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The Revelation of Desire

The Genesis narrative teaches us that desire and need occur only by means of revelation, either demonic or divine. The human soul exists between two revelatory options when it comes to desire; the devil seeks to reveal to us that we desire the things of this world, and the Spirit of God seeks to reveal to us that we desire the things of God. Each time we embrace a particular desire we come to faith in one teaching or the other.

Adam was alone, but not lonely. To be lonely is to consciously grieve the absence of others. Adam did not yet know grief, and so he did not yet know loneliness. He was not conscious of any personal needs...in fact he was conscious only of the fact that God was the provider of all his needs. God had to tell him that he was alone and that it was not good for him to be alone. Adam's need for a woman was a revelation from God. Because God was responsible for revealing Adam's need, he also took responsibility for meeting it, and this is paradigmatic for the life of faith. Whenever God reveals a need he does so because he fully intends to meet it. So he put Adam into a deep sleep and brought out of him the answer to his need. The whole process was instigated by God, executed by God, and completed by God. Adam was passive on all accounts. All that was left for him to do was to yield to the sleep that God brought over him and then rejoice in the woman God brought to him when he awoke.

This is what our lives are supposed to look like. We are so busy trying to figure out what we want from God that we don't stop to listen for what God wants for us. At the end of the day we really don't believe that God wants anything good for us. We think he wants us to be broke, sick, lonely, hurt, and discouraged, and this way of thinking is so unworthy of a God who gives us all things freely to enjoy!

Eve, on the other hand did not desire the fruit of the knowledge of the tree of good and evil. All she knew was that God had commanded them not to eat of it, and that was enough for her! She did not naturally desire to disobey God. In fact, she wanted to obey him! She was content with what he had given her and was completely fulfilled. Just as God had to tell Adam that he was alone and needed a wife, so the devil had to tell Eve that she was incomplete without that particular fruit. Temptation always begins with deception! In fact, temptation is a form of satanic revelation. Satan is constantly trying to reveal a lie to God's people! The lie is that you want sin!

This is where the rubber meets the road, and this will set you free if you truly get it! Most believers who struggle with sin issues think they are struggling because of their evil desires! This is the greatest deception that the enemy has sent to the people of God, and I'm exposing it right now! Hear this and hear it well: If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have been regenerated by the power of the Spirit and your flesh (sinful nature) has been put to death. The new nature of righteousness has been born in its place and you have been completely cleansed of your sin. You do not desire sin anymore! Now you desire God and his Spirit and his kingdom and his righteousness and his power and his love and his blessing and his favor and his will and his ways! In order to get you to sin, Satan has to convince you that you still want it! But that's a lie!


Then why, you might ask, do I still feel the desire for sin? You still feel the desire for sin because you still believe that you want it. You are no longer under the power of the devil, but you still think you are. You are no longer in your sins, but you still think you are. Once you unmask the power of the deception of sinful desire, you have virtually conquered sin because you are now established in the truth that your soul thirsts for God, for the living God!

How do we do this? Easy! Its called repentance. But most believers repent for the wrong thing! Don't just repent for committing the sin and walk away believing that you still desire to commit the sin. Real repentance is a change of mind (that's what the word metanoia means, after all), not saying sorry for an action. To change your mind you need to repent for believing that you desire to do what you have done. Sin requires faith. Repentance is the rejection of faith in the demonic teaching on desire. Jesus commands us to repent and believe the gospel. Stop believing the demonic lie that tells you that you are still bound by the desire to sin and begin to believe the truth that Jesus has set you free...and not only has he set you free from the act of sin, but from the desire for it! The Spirit of God is ready to release that revelation into your life, and if you receive it you will not only conquer sin, but you will find that your desire for God and for the things of God will jump off the charts! But the truth is (and I speak by revelation) your heart's desire is for God and God alone.

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Love/Lust

Love and lust are realities that are drastically different, yet often confused. What they have in common is the component of desire; desire can either take the form of love or lust. The distinction is in the outcome: lust perverts the purpose of its object by using it as a means of self-gratification. Love perfects the purpose of its object by restoring its dignity and recognizing its sanctity.

All things were created by God for his sheer enjoyment. This is why God takes a break on the 7th day; not out of exhaustion, but out of enjoyment! God looks upon all that his hands have made and declares it to be good, very good. God desires to enjoy his creation through the enjoyment of man, therefore he blesses people with good things, which he gives them freely to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). In man's free enjoyment of God's good creation, God himself rejoices in his creation. This is why we should never be afraid to enjoy what God has given us. He blesses us to be blessed and to be a blessing. But too many believers feel guilty receiving God's blessings, or try to limit God's blessings over their lives out of a desire to make sacrifices for the kingdom of God. Making sacrifices for the kingdom of God is a good thing when those sacrifices have been mandated by the kingdom of God. In other words, when you are sacrificing what God has given you to enjoy it is not godly at all! Likewise, it is not godly for you to enjoy what God has given you to sacrifice! Discernment is required to know the difference, and that discernment comes through the spirit of sonship and submission so that we may learn to offer right sacrifices, and not religious sacrifices, to God through Jesus Christ.

The Bible tells us that lust causes corruption and decay (2 Peter 1.4). Lust breaks things down by separating them from their created purpose. Ultimately all things were created for God's enjoyment and God has determined to use the enjoyment of man as a vehicle for his own enjoyment. Lust perverts the purpose of things by cutting them off from God's enjoyment. When a man engages in a form of enjoyment that God will have no part of that man is engaging in lust. Lust robs its object of God's enjoyment, and therefore lust is idolatrous! It replaces divine enjoyment with self-gratification, and in the absence of divine enjoyment things begin to break down and decay. Thus, lust is the vehicle through which Satan perverts God's good creation by cutting it off from God's enjoyment. Satan wants to destroy God's creation, and he wants to use you and me as his vehicles! If we harbor lust we join his program of destruction!

Love, on the other hand, restores things to their created purpose by covering sin, casting out fear, and cultivating faith. Love comes from God, it is his gift and the central attribute of his being. Love is patient and kind, it does not boast, it is not easily provoked, it keeps no record of wrongs, it does not rejoice in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. This is why love never fails! Its no wonder John said the one who loves is born of God and knows God! Love never takes an object as a source of personal enjoyment in isolation from God, but love seeks to reconnect people and things to God's enjoyment. When you are being truly loved you will feel it coming from two sources simultaneously: from the person giving it to you, and from God. When you are truly loving you will feel like a channel of God's love, as if his love were just flowing through you and you had no love of your own. If we keep these truths in mind we will intentionally partner with God in restoring people to their created purpose by bringing them into the flow of God's supernatural, eternal and unconditional love!

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Supernatural Inclusion

On my way home today I heard a piece on pbs about how the practice of technological inclusion is working to transform lives and communities in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Technological Inclusion, I discovered, is the process of making technological advancements accessible to those for whom such advancements are beyond reach. This process entails making technology understandable and affordable. Older people, for instance, often do not understand new technologies and prefer archaic and outdated (which usually means that they are more labor-intensive, less effective and more time consuming) methods that they are used to. Lower income communities, on the other hand, often do not have the financial ability to procure newer technologies and are often excluded for economic reasons. The process of technological inclusion then consists of educating older people who have yet to understand the benefits of newer technologies and subsidizing financially underprivileged people who desire such technologies but do not have the means of acquiring them.

The people who benefit from technological inclusion learn how to utilize technological resources as a means of understanding and transforming the realities of their experiences. For instance, a group of ten jr. high school aged boys who were given cell phones with internet access and video cameras used their phones to 1) video rats rummaging through loose garbage on the streets of Rio, 2) make people aware of the problem by posting the videos on youtube, and 3) get the word out through text messages and emails. The result was that the garbage problem was brought to the attention of the city authorities and measures were taken to deal with the rampant garbage problem. Making these boys recipients of the benefits of technological inclusion empowered them to understand and transform their environment!

As I listened to this story it dawned on me that the primary activity of the church could be described as Supernatural Inclusion. Supernatural Inclusion is the process of making supernatural resources accessible to those who are excluded from the benefit of such resources. Like technological inclusion, supernatural inclusion also entails making the supernatural understandable and affordable. The educative aspects of this process are directed toward those who are so accustomed to living by natural means that they do not yet see the benefit of the supernatural, or do not even believe that it exists. This archaic way of living is referred to in Scripture as the flesh. The first aspect of supernatural inclusion is educating people about the fact that living by the flesh is far more labor-intensive, less effective and more time consuming than living by the Spirit and participating in the supernatural resources of the Spirit-filled life. And the worst part of it is that even with all that extra work you still don't get the results from the flesh that you get from the Spirit. Just as people die all the time because of a technological deficit, so people die all the time because of a supernatural deficit. If we can succeed in educating people about the power of supernatural living, we can not only change lives, but empower people to change lives!

