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Sharing the Hebraic Foundations of the Earliest Followers of Jesus
Preparing Today's Followers of Jesus to Fulfill Their Part in His Kingdom
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May 9, 2013
You'll Need Hard Copies
Lesson 2 of Preparing Home Fellowship Families for the Dark Days of Chastisement is available for download. We realize that a good number of you aren't able to keep up with the frequency in which we are producing these lessons. For others, the thought of an impending chastisement by our Father is difficult to wrap yourself around, so these lessons are on your back burner of interest. In either case, we encourage you to make hard copies of these lessons and the other materials on our website. Some nations already monitor and censure things that flow across the Internet into their country. You may be caught unprepared if and when the same thing happens here "in the name of national security." There will come a time as the conditions in this nation become increasingly dire that you will need these truths available for mutual discussion. Living with our Father's blessing may not be important to you now, but it certainly will be in the future!
We do understand that we may be producing materials faster than you can presently use them. But our Father has called us to share what His Spirit impresses into us, and since we don't know how much time we have left to do this unhindered, we're in earnest to not fail Him or let you down. It's our fervent desire that you will know what needs to be restored and rebuilt after the season of chastisement, and how to do it.
In this new lesson we hope you'll realize that our Father is still restoring various facets of both testaments of His Word. This restoration began with the Reformers when the Bible was rescued from its imprisonment in the dead Latin language and became available in the language of the people. The invention of the printing press also made God's Word accessible to many more believers so they could study and apply its timeless truth to their lives.
But just as the Roman Catholic hierarchy, past and present, has reserved the power for itself to interpret God's Word on behalf of others and tell them how to respond, so too has a large segment of the Protestant denominational hierarchy held onto that power. Yet our Father is restoring personal responsibility for you to explore His Word and through His indwelling Spirit discern what it means and how to put it into practice. Not everything presented in His Word as a way of life for those who follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior has been restored yet, so it's the personal privilege and responsibility of each of His own to bring that about first in their own lives, in their family, and among their extended spiritual family.
Our Father is also reacquainting followers of Jesus with the nature of His covenants. Too many who claim to belong to our Lord live self-satisfied and content with the crumbs of religious attention they give God at weekly service or church activities and programs. But that fragmentation of their lives into one portion of "sacred" activity and multiple portions of secular ME focus reveals the total lack of what a covenant relationship really entails. There are terms in our Father's covenants that we are called to make a way of life. As you'll see in this lesson, our Father has presented numerous "if" clauses throughout both testaments that anchor conditions of the obedience that flows from a love commitment to Him. A word of warning: The Newer Testament warns that there are people who fall away from their relationship with our Lord and cannot be brought to repentance again. Do you know where that line is crossed?
Again, don't be dismayed if you currently have too much on your plate to fully take in and discuss these materials. Even if you aren't concerned about the coming chastisement, please be sure to make hard copies before the Internet becomes censured or closed down altogether. This is a time for those who love and follow Jesus to prepare themselves so they'll be available for His purposes. Is this a priority in your own life?
Mike & Sue
May 1, 2013
Recognizing the Soil of Your Soul
Lesson 21. Recognizing the Soil of Your Soul in our series, Repentance Leads to Christ-like Character is available for download.
April 22, 2013
Does God See Your Faith In Action?
It's been some time since we mentioned our upcoming series, Preparing Home Fellowship Families for the Dark Days of Chastisement. We hope to have the first lesson out later this week. We've learned from experience that we can't produce just the initial lesson in a series without doing several. That way there is smooth progression and continuity of information as you discuss the various questions we're asking you to consider.
We're focusing on this particular period of personal, family, and faith family preparation because a way of life in Christ during times of societal stress, widespread deprivation and spiritual persecution isn't something this nation has experienced in many generations. There may be painful consequences for you and your family if you don't understand why this particular chastisement is coming upon this land, or aren't prepared to take your stand firmly trusting in Jesus as your Lord and fully equipped to serve our Father's purposes and plans during this season of trial. As your normal routine suddenly becomes impossible through catastrophes, armed revolution, martial law, or severe restrictions on followers of Jesus because of "intolerance" accusations, you may find yourself enveloped in anger, fear and hatred — and may fall away (Mark 4:17, 13:13; Hebrews 6:4-6).
We are sending out this e-mail for two important reasons:
1. Last Friday we'd just finished what we thought would be our final review on the second topic in Lesson 1 of Preparing Home Fellowship Families: Do You Understand The Present Times And What God Wants You To Do? We recognized that this one subject was a critical hurdle for most people, because even the majority of Christians expect that the government will somehow rescue this nation from its rapid decline. So the question each person should be asking about the source of the ever-escalating problems is this: Why would anyone want to prepare themselves for chastisement in any form if they don't believe that God is behind what is about to happen to us collectively? If you're not convinced that our sovereign God is about to take action and don't understand why He's doing this, then restoring the relational intimacy and spiritual power of the home fellowship family will be pointless to you.
