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Outcome-based: Telling Father What You're Going To Do
November 17, 2017

Dear Friends in Christ Jesus,
We mentioned recently that Sue's been rereading past copies of David Wilkerson's Pulpit Series newsletters and then passing them on to me to go through. When David was alive there was no other person who had such an affect on my walk with our Lord Jesus, or was so intertwined with my gifting as to serve as a mentor to me through his writings. Even now as I read the letters Sue leaves on my reading pile, he is still mentoring me.

This new series which our Father has assigned us has been taking some time to get underway. As we look back over these past few months we can clearly see the different revelations we've received from His Spirit as something akin to building a house — first the Builder gets all the material on site before He begins to build. We take seriously this counsel, "Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain" (Psalms 127:1). Our regular walks at a local cemetery (no distractions or traffic or rocks to trip over) have been key in the unfolding of this video series. (We keep our little recorder handy during these prayer times as the Spirit so often brings forth insights we don't want to forget!)

This morning I read a letter from David Wilkerson that was sent out in 2010, Waiting On God To Act (download). As I went through it, it was like the Spirit of our Lord was personally cautioning me not to become impatient. The letter also reminded me of many conversations over the past 40 years in which people tell me what they think God's will for them is, while at the same time the Holy Spirit is prophetically telling me something like, "The Father never told them that."

It's painful to serve as our Father's stop sign to let someone know they're running ahead of Him and that He won't bless their self-planned endeavor. I'm just a messenger serving as our Lord's warning for them to wait on Him, and many have proceeded on anyway to follow their own chosen course. David makes clear this impatience to wait on our Lord's will in his attached letter:

"It is subtle yet it can cause confusion in the lives of God's most faithful servants. Indeed, it has affected the faithful walk of many. To help with understanding this, let me suggest this impatience is a form of pride. And I draw this definition directly from Scripture: Pride is independence, while humility is dependence...

Every true follower of Christ has said in his or her heart, 'I only want to do the Lord's perfect will.' Yet here is exactly where so many of us miss it! We start to desire something that looks good, that sounds logical, that seems perfectly in line with what we think God has for us — but it isn't His will for us. This is one of the biggest traps Christians face: a good idea that is not from God's mind."

You can readily recognize the pride behind impatience: Impatient people are outcome based. They are telling Father what they are going to do for Him, rather than waiting for Him to make known what He wants them to do. Impatient pride also reveals itself when people give you their rationale or tell you the pros and cons they weighed in making their decision. These approaches have nothing to do with obeying the Father's will in loving trust. That's why it is the worst form of pride — establishing your own plans about what His will might be without waiting for Him to make His will known to you.

From our heavenly Father’s point of view, doing His will as His beloved child requires your obedience-based trust, just like that of our father in faith, Abraham. The Hebraic Restoration is an obedience-based walk with our God which emanates from a heart of love. How His will turns out is HIS concern, not yours! He doesn't intend for you to be concerned about future outcomes — that's HIS domain. Your trust-filled obedience and ever-growing love for our Lord Jesus is what evidences that you're a true follower of Him.

Our Lord gives His children only one step of guidance at a time. That’s out of His merciful love for us! If you’re looking for the whole plan to be laid out for you first, or if you have some perceived desired outcome for your actions, STOP! HE is your loving Master and He knows precisely how much information you need to do this next step of His will. Besides, your frustration when your own plans don't work out will also make you vulnerable to becoming angry toward God. You might find yourself complaining, "Why didn't He stop me?" or, "My decision seemed right at the time!"

One step is far enough for anyone’s faith to see. Take that one step before you seek the next step on your journey. Belonging to Jesus in loving trust and living with Him as your beloved Lord requires you to be obedience-based, not outcome-based. An obedience-based follower of Jesus lovingly trusts Him as a child would, to willingly seek just one step at a time without concern where that step ultimately leads.

Outcome-based Christians are treading a shaky pathway that can ultimately lead them astray to spiritual death through a heart of ongoing unbelief and habitual doubt in God if He doesn’t meet their desired outcomes and expectations (see the warning in Hebrews 3:12-14). And tragically, their devotion to our Lord can eventually dry up when they don’t limit themselves to His one step of faith but instead keep plunging ahead willfully toward their own plans and goals.

If you'd like a more in depth understanding of this issue and its pitfalls, read our article: The Spirit’s Rhema Has No “If—>Thens” & No Pros and Cons <http://www.restorationministries.org/pdf/GospOfCov/19.Rhema2.pdf>

Wanting to remind you, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done...",

Mike & Sue

 

When the Spirit Wants To Hammer Home A Point
October 25, 2017

Dear Friends in Christ Jesus,
We don't often write two e-mails in one week. But the events surrounding our last e-mail and the delusion which is plaguing so much of this nation at so many levels of society became even clearer in recent conversations and in the news we watched since we sent that e-mail. 

Before we write more I'd like to share one of the Holy Spirit-inspired parts Sue plays in my life:

 "The Holy Spirit uses Sue at very specific times to give me things to read that are directly connected to certain insights my Father in heaven has been revealing to me which I haven't even brought up to her yet! For example, the Holy Spirit had been reviewing with me things He had taught me in the months immediately following my being born again. Without saying anything to Sue about this, the very next day she handed me the 1977 Cruise Book which covered my last deployment in the navy onboard the USS New Orleans. (She told me she'd never looked at it before and was drawn to take it off the bookshelf and page through it herself.) I'd only been following Jesus as my Lord for about a month before the deployment, so these photos were great reminders of the events and people who were instrumental in my new spiritual walk. 

On that deployment the small brotherhood I was part of experienced miracles, demonic deliverances and healings, as well as the depth of trust in Jesus He calls for in those who love Him and live with Him as their Lord. In fact we men who belonged to Him treated the Bible as an "Operations Manual"— the handbook of stipulations of the way a Spirit-led, Lord-trusting follower of Jesus should live and stand out as salt on a navy ship.

The day after she gave me the cruise book, Sue handed me a particular newsletter she'd filed away sent out by David Wilkerson in December 1994, entitled "The Solomon Church."
<https://worldchallenge.org/newsletter/1994/the-solomon-church>

Again, this wasn't haphazard. The Spirit directed her toward the notebook which contained a number of these newsletters from the past, and that particular one was under several others. But that's the newsletter she sensed she needed to read and give to me. This was the newsletter Wilkerson had sent out a few months after we arrived back from Israel with the Hebraic foundations. Reading his spiritual insight and discernment helped us both see Father's timing in the message He had given us to share as well as his warning about the diabolical direction which much of Christianity had taken. 

Wilkerson cited the delusion he saw throughout western Christianity. As an example he mentions a prophecy he had given to Jim Bakker, who founded Heritage USA with his wife Tammy Faye near Charlotte, North Carolina. A few weeks after our arrival back from Israel our friend Dan Jessen took us to see the Heritage property. It had already become a defunct ministry which had squandered millions of donor dollars. The glitzy but uncompleted premises personified a demonically-deluded man and the thousands of people he'd gotten to join in his delusion. We all left there feeling Father's sorrow over people who had been so deceived.

We ask you to prayerfully read David Wilkerson's letter. Neither he nor we have eagerly written these warnings of spiritual darkness which deluded Christians keep clasping. But there's a Father in heaven who is long-suffering and is intervening in all kinds of ways to stir people to flee deceit and embrace the Lordship of His Son — the Truth as He sees it. And our Father cares so much for people that He sends all kinds of warnings until such a time as He then sends judgment. 

Often we've repeated this truth which we learned from a wise follower of Jesus:
“Once a person is deceived, they don’t recognize they’re deceived, because they’re deceived!”

In light of Wilkerson's letter and what the Holy Spirit has given us to warn people about, we'd like to update this present-day proverb:

“Once a person or group habitually believes lies and refuses to recognize how deceived they are, the 'god' they listen to is Satan!”

You may remember that our Lord confronted the same satanically-embraced delusion in the Jewish community:

"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44).

The "Solomon Church" which Wilkerson laments and those who depend on government legislators to bring about change have the same anti-Christ motive which deluded the Jewish leaders Jesus confronted:

"We're going to make changes for You, Lord, and we don't need Your help."

