Radical Christianity is Not Normal

THE SECRET PLACE
Offend me with the truth but never comfort me with a lie
PART 31
RADICAL CHRISTIANITY IS NOT NORMAL

Understanding God’s Word is not a quick or easy process. I see it in my own life like a hammer (God) trying to drive nails (His truth) into my sometimes (stubborn) heart. The constant practice of study and prayer must ALLOW Him to “drive home” His Word into our spirit and develop our mind into a renewed way of thinking. Have you ever thought that some people practice their spiritual life more “intensely” than others? Why do some people become obsessed with their relationship with God while others seem to just “add” religion to their life as a hobby or an accessory to their religious garment? I was considering the other day about all that we hear about “radical” Islam, and I am trying to comprehend just exactly what this means compared to the “regular” kind. I am only using this satanic movement as an example of how every organized, purpose driven group usually has a “remnant” that represents a higher awareness and demonstration of their faith. Sadly, I realize that many religions actually put Christianity to shame when it comes to having a “sold out” devotion and commitment to their cause.

It would seem normal that in any spiritual awareness, the individual would evolve beyond the historical knowledge and traditional rituals as they incorporate their convictions into a constant lifestyle. Do you believe that all Christians actually “live” what they believe? My first response would be to say no, but I believe the real question would be to discover if all who claim to be a Christian have actually been born again. The Pharisees are a perfect example of an attitude that was so proud of their religious accomplishments and affiliations; but they left out the most important ingredient – God. I believe spiritual deception is more, well… deceiving than any of us can imagine. Those who are content with their “amount” of God have already missed the boat. Selah. There is no such thing as being satisfied with a little bit of God or being content to barely make it to heaven. One of the deadliest fantasies of the soul is agreeing with the flesh that we are – doing the best we can. Allow me to say bluntly – we are NOT doing the best we can! Our flesh has convinced us that compromise is just a NORMAL part of being human and God understands that we cannot really be expected to be serious all the time. The flesh say’s that being a RADICAL Christian is weird and that people will think you are crazy if you start acting like Jesus is the only topic of conversation and the only focus of your thoughts and actions. The flesh say’s, just take it easy and do not get all bound up with being a fanatic because you need to preserve your integrity and respect in order to function as a stable member of the community and your family. May I say, it is much easier to follow the flesh instead of obeying the Spirit, which is why political figures and false teachers are so popular and successful.

Most people do NOT enjoy being challenged or confronted with their own failures. Humans love sympathy and will not hesitate to follow and support those who remind them that God is pleased with their efforts. They love to hear how The Lord understands how weak they are and how they just cannot find the faith or courage to be an overcomer in this life. If Jesus had told the rich young ruler that he was “ok” in God’s eyes and that he was the perfect example of someone doing the “best they could” he would have left arrogant and overly confident in his OWN goodness. This is the danger of “pillow preachers” who soothe the savage beast of carnality with the intention of making people feel good about themselves. This is the opposite of reverential fear that recognizes what God requires – and this allows us to see who we really are. We are reminded that in the last hour, people will turn away from the TRUTH that can actually change them but instead will embrace psychology and “feel good” lectures that gives them a false sense of security. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to SEDUCING spirits, and doctrines of DEVILS. Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (I Timothy 4:1-2) Can we agree there are only two lifestyles of Christianity? The first is a lukewarm, generic, man-made idea called religion that “remodels” an outward image instead of being TRANSFORMED from the inside out! This carnal imposter is so blinded with arrogance and self-sufficiency that it actually finds a twisted pleasure in hiding behind the “mask” of holiness. These people are NOT saved, and will discover in the judgment that God was NOT being “fooled” by their secret games after all. The second type is the RADICAL believer that has abandoned everything to become a disciple of Jesus. Being RED-HOT is laying down your will – so that you can do His will. Do you consider yourself a normal Christian or do you believe you are a part of the radical remnant? Mmmm…

