Showing posts with label deliverance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label deliverance. Show all posts

Thursday

Opinions About Pornography


OK. Let’s go step onto the scary trail. Let’s talk about pornography, and about porn addictions.

I’m going to speak about things that I have no training in. I have opinions, based on experience. I’ve not put this into words for a long time, so this may get overly-detailed (that’s how my process works).

Comment: I’ll be speaking as a guy (I generally do, but this time it may make a difference).

Another Comment: I’m not going to talk about how icky porn is. You already know that.

Warning: This isn't complete. Not sure it's actually possible to be complete on this topic. This is more of an outline, notes, rough thoughts.

Personal opinion: neither accountability nor inner healing will solve porn addictions. They may address some symptoms, but not solve the problem.

Personal opinion: solving symptoms is never a substitute for solving the core issue. If one symptom is solved, but the core issue is not, then the core issue will build pressure, and pop out in another place, or (more likely?) blow the scab off the same symptom.

Personal observation: when “church folk” respond to any addiction, their response is generally in the realm of “self control.” This does help a small number of people. 

Personal opinion: a porn addiction is not primarily about sex or about discipline. These are merely symptoms.

Personal opinion: the core issue is identity, specifically intimacy in relationship. Intimacy, in this context, is NOT a euphemism for sex: it’s about being known and accepted fully, and about knowing and accepting fully. And the first place for this intimacy is with God:

Personal opinion: if a man does not have an intimate relationship with God, if a man does not have confidence that he is fully known and fully accepted by God, then he will try to meet that very legitimate need by illegitimate means. Pornography is one of those illegitimate means.

Personal opinion: that business of being known fully and being accepted fully by one’s wife (or wife-to-be) is supplemental and very helpful, but does not replace the need for this relationship with God. Neither does sex replace real relationship with God. [That’s covered in the DUH-101 course.]

Personal opinion: This inherently creates a problem: the only solution is to know and receive the actions/choices of someone else. Fundamentally, no man can solve this problem on their own, by their own strength. There’s room for a sermon there, but this is not the time for that sermon.

Personal Opinion: the only thing that a man can do to facilitate others’ meeting of these needs is to initiate that sort of relationship. With God, that’s only about making one’s self as open as possible before God, and that is a scary process. With a bride that’s a terrifying thing, because it’s the same kind of vulnerability, but vulnerability before a fallible human being who has her own needs. Scary. But that’s all he can do to help her offer that to him: offer it to her, both for her well-being, and by way of being an example.

Personal opinion: the only things I’ve ever seen work appear to be two sides of the same coin: It can be described as “Develop this kind of relationship with God” or it can be described as “Know – really know, not just study – who you are in Christ,” but these are (IMHO) really the same thing.

Personal opinion: there is a bit of good news in an addiction to pornography: you were made for intimate relationship with God, and this addiction demonstrates that you have a real hunger, and a real readiness for that intimacy. You’re ready to develop a close relationship with your Maker. And God is ready to develop that close relationship with you.

I say again: a porn addiction is rock-solid proof that you are now ready and able to have the kind of intimate relationship with God that you’ve always wanted.

Is it scary? Hell yes!

Are we guaranteed a life of ease and no problems? You’re kidding, right?

But is it possible? abso-freakin-lutely.

And yeah, it really is the better deal! Oh my goodness, yes!

The Law Of The Spirit Of Life In Christ Jesus Has Made Me Free From The Law Of Sin And Death.


In the New Testament times, the biggest threat to the New Covenant was “The Circumcision Party,” also known as the Judaizers. They were trying to drag New Covenant believers back into the bondage of the Old Covenant Law.

That’s still happening today.

There are people all over social media, in every congregation, working to drag free believers back into bondage to the Law. Sometimes they’re aware that they’re bringing people under the bondage of the Law, but most of the time, they’re not aware that they’re being a tool for bondage: they’re just excited about things that they can DO that the Bible described as once being about being part of a covenant with God. They’re excited about their works.

Nowadays it’s not so much about circumcision. These days, the Judaizers appear to be most often focusing on the Old Covenant dietary laws, or Old Covenant holidays. “Keep the Father’s commands!” they say. “Jesus followed these laws!” they say.

They conveniently miss the fact that the Old Covenant was still in play when Jesus walked the earth. So yeah, he mostly followed those laws. The New Covenant wasn’t in place until his Resurrection, and the Old Covenant was completely annihilated in the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD (as the Bible foretold).

But the modern Judaizers teach, “Torah means direction, teaching, instruction.” The literal word “torah” means “teaching,” yes.

But the application of the word “Torah” is “Old Covenant Law.” They say, “This isn’t a ‘Law.’ It’s just how God wants us to live.”  

But this is the very thing that Paul preached against over and over again: the attempt to bring free New Covenant believers under the bondage of the Old Covenant Law. It’s been the same with the Pharisees in Jesus’ day and in Paul’s day and in our day.  

And when people teach, “Following these “teachings, instructions” will make God happy with you,” or “...will get you closer to God,” they’re replacing the grace of God with the works of man. They’re teaching a very literal anti-Christ doctrine. This IS the Anti-Christ spirit that the New Testament warns believers against. These are the ones about whom Paul writes, “I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves castrated!”

Let’s say it clearly: Anyone who teaches that keeping this bit of the Old Covenant Law will please God is, by definition, teaching that your works are what pleases God. But Scripture teaches that it’s Jesus’ works, not yours or mine, that connect us with God.

So when someone pressures you to not eat bacon because it’s against Father’s commands, whether intentionally or not, then they’re working to drag you away from your freedom in Christ and back into the bondage of legalism, of the Law of a dead covenant. If you don’t want to eat bacon, don’t eat bacon. But don’t do it to please God. That’s rubbish.

So when someone encourages you to celebrate an Old Covenant holiday because that’s a thing that God wants us to do, then whether intentionally or not, they’re working to drag you away from your freedom in Christ and back into the bondage of legalism, of the Law of a dead covenant. If you want more excuses to celebrate, then have a grand time. But don’t do it because it was part of the Law. That’s a dead-end road.