The affordability component is directed toward those who understand the benefit of the supernatural and may even desire to participate in the resources of the supernatural, but are not willing/able to pay the price. Like the latest technology, supernatural living is costly. It requires the relinquishment of the claim to personal sovereignty and abandonment to the lordship of Christ. Many people cannot afford this because they are spiritually impoverished having been enslaved by the dictatorial powers of sin and the demonic. Making the supernatural resources of heaven available to this group of people requires the payment of their debts (by the blood of Christ) and the release of supernatural life (through faith, the preaching of the gospel, the prophetic, prayer, etc). In other words, these individuals know that Jesus can help them, but are unable to seek him or believe him for themselves. They need friends who can tear a whole in the roof to lower them down to Jesus.

Supernatural inclusion is not religious inclusion: our goal is not to make the religion of Christianity accessible to those who are outside of its boundaries, but to make the supernatural resources of heaven accessible! The goal is not to lead people into Christian practices, but into supernatural experiences. Empowered with the resources of heaven, people will emerge from their encounters with believers with the ability to change their lives and their communities with the power of God!

If our churches began to understand their role in the world as being characterized by supernatural inclusion, the result will be a Christianity that is not only full of charismatic expression, but characterized by the process of educated openness. I am a charismatic-Pentecostal, but I want more than the ability to have charismatic experiences; I want to help others have charismatic experiences. I want more than the power to lay hands on the sick and heal them; I want to empower others to lay hands on the sick and heal them. I want more than the ability to hear and speak powerful words from God; I want to empower others to hear and speak powerful words from God. I want more than a powerful Christianity; I want an empowering Christianity! This, I believe, is God's heart for the church of the 21st century!

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Disorder and Order

Spiritual renewal is a dangerous thing if it is not coupled with a renewed understanding of order and authority. Spiritual experience and hierarchical authority are often considered antithetical realities. We tend to think that we can have one or the other, either spiritually arid order and government, or highly experiential chaos and disorder. I believe this division between order and experience is the primary reason why historical revivals have not had the type of lasting and dramatic impact they were designed to have in the world. From a biblical perspective, this is the primary reason Paul writes the letter of First Corinthians. The Corinthian believers had very powerful services in which multiple miraculous and prophetic spiritual gifts were in operation. But there was no order there. Paul's intention was not to quell the currents of revival that were washing over that church, but to add order to it so that all things would be done with decency and order. "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace" (1 Corinthians 14:33). Experience without order is like a drug-induced high. It feels good but it is not productive, and at the end of the day it destroys relationships! So in this blog entry I'd like to discuss the relationship between order and disorder, and in the process clearly define what proper authority in the church should look like.

Let's begin by charting the difference between order and disorder. The following charts should help you understand what the two look like.




Disorder always begins with fear...of not getting your way, of being misunderstood, of being mistreated, of being controlled and of being manipulated. Fear clouds the mind, damages the understanding, and skews the power of the will. 

This is why fear always leads to confusion. Confusion is lack of clarity, lack of certainty and lack of security. Confusion is a state of bewilderment. The confused person knows there's a problem, but can't pinpoint it and therefore can't fix it. Yet, he knows it needs to be fixed, so he frantically tries to fix it, but because he is confused he has misdiagnosed the problem and has therefore prescribed the wrong medicine and the wrong treatment.

Confusion is always coupled with anxiety. Anxiety is a state of worry, nervousness or unease. It manifests as an overwhelming sense of impending trouble; something is about to go wrong! In this sense, anxiety is prophetic because it declares what will happen 'tomorrow at about this time', but it is a hated prophet because it never has anything good to say!

Because confusion and anxiety lead to the attempt to fix the wrong problems, they always lead to division and conflict. When the wrong medicine is prescribed it makes the patient more sick! Conflict is a sense of irreconcilable incompatibility. It is only possible in the presence of unbelief, because conflict is a failure to believe in the reality of oneness. Division polarizes communities into two or more camps; it is a form of civil war. It is 'the act or process of being separated'. Division takes that which is rightfully one and makes it effectively two.

The result of the progression is rebellion, and this is the irony of it all. Once rebellion has set in confusion leaves, anxiety and fear dissipate, and clarity comes! The rebellious man is absolutely sure of the rightness of his position, and so he is bold in the proclamation of his gospel! The only problem is that his gospel contradicts the clear gospel of the house. Now the house will certainly be divided or destroyed, because two different gospels are being preached and the people are torn between one loyalty or another.

Order, on the other hand, begins with obedience. Obedience has nothing to do with faith, understanding, or agreement. Obedience is simply the decision to comply with the desires of another. Obedience says, I'll do it even though I don't necessarily like it, understand it, or agree with it. Obedience primarily involves the actions, rather than the heart or thoughts. The thoughts and heart are involved, but only at the basic level, for the one who obeys simply knows and feels that it is the right thing to do and the best thing for the community.

In submission and trust, the heart is more deeply engaged. Submission is the action of shifting the heart and mind around that which was formerly obeyed. Submission receives instruction not merely as command but as truth. It requires trust because it does not yet necessarily engage the understanding. This is what the disciples were getting at in John 6 when they said, "Lord where would we go? You have the words of eternal life." In other words, we have no understanding of what you are saying, and because we don't yet understand we cannot agree. Yet, we refuse to disagree because we know you and trust you to be one who speaks truth

The next level is agreement. Agreement is mental and emotional harmony; it is a shared perspective. Agreement says not only do I submit and trust, but I understand and perceive at the same level. This manifests itself as a sense of connection, of intimacy and of communion. 

All of this leads to what the bible calls 'unity'. We can also refer to this state as 'oneness'. When we are one, or united, we are completely submitted to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21). We now share all things common and none of us claim that anything is his own. In unity all hierarchy and becomes invisible. It is always there, but it becomes virtually unnecessary because it is fully subordinated to love. In this state we are united in action, thought, emotion, desire, and spirit.

Can you imagine what would happen if a powerful revival were coupled with complete order? It would be powerful beyond measure! It would have the power to transform whole cities! It would change both the church and the world! I believe that the Spirit of God is bringing the two together in these last days so that the fruit of revival is no longer lost in the fallout of disorder.


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Living Beyond Your Means

Conventional wisdom teaches that trouble comes when you begin to live beyond your means. You end up spending money you don't have to buy things you don't need and end up in a place you don't like: back-breaking debt and hopelessness about your financial future. Your best bet is to live within your means, spending only what you make, being content with what you have and committing yourself only to that which you can faithfully steward. This is a balanced approach to life, and its benefits are many!

Yet, without disagreeing with the conventional wisdom, I would like to suggest that there is a sense in which God calls us to live beyond our means and that striving to live within our means in this regard restricts the work of the Spirit of God in increasing our territory and expanding our boundaries. The call of God always pushes us beyond the boundaries of the practical and requires us to embrace the faith that commands the practical to submit to the spiritual. This means that if you are doing only what you can do with the resources you have, you have not yet fully discerned the call of God upon your life or adequately responded to it. Until you stand before a hungry multitude with nothing in your hands and hear the Lord say, "You give them something to eat," you have not heard God call you! This is what I have been learning in this new season that God has taken us into, and this is what I want to share with you in this post.

First, let me catch you up on what has happened over the past couple months. On the last Friday in May my wife called me to inform me that a three-day notice had been placed on the door of our 1,000 square foot condo in Dublin, CA. We purchased that condo four years ago and were happy living there; though the place was small and greatly restrictive, we were thankful for it as it was the first home we could call our own. But within a few months of closing escrow we began to hear the reports of the crash of the real estate market and became concerned. By year 3 the home had lost nearly 40% of its value and we were facing the prospects of foreclosure as we were fighting to continue paying an interest only loan that was about to fully amortize and go through the roof!

During that season my wife spent her Friday nights in prayer at the church with a few members of her missions team. They began praying at 10pm and finished at 5am. During one of those sessions the Lord spoke to my wife and said, "Let your condo go, go home and start packing and I'll give you a five-bedroom house." She came home and told me what the Lord said and so we let it go, fully expecting that at any moment God would drop that 5-bedroom home in our laps! What we discovered was that God almost never drops blessings out of the heavens. Instead, he requires us to learn how to inherit them through faith and patience. In other words, your blessing will not happen to you, you've got to happen to your blessing!

Ten months later we received notice that the bank had sold our condo at auction for less than 50% of what we paid for it. We were given 30 days to vacate and $2,000 for our trouble. Not bad!

Meanwhile, in early May we received word that the building that our church has occupied for the past two years had sold to a school. The plan of that school was to use our sanctuary space for classrooms space and put us back upstairs in the smaller space that we had occupied for a year before moving downstairs. At first I was adamantly opposed to the whole scenario. I declared boldly to my congregation, "It is not possible that we should be put out of the Lord's inheritance! This is the sanctuary of God and this building is ours!" There were two major prophetic confirmations of this word, so we simply expected something to happen that would prevent the school from occupying the building.