In Exodus 33 we see that Moses refused to go on if God wasn't with them. But the deluded within the "Solomon Church" system have the insolence to tell God they don't need Him. We fervently hope that YOU aren't living without any need for your Lord. And, be careful you don't become influenced by the countless number of people within Christendom whose words and actions show they have no need for Him.

As we send this e-mail we pray that each person reading it would ascertain from the "Spirit of truth" whether they are living with any delusion that would keep them from being authentic witnesses of His Lordship, love and power.

Mike & Sue


 

Are You One Who Really Understands The Times?
October 23, 2017

Dear Friends in Christ Jesus our Lord,

First Chronicles 12:32 recounts that as thousands of men from the tribes of Israel gathered with David to make him king, a specific group of two hundred men from the tribe of Issachar understood the times and knew what Israel should do. What does this historical fact have to do with us today who love and serve Jesus as our Lord? Just as is evidenced by these certain men of Issachar, we believe that God always has prepared those with true prophetic voices to whom He gives the ability to discern the times and the actions that His people must take.

In the past few weeks as Sue and I have been speaking with our son Mike who lives in Abilene, Texas, we've been reviewing together with sorrow the slow but steady spiritual downfall of this nation that we've observed just in our lifetime. Our son works as a Corrections Officer in the Texas prison system. From a human standpoint he works daily among those who couldn't make it by the laws of society and violated them. Yet Sue and I see these prisoners as the fruit of generations in which Satan has been at work destroying marriages and families. And to a large extent we hold self-serving western Christendom responsible for this onslaught of spiritual and physical bondage. Why? Because all too many religious leaders of influence have spent more effort being politically and societally acceptable than preparing disciples of Jesus who engage as His troops in the warfare He inaugurated against the works of Satan (1John 3:8). (See Ephesians 6:10-18 for your role in this ongoing battle.) Lord Jesus passed the authority of His Name and this responsibility onto all of His followers for all time until His return.

An Insight Into The Times In Which We Live

For the past 100 years each generation has had its own cluster of noted evangelists who influenced society. Then came the Moral Majority and now "Christian Conservatives" whose emphasis is far different than leading the unsaved to repentance and the Lordship of Jesus. Each new wave of these evangelical movers and shakers has sought political recognition and support from those in high office or with individuals who have connections to those in office. We've previously warned about religious groups that have sought to establish God's Kingdom on earth through politics. But these groups do not serve the interests of the King nor undertake change in ways Scripture advocates. So they become instruments of the deceiver, Satan, and inoculate people against the Truth. Eventually these groups enjoy a rise of popularity but then fall from influence. We've observed over the years that a number of these groups have in positions of leadership men and women who are divorced and whose families are embittered. The majority of the leaders are financially well off, and vested interests can keep leaders compromising with the world's ways of operating in order to "gain a hearing."

In 2Corinthians 6:14-17 the apostle Paul offers a distinct warning to us who yearn to be true to our Lord Jesus: to come out from the influence of the world's ways and goals and methods, whether in our Godless society or in today's egocentric political system. Remember, Jesus didn't seek acceptance in the political/religious arena of Jerusalem. Rather He confronted it by standing out against everything it stood for. He knew the times and was fully aware of the demonic forces that had taken over the power base of Judaism there.

We're sure there are those who read this e-mail who understand the times and how those who live with Jesus as their Lord must live. Over the years we've made known that we are avid supporters of the work and ministry of Voice of the Martyrs. It's not only the scriptural and compassionate nature of their ministry we commend, but also our deep regard for the Wurmbrands, who founded the ministry. Let's look at a brief synopsis of both their obedient trust and its severe consequences.

In war-torn Romania there was only one way for churches to get the protection of the government: they had to give their support and allegiance to the communists who were in control. Instead, Pastor Richard Wurmbrand chose to speak up for Christ, thereby placing his own life and the lives of his family in great danger. In 1948 there were only a few church leaders who were sold out for Christ, and many who were not. Richard left no doubt as to which side he was on. When he spoke up against the godless beliefs of Communism, he was imprisoned and tortured for 14 years. A number of those years were spent in solitary confinement. His wife, Sabina, was also arrested and compelled to leave behind their young son. Taken to the Danube Canal and forced to do hard labor, Sabina too suffered unimaginably hard conditions during her imprisonment. Finally ransomed in 1965, they determine to make known the plight of persecuted Christians suffering for their trust in Jesus and to help them in tangible ways. Thus began their ministry, initially called Jesus to the Communist World and later renamed Voice of the Martyrs to meet a much wider need. 

We write this because we see the same dichotomy today going on in this nation. There are those notables in Christendom who are making millions and living a life which parallels that of the affluent in this nation by pursuing political acceptance. And sadly, many throughout Christendom are responding to the message and example of these compromised clergy and false prophets as benchmarks for how much of the world's wares and values they too can indulge themselves in.

But none of this is new to our God. He deplores this misrepresentation of His holiness and eternal purpose just as much now as He did when the Israelite religious leaders forsook Him for worldly gain: “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and [clergy] alike, all practice deceit" (Jeremiah 6:13). His holy reputation is being brought down by the self-seeking goals and corporate-success methodology of a world system which mocks and disregards Him! 

Please heed this warning: If the person who is teaching you the Bible isn't helping you remain repentant and isn't steering you away from the values and goals of this world, you are being deceived! And, it will be all the worse for you if you enjoy being deceived.

Paul was facing the same fleshly mixture of truth and deceit in the cities in which he spent time with the family of Jesus there. He made clear there was a vast difference between those who ministered in order to pursue financial gain, and those were sold out in their selfless service to Jesus out of grateful love for Him: "Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God" (2Corinthians 2:17).

"If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such 'wisdom' does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic" (James 3:14,15; see also Hebrews 12:15).

If you're one of the over 20 million who have fled the religious establishment in recent decades, you need to be diligent and alert. Most who fled had been led out by the Holy Spirit because their spirit had come under conviction that they could no longer participate in self-seeking compromise with the world's ways. But many still hold on to a root of bitterness against the religious establishment for the time they felt was wasted and for the hurt they experienced. Don't do this! Sue and I have compassion for the prisoners in Abilene whose "inner prison" holds them captive to strongholds and the deceits of Satan. Do you have sympathy for those who remain prisoners to the demonic strongholds that keep them complacently mired within their particular religious system? Pray for them, but don't despise them!

We've written previously that the familiarity of similar demonic strongholds hold particular congregations together, not a shared obedient trust in our Lord Jesus. And people in these congregations are no less prisoners than those our son stands guard over. It was for no small reason that for several years our Father had us crisscrossing the country conducting Demolishing Strongholds seminars in a variety of church settings. Every one of these congregations was populated by those in bondage to the same prevalent strongholds they had BEFORE they came to the congregation. And finding themselves among those who were deceived by the same familiar spirits, they felt comfortable and accepted because  "these people are just like me!"

Please do pray for our political leaders. People who study history have cited that we are experiencing the exact same times/circumstances/events that brought Hitler to power in Germany. Men of deceit rise to power when people look to a human being to save them (Isaiah 31:1, Jeremiah 17:5-7) rather than repent and put their trust in God through His Son Jesus. If you studied the rise of other dictatorships or even the rise of Putin in Russia or North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the Executive Office in this nation is pursuing the same type of unquestioned control and power. 

We've noted on several occasions that the principality over Washington DC is Deceit. And now it has found a most able "deceiver" to lead this nation. Consider this. When people habitually deceive others and don't even recognize that they're deceiving others, this is called "delusion." And when any leader praises himself too much and fails to give glory to God, He takes it personally (see Acts 12:23).

A delusion of today: "Trickle down economics" will benefit this nation. However, as history has demonstrated, when the rich keep prospering and the impoverished or working poor fall further and further behind, the rich get richer and the poor poorer. As with Hitler in his process of eliminating the Jewish people, when the leader of a nation feeds on underlying racism and bigotry and starts demeaning specific ethnic and racial groups, he's taking the steps to isolate, dominate and ultimately dictate. To succeed in this process he needs a dis-unified, dis-enchanted, and deluded society with a sufficient amount of duped people avowing that "he will make it better."