So when someone declares tattoos to be ungodly because it’s against Father’s commands, then whether intentionally or not, they’re working to drag you away from your freedom in Christ and back into the bondage of legalism, of the Law of a dead covenant. If you don’t like tattoos, that’s fine. But don’t hold up “Leviticus says so!” as a reason.

Just say no to returning to the Law. Just say no about returning to the jail that used to hold you tight.


With Every Increase of Freedom...

This is quite a season we’re in with God. We’re seeing new freedom, new understanding of his ways, new revelation. The kingdom is making pretty significant advances right now.

And like every other time that we experience new freedom in Christ, there’s also a fresh resurgence of legalism trying to take away our freedom. I can’t remember ever seeing so many people pushing an agenda of “Return to the Law.”

You may have run into people online who warn you about “going too far” in experiencing the infinite grace of God. Some are concerned about holiness and believe that holiness is the result of their good works. Others appear to have invested so much of themselves in making themselves acceptable that they resent those who are made acceptable without the same effort.

I’m finding more books than ever, arguing for a return to an obedience-based covenant, some emphasizing dietary laws, others emphasizing whom you may associate with, others focusing on Sabbath law, or using Hebrew names for God, or celebrating Jewish holidays instead of the “pagan” holidays of whichever culture you live among.

It is EXACTLY this environment into which Paul writes Galatians 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” This is also the context in which Paul writes, “... some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.” (Galatians 2:4)

The apostle Paul was in the midst of the first great outpouring of the Spirit of God, the very first expansion of the Kingdom of God, and then, like now, there was a great surge towards returning to legalism, whether by circumcision, or by obeying Old Covenant rules about food or fellowship. The “Judaizers” who are promoting this legalism often call it a “restoration,” but the Bible calls it a “Yoke of Slavery.”

This is also the context into which Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)

This is a normal response of hell (often through people who don’t have freedom) whenever God’s people are moving in freedom: try to drag those who are escaping slavery back into slavery; if they can’t do that, then they’ll persecute the free ones and say all kinds of evil against them. Rejoice when that happens to you.

My encouragement is NOT to focus our attention on the people or the influences trying to drag us back into slavery. That’s an unworthy focus for our attention. Rather, be aware that some want to draw you back into their “yoke of slavery;” avoid them, as you avoid potholes in the road, while we “[fix] our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

As you follow Him (who IS worthy of our attention!), He’ll lead you “along the right paths for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3) Trust the freedom that he’s leading you into; it really is for freedom that he has set us free!

Let us “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

Outraged at Outrage

Our world, and especially our media, are obsessed with outrage. If we are outraged, others pay attention to us and join in the outrage. We feel empowered when we are outraged, like we are making a difference. We are deceived.

We all know what outrage is. Outrage is defined as “an extremely strong reaction of anger, shock, or indignation.”

Let's be outraged by the death of a wild animal. Let’s be outraged at the loss of our constitution. Let's be outraged about killing babies and selling their body parts to the highest bidder.

And the silliest of them all: Let's be outraged that people aren't outraged by what gets me outraged.

With the obvious exception of the last one, most current targets for outrage are legitimate issues, legitimate problems. And they deserve legitimate solutions. They deserve change.

The problem that I have with outrage is that it betrays us. Outrage lies to us.

First, outrage betrays us by pretending to be an appropriate response. It convinces us somehow it is socially conscious to feel powerful emotions, to shout at others with those powerful and controlling emotions, and to post snarky statements and memes online. And if I manage to get others to join me in my powerful emotions and snarky online posts, I’ve improved the world. That’s not actually change, is it?

Outrage betrays us by substituting bitter words and indignant feelings for actual action. I’m not saying the feelings are inappropriate or that strong feelings are an error. I will say that if the words are focused on finding fault or pointing out foolishness, that yes, I do consider that to be inappropriate.

But the reality is that as satisfying as those emotions and those witty memes are, they don’t change anything. There will be people who kill animals, people who abrogate constitutional rights, and people who kill babies in order to sell their body parts for profit. My powerful emotions won’t change that.

Outrage also betrays us, because it’s a tool being used to manipulate us. Talk show hosts and producers intentionally manipulate their content in order to entice outrage in their audience, so that they’ll remain a loyal and participative audience. Advertisers use outrage to sell you their products. Political groups use outrage to persuade you to fund their groups, but even more, they use outrage to direct your attention away from the things that they don’t want you to see. It’s this last one that really irritates me.

Yes, it is legitimately sad that a lion was killed somewhere in Africa. It’s sadder that the hunter who killed him is the target of so much hatred that his life, his family and his business have been destroyed. Personally, I find it saddest of all that more people get more upset about a dead animal than about the murdering-babies-and-selling-their-body-parts industry. I don’t think they deserve the same attention.

But that’s the success of outrage: there are people who support the business of killing babies, and they don’t want to be the focus of this much media attention, because then their secret might get out and their billions of dollars of income might be reduced a little. So let’s focus everybody’s outrage on an animal that was literally on the other side of the planet, in a nation that none of us has ever visited, and that was hunted and killed legally (at least by local law), and let’s get everybody to focus on that dead cat so they’ll stop asking questions about our profitable baby-murdering business.

And it’s working, isn’t it? (And it’s working so well that I’ll bet I get people outraged over the lion who defend their outrage in the comments.)

I'm really tired of outrage. I’m tired of being emotionally wound up. I’m tired of being manipulated by the purveyors of outrage. I’m tired of having others tell me what I should feel strongly about. I’m tired of reading snarky and self-serving accusations and character assassinations of people who think differently than we think they should. I’m tired of having complex issues reduced to black-and-white caricatures so that they produce increased outrage.

Forgive me, but I won't be participating in any outrage this week. Please don't be offended that I won’t be joining you in yours.

“So what could we do instead of willingly volunteering to be emotionally manipulated? Is there an alternative?” I’m so glad you asked. Yes, there are a number of responses to things-that-are-wrong other than mere outrage.

