pushes back darkness and evil and fills the newly formed void with “light and righteousness and joy and peace” in the Holy Spirit.

We are here, on this earth, on this turning, spinning, hurtling sphere called planet earth and we are alive for the purposes of God, for the purpose of being…of simply being salt and light until the world has seen, has perceived, has comprehended that the God of all creation loves them, each of them, individually, personally, face-to-face, Father to son until all the world, every human being, “red and yellow and black and white,” of every kindred and of every tribe and of every tongue has seen, and known, and comprehended the eternal everlasting and gracious love of God.

Abandoned To Be Found

What images do these words conjure for you?






Whatever impressions emerge or pictures are drawn in your mind as you consider these words, it is likely that you have also experienced the feelings, the emotions, yes, the hurt and pain of abandonment or rejection.

Perhaps it was a parent – a mother or a father who abandoned you. Maybe it was a spouse or a child or a brother or a sister who rejected you. Those you believed were your friends, fellow “believers” in Jesus coldly and inexplicably forsook you and you found yourself suddenly and silently alone in your aloneness, shivering in the icy chill of your isolation, waiting in stunned silence for some sense, some understanding of what had happened, some reconciliation between what you thought you knew and believed and what you so painfully experienced.

Rejection and abandonment can come in a thousand costumes and speak with myriad voices. The effect, the result produced is always the same:

Rejection brings injury to the soul and anguish to the mind. Abandonment makes the heart grow weak, but more; desertion destroys self-worth. We learn early in life to discard what we do not need; what we do not want; what is not essential or profitable or useful or even acceptable.

Garbage is disposed of; trash is discarded. We keep only that to which we attach value.

An abandoned soul feels valueless, worthless, insignificant, useless.

A forsaken heart is more than empty and crushed and bruised and injured; it is a playground for devils, a gymnasium for demons.

From the soil of rejection flourish the sour fruits of bitterness, resentment and, dark, brewing rage. Implacable, stone-hearted and pitiless wrath proceed from hearts that have known the frigid winds of torment spawned by the uncaring, the unfeeling and the unaware.

From such renunciation Americans have become familiar with the name “Columbine” and “Red Lake High” in northern Minnesota and other, more recent scenes of torment and terror.

Most rejected and broken hearted people never pick up a gun or seek to lash out at others. There is no need and no desire. The slow, grinding suicide begun by the deadly injection of aloneness and friendlessness is as deadly as any bullet that ever roared in tortured anguish.

We cannot control if and when or by whom we will feel the lethal claws of abandonment.

What we can do, what we wield control over is our response to rejection. Options exist for the heart that was crushed. Brokenness may come, but annihilation is not inevitable. No soul that was crushed was ever beyond repair.

And there is Someone who knows…..feels….. empathizes…..understands….. cares, who is “touched by” our pains and who also possesses the power to heal even the most trampled upon and crushed heart. It was foretold of Him;

“I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice…He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench.”

Who is this shining Knight; this Rescuer of offended hearts? Who is this Champion of the soul Who comes to right those who were wronged and to heal those who’s destruction seemed certain?

He came forth of misinterpreted illegitimacy and was raised in humble anonymity; He came forth from obscurity and moved about in lonely exile. He left His home country and renounced his nobility, He was self-effacing and pointedly unassuming. He sought nothing for Himself and was content by Himself.

He was “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

It is He Who “will bring forth justice for truth,” and God will hold His hand; “He will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house.”

And to the One Who promised, “I will hold Your hand” hear the anguished cry from the central cross on that Crucifixion Day of all Days when Innocence was fixed to the Tree of Final Death: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him….” because He saw your face and knew your brokenness and He anticipated through forsaking Him, your wholeness.

This Man above men, “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the    likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” So that He might see you, find you, know you, touch you, heal you, a bruised reed, tender, delicate, nearly too far gone to be repaired, but repairable in the Hands of a Master Physician.

And when we – you and I – accept and receive healing and restoration and the comfort of friendship with Him, we then carry within ourselves the knowledge, the ability and the sympathy to carry Him to another abandoned, rejected, forgotten heart, “that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

So, we reach to the “least of these.” We find ourselves among “orphans and widows.” We observe pure religion and undefiled before God because we become what He has always been; a Father to the fatherless; a Lover of the unlovely; a Friend to the friendless. A visitor of prisoners and a provider of a cloak, a meal, a home…a heart that knows, that feels, that sees, that understands.

Our Abandonment was essential for anothers Recovery

We were deserted so that we might learn to Salvage

                     Discarded so we could Recapture

                              Forsaken that we might Comprehend

                                         Alone that we might find the true Companion

What images are conjured in your heart? What scenes play before your mindscreen? Someone has been abandoned, deserted, discarded, forsaken. And who will notice? Who will go? Who will touch them in their brokenness and in their loneliness and who will bring them to the Forsaken One who alone has the antidote for this poison of the soul?