Happy?

CSLI recently saw a quote by C.S. Lewis on social media. It was taken from his book Mere Christianity, and he made this observation:

And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

We see this being played out ad nauseam in our society today. Being happy is the topic of countless movies, books, self-help seminars, and popular music. One of the best-selling songs of the last year was even entitled Happy. Happiness has now become the driving force behind ill-advised and ungodly judicial and political legislation as we see the religious rights of individuals being trampled on for the sake of another person’s “happiness”.

But while there is nothing inherently wrong with being happy, how we go about it can have quite the opposite effect. The pursuit of happiness as the ultimate goal has populated divorce courts, abortion clinics, medical and mental hospitals, and cemeteries for decades (and longer). The idea that happiness is the most important thing in life is the lie that has perpetrated itself in one form or another down through the centuries. The days of Noah, Sodom, Gomorrah, Babylon, Rome, and many other civilizations that have passed into oblivion because of moral failure and degradation bear witness to the fleeting satisfaction of happiness.

The fact is that there is a void in every person that only God can fill. And while God does not promise us happiness, He does promise every person that puts their faith and trust in Him life and joy. In John 10:10, Jesus says…

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

In John 15:11, He goes on to say…

These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

If we are searching after our happiness, we will find it to be elusive and empty. However, if our pursuit is His joy in our lives, that is something no man or circumstance can take away, because it is not dependent on our situation, but on His goodness — and His goodness is something that no diagnosis, disaster, or decree can change or take away.

And who knows… in your pursuit of the joy of the Lord, you might just stumble across the happiness you have been looking for.

Have a blessed week!

No One Believes In Me Anymore

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. ~ 1 Timothy 4:1

The last days will be characterized by a departure from the faith.

Ladies and gentlemen… we’re there.

DemonFrom well-known pastors speaking out against Biblical values to entire denominations abandoning sound Biblical truth for the sake of political correctness and societal relevance, we are seeing the prophecy of 1 Timothy 4:1 play out in all it’s real-time, full color, live-action reality. In Matthew 24, Jesus said that, when He returns again, the societal climate would be “as it was in the days of Noah“. In order for that to be the case, it would make sense that some form of influence from Noah’s time would be present at the time of Christ’s return.

An ancient evil, as it were.

We live in a society that, for all of it’s animosity toward God and His commands, is fascinated with the supernatural. Because of this fascination, the idea of angels and demons is quite popular, being the subjects of books, movies, video games, music, and more. But like so many things in politically-correct pop-culture, we want to believe as long as we can do so on our terms. This is EXACTLY what the enemy prefers… an unrealistic, cartoonish view of demons that takes the edge off who they really are, how they really work, and the danger they REALLY pose. As the late Keith Green so accurately penned…

Oh, my job keeps getting easier
As time keeps slipping away
I can imitate your brightest light
And make your night look just like day
I put some truth in every lie
To tickle itching ears
You know I’m drawing people just like flies
‘Cause they like what they hear

I’m gaining power by the hour
They’re falling by the score
You know, it’s getting very simple now
‘Cause no one believes in me anymore.

~ from the song, No One Believes in Me Anymore
from the album For Him Who Has Ears to Hear
©1977 Sparrow Records

In order to face our enemy in a realistic fashion, we must first clear up some misconceptions about the enemy and spiritual warfare. Let’s dive in…

Misconception #1: Demons, Alive During Biblical Times, are Only Active Today in Pagan Cultures.

Nothing in the Bible restricts demonic activity to certain times and cultures. On the contrary, the Bible states that we are in a constant battle (2 Corinthians 2:11). The devil would like nothing more than for people to deny his existence.

Misconception #2: Demons Cannot Bother Believers.