The most important first step, I suppose, is to decide which issues are worth your attention. Don’t let the news media or social media tell you what you should care about. You decide. Cheat if you want: its OK to pray about this decision. It’s an important one, partly because this decision is the beginning of you taking the control of your emotional responses away from those who have delighted in controlling your emotions for you.

Second, I recommend sorting your emotions out. What are you actually feeling, and why does this issue trigger those emotions? Which emotions are actually yours, and which have been sold to you by others? And listen to the emotions: what are they suggesting needs to be done?  I’m not saying “don’t feel emotions.” I am, however, saying “don’t stop with feeling emotions.”

I recommend asking the question, “Is this actually any of my business?” If it isn’t, then this isn’t the place for you to get involved, except perhaps by prayer. And some will argue that our prayer might be less effective in causes that are none of our business. But that’s none of my business, so I’ll move on.

And once you’ve decided that there is an issue worthy of your attention, then take action. Here I’d argue that prayer is an excellent first action to take, and that may be the extent of your action regarding this issue. If you go no further than to pray, then you can at least know that you’ve freed yourself from being manipulated by others for their own, possibly nefarious purposes, and you’ve brought God’s attention to the matter. That’s not insignificant at all.

And further action may be appropriate after you’ve prayed. I recommend considering where your greatest influence lies (Consider which of the Seven Mountains your influence reaches the most) and take action in that arena. But take thoughtful action, don’t just write or shout outraged words: leaders of industry, government, culture know that outraged words are meaningless, and they are generally ignored, if they don’t respond with attempts to further manipulate us with outrage.

This is my attempt to respond in a method other than outrage to what appears to me to be an outrageous error in our culture. This is my attempt to bring some attention to the actual problem (the futility of being emotionally manipulated by people who don’t have your best interest in their minds) and to offer an alternative (choose what to be moved by, and how to move in response).

So now it’s your choice. You can be outraged at my suggestions. Or you can actually make a difference. It’s up to you.



When Darkness Comes Into the Light

For a long time, I’ve been praying that the things that have been hidden in darkness would be revealed in the light. Many of you have been praying similar things.

I’m not stopping those prayers (please, don’t you stop either). But I’m adding to it: I’m praying that those that see the things drawn out into the light would recognize them, would understand them, and would take wise action based on what they recognize and understand.

There’s a lot of dark stuff going on in hidden places in our world. It has to: there’s so very much light increasing all around, that the darkness is not just where dark things are most comfortable, but now, that’s the only place where the dark things can survive.

As I pray these prayers, I expect hidden things in governments to be brought into the light and recognized. I expect people to recognize and condemn atrocities in the Middle East and in Asia. I expect that dark things in the medical community and the business world will be revealed, perhaps most especially where those two worlds overlap. As I pray, I expect that hidden things in the education systems will come to light and surprise many.

Demonic strongholds will be uncovered, and – if we’re attentive – torn down. Demonic plans will evaporate to dust. Sins and influences that have been hidden in darkness will be uncovered; some will scurry away to find more darkness, and others, unable to hide, will find their end when a Saint notices them and wields their sword of the Spirit on them.

But it won’t only happen “over there.” This trend toward disclosure will also happen “over here.” And it’s probably good that it does. There’s darkness in the Christian religious system as well, and if we’re violently honest, there’s probably a measure of darkness in most of our lives that we’ve completely lost track of.

I suppose these will come into the light as well.

But I also expect that we’ll see our hopes and desires come to light, and surprise many, even surprising ourselves. And it won’t just be us, it will be many people, shaking their heads, as if awakening from a dream, and marveling at the dreams and visions that are in their own hearts.

I expect that as we pray, we’ll see the “sons of God” emerge from their hidden place, and take their places in the Kingdom of God, and no, I don’t really know what that will look like.

And best of all, our Magnificent Bridegroom, who has been hidden by the weeds and distractions of the world will no longer be hidden. He will be seen as he really is, and as we see him, we’ll be transformed.

I look forward to walking in the fulfillment of these prayers. Would you care to join me? 

Help! Get Me Outta Here!

Have you ever been stuck in a situation that was really hard to put up with? Maybe it’s a job with long hours, no respect, lousy pay, no growth opportunities. Maybe it’s a relationship you can’t escape: parents, spouse, neighbors, co-workers. Whatever it is, you know things are not like they ought to be, and you seem powerless to change them.

It’s hard in that place. It’s easy to get disgruntled, angry, bitter in that place: why isn’t God changing this? It's like he doesn't even hear your prayers on this.
 
Here's my experience, my testimony: I spent a bunch of years disgruntled in a lousy job, and I surely didn't thrive. I complained to God and man about legitimate issues, blatantly illegal issues. I ended up doing the job poorly, and the boss noticed. Yikes.
 
I realized that I was letting my job be the thing that determined the state of my soul: my circumstances were the thing that determined whether I had joy or depression, whether I was thankful or ungrateful. Yikes again: I decided I wasn’t OK with somebody else controlling me.

I took positive steps to change my attitude. The job didn't change; if anything, it got worse. But I looked for places to rejoice (often the people) and ways to excel (one big one came through an on-site accident: weird how that worked). I went out of my way to perform that lousy job to the best of my ability, while submitting to their stupid and unreasonable limitations. More, I went out of my way to be positive and encouraging to the people I worked with, and with myself.
 
Time went by. A couple of years later, my job was pretty much the same, but I was happy and thriving and doing my job well. The boss noticed, and talked about promotion, but even more, Father noticed, and he released me to the next opportunity: I was not released from the prison until I overcame my own soul in the midst of it.
 
It seems that he wasn't willing to bail me out when I'd given up: he doesn't reward disgruntled
ingratitude. God’s ways do not include giving in to our petulant temper tantrums and continuous whining. He rewards faithfulness, especially in tough circumstances. He always has.
 
That appears to be his way throughout scripture: he rewards those who are faithful, whether with great gifts or with small ones. This is also his way: he always saves us through the difficulties, never from them.

It’s when we’re faithful in the midst those difficult circumstances that he is free to reward us, not before.

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Counterfeits in the Kingdom

One of the signs that says to me, “Hell is scared,” is the immense quantity of spiritual forgery going on. 

