What's New?

Check back often for the latest Restoration Ministries updates!


Be On Your Guard; Stand Firm In Your Faith!
June 29, 2017

Dear Friends in Christ Jesus our Lord,
We didn't think we'd be writing another e-mail until after Mike had a chance to recover more. But on our trip to, during, and back from a VA appointment this morning the Holy Spirit had our complete attention — and we're glad we remembered to bring our little recorder with us.

Let's start with the doctor. As soon as he came to get us in the waiting room he showed such deep concern for the misery and trials Mike's been going through for so long. He told us that after Mike's last appointment with him his own heart was hurting because of Mike's chronic suffering. (We'd discovered in previous appointments that he was a fellow follower of Jesus in his late 30s with a wife and five kids.)

But this morning was such a joy as we talked with him! One of the reasons for our delight came through a message by the late David Wilkerson sent by his son Gary which we received yesterday,
"Releasing the Overcoming Power of the Holy Spirit" <>. Mike's whole being was reinvigorated after he finished reading it. Even before we went to the appointment we called our friend Matt in Colorado Springs and shared the wisdom and revelation (Ephesians 1:17) that Mike had just received in that letter. And isn't it just like our wondrously loving Father that Wilkerson's Spirit-given truth was the very thing Matt needed to hear right then! As we got into the car to drive to the VA this passage resonated in our spirits:

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows" (2Corinthians 1:3-5).

Knowing that our Lord had used us to bless Matt with comforting words, it was no small thing that the doctor cited this very passage after we both had a chance to share with him.
Mike also offered an observation reflecting some things the Lord has shown him as he's aged. We thought some of you men especially might be blessed by what he has learned so far in his life journey:

To be truly useful to our Lord as he grows old, a man must first eliminate any identity with his past accomplishments. In order for him to be able to teach and admonish the younger generations he needs to completely identify with the Spirit-empowered love, wisdom, compassion, and patience He's produced in the man's heart. And it's also essential that he have a sense of humor about his own past, reminding himself of how much he needed the Holy Spirit to keep working holiness into his life — and how difficult that process often has been.

When Mike finished speaking, the doctor smiled with deep appreciation, telling us how his time with us had blessed him, and quoted, "gray hair is the splendor of the old" (Proverbs 20:29). Our time with him concluded with Sue reaffirming, "Christ never promises to keep you out of suffering, but He does promise to go through it with you." This was a joyful session of fellowship in Jesus indeed!

"A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones" (Proverbs 12:4).
"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies" (Proverbs 31:10).

During the 30-mile drive to the appointment Sue's spirit was afire with an insight about the downfall of dignity and godly purpose in women and wives in this nation during the past couple generations.

Because of the ascendancy of the Jezebellic spirit in this land, so many women act as though they have a right to do whatever they want whenever they want. That means all too often women drive as though they're above the law, cut off other people heading in or out of stores because their mobile device is more important than any human being, push through lines because their time is more important than anyone else's — and all with an attitude that conveys "Me first!"  This "I'm in control of everything around me and no one can limit what I want" mentality really reflects an inner turmoil that's agitated by seething bitterness and underlying anger. We see this especially among older women who are frustrated that their lives are so filled with angst and loneliness and unfulfilled expectations and hopes.

But that feminine control and self-focus has been advanced ever more stridently by the media (social and otherwise) as well as the public educational system. Think of the effect that me-first, me-only has on little girls from their earliest years. No longer learning to value helping others and serving others' needs, this generation of girls and teens and young women have no idea what it means to be prepared to be an
ezer—to be a suitable wife alongside her husband. Rather, girls are being taught and role-modeled to get all you can get for yourself by yourself. If you want a child somewhere along the way, a husband isn't necessary, nor does the child need a father's presence. And freed of any responsibility, men are learning they can use women to gratify their sexual desires and then move on like perpetual adolescents. Is that really what you want for your grandchildren?

This certainly isn't a new phenomenon. Evil seeds of marital and family destruction were spreading within Christendom decades ago as Christian women writers began to deceive younger women and wives that a husband's priority is to keep her happy. A number of them distorted a command God had given Moses,
"If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married" (Deuteronomy 24:5), to mean that a husband should strive at all times to make his wife happy no matter how long they're married or what circumstances they're facing. Do you see the problem with this perspective?

Decades ago we could see this trend growing, fully supported by the Women's Lib Movement just in case a woman decided she wanted to marry instead of fulfilling her own higher destiny by herself. It's no small thing that divorces initiated by wives began to skyrocket as well. During our years of working with younger Christian men in particular, Mike would tell the guys,
"If the woman you intend to marry isn't full of joy and happiness already, YOU'LL NEVER MAKE HER HAPPY! Be careful!"

We're bringing up this point to you
women and older men for a purpose. For decades Christian fathers and husbands have failed in their biblical responsibilities to both God and their wife and family. Part of this tragic incursion of selfishness in goals and relationships is due to the unbiblical role of clergy and Hellenism as we've written about frequently. But another factor has been long growing in our society: the trend for younger men to avoid seeking the wisdom of older men, or disdaining any counsel altogether. And how lamentable has been the ongoing deceit among older men and women that they can't do anything to help alter the course of destruction the next generations are plunging headlong into. This is no time to sit back and commiserate with fellow seniors, man or woman of God!

Women, please listen up. It's pivotal that you know in your heart if you have given way to the independence and self-will that drove Eve to be deceived. That brought a curse on women — but our Lord Jesus came to break those sinful curses by His death on our behalf! The same step lays before you and me as it always has since His victory: repent, receive His cleansing and forgiveness, and ask Him to show you how you can grow in His love to make a difference! But keep in mind that if you insist on following the pathway of Eve in abiding in deceit and continue to yield to the tantalizing Jezebellic control spirit that's manipulating and dominating this land, your family will suffer the painful consequences.

You older men, who may have even failed as fathers, you can still make a difference in your daughter's life even if you didn't prepare her to be a husband's
ezer and a godly nurturer of her children. You can still humble yourself in love and ask her forgiveness and let her know you're willing to help her and pray with her. If she says she's a Christian and persists in self-will and independence, you may also need to warn her of where her willful decisions may lead her and any children she may have. But staying silent isn't an option if you love your sons or daughters with the love of Christ.

All things are possible for our God, and committing your offspring with your own clean heart and hands for His intervention no matter what it takes is an act of love. Your silence is a path to death, both now and possibly for eternity for your family. Mike's heart breaks as he talks with older men who sit back feeling helpless while their adult children plunge headlong into dissipation. These men are living like they're dead already, rather than arming themselves in the Spirit to be used as Father wills.

Our Father's character never changes, and this timeless description of Him, His nature, and His response to unrepentant, ongoing sin is as true today for us and our progeny as it was for ancient Israel:

"The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished; He punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation" (Numbers 14:18).

What we've written in this e-mail is what the Holy Spirit wanted us to share with you. But you don't have to face this chaos unarmed and ill-equipped. For decades now Father has given us messages through the Spirit to bring to His people for such a time as this. A way out of this spiritual darkness in your own family or faith family can be found in our materials, especially
Jesus In Your Home, or Discussing How To Restore The Early Church. If what we've presented applies to you or your family, you need to allow the Holy Spirit, Who gave us this revelation, to convict you so you can repent. And by His grace, you can undo the curse that has been destroying your family.

We want to thank those of you who are praying for us, and especially those who wrote us yesterday to let us know that. We sincerely believe that your prayers are being answered.
Gratefully in the love of our Lord Jesus,
Mike & Sue

Be On Your Guard; Stand Firm In Your Faith!
June 28, 2017

Dear Friends In Jesus Christ our Lord,
We've been working on the new series we've written about in previous e-mails, but some complications have been slowing us down. Mike's gone through two surgeries in recent months, and this last one had some post-operative complications. But since the Spirit is still breathing out messages He wants us to share with you, He's giving us the strength and endurance to do so bit by bit! This email is directed particularly toward those of you who may be enticed by what's going on in the chaos of the political arena, in the moral abyss of viewer entertainment, and even in the self-absorbed deceit within much of western Christianity. Certainly the line which distinguishes those who have been called out by Jesus to be a light in the darkness has become blurred by those who want the perceived security and pleasures of the world as well as a "ticket to heaven."

Diligently Guard Yourself From Being Influenced By Those Who Have No Fear Of God!

“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:21).

Much of what's accepted as the norm within today's "Christianity" reflects the desire of the sin nature to ignore God's commands and ways so that self-will can rule. And so much within our culture and politics and even within religious practices and beliefs deceptively encourages a self-willed individual to believe that their own concept of God will stand at the Judgment ("if there is a judgment"). Since the Bible is probably the least-observed volume in this land, it's no surprise that demonic forces have insinuated their way into most areas of our society. And one of the least-honored, least-heeded truths of God's Word is this: The
fear of God, the awesome regard for Who He is and what He’s capable of doing.
The foundation of our trust in our awesome and loving Creator is a holy fear of Him, and He intended that fear to bring about a good purpose:
“Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning’” (Exodus 20:20).

Our basic inclination is to serve self even if what God says is totally opposite our will and preferences — and that exercise of self-will is sin the same way the first couple acted independently outside what God had commanded them. We who follow Jesus as our Lord and carry His holy reputation with us must be especially alert to satanic schemes which would lead us astray as well as blemish His name.

Think about it. Only the enemy of God and his nefarious forces could convince so much of Christianity that a holy fear of God is so "Old Testament" and therefore irrelevant to "New Testament" believers. Yet BOTH Testaments are God's unchanging Word and therefore necessary for our spiritual growth and maturity, just as Paul reminded Timothy in 2Timothy 3:16,17.

