Mishpachah Yeshua Newsletter

A Newsletter To The Family Of Jesus From Restoration Ministries

The Hebraic family is not simply an individual or private matter.
Rather, it is an institution in which the whole community has a stake.
Thus, the Hebrew word “mishpachah,” meaning family, not only refers to parents and children,
but to the whole extended family worldwide in the body of “Yeshua”—our Jesus.

[click here for a printable copy]

June 2002  Topic: The Battle for Your Thought Life

Dear Friends,
In our last two newsletters, respectively, we first articulated the Covenant Gospel embraced by the earliest church followed by the determination needed to live out this Gospel. We appreciated the feedback concerning the Gospel of the Covenant in our March-April 2002 newsletter. It affirmed what many of you knew from your own readings of the Scriptures: Born again people can be Covenant-breakers.
In this newsletter we want to discuss with you the most frequent area we have seen that keeps people from completing the Covenant pilgrimage. The battle ground is their thought life. Our soul, that is, our mind, will, and emotions is the battlefield of the Holy Spirit versus the demonic forces. Who controls or influences your mind, will, and emotions governs and guides the direction of your life.
In Jesus’s teachings He affirms the thought life as the area where sin is committed. He reduces the sins of murder and adultery from being sins of action to sins of our thought life—bitterness and lust. James hammers home the issue of our thought life when he says, “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (v. 1: 14,15).
Satan’s camouflage is to keep you unaware of how crucial the battle for your soul is. If you don’t realize what you are losing, you will not fight intensely. He has a foothold, in that our carnal, sinful nature has a closer identity to him than to the Lord’s Spirit. “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want” (Gal. 5:16,17).
Yielding to the Spirit is all new for each of the Father’s children. We must learn to hear His voice, His soft promptings, how to live empowered by Him. Last week I received a phone call from our friend Barry in Abilene. He told me of the demonic opposition that he and his Sunday school class faced in reading our book God’s Instruments for War. They all could tell that Satan did not want them living empowered.
You know the Holy Spirit is winning as He produces the fruit of the Spirit — “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22,23). You aren’t who you use to be, and the character of Jesus becomes increasingly evident. Remember, “For in Christ Jesus: The only thing that counts is trust expressing itself through love” (Gal. 5: 6).
From the Father’s vantage point: The battle, when fought as He commands, brings us closer to Him. We begin to understand our Father more and experience the reality of His love. As the Spirit continues to win the battle, we begin to want less for ourselves in prayer and more that will bring glory to the Father. In essence, wanting everything to glorify Him epitomizes our love and trust.
When Satan is winning the battle there is increased oppression, tolerated sin, and people don’t experience the love of the Father or the love of others. Ultimately, they will find themselves hitting the wall next to the narrow gate. The Bible is very clear about the battle and our personal responsibility. We cover the topic most clearly in our book, Demolishing Strongholds. The the war can be lost, and many, failing to fight it in accordance with His Word, are “taken captive to do [Satan’s] will.” (2 Tim. 2:26).

We Must Demolish the Strongholds
As we entertain thoughts and participate in activities that are contrary to the will of God, we open ourselves up to demonic inhabitation in those areas. When these thoughts and activities become habitual, we allow a spiritual fortification, a stronghold, to be built around that spirit and its influence. We become so accustomed to responding to the “voice” of that spirit that it becomes an accepted part of our identity. The voice sounds like us.

The Definition of Strongholds
A stronghold is a demonic fortress of thoughts housing evil spirits that
(1) control, dictate, and influence our attitudes
     and behavior;
(2) oppress and discourage us;
(3) filter and color how we view or react to
    situations, circumstances, or people. 

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete” (2 Cor. 10:3-6).

The above passage summarizes a myriad of biblical issues and steps in dealing with demonic strongholds. The arguments and pretensions that make up a stronghold keep you from experiencing the love and truth the Father would have for you. They are, in effect, relationship killers—both between you and God and with other people you desire relational intimacy.