But low and behold, their permit was approved, their loan funded, and they came and took possession of the building, moving us upstairs immediately. It was a difficult time, but the Lord forbad me to grieve over it. Instead, I kept hearing the Spirit of the Lord command me to rejoice! So as we were breaking down the sanctuary, pulling up the carpet, etc., I just kept thanking the Lord: "Lord, thank you that you saw that this place was far too small for your vision for us and so you have delivered us from it and into a greater space." I kept hearing the Lord say that this was not loss and that we could not be diminished! So I boldly proclaimed that to the congregation.

Then June 1st came and my wife and I had to surrender the keys to our condo. We had been frantically searching for a new home for a few weeks already, and our search kept coming up empty. I kept thinking that the problem was that the rental market was flooded with people like us who had recently been foreclosed on. In hindsight I realize that tthe blockage was actually in our faith, rather than in the market. Our search had two criteria: it had to be in alignment with the word we had received from the Lord (five bedrooms) and we had to be able to afford it! What we found is that it was impossible to meet both those criteria!

We came close though! At one point we stumbled upon a 3,200 square foot home in Concord that was renting for $2,800 per month! That's a great value in this market, and even so it was beyond our budget. My wife was uncomfortable with the amount, but because of the word of the Lord, she opened her heart and agreed to reach for it. My mouth was wide open as we toured this property! I frantically filled out the application and submitted it. It took them several days to get back to us, and finally, on the day we were moving out of our place and the night before we had to surrender the keys, we drove to the office of the real estate company that represented the owner. I walked in and said to the property manager, "Look, I need to know if we got the place or not. We have to move out of our old place tonight!" The manager very kindly informed me that they had decided to give the place to another applicant.

At this point I could feel my heart rate increase. I went down to the car where my wife and baby were patiently awaiting the good news and as I climbed into the driver's seat I felt my fear intensify and my faith flee. I felt like our only chance had just slipped away. I felt like I had failed my family, like I had lost everything, like a failure of a father and husband. I felt physically sick as I shared the news with my wife. As we began the drive back to Dublin to begin the move, I began to develop a headache, and then I felt nauseous, and then dizzy and I knew that my blood pressure was up. When we got back to the house I took a blood pressure pill and then laid down for a few moments. The headache intensified, the nausea increased, and the dizziness and light headedness escalated. I drove myself to Safeway and took my blood pressure twice: 165/106. I sat in the car and cried. I even thought I would die of a heart attack right there and leave my wife and baby without a husband and father.

I went back to the house and laid down for a few minutes, then got up and tried to help with the move. I just couldn't leave the whole thing on my wife! I carried a few boxes, then practically collapsed onto the ground. My sister in law saw me, took me inside and made me lay down on the floor. She said I was ice cold. She covered me with coats and then laid hands on me and went into intense prayer and intercession. Then the Spirit of prophecy fell on her and she spoke this word from the Lord: "Bring glory to me my son for I am with you and I will be glorified in all that you do! Keep your eyes upon me, for I am about to bring you abundant blessings!" As I received that word I just wept before the Lord and began to say, "Father I bring you glory!" After a while my parents came and my mom took me to their house while my father stayed and helped finish the move.

The next day I processed the experience with my spiritual father. After explaining the whole situation to him he said, "Benjamin this whole thing happened because you left your place in the Spirit. You keep thinking you have to provide a home for your family with your own resources, but God is calling you to move beyond that. You've got to stop thinking about what you can afford and begin to trust the word of the Lord. God said he would give you a 5-bedroom home, he didn't say you had to go rent one yourself!" In other words, the problem was that I was trying to believe God's promise and rely on my own resources at the same time. This is enough to kill anyone! Can you imagine Moses thinking he was supposed to part the Red Sea with his own resources? The disciples thinking they had to feed the five thousand with their own resources? The miracle is always in the hand of the disciple, but the power that works it is always in the hand of God! In order to access that power, you must learn to live beyond your means.

On the first of June we moved in with my brother and sister in law. The day we moved in the Lord gave me this word: "Tell the congregation to watch what happens to your family; to the extent that I bless you over and above what you lost, to that degree I will bless my house and my people." That next Sunday I stood up before the people and explained what had happened to me when I left my place of faith, and then I made the announcement: "We are a sign and a wonder that God has placed in your midst. Now watch us! Watch what God gives us! To the degree that God blesses us over and beyond what we lost, to that same degree you can expect him to bless this house and this people!"

The next four weeks were stretching weeks; our minds had not yet arrived at the place they needed to be in order for God to open the door that he wanted to open. We were still in the old season in our thinking. God had much more. When our minds finally began to move in that direction we started looking in outlandish directions. We looked at homes that were far out of price range and in the 3,000 - 5,000 sq ft range. Every time we stumbled upon a house that we could afford and were tempted to settle, I would hear the Lord say, "Don't limit me! Watch what I am about to do!" We were looking, but only out of obedience. We had no plan and no understanding of how it would work.

Finally, my spiritual father shared this with me: "I sense the Lord is moving your wife into a new season: give up your salary and live by faith. Let the church provide a home for you, but nothing more than a home. Instruct the people of the house to give you a love offering every month. In that way they will learn how to sow directly into their inheritance, and you and your family will lack nothing." We shared this with our financial presbytery and they agreed. We turned over the housing search to them after a month of fruitless searching.

Two days later a member of our financial presbytery stumbled upon an ad for a house in the Hayward hills. 4,300 sq ft, fully furnished, in a gated community and on a country club. The presbytery scheduled an appointment to look at the house, and we all went up together. There was an instant witness in the Spirit that this was indeed the place! The owner liked us immediately and very easily approved us. Yesterday we moved in!

Our New Home









Last night I had to drive to Oakland at 11:30pm to pick up my daughter's medicine from my brother in law's place. On the way home I was overtaken by gratitude to God. I said, "Lord, I can't believe how lavishly you have blessed me! This is too much!" The Lord immediately replied, "This is not because of your righteousness but because of the generations that have gone on before you. I have desired to show honor to those who have served me in your lineage and have waited generations to show you favor on their behalf."

I thought of my grandmother, National Evangelist Williette Means, who served God so faithfully, leading revivals, planting churches traveling around the nation ministering in the power of God. She was never financially affluent, but she didn't care as long as she could serve give the love of Jesus to the least of humanity.

National Evangelist Williette Means












I thought of stories I had heard of my grandfather, Elder William H. Means, who planted churches that are still reaching people for Christ to this day.
Elder William H. Means














I thought of my grandmother, Elizabeth Robinson, the great woman of prayer she was and the great legacy of faith I have received from her.
Elizabeth Robinson












And I thought of my parents, who have made many sacrifices to pave the way for me to stand where I now stand.
Pastors Peter and Diane Robinson














I was overcome with thankfulness and wept before the Lord out of sheer joy. The Lord has not only fulfilled his promise, but he has exceeded his promise! He has enlarged our territory in every way; but the enlarging of our territory first required the enlarging of our hearts and of our minds. The struggle was custom tailored by God for this purpose, and now we are very peacefully living beyond our means!

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My Time in Ethiopia

I am so overwhelmed by what God did over the past several days in Ethiopia. I just wanted to take a few minutes to share some of the highlights.

By way of summary, we partnered with Joshua Campaign to run a mass evangelistic outreach in the city of Daye, Sidamo in Ethiopia. The crusade began on Wednesday night and ended on Sunday afternoon. Over the course of those five days we ministered to more than 300,000 people with crowds of up to 200,000 at a time. It was by far the most exhilarating and impacting ministry event of our lives!

In each of the crusade services there was some local worship and then we proclaimed the word (either Karl Hargestam, the founder and CEO of Joshua Campaign, Per Akvist, the director for Ethiopia, or myself) with power and authority! It was absolutely amazing!

First, I wasn't fully aware of the difference between preaching to 200 people and preaching to 200,000 people who don't speak your language or understand your culture. It was a major shift for me and I had to become a learner again. All of my years of experience and all of my competence as a preacher went out the window in the face of this task. To complicate things, many of the people in attendance had very little education and many had never even seen a bible before! I could not preach as I usually do before this crowd! This was humbling for me as I was required to submit myself to being instructed again. I felt like a child, like a novice; I was a beginner all over again.

Friday night's meeting was very discouraging for me. Per had preached a powerful message on Wednesday night to launch the crusade, and when he prayed for miracles a long line of people came to testify of what God had done for them! The blind saw, the lame walked, the deaf heard... It was tremendous! Then on Thursday night Karl preached a powerful message and had even more powerful results! The line of miracle testimonies was endless! Not to mention the thousands of hands that went up in each service as the invitation to receive Christ was given!