The holy fear of God is the jumping off point for everything we learn and know about Him: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding. To Him belongs eternal praise” (Psalms 111:10). Yet we who are serious about loving and serving Jesus as Lord of our lives are up against the values and goals of a culture which is enacting delusion from the halls of politics down to the aisles of pews. With so few addressing the sin which separates us from our holy God and His blessings or the need for God's perspective (which really is what wisdom means), a spiritual blindness has gripped much of this nation's leaders as well as followers. History is again racing headlong on the pathway which leads to destruction because God has become irrelevant.

Paul lamented,There is no fear of God before their eyes(Romans 3:18). Yet he was only summing up what the psalmist had observed a millennium earlier in the lives of those to whom God meant nothing:
"[C]oncerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin. The words of his mouth are wicked and deceitful; he has ceased to be wise and to do good" (Psalms 36:1-3).

Self-flattery and deceptive verbal fabrications by public authority figures are winked at, excused, or even admired by many who call themselves followers of Jesus. But behind the tension and discord streaming forth from all areas of politics is the unseen agitation of demonic forces. And those of us who are aware of this invisible reality grieve for the desperate ones whose lives are being jeopardized by the policies of the wealthy and powerful few.

Because God’s commands no longer constitute the backbone of political thought in this land,
greed has become the idol of choice. Even many within Christianity believe that padding your life with the pleasures and treasures of this earth through endless pursuit of gain is acceptable to our Lord. That's certainly the goal of those who by their choices have put material acquisition far above serving the interests of Jesus and raising a godly generation to know and love Him! 

But straddling the fence of the world's ways and God's way will eventually find you settling for one side or the other. As Jesus warned, your master will be either God and loving service to Him, or money and what it will get you (Matthew 6:24). So take some time and use a concordance to see how frequently the Bible sheds light on riches, wealth, and arrogance. Money itself isn't your enemy; rather, it's the dogged pursuit of it which so negatively impacts all other areas of your life, especially your family. By learning God's perspective you can spiritually discern how ungodly the current political and societal climate is, and ways in which you can guard yourself from being influenced by it.
Here are several passages for starters:

“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Proverbs 14:31).

“A ruler who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no crops” (Proverbs 28:30.

“The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern” (Proverbs 29:7).

“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed” (Psalms 82:3).

“He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will reward him for what he has done” (Proverbs 19:17).

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19,20).

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1Timothy 6:17).

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1Timothy 6:10).

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).

We cite these verses as specific means to prompt you to guard yourself from influences that may ruin your faith. Jesus encountered a wealthy young man who wanted eternal life but wasn't willing to give up his idol of earthly possessions to benefit the poor and then follow Jesus. (See Matthew 19:16-24.) That's a warning to all of us no matter what degree of material goods we have! He also told the parable of a landowner who throughout the day hired laborers to work in his vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16). At the end of the day the generous landowner paid each man a full day’s wage because each one had a need for what that wage would supply for himself and his household. That action also demonstrated his heartfelt obedience to the command in the Older Testament to pay laborers their due because it's right before God to do that (see Deuteronomy 24:15).

If you are like-minded with us in our desire to love and serve our Lord Jesus with all our heart and soul, please take this warning to heart:
“Dear friends, since you know this in advance, guard yourselves; so that you will not be led away by the errors of the wicked and fall from your own secure position” (2Peter 3:17).

We hope to soon resume work on our series focusing on key points of the Hebraic Restoration and practical examples and anecdotes of how to live out love-grounded obedient trust day by day for His glory and praise. Again, we ask your prayers on our behalf and are so grateful for your willingness to intercede for us!
Mike & Sue
Psalms 71:18


The Way You Talk Should Mirror The Way You Walk
June 7, 2017

Dear Friends in Christ Jesus,
This email's title captures an important spiritual point, one we've become keenly aware of over the years and even more so as we begin preparing our new series.

Your walk is the way in which you live out your devotion to our Lord Jesus on a day by day basis in your decisions, your goals, your values, even in the ways in which you serve as a vessel of His love toward others. This doesn't just happen to you as a matter of course. Instead, a walk of love-grounded obedient trust reveals your ongoing commitment to make His Word your way of life. When you're attuned to His indwelling Holy Spirit, your eagerness to serve Jesus through loving and serving others is an intentional pursuit on your part — an appropriation of His grace so that what comes out of your mouth reflects the degree of His priority in your inner being. How would you recognize if loving and serving Jesus is your highest goal? We've found these traits exuberantly displayed in certain kinds of followers of Jesus:

Those who have realized and hated the wretchedness of their own depravity and have placed their complete trust in the shed blood of Jesus as full payment for their sins.
Those who refuse to go on in life without His guidance and purpose, whether He makes it known just one step at a time or through a whole drastic life shift.
Those who have experienced His deliverance, His healing, and His Spirit's empowerment, and talk in a way that reveals these biblically based realities in their walk.

Our Lord sees our inner person and links our inner thoughts with the outward expression of these thoughts. As He said, what comes out of our mouth is the overflow of what's stored in our heart (Luke 6:45). Jesus also underscores another essential element of being careful about what we say: "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:36,37). Why are we stressing this point so strongly? Because talking is really just one form of the many types of action you take in life.

We live in a society in which our mouths (and texting fingers) shout out opinions far more often than they express heartfelt conviction. (And sadly, tossing thoughts at one another describes much of Christianity as well. Christians are far more likely to opine about what they've read or watched than they are willing to reveal the depths of their heart to others.) However, according to our Lord Jesus, we who will be judged by what comes out of our mouth should pay much more attention to what our words reveal about us.

"Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right" (Proverbs 20:11).

Again, the words that flow out of our mouths are a form of action that reveals much about us. We have the power and choice to decide what we'll say. For those who seek to please our heavenly Father and bring Him glory through our lives, our talk and walk must be one and the same. How we live and what we speak must mesh to reveal a way of life that's borne on making His Word real in our lives. That interconnection between our communication and the actions we take so that His Word is being lived out in and through us is a major difference between the Hebraic understanding and application of God's Word which He is restoring, and the Hellenist intellectual analysis of what the Bible says.

Because we write to such a broad cross section of Christendom around the world, we want to be clear about this. You can't just read the materials the Spirit gives us to share and then form some sort of opinion about them. Your character and motives and goals and values will never be altered by your opinion! Transformation in your character and life direction FLOWS OUT OF YOUR HEART AND IS EVIDENCED IN YOUR ACTIONS.

To help you understand what we're saying, let's look a particular guiding principle we've lived by during our spiritual walk in Christ — seeking the Spirit's
rhema and enacting our decisions and actions accordingly.

We were first introduced to the biblical importance of establishing halakhahs in an Old Testament class at seminary in 1978. Halakhah comes from the root word halak and means "to walk." So halakhah refers to walking out your life in a way that coincides with God’s Word. Through your prayerful meditation on God's Word you are actively asking the Spirit to guide you to specific biblical truths to apply to any and all realms of your life, whether to marriage, family, education, finances, ethical decisions, or religious practices. These Spirit-motivated, Word-grounded principles to guide your motives and actions aren't just rules of behavior for each life situation you encounter. The aim of halakhah is a very real expression of your yearning for a dynamic love relationship with God. The dynamic living part of this relationship is reflected by your speech and conversations which reveal your way of life — the actions you take which others can see and affirm that they match your words.
It's as you purposely and prayerfully establish biblically based principles to guide your way of life — halakhahs — that you discover just how true this statement is:
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

The personal discipline of forming Bible-based halakhahs is one of two forms of rhema through which the Holy Spirit reveals God's specific will for you in any area of your life.   Through establishing halakhahs you explore the Word and seek the understanding of the Holy Spirit, His rhema for you. Again, rhema is God’s specific will for you as you put into practice a particular part of Scripture. You might describe each halakhah you set in place as a Spirit-given character quality that defines a certain aspect of your way of life. Each halakhah adds to the aroma of Jesus in you because through your obedience and trust you are developing the mind of Christ.

The second form of rhema comes through revelation by the Spirit and doesn't necessarily emanate from studying Scripture (although it will never be contrary to God's Word). One example of revelation rhema is in Acts 13:1-4:
"In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus".

Whereas the Bible is God's broad general instruction for His people, rhema in both forms is His specific "thus says the Lord" to you. Both types of rhema prescribe a Spirit-led, Spirit-empowered and Spirit-inspired way of life. It's this point we are stressing now. Everything we have produced and will produce by His grace and will depends on this assumption if you are to benefit from what He gives us to share: that you approach it from a Hebraic viewpoint about God's Word and about the relational connectedness with Him that you can and should be experiencing in your own life. Only then will your talk reveal your heartfelt conviction about the way you walk and represent Jesus in your own life.

Ever since we first learned of halakhahs we have applied specific parts of God's Word to specific areas of our lives, relationships, and ministry. But when people would ask us to give them a copy of the various halakhahs we've put into practice ourselves, we refused. Why? Because we didn't want what the Holy Spirit had shown us as a specific rhema for our way of life to be used as a "creed" for others. In other words, just because He directed us in a specific way to apply a particular scripture a particular way doesn't mean He planned for you to do the same thing the same way.

Because of the influence of intellectualized, ritualized Hellenism in Christianity for so many centuries, devotion to a specific creedal statement or directive established by a religious hierarchy can maintain a man-contrived "unity" among diverse congregations and denominations whether they're serious about God's Word or not. The recitation of and dependence on creeds rely on historically fixed opinions formulated by a consortium of men, opinions which are not open to being questioned. In vivid contrast, rhema in both forms is ongoing and active and current as the Spirit guides your life. A rhema-seeking lifestyle brings to light the intense and intentional love-based relationship with Christ which orchestrates your walk and talk.