Over the weekend we received a previously unpublished newsletter written by David Wilkerson. Entitled "The Future", it is a prophetic warning about our current times. It was like rereading the lesson we just cited, Do You Understand The Present Times And What God Wants You To Do? Wilkerson's words encouraged us even more to do all we can to help you understand the times we're in. Ignorance of what our Father is doing will leave you trapped in lethargy and complacency—ill-prepared in will and Spirit-strengthened availability to fulfill His particular purpose for you and yours during this season of hardship. We recommend you heed Wilkerson's counsel. Click here for a pdf copy: "The Future" . Or, you can go to: <http://www.worldchallenge.org/view/newsletters>.
2. When you read Hebrews chapter 11, which commends past heroes of the faith and their perseverance and trust, could you envision your own name inserted there if Father called you to stand your ground in Lord Jesus with obedient trust? Every one of these people is esteemed in God's Word because their faith was readily recognizable by their actions. Throughout the entire Bible, faith is identified and described in terms of how people lived it out. You don't see anyone honored for just contemplating their beliefs.
James sums up the life of an authentic follower of Jesus by weaving together faith and the actions which then flow from that faith: "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead" (James 2:26). Today throughout both Roman Catholicism and much of Protestantism, Hellenism has engendered an understanding of "faith" to be "passive belief"—what I know is all I need; what I do is irrelevant. Many who've corresponded with us over the years remain blindly ensnared by this demonic trap which disconnects their beliefs from their everyday decisions and lifestyle. They don't see their faith in terms of willing service to Jesus as their beloved Lord, or as His representatives in the flesh serving others. Our hearts are grieved that the materials the Spirit has given us to share over the years have seemingly just added to their head knowledge but stirred them to make no change in their hearts—changes which would be evident in their relationships with people closest to them, especially their spouses and families.
We anguish over how to inspire people to realize that their faith is genuine only if through the Spirit they are being changed in what they do, how they respond, and how His love is being manifested through them by their actions. All of these are outworkings brought about through a desire to please and to praise the One Who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light (1Peter 2:9). At the root of their motives is the humility that knows how greatly they need Jesus, and the love for others that looks to their interests first.
One of the lessons we're working on has directed us back to the Puritans and the Pilgrims. If you haven't done so we recommend you view Kirk Cameron's video documentary, Monumental, even before you read our lesson series. Modern media has done a great disservice in their misrepresentation of our forefathers of the faith in early America as drab and intolerant bigots. In contrast, these brothers and sisters of ours put their faith into action, even at the cost of their own lives, so that they and their generations to come could love and serve their Lord according to His Word rather than according to government and ecclesiastic dictates.
How much do you know about the suffering and persecution the Puritans and Pilgrims endured while they were still in England, fervently praying for and awaiting the opportunity to find freedom to worship and to live according to God's Word? We were recently given the book Forged By Faith by Rod Gragg, another helpful resource detailing the faithful ones God used to bring the gospel to the native peoples and to settle this land and live according to Biblical principles. Against all odds He blessed them and preserved them as a nation set apart from the tyranny of despots and idolatrous religious systems. We as a nation will certainly need His blessing again in the future if we are to learn from His chastisement and repent of the wickedness and lawlessness which currently prevail. Examining the lives of those who ventured here centuries ago because of their faith can help you appreciate and appropriate the intensity of love for our Lord and conviction to stand firm in His Spirit you'll need as the dark days approach.
If you have doubts about the times we're living in, we recommend you read, "The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery that Holds the Secret of America's Future" by Jonathan Cahn (also available in DVD format as The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment). Your heart and mind will be jarred awake as you see the parallels between the curses called down upon ancient Israel because of disobedience and the curses called down upon this country by government leaders as biblical warnings were ignored. The forthcoming lessons on helping you prepare to become the home fellowship family our Father intends will emphasize how to live out your faith. The other materials we've recommended here will help you be certain that you know the times we are living in and to evaluate your own life in light of the devotion and character qualities of those who preceded you in founding this nation on the laws and principles of God.
"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone
who asks you to give the reason
for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect"
(1Peter 3:15; see also Ephesians 5:15,16; Colossians 4:5).
If an addendum to Hebrews 11 were to be written in 2030, would your name be included? Are you passionately and intentionally active in representing our Lord Jesus to others out of love for both Him and for them (2Corinthians 5:14,15)? Would our Father commend you as His ambassador reconciling the lost to Him (2Corinthians 5:20)? When Jesus opens the Book of Life in which the righteous in Him are listed, will He acknowledge your name before His Father and His angels (Psalms 69:28; Revelation 3:5)? If in your own faith community you can hide out as a "Christian-in-name-only" yet live indistinguishable from people who make no claim to know and serve Jesus as their Lord, then consider how truly "dead" your own faith is.
Our Father is calling you to repent and be transformed as you "put off" your old sin-enslaved self and "put on" your new garment of righteousness in Christ (Ephesians 4:22-24). By His grace our Father produces in His own a self-sacrificing love for Him and for others which only the Spirit of Christ can give. Yielding to that love produces the courage we need to serve Him. May this love and holy boldness impel you, your family, and those you fellowship with!
Several e-mails ago we wrote that we were producing designs for a bumper sticker and a window ichthus motif. We didn't intend that these represent a "Christian symbol". Rather, we want to help YOU put YOUR own faith into action — to help you be ready to represent our Lord Jesus to others who ask about the messages. Already people in our neighborhood have walked up to our home for a closer look at the ichthus message on our front window. Other followers of Jesus in our mobile home park are putting one up too. We've just begun to distribute the bumper stickers around town to those who, like the tribe of Issachar, understand the times (1Chronicles 12:32) and are prepared to give an account of the need to repent. Through our actions as well as our prayers, we want to authentically represent Jesus to those who may ask us about our faith. Are you willing to do this as well?