THE WALK OF SORROW

THE WALK
PART 51

THE WALK OF SORROW

I must be honest with you that I was convicted writing about the power of prayer. We can talk about being a Christian all day long, but there is no greater character development than to learn (and demonstrate) the “responsibility” of prayer. We have heard the scripture that talks about those who literally give their life for others, but I believe that we can also “lay down our life” as a sacrifice to stand in the gap – as a fruit of agape love. “Greater LOVE hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) The weakness of most professing Christians is they are willing to participate in many religious activities but have never been taught how to pray. We hear about being a soldier and putting on the whole armor of God, but until the mud covered foxholes of prayer become a lifestyle, we will not understand divine reality. It is in the uncomfortable trenches of intercession, where faithful servants are developed. It is within the closets of secrecy that tears of agony become the incense of beauty that moves heaven and earth. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

To be religious only, is to live a carnal mockery of true spirituality. When we were growing up, we heard people pray in church and at the dinner table and we tried to incorporate this into our spiritual experience. However, we may have never really grown in our comprehension of holy communication or our passion to build upon this foundation. This may sound elementary but one of the most crucial aspects of the Christian life is the need to ask God to give us the desire to live for Him. For example, if we really want to witness to the lost, we must ask God to “arrange” for us the opportunities. If we choose to “have an ear”, we may hear Him say that we need to be more prepared before we run into the lions den. Likewise, if we are curious about learning how to pray and desire to enter into the realm of intercession, first we must ask Him to give us the burden to pray. I promise, if you dare to ask – you will receive.

When we look closely at the life of a prayer warrior, we notice they are very serious minded. One reason for this state of mind is how they see the destiny of souls as a life or death reality. Intercessors do not take divine reality lightly! How can anyone pour their life into something and not be possessed with living for it and dying for it? They have allowed the flame of their zeal to grow stronger until it is a raging fire unto God. Within the flames, emerges something seldom seen but is commonly referred to as a – burden. Even the word itself is so distant and archaic, that it is rare indeed. However, the burden is a very real component of being a disciple of Christ. It is a heaviness of heart, a weight of concern that reduces haughtiness into humility. It is a place where agape love emerges as a spiritual sorrow that is so intense that the person can hardly concentrate on anything else. Jesus was called the man of sorrows, not because He was emotionally sad all the time, but rather because He could discern with the eyes of His heart, the eternal “needs” of all people. Only in the power of His deity could He survive the great agony of knowing the nature of man, and what it would take to save him. He came to earth because His burden was heavier than His dread to be tortured. He willingly carried the weight of the world’s sin and endured the sacrifice of His flesh, because His love was stronger than His shame. Selah. Do you believe He ever stopped thinking about how lost we were? Do you feel He tried to entertain Himself with other thoughts because the stress was more discouraging than He could bear? No, He lived, dreamed and died to be a bridge to heaven, for ALL of us who desperately needed redemption.

Having a burden can be seen as a form of spiritual labor pains. The birthing of miracles involving salvation, deliverance, restoration and healing for example, many times do not fall out of the air as most presume, but rather have been “developing” in the secret place of travail until God’s time of delivery. When we see others with a heart of compassion, we begin to realize how much they need God and how little they know about what life is all about. This in itself causes those who are spiritually sensitive to be broken hearted. This renewed state of mind allows us to look beyond their faults and see their needs. The calloused, cold heart wants to blame people for their condition and are not willing to separate a person’s spirit from their failures. In everyone that God has saved, He his unconditional mercy has reached out with forgiveness and grace even though no one deserved it. This “holy wisdom” examines ones own heart “before” they condemn, judge or criticize others.

The burden is one of heavens mysteries and is coordinated by The Lord as an extension of His perfect will. If we begin to receive His instructions and “unction’s” from His Holy Spirit, we will sense Him laying certain individuals on our conscience. We may not always be in charge for whom we have burdens for because we are not the only intercessors out there and The Father may have someone else praying for them. Many times, we can talk too much in front of the world and actually hinder our reputation as a follower of Christ, but the intercessor is more like a secret agent that becomes very concerned with accomplishing their “secret” mission. To realize that God is constantly operating in the Spirit realm is to live soberly to say the least. This growing in spiritual discernment begins to increase our awareness of God’s presence and this takes our relationship into the deepest level of intimacy. This has been His vision all along, that His people would be in the position to hear His voice and be ready to respond to His will. The coach of the Kentucky basketball team, John Calipari, said something very interesting the other day. He said, “The young players need to realize they must be constantly aware of what they are doing, what I am saying and what their opponent is doing every second. They cannot afford to be distracted and if they lose focus – they will not succeed.” Is this not the perfect picture of how to think and walk in the steadfastness of God’s presence?