At all levels of society today delusion reigns. Because we have forsaken God and the authority of His Word, society lives in an era of delusion and is led by the deluded. God promises that He is the one Who allows this: "And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2Thessalonians 2:11,12).

We realize that times like these not only test the faith of those who want to remain true to our Lord Jesus, they are also times for those who love truth to understand the times we are living in and help others know what they must do. If you're one of these, please don't look to be accepted by those who are deluded. And don't despise them either. The love of Christ flowing through you is more needed now in this darkened, deluded society than ever before. The time for wickedness to reign is presently upon us. Yet remember that our Lord is always with those who are in union with Him to shine as His light!

Mike & Sue 

P.S. To remind yourself about the unseen forces that are arrayed against you, we encourage you to take time to watch Lesson 10. The Coordination of the World, Our Sin Nature, and Satan, in our series Certain Of What We Do Not See.

<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbZW9FzWTKw&index=10&list=PL5D3B632E5A9CDE38>

 

 

Your Motivation Really Matters To Our Lord Jesus
September 10, 2017

Dear Friends in Jesus Our Lord,
During our prayer walks this past week the Spirit of Christ breathed into us another thread of focus for the project we've been working on. We've tentatively entitled this work, Resolute In Living With Jesus As Your Lord. The Spirit emphasized to us to use the different lessons in this project to encourage the people using this new material do some "soul searching." The special intent of the Spirit is to stimulate followers of Jesus to reflect on their motivations both for their day to day decisions and for their longer term (even eternal) goals and purposes. In other words, what are your reasons for believing or taking action or behaving as you do, especially in translating your spiritual beliefs into how you live. 

We realize that in this hectic, activity-filled society, "soul searching" is something few take the time to do or even see a need for. This is especially true if your life is driven in pursuit of the world's values and goals. Others are reluctant to reflect on why they do what they do because their sin nature has such control over their motives and reasons for living. Yet without reflection on your life as an instrument of availability for the King to use, you miss out on His Kingdom purposes being fulfilled here on earth in and through you as His vessel. It seems that scant few in Christendom actively and intentionally reflect on their lives and the lessons Father has taught them along the way to alter their initial course and to help others in their own walk of obedient trust. Many get defensive if you ask them if they've ever considered if their motives and goals align with the commands in God's Word or instead miss the mark. Ponder in your spirit two very pointed verses that are chockfull of character and motive values from our Lord's perspective: 
• "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Colossians 3:12). 
• "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves" (Philippians 2:3). 

As you read this e-mail we hope you'll understand how important is your need to reflect on your motives so you can discern if they line up with the character of Jesus and the motivations which are clearly commanded in the Bible. After all is said and done, "If Jesus isn't Lord of all of your life, He's not Lord at all in your life" — especially when it comes to your motives from which your behaviors and attitudes and actions stem. Don't depend on the evaluation of your character according to your friends' opinions of you! Many falsely think their "Christian behavior" especially around other Christians means they must be okay with the Lord. But our Lord looks far deeper than surface actions and "Christian" phraseology to discern if pleasing Him is an authentic life motive: "A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart" (Proverbs 21:2).

Resolute In Living With Jesus As Your Lord

It was life-changing in our own life motives and purposes 23 years ago when our Father told us to call the truths He was giving us to share "The Hebraic Restoration." That which our Father is restoring originates out of the trust-based obedience of Abraham, the first Hebrew: •the patriarch to whom the gospel was first shared (
Galatians 3:8); •who in obedience left his homeland for an unknown destination (Genesis 12:1); •who was prepared to sacrifice his only son because God told him to (Genesis 22:1-18); •is the father of all who become followers of Lord Jesus (Romans 4:16); •to whom was promised an eternal Covenant through his seed (Genesis 17:7, Galatians 3:29). Abraham, our father and a God-selected pattern of obedient trust, is a human standard of the resolute conviction our Lord Jesus calls for in those who belong to Him as His own. And Abraham's promised Seed, Jesus, was even more resolute in His motivation to complete His Father's will.

Resolute: commendably purposeful, determined, and unwavering

"Resolute" isn't a word you hear much these days. Yet being resolute is foundational for daily living if Jesus is Lord of all you are and say and do. The Newer Testament bears witness to the resoluteness which Jesus required of His first followers when He sent out His twelve apostles (Mark 6:6-13) and then later the seventy-two (Luke 10:1-12). He warned them from the start that they would be like lambs amid wolves during their journey and that not everyone would welcome them. Yet still they set out to fulfill their Lord's directive. We who seek to live in union with Jesus as our Lord need that same unwavering determination through His Spirit at work in us. It's a call by our Lord to love-grounded obedience to Him instead of anticipating a hoped-for outcome of response in others to what we say or do. And our resolve must contain the same deference and love which all those who have loved and served our Lord Jesus over the centuries were gripped with. Resolute conviction along with deference and love are essential in our lives as His Body parts so that we may cooperate together to extend our Lord's Kingdom against the forces of Satan

How can you live a resolute life in the Lordship of Jesus and please our Father? Start by purposely reflecting especially as you seek His Spirit to convict you individually and collectively of motivations which fall short of our Lord's character and the commands in His Word. If you are indwelled by His Spirit you have been graced with the capacity to be transformed increasingly into His likeness and to do our Father's will! So the resolute motivation our Lord is looking for you to have is driven by His love at work in and through you with the same determination you'd have if you risked your life on behalf of someone else (John 15:13). The men and women who regularly risk their lives for others as military personnel in time of war, as police, firefighters, and other similar occupations have this kind of motivation. And we who follow Jesus as our Lord are called to live each day with resolute conviction no matter what our occupation or daily encounters entail. When your heart is filled with resolute conviction, you're unhesitatingly ready to lay your life down for another person again-and-again because He has called you to this out of love (see 1John 3:16).

As you're reading this e-mail you may be wondering why courageous motivation is so foreign to so much of westernized Christendom and why those who have been proclaiming our Lord's Kingdom have had such minimal lasting impact on the world over the past almost-two thousand years. Why has the tide of virulent Islam and intolerant Hinduism and self-dependent Buddhism swept over so much of the globe while a weak form of "rice Christianity" has produced unripe fruit which falls away when the handouts cease? Is it because the power and love of the authentic Gospel have become compromised with a man-centered "believism" in which facts about God are taught to the intellect, but the life-transforming Spirit has been left out? Have the following essential truths, for instance, been neglected or altered to suit the pattern of the world systems: Who is the only true Head of the called-out ones of Christ; what are the scriptural foundations upon which His Kingdom is extended on earth; how resolutely determined are those who should be leading and discipling His followers as biblical elders. This passage sums up so many others in Father's "construction process" for His household as a "building", a "temple", and a "dwelling" for His Spirit:

"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the Chief Cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit" (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Ephesians 4:11-16 expands on the foundational roles of how our Lord envisioned His followers to be equipped to serve His Kingdom purposes: "
So Christ Himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherd/teachers." (We noted in our book on spiritual gifts, God's Instruments For War, that these anointings were at work among the Jewish people even before the coming of Jesus.) The four anointings of His Spirit required resolute motivation to serve Jesus, the only Head of His Body (see 1Corinthians 4:9; 2Corinthians 6:4-10; Acts 7:52). And, combined with deference and love, those who were serving Christ in these roles had one goal in mind: their mutual cooperation to equip the Lord's followers to serve others through ministry and to build up the Body of Christ. Having proclaimed these foundations which our Lord championed for His followers, is it any wonder that Ephesians 4:11-16 concludes: "From [Jesus] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."

An important historic note: Roman Catholicism eliminated these anointings centuries ago in favor of adopting the hierarchical clergy system from the pagan religions around them. Contrary to the scriptural pattern established by Jesus for His followers, an ecclesiastical hierarchy of clergy has replaced the Headship of Jesus through Whom all His followers were to be joined together. And the same pagan-rooted clergy system permeates most of Protestantism as well.

