Letters

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!

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Devotionals, Letters

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.


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Devotionals, Letters

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.


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Columns, Devotionals

The Spirit of Gluttony

I don't think I've ever heard anyone talk about the spirit of gluttony in church in all the years I've gone.  I started to write this a couple of days ago but paused, making sure I was in God's timing. Then I read something yesterday that confirmed to me that I was hearing Him.

1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "Whether, therefore, you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."  We are to eat and drink to the glory of God.  How many of us have ever given thought to this verse?  But there's even more to it than that.



When I was about 35 years old, the Lord spoke to me one day and told me, "You have a spirit of gluttony."  I'm about 5'4" and at the time weighed about 110-115 lbs.  So I was surprised, to say the least. I expressed my confusion to the Lord and He began to explain.

The spirit of gluttony is when we find comfort for our flesh in things besides God. Our 'flesh' is the 'old man.' It's our sin nature. The spirit of gluttony is shopping when you're depressed. It's getting a new color and cut when you're feeling down. It's eating comfort foods when you don't want to deal with your emotions.

We might associate the spirit of gluttony with being over-weight, and rightly so, but this demon can manifest in other ways. It can drive a person to work out and be obsessed with their beautiful physique, because in some, it can partner with 'vanity.'

In our culture, the spirit of gluttony is celebrated. All of the celebrities that we see in the media comfort themselves and feed their flesh with every indulgence. We are told constantly to 'treat ourselves' with new makeup, new clothes and shoes and handbags. If our self-worth is low and we don't like the way we look, we can get a little botox or a whole lot of plastic surgery.

We are told constantly that we can make ourselves feel better by these things and that we don't need God. Some have gone to the other extreme and seek to make themselves feel better by starving themselves. But all have the same need - God. All are seeking 'a fix' to solve an inner lack.

One day when we were doing our 40 day Word fast, I was really struggling with exactly this. It was a blizzard outside and so I was staying home.  I was bored, not enjoying winter, and wasn't feeling motivated to work on a project. I wanted nothing more than to lie on the couch, under a warm blanket, fireplace burning, and watch movies all afternoon. Or read a book. I wanted to veg. I wanted an escape from my reality. I wanted to be entertained.

And because of my commitment to this fast, I couldn't. And it made me realize something.

What would Jesus do?

Jesus lived His life serving others. I can't imagine Him spending His afternoon on the couch, can you? Or at the movies. Someone always needed Him and although He used wisdom and followed God's leading completely, He never 'indulged' Himself. His only 'free time' was spent in prayer and fellowship with the Father. Jesus did not have a spirit of gluttony.

One of my sins that I've confessed to God and am asking Him to empower me to overcome is deciding my own schedule. Because I am not employed and our children are grown, I can do whatever I want. I can go out to lunch, go shopping, hang out at home all day, hang out with my daughter and grandchildren...whatever I 'feel' like doing.

But is that what God wants me to?

I continue to work on disciplining myself to have a schedule and to accomplish the things that I know God has set before me. I continue to discipline myself to eat more healthy and to prepare better meals for my family. And I'm continuing to discipline myself to listen to God and to do what He's telling me to do each day...to truly give Him my life, my time, and my goals.

I think the spirit of gluttony is very hard to starve out. And that's what we have to do. By not feeding this spirit, and for some that's literal, we dethrone it in our lives.

And as with everything else, we can't do this without our Saviour's help.

love and blessings~


photo credit: themost10.com




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Columns, Devotionals

The Spirit of Gluttony

I don't think I've ever heard anyone talk about the spirit of gluttony in church in all the years I've gone.  I started to write this a couple of days ago but paused, making sure I was in God's timing. Then I read something yesterday that confirmed to me that I was hearing Him.

1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "Whether, therefore, you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."  We are to eat and drink to the glory of God.  How many of us have ever given thought to this verse?  But there's even more to it than that.



When I was about 35 years old, the Lord spoke to me one day and told me, "You have a spirit of gluttony."  I'm about 5'4" and at the time weighed about 110-115 lbs.  So I was surprised, to say the least. I expressed my confusion to the Lord and He began to explain.