Friday night was my first meeting (the first of three). I preached with all my might, and with all my heart! But I felt like a fish out of water. I know I had a powerful word, but it didn't feel like the people were fully connecting with me. I almost felt like the people were disappointed that Karl wasn't preaching!

At the end of my message I began to pray for miracles. I stormed the heavens with all my might and beseeched the Father to break out in power amongst the people. Then I invited people who had been healed to come to the platform and testify, as was the protocol. Then I asked for a song and waited. The song went on for about five minutes, and not one person came to testify of being healed or delivered. I was planning on sharing the miracles and then inviting people to receive Christ. But before the song ended, the rain came pouring down, and the crowd turned and left the premises with the quickness!

I was so devastated! I felt like such a failure! But at the same time I was struggling to remain in the Spirit, as I had been instructing our team in every one of our team meetings (every morning and every night). My soul was turning violently within me. At once it would move into the flesh and I'd be overcome by grief and discouragement and I would feel tears welling up in my eyes. Then, suddenly it would move into the Spirit and I would feel joy and encouragement! "This is your qualifying round," the Spirit kept assuring me. I finally prayed, "Lord, if you have to break me like this 1,000 more times to qualify me to walk in your power the way I desire, I'm willing and ready to go through it!" I ended the evening with joy.

On Saturday morning I woke up excited and terrified at the same time. I was still fighting embarrassment from the previous evening's fiasco, and half believed that Saturday morning's meeting would bring about the same result. God, are you going to heal anybody? Are you gonna let me look stupid again? I felt so much pressure and nervousness that I was on the verge of tears all morning, and I was fighting the urge to cancel the meeting and go home early! This lasted all the way up until the moment I took the microphone. There were more than 100,000 people on the field that morning, and the atmosphere was different than the night before! I realized then that even though I didn't see the breakthrough of miracles the night before, we had broken through the atmosphere, and now they were ready to receive the word through me. I proclaimed the word with power and authority, and I could feel the Spirit of God moving through the crowd as the word went out. I can't tell you what it feels like to see the Spirit of God move on 100,000 people. There were pockets here and there throughout the crowd where God was moving, as people were receiving and responding to the word.


Then came the miracle prayers! As I did the night before, I cried out to God to break out in miracles. The need was astounding! These people didn't have medical coverage, pharmacies, drug stores, or even first aid! This people had nothing to hope for but Jesus and Jesus alone! My only fear was that my lack of faith would prevent God from breaking out in mighty works to meet the needs of this great gathering!


After I prayed for miracles, two people came up to testify. One of them was deaf in one ear, and that ear opened during the miracle prayer. The second person had a large goiter on her neck that had caused her tremendous pain. It disappeared. While I was encouraged by the miracles, I was also reaching for more. There were thousands upon thousands of needs there. I needed faith for more than two miracles!


On Saturday night Karl was scheduled to preach. But just before we left for the crusade grounds the rain began to pour down in heavy sheets! We sat on the field just off the platform in the bust waiting for the rain to stop. But it was not to be stopped! Most of the people hed left the field, but there was still a good 5,000 - 10,000 people that were so desperate for something from God that they would not be deterred by rain! After a good 45 minutes of waiting, one of the Mission 1:11 team members jumped up and began preaching and praying for the sick. We all joined in and the platform was flooded with people desperate for miracles. We laid hands on each individual sick person, and the results were astounding! So many deaf/mutes were healed and heard and spoke for the first time! There were probably 30-40 notable miracles that night!


Then came Sunday morning, the last day of the crusade. Karl was scheduled to preach in the morning, and I was scheduled to preach in the evening. When we arrived at the crusade I was informed that I would preach right after Karl finished his service so that we could be finished before the rain arrived in the afternoon. I was a little worried that the attention span of the people would be gone by then and their capacity to reach for God would have been spent, but I was excited for the opportunity, nonetheless.


While Karl preached I was so stirred in my spirit! I looked out at this crowd and thought, "Wow, this is the fruit of Karl's ministry! He pioneered here 15 years ago, and now look what God has done!" I began to envision doing crusades like this in places like Banda, Acheh in Indonesia and in East Timur. I've been dreaming of preaching to uncountable multitudes in foreign countries since I was a little boy, but what dawned on me as Karl was preaching was that I always dreamed of holding these crusades in safe places. I turned to my wife and said, "We've got to get out of the box. God doesn't just want this in safe places. God wants this in dark places! We've got to go to places that seem impossible to penetrate and believe God to open the gates of righteousness for us!"


Then, suddenly, as I stood there listening to Karl preach, the Spirit of the Lord came upon me and I knew that God was going to speak to me. I was suddenly reminded of the last scene of the first Lord of the Rings movie, The Fellowship of the Ring. I remembered how Froto realized that it was his destiny to take the ring to Mt Morodor. Then Aragon stood up and said, "Then you'll have my sword, and I'll protect you with my life!" It hit me that Jesus is Froto and the ring is the gospel. I'm Aragon and my sword is my voice. Then the Lord said, The gospel is my gospel, and I'm taking it to the world. The question is do I have your voice? Do I have your sword? Will you serve and defend the gospel with your life? I'm not taking the gospel only to nice places. I'm taking it to the very gates of hell, to the place where Satan has his throne. Will you go with me? Will you give me your voice and put your life in the way of the gospel? I was broken before the Lord. I wept like I had not wept in a very long time. There on that platform I surrendered my life, my voice, my all to Jesus as if for the very first time! I felt like I had just gotten saved!

Suddenly I realized that all this time I was trying to use the gospel to reach people, instead of letting the gospel use me. I thought the gospel was the vehicle that I would use to share God's love with the world. Suddenly I saw that I was the vehicle that God wanted to use to share the gospel with the world. Suddenly, I became a servant of the gospel, rather than making the gospel the servant of my ministry. It was a profound paradigm shift! I cried out, "Lord, you have my sword, and I will defend your gospel with my life! I will go wherever you are going with the gospel! I surrender my all!"

When I got up to preach more than an hour later, I felt something completely different than I did the previous days. I felt peace. I felt power. I felt joy. I felt devoid of self and full of God. I stood before this massive crowd and was unmoved by the fact that they were completely distracted by the transition from one service to the next. They didn't seem very convinced that they needed to hear another word from God right after Karl's word. But I knew that I had the word that they needed to hear! I preached with such power, such authority, and such freedom! Within ten minutes the crowd was completely focused upon every word that I was speaking. They began to rejoice, cry out, clap, shake, and weep as I ministered the word. It was the most powerful preaching experience of my life!

Then I began to pray for miracles. I had a new sense of authority and power now. As the team surrounded the platform and stretched out their hands toward the people, I prayed for God to open the ears of the deaf, the eyes of the blind, and the minds and hearts of those who were bound. And God did more than I could have imagined! The miracles just kept coming and coming and coming. Deaf people began to suddenly hear again. Goiters and growths disappeared. There were miracles of many kinds! But to me the most powerful miracle was the deliverance of a demon possessed man who was so violent that they brought him to the crusade in chains! God set him completely free and they unchained him and brought him to the platform where he took the microphone and proclaimed that Jesus had set him free! His wife also testified of what God had done! I was so excited about that miracle because God had not only healed a broken body, but restored a marriage, a family, a household!

Overall, the trip was life-changing! I can't say enough about the powerful team that travelled with us! The team was so submitted, so unified, so focused, and each one had such a beautifully servants heart! And my wife...my wife Sunhee is the greatest missions team builder and trainer in the world! So much honor that came to me was actually the direct result of her ministry! All I could do was recognize, affirm, and submit to it! It was powerful!

Please keep praying because my wife and 6 others are still in Ethiopia for another week ministering in a region called Showa. I know that God is going to use them in powerful ways!

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How Important is Understanding?

Understanding precedes reality. I've had three conversations this week that have underscored this principle in powerful ways. Two of these conversations were with individuals who thought they were struggling with submission issues. Yet, after speaking with them for a relatively short period of time their hearts shifted around my words and found peace. At the close of each conversation I said, "You totally received what I just shared with you. That means you've been in submission all along. The hearts of the rebellious don't shift around the words of the wise the way your heart has shifted around my words!" The third conversation was with a young man who thought he didn't know anything about sonship and that he was still operating out of the orphan spirit. He discovered that he is actually the pattern son of the house God has put him into, and the model of one who is walking in his inheritance.

The first two individuals didn't understand submission very well, but they were in it! The third guy didn't understand sonship too well, but he was one! For all three of these individuals the realities of submission and sonship were in place long before the understanding of them came, and this is the typical pattern for most aspects of life.

After all, how much did you understand about marriage before you got married? Or about parenthood before your child was born? As a senior pastor I can say that you don't understand the pastoral task until you are one, and you don't understand the ministry until you are in it! You can seek all the understanding you want, but if you don't start with reality, there's nothing for understanding to catch up with!