It's indispensable to what our Father is restoring that our Lord Jesus is still prepared to give these four anointings among His called-out ones. Among those who follow Him as Lord He continues to seek the resolute whose hearts are motivated by deference and love. 

We want to conclude this e-mail by shedding some light on the subject of deference. (In our forthcoming project we'll expand on this topic.) 
Chapter 8 of our book Pastoring By Elders is entitled
 Deference: The Character of Jesus In His Followers, and we discuss the importance of deference as a character motivation for those who follow Jesus as Lord of their life. Now, 20 years later we'd like to point out several more qualities of deference which are vital to maturing and deepening your relationship with Jesus as Lord of your life, and in growing and strengthening your cooperation with others in extending His Kingdom:

Deference is a more pro-active character motivation than humility is. Being humble can be a passive quality which requires no action on your part. But deference is a motivation which puts humility into action (1Peter 5:5).
Deference actively honors those who have a right to receive honor from you (Ephesians 6:1-3)
Deference is shown when you avoid choices and decisions that would offend those who deserve to be honored by you. Any lack of deference on your part hampers your willingness to accept their counsel (1Thessalonians 5:12,13; Hebrews 13:17). 
Deference prompts you to fulfill your responsibilities with a willing heart rather than as a burden of obligation (2Timothy 1:13). 
Deference interweaves a humble heart and deep devotion toward the people our Lord has placed in authority over you, whether parents, husband, spiritual leader, or employer. Out of the highest respect and regard for these individuals, you’re proactive in serving their interests and concerns (Philippians 2:3).

Love and deference are the relational glue that allow you to actively walk in obedient trust with Jesus as your Lord. Your deference to the Lordship of Jesus is evidenced in your service to Him as you labor by grace to extend His Kingdom in doing Father's will. And as a fellow laborer within His Body, deference enables you to fully cooperate with others of like conviction to intentionally make disciples and extend His Kingdom on earth. 

Matthew chapter 8 reveals the mutual respect produced by deference in Jesus’s interaction with the Roman centurion: 

“‘Lord,’ he said, ‘my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.’ Jesus said to him, ‘I will go and heal him.’ The centurion replied, ‘Lord, I do not deserve to have You come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one,‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.’ When Jesus heard this, He was astonished and said to those following Him, ‘I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great trust’” (Matthew 8:6-10). 

Two men with such remarkable deference, the Son of God toward His Father and a military officer toward his commanding officer and toward Jesus, recognized the depth of deference in each other. Jesus commended the centurion but at the same time denounced all of Israel because the soldier’s deference revealed more trust than any of His own people had. Unlike Abraham, who showed such deference to God in His unwavering trust, Israel had lost the connection of deference and trust which demonstrate love for God.

While writing this e-mail we happened upon an anecdote we'd included in our December 27, 2013 Prophetic Insight, “Do You Know How To Give Honor?” In honor of my deceased Dad and my special friend Jim, I'd like to share it with you here. It was an emotional moment for me, and I praise our Lord for guiding me into another way to show honor to my Dad:

"After leaving the navy (1978) I attended seminary and became close friends with a Nigerian student, Jim Oderinde. We asked Jim to join us for the holidays with our family in another state. As we were driving there Jim asked me how I greeted my father when we’d been apart for a while. I responded that we hugged and kissed each other. Then I asked Jim how he greeted his father in Nigeria. Jim told us that Nigerian men prostrated themselves on the ground in front of their fathers. We could sense in our hearts the depth of humility, deference and honor of such an act. As I entered my parents’ home I prostrated myself on the floor in front of my father. Dad picked me up in his arms and we both cried with loving joy."

For more insight into honoring those who deserve honor, see the Prophetic Insight (click here), or use this link: 

(http://www.restorationministries.org/pdf/PropheticInsights/11.Giving_Honor.pdf).

"Give to everyone what you owe them... if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor" (Romans 13:7).

For us who follow Jesus as Lord of our lives, God reveals through His servant Paul a heart motivation which is completely at odds with the me-first, self-absorbed mentality of this culture: a deference-based sacrifice of our bodies to live in holiness, and an intentional renewing of our minds to determine and accomplish the good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12 1,2). That's the standard for us from our Father's point of view as His children! Deference as demonstrated in the Bible is a proactive and determined resolve: 

• a resoluteness to receive direction and counsel, and to follow through to completion. 

• a resoluteness to not disobey our Lord or let others down or betray what they confide in you. 

• a resoluteness to lay down your own needs and interests for the sake of others. 

Our Lord Jesus combines the humility of love and the proactiveness of deference in this truth: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13)— a truth He supremely role-modeled for us and then empowers us by His Spirit to do likewise. He also proclaims the blessing of serving others with trust-filled deference so HE can live through us: “Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39). When you follow Jesus as your Lord, you find deference steadily growing deeper within your motivations right next to love. Out of these two heart motives grow other Christlike character qualities and motivations. 

Keep in mind that if you choose by Father's grace to live resolutely under the Lordship of Jesus, you'll find it difficult, if not impossible, to be understood by those who live nominally as "Christian." That's no surprise since deference is a work of the Spirit in you, and those without the Spirit of Christ think you're a fool in how you live. The deference and love which Father calls for in His children are far beyond anything the nominal (Christian in name only) have sought for themselves, and your life is an enigma to them. (See 1Corinthians 2:14.) Don't let yourself become frustrated when they don't understand you or your motives and resultant actions. Rather, show them His love and keep praying for them.

As we'll discuss in our new project, deference to Jesus as your Lord requires you as an individual and as a part of a collective body to seek His Spirit's guidance so you may know the Father's will. The specific will of our Father is called rhema, a facet of our lives in the Spirit on which we personally depend as a couple in union with our Lord Jesus. Over our years of ministry we've often been asked how we recognize the Spirit's voice. Here are some lessons we've learned: 

•The Holy Spirit never contradicts Scripture. 
•The Holy Spirit never puts you down or causes you to have doubts about yourself. 
• The Holy Spirit never causes you to misperceive people and take an unChristlike attitude toward another person.

Satan, on the other hand, is a relationship destroyer, both between you and our Lord and with other people. The enemy of our souls works through his demonic troops through strongholds and through people who are used by him to put you down, cause you to doubt yourself, and/or cause you to entertain unChristlike attitudes and behaviors toward others. The devil's voice will never line up with the intent of God's Word, though he may whisper phrases out of context such as, "Take life easy. Eat, drink, and be merry" (Luke 12:19). (He tried misusing scripture on Jesus and our Lord was able to rebut with penetrating truth that shredded Satan's intent.) And remember that demons will never give you the rhema insight that the Holy Spirit wants you to hear.

Please take the time to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you how Jesus views you in your relationship to Him as Lord of your life. He doesn't condemn you when you're earnestly seeking His perspective and purposing to walk according to His Spirit, not according to your own fleshly will (see Romans 8:1). He wants your heart to turn from anything unrighteous in Father's sight, and He wants to praise you for your faithfulness (1Peter 1:13-15). Here are some important things to consider as you reflect: 
There is no way you can do the Father's will if Jesus isn't Lord of your life. 
If you are to walk in His Lordship, you need His Spirit's guidance and empowerment. 
All of this flows out from your resolute motivation, love and deference — in other words, willingly yielding your life to our Lord as His workmanship.

Eager to see manifested what our Father is restoring,
Mike & Sue

 

Do You Understand Specifically What Our Father Is Doing?
September 6, 2017

 

Dear Friends in Christ Jesus,
We've just come back from a few days away hiking in the forests of eastern Oregon. We realize that way back in May we wrote that we were working on a new project. The concept of this project was introduced to us months earlier when the Holy Spirit spoke the word "specificity" to us. Then He revealed that we needed to share specifically through our own lives and the materials He's given us for those who are earnestly pursuing His will, the ways of living which our Father is emphatic about in anyone who claims to belong to our Lord Jesus.

We do need to confess that since we received the Spirit's revelation we've faced various setbacks and demonic opposition in our own lives. Added to this, the spiritual darkness which is looming over this nation has become overwhelmingly disheartening. If it weren't for the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit in continuing to reveal what our Father wants us to share, we probably would have ended our ministry labors a long time ago. But during this past time away the Spirit impressed into our hearts a certain preparatory work our Father has been doing for many decades to put people into the position of having to make a choice. That's why this project is so important from His Kingdom perspective.