The bumper sticker and/or the window ichthus are a means to help you put your faith on the line even as you consistently pray that someone would ask you about the message on them. Our own "Jerusalem" is the city of Colorado Springs and its suburbs (see Acts 1:8). What's your Jerusalem? If you'd like a bumper sticker, we're asking a donation of 50¢ each plus shipping (which will vary according to the number you need). The window ichthus has been especially designed for us and we're asking for a donation of $6 plus shipping. (As with all our materials, if you can't afford that please let us know and we can send what you need.)
If you'd like to purchase or make a copy of either of these designs to use in some other manner, go to: http://www.restorationministries.org/html/BumperSticker.html. Our heart's desire is to awaken as many as possible from the slumber of being a Christian-in-name-only—what some used to call a "nominal" Christian. It's time for those who claim to belong to our Lord Jesus to stand up and be identified with Him among the people they encounter every day.
The bumper sticker and ichthus are just a first step. You still need the loving conviction, intense prayer, and yielded readiness to be His representative in order for your life to mirror His in love, power and purpose. Until our Father indicates otherwise, we are going to focus on Colorado Springs until cooperating faith communities of righteousness are reaching out to the lost in loving witness and action. We're glad to assist you if this is also your heart's desire for your own community. Why don't you ask others you know who belong to our Lord in your faith community, workplace, neighborhood, and school, and see if they are ready and willing to use the bumper sticker and/or ichthus. We believe that if enough people in a given area are sounding the same warning, others are going to start asking questions and earnestly seeking answers — answers that can be found only in the Lordship of Jesus.
Mike & Sue
PS. How someone who is courageous for our Lord can influence another
(an e-mail sent by our niece, Chestina)
"I wanted to share a recent event that really inspired me on how to press forward in finding opportunities to talk about Jesus. We (my husband and daughter and I) were coming back from Florida as tired as all get out and I thought I would take this time to nap and rest for the week I knew I had ahead, but God had other plans. In front of my seat was a man maybe in his early 60s. As folks continued to board the plane a woman in her mid 40's came down the aisle to sit next to him. As we were waiting for the plane to take off, the gentleman introduced himself to the lady and started chitchatting. I caught a bit of his startup conversation, like what he did for living (he owned several companies). As he continued, he started talking about his wife. He spoke very highly of her and of his adult children, noting how involved he is with them and his grandchildren. I was intrigued because he spoke so highly of his wife and his involvement in the lives of his family and how open he was in sharing that. (The desire to have that in my own extended family kept me awake to hear what else this guy was going to talk about!)
As he asked the lady about what she did, her family, etc., she started openly sharing her own story and how she was facing some difficulties with her teenage son. The man listened with compassion and provided encouragement. He then asked her what she believed from a religious standpoint and she responded, "I'm a Catholic. I believe in God." She continued to declare her beliefs but I noticed she struggled with declaring she actually had a relationship with Jesus. It seemed like she was somewhat familiar with Scripture, but like it had been presented to her by someone else rather than from her own personal reading. I think the man sensed this too and got out of his seat to grab his Bible from the overhead. He then walked her through several passages to aid her with her son's issues. He encouraged her to read the Bible herself to seek a personal relationship with Jesus. When we landed at our destination the woman told him she would read the various Scriptures he had provided as well as follow up with him to let him know how she was progressing. He gave her his business card so he could stay in contact and encourage her.
At that point I wanted to reach out to the man as I would a soldier to thank him for being a soldier for the Lord and for showing me how easy it was to reach out to someone in the name of Jesus and use His Word to help others seek Him. I wasn't able to speak to him after we deplaned, but I thanked God for allowing me to hear and see His soldier in action. I also can't imagine I was the only one who overheard him! I felt so blessed by this man to have been so prepared and so willing to be bold in his actions and words as he used his Bible to speak into the lady next to him. I thought to myself, would I have been that ready if God sat her next to me? Would I have been even willing to bring Him up to someone, or would I have been content just to take my nap? I realized that God was showing me that even if I'm tired, be alert to what He wants me to do. To be willing and available at all moments; not just any moment but all moments!"
April 15, 2013
A year older and very saddened
Go to Prophetic Insights Before the Dark Days Come
April 4, 2013
We're still in the process of getting our first revised lesson on home fellowships completed. But recently several people on our mailing list have been interacting with Jewish people and/or with Messianic Judaism. We felt impressed to update a Hebraic Article we wrote many years ago: A Comparison of the Hebraic Restoration and the Jewish Roots Movement.
It's not intended for everyone to read, but it does give an overall understanding of the Abrahamic heart-motive our Father is looking for in His children. Our Father has as much an issue with those who have given way to the spirit of lawlessness (2Thessalonians 2:7; 1John 3:4) through the falsehood of "greasy grace" as He does with those who have given way to the self-justification of legalistic perversion. The latter is the issue Paul was fighting against particularly in his letter to the Galatians. His yardstick for evaluating the responsive obedient trust in our faith in our Lord Jesus is found in Abraham, whom Paul refers to as the "father of us all" (Romans 4:16; Galatians 3:7).
