Showing posts with label sin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sin. Show all posts

Thursday

Prophetic Exercise: The Judge's Bench

Since the prophetic gifts are for the real world, think of a real world person that’s going through some trouble, someone you’ve been praying for recently. Write down their name.

Now look in the Spirit, and look behind you. You see there a tall, oak, judge’s bench. Jesus is standing there, smiling, waiting for you.

He takes you around to the far side of the bench, and up the stairs behind it. But rather than sit down himself, Jesus sits you in the great chair behind the bench. When you take your seat, you’re find that you’re wearing black robes, and you have a wooden gavel in your right hand. Are you wearing a white wig, too? 

Take a moment, if you need to, to deal with the emotions of being in a place like this. Ask him questions if you need to, but don’t argue with him. This is your assignment today, if you choose to accept it.

Now look out over the judge’s bench. From your new vantage point, see your friend, whose name you wrote down. Observe them for a minute as they go about their day. As you’re watching them, let Jesus show you his love for them, his compassion for the crud they’re going through. Rest there for a moment, feeling his heart for them.

Then Jesus reaches over and touches your eyes. And now you can see more clearly from the bench, and with his help, you begin to see the cloud of miserable, filthy, little spirits that have been harassing your friend. Recognize their crimes, their trespasses, their rebellions against their rightful king and against your friend. 

Jesus leans over and whispers, “Judge them!” Identify them, their names and their crimes. Recognize, by the Spirit who’s in you, the name, the assignment, the work of one of the demons harassing your friend. Speak that name out loud, and bang the gavel as you do name it. Write it down if that helps.

Then watch what happens next. When I did this, as I spoke the name, as I named each spirit, it was as if my gavel moved on its own, gently tapping, “Guilty as charged” to each of my charges, and with each tap, a beastie was bound. Soon, I got into it, reaching into my spirit for the discernment of each spirit and shouting its name, its crime. The gavel would bang and the demon was bound.

Look around. Do you see angels in the courtroom? What do you see them doing? Consult with Jesus: what is his counsel on the work you’re doing?

This isn’t a game. This is literally life and death, but don’t interpret that to mean that you can’t enjoy the work you’re doing. Get into the work. Reach deep within your spirit to accurately name each spirit, and as you name it, watch as it’s snatched from the air around your friend and bound. Observe what happens to it next, if that’s revealed.

You may or may not have gotten to each of the demons harassing your friend when you feel that you’re done, when you feel the grace for this work lift, or when you hear Jesus say, “OK. That’s enough for this time.” Don’t stay there beyond the grace for the work. Your friend is destined to be an overcomer; they need something to overcome.

It helps me to go back through the session’s work: declare your friend’s freedom, thank God for your friend’s freedom from each of the spirits that you bound today. And when you’re done, perhaps as an act of worship, burn the list: don’t keep a record of hell’s work in their life.

Now, by my counsel, I’d recommend that you don’t talk to them about this experience, not for a long, long time, and this is for your benefit, not theirs. We tend to think, “Well, I bound up a spirit of self-pity, so they won’t be falling into self-pity any more!” Yeah, that’s not how it works.

If you bound the spirit of self-pity, then that spirit of self-pity isn’t plying its trade in their life any longer. But that doesn’t break years of self-pitying habits, or generations of self-pitying traditions. It means that spirit isn’t working there any more, not that they’re perfect now. 

And of course, don’t stop praying for your friend.  

No Wonder The World Doesn’t Love Christians.

No wonder the world doesn’t love Christians.

Many of the members of the Church of North America are the loudest an most vitriolic when pointing out the sins of others: the sins of a president they don’t like, the sins of other political leaders they don’t agree with, even the sins of their own brothers and sisters, Christian leaders whom they find fault with.

No wonder the world doesn’t take Christianity seriously.

“But they’re in sin! I must warn them of their sin!”

Bosh! If you bring me a wheelbarrow of that, I can fertilize my petunias, but I won’t use it on my vegetable garden. Ewww.

First, if you’re a child of God, then you carry some of the authority of God’s family: what you declare is, in some mysterious way, empowered to come about in the world of men. If you constantly speak of their sin, guess what’s reinforced? Their sin.