Sue: I was struck this morning by the words of Oswald Chambers which express in his unique way concepts which are similar to what we've written: "Our beliefs will mock us unless something comes into us from God, because nothing has any power to alter us except the incoming of the life of God. The Holy Spirit is the One who makes experientially real what Jesus Christ did for us. ... When we receive the Holy Spirit, He will make experientially real in us all that Jesus Christ came to do. The great need for men and women is to receive the Holy Spirit. Our creeds teach us to believe in the Holy Spirit; the New Testament says that we must receive Him (see Luke 11:13)." (emphasis added)

"We tell you the truth, we speak of what we know,
and we testify to what we have seen,
but still so many in Christianity
do not accept our testimony"
(John 3:11; paraphrased).

For most of our journey of walking in Jesus, encountering rhema-led people in Christianity has been rare. Even though seeking and following rhema from the Spirit is very biblical, so many levels within "Christian" communities are either ignorant of it or downright hostile to the very idea. Because you're reading this, we're hoping this doesn't describe your own perspective. Your closest point of intimacy with our Lord Jesus is via His indwelling Spirit, the true and only Source of revealing rhema to you. And His living Presence is demonstrated by your walk and talk!

It's very humbling for you as God's child to seek and rely on both forms of rhema to guide your daily life situations and relationships. But that trusting reliance will strengthen your resolve to be
obedience-based as was Abraham, a trusting obedience which is foundational to the Hebraic Restoration. Your love for our Lord and your desire to please your heavenly Father are all the motivation you need to seek and to do His will. And in the pattern of Abraham, the outcome never crosses your mind. How opposite is Hellenist-influenced Christendom and even secular society in general with their outcome-based decisions and actions and motives. When you are dependent on the outcome, you weigh every decision by the self-serving advantage and benefit they'll provide you.

We want to end this e-mail by encouraging you to discuss with your family and members of your faith community what your talk actually reveals about you as far as your life in Jesus and your values and goals. Years ago we wrote,
"Whatever comes out from your mouth first or most often is what you consider most important." The Hebraic perspective is an active and Christ-lifting way of life that others can bear witness that your talk matches your walk. But so much of our culture is driven by personally held opinions that often neither require nor lead to action. That's the idle fruit of Hellenism, and it's important for you to find out if Hellenism still has a grip on your view of God's Word and of the way of life He has called you to in Christ.
Mike & Sue

"He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant [a new way of living in union with Him] — not of the letter [of His Word] but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2Corinthians 3:6; paraphrase).


The Aroma of Jesus Distinguishes His Followers
May 19, 2017

Dear Friends in Christ Jesus our Life,
Available for downl
oad is the second in our series of Prophetic Insights which reveal the incursion which demonic forces and influence have made into Christianity because of habitual mental deceit. Mike: In writing these two Insights, I've been reminded of the many years Father put me in positions to observe how easily demons had infiltrated Christianity, whether in congregations, ministries, Christian colleges, and seminaries. So often I was filled with such sorrow over what I observed that I would tell people, "I live in the bowels of Christendom."

For years I would question my Lord over why I had to witness so much evil creeping into Christianity and no one wanted to do anything about it. You may recall the letter we sent to the religious leaders in neighboring Payette, Idaho a few weeks ago. We haven't heard of anything happening because of it. Still, we wrote it out of obedience to the Spirit and love for the people there we've met. I recently told the son of a neighbor who had read the letter,
"Relative to what our Lord requires of them, clergy are the laziest occupation in the world." They may indeed be busy with the many tasks that are necessary to keep the system functioning. But like so many husbands whom they encourage to outsource their families for spiritual development, in their "CEO mentality" of working for hire they are useless when it comes to fully loving and serving Jesus as their Lord. From His perspective their lives could be described as "insubordinate" and "cowardly." King Saul was plagued by these same attributes and it cost him both his kingdom and his life (see 1Samuel 15:23).

Over these many years I've observed the self-serving complacency and self-excusing impotence to fight the spiritual battle which is the responsibility of everyone who follows Jesus as Lord. (Revisit Ephesians 6:10-18 and ask yourself if you really take these commands seriously.) If you've read our book on spiritual gifts,
God's Instruments For War, Discovering and Coordinating Spiritual Gifts as Weapons of Warfare, you may remember "A Parable of War" written by our friend Paul Knight, who back then was an associate pastor. Read this again with an eye on the tragic consequences of timidly hunkering down in the trenches rather than standing up in the Spirit against the evil which blankets this land.

A Parable of War

(by Paul Knight, ca. 1986)

“We were sitting outside the villae frustrated. We had been enlisted to defend and win the allegiance of the members of the village for the Crown. But there seemed to be so little response to the consistent goodness of the throne. We, the soldiers of the King, were growing tired and apathy was around us like a dense fog.
It was then that we heard the blast of the horns warning us that they were advancing. The Enemy, whom we had grown to hate and despise, was advancing his troops close to the village.
We knew full well that the enemy and his workers were ruthless. They breathed the fire of hatred. As the others around us began to speak, we knew that the village we were caring for and seeking to win would be devastated. One of the female soldiers with us began to cry out in alarm for the innocent children who would be devoured in the jaws of wickedness and deprivation. Her voice cracked with fear and urgency, for she had been one of their prisoners. Her scars, emotional and physical, were still fresh.
Those around the woman, knowing that the King had prepared us with a power far beyond that of our enemy’s, stood in resolve to fight. We shouted to our fellow soldiers to stand and bear arms for the King, to defend the village and to fight against the advance of the army.
We sent messengers into the village, sounding warnings again and again that the enemy would take prisoners. We testified to the tactics of the enemy and to the promised care for those who follow the King. Some followed and took up arms with us. We resolved to defend to the end those left and to continue begging their enlistment under the King’s banner.
When we returned to our camp outside the village, we again tried to rally our fellow soldiers to stand and to prepare for battle. The enemy had landed and was advancing with greater strength. We could hear the hellish cries of those who were being taken and those who so joyously performed the enemy’s deeds of war. From the infants to the aged, we knew that they would be trampled and put in bondage. Untold horrors would be their fate. We again cried out to our fellow soldiers to stand and to fight.
A few of us ran to our fellow soldiers and with tear-filled eyes begged them to stand and to bear arms. But the fog had grown so thick, it seemed not only to block their vision but to silence our cries in their ears. They continued to rest and to talk.
One of our comrades was again explaining how to fight, how to use weapons. He was explaining the need to defend ourselves and the people of the village. With sweat on his brow and with great passion he began to lift our fellow soldiers up, urging them to stand. In panic he was running from person to person, propping them up, but they did not want to stand. In exhaustion, our comrade fell among them. We wept.
With greater determination we began to fight, still urging our fellow soldiers to stand. All around us the devastation, even of the King’s army, began to overwhelm us. Still we cried out to stand and to bear arms for the One Who cared for us. We shouted out the names of the villagers. With fading breath we called out, “Help us, please fight with us. The enemy is here!

Paul was one of the few people during our years at the retreat center who understood the full responsibility of leadership in the face of spiritual warfare. It wasn't long after he wrote this parable that the church board dismissed him.

"For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?  Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like [a couple] sent from God" (2Corinthians 2:15-17).

It's not as if we're speaking of things we aren't following through on ourselves. Several times a week we go to a cemetery in Payette to walk and pray. It's a quiet place with no distractions. We usually carry a small recorder because much of what we've been writing has been dictated to us by the Holy Spirit as we walk and pray. [We know many of you have smartphones, so if you care to see this place, it's Riverside Cemetery, Payette, ID, coordinates: 44.095387, -116.936531]

During each walk there we ask our Father to distribute these truths around the world and break through the attempts of the "prince of the power of the air(waves)", as Paul refers to Satan in Ephesians 2:2, to thwart access to these messages. We also ask that He would send these forth with a Spirit of conviction so that the people who receive the material
would live to please Father and bring Him praise. Another frequent prayer is that the heart motive of each person who reads these would be filled with the aroma of Jesus.

We know we can approach our Father with boldness in Christ because we don't peddle what His Spirit gives us. To each of you it is freely given. As we've noted previously, while we were still in Israel our Father told us, "You share this message and I will provide for you." How amazingly He has done this for us over the years — and the various people He has raised up at different times to help has been marvelous in itself!

Our Father has sent us on a specific mission, to "share the Hebraic foundations." We fervently hope that this privilege and responsibility to carry out His assignment will remain until we leave this side of eternity. Along the way we've learned some lessons which seem strange to many, even among Christians. For instance, when Jesus sent out seventy disciples before He visited various places, He was very specific in His instructions for them: "Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road" (Luke 10:3,4). That command might seem pretty unfriendly, but at that time a "greeting" meant you needed a place to stay and those you greeted were obliged to offer hospitality. Now, we are definitely not an antisocial couple — in fact far from it! But the
aroma of Jesus within us compels us to willingly obey when He directs us to depart places or even certain individuals, no matter what it costs, for His purposes to be achieved in our lives and in theirs. 

I read the Bible for the first time after serving several years in the military during a time of war. That timing was essential in Father's plan for Sue and me as it helped us to clearly understand the emphasis He placed on
immediate obedience. Very many we've met along the way in Christendom feel they have a lot of latitude in whether to obey God or not — and that alone should tell you about the self-serving impact of our society on modern Christianity. But as we knew from both His Word and from the experiences He put in our lives, we could comprehend more and more God's wonderful love and His high regard for the unhesitating obedience of Abraham, our father in the faith (Romans 4:16).