Mike & Sue
March 28, 2013
Will You Stand Up For Jesus?
First, we wanted you to know that Mike's elbow has recovered from surgery sufficiently enough so he can return to his computer. He still faces weeks of therapy, and we thank you for your ongoing prayers on our behalf. In the weeks that he couldn't type, the Holy Spirit was giving us many revelations and burdening our hearts for this nation. Three specific verses came to mind as we watched the news each evening and grieved over the depth of depravity into which this land has plunged:
1. "Who is led into sin, and [we] do not inwardly burn?" (2Corinthians 11:29).
2. "Besides everything else, [we] face daily the pressure of [our] concern for all the called-out ones" (2Corinthians 11:28).
Our hearts are mourning as we weep from the inside out. Years ago while we were in Israel we visited the Garden Tomb <http://www.gardentomb.org/>, where many believe Jesus was placed after His crucifixion. A guide pointed out the hill near the tomb, recounting that it was the place where the prophet Jeremiah wrote Lamentations after the fall of Jerusalem. Before we had even arrived in Israel, the Holy Spirit had directed us to Jeremiah 1:17-19 as His purpose for sending us there. Now we were seeing firsthand where Lamentations had been penned, and feeling the heartbreaking sorrow the weeping prophet had experienced.
Jeremiah, Isaiah, and a host of other prophets had been warning those in Jerusalem for years to turn away from their sin and return to God. And there on a hill rising above the ruined city Jeremiah wrote its epitaph. He was writing at a time of post-destruction; we're writing before the chastisement of this country takes place, bearing hope mingled with the sorrow that our efforts of warning might reap similar results. It may sound counterintuitive, but lamenting as did the prophet is part of the heart motivation that spurs us on to continue to share the Hebraic foundations before our Father chastises this disobedient nation.
3. "If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2Chronicles 7:14).
Maybe you too are becoming more depressed as the homosexual agenda is unrelentingly pressing ahead in this nation. Add to this the blatant sexual immorality so graphically presented as the norm in the media. And don't overlook the extreme violence inflicted seemingly at random on even those who think they're safe in their own homes or neighborhoods. The schemes of Satan, the deceiver who hates both our Lord and all of humanity made in God's image, have infiltrated so much of our society as well as the world at large. People are becoming desensitized to both the pain of others and the atrocity of sin from God's perspective.
Yet at the same time this wickedness is taking place, the Holy Spirit has inspired a vision of what those who are called by our Father as His own in Christ need to do. He is raising up repentant, righteous followers of Jesus who can effectively wage the battle against the principalities and powers that now control this nation. Look again at the verse cited above. The verse before this (7:13) indicates that God uses His power over the natural world to humble the hearts of humanity before Him — specifically the hearts of those who are "called by His name", that is, identified with Him today as Christians. It takes that intentional humility to see sin from His perspective and repent, turning away from our own wicked ways so that we might receive forgiveness and cleansing (1John 1:9). Having done that individually, we then need to collectively humble ourselves, pray, and earnestly seek the face of our Father.
Followers of Jesus are righteous positionally by His atoning sacrifice. Yet we are called and empowered by His Spirit to also live righteously as befits those bearing His name. 1Peter 3:12 assures us that our Father is attentive to the prayers of those who live according to His Word out of love and obedient trust in His Son, those who readily repent when they fall short. We as His soldiers in the battle absolutely need spiritual power to defeat the demons who are so influencing this country. Only through the Holy Spirit's power can we also hold on to our victory over the darkness.
From too many pulpits the Bible has been taught like an academic textbook: imparting knowledge to the passive listener. Yet God's Word calls for obedient action from those who have ears to hear! Passivity relegates Scripture to the realm of moral history, as seemingly irrelevant to their lives as high school algebra. Contemporary Christians have been seduced into the complacency of immature spiritual infancy concerning their faith. Most are unaware of our Father's purpose that as vessels set apart for His use they are to press on to maturity and disciple others (see Hebrews 5:12-14).
Because the passively complacent have no concept of the spiritual power in which our Lord has purposed for them to live, they ignore the demonic bondage in which those around them are held captive. In fact, as this country has slipped more and more into spiritual darkness, all too many Christians have been silenced, hiding out in the comfort of their church services and trying to blend in acceptably with the world. This period of time may well be reflected in a warning inscribed almost three millennia ago:
"When the righteous triumph, there is great elation; but when the wicked rise to power, men go into hiding [in their churches]"; "When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding [in their churches]; but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive" (Proverbs 28:12,28).
Repentance is what this nation needs,
not government or guns!
We who follow Jesus as Lord of our lives will not thrive or have any elation unless we achieve spiritual victory over the demonic powers that are overcoming the people around us. If you've had enough of seeing the demons triumph as they inflame the evil nature of humanity, then it's time to become the "special forces unit" of our Father because of the Spirit of Jesus in us. The Christian PACs and the Moral Majority of years ago couldn't stop the demonic takeover of this nation. Why? Because they became political. They failed to understand the demonic principalities they were up against, nor did they put into action the spiritual power that the repentant and righteous who love Jesus have.