But it impacts you, too: if you’re constantly pointing out sin, then guess what happens in you: your life, being focused on sin, becomes sin-centric. I can’t imagine any good thing that could come from that. I sure wouldn’t want to live with you.

If a prophet or, even better, a friend had stepped in and warned some of those we’re describing, if they were speaking with the heart of God, then they'd be speaking TO the leader they were warning, not speaking evil of him to folks on the outside. You don’t warn somebody of anything by spouting nasty things about them on Facebok.

I hate to break it to you, but President Obama doesn’t follow your Facebook page. Neither does that televangelist that you think is spending money foolishly.

It is ABSOLUTELY part of the Kingdom to go to a brother and say, "Hey, friend. I see a problem here. Can I help you with it?" This is where a real friend can really help. It may be the only place. And it isn't really an option to strangers. Sorry, but unless I know them, and know them personally, I don’t qualify.

It is ABSOLUTELY part of the Kingdom to go over their head. Instead of slandering them, we always have the option of praying for them. (Now *there’s* a radical concept!) And the reality is that my words before Father will change their behavior far more than my words before my friends.

It is ABSOLUTELY from the pit of hell to go to the highways and byways, to the coffee shops and the interwebs, and spread slanderous accusations about them. There is no good that can be done by dragging their name through the mud on Facebook. Even if the accusation is true, it's still slander, it's still the work of the Accuser of the Brethren. And let’s be honest: those who actually do need to repent will not repent just because someone posted foul things online about them.

I get it that some of the slander posted about political leaders is intended as humor. And some of it – a pretty small fraction, if I’m honest – actually is funny. But really, it’s still slander. It’s still exercising whatever “kingly anointing” that I carry as a child of God, not for their freedom, but to keep them enslaved in their sin.

The hardest part is remembering that ultimately, the only one who can make choices for their life is them. You and I cannot, no matter how deeply we care. It is not, in the end, our choice.

Does that mean that I need to shut up and submit to what I believe is terrible and unconstitutional devastation done to my country? Oh, Heavens no! Please, no! But whining accusations are not the answer.

Dealing With Bombs

I share this as a testimony. You know I love testimonies.

I had a dream. In the dream, or maybe it was a vision: I was working my way through the sparse underbrush of a very large hill. I was searching out unexploded ordinance: bombs that hadn’t gone off, and I knew that some of them were nuclear bombs.


My friends and I were cleaning out the area so that kids could play safely in the bushes and grasses there. My job was to find the bombs hidden under the bushes, behind the clumps of grass. There weren’t a lot, but it was more than I expected.


When I found one, I put it into the basket I was carrying (really? Carrying nukes in a basket?), and hand the baskets to others who took them off to other places, and came back each time for more.

As I was dreaming, while I was pulling a shiny silver bomb out from behind a clump of tall grass, Father began interpreting the dream I was still in the middle of for me. (I’ve never had that happen before!)

“You recognize these bombs?” and suddenly, I knew that these were issues in my life where offenses could grow. These were wounds, lies that I’ve believed, curses, and other detritus in my soul that could explode and cause problems. “Yes, sir,” I replied.

“And you recognize that this dream is just symbolic? That solving these issues in the real world is going to take more than just picking up the bombs and putting them in your basket?” I understood that he was right: these are real issues and they need real solutions.

The dream had prophetically pointed out that there were bombs, danger points (and I suspect we all have some). We can identify the bombs by prayer, by prophecy, by soul-searching, maybe by inviting input from godly friends.

I also recognized that he wasn’t commenting on the solutions that they needed, just that the issues needed something more than “prophetically picking up a bomb” and putting it in my basket. I was welcome to choose the solutions I was comfortable with: repentance, healing prayer, power of God, therapy, washing in the Word, and more.

I observe that God is speaking to a number of his kids in this season about getting rid of offenses, removing the stumbling blocks from our history; in fact, it’s a little freaky how many began hearing this topic at the same time. If you’re in this season, embrace it as from God, and work with him to remove the hindrances to moving forward.

We’re in this together.


Tuesday

Judging Judgmentalism

As the guy said in The Gods Must Be Crazy: “Ai yi yiii.” I hate this kind of stuff.