Only in the Name of Jesus
We have been given Divine Power in the Name of Jesus to deal with them. He, Alone, has the authority to make the demons summit. Before Jesus sent His disciples He gave them, “authority to drive out demons” (Mark 3:15). In Jesus we have the Name that is above all names; King of kings, Lord of lords, every knee will bow and confess Him as such. Don’t ever lose sight of the importance of the Name of Jesus, and Whom that precious Name represents. You will face Him someday. Let us all find welcome.

In the past decades, through what is called “Christian counseling” Satan has minimized the importance of Jesus in favor of counseling techniques. Permit us to share two occurrences from our past:
• Several years ago, because of our book Demolishing Strongholds, Sue and I were asked if we would like to address the International Conference of Christian Counselors. We said we would accept under one condition; that the person who asked us would provide random names of those helped by his very popular counseling ministry and we would provide him names of those who have been helped through our book. He retorted, “What do you want to know that for?” We told him, “God judges everything by the lasting fruit it produces and you and the other counselors would like to argue technique.” The offer was rescinded.
• Several years later while doing a seminar in a small store-front church in Texas we were invited to speak at a Sunday School class of the largest church in that city. The class had been going through a three month curriculum on ridding themselves of strongholds.
As Sue and I shared to over 200 people how, because of the Name of Jesus, they could be free of these influences I saw many of them break into tears. I was filled with such compassion wishing they would give up the worship service which was about to follow and stay there and become free. It didn’t happen. When I looked at the teachers who had invited us, they were filled with rage. They enjoyed their position and control in the lives of these people. Again, I could feel how Jesus must of felt when He confronted the Pharisees who enjoyed their prestige and still managed to make people, “twice the sons of hell.”

If You Don’t Take Your Thoughts Captive,
Who Will?
After you have rid yourself of the strongholds in the power of Jesus Name there is still an exercise no on can do for you: “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” If you don’t do this who will do it for you? Paul warned us, “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). Don’t you think he and his demons can mimic the voice of your mind? Yes, Demons can sound like the mind’s voice.
When I learned that my mind has only one voice and that the other voice was a demon attempting to discourage me and get me to misperceive others, I began to fight the battle for my mind.  I started taking my thoughts captive and bringing them into obedience to Jesus 12 years ago. I have had the freedom of one voice in my mind throughout this time. Oh, the demons do drive-bys, but I rebuke them and ask Jesus to give me His thoughts. Sometimes I wrestle, but always Jesus prevails.
One beautiful thing has happened during these 12 years: I see everything around me differently. It is as if my Father lifts me above what is going on around me and gives me His view on matters effecting me. The Mike who once listened to the voices would not understand the Mike with one voice in his mind. Where the demons once effected me the Holy Spirit now has control.

Are there Consequences for not Taking Your Thoughts Captive?    You Betcha!
When you entertain discussions with the demons you are getting yourself in trouble with your Father. Consider Paul’s warning concerning the demonic connection to idols, “Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealousy? Are we stronger than he?” (1 Cor. 10:19-22).
Permit me to paraphrase part of the above passage: “You cannot fellowship with the Lord and entertain demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's Presence and enjoy demons in your thought life. Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealousy? Are we stronger than he?”
Remember, as part of the Covenant you embraced, you promised to love the Lord. Your Father is jealous about His love relationship with you. “...I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate [who refuse to love] me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exo. 20:5,6). “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deu. 6:5). Your entertaining demons in your mind not only hinders your love relationship with your Father, your conversations are viewed as prostitution in our Father’s sight. Throughout the Hebrew Bible the Father accuses the Israelites of being prostitutes in order to convey His deep hurt in their rejection of Him in their worship of idols [demons]. Sometimes they were so hardened in their idolatrous focus on demons that the Lord used explicit words to convey how repugnant their acts were: Read Ezekiel 23 to see the graphic language the Lord uses to show Israel how their reliance on the Egyptians and Babylonians made Him feel. Can you imagine the intense love they rejected? Can you perceive how much pain the Father bore to have to speak such words?

Our entertaining demons in our thought life has this same effect today. That is why Paul was insistent that we take our thoughts captive. Entertaining demonically induced thoughts hinder us from growing in Christlikeness, they also arouse a Father jealous for our love, and ultimately give birth to death.