Perhaps as you too seek to be the aroma of Jesus in the lives of others, you'll gain insight from the sobering message we're about to write. Over the years different people, Christians included, have drawn near us for a season and then left us. (You may be among those who were once part of our lives and life purpose in Jesus but aren't any longer.) And we do realize how difficult it is to encounter two people who have been recruited by Father for a specific purpose and who are fully committed to complete by His grace the mission He gave us. It's grieved us that as we persevered in sharing this message, some of you never came to grips with how essential it was for
you in your life journey in our Lord to develop the aroma of Jesus. If this had been important to you, you would have persevered with us to be His aroma among your own relational arena.

We've observed over the years three kinds of sinful influences which prevented many of these individuals from pressing on into the
aroma of Jesus — an aroma which would have motivated their hearts as well as strengthened and sustained them to fully serve Him in His life purposes for their lives:

• Some of you remained overly committed to the demonic darkness that was influencing your families and close friends, especially bitterness and unforgiveness — and you really didn't care if they stayed imprisoned by it. If you had pressed on in pursuing and being the aroma of Jesus, you thought that would have created too much division between you and your bitter family and friends. So out of fear of losing them you chose to remain entangled in their darkness. (See Hebrews 12:15; Proverbs 29:25a).

• Some of you had become very successful by the world's standards and couldn't envision yourself being poured out in service to our Lord Jesus in whatever way He might call you (see 2Timothy 4:10; 1John 2:15-17). You went out and found a comfortable "church" where you could hide from our Lord's purposes for your life and pursue your own socially acceptable way.

• And some of you were so outcome-based in life, needing clearly defined parameters of where the next step might take you, that you just couldn't embrace the obedience-based values that are needed to serve Jesus as Lord of all you are and do and have. Because of the intrusion of the world's ways and values and goals into your life, you became attuned to the "nickels and noses" framework of success that's so important to those who "peddle" Christianity for profit.

Some of you may feel bad that you left us behind. But because of Father's sovereign will we realize that He called us to obey Him and removed us from your lives so He could accomplish in you a total dependence on Jesus alone. But that's not where the story ends. Please ask yourself if the sins you tolerate in your life have kept you shut in a spiritual prison that blinds you to your need to become the
aroma of Jesus. Do the sinful and worldly values that you consider more important than all-out service to our Lord remain a sinful pit that you refuse to leave?

Nothing else in Christianity truly distinguishes someone who loves and follows Jesus as their Lord as having His aroma in and around you. To people who are given over to the ways and goals of the world which lead to eternal condemnation, the lovers of Christ have been His aroma of death to them. And to those who forfeit their love and pursuit of the things of this world to wholeheartedly love and serve our Lord, His own are
His aroma of life. His aroma is something you never could have achieved by your own goodness by the world's standards! To the contrary, in God's eyes His aroma comes only from those who lose their lives to love and obey Jesus as their Lord (see Mark 8:35; John 12:25).

Our prayer for all of you reading this remains the same: That you humble yourself to become the
aroma of Jesus in His sight and for His glory.
Mike & Sue


How You're Taught Impacts Who You Become
May 11, 2017

Dear Friends in Christ Jesus,
Our next Prophetic Insight is available, part 1 of a 2-part series. In these Insights we present various ways by which demonic principalities have made inroads
into so many areas of Christendom over the centuries and up to the present. As we've cited in the previous two Insights, the unseen forces of Satan rely heavily on habitual mental deceits to first gain access and then establish broad acceptance within denominations, sects, and ministries. Some of these demonic strategies historically prepared the way for other deceiving tactics to take root in Christianity, while still other strategies took place concurrently.

Are you wondering why so many throughout Christendom are being seduced by these cunning minions of the adversary? Think for moment how ineffectually people are representing our Lord Jesus in their own lives, never mind among their neighbors, coworkers, and nation. Nicolaitan clergy use a lecture format to spoonfeed scripture as academic content into a captive audience during a scheduled Sunday morning gathering. Yet their format of teaching has nothing to do with discipling followers of Jesus the way He did.

Jesus taught coming from the Biblical perspective that if God is commanding it, you're expected to do it! (That's the meaning of having "ears to hear" as He so often said.) But little carryover value comes from just talking at people in sermons. And who would stand up in the middle of a service to confront their clergy person that something they're saying violates God's Word? Like students believing anything their teacher says, people in the pew generally swallow whatever is taught from behind the pulpit. How else do you explain the 38,000+ divisive, disagreeing segments which represent Christendom today?

Please consider this seriously. Any other teaching/learning environment, including parenting, relies on role modeling, discussion, and asking questions in order to prepare children or, in Jesus' case, disciples for a way of life. Today's clergy, however, use the Hellenized lecture method of instruction. What does this method look like? •They allow no opportunity for stopping their sermon to let questions of clarification be asked. •No one is allowed to voice disagreement with any of the points the clergy person makes, even if they are blatantly contrary to Scripture. •And, as a key demonic strategy, no time is allowed for people to look into God's Word themselves and verify not only the scriptural basis for what is lectured but equally important, to bring up other verses that may support or disagree with the teaching point.

Over the years we've met many who have been ostracized from their congregation for questioning or disagreeing with the clergy person's position and found themselves branded by the leadership as “trouble maker.” All too many clergy use the same method that Communists have used on their prisoners to try to indoctrinate them: silence on the prisoner's part while someone in authority drones on expecting agreement with whatever's said. And, isn't indoctrination the primary resulting outcome when there's no interaction among the hearers with the speaker? That becomes blind indoctrination when hearers don't pursue truth or ask questions. This certainly isn't the way to effectively train disciples of Christ to become fruitful themselves!

Have you ever wondered why in His teaching method our Lord asked questions of His listeners? "Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent" (Mark 3:4; see also Mark 8:27; Mark 12:35).
Why did Jesus allow questions from His followers and bring clarification to points they didn't understand? "When He was alone, the Twelve and the others around Him asked Him about the parables" (Mark 4:10; see also Matthew 19:25; Mark 7:5; Mark 7:17; Mark 9:11; Mark 9:28; Mark 10:17; Mark 13:3).

What was so important about Paul's commendation of the Bereans and their personal sense of spiritual responsibility that the Holy Spirit included it in Scripture? "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11).

Both our Lord Jesus and the disciples He sent forth to spread the Good News never thought about using the Hellenistic method of lecturing which
habitually mentally deceived seminaries and clergy so depend on. And why would you submit to this lecture format, which essentially keeps you from taking responsibility to apply what God commands, unless you liked it this way? Can you see how passivity is a demonic tactic to keep you complacent and compliant — and ineffectual for Christ? Each time you are lectured at in a service, you reinforce a passive response within yourself, much to Satan's delight. Complacent passivity is no threat to his kingdom at all! And the demonic-infused form of teaching God's Word as mere academic content is just one of reasons why the Holy Spirit has prompted over 20 million American followers of Jesus to leave the Hellenized Nicolaitan religious system since 2000.

Our Father is restoring the Hebraic way of life to those who love and serve His Son as Lord. This way of life calls for a faith walk of obedient trust on par with Abraham, a way that must be caught by personal interaction and not just taught about.
As we wrote in our last e-mail:
"You might say that Hebraic instruction is more like military training than the tidily-packaged academic approach of Hellenized Christianity. The military starts out with diverse individuals from any number of backgrounds and life histories. Then, through instruction, role modeling, and experience-based training, the individual is transformed into a person who is aware of his or her responsibility to a larger cause than themselves, and a depth of responsibility on behalf of other people that most civilian occupations wouldn’t entail except for those in which people risk their lives to serve others."

scholarly lecture mode and all the studies done on this methodology show that it can never accomplish the level of interpersonal devotion and sense of responsibility toward others which walking in Jesus involves. If you're in the religious system establishment, you need to ask why your clergy continue to use such an ineffectual mode of "information transfer."

When I arrived at an interdenominational seminary in 1978 with one primary goal of finding out why all these various denominations and sects exist in Christianity, I was a 32-year-old war veteran. I can still remember the difficulty many of us vets had with the recent college graduates and the academic questions they asked in our classes. Maybe because of their years of
scholarly instruction and pursuit of passing grades, these younger men and women believed their future service to God was based on information they gleaned or studied.

When we vets, especially those who had gone through war, talked with each other, we realized how the
scholarly "kids" in our classes frightened us as we considered their possible future service in Christianity. Many of us vets had experienced the power of our Lord in midst of near death situations. Many of us had encountered spiritual warfare and experienced the power of Jesus's name before we got to seminary. The name of Jesus Christ wasn't a title to us! Rather it was THE POWER that everything, including demons, submits to.

We understood humility as being dead to ourselves and prepared to lay our lives down for others. The scholarly students viewed humility to refer to not speaking too much about themselves — although many heading for pastorates were set on someday having big congregations as a sign of their success.

So when we vets read Hebrews 13:7,8, we saw its truth in light of our military training: "Remember the ones leading you, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and unto the ages."

One more time:
"You might say that Hebraic instruction is more like military training than the tidily-packaged academic approach of Hellenized Christianity. The military starts out with diverse individuals from any number of backgrounds and life histories. Then, through instruction, role modeling, and experience-based training, the individual is transformed into a person who is aware of his or her responsibility to a larger cause than themselves, and a depth of responsibility on behalf of other people that most civilian occupations wouldn’t entail except for those in which people risk their lives to serve others."

There's no way you can truly perceive the outcome of a man who will lead you in the faith until he reaches 50 years of age or older. In some Jewish writings this is the
earliest age a man should even consider teaching others. These writers didn't think a man even acquired wisdom until he was 40. Now consider the unchanging nature of our Lord Jesus, Who is "the same yesterday and today and forever." The training methodology He used mirrors that which the military uses.  So why would anyone submit to the scholarly approach of lecturing about Christian living by an unproven "youngster"? The only answer we've observed for decades is this: The academic lecture-format approach doesn't hold people responsible to put into practice what they learned.