There are a number of Christian websites that are passionately critical of Todd Bentley and the Florida Outpouring (which is now on the road, currently in Califorrnia). Hank Hanegraff of CRI, the Christian Research Institute is one of the most visible and most vocal. A friend recently asked me an opinion of Hank’s critical article against Todd and his ministry. It got me thinking. If you’re interested in this kind of stuff, you might want to read that posting on his blog, though it’s not entirely necessary if you’re at all familiar with the current standards of criticizing somebody different than ourselves.

It appears to me that so many critics of Todd, Hank included, are fundamentally evangelical: that much is a fine thing. The problem is that they seem to make the assumption that the only legitimate form of Christianity is evangelicalism, and everybody else is a heretic, and they're making a name for himself denouncing them. And they're using rather inflammatory language in doing it.

It’s interesting that Hank's biggest complaint against Todd Bentley that an usher wouldn’t let someone come to Todd for healing when they were discussing testimonies, not praying for the sick; they'd done that earlier. Todd’s usher practiced Todd’s teaching, which is (I suspect) a doctrine that Hank and many evangelicals would probably support: Todd is not the “healer”, but Jesus is the healer. Hank’s friend was prevented from coming to Todd as the “healer”, which is consistent with Todd’s teachings, and probably Hank’s too. (Though I allow for the possibility that he did it poorly or without tact.)

In addition, Hank’s friend was defying the instructions from the leaders of the meeting (which were essentially that “This is a time for testimonies, not for requests for healing.”), and Hank finds fault with Todd not permitting such rebellion. Moreover, Hank blames Todd for the emotional letdown and disappointment that his friend felt when Todd’s team stood up for two (appropriate) standards: they wouldn’t permit him to bust up the meeting, or to venerate Todd as “the healer.” Hank’s criticism strikes me as disingenuous here.

I also find it interesting that Hank defends his own judging of Todd while not validating others’ judging of Hank’s critical remarks.

Let me make it clear for the record, just in case Woodward and Bernstein (or their heirs) get ahold of this post: Todd Bentley makes me very uncomfortable. I don’t like how he does stuff. I don’t like how he does his meetings. I don’t like the way he relates to people. I don’t like the way his dad relates to people. I don’t like the truck he drives. I don’t understand the tattoos, and I think they could have been done much more artistically. (Note that these complaints are all about how he does things, not what he does; the difference is significant.)

I know something whereof I speak. I have business dealings with his ministry. I’ve met him and his father several times. I know well several people that appear to be Todd’s personal friends; I’ve been to a number of his meetings, as well as watched (as long as I could) some of his recent meetings on GOD.TV.

Having said that, I have to say that Todd is the best example I know of of the scripture that says, “We hold this treasure in earthen vessels.” Todd is a very earthy vessel, but the treasure inside is real: this is the real gift, and Todd – with all his warts and tattoos – is my brother. While I’m uncomfortable with his style, I’m convinced that the content is the real thing: God really does work through him to a degree that He does not in other mortals, including Hank, certainly including me, and possibly including yourself, dear reader.

Does that make Todd any less weird? Heck no. The guy’s covered in tattoos, is lousy in interpersonal relations, burns himself out with some (decreasing) regularity, and has a really weird public speaking style. He’s also – lest we forget – functionally a baby Christian: he only got saved a few years (was it 5?) ago from a life of drugs and violence: this guy was not raised in Sunday School: he looks like it and he acts like it.

The guy lacks maturity because isn't yet mature: he hasn’t had the time to develop it. He has his “flesh” hanging out all over the place. But probably no more than I do. Maybe less than Hank does (though I’m not confident that – despite Hank’s vociferous disputations to the contrary – I have the authority to judge that).

Todd's critics use the Bereans, as Hank does, to justify their judgments (Hank's word, not mine). In the Bible, the Bereans were commended for comparing Paul’s doctrine with scripture. Two conditions: judging doctrine and judging by scripture. It doesn’t appear to me that Hank is doing either. He’s judging Todd the man (calling him a “spiritual fraud,” a “liar,” among other things, none of which is about doctrine), and judging him by stories (while denouncing Todd’s stories simultaneously) and by “common sense”. Aargh. That’s not right!

The frustrating part is that both of them, stinky as they are, are my brothers in Christ.