Nobody in their right mind counterfeits $3 bills. What gets counterfeited are $20 bills and $100 bills. Why? Because they’re the most valuable.

There is more value tied up in US $20 bills than all of the other American bills combined, except the $100 bill. And of course, there is more value tied up in the US $100 bill than all other US bills combined!

When things are valuable, they are counterfeited. When they are meaningless, they are not counterfeited.

And it’s not just the “most valuable” things that are counterfeited. Nobody counterfeits ten-thousand-dollar bills. That’s silly. The bills exist, but they are so very rare, that they stand out. And there are so few of them that all together, they aren’t worth as much as $1 bills.

No, people counterfeit what is valuable, and they counterfeit what the public can regularly expect to use and handle.

In the Kingdom, nobody is counterfeiting God’s work in Genesis 1. That’s too very rare, and let’s be honest: it’s hard to fake that. And nobody is (seriously) counterfeiting the Cross of Christ. Yeah, people have themselves crucified every Good Friday, but nobody believes they’re Jesus: it’s obvious that they’re fakes. Besides, that particular counterfeit leaves the counterfeiters dead, and it’s hard to make a profit when you’re dead.

But the things that Father is releasing, unveiling in this generation, the treasures that he’s giving (has already given) to every single believer: these are getting counterfeited.

God is speaking about sonship, about how we’re legitimately God’s heirs. So the enemy is showing several counterfeits claiming to be Jesus Christ in the flesh. Here’s one: http://nwp.link/1uLEuNa

God is speaking about how hell isn’t what we’ve always thought it was, so these false Christs are denying hell.

God is showing us how weak and helpless the devil really is, so these false Christs are denying the devil himself.

Our response is not to get all excited that there is yet ANOTHER false Christ. They’ve been around for millennia, and there will be more. Yawn. Our response is not to tell everybody about why this false Christ or that false Christ is actually false. Neither is our response to declare that just because there is a false Christ, therefore all Christs are false, and then deny that Jesus came in the flesh. (Don’t laugh: there are many who have done this!)

Our response is the same in this situation as it is any other time the false is declared: we focus on the real.

If the devil is parading false Christs, we fix our eyes on Jesus, the real Christ.

If the devil is raising up false healings and false miracles, we become skilled in wielding the healing gifts, the gifts of miracles that come from the real Holy Spirit.

If there are New Age mystics who talk about being transported to other places, whether spiritual or physical, either in their own spirits or actually in the flesh, then we press into these gifts (all of which are described in Scripture) and we learn what Father is releasing to his children today.

Bottom line: if the devil is leading people astray, we drawer closer to God to be led by Him (and not by our reaction to the devil) into what is true.

What does the Word say?
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. … But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. – [1 John 2:18-20 NKJV]


Our response to the antichrist spirit that is pretty busy in the culture around us is the anointing from God, to know what he knows, and (since he’s talking about experiential knowledge, not book-learning) to practice what we know from Him.

Let’s follow God, shall we, wherever he shall lead us.

--

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The Vision of the Wooden Spoon

The vision began with a quiet stream, in a quiet, green meadow; it reminded me of Narnia for some reason: that peaceful. The stream was wider than one could jump across, and deeper than you’d want to wade across, and its flow was smooth and fairly fast. All in all, it was a very peaceful environment. The birds were singing.

Then a giant hand appeared in the sky, holding a giant wooden spoon, the kind of spoon that people use in the kitchen to mix cookie dough. The spoon dipped into the stream and stirred.

For a while, nothing much happened, except the stream became more turbulent from the spoon’s motion. After a minute or two, the stream darkened, and soon I could see things in the muddy stream: old tires, boots, cans, bottles, sticks and stones, jars, bags of rubbish. The hand with the spoon withdrew into the heavens.

I was kind of appalled. This had been a peaceful stream, in a beautiful meadow, and now it was full of trash and garbage and muck and mess. Well, actually, the peaceful stream had always had the trash and muck and garbage and muck and mess, but it had been lying hidden in the mud on the bottom of the stream. Now the stuff was out in the open.

The vision continued, and the stream kept flowing, and then I saw it: the garbage was flowing downstream with the flow of stream. Some of what had been stirred up came to the top of the stream, and was carried far downstream, out of the picture. Other things, heavier things, were carried a little ways downstream but they settled back to the bottom of the stream. Soon the stream was clear and peaceful again, but I knew that old tires, discarded shoes, bottles and cans were still there, lying on the bottom of the stream.

The hand with the spoon appeared again, and stirred the water again, and again the stream darkened with mud, again tires, discarded shoes, bottles, cans, and other detritus were stirred up, and again they floated various distances downstream.

The cycle was repeated several times, until eventually, the stirring from the almighty spoon did not bring up muck and garbage.

The stream returned to peace, but it flowed smoother, faster, than it had before, and I realized that it flowed cleaner than it had before. The garbage on the stream bed had settled under so much mud that the stream flowed smoothly over it, but still the garbage had polluted the stream.

Now the stream was actually clean.

I believe that this is what Father is doing in some of our lives. He’s stirring things up in our lives, and it’s uncomfortable. It’s easy to be appalled or offended at what he’s doing, because he’s good at what he does. Things are being stirred up, memories, habits, relationships that have been in our lives are being stirred up from the dark depths of our lives, and brought into the light.

And the reality is that much of what he’s stirring up is garbage: shame, embarrassment, memories of foolishness, of sin, histories of unwise choices, character weaknesses. It’s easy to resent these coming to the surface after how many years of being hidden in history.

But he’s bringing them up in order to wash them away, in order to remedy the issues. Trust him. Have hope, rest in the confident assurance that he does know what he’s doing, and that he’s working for good in you, for the purity that we really have wanted. He’s answering our prayers.

We can trust the spoon. More specifically, we can trust the hand wielding the spoon.


Walking in Authority

The scene was an AA Allen meeting, back in the day. At Allen's tent meetings, he regularly had demons manifesting. So it was his policy to set up a second tent, where his assistants would take the people manifesting demons and get them delivered, out of sight of the main meetings.