[Mike: I want to offer a special thanks to Dan Jessen, my professor at seminary during his first semester of teaching there and my first semester as a student. First, I want to thank you for fully listening to us vets in your class and encouraging our participation. Second, I want to thank you for using the discussion/question format of instruction in your classes. That really helped us gain a wealth of insight from you and from each other as we heard from each other's different backgrounds, life experiences, and spiritual gifting. Third, I want to thank you for being my friend. And finally, I want to tell you how proud Sue and I are of you and Nancy and your service to the King traveling all over the world to help so many, even into your 80s. Where others have been sitting back in retirement, you two have sacrificed yourselves on so many occasions to be there for those younger in their faith journey. I know that we vets had some influence on you! (joke)]

And one parting comment for all of you reading this e-mail. God's perspective on leadership in a faith family occurs in this literal translation of Hebrews 13:17:
"[Fully listen with the intent of being persuaded by] the ones leading you and submit to them, for they watch on behalf of your souls as men who must render an account [in the future], in order that they may do this with joy and not with groaning, for this would be profitless to you." 

I can assure you by our research in Israel that these elders were mature, having already raised their children to adulthood. Their service to our Lord and the character qualities the Spirit was developing in them not only drew the attention of heaven but of Satan's workers as well. It grieves me when I think about so many of the "kids" at seminary who became pastors, the young ones I later counseled for so many years, who are viewed in the heavenlies with no more respect by the demons than the seven sons of Sceva: "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul,
but who are you?” (Acts 19:15). If the person teaching and leading you in the faith is ineffectual for Christ's Kingdom, what will be the outcome of your own faith walk? And if you haven't experienced demonic attack, ask yourself (and our Father) why you're no threat to the enemy.

The next Prophetic Insights exposes other demonic deceits that are embraced by many of you who are complacently established in a religious system. We earnestly hope that you will prayerfully pursue truth for yourself and for your family. And don't be fearful to be among the 20 million who've been led out of organized religion by the Holy Spirit.
Ask Father for a Spirit-led, Spirit-dependent man to lead you, someone who has fully tasted the love and grace of our Father and endured the devil's hostility for a good number of years — and is still found to be faithfully following our Lord Jesus and trusting His Spirit's presence and power. But keep in mind that as Jesus warns in Matthew 5:13, someone who has "lost his salt" is good for nothing. Who is leading you?

Mike & Sue



Habitual Hellenized Mental Deceit
May 1, 2017

Dear Friends in Jesus our Lord,
First, we want to thank those of you who keep us in your prayers. We haven't heard from any of the religious leaders in Payette we wrote to last week, but the letter has prompted discussion in our senior mobile home park with a couple who attend a congregation in that town. Standing firm in spiritual warfare and the power of our Lord to change a city are far beyond the usual "Christian" experience of those around us.

Yet God's Word bears sound witness that supernatural intervention was used time and again by Him to deliver His people when they humbled themselves to cry out to Him. If you read both the Older and Newer Testaments from our Lord's vantage point, you realize that He acts when there can be no doubt that a divine occurrence is definitely needed — and that only HE can receive glory and praise for His amazing solution. From beginning to end His Word upholds this key truth, one that's so often overlooked by so many in Christendom today.

Stubborn, pridefully independent self-sufficiency in the face of difficulties countermands absolute trust in the Father Who brings about and allows painful situations, tests, and trials just so He WILL be sought and relied on! If you're trusting that you can "handle this one" without His help, then you're putting yourself in the place of receiving glory and praise — and defaming our Lord in the process! Listen with your heart the declarations of the only One Who is worthy of praise and trust: "I am the LORD; that is My Name! I yield My glory to no one else, nor My praise to idols... For My own sake, for My own sake, I do this. How can I let Myself be defamed? I will not yield My glory to another" (Isaiah 42:8;48:11). It doesn't matter whether the current nightmare is family problems, economic problems, or political problems. Our holy God will not involve Himself in their solution until it's absolutely certain the praise and glory go only to Him (for examples, see Exodus 6:1;14:1-18; 1Samuel 7:10; Luke 7:12-16; 13:13; Luke 23:47).

The letter we sent to the congregations in the next town holds a common goal for everything the Holy Spirit gives us to share: that people would begin to discuss biblical matters on a level that's outside the comfort zone they experience every Sunday in a pew. Without a doubt we strongly trust in our Lord's promise to be in the midst of those who come together to discern how they should live out His Word. And, we likewise believe that as His own put into action the convictions breathed into them by the Spirit, they will bring our Lord glory and praise.

Our next Prophetic Insight is available for download. In a broad sense it will appear to be discussing Habitual Hellenized Mental Deceit. We know that there will be some who think the issue isn't one that personally affects their lives. But the particular points the Holy Spirit gave us to share are very personal for people to consider because they reprove the method of religious teaching by which most people in Christianity have been instructed. These habitual Hellenized mental deceits stand in direct opposition to the Hebraic roots of love-grounded, obedient trust which our Father is restoring. So many today have readily accepted Hellenist deception as the norm within Christendom. Yet for them to develop the trust-based way of life of Abraham who pleased our Father so much, He must first deprogram the way in which they've been taught so that they might actually live their Christian experience with spiritual power and relational intimacy.

As we note in this Prophetic Insight,
"You might say that Hebraic instruction is more akin to military training than to the tidily-packaged academic approach of Hellenized Christianity. The military starts out with diverse individuals from any number of backgrounds and life histories. Then, through instruction, role modeling, and experience-based training, the individual is transformed into a person who is aware of his or her responsibility to a larger cause than themselves, and a depth of responsibility on behalf of other people that most civilian occupations wouldn’t entail except for those in which people risk their lives to serve others."

Times of Loneliness in Your Journey of Obedient Trust
"Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, 'My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will'" (Matthew 26:39).

"At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth" (2Timothy 4:16,17).

We want to close with a word to encourage those of you who are already assured that you are among the ekklesia, the ones our Lord has called out of this world's values and goals to serve Him in extending His Kingdom. You've left behind the Hellenized concept of "church" being wrongly interpreted as a place to attend or to participate in programs. Rather, you're purposing to live day by day in devotion to Jesus as Lord of your life so that you may by His grace be about His Kingdom priorities. Yet a number of you have also discovered the loneliness that comes with wholly loving and serving our King. But be lifted up in spirit, dear friends: Jesus certainly experienced what you are going through as well as did Paul and everyone who has served our Lord in wholehearted obedient trust.

No doubt you've also found how isolated and misunderstood you feel when you are talking spiritual matters with those who are still trapped in
habitual Hellenized mental deceit. You're in esteemed company from our Father's perspective, though. The difficulty you're experiencing is something which both Paul and John confronted in the early beginnings of our collective faith walk in Christ:
• "This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1Corinthians 2:13,14);
• "They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood" (1John 4:5,6).

These passages are strong assertions, and as you'll see in this Prophetic Insight, it's the actions borne out of the Holy Spirit in you that confirm you belong to our Lord. The consequent results of authentic regeneration — new birth by the Holy Spirit — are lasting fruit in and through your life, as Jesus attests: "Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them" (Matthew 7:20), and, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name" (John 15:16).

Mike: In my Bible I've marked an "R" next to every passage in the Newer Testament (and there are many!) in which our Lord Jesus or someone else was resisted or ridiculed for speaking the truth. Many of you have experienced similar attack, and that compounds your feelings of loneliness.

We wish we could all gather in one place this side of eternity to enjoy with each other the rich fellowship we have with our Father and His Son, Jesus. For us, much of our journey has been a sad and lonely ministry to which our Father has recruited us since for so long it's seemed that few have had ears that even wanted to hear. But the fruit around the world which the Holy Spirit is currently producing is so encouraging to us! We know that those who are like-minded and like-spirited in loving and serving our Lord Jesus and doing our Father's will are going to enjoy the fruits of their labor one day.

An essential facet of the lives of the Hebraic first followers of our Lord was mutual encouragement and intercessory prayer support. If you feel led, please join us in praying for those who receive these e-mails and/or use our website. And as you press on in love-grounded, obedient trust, instill this timeless chorus into your heart, "Though none go with us, still we will follow..."

Mike & Sue


Unforgiveness: The First Step To Hell
April 21, 2017

Dear friends in Christ Jesus,
We want those of you who are living to serve our Lord Jesus to be strengthened and encouraged during these times of increasing spiritual darkness. Our heavenly Father isn't blind to what's going on in this nation. It's important to recognize that He doesn't want His children hiding out at this time. Remember His warning,
"My righteous ones will live by [trust-based obedience]. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him" (Hebrews 10:38). We need to be praying for each other, and "encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of [us] may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness" (Hebrews 3:13). Sin's deceitfulness is evidenced when people who say they follow Jesus live otherwise and fail to carry out Father's will.

"Who will rise up for Me against the wicked?
Who will take a stand for Me against evildoers?"
(Psalms 94:16).

Please understand that we aren't just two people who have an easy, carefree life and put out material whenever we feel like it. We spend much time before our Father seeking and receiving the counsel of His Spirit to share with others in His Kingdom. And you can be certain that helping others who follow Jesus to daily walk with Him as Lord of their lives and shine brightly as His light in the growing spiritual darkness doesn't go unopposed. That opposition is twofold. First, many Christians really don't want to grasp how widespread is the demonic influence and takeover within their own homes, their communities, and even this nation. And second, many throughout contemporary Christendom have been lulled into such a depth of worldly compromise and irresponsibility regarding our Lord and His holy reputation that it's difficult to shake them out of their spiritual lethargy.