The result that I see is that people are disappointed, hurt and confused by Hank’s ministry every bit as much as by Todd’s. But in the process, Hank is smearing everyone who is different than himself with slander, whereas Todd is trying hard (embarrassingly hard, IMHO) to point people to Jesus. I can’t tell to whom Hank is trying to point people; I’m not convinced it’s to Jesus, or at least not to the God of Love that I know Him to be. In other words, it's worth examining the fruit of both ministries: when people encounter Hank and Todd, what is the result; do either of them bring people closer to Christ, closer to other Christians, inspire us to be more passionate about loving God?

So I wish my brother Hank and others like him would just shut the hell up. I mean that literally: it seems to me that their words further the agenda of hell more effectively than that of Heaven.

(Isn’t that funny: the right-wing fundamentalist preaching inclusion? Sheesh. I know I make a pretty poor right wing fundamentalist, but I still get accused of it. )

One more in the sake of fairness. But first, let me ask this: is the Bible the standard for our behavior today? And if it is, do we limit ourselves to only what the Bible permits, or do we permit ourselves everything that the Bible does not limit (whether by command or by principle)? I know many Christians who say they espouse the former: if the Bible doesn’t permit it, then I don’t do it! But they drive a car. And they brush their teeth. And they use flush toilets, power tools and clean underwear, none of which is in the Bible. The Amish come closest to that standard, and they don’t come particularly close.

Most believers actually live (regardless of their doctrines) by the second: if the Bible doesn’t prohibit it, then neither do I. (Well, it could be argued that a fair percentage of American Christians don’t limit themselves at all, but that’s another conversation.)

Todd gets in a lot of trouble for living that standard doctrinally. He teaches some weird things that are not Biblical. They are also not anti-biblical; that is: the Bible does not teach against what he is teaching, neither do his doctrines contradict Biblical doctrine, but they do not conform to the stories and teachings in the Bible either. For example, I’ve heard stories that vilify him for speaking about an angel named Emma (I’ve not heard him directly on this). Is it weird? Yes! I mean, "Heck yes!" Is it Biblical? Well, not in the strictest sense: as far as I know the Bible names only three angels in all of scripture, and Emma is not on that list. But does it contradict Biblical teaching? Not really. It’s like the subject of toilet paper: pretty much ignored in Scripture (possibly for good reason).

Maybe it’s time to shut up about how God chooses to deal with His son and his servant Todd Bentley, and do what He’s telling us to do. Hmm. I suppose that would apply to His servant Hank Hanegraff as well. I think I'll shut up now. But please, let's not waste our time criticizing brothers who do things differently than we do.

Friday

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!

Sunday

The Wind of God

In this week’s posting, I want to look at something that God did in Canada a few years ago. This is the kind of plunder I want to see! May it happen in my community. And in yours!

This happened on Feb. 28th, 1999 at the Anglican church, in a special Sunday afternoon youth service in Pond Inlet. Pond Inlet is a small, predominantly Inuit community in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada and is located at the top of Baffin Island. As of the 2006 census the population was 1,315. The people were disturbed at reports of drug use amongst the teens in their community, and they came together to seek the Lord.

The Lord visited them that day with His miracle power, which was manifested in a very loud sound. They were recording a cassette tape of the meeting, and the sound of the Lord's wind and mighty fire was recorded. Here are some excerpts from the video on You Tube, where you can hear the recording and testimonies of that day:

"An invitation was offered for Youth who felt they wanted to come closer to God." The worship leader, Louee Arieak, was praying over the youth at the altar, "I felt so close to God... He kept giving me this verse that says, 'Blessed are the Pure in Heart, for they shall see God.' "

"Something started to happen, that was beyond our control."

"Fire went right through me!"

"It sounded like a jet, but I started to think, there are no jets in Pond Inlet".

"It was so loud, that everything started to shake, All the people started to shake."

"Fire !!!! Fire !!!! Hallelujah!!!!!! OHHHHHHH!!!!!"

When the sound first started, Pastor Moses Kayak tried to stop the sound by first adjusting, and then even turning off the sound board. But still the sound, and the recording, continued. "It shouldn't have been recorded. It's only by the miracle of God."

The pastor recounts the story. He was "... completely humbled, to the point where he wanted to continually come before God, kneel... and ask for cleansing of the heart - to become pure before Him."