While a Christian cannot be totally taken over (possessed) by a demon, Christians can be oppressed, harassed, and dominated by demonic activity. Unrepentant believers can open themselves up to demonic oppression (Acts 5:3, 1 Corinthians 5:4-5). Ephesians 6:10-15 speaks of our wrestling against the powers of darkness, questions the enemies fiery spears, and stands firm against his assaults. The enemy can attack the mind and body of a Christian. Christians need to embrace deliverance as a part of their salvation. In Matthew 6, Jesus Himself commands us to pray daily, “Deliver us from the evil one.”

Misconception #3: Only Occult Involvement Leads to Demonic Difficulties.

Occult involvement leads to demonization. However, occult involvement is not the only avenue to oppression by the enemy. Every believer is subject to temptation, deception, oppression, and strongholds.

Misconception #4: Demonic Operation Incites only Extreme Behavior Such as Violence and Gross Sin.

It is true as is seen in Mark 5 that total demonization can lead to extreme behaviors. However, look at Mark 1:23-24. We have a man in the synagogue who cries out in his oppression. There is no violence here at all.

Also in Luke 13:10-16 we find a woman called “a daughter of Abraham” (Luke 10:16) bound by “a spirit of infirmity.” The name infirmity is “asthenia” in Greek. It means feeble, lack of strength, weak, disability. Jesus says to her, “Thou are loosed.” That word “loosed” is apoluo, which means “to free fully and set at liberty.” This woman was sick and helpless by demonic oppression for l8 years. She was a church-going believer but bound by Satan for 18 years. Jesus set her free on the day of worship.

Misconception #5: Christians Are in Personal Danger in Dealing with Demons

I often hear people say in fear, “I do not want to stir up anything by getting involved in warfare.” My friend, Jesus laid hands on this poor woman and she was delivered. Demons are under the authority of believers and can only affect us if we give them place.

What kind of surgeon would not operate because of the fear of inflicting pain? What kind of doctor would not treat a disease for fear of exposing himself? The doctor would put on protection and do his job. Likewise we can suit up in God’s armor and help others to freedom.

Misconception #6: It Is Dangerous to Touch or Be Around Someone Who Is Demonically Afflicted.

Fear invites the attack of the enemy. However, other believers are not transmitters. A person right with God has nothing to fear from the enemy.

Misconception #7: For Deliverance, You Can Plead the Blood of Jesus Without Having Understanding and Faith.

The blood of Jesus cannot be “plead” like some good luck charm! We honor the blood of Jesus and trust its cleansing, protection and delivering power. The blood pleads itself when applied to the life of the believer. Revelation 12:11 speaks of the blood’s overcoming power against Satan.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

The blood speaks of forgiveness and cancels the enemy’s right to attack. The blood does not “plead to Satan” for anything. The blood’s plea is to the Father. The blood rebukes Satan.

Misconception #8: Spiritual Warfare Instruction is Unnecessary.

Some time back, a pastor and a former longstanding member of a church informed me that their church had gotten along without this teaching for years. I replied, “look at your church and mine.” Half their membership did not attend. Sin was rampant in their body. Depression and oppression dominated many of their people’s lives. Ignoring the truth leads to disaster. 2 Corinthians 2:11 warns us not to be “…ignorant of Satan’s devices.”

MIsconception #9: One Can Make Light of Satan and the Truth of Spiritual Warfare With Impunity.

I had an evangelist tell me that Satan is a toothless tiger! That cliché sounds good, but is it true? Look at 1 Peter 6:8-9.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, stand fast in the faith…”

The word “devour” means “to gulp down.” We are to realize our enemy is defeated but still dangerous.

Misconception #10: It Is Enough Just To Resist the Devil Over a Period of Time.

Resisting the devil is necessary and important. Yet this is defensive. There is an offensive side to spiritual warfare whereby ground gained by the enemy must be retaken. Ephesians 4:27 warns us about “giving place” to the Devil. In Matthew 12:43 demons seek “places.” It is the same word found in Ephesians 4:27.

We must come to the rescue of those captured by the enemy. Colossians 1:13 speaks of salvation as being “…delivered from the kingdom of darkness…” Matthew 16 Jesus said of the church, “…the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church.” This text speaks of the church attacking the very gates of hell’s strongholds.