The Holy Spirit has given us two very sobering tasks to do in the upcoming days. The first is the next Prophetic Insight which confronts the #1 characteristic of Christianity in this nation today. We're not talking about  loving and obedient trust in Jesus, but rather unforgiveness! You may have been taught all kinds of things about your salvation, but Scripturally speaking,
unforgiveness nullifies our Lord's sacrifice on the cross on your behalf. As Jesus soundly warned in Matthew 6:14,15, forgiveness is key: "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Clinging to unforgiveness leaves you unforgiven by our heavenly Father. That means that as long as you arrogantly refuse to repent of your unforgiveness, heaven is closed to you — and you've taken the first step to hell!

The devastation which comes from breaking a marriage covenant through divorce is just one of the painful topics the Spirit has prompted us to address. And one of the most destructive consequences of divorce within Christendom is some form of unforgiveness. Sadly, unforgiveness seems to gnaw away at the heart and mind of women in particular. Certainly the dissolution of the marital bond involved both a husband and a wife. Both were in some way responsible, whether through overt sinful actions or through negative attitudes or emotional unavailability. Yet all too often we've encountered an alarming trend as we've talked with divorced men and women. In 40 years of ministry we haven't met even one divorced woman who has ever admitted how she failed her husband in some way. Instead, most women who talk about their previous marriage state, "I was abused." That very well may have been the case. And all the other women she sighs this refrain to immediately nod sympathetically but never ask how she could have responded to the discord in her marriage as Christ would have her do. What we mean is this. Did she ever use the spiritual arsenal of prayer and fasting with a clean heart, and recruit others in Christ to pray and fast on behalf of the marriage? When we've asked women this question, NOT ONE could say they took this step.

Of course women aren't alone in closing the door to steps our Lord would have them take to show Himself mighty on their behalf. We've met only a few men who acknowledged how they thought they failed their wife in their marriage. But NOT ONE ever said how he repeatedly cried out to Jesus to not only save his marriage but also to give him His love for his wife. Broken marriages have become so commonplace in this society that the acceptability of divorce has taken deep root within Christianity. Some congregations are known for catering to those who are divorced, but not for coming alongside to bring each person to repentance, confessing to Father how they fell short of being the wife or husband that Jesus would have shown His love through. Instead, numerous groups which focus on the divorced allow each person to bemoan their former partner's shortcomings, or to bewail the state of their current lives. The grace of our Lord could readily bring healing to those who accept their own failed responsibility and choose by that same grace to forgive from their heart their ex. But all too often acceptance of personal culpability is thwarted by bitter and unforgiving in-laws who blindly defend their divorced child and denigrate the "bum" or "bimbo" their offspring chose to marry.

Friends, this one issue,
unforgiveness, has become the self-excusing glue that binds Christendom in this nation in a way that far exceeds any regard for the Lordship of Jesus in those who claim to follow Him. The many ways in which unforgiveness remains unconfronted within families and faith communities is the topic of our next Prophetic Insight.

The second task for us from the Holy Spirit is to write a letter to the clergy in a small neighboring town. A map of western Idaho shows Fruitland next door to the village of Payette and just across the border to the larger town of Ontario, Oregon. This is known locally as the tri-cities area. We've made our 52-unit senior mobile home park in Fruitland our "Jerusalem." The three towns together comprise our "Samaria." And as the earliest followers of Jesus were witnesses of Jesus "to the ends of the earth," so too our website is our Father's means for us to reach around the globe. The area we live in here is far different from the thriving metro-Colorado Springs we left behind a year and a half ago. Poverty and run-down city centers are common identifiers of these three burgs. We often spend time in Payette especially, since it's conveniently close and accessible for walking. The Holy Spirit has burdened us about the spiritual condition of this city, for as soon as we enter it the spiritual darkness overwhelms us. "Religion" is no stranger here, for numerous church buildings adorn many street corners. The whole atmosphere in the unseen realm reminds us of crossing the city line into Salem, Massachusetts in 1979. At that time Salem celebrated itself as the eastern center of satanism even as San Francisco bore that reputation in the west.

The Holy Spirit gave us poignant insight into how our Father would prosper Payette if the competition among the congregations, many of whose attendance is dwindling, would cease. The demonic principality that has brought these gathering points to such ruin is seated at the base of the cross on a high hill overlooking the city. The severe economic decline of the town came about because of the
spiritual competitiveness and creedally divided opposition — each of which catered to the will of the destroyer/deceiver. But keep in mind this biblical tenet of our faith: our Father would bless the city (or any city!) if the religious leaders would repent and lead their people to repent. Then they'd have His power to unseat the demonic principality over their town.

We're not writing this from a theoretical perspective. Rather, we have firsthand experience in seeing repentant clergy unite to dethrone a principality. The following is an excerpt from our series, Jesus In Your Home, Section 2. Segment 6: "Why Jesus Died."

"From 1983 to 1993 I (Mike) was a counselor to a number of church leaders in southern New England. During that time I met weekly with a group of these men in Waterbury, Connecticut, about an hour from our retreat center. The night before one of these meetings, I had two dreams. In the first dream I was directed to get to a high place in Waterbury with the other men and pray for that city. In the second dream, I was standing near a massive cross (pictured below) that’s on a hilltop next to the highway in Waterbury. I saw myself pushing the cross into a ravine on the far side of the hill.



In the morning I drove to a commuter parking lot in Waterbury to meet the other six guys. As I got out of my car I noticed the cross on the hill on the other side of the highway. I felt something pull me into the middle of the parking lot so that I directly faced the cross. Then a voice penetrated my spirit: “Mike, destroy ALL religious symbols. It’s NOT the cross, but what My Son DID on the cross that matters.” Then something turned my head toward a cemetery on the other side of the parking lot. Most of the tombstones were topped with crosses. The voice spoke again: “EVERYONE in that cemetery is dead.” I understood in my spirit that none of them had accessed heaven.

I returned to the group of clergy and told them what had just happened, as well as my two dreams. One of the men sensed in his spirit that we needed to act. He said, “The highest point in town is at the base of the cross.” So we drove over and hiked up to it. The towering cross was constructed of angle iron and plastic, and was lit from inside. As we got closer to it, the Lord revealed that this hill was the seat of the demonic principality that ruled Waterbury. Behind the cross, away from the highway, was the ravine, exactly as I’d seen it in my dream. The cross and the demonic principality occupied the same hill. And, the demon was unaffected by the symbol of the cross.

The date was February 8, 1989. The Holy Spirit told us that we could bind the principality over the city for one year. We prayed in earnest.... Over the course of the next year, each of these six leaders experienced tremendous growth in their faith communities. Most of the converts who joined them were ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses. Even after the year was over, the conversions continued!"

For many years it's been so depressing to see how easily demons can use creedal-based division to take over a town, city, or even a nation. No, we don't believe in ecumenism in terms of putting on a false front of unity. Rather, we believe in the gathering together of repentant people, including religious leaders, who live with Jesus as their Lord — and that involves religious leaders getting off the throne of their congregations. Everything that takes place in and through an individual or faith community's life flows out of the quality of love-grounded, obedience-based relationship of trust a person has with our heavenly Father as that person lives in union with Jesus as their Lord by the indwelling Spirit. Anything less is "religion," a situation under the influence or control of demonic principalities!

The reality of spiritual warfare permeates the Newer Testament in particular. We who love and serve Jesus as our Lord are "soldiers", called to stand firm against the enemy's schemes (revisit Ephesians 6:10-18 to sharpen your focus on your role as His warrior!). The prayer and Spirit-produced power of a trusting saint is mighty and effectual in the lives of those who trust completely in the promises of Jesus and the testimony in His Word. Two examples we live by and trust they'll encourage you in the battle for souls:
•"I tell you the truth, anyone who trusts Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father" (John 14:12);
• "The prayer of a righteous* man is powerful and effective....Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops" (James 5:16b-18). *A "righteous" person is one whom our Lord has cleansed from all unrighteousness (see 1John 1:9).
Being clothed in the righteousness of our Lord Jesus and living righteously by His grace and purpose means a whole lot to the both of us and to our Lord.

We'd appreciate your prayers for the Spirit's wisdom to guide us. Exposing demonic darkness as Jesus did while on earth results in the kind of opposition by religious leaders that He experienced. We're not fearful nor do we intend to shrink back. We want to write so that those who keep people in spiritual bondage in their congregations would repent and free these brothers and sisters to serve! Please join us in prayer.
Mike & Sue

PS Shortly after we arrived back from Israel with the Hebraic foundations, the Holy Spirit warned us that He would remove from us anyone who held onto bitterness or unforgiveness. Over the years He has done precisely that. One other group that He has also taken away has been those who have family members enmeshed in bitterness or unforgiveness and who show more allegiance to their bitter kin than to brothers and sisters in Jesus who love and serve our Lord. It's double-minded to refuse to confront bitter family members yet agree through their words that unforgiveness violates God.


Far From Home
April 11, 2017

Dear Friends in Jesus Christ our Lord,
The next segment in our Prophetic Insight series which focuses on revealing
habitual mental deceit that may be hindering your daily walk in Jesus is available. Some of the areas we cite have plagued theologians and Christendom at large for centuries and have been at the root of so much division among Christ's people. On the other hand, other habitual mental deceits beat down individuals until they're overwhelmed by despair and feeling distanced from God. We'll address more on this topic in future Insights.

"Therefore, the promise comes through trust, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring...
He is the father of us all"
(Romans 4:16).

"The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles through trust, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: 'All nations will be blessed through you.' So those who have trust are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith" (Galatians 3:8,9).

Think about how wonderful it was for Abraham to be singled out in God's sight for such amazing promises to made to him and through him! What a destiny was being set in place by Father through this one called-out individual. Before we went to Israel and received the Hebraic foundations, we'd just considered Abraham another historical figure in the Old Testament.  (Mike: I even thought he was Jewish rather than being the first Hebrew — though at that time the difference wouldn't have meant anything to me.) But after receiving from our Father the message He wanted us to share and telling us to call it,
"The Hebraic Restoration," we both have come to deeply appreciate the centrality of Abraham because of his obedient trust in God.