Now don't get me wrong, we need understanding. Understanding is important, but reality is more important. Understanding without reality is form without substance, knowledge without nature, like clouds with no rain. Understanding can come from reading about a particular reality, but that understanding is lifeless until you begin to live it!

Proverbs 3:5 tells us that we should trust in the Lord and not lean on our own understanding. This means that we can be in submission to God and obey him even when we don't understand what he's doing in our lives or why he's doing it. Understanding is not a prerequisite for obedience.

Proverbs 24:3 tells us that while wisdom is what builds the house (and we'll have to talk more about wisdom in future posts, I hope!?!), understanding is what establishes it. In other words, understanding establishes you in a reality that was already real before you understood it. You had it before you understood it, but now that you understand it you are established in it and you can't be moved from it! The importance of understanding is that it either solidifies you or de-solidifies you in your reality; it solidifies you in those realities that you deem positive and good, and de-solidifies you in those realities that you deem harmful by exposing the deception beneath them. This is why understanding plays so prominently in the book of Proverbs - not because understanding creates any reality, but because understanding can anchor you, making you unmovable and steadfast in what God has done in your life.


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Three Degrees of Deception

Living free from sin begins with breaking free from deception. Jesus was tempted in every way we are, yet he was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). The secret was that he was never deceived; he was and is the truth! Because he was never deceived temptation had no power over him because he had no evil desires. His soul was completely satisfied in God. Deception is anything that allures the soul away from its place of complete satisfaction in God! Deception is far more powerful than temptation because apart from deception temptation has no power! This is why the truth sets us free (John 8:32) and sanctifies us (John 17:17). This is why the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of truth who comes to guide us into all truth (John 16:13). His task is to lead us out of every place of error and deception and into the fullness of the truth of Jesus Christ. In this post I'd like to discuss three of the primary forms that deception takes and how to avoid them.

1. The Jedi Mind Trick: In Genesis 3:13 Eve reveals why she ate from the tree that God commanded her and Adam not to eat from: "The serpent deceived me and I ate." How did he deceive her? He created a hunger where no hunger previously existed. In essence, he played a Jedi mind trick on her. He held the fruit out in front of her and said, "You want this, you really want this!" This is the primary form deception takes. The enemy will do anything to convince you that sin is something that you want, something that you need, something that you cannot avoid, something that is necessary. When you resist it he will tell you you're being legalistic, holier than thou, and self-righteous. He will tell you that to be a human being is to be a sinner, and to resist sin is to resist your humanity. All of these lies are designed to give power to temptation in the hopes that you'll be overtaken. This is the first degree of deception.

2. The Old Switcheroo: The second degree of deception is illustrated in Genesis 29:25 in which Jacob wakes up the morning after his wedding day to discover that he married the wrong lady! His father Laben had switched Rachel for Leah and Jacob didn't even know it because he was too drunk! He thought he was climbing into bed with one woman, but in actuality he had become intimate with a whole nother woman! To make matters worse, Rachel was young and beautiful, but Leah was hard to look at! He thought he was climbing into bed with something attractive, but ended up becoming intimate with something ugly! This is classic deception: once the Jedi mind trick works and Satan convinces you to climb into bed with, let's say, sexual fulfillment, you wake up next to pornography addiction; you climb into bed with casual drinking and wake up next to alcoholism. All the devil needs is a foot in the door and he'll throw the old switcheroo at you!

3. The Treaty: The third degree of deception is found in Joshua 9:22. The Gibeonites heard that Joshua and the Israelites were taking out every city in the region, so they sent out a couple messengers dressed in rags and carrying spoiled bread to meet them. The messengers claimed that their land was far, far away and that making a treaty with them would not hinder the expansion campaign of the Israelites. Once the treaty was made, the Israelites discovered that the Gibeonites lived a few blocks away! Now the Israelites are forced to honor a treaty with their enemies. Once Satan has played the Jedi mind trick on us, and executed the old switcheroo, he tries to get us to make a treaty with our sin by assuring us that its consequences are far, far away and that there is no chance of our being harmed by it. This is the worst deception of all because sin's consequences are always right around the corner! Making a treaty with sin means accepting its presence in our lives. Now we are really deceived because we have stopped contending for victory over it.

I believe that freedom from sin is a theme that God is highlighting in the body of Christ right now. Bondage to sin is rampant in the church. I believe the key to breaking free is the infusion of truth. It is the truth that sets us free. We don't have to be ignorant of Satan's devices! We can walk free and clean by the power of the Holy Spirit if we walk in him who is the truth and let him set us free from every power of deception! What are your thoughts?

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How to Fall into Sin in Three Easy Steps

If your goal is to fall into sin and be stuck there for a lifetime, I've got good news for you! The program that I prescribe below will allow you to accomplish your goal quickly and easily, and without diet or exercise! Just follow each of these three simple steps and you will be on your way to a life of bondage and shame.

1. Allow Satan to Deceive You

The first step to falling into sin is to fall for Satan's deception. In Genesis 3:13 God confronts Eve with her sin of disobedience, and she responds in these words: "The Serpent deceived me, and I ate." Notice she doesn't say she ate the fruit because she couldn't resist it, or because she desired it. She had no desire for the fruit at all. Satan played a Jedi mind trick on her, convincing her that she wanted the fruit, when she didn't want it at all, and convincing her that she needed the fruit when she didn't need it at all! Sin does not begin with desire or need, it begins with deception. The first step to falling into sin is to allow Satan to deceive you into believing that you need something that God is not providing for you, or that you want something that God is not giving to you. Once deception has set in, you are off to a good start, but you are not there yet. You still have two steps to go!

2. Give in to Temptation

Once you have given in to the deception of the enemy, temptation sets in. That is, you didn't know that you wanted what God said that you are not to have until the enemy convinced you that you wanted it. But now that you've tasted it, you realize that you absolutely want it! Now you needn't be deceived anymore. Instead you are tempted and led astray by your own desires (James 1:14). The temptation that comes from your own sinful desires is the guarantee that you will continue to return to this particular sin for the rest of your life! This is the real substance of falling into sin. Only one step remains to making it permanent!

3. Keep it a Secret

Once you have been overwhelmed by temptation, the only thing that can hinder you from reaching your goal of complete slavery to sin is confession, repentance, and submission to a godly leader. The way you avoid this is by keeping your sin a secret at all costs! Thankfully, this is just as easily done as it is said! While in most  situations secrets are hard to keep, sin secrets are easy to keep because they are powered by shame. Shame is like a good, strong girdle: just as a girdle helps you conceal, rather than lose, your gut, shame helps you conceal your sin so that you maintain the appearance of freedom and godliness!

So there you have it! If you follow these three easy steps, you are guaranteed a life of unrestrained, and incurable sin and debauchery. If at any time you feel that you've gotten off track, that you are somehow straying from your goal, simply return to these three steps and you'll find that you are back in bondage to sin in no time!

Question: With of these steps do you identify with the most? 

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From Self-Life to God-Life

There are two words that are often translated ‘life’ in the NT: psyches and zoes. Psyches is also often translated ‘soul’, and this is the better translation. The soul of a person is the life of a person in the sense that the soul is constituted by the mind, the will, and the emotions. The difference between psyches and zoes is that psyches is the personal life of a human person, and zoes is the life of God that comes as the gift of Jesus Christ. For instance, when Jesus said that he came that we might have life, and have it to the full, he did not say that he came that we might have psyches; he said that he came that we might have zoes. He does not come to give us the gift of soul; that was what God gave Adam when he created him out of the dust of the earth: “God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul” (nephesh in the Hebrew). The life that Jesus brings to us goes beyond the life of the self, constituting the life of the Spirit; it is deeper than self-life, it is God-life.

This does not mean that there was something wrong with the gift of soul that God gave Adam at creation. In fact, it was a perfectly good gift. To be a living soul meant that Adam was aware of himself, aware of God, and aware of the world that he lived in. The gift of soul that Adam possessed was pure and untainted by the corruption that comes from evil desires. Because this was the case, Adam was able to serve God in the garden with a pure heart, never seeking to obtain anything for himself, because his self (or soul) had no consciousness of any kind of need. Adam had no wants, no unfulfilled desires, no unmet needs. He simply did what God asked him to do without asking what he would get out of it or what it would cost him.

God was the one who recognized that something was missing in Adam’s life, not Adam. The Scripture does not say that Adam asked God for a wife, or that he realized that he was missing something. It was God who said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” God knew what Adam needed before he asked for it, and he made provision for Adam without him even knowing that he had a need. In other words, it wasn’t that Adam had no needs, but that he fully trusted God to meet them, and so he was not conscious of any needs. Thus, he was able to serve God with a pure heart without giving thought to himself. So when God asked him to name the animals, Adam did not ask God how much he would be paid for such a task. He never barters with God, or attempts to obtain something. Instead, he entrusts himself to God and to the work to which he is called and is conscious only of the fact that his needs are fully met and that God is the one who provides for every one of them!