One day, the young men had delivered everybody of their demons except one old cuss, whose demon obdurately refused to leave. They tried everything they knew, prayed every prayer they ever heard, quoted every scripture, and still the demon mocked them.

They’d been at it for hours, determined to see this man set free. The main meetings finished, and people left, and still the demon resisted them. They determined to keep at it – all night if need be – until this poor man was free.

Finally, the last car leaving the parking lot stopped by the deliverance tent, and out stepped AA Allen himself. In a glance, he saw what was happening, and walked over to the demoniac. He bent over, and whispered a sentence, and the demon fled, screaming. Allen stood up, and walked back to his car.

The young men were astounded, and one ran up to him. “What did you say? What authority did you use? How did you do that? Why couldn’t we?”

Allen paused. “I said, ‘My name is AA Allen. Now get out!’” and he stepped into the car and drove off.

There’s a reason that we’re told to walk in the authority Father has given us. Some of us handle Father’s authority like it’s precious china, or like it’s an expensive and complicated tool: we must be careful and we must use it exactly right!

And Father is calling us to just walk in the authority: we’re his kids, so of course we carry his authority. It’s not something we do, it’s not about the right words, the right prayers, as if they were incantations.

It’s about us being his beloved children: we speak and we don’t even need to mention his name: all of heaven and all of hell already knows that when we speak, we’re speaking in his name.


Monday

Second Hand Smoke


I felt God drawing my attention to second hand smoke today. 

Second hand smoke is smoke that you breathe from someone else’s cigarette, or pipe, etc. It doesn't come as a result of your actions, but its smell still clings to your clothes, and it exposes you to lung cancer nearly as much as if you were smoking yourself. 

In some ways, it's more dangerous: pipe-smokers (and some cigar and cigarette smokers) don't generally inhale their own smoke, but if you're in their company, you don't have a choice about whether you inhale their secondhand smoke: it's just part of breathing when they're smoking around you. Your body actually experiences more of the deadly smoke than their body does.

In my own experience, there are far more times that people around me are smoking, than there are times when I am the person smoking. (Full disclosure: I do occasionally smoke a pipe.)

Second hand smoke happens in the spirit realm as well. We experience things – smells cling to us; we’re exposed to deadly danger – not because of things that we’re doing, but because of things that others are doing around us. I suspect it is true here: there are far more times when people around me are doing things to stir up the hornets' nest, than when I'm stirring that nest. After all, there are many people around me, and there's only one of me! 

May I encourage us: when we're feeling the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" coming against us, avoid the foolishness of self-accusation: "Well, I must have done something wrong." Sure, sometimes we do something stupid and open a gate to give the devil permission to steal, kill & destroy. And he generally makes use of those opportunities. In that case, all we do is repent, kick him in the teeth, and move on. 

But sometimes the troubles coming against us are brought about by the actions of others: maybe stuff passed on by parents, or foolishness committed by people we're in covenant relationship with, or maybe we've associated ourselves with a group that has given place to some sort of stronghold. Just because we're in relationship with a number of people, there's secondhand smoke around. 

It's probably appropriate to remember that our own actions affect many of the people we're in relationship with; in another way, there's no such thing as a "secret" or a "victimless" sin. 

I'm not trying to bring a teaching on how to overcome demonic attacks: there's lots of that around, and we all remember: repentance is a super-power, and I suspect the 'kicking the devil in the teeth" exercise will still be valuable. 

Rather, this is about diagnosing the source: when trouble comes our way, it isn't always about us; sometimes it's from second-hand smoke

Sunday

Who’s in Control?

I should probably begin this with a disclaimer, a warning: this is not politically correct, not religiously correct, and may be offensive to a lot of folks. It’s offensive to me. You probably don’t want to read this.
What? You’re still here? Well, you’ve been warned. Proceed at your own risk.
A few months ago, I posted something on the topic of “Trust, Don’t Lean,” a lesson for this season from Proverbs 3. I can’t get away from that topic.
I believe that this is a season for us to trust Father God instead of leaning on our own understanding. I also believe that this is a much subtler issue than I have realized before.
I hear so many of my brothers & sisters praying the way that was so very common for me, until I realized the rebellion that it represented in me.
My favorite way to pray for guidance from God was along the lines of “God, show me what to do, and I’ll do it!” It sounds good, right?
But what was really in my heart had a slightly different interpretation. The way I walked this out was more along the lines of “If you’ll show me what you want, then I’ll make a decision about whether I want to do that.”
The difference is subtle, and it’s huge. It’s every bit as big as the difference between Him leading me and me leading Him, because that’s what it is.
If I insist on knowing his instructions before I obey, or if I want to understand before following, then I’ve changed the authority in my life. If I have reserved the final approval for myself, my own authority, then I am the “lord” of my life, and God has become my counselor.
In less subtle language, it would sound like this: “Look, you give me all the advice you want to; I’ll decide whether I’m ‘feeling led’ to obey it or not.”
That sounds harsh stated bluntly like that, but this is the way many Western believers follow God: “You advise me, but I’m making the decisions!”
A few years back, there was a popular bumper sticker: “God is my co-pilot.” Then another one came out to rebut it, and it captures something of what I’m trying to say: “If God is your co-pilot, change seats!”
If I am asking God to tell me what to do, then I choose to obey what he’s saying, of necessity, this means that I am the king of my own life, and God is reduced to my advisor or assistant.
In the same way, if I need to understand what is happening before I walk forward into it, then I am choosing to be master of my life. If this happens when I’m facing a room full of unfamiliar people, there is great wisdom in this approach. But if I’m waiting to understand what God is up to, then I’m back to making him my Heavenly Concierge again.
I wouldn’t bring this up, except that I see it in so many Western Christians: “When I understand what God is doing, then I’ll trust him with my life.” I see many believers sitting on their hands, “waiting on God” to understand what he’s doing in their lives before moving forward in obedience.
“Is this the season, Lord, where you fulfill all my grandest dreams?” If they feel an answer in the affirmative, they risk hoping in those dreams; otherwise, they don’t go anywhere.
I would argue that if God says, “Step forward!” then it’s time to step out. It’s not time to ask what will be the results of my stepping forward? “Will my sister ‘get saved’ if I step forward, and you know that it would be really good if she did!”
There’s room for this argument: “But how can I obey if I don’t know what I’m going to obey?”
It seems to me that asking the question reveals the disease: the folks who have God in the Number Two seat tend to be the ones who ask that question.
How do we obey without understanding what it is that we need to obey? I keep having to ask, why do I need to understand before obeying? Here are some of the questions that this leads me to:
  • What benefit does understanding provide to my ability to obey? I find that my understanding is limited by my capacity to understand, which is – as hard as this is to believe – noticeably less than God’s capacity to understand. He can see the relationship between my obedience and my sister’s salvation whether I can or not.
  • When I ask for understanding, have I already chosen to obey and even begun to obey, or is my decision to obey going to come after I understand, if I understand?
  • What do I do if God has a different plan for my life than I do? What if “success” in God’s mind is the thing that we call “failure”? Jonah will work as an example here. He wanted to live the comfortable and well-regarded life of a prophet in Israel. God had other plans: “Go to Nineveh!” Later, Jonah reveals his agenda. “You’re doing exactly what I didn’t want; that’s why I went the other way! Go ahead: kill me now!” (Paraphrased from Jonah 4:1-3.)