"My name is John Tugak. I played the guitar that nite there at the service. The sound started just barely noticable like a tv with no signal. Then it built up louder like as if a big plane flew over but the noise was there longer than usual. Saw the pastor trying to adjust and fix the noise with the sound system but it continued. I even saw him turn off the system but it didnt help. Then I realize, and I believe the sound is from the presence of the almighty God. I still believe, and have never experience anything like it! If the sound was from the sound system, it would break as it was too loud for the speakers to handle it. The speakers cannot make that kind of sound and shake the building. The sound was amazing!"

Here's the story of what happened:


And this is a report from a few years later:


Please tell me what you think.

Tuesday

Jesus and Money

I’ve been thinking about money; I’m trying to think about it from Jesus’ perspective, not so much what he said as what He did. His teachings are of course good, but we’ve buried them under so many layers of doctrinal lessons that it’s hard to see Jesus through the teachings.
Looking at money through the eyes of Jesus actions is quite interesting, and while there’s not a lot of data, what data there is is very eye-opening. The ways that Jesus dealt with the finances of His own ministry teach me about His values for money.
Professionally, I deal with a lot of ministries just starting up. They have vision for what they want to accomplish, and the hindrance is money, so they think about money a fair bit, and when they think about it, they talk about it. I know a number of churches that have two sermons every service: the first one is always on what is essentially “Why you should give us money.”
First off, let me say that Jesus taught on money a whole lot. It was one of His favorite subjects (along with the Kingdom of God, and the end times; He really liked controversial subjects!), so it’s appropriate for us to teach on money often; if Jesus thought it was needful in that day, it’s probably no less needful today. I don’t, however, hear Him preaching about “give to Me” even once, though there were people who did give to Him and His ministry regularly.
I see that Jesus’ ministry did have a money box, though whether that the plan of Jesus or Judas is unclear. Either Jesus approved of the idea or He tolerated it.
However, when He had a need, such as for an unexpected tax bill, He didn’t go to the money box; He told Peter to get the tax money from a fish. So either the money box was insufficient to supply “a piece of money” (which has interesting implications) or Jesus didn’t want to depend on His savings account (which has more interesting implications). It certainly implies that Jesus didn’t have much money.
That is not to imply that poverty was part of His lifestyle or ministry. Clearly that is not the case. On one occasion He hosted a banquet for “about five thousand men, besides women and children;” think of a restaurant bill of thirty thousand dollars. He was so completely not overwhelmed by the unexpected banquet that He did the same thing a few days later. Extravagant provision was a part of Jesus’ lifestyle.
There’s another example of extravagant expense that makes me scratch my head. While Jesus is having dinner with Simon the Leper (an interesting event on its own merit), Mary brings a jar of perfume worth “a year’s wages,” breaks the jar open, and smears it all over Him, getting it, no doubt, all over herself in the process, particularly since she apparently also wiped it onto His feet with her hair. I don’t know how much that cost, but “a year’s wages” sounds like a lot to me. Judas’s complaints were overruled as Jesus condoned the extravagant and apparently non-productive use of a very large amount of money.
So here’s what I see in all of this:
· Jesus lived extravagantly.
· Jesus appeared to not have money much of the time.
· Jesus counted on miraculous provision, and taught His boys to count on miracles.
Now my challenge is this: How shall I live in relationship to money.
Do I hide behind the disappointing fact that I have little capacity to invoke the miraculous, or do I embrace my failure and live with an inferior financial model? Or do I accept this as yet another challenge to begin to live a supernatural life?

Friday

Soul Ties

I’m convinced that one of the weapons in the realm of spiritual things – both for good and for trouble – is the issue of soul ties. As usual, this weapon was invented by God, was designed by God, and was absconded by the enemy.

Soul ties are pretty complicated to explain: it’s when two people’s souls are tied together. Please indulge me for a moment.

Soul ties start in the beginning. “In the beginning, God…,” and God is Father, son and Holy Spirit who are tied together. Shortly after that, he shared it with us: “…and they shall become one flesh.” Adam and Eve, when they came together, were connected by God, and were one person, in one of those strange, you-can’t-see-it way.

And God had a plan for soul ties:

Malachi 2:15 But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring.

So God’s plan for tying souls together is to create godly offspring: to make more kids. Kids like himself.