The spirit of gluttony is when we find comfort for our flesh in things besides God. Our 'flesh' is the 'old man.' It's our sin nature. The spirit of gluttony is shopping when you're depressed. It's getting a new color and cut when you're feeling down. It's eating comfort foods when you don't want to deal with your emotions.

We might associate the spirit of gluttony with being over-weight, and rightly so, but this demon can manifest in other ways. It can drive a person to work out and be obsessed with their beautiful physique, because in some, it can partner with 'vanity.'

In our culture, the spirit of gluttony is celebrated. All of the celebrities that we see in the media comfort themselves and feed their flesh with every indulgence. We are told constantly to 'treat ourselves' with new makeup, new clothes and shoes and handbags. If our self-worth is low and we don't like the way we look, we can get a little botox or a whole lot of plastic surgery.

We are told constantly that we can make ourselves feel better by these things and that we don't need God. Some have gone to the other extreme and seek to make themselves feel better by starving themselves. But all have the same need - God. All are seeking 'a fix' to solve an inner lack.

One day when we were doing our 40 day Word fast, I was really struggling with exactly this. It was a blizzard outside and so I was staying home.  I was bored, not enjoying winter, and wasn't feeling motivated to work on a project. I wanted nothing more than to lie on the couch, under a warm blanket, fireplace burning, and watch movies all afternoon. Or read a book. I wanted to veg. I wanted an escape from my reality. I wanted to be entertained.

And because of my commitment to this fast, I couldn't. And it made me realize something.

What would Jesus do?

Jesus lived His life serving others. I can't imagine Him spending His afternoon on the couch, can you? Or at the movies. Someone always needed Him and although He used wisdom and followed God's leading completely, He never 'indulged' Himself. His only 'free time' was spent in prayer and fellowship with the Father. Jesus did not have a spirit of gluttony.

One of my sins that I've confessed to God and am asking Him to empower me to overcome is deciding my own schedule. Because I am not employed and our children are grown, I can do whatever I want. I can go out to lunch, go shopping, hang out at home all day, hang out with my daughter and grandchildren...whatever I 'feel' like doing.

But is that what God wants me to?

I continue to work on disciplining myself to have a schedule and to accomplish the things that I know God has set before me. I continue to discipline myself to eat more healthy and to prepare better meals for my family. And I'm continuing to discipline myself to listen to God and to do what He's telling me to do each day...to truly give Him my life, my time, and my goals.

I think the spirit of gluttony is very hard to starve out. And that's what we have to do. By not feeding this spirit, and for some that's literal, we dethrone it in our lives.

And as with everything else, we can't do this without our Saviour's help.

love and blessings~


photo credit: themost10.com




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Columns, Devotionals

He Saves, He Heals

Some people believe that it's not always God's will to heal.  The thought I've heard is that God is teaching us something through sickness and disease.  The same people will also say, "God is good all the time" but I think they would agree that any father who would make his children sick is not good or loving or kind.

There are some who would argue - then why do people die of sickness? 


A wonderful book that answers this question so beautifully is "Intercessory Prayer," by Dutch Sheets.  

I believe that we, as Believers in Christ, are to decide what we believe based on the Word of God.  

Jesus said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." John 10:10

"Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers." 3 John 2

"Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness." Matthew 9:35

"(Jesus said)...He who has seen me has seen the Father"  John 14:9

"So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise." John 5:19

There is not a single example in scripture of Jesus NOT healing everyone.  There is no place that He says, "No."  None.  

Malachi 3:6 "I the LORD do not change."

John 10:30 "I and the Father are One."

Matthew 13:58 says, "He (Jesus) did not perform many miracles there because of their unbelief."  The Word makes it clear that our faith is tied to God's moving in our behalf.

And He (Jesus) said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction." Mark 5:34

And He (Jesus) said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has made you well." Luke 17:19

Instead of adjusting our doctrine, shouldn't we examine ourselves, submitting ourselves to God's judgment and correction, and ask Him why we're sick? Shouldn't we seek to do what the Word says and "not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds to prove what is the good and acceptable will of God?" Romans 12:2

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17  If we lack faith we need to spend time in the Word letting God correct our thinking and lack of belief.  