Here in the western church, we’re big on the concept of God as “Daddy” and our “best friend.” Those concepts are true, but we overlook the less comfortable concept of God as “King of Everything” (the technical term is “sovereign”) who has the inherent right to do any thing he darned well feels like with our lives. We are fortunate indeed that his plans for us are always (as in “100% of the time”) in our best interests, but his commands are no less commanding simply because they’re good for us.
I was whining about martyrs to God one evening long ago. He let me go on for a while, and then when I stopped my pity-party long enough to draw a breath, he interrupted: “Do I not have the right to spend the lives of my servants as I see fit?”
I realized that I had done what I’m writing about here: I had judged his plans by my tiny little brain, and because I couldn’t see the connection between “the blood of the martyrs” and any tangible benefits, I was judging his plans for ruling the world, for leading the Church as inferior to “the way I would do it.”
God the Father is indeed my Daddy and Jesus really is my Best Friend. But more than that, God really is omniscient: he really does know what will come of my obedience. He really is sovereign: he has the right to tell me “Go here” or “Do this” and he may give me an explanation or not as he sees fit. In fact, as my friend, he is very likely to explain things to me.
But for me to demand an explanation before I obey is not obedience. It’s rebellion of the highest order.
“Why Lord” is illegal until after we have declared “Yes Lord!” in both word and deed.

Monday

Reciprocity With God

The other day, I went for a walk in the woods, in “our place”: a set of trails that God & I used to spend a lot of time on together. What with the price of gas to get there, and the business of life, I haven’t been to those trails much recently; we’ve been meeting in coffee shops and back rooms instead.

When I got to the trailhead, my first words were according to tradition, “Hi Papa,” and then He broke our tradition. Instead of waiting for me to quiet my mind over the next mile, He immediately began speaking to me of reciprocity in relationships, particularly His relationship with individuals. He seemed very excited about it. I’m afraid I loved that part best: His enthusiasm is very contagious.

“My relationship with you,” He began, and I could hear Him smiling, “is reciprocal.” And He let me think on that for a bit.

I sometimes teach a model of relationships that uses a bridge as an illustration of our relationship: the stronger the bridge (the relationship) between us, the more weight that can be carried across the bridge from you to me, or from me to you, but we both have to build the bridge.

I thought of this illustration now, as He was teaching me. “That’s actually not how I relate to you.” I was getting excited with Him by now.

So He began to describe to me how He limits Himself in His relationship with me – or anyone else – based on how I approach Him. While He is always attentive towards me, if I give Him my time and attention, then He gives me His time & attention: the degree to which I experience Him is pretty much determined by how much I’m willing to invest myself in Him, in our relationship.

I wish I could capture the joy, the immediacy, the clarity that came on those trails.

He pointed out that He’s “pretty much omnipotent” and if He relates to me in His omnipotence, I’ll pop, or my brain will fry, or I’ll burn up in a puff of smoke. “No one can see My face and live,” He said to Moses, and suddenly I understand better. If He brought the infinite force of His personality to our relationship, I would crumble to dust when He showed up. That’s hard on the relationship.

It’s mercy that keeps Him at a distance from me.

And so He must limit Himself, His glory that is in His person, His personality. I pray, “Show me your glory” like Moses, and He must answer, “I cannot.”

But the limit that He puts on Himself is the limit that I set. Or to put it the other way, the more I open myself to Him, the more He opens Himself to me.

I long for His presence. I appreciate His mercy.

Saturday

Multi Level Marketing

I have been approached many times in my life about an “opportunity” to join in a multi-level marketing organization. I have always declined. God challenged me to clarify my opinion one day.

Multi-Level Marketing is Expensive:

1. It costs relationships. Multi-level marketing (MLM), by its very design and nature, changes my relationships. People are no longer only my friends or family, but must become—to some degree—prospects for the business. MLM requires by its very nature that you bring others into it. I have not been willing to pay that price.

Furthermore, some of the relationships that are spent are those of my family. MLM works well only if both husband and wife are equally committed to and enthused about “the business.” But even then, the time and attention siphoned away from my family relationships is hard for me to live with. Besides, I’ll miss our golf games on Fridays if that’s part of the cost.

And beyond all that, every successful MLM that I have ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot!) virtually requires my joining their social subculture in order to be “successful.”

2. It costs time. Any business endeavor will require an investment in time. Ten hours a week (such as is often quoted) strikes me as idealistic, but even if it is true, I have other uses for those hours that are more consistent with my long term (eg. ten thousand years and beyond) goals. Ten hours a week usually means ten hours on a quiet week and more on other weeks. But even ten hours a week comes out to 520 hours in a year, or the equivalent of three months of full-time work every year. I’d rather spend that with my family, or with baby believers, or even raking out my lawn!