So the enemy hijacked the plan:

Corinthians 6:16-17 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.”

The enemy takes the same link between people, and he’s bringing his own children from the union. He’s using sex to tie people together in slavery.

Soul ties exist between guys who work together sometimes.

1 Samuel 18:1: Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David , and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

Here’s a soul tie that appears to be a good one, and it has nothing to do with sex. It’s a couple of guys working together in an authority-based environment (in this case, the army). You can be tied with your boss, or with an employee, or with a pastor or a teacher.

Philippians 2:2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

Paul talks about unity among Christians brings us to the place “of one mind.” This doesn’t mean we agree on stuff; that’s the phrase before, “of one accord.” There’s a tying of souls that happens when we are in unity.

OK. Enough background.

I believe that there are a bunch of inappropriate soul ties among believers. We build relationships in the church that we’re serving – we build soul ties – and then we move on to another church. We build relationships – some of them become soul ties – and then we move. We have soul ties from our pre-Christian days and from relationships since then.

Many years ago, I had a soul tie with a very weird friend; after a while, we drifted apart. Later, I got married, and years later, my bride & I learned about soul ties. One night, ten years after I’d last seen my weird friend, my wife & I were in someone’s guest room, sleeping in twin beds across the room from each other. I couldn’t sleep, so I was thinking and praying, and God showed me the soul tie with my weird friend and told me to renounce it. Beneath my breath, inaudibly, I renounced the soul tie from that relationship. Instantly, my wife – with whom I have a wonderful soul tie – woke up, sat up in bed, and blurted, “What was that? Something just lifted off of me! What was it?”

So here's what it is:

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

God has given us a weapon to divide the soul, to divide my soul from the soul of my weird friend. The soul tie that I had with them clearly affected my wife through the soul tie I had with her. God has given you and me a tool to cut the ties that should be cut and to leave the ties that should be left.

And every soul tie, whether active or not, is a channel that brings stuff into your soul from somebody else’s soul. It’s like we have sixty-eleven IV tubes plugged into our arms, our legs, into every vein on our body; and every IV tube has stuff pouring into our lives from sixty-eleven different sources, with different motives, with different kinds of resources to pour into us. Some of them are fine. One or two may be good, but the majority are filling us with garbage.

So many of us in the Body of Christ have dozens of soul ties that need to be broken off. Let me encourage you to find some folks to walk with you through the process of cutting the ties that bind you.

Saturday

T.B.I.

I’ve become aware recently of a great trend that has no doubt been part of the American church for a long time. It’s the making of irrelevant and meaningless excuses.
The other day, I was counseling with a man who had managed to get himself addicted to a particular brand of sin. I’ll call him Bob for convenience sake. Bob and I were discussing some of the action that he needed to take if he was going to free himself from his sin. To be fair, the course of action was a challenging one, but he and I both agreed that it was necessary if he was going to get free. And then he pulls out the excuse from hell:
“But that’s so hard!”
When I hear that excuse – and I hear it often – I groan inside. Bob’s right, of course: it will be difficult. But then it’s a difficult task he proposes: extricating himself from persistent sin to which he has been enslaved for some time.
The problem with that excuse is that it’s true, but it’s irrelevant. Yes, it is a difficult road he proposes, but so what? The choice, contrary to Bob’s evaluation, is not between “that which is hard” and “that which is not hard.” Rather, it’s between “continued enslavement” or “freedom.” Freedom, by nature, requires hard choices.
Both roads are difficult, of course, but our flesh is eager to agree with the enemy that the road to freedom is hard. The devil is not particularly forthcoming when it comes to acknowledging the trials of enslavement or addiction.
I’ve come up with a response – for my own amusement – to those excuses: TBI: True But Irrelevant. I’m fascinated by the number of times we come up with excuses to obedience that are true, but completely irrelevant to the heart of the matter.
Recently, I was talking to a businessman who is faced with some challenging circumstances in his business; I’ll call him Henry. He has some tough decisions to make if his business is going to make it past its current challenges. Recently, Henry made some decisions that represent something of a moral compromise; not a big one, but they mean that he’ll break his word to some people who count on his truthfulness. We were talking about his business, and I brought this up. His was to explain why he “needed” to make this compromise and why it wasn’t really that bad. “I didn’t have any choice! We have a problem in the company!”
TBI.
Yes, it's true, Henry does have that problem in his business, and yes, this morally compromised decision will help solve some of those problematic symptoms in his company. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a moral compromise: Henry is still breaking his word. He’s still betraying a trust, and this decision will make it harder for his staff to believe his word in the future, and I believe it will distance his business from God’s blessing.
I’m making the choice in my own life to attempt to escape this trap, to not offer irrelevant, self-centered excuses to the things that my relationship with Christ require. I’m going to attempt to deal with the issues of what is required of me, by God, by the people around me, by my circumstances.
You can pray for me.