We've also come to recognize our Father's continual focus on covenants, another item that previously hadn't really meant much to us even after our studies at seminary. It was such an eye-opener for us to realize the significance of Father as a covenant-Giver, and to see in our covenantal relationship with Him in union with Jesus the responsibilities of the New Covenant in order for us to relate to Him as His child. (We've discussed this at length in previous materials, so we won't go into that here.)

But there's a specific point about Abraham's life that often eludes most Christians. God's first requirement of Abraham is that the patriarch become a sojourner on earth. He was no longer tied to where his relatives were living, because Father had a new purpose for his life which would require him to wander according to God's direction: "The LORD had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you'" (Genesis 12:1).

A sojourner is a person who has no permanent dwelling place on earth. The writer of Hebrews recounts this designator in chapter 11 as an important attribute of Abraham's obedience. Then he sums up a key element of life purpose and goal, one which is absent from most Christian conversations. Both for Abraham and for all who would follow and serve our Lord Jesus here on earth, there's only one true eternal home: "For [Abraham] was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Hebrews 11:10).

Abraham's vertical fixation of trust in God kept him from being overtaken by earthly matters, even to the point of his willingness to sacrifice his own son Isaac at God's command. That very poignant "horizontal" act was superseded by his overriding vertical trust that this God he served was well able to restore life to the youngster even if he were dead. That's the depth of obedient trust that's our standard and example as those who love and serve Jesus as our Lord!

The writer to the Hebrews catalogs specific faithful sojourners who were sure of what they hoped for and certain of what they did not see (13:1). And what did all of these sojourners have in common? "All these people were still living by trust when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth" (Hebrews 11:13). Their hearts were filled with longing for their "heavenly country", a goal that was well-pleasing to God. In fact, that very yearning elicited from the writer the amazing statement that, "God is not ashamed to be called their God" (v.16). That's the kind of heart attitude of vertical trust that our Father wants to see in our own hearts — a thirsting to be with Him in His heavenly Jerusalem.

Beginning with our father Abraham, the
sojourner attitude is a core understanding which our heavenly Father is calling for in His own. Yet as we've talked with Christians over the years, so very few speak of their heart's desire to reach their heavenly home. (Though a number have been going through such suffering that they confess a "Beam me up, Scotty" mentality rather than a longing to be in the presence of Jesus!) For too many, however, their fixation on the things of this earth and on maintaining their earthly security is robbing them of focusing on the trust-walk our Lord requires of them in order to reach the heavenly home He's prepared.

Often in His teachings Jesus warned people about the dangers of preoccupation with pursuing riches and obsessing on possessions. On the flip side of fiercely gripping earthly security was His commendation for those who do respond in obedient trust to follow His Kingdom path now and be assured of their place with Him forever:

"'I tell you the truth,' Jesus replied, 'no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for Me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life'"
(Mark 10:29,30).

The transition from earthly focus to living as a sojourner for Jesus calls for some decisive actions on your part. •First, make sure you are spiritually clean and free from demonic influence so that you're responding only to the voice of the indwelling Spirit. •Then you need to be healed by the Spirit from the pain of any memories of past wounding. •And, as you'll see in the attached Prophetic Insight, through that same Spirit you need to establish new memory trees. The new memory trees the Spirit produces are rooted in love. This new perspective of the eyes and mind of Christ prompts and enables you to daily live with willing obedience as did Abraham: the ongoing will and power to make God's commands your way of life (see Philippians 2:13,14). You might say that new memory trees are planted by His Spirit through your spirit into your mind. Your motives and goals for living on earth became dramatically changed, and your heavenly home which our Lord went ahead of you to prepare becomes very real to you. 

Rousing the sons of Zion against the sons of Greece

We'd like to remind you how we first became acquainted with truths we now share. To do that we need to go back 24 years so you’ll understand the backdrop to the work which Father gave us.

In the fall of 1993 Sue and I were leaving a retreat ministry of almost 11 years. We had no idea what we were going to do next. The years of hosting and teaching retreat groups, counseling clergy, and keeping up the sixty acres of farmland had taken a toll on our marriage. During the two-month time frame between our intent to leave and our actual departure God began to reveal His plan for us. Three days after we agreed with our board of directors to leave the retreat center, our friend, Bert Schlossberg, phoned. Bert had emigrated to Israel five years earlier with his family and was visiting relatives in the next town. He told us that he needed to see us. Through our Lord’s clear revelation and subsequent confirmation, God directed us to go to Israel to live with Bert’s family outside Jerusalem for an unknown period of time.

Several days after Bert's visit we received a letter from a man we’d never met. He wrote, "You’re going to Israel on a prophetic mission. Please fax me anything the Lord shows you while you’re there!" God’s plan continued to unfold once we landed in Israel. Our first day there Bert and Mike were standing next to the Tower of David in the Old City sector of Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit spoke to his spirit, “Mike, you are going to be part of a Gentile Awakening.” We had no clue what He was talking about.

The following month we took part in a prayer conference in Jerusalem. A pastor from Memphis whom we’d never met walked up to Mike and put his hand on his shoulder. "The Lord would have you know three things." The first two he mentioned were private prayer concerns about which the two of us were seeking the Lord's will. We’d told no one else about these particular needs. The man continued, “The Lord would also have you know that He has brought you here so that you would go back to the States with a prophetic message.” Again, we were mystified about how Father would use us, since none of it seemed clear at the time.

Then He began to shed light on the message and purpose for this new phase of our lives. We first heard the word “Hebraic” during that prayer conference. A speaker had just finished quoting Zechariah 9:13, "I will bend Judah as I bend My bow and fill it with Ephraim. I will rouse your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and make you like a warrior's sword." A prophetic explanation expanded on that verse: “Now, throughout the world, the Lord is pouring forth a Hebraic understanding of the Scriptures to undo what the ancient Greeks (Hellenists) had done.” After the conference we received more revelation from the Spirit as we pored over all we could find on early Christianity.

When we knew we had received everything our Father wanted us to share, the Holy Spirit impelled us to use the word
"Hebraic Restoration" to define that which we'd been given. Also, just prior to leaving Israel the Holy Spirit told us to be prepared for a ministry of "availability and mobility." We've often traveled far from our earthly homes during these years, but everyday we're ever closer to our heavenly home! And the Spirit has also given us specific orders regarding how Father wants His work to be carried out. We weren't to establish any headquarters or have a staff. Nor were we to promote ourselves or our materials through marketing or advertising. From the beginning of our retreat ministry in 1983 and throughout these years of sharing the Hebraic foundations, we've trusted that the Holy Spirit would bring the people He wanted — whether to the retreat center or to these truths we were given to share.

In the past 24 years as we've observed the Hebraic truths being made a way of life by an ever-increasing number of people in many countries and in more and more languages, the Holy Spirit has given significant insight into the decline of
Hellenized, institutionalized Christianity. Christian pollster George Barna, along with other reputable people who study Christianity, have testified to the God-ordained downfall of that which the Hebraic foundations stands against — in essence, it's the spiritual battle of Zion against Greece as Zechariah prophesied.

Out of the morass of myriad clergy resignations, divorces, immorality and divisiveness within Hellenist Christianity, our Father is quietly raising up millions who have become the Kingdom-minded children He has called to love and serve His Son, our Lord Jesus. And Jesus forewarned that this quiet but penetrating work of His Spirit would take place: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough" (Matthew 13:33).

We cited this trend a few years ago when George Barna published his groundbreaking book Revolution (2012). Drawing upon extensive data Barna traced why over 20 million committed, born-again Christians had left the Hellenized, institutional "church." Citing the characteristics of revolutionaries as rooted in the life and activities of first-century Christianity, Barna noted the commonalties of those who were leaving organized religion to pursue relational intimacy and spiritual power in union with Christ. These common factors included their strong allegiance to the Bible; daily intimate worship of their Lord; faith-based conversations; the centrality of faith in their daily life activities; a life of servanthood, generosity, spiritual friendship; and the essential spiritual role of the family in developing a lifestyle of devotion to Jesus as Lord of their lives.

It was in Revolution that Barna recommended our foundational book, Restoring the Early Church, which we had already made available for free on our website. Throughout the world we've freely given permission for all our materials to be translated on our website. Our Father's "leaven" is spreading like yeast in dough. To His glory the trust-based foundations of Abraham are going forth far from their initial home in Israel. And we who live heavenward on our earthly sojourn aren't cemented within a particular sect or denomination. Rather, we are the available mobile temples of His Spirit, seeing ourselves as clay pots yet holding unsurpassing glory. Like Abraham we are still heading for our home!
Mike & Sue

P.S. Did it ever cross your mind that when you read of Jesus's cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34), He was in such anguish because He was at that instant so far from His Father and His heavenly home that's so filled with love? In order for you to receive the victory our Lord achieved on the cross, He had to be very far from His home. If you do commemorate His death this coming Friday, think about where "home" is for you.


What Keeps the Sinner Remembering His Sins?
April 6, 2017

Dear Friends in Christ Jesus our Lord,
David Wilkerson penned a book several years ago entitled, God’s Plan to Protect His People in the Coming Depression. In it he writes,
"In the dark days ahead, when the majority will be satisfied merely with surviving and hoping for deliverance from hell, God will have a precious remnant outside of all religious systems who will seek Him with their whole hearts." (emphasis added).