In John 12:31 Jesus spoke of the cross as a place where the enemy would be “cast out.” Every lost person lives under the domain of “…the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.

When Paul stood before King Agrippa he stated his mission in Acts 26:18…

“To open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God that they might receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance…”

Salvation is a rebirth of those in darkness, under the rule of Satan.

Misconception #11: Freedom From Multiple Attacks is Instantaneous.

Sometimes it takes intensive warfare to get rid of all the invaders in your life. Years after his entry in the ministry, Timothy battled a stronghold of fear. (2 Timothy 1:7) God will do a complete work if we let him. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (NKJ)

Misconception #12: Freedom Gained is the End of Spiritual Warfare.

No, it is only the beginning of a life of discipleship. Ground retaken in one’s life must be defended. Sin must be purged, and a life of commitment continued. We must wear our armor until that day we exchange it for a robe of white.

~ Today’s blog was adapted from my book
Everyone’s Guide to Demons and Spiritual Warfare

America’s War with Terror

Coptic ChristiansFriends, we are in a very real struggle.

Some don’t want to believe it. Some don’t want to talk about it. Some want to look the other way and pretend it doesn’t exist. Regardless of what those who choose to ignore reality may want to believe (or want you to believe)…

It does exist.

After portions of my message, America’s War with Islamic Terror, aired on television, we received a call from a person who had lived in the Middle East, and lived through the horrors of Islamic ideology and terrorism. This person thanked us for speaking the truth about Islam, and encouraged us to keep spreading the truth, and sharing the love of Jesus. It is that love that sets the captive free, changes the heart of the sinner, and gives hope to the person lost in the darkness of Islamic ideology and culture.

I would like to share this message with you now, and encourage you to share it with your friends, and join us on the front lines of this war we can win through the power of the shed blood of Jesus.

Drunken Generals and the Spirit of David

GenUSGrantOne of the greatest generals from the North during the Civil War was Ulysses S. Grant. Although a brilliant tactician, he was considered by some to be a drunk. In the face of requests to dismiss him, Abraham Lincoln replied…

I cannot spare this man… He fights.

King David was the greatest king Israel had ever known. A renowned warrior… an extravagant worshiper — David became trapped in a web of deceit and manipulation. What started as an illicit affair ended in murder and cover-up. He was plunged into a place of emotional darkness and despair. Yet in spite of all of his mistakes, God restored David, and referred to him as “a man after My own heart“.

A while back, one of my staff wrote an essay about David. I thought I’d share it with you…

The Spirit of David

“Small, ruddy faced… sings good though…”

In so many words, that was David’s introduction to Samuel and the world. The prophet was sent by Jehovah to the house of Jesse to find and anoint the one who would replace the disobedient Saul as king of Israel. God chose the smallest and most unassuming of many brothers to lead His people, and true to His form, God took “the least of these” and made him the greatest king in Israel’s history.

In modern times we refer to the Spirit of Praise as “The Spirit of David”. There are songs by that title, and it is alluded to in countless others. After all, David was “the sweet singer of Israel”, know probably as well for his harp picking as his rock slinging. At least in certain spear-hurling circles, he was loved and despised for both. But let’s face it… when it came to worship, David knew how. He threw off tradition and trappings, and set out to worship God Almighty, no matter what it cost him. At times in his life, I believe that nothing mattered more to him that knowing he was right with his Creator.

But there is more to the Spirit of David than meets the eye. Afer all, how can you just take the good and forget the rest. There was the dark side of David’s life as well…

There was David the adulterer…

David the murderer…

David the hypocrite…

David the lousy dad…

David the ineffective leader.

Yessir, it is a package deal. His imperfections were obvious. Can good praise and worship overlook a life that had that many and that glaring of sins? Can good harp playing cover a life marked by repeated failure and turmoil?

“…As far as the east is from the west.”