3. It costs money. Likewise, any business will require a significant financial investment. Even if I don’t buy product to sell (but then what would I show my customers?), I must buy advertising, brochures, gas to attend meetings, costs for meals & conferences, meals for some meetings, bookkeeping paraphernalia, office space, etc. TANSTAAFL, you know.

4. It costs focus. MLM is, by its nature, an opportunistic business. That means that when I find an opportunity, I must seize it and make the presentation. (Rather like evangelism, though it’s an either/or situation. One can’t evangelize for both MLM and Jesus simultaneously. “No man can serve two masters…” and all that.) The inevitable result is a significant loss of attention to the task at hand, whether that’s groceries, landscaping, job search, or pastoring.

5. It costs reputation. Thanks to Amway, MLM has a really bad name in America: a low-life, get-rich-quick reputation. Of course, people involved in MLM aren’t always “low-life, get-rich-quick” people, but you’d be hard pressed to convince many Americans of that. They hear MLM and they begin to look at you differently.

6. It costs my values. The last thing I need is a values war inside me. Many people have observed a spirit of greed in MLM adherants. In my experience, this is a very (I repeat, very) common problem with MLM. Soon, often before they even sign up, people stop seeing a business and start seeing dollar signs. This is largely related to the way many MLM members promote “the business:” “Look at the potential,” they say. “Think of the things you could do with the money!” I know, this is not a given. It is a serious danger; one that I choose not to expose myself or my family to. I don’t want any of my family flirting with the lust of the eyes or the boastful pride of life.

7. It costs my self-esteem. When I am in MLM, I am associated with values that are opposed to my personal core values. I am part of a group that is considered “low-life, get-rich-quick” by people whose opinions I hope to influence. I get a dozen “No thank you” and a handful of “Hell No’s” for every “I’ll think about it.”

The official figures are that one out of every twelve presentations will be interested in the business and one out of every ten persons who signs up will do anything with it. (These figures come from Amway.) That means one out of every 120 people I take the time to make presentations to will be influenced by “the business.” That’s a lot of work.

The concept of “If you work hard at your business, you can be very successful,” is true for most businesses, most jobs. If I own a drug store and work with as much focus and dedication as is required to make a success of the MLM business, I’ll be a wealthy drug-store owner before long.

Benefits of Multi Level Marketing

Now, lest I be found guilty of one-sidedness, I should present some of the “other side:”

1. If your boss is involved, it may be the “politically correct” thing to do.

2. If you are willing to pay the price(s), MLM can indeed make you rich. My personal opinion is that nobody does it better than Amway, but then Amway has so many people and so much exposure that it’s hard to make it to the big time with them. (A note about startup MLMs: the support services are usually pretty skimpy.)

3. If everything goes exactly as planned (not a regular occurance in our world, but it does happen), you can end up with a sizable residual income, if the MLM company doesn't go bankrupt. (Most do.)

My Sources

Having said all that, it occurs to me that perhaps I should explain where my opinions come from.

I have studied MLM quite closely. I have a friend who is in an Amway offshoot and is probably going to be rich before he’s my age. He and I have spent probably 100 hours or more discussing Amway and other MLMs (he had studied several before joining his organization). He is a single man who is fanatically devoted to his group. He got a job as a taxi driver simply so he can have contact with more people to “present the business” to. He reads dozens of books, listens to hundreds of tapes and CD’s, hangs out with his “upline”, and attends lots of meetings. He makes several presentations a week and has built a substantial organization. He probably spends (or spent, when I knew him), 15 hours a week actively working on the business, but it consumed him.

I have also studied several MLM companies fairly intentionally. I’ve gone to meetings, read magazines and books, evaluated programs, propaganda, and merchandise. I’ve interviewed both winners and losers in a load of programs: NuSkin, Herbal Life, NSA, Quorum, Amway, Shaklee, Fuller Brush (yes, they went through a MLM stage) and a dozen or more others selling everything from diet plans to insurance and annuities to houses to home security systems to home computers. I’ve named Amway in my concerns above, but every single issue (or “cost”) that I raise above has been found in every single MLM organization I’ve looked at. No exceptions that I’ve yet found.

And last but not least. I have been personally involved in two different MLM programs. My experiences from the inside have confirmed everything I had observed from the outside.

Why did I join? I wanted to invest some of my “spare” time and make some money. It seemed like a good thing at the time. I had been approached by a man I respected. What did it cost? Every thing I’ve mentioned above and more. For years, I carried a sizable debt from the last endeavor. I know whereof I speak.

Conclusion:

Multi-level Marketing opportunities are everywhere, and they have a measure of truth in them. If you are willing to give your life to “the business”, you can make a lot of money in some of them. They are na├»ve (or worse) in their communication of how much work is required. That work is better spent, more cleanly spent, in other places.

Friday

An Egyptian Delivered Us

As the book of Exodus begins, Israel is in captivity. They were the chosen people of God, descendants of Abraham, but they had become enslaved. They lived like slaves, they thought like slaves, their culture was a slave culture, they believed in their slavery.

Moses was the deliverer for the people of God. He knew it; he tried to fulfill it prematurely, and that’s why he was running for his life.

From Exodus 2: 15 When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well.  16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters. And they came and drew water, and they filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 Then the shepherds came and drove them away; but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.  18 When they came to Reuel their father, he said, “How is it that you have come so soon today?”  19 And they said, “An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds, and he also drew enough water for us and watered the flock.”

Moses was also the deliverer for Reuel’s daughters and his sheep.

It was interesting that Reuel’s daughter’s described Moses to their dad as “an Egyptian.” I’m sure Moses looked like an Egyptian, but he was in fact a Hebrew. You know the story: his parents hid him in the bushes at the edge of the Nile and the Egyptian princess – Pharaoh’s daughter – found him, had Moe’s own mom wet-nurse him (thank God for a quick thinking sister!), and after he was weaned, he was raised as Pharaoh’s grandson.