People are hiding from the Lord just like Adam and Eve did when God was calling them in the garden. It is an ancient story featuring temptation, disobedience, faithfulness, deception and consequences, (sounds like a modern movie script). This young couple was given a perfect environment and were blessed beyond the imagination – but made a “willing” decision to disobey. I am sure their conscience felt the separation and the emptiness that occurred in their relationship with God, however let me ask the question, has anything really changed within the heart and mind of humanity concerning the way we feel and act about Him? If we look carefully, we will notice the simplicity behind the actions of people when it pertains to their spirituality. If someone is just playing religious games, they will usually avoid the realities of suffering and discipline. Why? Because everybody wants the “good stuff”, the blessings, healings, happiness, and of course the security of heaven but have never “signed up” to pay for them. Going behind the veil of suffering to draw closer to God is not the most popular spiritual teaching. The idea of salvation being “free” is a great selling point and words like grace, abundance, heaven, ransom, redeemed, rescued, forgiven, saved and unconditional love only helps the promotion. These are the “feel good” people who are always on the lookout for a comforting message that will give them the fuzzy feelings of security. Unfortunately, this variety of Christian is usually very shallow in their study of God’s word, intimate worship and the burden to intercede. The Bible calls those who hear the word but are not doers of the word, deceived, and those who put a limited amount of effort into going to church but do not have a constant, personal relationship with God are referred to as “lukewarm”. I scribbled down a basic thought the other day, “Lukewarm people love lukewarm sermons”. This nugget of truth rings loud in my spirit because I look around and see a great falling away of the commitment and faithfulness from those who proclaim God’s Word. People do not want to hear how God really feels toward their attitude because it is not popular to digest the disheartening words of rejection that comes with being vomited out of the mouth of God, (which is why this message is usually found at the back of the filing cabinet.) It is odd that people get excited about going to Africa to hand out tracts, but never think about ministering down their street. People will send offerings to missionaries to spread the gospel but have actually never shared their faith with anyone in their life. A great way to get people running and hiding from God is to point out the life changing responsibility that comes with being purchased or taking up their cross. Most people are eager to believe their ticket to an eternal paradise has been bought and paid for but would rather not consider the requirements that all of this is going to cost them, (but I thought you said salvation was free).

The salvation message of the gospel has been a great instrument that has caught many “fish” but much of the church world has failed to “clean” them with the explanation of true discipleship. Pastors are under pressure to baby-sit the carnal, religious spectators that financially support the organization. Most churches function as a corporate community that follows its own ideas and desires instead of God’s vision. Many pastors are just paid to fill a traditional position but actually have very little spiritual influence on the congregation to relay the direction of God to the people. These religious “daycares” are very disappointing to Him because he wants to see the manifestations of His power and glory. He wants to see tears of repentance, healing, His gifts and the revelation of His Word being demonstrated to the hungry hearts of those seeking Him with everything they have. Instead, He walks away from the dead programs that promote fleshly entertainment, half-truths, compromise, legalism, meaningless rituals, fabricated ceremonies and false teachings. I have written many songs about going deeper with God and have taught about pulling away from the world by reducing television and computer time and spending that time in prayer. Though most Christians agree this is a positive step in developing a closer relationship with God, the general idea does not get a lot of amen’s. Why is this? Because people do not want to surrender their carnality! Most people draw the line when it becomes uncomfortable. They only want to watch God until it hurts and then they will flip the channel. Human nature hates the things of God and this is why people shun fasting. They realize that if they draw near to God that He has many things He would like to tell them and they KNOW it is going to come with a price tag and they have already made up their mind – they are NOT willing to pay. This is what running and hiding from Godly sorrow is all about. It is the exact reason why most people do not lose weight even though they would like to look good – it hurts. Cutting out all of the delicious foods that you crave and exercising (on top of that) is the last thing most of us want to deal with.