On both an individual and national level the US, Israel, and Islam represent the same situation: our Father has been causing people to question and then to choose where they put their trust. To bring about His sovereign purposes Father is using severe emotional discomfort and unrelenting apprehension to motivate people to reconsider how they live, how they view their responsibility to Him, and specifically, do their lives reflect Jesus as LORD of all they are and do.

Let's look at how this is playing out in unlikely quarters. Vast numbers of Muslims have put their trust in Jesus in recent years, often through dreams and visions in which He appears and reveals Himself. The soil in which this revelation has been planted has been the ongoing turmoil among the various Islamic religious factions. The violence and injustice have prompted many to question their longstanding beliefs. This questioning has opened a door of harvest among the multitudes now eking out a bare existence in refugee camps or trying to find a home for their families in new and often strange countries. Also the grace of our Lord has been poured out strategically and abundantly in love in the hearts of many who follow Jesus as their Lord to risk themselves in sharing Jesus in regions of disruption and destruction.

You may not be aware that more Jewish people have come to Jesus as their Lord and Messiah in the past several decades than have received Him in the previous 1900 years. Israel is definitely a land under duress, especially from Islamic enemies. But this isn't an Israeli Jew versus Arab Muslim dispute over land. Rather, our Father is putting pressure on the Jewish people to humbly cry out to God as their ancestors did in times of peril, and turn to the Messiah they refused to accept two thousand years ago. Independent self-sufficiency is the last thing Father wants in the hearts of those He is calling! His loving heart is using turmoil and unrest to penetrate the hardened hearts of Jews, Muslims and Gentiles alike to bring them to His Son and a new life in the Spirit.

And what about our own country? Our Father is putting pressure on people to question the effects of their sinful, Godless lifestyles and the impact on the next generations of their compromise with evil and the self-rule of humanism. Through political and social turmoil many are being brought to the point of questioning what has really happened these past few years, and how little awesome regard for God exists in this nation. In place of the God of the Bible and the moral parameters established according to its timeless values, God is portrayed as a complacently uninvolved grandpa figure for the weak and unenlightened. Self-rule has displaced the sovereign King and His scriptural commands of freedom and boundaries for His Creation according to His will and purpose. So as each person chooses their own way to live, antagonism against others erupts into violence and a clash of self-wills.

A historical note about the US being swallowed up in dependence on government rather than reliance on God. Since the "New Deal" program which President Franklin Roosevelt fashioned during the 1930s, people have increasingly decided to put their trust in the government rather than in God. In fact, "In God we trust" is a mantra of contempt toward His righteousness and sovereignty since so few live according to His Word or His ways. The Great Depression wasn't the first financial downturn this country faced. But it was the first economic depression in which the president never called the nation to repentance. And since then, the government has increasingly become the "god" over all dimensions of a person's life through liberal social programs, restrictive policies, and intrusive requirements.

Have you ever considered that even the pledge of allegiance brainwashes each generation to put their trust in the government, which is no longer a republic at all represented by wise leaders seeking the common good? Our democracy, which has historically been the final stage of society before anarchy and dictatorship, caters to each individual's sin-driven desires -- so much so that many don't really care what happens to other people in this land but only about satisfying their own selfish interests. 

Know that our heavenly Father hasn't been sitting back idly as His holy reputation has been dishonored. When any nation forfeits their trust in His Son Jesus and invalidates His Word as the source to their laws, there are consequences: chaos, greed, violence and hatred abound. Scripture clearly cites examples of the ways in which He gets the attention of the disobedient through a combination of His four dreadful judgments — sword and famine and wild beasts and plague. (See for example how God used these in Jeremiah 34:17; Ezekiel 7:15; Revelation 6:8.)

It was during our recent time away that the Holy Spirit revealed to us that the project He has been preparing us for isn't going to fall on deaf ears. Rather, just as our Father did in using the 10 miracles in Egypt to reveal the uselessness of the gods in which the Egyptians trusted, He has been attacking current false beliefs and misplaced trust. What we are producing is aimed toward any who are willing to question their own belief system and examine in what they really do put their trust.

Specificity will be the keynote of our project. We've been learning how to produce short Power Point-type lessons that you can use along with other people who are willing to view their lives from our Father's vantage point and live for His pleasure. Each episode will allow you to pause and discuss what specific ways Jesus is calling you to obey Him by revealing Him as LORD in your daily choices, purposes, and goals. No matter what you've been taught concerning how you think you'll enter heaven, according to our Lord Jesus, ONLY by doing the Father's will can you be welcomed into His Kingdom:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father Who is in heavenMany will say to Me on that day,  ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in Your name drive out demons and in Your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you who [do whatever pleases you]!'" (Matthew 7:21-23).

For centuries organized, institutionalized Christianity with its droves of split-off denominations and sects has focused on holding people in their particular religious clutches by emphasizing different parameters by which people can be saved. But our righteous and sovereign Father isn't like religious leaders who seek to retain people within their own religious sphere at all cost. Rather, as Jesus warned, He refuses to accept those who refuse to do His will. Father abides by one criterion that proves a person belongs to Him: His Son Jesus is LORD of that person's life. Lordship means His child is dependently guided by His Spirit and spiritually empowered to be able to engage and overcome the forces of darkness that rule this world. Complacency or neglect in this essential matter is cowardice in our Father's sight. And, in His own words, "The cowardly...will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).

If you are facing trials or hardship of any sort, consider that our Father may be using these to cause you to scrutinize your life for misplaced trust or reliance on anyone or anything but Him. He may also want you to examine yourself from His perspective of the way of life He calls for in His Word from someone who seeks to live as His child.
Remember, "The Lord disciplines the one He lovesNo chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:6a,11).
Looking forward to meeting each of you at our Lord's banqueting table,
Mike & Sue

Don't Taint!
August 11, 2017

Dear Friends in Christ Jesus our Lord,
History has shown all too often that the way which government leaders rule, the populace will follow even if they don't agree. We've previously written to warn followers of Jesus about getting caught up in the bad mouthing that seems so prevalent among our government officials as well as in our society in general. But we who follow Jesus and carry His spotless reputation within us through His Spirit can't point "out there" to others as the problem. Rather, we each need to be looking individually within our own hearts and collectively as families and faith families and ask this sobering question: Do I(and do we) use our mouths to taint the dignity of other people? And do I/we freely listen to those whose words taint others? 

Today we put a sign in our carport to remind neighbors of our need to love each other.And for the Christians in our mobile home park we emphasized this essential directive of their faith: "For in Christ Jesus…The only thing that counts is [your] faith expressing itself through love" (Galatians 5:7 ).

We also want to briefly revisit a previous topic: the emotional impact which symbols and images have on attitudes and actions. You’ve probably seen as we have the national news reports recently concerning the removal of particular statues and other Civil War icons. It's obvious that these symbols evoke intense emotions, whether positive or negative. This agitation has erupted in violence and anger as others beyond the scope of the statues have pushed themselves into the fray with other symbols such as swastikas which bring forth powerful emotions of hatred, anger, fear, dismay. 

Symbols like these represent a dark power at work in those flaunting them with hate-filled rhetoric and chants. This isn't surprising since our society has given up on the foundational underpinning of our founding fathers, the Bible. Since God's Word has lost its once-cherished place in this land, symbols will increasingly become a tool to both deceive people and divide us. 
We are a society that's basically bereft of Bible knowledge, ignorant of its timeless truth and unable to live according to its greatest command: to love God and to love each other.

The Rise Of The Passive/Aggressive 
And The Rebellious


Do you find yourself getting frustrated when you're around passive/aggressive people? You can recognize them because they habitually resist wise input and spout many intentions they don’t intend to follow through on. While they’re often decidedly insensitive to the emotional hurt they cause others, most are really good at protecting themselves and dodging personal responsibility. The passive/aggressive individual can fool you by making it look like they’re pulling their own weight and truly care for you. But all too often this person is unable to emotionally connect with anyone.
Either ignoring or minimizing any problems they cause, they evaluate things through their own deceived and skewed sense of reality, and deny any evidence or accusation of wrongdoing. This means they’ll distort the truth to fit their own agenda. Or they’ll try to deceive you through half-truths to prove their version is correct. (An example: Today you hear the phrases “alternative truth” or "alternative facts" used by government spokespeople instead of just admitting, “We lied!”)