That’s how far God promises to throw the sins of those who turn their hearts to Him. He promises to remember them no more. It was good enough for David. It’s good enough for us. We don’t understand… we don’t have to. It is an unconditional promise of God, a promise rooted in mercy and grace. It is a promise that transcends our thought process. Sure, I don’t understand it… I’m not God. He does, however.

So let’s set the record straight:

David was an adulterer… but he was a man after God’s own heart.

David was a murderer… but his desire was toward God. (Don’t believe me? Read any Psalm he wrote).

David was a lousy dad… but he had a Heavenly Father who never gave up on him.

And as hard as it may be for us to believe, He’ll never give up on us either. Ever.

The Spirit of David is the Spirit of Praise. Praise out of an imperfect heart that understands vertical praise in spite of horizontal failure.

The Scars Of The Covenant

A dramatization…

Bet She'an2He could not believe his good fortune. He had gone from a young man in hiding to the front of the line, in a manner of speaking. This was relatively unheard of, especially for someone like him, with the physical limitations of being crippled. Yet, here he was… sitting at the table of the king. As he sat eating, he pinched himself for the five thousandth time to make sure this wasn’t a cruel dream – a dream from which he would wake and once again find himself in destitute obscurity.

Ouch!

“Nope… still here”, he mused, taking another bite of the delicacies set before him.

On this particular morning, the king was unusually quiet. The normal laughter and conversation that the king engaged in was replaced by a pensive quiet. The king seemed introspective today – almost sad. As he ate, his perpetual gazing out the window betrayed a mind that was lost in thought, a lifetime away. As the king reached for a piece of fruit, his sleeved slipped down from his wrist. It was then that the young lad noticed it…

A scar.

As the king continued eating, the sight of the scar became a focal point. He knew the king was a fierce warrior, but there was something different about this scar – something that beckoned him to inquire about its origin. In what heated battle did this great man receive this mark? What assailant could have gotten close enough to such a skilled swordsman to make such a mark? It only took a few minutes of his mind racing for his lips to form the words, and his heart to muster the courage to break the silence:

“Sire?” he said, his voice cracking with the single syllable.

“Hmmm? What is it?” came the almost startled reply. Coming back from wherever his mind had wandered, the king shifted his attention to the lad across from him, waiting for his question.

“That scar on your wrist… In what campaign did you receive that wound?” he inquired.

The king paused for a moment, almost as if suddenly being transported back in time to an event of life-changing significance. As he began to rub the wound, a smile crossed his face.

“I received this mark in a campaign that lasted for many, many years,” he said, now turning his full attention to his young inquirer.

“But you are a most skilled warrior, my lord. What fierce enemy could have ever gotten so close as to wound you in such a way? Have I heard of this great warrior in the stories and ballads of our land?” HIs mind was racing, trying to anticipate the answer.

“Enemy?” replied the king, almost laughing. “This mark is not the result of an enemy’s rage-fueled blade. No… this mark came from one I loved more than life itself. I received this wound because of your father.”

The boy was dumbfounded. “My father???”

“Yes… your father. You see, I was a peasant. Your father was the heir to the throne. We were an unlikely pair… the statuesque son of the king, and this ruddy-faced shepherd boy. But when Jehovah chose me to ascend to the throne instead of your father, one would have thought that to be the end of our friendship.”

The king’s face lit up. “But you know what? It only made it stronger!”

“Ours was a covenant that not even death could nullify. Your father recognized the gift Jehovah had placed in me, and he was determined to see me succeed. He was the most unselfish person I ever knew. By birthright, your father should have been the next king, but he put his own ambition aside to see me succeed. I mean, even when your grandfather, the king, wanted to kill me, your father risked his own life, and the wrath of the king, to protect me. This scar is from a time your father and I made a covenant in blood that sealed our destinies. My friendship with your father taught me that we could accomplish more together than either of us could separately. There was power in our unity.”

Just then, the door across the room opened, and a slightly weary queen appeared at the entrance.