It was the serpent that convinced Adam and Eve that something was missing, that they needed something that God had not provided them with. Once this lie took hold in their minds, sin was the next logical step. All sin begins with the idea that I need something that God has not provided me with. This is what it means to be in want. David says, "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want," and by this he means that he fully entrusts himself to God, knowing that God will provide him with everything that he needs. The soul that has God as its shepherd does not experience want, but simply assumes that all of its needs are provided for. But Adam and Eve experience want in the garden, not because of real need, but because of a lie. The type of needs that bring us into bondage to sin are always based upon a lie, never upon reality.

Sin led to the death of the soul. God had promised concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, "In the day you eat of it you will surely die." The death they died in that moment was a soul death: they suffered the loss of themselves. By believing the lie and embracing want, Adam and Eve plunged themselves into a world characterized by want and need, and suddenly the soul - which originally was anchored in God and God alone - took on a life of its own; a self-life detached from God's life. The consciousness of want and need led to fear, and fear led immediately to shame. They look at themselves and realize they are naked, so they hide from one another. Then they hear God coming and are afraid, so they hide themselves even further. Now that the soul has asserted its independence from God, it turns inward, collapsing upon itself, and becoming completely consumed with a three-fold pursuit: self-preservation, self-gratification, and self-actualization. These three drives are the impetus behind all (fallen) human action from that day forward, for we all must protect ourselves from pain and death, we must find ways to fulfill our own desires, and we must find a way to fulfill our potential and actualize our dreams. This is the activity that characterizes the life of the dead soul; it is always in danger, always in need, and always in process. It is never safe, never satisfied, and never settled.

Paul distinguishes not only between the flesh (sarkos) and the Spirit, but between the soul (psyches) and the Spirit. The flesh, to Paul, is the realm of sin's operations; it is the inner impetus to rebel against God that we are all born with. But to Paul the life of the believer is not constituted by a war between the flesh and the Spirit, as is popularly believed. Paul does not believe that every believer must constantly fight the sinful nature every day of their lives! Rather, Paul says that those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh, with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). However, once the flesh has been put to death, the believer must make a conscious choice to live by the Spirit, rather than the soul. In fact, Paul says that "The soulish (psychikos) person cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14), meaning they are only discerned and understood as the Spirit of God comes in contact with the human spirit. This is because the soul is fallen, and thus it is incorrigibly focused upon self-preservation, self-gratification, and self-actualization. The soul is the place where hurt resides and where pain is stored up. Living from the soul means living to unravel this pain, to get through it and find gratification and fulfillment in life. Living from the soul makes life one big self-therapeutic exercise! Soulish living is self-life; it is life of the self, for the self and by the self. When we live this kind of life the Spirit of God can't get a word in edgewise. 

We are living in a day and age in which soulish living is in! The pervasive hegemony of the soul in our culture screams through our slogans and popular sayings: do what you like, express yourself, have it your way right away, obey your thirst, be yourself, march to the beat of your own drum... The list goes on and on. The message behind each of these slogans is that we should be self-determining individuals who assert our independence and take responsibility for our own destinies. We have even given voice to this secular way of living in the church, and the result has been the pervasive abandonment or abuse of the concepts of submission and authority in contemporary Christianity. We either teach that you should obey God, and God alone (ignoring those very prominent passages of Scripture which command us to obey our leaders and submit to their authority), or we teach people to arbitrarily submit to their leaders to the point of manipulation and control, and we are so afraid of manipulation and control that we have virtually abandoned the concepts of submission and authority all together. And this goes both ways; pastors are afraid to assert their authority because they are afraid of being perceived as being abusive, and members of churches are afraid to submit to authority because they have had the experience of being manipulated and controlled. But the fact of the matter is that submission and authority are the only means to the healing and conversion of the soul. For it is only through submission and subjection to authority that our souls are set free from the undo assertion of the desires of the self.

Look at how the 2011 version of the NIV has softened the biblical mandate of submission to godly leaders in Hebrews 13:17.

"Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account."  

Now look at it in the NKJV, which stays closer to the original Greek:

"Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account."

There is a big difference between having confidence in a leader and obeying a ruler. But we have a problem with the idea that someone could rule over us! I don't need a ruler, I just need a coach! I just need a spiritual advisor who will make suggestions that I can either take or leave. But the bible says that the only way your soul will be shepherded is if you allow someone to rule over you, and you obey them; you submit to their rule! The soul must be subjected before it can be healed; only through full submission can it be extracted from its focus upon itself. Submission is the only way that this extraction becomes real, because if I only submit when I agree with my leaders, I am really not in submission at all, but simply in agreement. I am still soulish because I am still bent on self-preservation (how often do we fail to obey our leaders because we don't feel safe?), self-gratification (how often do we become angry with our leaders because we feel that they are depriving us of something that we deserve?), and self-actualization (how often do we distance ourselves from our leaders because we are afraid they will hinder us from an opportunity to enlarge ourselves?).

Jesus said that he came that we might have life (zoes), but the only way to obtain that life and live in the flow of it is to lose your life (psyches). Jesus said that to seek to save your life (psyches) will result in your losing it. But losing your life (psyches) for his sake will result in your saving it. The only way to save it is to lose it. In the living of the self-life we are like sheep going astray, but in self-denial and self-surrender we return to Jesus, the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls (1 Peter 2:25).

David says, "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want." The soul that has the Lord as its shepherd is a soul that does not know want or need. The Lord was able to shepherd David's soul because David knew how to make his soul an offering to God. "To you oh Lord I lift up my soul" (Psalm 25:1). Jesus is called the Shepherd of our souls (1 Peter 2:25). With Jesus as our Shepherd, we will not know want. But he will only be able to shepherd our souls if we learn how to make them an offering to God. The offering of the soul is the surrender of the self, the renunciation of our independence. At every place where the soul asserts itself it must be offered to God, rather than validated. Learning to live by the Spirit requires that we first make the soul an offering, transcending the life of the self (psyches) and entering into the life (zoes) of the Spirit of God. Then we will not only sing that popular worship song, Lord I give you my heart, I give you my soul, but we will live it!




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Yahweh is a Man of War!

The Exodus event is the penultimate redemptive act of God in the Old Testament. It was also the inaugural act which brought the people of Israel into being. Prior to the Exodus event the people of Israel were a collection of tribes, all descendants of Jacob, who moved to Egypt at the request of his 11th son, Joseph -- then Prime Minister of the nation. But generations of slavery can do terrible things to the self-understanding of a people, and this is especially true of the peoples of the ancient world. In the ancient world the stronger people were believed to worship the stronger god. If your people were defeated in battle it was because your god was defeated by the god(s) of your attackers. For the people of the ancient world, self-image was directly connected to god-image; in other words the peoples of the ancient world tended to project upon their gods the images that constituted their own identity. This, of course, is the basic meaning of idolatry: creating a god in your own image and likeness and projecting upon him all of your personal strengths, weaknesses and desires! So for the people of Israel to be made slaves in Egypt meant that they were servants of a god who was inferior to the gods of Egypt.

The people of Israel had no doubt heard stories of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They had heard that his name was Elohim, or El Shaddai, and that he had made covenant with their fathers... They had heard of him but had not yet heard from him! This is why God's number one priority before bringing them out of Egypt was to introduce himself to them as the victorious God, rather than the defeated god. In each of the ten plagues God judged one of the gods of Egypt. The Egyptians worshiped the Nile river; God turned it to blood as a sign that he had put to death the Nile god. The Egyptians worshiped the image of a frog; God sent a plague of frogs on the land as a sign that he was powerful than the frog god. The Egyptians worshiped the sun; God turned it to darkness. The Egyptians worshiped Pharaoh; God struck down his first born son. After each plague God made sure Pharaoh hardened his heart again because he was not yet finished introducing himself to his people. With each plague God was saying to his people, You think I'm weak because you're weak. You think I'm defeated because you're defeated. You think I'm a slave god because you're in slavery. Well I'm about to show you otherwise! By the time I bring you out of this land you will know who I am! You will know that I am greater and more powerful over all other gods! You will know that there is no one like me! I'm not done with Egypt until you know who I am!


By the time the people of Israel arrive at the other side of the Red Sea and the waters come crashing down upon Pharaoh's army, they are good and acquainted with the power of their God! They instantly break out in worship and rejoicing, and they have a Holy Ghost party! Listen to the new-found theology that flows from this moment of powerful worship:

"Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: 'I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.'" (Exodus 15:1)

When Moses and the Israelites sang about God's exalted status, they did not mean that he was somewhere on a throne in a cloud being worshiped by angels. That theology hadn't come around yet. Instead, they looked at the dead bodies of the Egyptian soldiers and said, this is what it means that God is highly exalted!