Well, Shut My Mouth!
Someone close to us, who is preparing for marriage, asked Sue and I about taking our thoughts captive. We told him we don’t share the nature of our negative thoughts with each other. We only ask the other to pray. Sue and I refuse to get between each other’s relationship with our Lord
Permit us to give you two analogies that show the destructive nature of using others to understand and give sympathy to our negative thoughts.
1. A person who has not taken their thoughts captive comes to you after they have listened to the demons: “Let me tell you what the demons shared with me in a 20 minutes conversation with them. I feel awful depressed now. Would you pray for me?”
2. Because or the Father’s intense love for us, our discussion with others about our time entertaining demons arouses his jealousy. Picture a husband coming home from work one day and saying to his wife, “Honey, you should have seen the luscious woman who just got hired to work next to me. We had the most seductive conversation with each other. Maybe you could pray for us.” If you were the wife, how would you feel?

In too many ways Hellenistic psychology has become the panacea for those who refuse to utilize the personal calisthenic of taking their thoughts captive. Remember, like all Hellenistic pursuits, most psychology is man-centered, and the happiness of man is its highest pursuit.
Hellenism: God exists to serve man. 
Hebraic: Man exist to serve God.
“Christian counseling” pervades the religious scene, and in most instances, now interferes with the individual’s Covenant relationship with their Father. Christian counseling will soon be celebrating its 50th birthday. Although true biblical counseling has had its merits, most is psychology with the bible vaguely acknowledged. The method of seduction is:
• Sharing brings me closer to others.
• Sharing what others have done to me be understood.
• Your understanding eases my emotional hurt.

On face value there is nothing wrong with the above logic. It seems innocent to go tell someone else the thoughts the demons have induced. Psychology has bred a host of ‘would-be Christian counselors’ who believe they are helping as they mercifully listen to the negative thought life of others. Yet, when hurts that only the Father can heal are shared, a breach of relationship with Him takes place. As He did with Israel He will turn you over to your “lovers.” Deluded, you will find yourself going from person-to-person with the same bitter stories. Equally as sad, you will find too many ready to listen.
It is easy to share, under the guise of intimacy, the demonic thoughts you entertained. In time you will only schluck the relationships who listen. “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many (Heb. 12:15).

People who have been taken captive by Satan through strongholds, and are losing the battle, habitually tell others about their demonically-induced thoughts. Satan has a legal right to this area of their soul, and, especially with bitterness, he wants to defile as many people as possible. Sadly, too many people like to listen to the bitter woes and bad thoughts others haven’t taken captive. Satan uses them to entice others into sinning by listening to slander and gossip. The Bible doesn’t lie when it says, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts” (Pro. 26:22).
Listening to bitterness and resentment only makes you a partner to the prostitution of the person sharing. Your understanding only serves to keep the person from the healing Jesus gives. As Paul asked earlier, “Are [you] stronger than [God]? You end up becoming a robber. You steal from the Lord. Those sins the person is sharing belong to Jesus. He, not you, died on the cross so that person could be forgiven. You rob the person of the forgiveness Jesus would give if they repented. Think about this. The Lord’s words to the Israelites may apply to all those who turn to man rather than Jesus for healing:
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them (Matt. 13:14,15).

“And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete”

The 2 Corinthians passage we quoted earlier ends with the above sentence. It seems strange until you have walked free from strongholds for sometime and seriously taken the personal calisthenic to take your thoughts captive and bring them into obedience to Jesus. When you are clean of strongholds and are fervently taking your thoughts captive, you can caringly confront others about sin. It is so amazing, you find deep inside yourself that you care so much that you can confront. This is the beauty of it all. The litmus test is found in the love in your heart for the person you need to correct.
Before the strongholds are gone and Jesus has taken sufficient control over a person’s mind, people with the same strongholds are the first to find fault with each other. It is one of the easiest mechanism Satan uses to agitate people against each other. Deceit often hinders the accusing person from seeing their own faults.
Also, we have seen stronghold projection:
• A person plagued with unresolved bitterness projects that others are bitter toward them.
• A person filled with jealousy or envy thinks others look at them the same way.