Bill Johnson, the pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California, says that when our minds are renewed in the Word, miracles become logical.  

I am not without compassion for those that are suffering with illness.  Neither is God! God is love and love is compassion! "Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd." Matthew 9:36

Jesus was so filled with compassion that He suffered the cross, was separated from God for three days and rose again to restore us to right relationship with the Father.  He gave all that He is that we might be healed. Did you know that the name "Jesus" actually means, "He saves/heals."? Healing is a part of salvation!  

"But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed." Isaiah 53:5  Jesus bore 39 lashes. I have read that science has grouped all sickness into 39 categories.

My heart is to give you HOPE - hope that it is God's will to heal you. God IS healing and wholeness! Even though healing is part of salvation, Jesus did all these things BEFORE His sacrifice on the cross!  He did not demand that people repent of their sin before He healed them. He healed every single person that came to Him.  

God is not holding our sin against us. He gave all He had to give to restore us to wholeness - salvation, healing, deliverance.  Please receive His grace and seek Him to receive your healing.

love and blessings~








Standard
Columns, Devotionals

He Saves, He Heals

Some people believe that it's not always God's will to heal.  The thought I've heard is that God is teaching us something through sickness and disease.  The same people will also say, "God is good all the time" but I think they would agree that any father who would make his children sick is not good or loving or kind.

There are some who would argue - then why do people die of sickness? 


A wonderful book that answers this question so beautifully is "Intercessory Prayer," by Dutch Sheets.  

I believe that we, as Believers in Christ, are to decide what we believe based on the Word of God.  

Jesus said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." John 10:10

"Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers." 3 John 2

"Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness." Matthew 9:35

"(Jesus said)...He who has seen me has seen the Father"  John 14:9

"So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise." John 5:19

There is not a single example in scripture of Jesus NOT healing everyone.  There is no place that He says, "No."  None.  

Malachi 3:6 "I the LORD do not change."

John 10:30 "I and the Father are One."

Matthew 13:58 says, "He (Jesus) did not perform many miracles there because of their unbelief."  The Word makes it clear that our faith is tied to God's moving in our behalf.

And He (Jesus) said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction." Mark 5:34

And He (Jesus) said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has made you well." Luke 17:19

Instead of adjusting our doctrine, shouldn't we examine ourselves, submitting ourselves to God's judgment and correction, and ask Him why we're sick? Shouldn't we seek to do what the Word says and "not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds to prove what is the good and acceptable will of God?" Romans 12:2

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17  If we lack faith we need to spend time in the Word letting God correct our thinking and lack of belief.  

Bill Johnson, the pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California, says that when our minds are renewed in the Word, miracles become logical.  

I am not without compassion for those that are suffering with illness.  Neither is God! God is love and love is compassion! "Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd." Matthew 9:36

Jesus was so filled with compassion that He suffered the cross, was separated from God for three days and rose again to restore us to right relationship with the Father.  He gave all that He is that we might be healed. Did you know that the name "Jesus" actually means, "He saves/heals."? Healing is a part of salvation!  

"But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed." Isaiah 53:5  Jesus bore 39 lashes. I have read that science has grouped all sickness into 39 categories.

My heart is to give you HOPE - hope that it is God's will to heal you. God IS healing and wholeness! Even though healing is part of salvation, Jesus did all these things BEFORE His sacrifice on the cross!  He did not demand that people repent of their sin before He healed them. He healed every single person that came to Him.  

God is not holding our sin against us. He gave all He had to give to restore us to wholeness - salvation, healing, deliverance.  Please receive His grace and seek Him to receive your healing.

love and blessings~








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Prophecy

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)

Standard
Devotionals, Letters

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)

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Devotionals, Letters

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)

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Prophecy

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.

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Devotionals, Letters

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.



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Devotionals, Letters

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.



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Prophecy

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? 
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