You'll see below a proposed 3" x 11" bumper sticker we intend to produce. We're also including a sheet of information to send out with each bumper sticker. We're praying that followers of Christ begin to live repentantly out of loving responsiveness to His Spirit, and at the same time stand up and be identified for their trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. This isn't a moneymaking enterprise for us. We're glad to release this project to anyone who has a heart-burden to see this nation repent. The bumper stickers are a beginning measure to saturate a city with reminders of where our focus needs to be: Repentance and Trust in Jesus!
In our city of Colorado Springs we intend to make these available for free through Christian bookstores, congregations, and wherever the Spirit directs us as funds are available. Also, we don't know if window decals for vehicles or homes, or even T-shirts with this message would be useful. Our desire is to wake up the Christian community to the only Source, our Lord Jesus, in Whom our true power resides to overcome the encroaching spiritual darkness. This weekend we're constructing a design incorporating a wooden ichthus (fish symbol) and cross for the front of our mobile home. Years ago the one we displayed over the front door of our home in Massachusetts opened up many contacts in our neighborhood that otherwise might not have occurred.
Two weeks ago our home fellowship family stood praying on a high place overlooking Colorado Springs and through the authority of Jesus bound the demonic spirits over this city. Then we stood across the street from the Roman Catholic Church near our mobile home park and bound the demons that use the idols in the building to sidetrack people away from the lordship of Jesus and control our area of the city. Next we went through our mobile home park, binding the demonic spirits that use the displayed statues of Mary, Buddha and idol images that people purchased at Indian reservations and foreign gift shops.
You'd be AMAZED at the divine opportunities and contacts we've made in just these past two weeks! Every day we continue to bind the demons by the authority of Jesus, and our Lord continues to open the hearts of people to allow us to represent our love for Him to them. In our upcoming lessons on home fellowship families, we'll be emphasizing the need for extended spiritual families to focus on how to seize a city for the glory of our Father. Our purpose in this reflects our view of a home fellowship family as An Alliance of the Repentant Prepared for Spiritual Warfare. With evil abounding everywhere you look in this nation, fellowship families can no longer be a comfort zone for people. It's time to fight in the heavenlies on behalf of our King!
We'd really appreciate any comments, suggestions or critiques of our bumper sticker design and/or the accompanying handout. We don't know where all this will lead. So view our samples as a starting point for each of us who belong to our Lord Jesus to walk in the spiritual power promised to the repentant, and to begin to stand up for our Lord. We are open to any other ideas the Holy Spirit may give you that would help accomplish this goal.
Mike & Sue
P.S. In our search for where we might print the bumper stickers, the lowest price we found was about 40¢ per 1000. If you know of any place that could do it for less cost, please let us know. As we've done since we first began to minister together 30 years ago, we'll make them available around the nation on a donation basis, and provide them for free to those who don't have the means.
March 23, 2013
As Self-Esteem Rises, Heartfelt Appreciation Falls
Lately we've been encountering more and more a recurring phenomenon which permeates a number of the conversations we've had with others: a prerequisite of preconditions people have before they'll take a particular step of obedient trust our Father is calling them to. Perhaps you're guided (or hindered) by preconditions of your own! A precondition means that certain parameters must be met by our Father when you're trying to discern His will. Yet the following wonderful truism about being in His will is foundational in your willingness to serve Him as His ambassador and servant and grateful child:
You can't go anywhere or do anything for our Lord
unless you're prepared to go anywhere and do anything for Him.
Christians who are saddled with preconditions really don't want His will to be their will. Instead, they really want their will to be His will. All too often they say they're ready for whatever He wants to do in their lives—except it's couched like this: "I'm willing to go, God, but..." or "I'm willing if..." They've already predetermined their boundaries for what His will is going to be because they've limited Him to only those areas of service or setting which they feel comfortable about. In other words, if God is directing them to relocate to a particular place among a certain group of people doing a specific kind of work, they immediately declare, "THAT can't be Your will, Father!!!"
But there are other ways in which what people say regarding God's will doesn't line up with how He would make His will clear to them. Many use a "hunt-and-peck" method to seek our Father's will, relying on the pros and cons of their rationale rather than on what will serve His Kingdom purposes and bring Him glory. Because seeking and being in our Father's will is such an identifiable part of being His child, we'll be writing more about this as well as about the suffering and adversity that frequently accompany being in His will. Look for these topics in our forthcoming update on home fellowship families in the lessons on Discussing How to Restore the Early Church. We'll let you know when they're available.
(Again, we solicit your prayers as we work on this project. Writing about a home fellowship family as an alliance of the repentant who are prepared for spiritual warfare doesn't come without demonic opposition.)
As Self-Esteem Rises, Heartfelt Appreciation Falls
We recently received a teaching letter by Gary Wilkerson entitled, "Lose the Ship, Save the People." To download a copy <click here>, or you can download it by going to <http://www.worldchallenge.org/view/newsletters>.
As we went through what we believe the Spirit gave Gary to write we realized that many of you may be struggling right now trying to discern God's will for the next step or season of your life. Others may be undergoing such trials of adversity that your faith is being rattled. Gary's article will help you anchor a solid truth which has become watered down or even denied among many of the churched today: Knowing and remaining securely in our Father's will isn't always the positive, pleasant experience that deceived people who pursue self-esteem in Christendom believe it to be. Most of those who have compromised their faith by incorporating the prevailing self-absorbed, self-fulfilled focus don't want to either know or do His will—and they use "Christianese" to justify their stance and fake out the people around them.