Awhile back Christian pollster George Barna stated that there were 20 million people in the US who had once been part of organized religious systems but had left them. They'd been longing for what they'd seen in God's Word as the experience of the earliest Church, but hadn't found it. The Hebraic foundations are meant for people such as these who hunger for relational intimacy and spiritual power in Jesus so that their heavenly Father may be glorified. But consider this. People who are content with their religious practices and social enjoyment are oblivious to bringing glory to Father through their lives — and they are showing that they're held captive by
habitual mental deceit.

It's those who are outside the religious establishment who are more open to understanding how Jesus must be fully and gratefully appreciated as their Savior, Deliverer, and Healer — and therefore lived with as LORD of all that they are and say and do. That kind of life is their freedom IN UNION with Jesus by His indwelling Spirit! But it's a freedom which contrasts so starkly with the control that's exercised by many religious establishments: for instance, to use days such as
Good Friday to remind people of their own heavy burden of sin, or to focus them on the lingering guilt of their past sins. And how can they celebrate with Jesus His victory on the cross when His Sacrifice seems to be so ineffectual and incomplete in their own lives?

Good Friday Needs To Be Celebrated As GREAT FRIDAY!
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).

Several times over the years we've brought forth the truth of Jesus's once and for all time triumph over sin through His sacrificial death (see Hebrews 10:10,12). This year we even have three signs in our front yard to proclaim why we should celebrate. But celebration of Christ's crucifixion as our all-sufficient Atonement is generally the farthest thought from most of Christendom's commemoration of that Greatest Day. So we want to review some important truths to show you why expressing grief over Good Friday is such an insult to our heavenly Father because it undermines the glorious victory which Jesus achieved on the cross on your behalf.

If your heart's desire and life purpose is to fully cooperate with your heavenly Father in doing His will and to grow more and more like your Lord by His grace, then that quest begins with the Greatest Friday. If it weren't for our Lord Jesus living and dying as the perfect, sinless Lamb of God (1Peter 1:19), the penalty for each of your sins would still be held against you — which means that you would be facing the just wrath of the God your sins have violated. That's what the Law of God required!

But that righteous and just reality grieved our holy and loving Father. Compassionate, full of grace, and merciful in every sense of the word,
He utterly recognized humanity's incapability to redeem ourselves and atone for our own wrongdoing. Therefore He set into motion the gracious plan He had established from before the creation of the world (1Peter 1:20). This was a plan which He set forth clearly in the Older Testament and which culminated on the Greatest Friday with Jesus as THE final Passover Lamb.

By trust in Jesus as your Reconciler with Father through His substitutionary death on your behalf (2Corinthians 5:19), you have the awesome privilege to be a child of Father both now and forever. And if that isn't cause to celebrate on this upcoming Greatest Friday, nothing else on earth is! From a grateful heart that is attuned to His Spirit's prompting, your daily life can express your union with Jesus by your quickness to confess and repent for your sins when they occur. And as you trust in His love for you and in His promise to forgive and cleanse you when you turn from your sins (1John 1:9), those sins have no power to remove you from fellowship with Father. Nor can those sins which you've confessed and repented of keep Father from hearing your prayers and answering according to His perfect will.

Why would you want to be quick to confess and repent? Because you're filled with loving appreciation for the complete victory that Jesus has already achieved for you on the cross. You don't need or want a particular day (or even a whole "Lenten season") to remind you of your sin — because our Father has already forgiven and forgotten those confessed sins as He promised (see Psalms 103:10-13). By celebrating the victory which Jesus achieved on the cross and by praising your Father for His tender compassion, you're revealing that you truly understand that Jesus fulfilled what you can never do for yourself.

As this year's celebration of the Greatest Friday approaches, too many congregations focus on our Lord's Passion with grief and sorrow, as if He is still being crucified. And how can anyone rejoice in the victory of the cross when individuals and faith communities feel they must somehow suffer themselves (often by "denying" themselves some particular treat or activity for the period leading up to Good Friday)? That's trying to gain acceptance by our Father for what they can add to the cross in their own suffering. Many emphasize the agony of Jesus in His suffering and death (for example, as in Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ") to the point that
they disbelieve that His once and for all death was fully sufficient in our Father's sight (see Hebrews 7:27; 9:26). Yet by immersing themselves in grief, they are discrediting the victory and the joy in heaven over the loving obedience of our Lord to break sin's bondage and its penalty of death.

"Passion"-obsessed Christians are deceived that Jesus suffers still because of their sins. Therefore they can't celebrate with our Lord that His sinless life and crucifixion honored His Father and fulfilled the righteous and holy requirements of God's justice (1Peter 3:18). His resurrection was proof that His wondrous sacrifice had been accepted by Father! Through the indwelling Spirit of Christ in those who experience spiritual rebirth, our Father could enjoy intimate fellowship with countless children on earth. Our Lord's death on our behalf fulfilled the longing of our righteous Father: that through His Son the penalty for the sins of hopeless and helpless humanity would be paid in full. Victory indeed! Christians who don't place their complete trust in Jesus' atonement on the cross and share in the victory He achieved for them are
demonized by habitual mental deceit that His sacrifice and crucifixion are insufficient for salvation.

Who misguided and deceived so many to believe they have to add to the work of Christ in His death and resurrection? The master of deceit, who used various ecclesiastical systems to diminish the centrality of Christ and His completed work. Let's look at an example of how our enemy did this. Roman Catholicism became institutionalized multiple centuries ago as a political and religious entity (the Holy Roman Empire). And up until Vatican II (held from 1962-1965), Rome's dogma emphasized that
"If anyone believes that the death of our Lord on the cross is sufficient for salvation, let them be eternally cursed."

As a result, generations upon generations were hoodwinked into believing they needed some way to pay a price for their own sins. Whether through penance to offset the penalty of their sins, or through self-denial and flagellation, or even through suffering their sentence in Purgatory after their earthly life, countless tormented churchgoers are robbed of Christ's victory as they are compelled to embrace the sorrow of Lent and Good Friday by the father of lies—Satan!

Picture yourself as a Roman Catholic repeating this prayer at each Sacrifice of the Mass you attend:

"I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Why would this seemingly humble prayer be such an insult to our Lord Jesus and our Father in heaven? These words repudiate our Lord's victory at the cross! That's why the Greatest Friday is such a somber event for those who are still mired in the guilt of their own sin burden: from their perspective, Jesus wasn't the perfect Lamb Whose sacrifice paid the penalty for all mankind's sins. For those who can't believe that the death of Jesus is all-sufficient and acceptable to our Father for salvation, the crucifix is a visual image for Roman Catholics (and Orthodox Christians) to remind them that the atonement of Jesus on the cross isn't "finished" as He proclaimed — because He's still hanging on it!

But Roman Catholic doctrine isn't alone in disbelief of Christ's all-sufficient, completed work. Many Protestants too share a distorted view of the crucifixion, but theirs is just more subtle. Consider what happens whenever grateful appreciation that our Lord's death reconciled us to become His Father's children is replaced by emphasizing the sorrow of how Jesus died. There you'll find a "Christian" who can't fully receive or cherish His forgiveness. Denying the sure truth of Scripture, these grieving, doubting individuals believe they have to earn forgiveness — so they scramble faster on the treadmill of good works. (That's far different from being a flow-through of His goodness as a result of your trust!) And once you start laboring to earn our Father's forgiveness through striving to be "good" or be a "better person," you won't experience our Father's love, grace, and compassion for you as His child.

While you may not voice to others your doubts about His love for you, inside you're perceiving Father more like a hard taskmaster than a tender and compassionate Father. How could this painful distortion happen? Certainly one element is the pain you may have experienced at the hands of an unloving, disengaged, or absent earthly father. But your fear that God won't accept you may have another more sinister deception lurking in your mind.

Remember the wicked servant who owed his king a vast sum, yet insisted that he'd pay it back through his own efforts (Matthew 18:23-35)? In the same manner you may have convinced yourself that you can "clean yourself up" enough to pay the cost of your own sins by your own efforts. That's arrogance! And if you're leaning on your own merits and self-perceived goodness compared to all the "bad" people out there, you're well on the pathway of the pride that causes your Father to oppose you (James 4:6). Or maybe you think you're "more spiritual" than other people are, and find it easier to identify what's wrong in them rather than being lovingly redemptive and coming alongside to help them. Beware! That response too indicates you've taken the prideful path.

Our Father is totally aware that no one can pay the penalty for their own sins. (He also knows that what He considers sin that deserves death goes far deeper than our narrow, often-minimal frame of reference to what constitutes evil.) That's why in the Hebrew Scriptures our Father foreshadowed Jesus as the ultimate Passover Lamb by accepting the substitution of an unblemished lamb from the Israelites as sacrificial payment for their sins.

We implore you to grasp the significance of this upcoming Greatest Friday from our Father's vantage point. You'll know you've implanted this triumphant, glorious truth in your heart when you are filled with joy alongside Jesus for the victory He achieved on your behalf!

Celebrating the Greatest Friday,
Mike & Sue

• Here's a parallel that might flesh out what we're saying. Somberness on Good Friday is like a woman who has given birth but on each of the child's birthdays she keeps focusing on the misery of her labor rather than on the joy of celebrating that child's life each year! You may know people who fail to assimilate the beauty of the Greatest Friday; they're somber because they're focusing on themselves as sinners rather than experiencing the joy in heaven of what Jesus has done. Please share this email with them.
• Our Lord Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father eagerly waiting to see in person each one who has placed their trust in Him. (Picture the joyful anticipation of our heavenly Bridegroom knowing He's going to be with His collective bride — His called-out ones — forever!) His sacrifice on the cross made it possible for us who have placed our trust in Him as our Lord and Savior to be with Him forever, so let's use this Greatest Friday to praise Him with the joy that reveals our grateful and loving delight.

Top of Page