Keep in mind that there’s a powerful connection between the stronghold of deceit and the difficulty people have in both recognizing and ridding themselves of passive/aggressive behavior. If you’ve gone through any of our materials on demonic strongholds then you’re familiar with this saying: 
“Once a person is deceived, they don’t recognize that they’re deceived because they’re deceived!”

This is why it’s so hard for a person who's trapped in the deception of passive aggression to recognize its work within themselves. One of the more prevailing symptoms of the stronghold of deceit is rationalization. When you rationalize something, you resist what others say because you want to stay in control. The passive/ aggressive person repeatedly tries to explain or justify his or her behavior, actions, or attitudes which SEEM logical to them even if they're untrue or distorted. Because they're often insensitive to the emotional needs of others, they gloss over the hurt they cause and make excuses to justify their sinful behavior or attitude.

We’ve mentioned in earlier writings that we perceive that a curse is already on this nation because fathers have failed to role model and teach their children the way of our Lord. The foundational character quality which reveals that we truly belong to Jesus is our willingness to forgive others. That forgiveness shows that we understand just how much we ourselves have violated our holy Father and NEED His forgiveness through Christ. Both Jesus and the first martyr, Stephen, evidenced this essential character quality when each exclaimed, “Father, forgive them!” Our Lord warns just how essential forgiveness is to having a relationship with our heavenly Father: “If you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you” (Matthew 6:15).

Now is the right time to examine your heart to see if any demonic strongholds have formed because of your unforgiveness against anyone. Especially look for any bitterness and/or rebellion which may be affecting your relationships as well as your attitudes and actions. The indwelling Spirit of Christ can heal you when you demolish the demonic strongholds that are influencing any passive/aggressive behavior on your part. And remember, it’s your biblical responsibility to repent of any sinful attitudes you have against the person who offended you, and to pray on their behalf.  

Don't expect that people will respond with open arms and ears to you because of your relationship with Jesus! The very presence of the Spirit within you causes a spiritual "aroma" as Paul calls it in 2Corinthians 2:14-16. To those who are heading toward death under the ownership of Satan, we who love and follow Jesus are a stench they don't want to be around. But that fragrance of Christ in us identifies us as His and is a cause for joy in our hearts no matter what evil confronts us: 

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you”
 (Matthew 5:11,12).

This is a critical time in our history, and we who belong to Jesus can't just sit back passively. Those who try to protect themselves by not speaking up are pandering to a sinful agenda which has disregarded God and compromised His pure and untainted Word: “Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked” (Proverbs 25:26). Nowhere does our Lord commend the spiritually lazy who claim to belong to Him yet allow evil to proliferate without taking action. As the great parliamentarian Edmund Burke warned, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” The person who thinks himself "good" yet shies away from his God-given responsibility to do to others what they would want done to themselves (see Matthew 7:12) is good for nothing.

Barely a generation ago a past president, Ronald Reagan, refused to be silent about the evils facing our nation then. If you're pursuing a walk in Christ in which Father's will is being lived out through you, then we encourage you to take Mr. Reagan's words to heart.
•“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

•“We must never remain silent in the face of bigotry. We must condemn those who seek to divide us. In all quarters and at all times, we must teach tolerance and denounce racism, anti-Semitism and all ethnic or religious bigotry wherever they exist as unacceptable evils. We have no place for haters in America -- none, whatsoever.”

•“Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.”

Please, through the grace and empowerment of the Holy Spirit pursue love wholeheartedly and put it into action.
Mike & Sue

Recalling 35 Years Ago
August 11, 2017

Dear Friends in Christ Jesus our Lord,
Several days ago Sue and I filled out a survey sent out by the seminary we attended and from which I graduated in 1982. The nature of the survey questions mostly focused on the academic excellence of the education I received, while the tone of the queries almost forced you to give a positive response. (Since it was a multiple-choice format, we skipped certain questions rather than misrepresent ourselves!) After responding "No!" when asked if I could recommend the seminary to others, I was thankful that there was an added area for comments, some of which I include below.
(If you'd like a fuller picture of why I continue to dissuade people from attending that seminary, please read Lifebyte 59, Will You Be Among Those Our Lord Chastises?
We uploaded this Lifebyte to our website in 2008.)

Looking back, I'm so grateful to Father that He set my course of study in the Religious Education track rather than the Divinity program which prepares students for pulpit service. There's quite a difference between the two! The Religious Education department stressed the
mutual cooperation that's needed as extended spiritual family in one-anothering and in serving our Lord's purposes through His people. The Missions department, the track which Sue followed, also offered a great deal of cross-cultural understanding, something we both valued in the ongoing journey Father has had us on. Several years later Sue volunteered to teach conversational English to the wives of international students at the University of Connecticut. That became a platform for her to deepen relationships with these ladies and share Jesus by word and deed with them in our home and in theirs. It was her contact with various international students and their spouses that prompted us to start our first house church.

But back to the seminary. How we grieved over the Divinity department with its focus on academic pursuit and excellence in sermon preparation and delivery. I winced over the years as I encountered so many clergy whose professional lives revolved around their own self-esteem of having more attendees than their peers and raking in a higher weekly "take" to hopefully build bigger and better facilities. That focus permeated many of the discussions I heard whether at our monthly pastors' group which met at the retreat center or even during social engagements like golf.

I realized that many of the academic-focused classes were taught by professors who in many cases had never served in the field or in personal ministry themselves. And because I dealt so often with both clergy as well as many within their respective flocks, I knew firsthand how ill- prepared these men were to effectively share from the Spirit or from their own life experience how to live and walk in Jesus's steps in their daily lives.

It's been 35 years since I received my seminary degree. To help you understand why I can't recommend seminary training for those who are eager to serve our Lord, I'd like to cite the two most serious deficiencies of not only that seminary but of every other seminary I heard graduates speak about over the years.

1. The majority of attendees were preparing to serve congregations as pastors. So preaching and educating people in the Bible were seen as the paramount role of ministry. Yet how woefully inadequate was any preparation for these men and women to understand the power in Jesus's Name to do even greater works by His Spirit than those Jesus did as He promised in John 14:12. And if those who were leading others within congregations had no expectation that Jesus would work powerfully in and through their own lives, how could they encourage others to trust what Jesus said about that?

Dovetailing with no training in the power of Jesus to work through His people was no training at all in proactively waging warfare against Satan and his demonic workers. Paul devotes an entire passage on this very subject to alert and exhort followers of Jesus to take their stand against Satan and his schemes (see Ephesians 6:10-18). So why was this reality as addressed by the response of our Lord Jesus against our foe as well as by Peter's warning (1Peter 5:8,9) be so ignored in seminary training?

We've written previously about when Sue and I would do seminars in different faith communities around the country. I made sure I asked the Holy Spirit to identify whatever demonic entity dominated that particular congregation. It was therefore no surprise when after conducting a Demolishing Strongholds workshop we discovered that both the leadership and the congregation were beset by the same demonic influence. Those experiences have taught us to ask the Spirit for discernment for ourselves even when we meet regular churchgoers: "What demon dominates their congregation?" so we might be able to help if asked. (Often we've found that people with the same prevailing stronghold(s) are part of the same congregation because they feel like the people there are "just like me!" There's a certain comfort in the familiarity of a stronghold when you're confident you won't be convicted to renounce it and cast it out.

2. My seminary experience taught me that there was no preparation at all of students to effectively handle interpersonal problems. (And those are the kind of problems you're most likely to encounter within most faith communities!) Father had prepared me years before during my military career to recognize how essential it is to help others work through and overcome personal differences. (Picture yourself on a floating island of 2600 personnel. Tension among sailors is bound to happen, and it's too small a space to allow it to continue!)