Many years ago I (Mike) was helping several divorced Christian businessmen who met regularly as a group. Their slogan was, “We are standing for our marriages!” But while that was their "public relations" statement among each other and their congregations and other business people, most admitted to me privately that being apart from their wives was really a personal relief! Although they were expected as "Christians" to say they were pursuing reconciliation, NONE of these men really wanted that to happen. In effect, they were baldly faking a goal and living a lie.
Let's move on here to another sad observation: the lack of heartfelt appreciation we continue to encounter among "Christians" who believe that pursuing high self-esteem is their God-given right. It's as if they're convinced they were entitled to all that our Lord Jesus has accomplished on their behalf, and that God should be satisfied with whatever attention or regard they want to send His way. But those who are poisoned by the deceit of self-idolizing pursuit are habitually deficient in sensitivity and understanding regarding the benefits they've derived from sacrifices others have made. In other words, they have no appreciation of what other people have done on their behalf because they're focused only on their own well-being. All the arrows point to SELF.
Let's look at three areas in which many Christians in this nation evidence the calloused hearts lamented in both testaments:
1. The lack of appreciation for what Jesus accomplished on the cross for them.
King David cried out to God, "Restore to me the JOY of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me" (Psalms 51:12). You don't have to look around you too long to realize how few Christians radiate ongoing joy about their new birth in the Spirit of Christ. Too many look to a historical point in time in which they "gave themselves to Christ" yet have so little appreciation for the cost to Jesus and to our heavenly Father to bring about that forgiveness and new life. Because many either have never regarded their own sin as utterly depraved or were raised in a Christian home and never even regarded themselves as "sinners" deserving condemnation, they refuse to forgive and to bless those who have hurt them (Luke 6:28).
Think about that. How many Christians do you know who are elated when they talk about their Lord and their relationship with Him? How many instead fail to give our Lord Jesus credit for any of the good that has happened in their lives? People who live under a blanket of ungratefulness do more to defame our Lord than to draw anyone to Him. If this describes you, we encourage you to cry out as David did, for a renewed heart that fully appreciates the JOY of your salvation in Jesus. Don't go another moment without the fruit of inner joy which only the Spirit of Jesus can give you (Galatians 5:22).
2. The lack of appreciation for what others before them suffered so that Christians today could have the Bible in their own language.
Few Christians today even know, let alone appreciate, the suffering and martyrdom of those who were instrumental in preserving the Bible in our language. These men from centuries past recognized that once people could read God's Word for themselves, His Spirit would give them the conviction and understanding they needed to obey Jesus as their beloved Lord and Savior (Hebrews 4:12).
•John Wycliffe was a 14th century English theologian, philosopher, church reformer, and promoter of the first complete translation of the Bible into the English language. An early dissident in the Roman Catholic Church, Wycliffe condemned the cult of the saints, relics and pilgrimages. He insisted that sincere and informed worship was far superior to obligatory formalized services. Although he died peacefully, those who followed his writings underwent severe and prolonged persecution.
•One of Wycliffe’s late 14th century followers, John Hus, denounced the evils and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church and actively promoted Wycliffe’s idea that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language. Condemned by the papal Council of Constance, Hus was burned at the stake.
•William Tyndale was an English scholar who became a leading figure in Protestant reform in the years leading up to his execution. He is well known for his translation of the Bible, the first English version to draw directly from Hebrew and Greek texts. In God's perfect timing, his translation was able to be widely disseminated because of the invention of the printing press.
One key way to prepare yourself and your family for the deprivation and persecution that will come during the dark days of chastisement on this nation is to study the lives of the heroes of the faith who went before you. Find out NOW if your love and appreciation and willingness to serve our Lord wholeheartedly parallels that of the men we've cited and the many others whose lives were gladly forfeited for the Name and love of Jesus.
3. The lack of appreciation for what those who served in the military sacrificed so you could live in a free nation and worship your Lord without fear.
We noted in our last e-mail a recent study which revealed that 74% of the people in the United States have little care or interest in the men and women who are currently serving in the military. Nor are they concerned at all about the conflicts/wars in which this nation is actively involved. The unabashed pursuit of self-esteem has created such a narrow, selfish view that three quarters of this population have no regard for the cost others are paying for them to enjoy freedom.
We've had to frequent the VA hospital in Denver many times in the past few years. Have you ever visited a VA facility? You'd most likely weep as you sat in the different waiting rooms observing men and women of all ages with missing limbs, various disfigurements, and the vacant or troubled expressions marking those with PTSD. If you're a grandfather like me, you'd fight hard to hold back the tears especially as you see the maimed young women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm tearing up even now as I write this.
What have you done to show your appreciation for those who have fought to allow you to enjoy your freedom? Have you ever walked up to a service member (and their family) at a restaurant and paid for their meal? Have you intentionally approached a vet and thanked that person from your heart, shaking their hand and asking our Father to bless them? Appreciation is something most don't receive, and yet it's probably the ONE thing that would help them heal and press on in life. If you're a "Christian" and you're reluctant to express gratefulness to these men and women and their families, you most likely haven't fully appreciated our Lord Jesus, or any of those who sacrificed themselves so you could read your Bible in your own language or who have forsaken the comforts of this land in order to disciple the lost in every nation.