Some have suggested Mo was in line for the throne; that may be just an interesting theory, but it illustrates the reality: Moses may have been biologically a Hebrew, but culturally, he was an Egyptian. He dressed like an Egyptian, he spoke Egyptian, he knew the Egyptian culture and mannerisms, and when he confronted the bad-guys at the water troughs, he approached it from the point of view of his position for the past several decades: as a member of the Egyptian royal family.

No wonder the ladies thought he was an Egyptian.

The church in America is in captivity. Genetically, at our very core, our essence comes from the realm of heaven, but we’ve lived on earth for so long, that we’ve become earthly, natural, in every other way. We think in natural terms. We live among the natural world. Our culture and mannerisms are of this world. We believe in the world we live among.

If the church were actually free, we’d reflect the culture and values of our birth-culture, Heaven. We’d see the events and people of the natural world through the values and resources of heaven. Like it happened around Jesus, and later around some of the apostles, people would find themselves healed – whether in body or in soul – when we were around. We’d measure our resources by the balance in Heaven’s account, not in the bank’s account. Our lives would be characterized more by joy, peace, faith, hope, love, and less by business meetings, church services, project deadlines, job descriptions or stress.

God is raising up deliverers in our day. God has spoken it prophetically, but it doesn’t really require prophecy to see it: there have been only three times that a generation has been wiped out: the massacre that preceded Moses’ birth, the massacre that followed Jesus’ birth, and the massacre of aborted babies today: God is certainly up to something!

Here’s my point: I believe that many of the deliverers that God is raising up in our day will look like “Egyptians.” Egypt has often been used as an illustration of the ways of the world, and many deliverers will look very worldly. They’ll speak in worldly vocabulary and use colorful worldly metaphors. They’ll use worldly mannerisms – not church-cultured mannerisms. They’ll have worldly friends: business leaders, gang leaders, political leaders, artists, educators, barkeepers.

But they’ll be God’s people inside, under all that “worldlikeness.”

The first thing we might see in some of these leaders is that they’re standing up for believers in the secular arena. We’ve already seen some of that: when radical Hindu’s blamed Christians for a popular teacher’s death and started massacring Christians wholesale, there was an outcry, and some of it was from the secular world. The mainstream media didn’t touch the story as far as I can see, but the blogging community did, and many “secular” bloggers spoke out about the injustice.

Does the appearance of a secular person standing up for Christians mean that they’re a deliverer, that they’re even a believer? Certainly not in every case. I don’t believe we’re seeing God’s “Egyptian” delivers quite yet, but I expect that we will in the next several years.

Many men and women who find themselves in the position of defending God’s people against Egyptian slave-masters will shortly find God moving in their lives. They may have a dormant faith, from their childhood or youth, that God suddenly fans into flame. They may be “about to be” Christians, ready for harvest. Or they may be genuine followers of Christ who have been hidden away from the public eye for a long time, possibly even hiding away from the church for many years.

We are coming into a day where God is bringing deliverers out of hiding, men and women who will not look like church-goers, and who in fact, won’t be church-goers, but they will be deliverers sent by God. If we’re not careful, we’ll reject these young leaders because we don’t recognize the clothing, the mannerisms, the style of speech. If we do, we’ll be rejecting something powerful that God is doing among us.

Practical Deliverance from Demons.

I've been discussing practical deliverance with a friend recently. It seemed appropriate to discuss it here. This approach, while effective in street ministry and casual encounters, certainly is not the only approach; there are gentler ones (I really like SOZO ministry for established relationships!).

My favorite teaching passage for deliverance is Mark 9, and Jesus is our model here, not the boys.

Some principles that work well for me:

  • Be loaded up on the glory of God before going into that battle. Since it’s hard to know when you’re going in, go ahead & stay loaded up on glory. (vs 1 – 12)
  • Don’t be surprised if the occasion is marked by crowds, disputing, amazement, hubbub and such (vs 14 – 16).
  • It’s not unusual for believers to not know what to do with demons. (v. 17-18).
  • Demons often manifest (act out) when confronted by the presence of God. (v20). Nevertheless, in His presence is the best place for them to become free (v20 – 27).
  • There are 3 pieces of information that may be helpful in finding the key to that person’s deliverance:
    1. History (v21)
    2. Symptoms (v 22)
    3. Ungodly beliefs (v24) (This was the one that Jesus picked up on in this event, and he corrected the false belief before delivering the boy. Note that it was his father’s belief that was the key.)
    4. Note that these can be learned supernaturally (through prophetic words or words of knowledge) or naturally (by conversation or observation); a combination is always helpful.
  • Rebuking and commanding are appropriate (v25). Note that
    1. a) these do not need to be loud or aggressive in either the physical or soul realms to be forceful in the spirit realm; my experience is just the opposite: the gentler my voice, the stronger my authority is on the spirit, and
    2. b) the rebuke and the command are directed at the demonic spirit; the person hosting the demon are almost uninvolved in the encounter.
  • Making a scene is to be avoided (v25) if for no other reason than to avoid embarrassing the person to whom you’re ministering.
  • Expect to see a physical reaction (possibly convulsions or something dramatic; more likely a substantial and Godly peace) in response to the exercise of real authority (v26)
  • Ministering to their physical needs comes after the deliverance (v 27 and other examples).
  • The best authority is a life characterized by prayer and fasting (v29: note that Jesus neither prayed nor fasted during this event).

The biggest issue is knowing that you have the authority in the circumstance and the demon has none when facing Jesus. In circumstances like yours – where you were dealing w/ a demon in a friend (if I understood the facts right) – then it helps to explain some of these things, at least enough to be comforting, to the person being ministered to.

Don’t be freaked: that’s the enemy’s goal: to get you to look at him instead of at Jesus. Weird voices, weird manifestations and the like are just part of the sideshow. I could tell you stories, but it would be redundant: if you’re looking at Jesus & listening to the Spirit in all of this, then the vitriol, the vomiting, levitation, or whatever, is completely irrelevant.

It would be easiest to teach this if we were ministering side by side with a demonized person; this will have to do for now. Please ask questions if you have any.

Walk in warm footsteps!