Several years before seminary I had completed a Master in Business Administration degree with an emphasis on Organizational Psychology and Interpersonal Relationships. I can still recall one of my professors, Dr. Cullen, who had spent 35 years in the corporate arena. Noting that at that time over 93% of problems that occur in organizations are interpersonal, he highlighted that a successful organization must have in place processes for problem resolution. He emphasized that any organization must actively be using these agreed upon processes to maintain a positive and conducive working environment. His courses served me well. After 11 years of counseling religious leaders I can emphatically state that just about all the problems they faced in their faith communities entailed some form of interpersonal tension.

The Bible contains multiple examples of demonic encounters and deliverances, as well as countless God-ordained actions to resolve interpersonal problems. (That's what the majority of commands in both testaments revolve around: how to live peaceably with others without animosity or tension.) So it makes you wonder who rules the seminaries which are keeping the students from learning how to tackle these essential areas of our spiritual walk. We published our booklet, Growing Relationships Through Confrontation in 1998 to guide people in confronting situations which undermine the quality of love-based relationships our Lord commands His followers. Remember, love can't grow where apprehension exists!

If you have been using the resources our Father has revealed to us over the years, we hope you are proactive in the power of the Spirit of Christ to renounce and overcome the devil whenever he and his devilish minions get in your way of serving our Lord. And may you be an active and love-driven peacemaker wherever you encounter interpersonal tension.

Your partners alongside you as we journey together toward heaven,
Mike & Sue

 

When Was The Last Time You Heard "Besmirch?"
August 4, 2017

Dear Friends in our Lord Jesus Christ,
In our last e-mail we discussed eight all-too-common unChristlike beliefs and values our Father is confronting in people who say they're Christian yet practice these anyway. (We've since created a pdf version of this and uploaded it to Prophetic Insights.) Soon after we mailed out that e-mail we were on a prayer walk when the Holy Spirit spoke the word "besmirch" to our spirits. He then gave us 11 specific revelations that resulted in another Prophetic Insight. It would seem that this particular practice of "besmirching" is so offensive to our Father that He wanted it addressed as a stand-alone topic.

If you're wondering what besmirch means (or if you're guilty of doing this), it's damaging the reputation of someone so that others who hear it or read it form a negative opinion of the person being maligned. Besmirching isn't just practiced among unbelievers in private or public forums. Besmirchers sow seeds of discord in Christendom very easily as well. Here's an experience from our past which will clarify what we mean.

Besmirchers move from one faith community to another still carrying along the baggage of their unconfronted badmouthing and dishonoring other people. It's grievous to us that each new faith community the besmircher strolls into thinks they’ll do better than previous congregations did in trying to help these individuals walk in victory. But that never happens! While we were serving among various congregations in Connecticut at a retreat center, I (Mike) kept a list of about 45 people who meandered from one faith community to another. Each congregation seemed to take pians to tolerate the discord-sower without confronting him or her about that sin. The besmircher generally stayed about 12-18 months at a faith community, wreaking havoc and alienation among fellow worshippers before heading out to new territory. These were the ones who were fulfilling Paul's discerning caution, "...the devil has taken them captive to do his will" (2 Tim. 2:26).
One day I gave the list I'd compiled over the span of a few years to a gathering of clergy I knew well. They were astonished. Each one recognized many of the names on the list! And not one of these leaders had taken the time to find out why the besmirching person had suddenly up and left their particular faith community. It was as if a sense of competition among these guys convinced them they were more loving and tolerant than their fellow clergy's flocks by not confronting the wayward individual. Their eyes were opened when they realized how ineffective each one had been in the life of the besmircher, and how much time and energy they'd expended trying to deal with the aftermath of the slander and discord that had been sown.

A similar experience with our sheep flock illustrates the tainting that gets spread from one person to another when besmirching is tolerated among followers of Jesus:
A local 4-H’er offered us his ewe. She was a good-looking sheep and we gratefully added her to our flock. Not too long afterward, though, we noticed she was limping. Close inspection revealed the shepherd’s bane: foot rot. A highly contagious affliction, foot rot destroys the hoof tissue, crippling the sheep and hindering her ability to graze. To our dismay the entire flock had been infected. How many hours we spent dipping hooves into copper sulfate and cutting away rotted tissue! The lesson we learned has spiritual implications. No matter how wonderful a "Christian" looks on the outside, if they're a
besmircher, you can be sure that others will be seduced by their slander and gossip to practice that themselves.

That our holy and merciful Father confronts those who claim to belong to Him isn't new. Oswald Chambers, an early twentieth-century evangelist and teacher best known for the devotional My Utmost for His Highest, made this apt observation a century ago:

"In the Christian life we are not being used for our own designs at all, but for the fulfillment of the prayer of Jesus Christ. He has prayed that we might be 'one with Him as He is one with the Father'; consequently, God is concerned only about that one thing, and He never says, 'By your leave.' Whether we like it or not, God will burn us in His fire until we are as pure as He is, and it is during the process that we cry, as Job did, 'I wish you would leave me alone.'"

Our Father has no intention of leaving us alone to misrepresent His reputation or to remain mired in our tolerated sins. He loves us enough to keep on purifying us from the inside out, and you can be sure He doesn't want anyone who claims to belong to Him to be known as a "BESMIRCHER."
Please use the attached Prophetic Insight to make sure you aren't giving way to tearing down the dignity and name of others. And discuss the Insight with those close to you in the faith to help each other commit to put behind you any besmirching.
Mike & Sue

 

When Ungodliness Gains National Prominence
July 28, 2017

For a pdf copy of this e-mail. <click here>

Dear Friends in Christ Jesus,
There's hardly anywhere the righteous in Jesus can turn today where they don't see sin being lived out as the normal way of life. It was way back in 1983 when the editor of a Christian magazine told us that "Christianity no longer influences society, but rather society influences Christianity." As frightening as her words were 34 years ago, we believe she would say today,
"Society controls Christianity."

Please download a one-page sheet, When Times Are Bad, Stop And Consider, which illustrates something we've noticed our heavenly Father doing in the lives of so many who call themselves "Christian" yet whose values and beliefs are contrary to what His Word makes clear. Please take a look at it and see if whatever may be going on in your life is a way He's trying to get your attention. You may also want to visit Psalm 73 for insight into how many Christians have been seduced into the world's values and ways. You'll also see there how we who would be true to our Lord need to put Him and His ways at the center of our lives. 

We've written this e-mail to help encourage those of you who are deeply saddened about the state of our nation and wondering how our government leaders can be so boisterously bellicose and yet spinelessly impotent. During a time of prayer I (Mike) was reminded of a book I read shortly after it was first published in 1972, The Arnheiter Affair by Neil Sheehan. In March 1966 off the coast of Vietnam, Lieutenant Commander Marcus Aurelius Arnheiter was relieved of command of the destroyer escort USS Vance. He'd been her captain for just ninety-nine days but managed to destroy the morale and heart of his entire crew in that short period. I read the book during my second deployment to Vietnam assigned to a helo detachment aboard a ship, and with every chapter I'd break into a cold sweat.

Prior to Sheehan's book being published, the New York Times wrote about the Arnheiter incident in an August 11, 1968 article. Here is a link to that article:
<http://www.ussvance.com/Vance/AAbook/ny_times_1968.HTM>.

There was a reason I could so intimately identify with the crew's experiences under Arnheiter's command. (And there's a reason I'm telling you this too.) During my third deployment to Vietnam in 1973, again as part of a helo detachment aboard a ship off the coast of North Vietnam, I served under a similarly deranged commanding officer. In fact I was one of his special targets. Every one of the ship's officers had already submitted their resignations by the time I arrived. The incessant public berating of each man had reduced them into little more than human shells.

I share this because I see the same kind of deranged leadership in control of this nation. Perhaps because so many within Christendom have deluded themselves into complacent religious practice and harbor personal unconfessed sin, our Father is giving this nation deluded leadership — leaders who are openly antagonistic and helplessly ineffectual.