Here's something you can do to express heartfelt appreciation: Make the time to write one of our brothers or sisters around the world who are imprisoned for their trust in Jesus (http://www.prisoneralert.com/). Better yet, make it a weekly project for your family, reading together about a particular suffering follower of Jesus and praying daily for that person and their family.
We encourage you to give yourself a "joy check":
If you don't have the inner joy that arises from heartfelt appreciation,
then you don't have any appreciation for the Lord of life!
T. S. Eliot once expressed this timeless truth: “Martyrdom is no accident. A martyr is always made by the design of God for His love of men, to warn them, and to lead them back to His ways.” What a joy and privilege!
Mike & Sue
March 5, 2013
What Do You Know About Satan?
Our next Teaching E-mail, What Do You Know About Satan?, is available. Since we started working on this lesson, as with every time we call attention to the scheming activity of the devil and his demonic forces, weird problems kept happening with our computer. That you even have this Teaching E-mail before you is a result of much prayer in the face of intense spiritual warfare waged against us.
Today in particular we're reminded of Joseph's declaration to his brothers: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Genesis 50:20). This morning we received a scathing e-mail referring back to an event over 20 years ago: I and two others with a prophetic gift confronted a certain pastor about being controlled by the spirit of Jezebel. The timing of receiving this e-mail was interesting, if not Divine, because I had just written about Jezebel in the current Teaching E-mail:
"More than 20 years ago our Lord revealed through a number of prophets that the principality of Jezebel ruled this nation. Accompanying this evil spirit that destroys the influence of men is an unclean spirit of deceit, which is the spirit-world prince over Washington, D.C. The burgeoning domination of women in all levels of influence including public education as well as the intentional denigrating of men through the media has accelerated Jezebellic control.
Several decades ago the National Education Association deemed public education “a totally effeminate institution”... Soon afterward this same brand was given to describe Christianity in this nation."
Just after reading that accusatory e-mail I began to have almost unbearable pain in one tooth. Sue and I prayed. Then I went as a walk-in patient to our dentist's office. As I sat praying in the waiting room, I knew God wanted me there for some reason other than my aching tooth. I noticed a magazine on the table I'd never seen before, The Philadelphia Trumpet. I opened it to an article entitled, "The Incredible Shrinking Man" <http://www.thetrumpet.com/article/10305.22002.152.0/society/the-incredible-shrinking-man>.
Written from a Christian perspective, that article was a most accurate summation of what has happened to men in this nation during the past 50 years. I had been aware of most of what was set forth, but I'd never seen it presented in such a concise way. Other articles in the magazine pointed to specific demonic victories the spiritual principalities have achieved recently not only in this nation but throughout the world. I thanked God for the tooth situation that had brought me to the dentist! My joy even overcame his bad news, "You're going to lose the tooth." Because I'm having surgery on my elbow on Tuesday (3/5), he could do little more than give me antibiotics and some limited pain relief medication. We share this with you because our purpose in writing this lesson is not only to spotlight the spiritual warfare that's being waged against the followers of Jesus, but also to encourage you to discuss and question the basis of what you believe, especially concerning the enemy of your soul.
We aren't the only ones who are recognizing the destruction of men in particular by the Jezebel principality. Neither are we alone in pointing to the spiritual warfare being waged for the souls of mankind. The most recent Christian Book Distributors (CBD) catalog contains multiple pages of spiritual warfare materials. A recent mailing by Bill Gothard, The Disaster of Today's Fathers and Their Families, announces a program to help men restore a biblical hedge of protection around their families. We encourage you to look around and begin to ask questions. On a wider front, consider who would gain by a President who was not raised by a father and who is at the forefront of pushing homosexuality, abortion, and an anti-Israel agenda.
God's Word has a lot to say about the condition of a country like ours and what happens to a nation when it pursues this Godless path. We produced such materials as Certain Of What You Do Not See and Demolishing Strongholds to help you make sure you won't be taken captive by these deceiving principalities (2Timothy 2:26). They're for you to investigate and discuss with those close to you who are serious in their life walk in Jesus.
With our Lord's help and your prayers, we will soon be sending out materials to help equip you to take back ground that's been surrendered to enemy control in your home, your neighborhood, your workplace and your city
February 27, 2013
Living Where Satan Has His Throne
The latest segment in our series Repentance Leads to Christ-like Character is available: The Sin of Claiming To Be A Christian While Failing To Belong To Christ. The Bible contains indicators to help us ascertain whether we are living the way our Lord requires in our relationship with Him, with those in our home, and in our fellowship with others in Him. But over the years we've recognized that very few who call themselves Christian actually use Scripture to examine themselves (2Corinthians 13:5; 1Corinthians 11:31). We hope this lesson will be helpful not only in your own life but for those you hold dear and want to see in heaven with you. It's essential that you truly live by our Lord's relational criteria while you still have time on earth to do something about it!
"Open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me" (Acts 26:18).