Now listen to the theological conclusion that flows out of this experience of deliverance: "The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name" (Exodus 15:3). First, we need to understand that the term 'Lord' is not in the Hebrew text. The text actually contains the name that he gave Moses at the burning bush: Yahweh, I Am. The reason the name has been replaced by the title 'Lord' is because the people of Israel who returned from the exile to Babylon in 539 took the third commandment ("You shall not misuse the name Yahweh your God") so seriously that they understood it to mean that the name Yahweh should never even be spoken! So they went throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and circumlocuted the title 'Lord' in every place where the name Yahweh appeared. The text literally says, "Yahweh is a man of war."

We often miss the significance of the Exodus event! God is introducing himself to his people and setting the paradigm for the way in which they are to relate to him. In this event he is communicating the essence of who he is, and the first thing he reveals to his people is that he is a God of war! Make no mistake, he is no pacifist or punk! He is not mocked and he ultimately will not tolerate opposition! He comes with vengeance and divine retribution! He is the God who kills! Yahweh is a man of war!


What does this mean for us? First, it means that we must do the opposite of what the ancients did in relation to their gods; instead of forming God in our own image, we must allow ourselves to be formed in his image. In other words, we can't be a punk people and serve a God of war! If he is a God of war, then we must be a people of war! We must come out of the civilian mentality and show up for battle! True warriors dream of victory in battle, but civilians dream of nice cars and houses and a quiet and peaceful life! Our God is a God of conquest, and he expects us to be a people of conquest. He is our King and our General, but he has so few warriors among us who are willing to ride with him into battle! We've been overtaken by civilian affairs, so much so that we neglect the call of kingdom warfare, and we are paying the price for it!

In 1 Samuel 11, Saul hears that the Ammonites had besieged the city of Jabesh Gilead. Everyone else who heard the news began to weep, but verse 6 tells us that Saul had a different experience: "When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he burned with anger." Did you know that when the Spirit of God comes on you in power you get pissed off? When the anointing of God's Spirit came on Saul, he burned with anger, and then he took a pair of oxen, "cut them into pieces, and sent the pieces by messengers throughout Israel, proclaiming, 'This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul...'" The ox was the power of the harvest in Israel. Without an ox you could neither sow nor reap because you could not plow. Saul says, If you don't show up for war, the power of your harvest will be taken from you and you will become barren and unfruitful. What we are seeing in the body of Christ today is that the oxen of many believers are being cut to pieces because they are refusing to show up for war! We hear of what the devil is doing to our families, to our friends, to our fields and to our harvests, and like the people of Israel, we weep and mourn. But God is looking for some angry Christians! The problem is that we don't have enough believers who are burning with anger!

Now don't get me wrong, I do recognize that the church is filled with angry believers, but most of them have aimed their anger in the wrong direction! They are angry at the church because they've been hurt there, angry at their families because of what happened when they were young, angry at other believers because of something that happened, angry at their pastors for not spending enough time with them, and worst of all, angry at God for letting bad things happen to them! But we have forgotten that your church is not the enemy of your soul, and neither is your family or your pastor or God. Satan is the enemy of your soul! He is the thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy! He is the lion who prowls around looking for someone to devour! He is the accuser of the brothers, the author of confusion, your adversary, that ancient serpent...

There are all kinds of wars going on among Christians, but most of them are fools wars. David armed himself to the teeth to go kill Nabal, a fool (Nabal actually means 'fool') who simply said something disrespectful about him (1 Samuel 25)! David was ready to take the fool out! But thankfully, Abigail was there to remind David that his job was to fight the Lord's battles, not to engage in fools wars! Fools wars happen in church board rooms, in congregational meetings, behind closed doors where believers engage in gossip and slander. No spoils or plunder come from these wars because we're fighting the wrong enemy! My spiritual father always says that he sees high level men of God being taken out by low level demonic powers because they are engaging in fools wars. We must once again learn how to fight the Lord's battles and dispense with these fools wars!

So how do we do this?

We are in the middle of our 21 Days of Prayer campaign at Living Hope; every year we gather at the church for 21 nights to seek the face of God and press for new dimensions of his glory and power. Two nights ago (day 8) I received a phone call 30 minutes into our prayer meeting from the sitter who was watching our daughter, Alethia. She frantically explained to me that Alethia had tripped and face-planted against a hard surface. She had a huge knot on her forehead, a bloody nose, and a fat lip! Immediately I felt in my spirit that this was a distraction of the enemy. I asked her a few questions about Alethia's behavior (did she vomit, seem woosy, want to go to sleep, act strange in any way...?) and then instructed her to put an ice pack on her head and lip and call me if any of those symptoms appeared. Then my wife looked at me and said, "Now let's go beat up the devil!" We went to the front and I took the microphone, explained to the church what had just happened to my daughter, and said: "This is a distraction! Satan saw that we were making too much progress in the Spirit tonight, so he thought he'd distract us by messing with my family! But we're going to set a precedent tonight! If we were going to take a foot, we're going to take a mile now! If we expected break through in a year, we're going to have it in a week now! Tonight the kingdom suffers violence, and we are the violent who will take it by force!"

I can't tell you what happened in that prayer meeting next! The people rose up and just went after God with a passion, and went after the things of the Spirit with a vengeance! I was immediately reminded of my first trip to Indonesia in 2002. On Sunday morning I called my wife before heading to the church where I was scheduled to preach. She told me that the devil had attacked her all night long in her dreams. I was so angry that as I hung up the phone I prayed, Lord, the Scripture says that you were made manifest so that you might destroy the works of the devil! Today I am going out in your ministry: wherever I see the work of the devil today I'm going to destroy it! When I got to the church I ministered under an unusual anointing. At the close of the service a woman came forward for prayer saying that she had tongue cancer. She had been scheduled to have her tongue removed because they couldn't get the cancer out. I laid my hands on her and prayed, and later received the report that she had been completely healed!

It dawned on me that God allows things like this to happen sometimes so that we will get angry enough to do some damage to the kingdom of darkness! We've got to stop making treaties with the enemy and start making war! We can't stand by and watch him carry off our sons and daughters, our flocks and herds, our seed and harvest anymore! We've got to rise up and fight the Lord's battles, because Yahweh is a man of war!


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The Good Fight of Faith

The first thing we must understand about faith is that faith is the only thing that pleases God. Hebrews 11.6 tells us that God is not pleased by anything but our faith. We can be sacrificial, sanctimonious, compassionate, and upright, but without faith God is not pleased with any of it. But the converse is also true: faith pleases God! When God sees his sons and daughters walking in faith, refusing to doubt, refusing to be moved by what they see in the natural, he is truly and fully pleased! Faith pleases God more than sacrifice! This is an important point for us to understand! We all think that if we pray more, God will be more pleased. But so much of our praying is simply a religious substitute for our poor faith, and God isn't pleased with it at all. You can pray for hours, fast for weeks, and memorize every Scripture in the Bible, but if you aren't believing for what you are praying for and trusting in what you are memorizing, it is all religious nonsense!

In fact, James tells us that the person who doubts is like a wave tossed by every wind (James 1:6). A wind of adversity will blow the doubter toward discouragement, and a wind of victory will blow the doubter toward encouragement. But none of it sticks, because the doubter is double-minded and unstable in all his ways (1:8). The instability that comes from doubt makes us feel powerless, like a wave that is doomed to be driven in whatever direction the wind blows. Doubters feel that they are out of control, that they live on an emotional roller coaster... they feel powerless and helpless and incapable of moving anything in any direction. When I studied English Literature in College I learned a poem that exemplifies the worldview of the doubter:

Life, the hound: equivocal
comes at a bound
either to rend you or befriend you.
I cannot tell the hound's intent
till he has sprung at my bare hand
with tooth or tongue.
Till then I stand and await the event.

This poem views life from a perspective of passivity and powerlessness: life is a hound that will either bite you or lick you, and all you can do is wait to see what happens! The Bible teaches us that life is a gift, rather than an event. Jesus said that he came that we might have [or possess] life, and have it excessively (John 10:10). If life is a gift that you possess through Christ, then the question is not how is life treating you? The question is how are you treating life? That is, what are you doing to protect, cultivate, and utilize the precious gift of life that you received from Jesus Christ? Or better, do you even know what to do with that gift?