Friday

Which Covenant Are You Under?

Christians would tell me, “Don’t go in that store, it’s evil!” like any evil of the place would jump out and grab me or something. Admittedly, the store in question was making good money promoting witchcraft and druidism and other things that are completely contrary to the gospel. But their wide-eyed “Don’t go in there!” unsettled me. I’ve been trying to understand.

First, I needed to come to grips with a truth that I have sometimes overlooked: sinners sin. The proprietor of the shop (I’ll call him James) is a nice guy, and he plays the didgeridoo better than anybody I’ve ever met. He doesn’t know the love of God, though he has told me, in all seriousness, that he’s “pledged his troth” to Thor. He’s a nice sinner, but he’s a sinner. So it shouldn’t surprise me that James is drawn to sinful things. He makes a good business off them, so I assume that there are a number of folks in our town who are also sinners, and who also sin. That's what people do when they don't know forgiveness. Let's deal with it.

There is room for the question, “What is the appropriate response of Christians toward sinners?” but I digress. I want to examine the concept of whether the “evil” of James’ shop is a danger to me, a saint of God.

The Old Testament teaches me that there are a bunch of ways to become unclean, and one of them is to touch anything or anyone that is unclean. For example, did you know that being dead makes you unclean, and anybody that has to touch your dead body will be unclean for a week. Leprosy is another example: You catch this, and you’re unclean for life. (Unless you get healed, but of course, nobody hardly ever got healed of leprosy.)

Worse, if you’re unclean, you can’t minister before God. If you ever do, you “shall be cut off from my presence” declares the Lord. Uncleanness is a big deal: God is holy, so we need to be holy if we want to hang around Him. It’s not like we’re going to make him unholy (ha!), but more that we’d get blown up if we showed up in His presence when we’re unclean. It’s a big deal, and the command is not just for our good, it’s for our survival!

So my Christian friends were trying to protect me when they warned me not to visit James’ shop. They were afraid that I’d become unclean from contact with the uncleanness of his store. Well, I appreciate their concern, but I’m not sure I want to live under that particular covenant. Those are all Old Covenant arguments, and are very important for someone living under the old covenant. I’m not living there.

Jesus was the embodiment of the new covenant. His words are words of the new covenant, His actions, actions of the new covenant. So if evil can get on me from unclean things, then I should be able to see that principle at work in Jesus, right?

So what did Jesus do when He came upon a dead person? He touched them and raised them to life. He touched them! How about the lepers? Same story: Jesus touched them and healed them. The pattern is repeated in the apostles. And unlike the OT, in the NT, I’m commanded to come into His presence!

So there is a huge difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, and the New is better. In the Old, when a godly person touched an unclean thing, the unclean trumped the godliness and godliness did not overcome evil. But in the New Covenant, the presence of God in me trumps evil.

So what does that mean for my life?

First, it means that I don’t need to be afraid to visit James’ shop. I’m not going to get jumped by the spirit of witchcraft on his sacred herbs or whatever. Heck, Jesus hung out with sinners, didn’t he? Did that make him unholy?

More, I see this as a New Testament extension of an Old Testament (or Old Covenant) promise: “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours.” So now, I carry the presence of God with me, and everyplace I go, godliness trumps darkness, light shines in darkness and necessarily overpowers it. When I visit James’ shop, I leave footprints of the Kingdom of God behind me. When I visit with him, I leave something of the presence of God with him.