The false man-centered, man-developed gospels so prevalent today can't turn people from the power of Satan to the power of God. The deceiving lies of "other gospels" warned against in 2John 1:9-11 have insinuated themselves as "doctrine" over the centuries. They were prepared by the sin nature-controlled minds and self-seeking purposes of religious leaders who have altered God's Word to gain a following for themselves. Man-pleasing "gospels" have no Holy Spirit power since they appeal to the sin nature-controlled minds of unrepentant people who want to control their own lives and please their fleshly desires—but still maintain a religious veneer. Through past years of conducting Demolishing Strongholds seminars in congregations around North America we've come to recognize that false gospels attract people to congregate with others who are influenced by the same prevailing demonic strongholds. Finding a comfort zone of familiarity with each other, they see no need to renounce the demonic bondage that is blinding them to their spiritual adultery against God. They've been told by others that they're free, yet their lives are still shadowed in the darkness of the world's goals and values.
The true Gospel given by our Lord Jesus to Paul to preach should be the same life-changing message today, "because our Gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction" (1Thessalonians 1:5). Yet the power of the Spirit seems strangely absent among so many within western Christendom and there's a satanic reason why. In our next Teaching E-mail we'll write more extensively about the enemy of our souls as he was understood by the first followers of Jesus. Being aware of the schemes and tactics of your enemy is essential in combat, and all the more so in spiritual warfare. (Paul makes this clear in Ephesians 6:10-18. You might want to review this passage.)
Paul's warning to the Ephesians recently became very real to us: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (6:12). Over the past several weeks we were trying to coordinate a meeting with a young Christian who lives in another country. As much as we wanted to see him while he was in the States, even in the planning phase things continued to be plagued by tension and difficulty in communication. In the end we never got to spend time together.
About the same time the Holy Spirit impressed on both Sue and me to reread This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti. We first read these penetrating novels in the 1980s while we were serving at a farm retreat center in eastern Connecticut. The insight they gave us about the nature of spiritual warfare impacted us so much that we passed out droves of volumes to church leaders in our area. We wrote about what was going on at that time in Lifebyte 15. Satan’s Strategies (Part 1) when 2,000 satanists moved into that wealthy state to take it for his use. We personally experienced the agitating effect of spiritual darkness as we were unable to rally the different churches we worked with because their leaders were oblivious of the demonic activity in their midst. Denominationalism divided congregations into irreconcilable factions which refused to cooperate with one another. Major companies were influenced by Eastern mysticism, precipitating financial collapse in some and moral compromise in others. Wherever the satanists insinuated themselves and took over, whether in the business or religious realms, deep emotional depression fell on the people they overcame.
As we've reread these two books and revisited the reality of the unseen forces around us, we've greatly appreciated the Holy Spirit reminding us of what we personally so often face in spiritual opposition. Over the years we had slowly lost sight of the principalities that our ministry continues to confront around the world as followers of Jesus have used our website. The Spirit has also made us realize that the prayer coverage we once had as others faithfully brought us before the throne of grace has grown incredibly sparse. We've come to such a time of emotional and physical adversity that we're wondering if we've shared and made available through the internet all that our Father will give us for now.
Yet in the middle of this the Spirit has also been pointing out to both of us that we need to increase our understanding of our own spiritual gifts, especially how they cooperate together for His purposes. The nature of our giftings and the season in which our Father has raised us up to share is captured in Paul's second letter to Timothy (4:1-5). The younger man was commanded to "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction." Through the Internet we've labored to fulfill these words ourselves. But we've sadly realized that self-seekers who read what we've been given to share comprise what Paul warned his protege about. They "will not put up with sound teaching. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."
Colorado Springs—"The Protestant Vatican"
"I know where you live—where Satan has his throne..."
The rereading of Peretti's books has also roused us in a way we wanted you to know about. We're now interceding for the city of Colorado Springs in ways we hadn't before. The day we drove into the city eleven years ago the Spirit told us, "The religious establishment here is going to fall. Who will be here to tell them the truth?" We didn't know if He meant us in particular or someone else we'd prepare. But in either case, we know we need to intercede with more fervency and hopefully unite with others our Father may bring to us. We are prayerfully wondering if He may be about to release us to a more personal form of ministry, either here or somewhere else, than sharing on the internet has been. If our Father would give us our heart's desire, we'd like to work personally with those who would be committed to see the apostle, prophet, evangelist, and shepherd/teacher restored to prepare God's people for service to build up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13). We know that's the means by which we can ever achieve unity in Christ and collectively be about His service. We'd also like to be in the midst of a multi-generational house church again as extended spiritual family. For those you who continue to pray for us, please press into Him about this on our behalf. Thank you!
Mike & Sue
P.S. Before our next Teaching E-mail comes out we encourage you to use a concordance and study all the references to Satan, the devil, and the evil one. It's important that you have an overall biblical view of the demonic so you can effectively combat and overcome our enemy's schemes and move ahead in what our Father plans for you. We believe that each of us who belongs to our Lord Jesus can be more effective in defeating the devil if we comprehend why our Father threw him down upon the earth (Revelation 12:9). If you will prayerfully go through the Scriptures asking His Spirit for wisdom, you'll find there's no room for doubt in the reality of spiritual warfare. And, you'll have a greater appreciation for the power that's found in the mighty Name of Jesus. Know with certainty that you will need this confidence in the Dark Days that are falling upon this land and this world. It's our Father's will that these trials should come to bring people to repentance, but it's Satan and his cohorts who will try to bring about disbelief, discouragement and destruction through that which our Father purposes for good.
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