Three times Paul speaks of the fight for faith as "the good fight" (1 Timothy 1:18-19; 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7). When I was younger we used to all gather around my uncle's big screen T.V. if there was a good fight. There are fights that are not good fights, and they are not worth watching. But the good fight? You and your friends will pitch in for pay-per-view to see that! Paul refers to the fight for faith as "the good fight" because it is the only fight worth fighting. "Fight the good fight of faith," says the apostle to his spiritual son, Timothy. "Lay hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (1 Timothy 6:12). The "good fight" corresponds to the "good confession." The good confession is the confession of the lordship of Jesus Christ, and through it flows the gift of eternal life. But the good fight follows the good confession because once the gift of eternal life is given through faith in Jesus Christ, the enemy of your soul makes it his chief goal to see to it that you live beneath your privilege as a child of God. Paul says "lay hold of the eternal life to which you were called." The good fight of faith is the fight to lay hold of, to grasp and hold onto, to obtain and maintain all of the prerogatives of the gift of eternal life, and to manifest them on a daily basis!

The devil is only interested in attacking one thing: your faith! He attacks your finances, but only to get to your faith. He attacks your family, but only to get to your faith. He attacks your health, but only to get to your faith. His goal is to get you to stop believing, to stop standing, to surrender your confidence and to start doubting. Because if he can get you to doubt, he can move you from solid ground to shaky ground. Peter was called the rock because of his confession of faith. But before he lived that out he was moved by the wind and the waves and Jesus took him by the hand and said, "Why did you doubt?" You would have been unmovable if you hadn't doubted! Nothing would have shaken you if you just hadn't doubted. But once you began to doubt, you began to sink. And once you began to sink you began to cry out, "Lord save me" out of sheer desperation and powerlessness. I respond to those cries, and here I am. But I'm not pleased by them, because if you had of stood in faith, you would have continued to be a water walker. And I'd much rather give you the power to walk on water than fish you out of every wave you sink into!


If you want to stop sinking, you've got to stop doubting! You've got to stop being moved by what you see! You've got to make a decision that you are going to believe God come hell or hot water! The problem is that you are doubting because you are sinking, and you are sinking because your doubting. You keep thinking that you will stop doubting when you stop sinking, but it doesn't work that way! That's like saying you'll stop poking holes in your tire when the air stops seeping out! That's like saying you'll stop cutting yourself when you stop bleeding! You must wake up and come back to faith, and come back quick! Don't delay, run back to the throne of grace and remind yourself of who he is!

We must always remember that the unbelieving heart is sinful and always turns from the living God (Hebrews 3:12). The goal of every demonic attack is to get you to turn your focus away from the faith realm (in which you see only what God is doing) and toward the demonic realm (in which you see only what the devil is doing). You cannot focus on what God is doing and on what the devil is doing at the same time. You can only cling to one and despise the other. You must choose to remain in the realm of faith, in the place where God is always working, always moving, always healing, blessing, creating and renewing!

The good news is that faith is the victory that overcomes the world! There is no power of opposition that can oppose your faith indefinitely. The enemy and the flesh can and will resist your believing, but that resistance cannot go on forever. The devil cannot fight a long fight! This is why the fight for faith is the good fight! Its the good fight because its a fight that you can win every time! The only way you lose that fight is if you surrender your faith! There is no other fight worth fighting than the fight to keep believing, and every devil in hell is arrayed against your believing! But you can stand against the devil by continuing to fight the good fight!

We all need rest, but you must never allow your faith to rest. We all need time off, but your faith must never take time off. We all need a vacation sometimes, but make sure your faith never takes a vacation! Your faith must be relentless in the pursuit of the manifestation of the eternal kind of life in the here and now! Its not enough to know you're going to heaven when you die! You are called to live an eternal kind of life now! You can and will have it if you lay hold of it by faith!

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A Lifestyle of Renewal

Charles Finney wrote a great article entitled "Break Up Your Fallow Ground" (http://www.gospeltruth.net/1868_75Independent/740205_break_fallow_ground.htm). In this article he makes a distinction between revival and renewal. Revival happens when masses of sinners turn to faith in Jesus Christ and there is a great influx of new believers in a particular region. Renewal happens when the church of a particular region suddenly comes alive; when, as Finney says, the fallow ground is broken up in the hearts of believers so that the seeds of God's word can sink down deep and bear fruit. Finney's point is that revival is a great danger to a church that has not experienced renewal. For, in this situation masses of new believers are immersed into a community of luke-warm believers. Within a short period of time they will either return to their previous way of life, or become luke-warm believers themselves. In the end, the revival does more to hurt the gospel than to help it.


Consequently, Finney's approach was to enter a community and labor among the believers for their renewal, for the fallow ground of their hearts to be broken up so that they are ushered into a new place of repentance, faith, and humility and are set free from legalism and empty religiosity. According to Finney, when revival hits a church that has experienced renewal, the new believers have strong, fervent, passionate, committed, powerful, and vibrant believers as their example. In this situation they are easily assimilated into the community and are very naturally led to a place of maturity in Christ and in the expression of their ministry in him. 


The idea of "fallow ground" comes from the King James Version of Jeremiah 4:3 (For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “ Break up your fallow ground, And do not sow among thorns.") and Hosea 10:12 ("Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you."). The NIV replaces "fallow ground" with "unplowed ground." In the Parable of the Sower, found in Matthew 13, Jesus declared that the seed of the word falls on four types of soil: the road, stony ground, among thorns, and in good soil. The difference between the first three and the last is that the good soil has been plowed: it has been broken up, softened and turned over, and in the process the stones and weeds have been removed. Good soil is moist, soft, consistent, and receptive to seed. Hearts that are dry, hard, polluted by sin, and rebellious are resistant to God's word to the extent that the seed sown becomes fruitless and unproductive.


The most prominent sign of fallow (or unplowed) ground in the heart is spiritual stagnation. If you can no longer point to any signs of development or growth or process in your spiritual life, you are spiritually stagnant. If you cannot say that you are falling deeper in love with Jesus, that you are learning to hear God better, that you are growing in depth in the word, that you are sensing God's presence in greater and greater ways, that you are learning how to use your gifts both in the body of Christ and in the world... you are spiritually stagnant. The problem is not that God has quit working on you; the problem is that the ground of your heart is so hard that you have built up a natural resistance to God's work in your heart. You need the fallow ground of your heart broken up! And it is vitally important that we waste no time getting to it, because God is waiting for us to get renewed before he can send revival in the world! 


In Mark 2:21-22 Jesus presents one of his many cryptic teachings: “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” For years I read this passage and asked God for revelation, because I just never had a clear handle on what Jesus was communicating here. Then last night, as I was preparing for our New Years Eve service, the passage made perfect sense.


The new cloth shrinks, the new skin expands; the old garment does not shrink anymore, and the old skin does not expand anymore. Both the old garment and the old skin were once new. When the old garment was a new garment it was a shrinkable garment, but after being washed and washed and washed, it finally hit its shrinkage capacity and stopped shrinking. When the old skin was a new skin it was an expandable skin, but after being filled and refilled with new wine (that was constantly expanding) it finally hit its expansion capacity and stopped expanding. Like the cloth and the skin, believers tend to hit their shrinkage and expansion capacities at a certain point. The result is stagnation, the absence of growth in any direction.


When you first came to Christ, you most likely found -- like the new cloth -- that you were constantly shrinking as you were constantly being washed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Your humility was growing, and God was constantly cutting things out of your life and setting you free from things and revealing things that needed to be broken, and you were becoming smaller and smaller. But, if you are like most believers, at a certain point you hit your shrinkage capacity, and suddenly you stopped getting smaller. Your humility stopped growing. You once shared frequent testimonies of what God was taking out of your life and what he was healing you of and the ways in which you were learning to die daily to self and allow Christ to become your all in all. But at a certain point you developed a spiritual routine (which is definition religion) and lost your ability to decrease in size. 


The Scripture says that Enoch walked with God and then he was no more. He continued to decrease in size until he completely disappeared and was overtaken by the glory of God. Paul said it this way: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). This crucifixion to self manifests itself in the life of a believer who is committed to living in a perpetual state of decrease. 


Further, when you first came to Christ, you most likely found -- like the skin -- that you were constantly expanding as you were constantly being filled by the power of the Holy Spirit. Your sense of God's love was growing, your experience of his power was growing, your sensitivity to his Spirit was growing, your patience and compassion for his people was growing as God was continuously calling you to higher and higher levels of intimacy and expression. But at a certain point you hit your expansion capacity and suddenly you stopped getting larger. Your sense of God's presence stopped growing, your experience of his power stopped increasing, you lost your sensitivity to his voice. Instead of hearing the Spirit call you to higher and higher levels of intimacy and power, you opted for a routine that may include a little quiet time, a little prayer, a little church, and a little ministry.


In 2 Corinthians 3:18 Paul defines the life of faith as a movement from "glory to glory," or as the NIV says, "ever-increasing glory." This means that our sense of God's presence, power, purposes and promises should perpetually increase throughout our life-long walk with God. From glory to glory means that we must perpetually decrease in ourselves while perpetually increasing in God. A stagnant believer is a dead believer. A stagnant church is a dead church. In order to be alive we must be continually growing both inwardly and outwardly. In the posts that follow I'll talk about how.

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