We would like to share an important observation with you: Wherever you find fear and insecurity plaguing someone you will almost inherently find unresolved bitterness at the root. As needy as a person who comes to you sharing their fears and insecurities sounds, make them face and repent of the bitterness that is the root. I personally believe the Father turns a bitter person, who fails to grasp how much the Father has forgiven him, over to the demons of fear and insecurity to be tormented until they do forgive. Then our loving Father can forgive them. Again, don’t ever get between the Father and his child.

Some Warnings to Consider
1. Parents. Be careful not to get between a parent and their children in the gossip and slander you may listen to. “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse” (Mal. 4:5,6). In our last newsletter we mentioned a prophetic sequence beginning with the work of “Elijah.”
Get both sides before you are willing to listen. So much God-desired reconciliation with parents and children is hindered by well-meaning, yet misguided counseling.

2. Marriages. If you are a women having problems with your husband, pray and fast before you talk to anyone else. Don’t immediately get on the phone to share your woes. Isn’t there a God who sees? Stay away from sharing your problems with other men. Especially, stay away from counseling male clergy. Get to an older women, or better your yet, get another couple to sit down with you and your spouse. As surveys have shown, pastoral marriage counseling is a “bedtime story.”
Stay away from other female counselors who aren’t ministering with their husbands. You will only find the rift with your husband growing because she can only do for you what she has in her own marriage — relational independence, and not mutual interdependence.
Rather than seeking others to take sides with either of you, maybe you need to renew your commitment. Before anyone else gets involved, sit down and discuss what issues of your covenant are having problems. Once you have talked with each other, than it is possible to ask another couple for help.
3. Let Go of the Future. Any anxiety about or conjecture concerning your future is stepping on God’s domain. You don’t step on His turf or sit on His throne without ramifications. Let go of any concern and take your thoughts captive until the trust of Jesus controls your heart. Any stepping into God’s domain or infringing on His character has only a bad ending.

4. Let Go of all Bitterness.  The poem below was read to me by my dear friend Frank Murray, shortly after I had been wrongfully fired. He told me, “You have got to see this as the hand of God or else you will become embittered.” As we knelt together he read this poem to my face.

STEP BY STEP
“As thou goest, step by step I will open the way before thee”
(Proverbs 4:12, New Translation).

Child of My love, fear not the unknown morrow,
Dread not the new demand life makes of thee;
Thy ignorance doth hold no cause for sorrow,
Since what thou knowest not is known to Me.

Thou canst not see today the hidden meaning
Of My Command, but thou the light shalt gain;
Walk on in faith, upon My promise leaning,
And as thou goest, all shall be made plain.

One step thou seest — then go forward boldly,
One step is far enough for faith to see;
Take that, and thy next duty shall be told thee,
For step by step thy Lord is leading thee.

Stand not in fear, thine adversaries counting,
Dare every peril, save to disobey;
Thou shalt march on, all obstacles surmounting,
For I, the Strong, will open up the way.

Wherefore go gladly to the task assigned thee,
Having My promise, needing nothing more
Than just to know, where’er the future find thee,
In all thy journeying I go before.

      Frank J. Exley

May God deliver you from all your strongholds
and fill you with the truth of His Spirit!

Some Words of Encouragement
No one who truly follows Jesus can handle more than one step of faith. And because of the intimacy and trust, you don’t need more than one step. Our Father and His Son, Jesus, know Who they are and the confidence we can have in the Bible’s revelation of them. The Godhead is the only reality. Everything else is untrustworthy. The Lord isn’t given us a vain command when He says, “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Our Father knows far more than we where this discipline ultimately leads — it leads to the sanctification of our souls.
Don’t think that Sue and I are above some of the most abusive attacks Christians can use to hurt. We get some very scathing correspondence. Each time we battle through the sting until our motives and actions are redemptive. Christ must prevail before we act. It is a miracle in itself how far His thoughts and actions are from our initial responses.
Much of what we have writing is captured by the prophets thousands of years ago, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:6-8).

Join us in your determination to bring glory to the Father. Scrutinize yourself to see if there is anything hindering you. Permit the Lord to give you His thoughts. For His wisdom is THE solution to all your problems. Don’t permit anyone to cut in on your relationship with your Father.
Our love,

Mike & Sue