Since our current governing bodies are predominated by men, let's revisit a key truth. The core sin nature of males is to blame and give excuses when confronted with wrongdoing or personal failure. We men are born with a particular sin-based personality defect: we blame others and give excuses—just like Adam did. Adam even blamed God for having given Eve to him! In other words, when things don’t go right, we men refuse to take full responsibility for our actions. And all we see in government today is Adam's blame and excuse-making being displayed on a national and international screen. Shame on us!

For those of us who hold dearly to our Lord Jesus as His loving bearers of truth and hope, we need to have a spiritual view — God's perspective — of the events unfolding around us. A much larger divine plan is unfolding than just what the political tension and accusation-fraught rhetoric is indicating. The Bible clearly reveals that when sin and wickedness abound, societal and political chaos ensues. Here's an important point to be careful of as you watch various forms of media:

Be Cautious About Images And Symbols
That Are Used To Influence You!

Elisabeth Elliot was a noted Christian author and speaker. Her first husband, Jim Elliot, was martyred in 1956 while trying to make missionary contact with the Auca (now called Waorani) of eastern Ecuador. Not long afterward she and her little daughter lived among the same tribe members who speared her husband. Years later she was our missions professor at seminary (1978), and certain aspects of her teaching stand out vividly to us. She was the first person who made us aware of how extremely powerful images and symbols are in affecting people's minds and actions.

Images and symbols often connote far deeper meanings than appear solely on the surface.  Some examples: •a wedding ring is nothing more than a metal circle — but it emotionally symbolizes much more. •A flower in a native woman’s hair might symbolize that she is betrothed or married. But it still just a flower. •A political candidate speaking with a large crowd behind him or a minister addressing his congregation with a cross hanging behind him create visual images that enhance your perception of that person. •Political advisors routinely attempt to create a persona that has nothing to do with the inner character of that individual. The only thing that matters from a political perspective is how the elected officials are perceived by the public.

Marketing and advertising heavily rely on images and symbols to induce you to purchase a product. Consider this. What does a half-clad blonde know about the quality and performance rating of the vehicle she's standing next to? Nothing! What does a colorful toucan used in advertising Cocoa Puffs to your children have to do with whether it's good for their health? Nothing!

Our brain is more attuned to be emotionally influenced by images and symbols than to reality itself. In media, entertainment, politics and religion, images and symbols have huge influence. That's why they're so widely used! They create an emotional sensation in your mind, and out of that response come actions.

Our warning:
More and more people in recent generations have forsaken applying the Bible to their lives and trusting our Lord Jesus as the ONLY source of truth (and in the Greek language of the Newer Testament, truth means the ONLY reality). That's why they’ve become more easily deceived by political and religious images and symbols as counterfeits of Truth.

Those who are currently most esteemed in our society use images and symbols to gain fame and notoriety. Yet what they symbolize to you may not be the whole reality of who these people are. In many cases if you knew the whole truth about these individuals, you'd probably have a lesser or entirely different opinion of them. Through well-conceived images and symbols within both the present religious and political climate, fame and fortune have become the ticket to prominence. Yet the cost has been high for the people these celebrities are supposed to serve. Both the political and religious arenas have become spectacles,
“theater” relying on images and symbols to induce an emotional commitment or loyal following from their patrons.

Throughout Scripture runs the theme that in our Lord's eyes there's always a clear distinction between those who belong to Him and those who are not His own (e.g., Matthew 25:31-46). We are not speaking here of believers versus unbelievers. Rather, we're referring to the multitudes in Christendom who evaluate their lives by the images and symbols that are esteemed in this world and by this world (see James 2:5; 4:4).

Whoever you may esteem in politics, entertainment or religion, heed God's warnings about these individuals' inner motives and purposes: "Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight" (Isaiah 5:21). "The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished" (Proverbs 16:5).

When you read about God's judgment in Revelation 11:18, notice that His wrath is focused on those "who are destroying the earth." Now think about the various people put in key positions by the Executive Branch. Many have been put in office because of their success on Wall Street that's been fueled by personal greed. They have no regard for the Earth or for the quality of life of Earth's inhabitants. We may not be able to stop their nefarious agendas, but we can pray — and God is waiting for them at the Judgment.

Each of us who seeks to live to please our Lord and be accepted by Him through His grace needs to scrutinize our lives according to how He views each of us. His perspective is the only one that counts! Out of loving concern for the people He called out as His own (Deuteronomy 14:2), our Lord purposed that the Book of Malachi close the entire Older Testament. It's not like the prophet is casually relating a happy ending for the Jewish people. God had issues with them. But there were a remnant who feared God with awesome regard and seriously weighed how they lived their lives from His vantage point:

"Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in His presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored His name. 'They will be Mine,' says the LORD Almighty, 'in the day when I make up My treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him'" (Malachi 3:16,17).

What were the issues which God used Malachi to warn the Jewish people about? First He confronts them about their toleration for divorce, a breaking of the covenant union of marriage which He established with the first couple in Eden (see Matthew 19:4-6). "'I hate divorce,' says the LORD God of Israel" (Malachi 2:16). Today, so-called “Christian Conservatives” have been blindly backing a President who has been married three times. Yet Jesus was blunt about the matter: "I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery (Matthew 19:9). The propaganda the Christian Conservatives voice to their followers is that they stand against the liberals — and many Christian voters were seduced by their deceit. They were duped into seeing this past election not as a call to repentance but rather as merely a choice between two candidates.

It's a question well worth asking yourself and discussing with those close to you:
"With all the involvement of Christian Conservatives in the political arena since the days of Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority, why hasn’t the holiness and power of our Lord Jesus prevailed in this land?" The reality is this. So many of these Conservative "Christian" leaders have bathed themselves in worldly values, acclaim, and fortune that their mutually tolerated sin has kept them from calling upon Christians to follow the only way in which God will answer:
"If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2Chronicles 7:14). Notice that God isn't calling on unbelievers to change their behavior! Instead He is clearly admonishing His own then and we in Christ now to turn from our own wicked ways. It's our responsibility as followers of Jesus to take that action and repent so that Father will do His part.

We consider ourselves spiritually and politically conservative. But we have no identification with "Christian Conservatives." To us they in general represent people who feel they’ve gotten ahead by their own merit and choices. The Lordship of Jesus in their lives comes across as a token issue to them. And if you unmask both political and religious conservatism, you find this unspoken motive in many:
"I've gotten my security and comfort in life and I don't feel any responsibility to help or benefit others."

If you analyze the underlying theology of Christian Conservatism you’ll discover that their methodology in the political arena is akin to “Dominion Theology” which we wrote about in our May 11, 2017 Prophetic Insight. In its simplest form this teaching represents a belief that Christians should restore God’s commands to government, even without Jesus being the Lord of people's lives. In other words, through politics they intend to establish the Kingdom now through legislation, without any dependence on Jesus or call to be born again of His Spirit!

There’s serious danger when the Lordship of Jesus is not the central point of any thrust into the political or societal arena. If you look back to the proliferation of abortion in this nation since Roe vs. Wade in 1973 (over 61 million precious lives destroyed), you'll realize that whether you rely on politics or entangle yourself with religious organizations that don’t place Jesus first will always end in disaster. Our Lord didn’t intervene to stop the horror of abortion, and perhaps it's because of the alliance many of the born again made with those who trusted in Mary and "saints" to prevail. From God's perspective, that's idolatry just as it was among the ancient Israelites, and He was compelled to keep His own words, "I am the LORD; that is My Name! I will not give My glory to another or My praise to idols" (Isaiah 42:8).

In recent decades fame, security and personal comfort have become such compelling values in this nation that success throughout politics and much of Christendom is viewed through the lens of worldly standards and goals. Many in Christianity have allowed themselves to be seduced by the symbolism of fame and fortune, and their distrusting thought patterns are like those of the Jewish people God confronted through the prophet Malachi:
"You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out His requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape'" (Malachi 3:14,15).

For those of you reading this e-mail and struggling to stay true to our Lord Jesus in a decadent and debauched society, please take a warning from the psalmist's experience, "For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked" (Psalms 73:3). Don't let the values of this world keep you from holding true to the values that will matter for eternity.

Your servants in Christ for the sake of the heaven-bound,
Mike & Sue

 

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" <https://worldchallenge.org/newsletters>. 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


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