Now for the sake of clarification, this does not mean that I should be spending my time hanging out at porn shops and liquor stores and dens of iniquity. Specifically, if I have had trouble with porn, I’m not going to be submitting myself to the strongholds there; if I’m a recovering alcoholic, I’ll avoid the bars, not because I’m afraid of being touched by the uncleanness there (though the uncleanliness of their kitchen may be an issue), but because I’m not going to submit myself to temptation.

So no, don’t go looking for sin, don’t get cocky about darkness. But neither be afraid of darkness; someone else’s sin is not going to be a danger to me unless I’m not walking in the Presence of God. Let’s live holy and invade the darkness! How in Heaven’s name will they learn about the light if we don’t bring it to them?

Saturday

A Season Of Opening Old Wounds

Some time ago, I was working on a cedar picnic table, and I got a sliver in my hand. It was a busy day, so I didn’t get a chance to pull it out right away, and I forgot about it. Over the next several days, the spot swelled up and became painful until I got a sharp knife and cut the spot open and dug out the piece of wood.

Later, I cut my other hand, and I was “too busy” to stop and slap a bandage on it, so of course it got sawdust and dirt and germs in it before I was through with the picnic table, but the damage had been done. This wound also swelled up and got tender, and I had to open it up, but there was no chunk of cedar to pull out.

A lot of God’s people are like my hands were: we’re wounded, but the wounds are hidden, buried because we didn’t deal with the issues when they were fresh. We have two kinds of wounds: some have slivers in them, foreign stuff that doesn’t belong in our lives, and some are just infected with lies or accusations or bitterness.

The pressing problem with healing old wounds is that they must first be opened. If we’re looking at our wound or our soul, then we encounter the pain first; sometimes we feel all of the pain that put the wound there in the first place and sometimes we have all that topped by the additional pain of having remembered the wound, or feared its opening, for Lo! these many years. However, I believe that God is urging us to not focus our attention on the wound, but on Him, and as we do that, He’ll be our anesthesia: the wound will be opened, cleaned and healed, and we won’t have suffered the same debilitating pain again and again.

Let me prophesy this: we are in a season where God is opening up old wounds in His saints, bringing to the our consciousness things that we haven’t thought about for years or decades. Some, we haven’t ever dealt with, and some we have addressed, but God wants to get the last little specks out of them and clean the wounds.

God wants His warriors healed; He wants us able to fight the enemy without fear that a stray shot will hit our old wounds and knock us out of the battle. His goal is healing those hidden places, and it might hurt for a while, but he’s taking out the foreign stuff, cleaning out the infection.

There are three things that are needed to bring healing in these old wounds:

· First, we must let God take us there, but we look at Him, not at the wound. If He says to repent of stuff, we repent. If He says to forgive folk, we forgive. If He says to make declarations, we make declarations. We need to focus on what He has done, not on what He hasn’t [yet] done. Psalm 37:3 saysDwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.” If we dwell on His faithfulness, it grows good things. If we dwell on our lack, it grows bitterness and offense.

· Second, we immerse ourselves in good input. This is more than just immersing myself in Spiritual or godly activities, it’s intentionally making place for Him to speak into my life. Worship is a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours. If I use worship to run from the work God is doing, it’s less wonderful, it’s hiding from God and the work He’s up to. But if in worship I open my heart to his scalpel, it’s more profitable for both Him and me. Immersion in the Word – sitting under Its teaching, not marking off pages or studying to teach – brings faster healing. Opening my spirit to anointed teaching CD’s or podcasts, or reading the blogs of radical God-chasing Revolutionaries will be helpful.

· Shut up and move on. OK, that was too blunt. Sorry. How about, “Let’s not complain about the process but instead, let’s position ourselves for growth by aggressively pressing forward into the good things of God.”

· Get over the blame game. We really often blame God (“It must be His will…”) or ourselves (“I must need to learn some lesson from this”). God pretty much never answers the “Why did that happen?” question, but He loves to answer the “How shall I respond?” one.

· Look for the profit. In the Bible, the standard is that stuff that is stolen from us must be repaid seven times. Your wounds, your losses can be seeds for a profitable harvest. But the thief never repays what was taken voluntarily; you must take it back, perhaps violently. It’s called plunder, and it’s yours. But that’s another story.

So don’t be surprised if old hurts come back in the weeks and months ahead: God is bringing an invitation to us: will we let Him clean the wound? Will we let Him heal us? Will we be healed so we can heal others?