“David, there is a matter with your young son that requires your attention,” she stated, trying to remain poised.

The king laughed. “I’ll be right there, my queen.”

King David stood up, wiped his mouth a final time, and turned to his young interviewer.

“Mephibosheth, I want you to understand: Your presence here is the manifestation of the covenant between your father Jonathan and me – the culmination of a life devoted to a friendship both miraculous and wonderful. And just as a prince would (normally) be heir to a throne, you are heir to the promise I made to your father. As I loved him and had his best interests at heart, so I brought you out of Lodebar – a place of no hope – and have made you like a son. My table is your table. All of the wealth of your father is at your disposal.”

With that, King David turned and left the room, leaving Mephibosheth alone with his new-found appreciation, not only of his father, but of the power of the covenant of friendship. (For more on the story of David and Jonathan, see 1 Samuel starting in chapter 18 and continuing into 2 Samuel).

This dramatic account of a very real story illustrates the covenant power of friendship. As the lives of David and Jonathan illustrate the power of unity in friendship, we participate in such relationships on a daily basis:

Our relationship with God (a covenant Jesus died to enforce);

Holy communion (the covenant meal reminding us of our obligations in our covenant with God);

Marriage (the covenant relationship between one man and one woman);

Friendships (who is your “Jonathan”?);

Church membership (we are members of the body of Christ, and in that unity is the manifest power of God at our disposal).

As Jonathan and David found strength and purpose in their friendship, so we have power in the unity of faith with other believers. Think of the promises of Jesus:

“If any two of you agree…” Matthew 18:19

“Where two or three are gathered in my name…” Matthew 18:20

But the miracle power of unity is not just our unity with other believers. It is also our unity with Jesus – it’s a package deal! John 15 spells out in great detail the importance of abiding in Him, as well as loving each other, and the power available to us if we do. The unity of the Spirit creates an atmosphere of peace – nothing broken and nothing missing.

So what are you waiting for? As the tabernacle of David, we must call the broken, crippled, and wayward to the table. We must go to “Lodebar” – the place of no hope – and announce to them that Someone has made an everlasting covenant… a covenant that includes THEM!!!

Who is the “Mephibosheth” you are going to seek out?

What Motivates YOU?

 

 

Through the Looking Glass

With all of the news in recent months about some courageous Christians in our nation standing up for what they believe in the face of “politically correct” individuals and special interest groups, activist judges, and Constitutional revisionists, I felt this was worth repeating…

Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn made this quote:

You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power — he’s free again.

Manipulating a person is easy when you find out what they treasure. What a person fears loss, they can be made to do almost anything.

What an insight into the spiritual realm. As long as we have things that we hold onto tighter than our love for Jesus, we will always live in fear, and will always be subject to manipulation by the devil.

Jesus tells us in His Word that those who “lose their life for My sake will gain it” (Matthew 10:39). If we lay everything that we hold sacred at the feet of Jesus, we’ll find that nothing that we possess can compare to knowing Him.

That is the one thing no one can ever take away.

Images of #FONW15

A Fresh Oil New Wine 2015 draws to a close tonight (3-5-2015), I thought I would share some images from this amazing experience. This has been a powerful week of worship, teaching, and ministry, and many lives have been changed forever. Spirits have been refreshed, lives have been restored, and I believe that many are leaving here, ready to make an eternal difference in our world.

It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, so I thought I would simply post a “photo album” and let you experience a little of what went on (remembering that even the pictures don’t do it justice… you really need to be here next year). In the days to come, we will be offering the entire set of teaching sessions (CDs or DVDs) from the conference that you can purchase for your own viewing and edification. Be sure to look for it.

(Click on any image to enlarge)CapStone Crowd Hastons Karen Ken and Dana Mathena Ordination Perry1 Perry2 PT PT2 Rabbi1 Rabbi2 Rabbi3 Randy RonnieRonnie2RP1 RP2 Tony & Randy