Denying the flesh so that we can become more spiritually mature is what God is saying and whether anyone obeys or not, it will never discredit the reality of this truth. We choose each moment how much of God we want! Will His standard allow Him to accept just anything we decide to offer? Will He tolerate our attitude of just going through the motions of asking Him to bless us? Will our decisions be accepted just because He understands how weak we are? We must go further and ask ourselves, how can we stay focused on the mind of Christ? We will need to become so “filled” with His Holy Spirit, there is no room left for carnality. The reason why we cannot be consistent is that we are not consumed with God to the point that He saturates our thoughts. There is a eternal difference between being religious and being saved! It is not some of Him and some of me – it must be ALL of Him and none of me. Selah.

So, allow me to ask you some closing questions: Do you believe that your prayers can change situations that desperately need God’s intervention? Does God move and recognize the interceding of His children when they develop a burden for another person’s soul and their well-being? Do you believe that if we made a list of every person in our network that we have a burden for, and we became fervent in our prayers for them, that we would definitely see God’s miracle power change their lives? If our answer is yes, then our destiny will be a living sacrifice as we live in the Godly sorrow of a broken and contrite heart.

THE WALK OF THE CROSS II

THE WALK
PART 21

THE WALK OF THE CROSS II

I think about spiritual things throughout every day but I cannot seem to “brand” the awareness of His presence into my mind. I realize it takes a strong determination to stay focused on Him but my mind automatically pushes Him out and replaces Him with things of no value. Do you feel that your mind is being attacked lately with worry and fear? I have always been interested in God’s miracle power and the realm of the Spirit and I am always ready to discuss the Bible and the spiritual mysteries that are exciting and hopeful. However, the more that time goes on, the less people seem interested in these areas. In fact, just because a considerable percentage attends church, it does not mean they enjoy thinking about God or even talking about Him. Recently it is estimated that up to seventy percent of church members have never been truly born-again. It is sad to think of such a tragedy. This explains the lack of interest and spiritual blindness that seems to be everywhere. What else can it be? How long can a saved person ignore the calling of God? Year after year, some Christians do not feel the need to pray or study the Word. If you start talking about the call to take up our cross and follow Jesus, they roll their eyes and say they do not want to discuss it or that all theological ideas are subject to personal interpretation. Thank God, you are not like that! (?)

I have been told lately to my face that I really need to start practicing what I preach. I do feel the “sting” of this suggestion but I can take it because I know it is true. I admit that I have a long way to go and it does seem the more we learn and get excited about – the more challenges and opportunities we will have to “demonstrate” our newfound revelation. The devil quietly listens when we are praising God for His blessings and revealing His revelations. However, do not think for a moment that Satan is not also waiting for the perfect moment when he can at least “test the waters” to see if we really “get it”. If we succeed we can give God all the glory for moving through us but if we blow it, we can know that it was our fault and that we need to repent and go back to the drawing board. I have known people that constantly preached physical healing and would be the first in line to lay hands on the sick, nevertheless, when they were struck down with a physical infirmity they had no faith and gave up all hope. Why? The truth was in their spirit but their mind betrayed them. This is how we all are to some extent. Our spirit man ONLY accepts divine truth from God because that is the way we are spiritually wired. The “sheep” listening to the Shepherd is our spirit – but just because our spirit knows perfect truth and will only respond to God’s voice, it does not mean that we cannot totally mess everything up! This is because our MIND and SPIRIT can work “independently” (but is supposed to work in unity). For example, how many people who live by faith falter when stricken by saying, “Please Lord let me die”, instead of praying, “Lord please heal me!” This reminds me of so many people who ask constantly, “Lord, rapture me tonight that I might escape what is to come”, instead of praying, “Father, give me strength to do what you need me to do in these last days”. Selah. Let me say this again and I will use myself as an example, if I speak the truth of God and yet I cannot live it – it is not God that is failing in me – it is MY DOUBT and SIN that is NOT obeying Him and my lack of determination to obey His Word! If I make so many mistakes that I ruin my life, it does not mean that what I BELIEVED and SPOKE was not true. If the person who preached healing for 30 years dies of cancer, it does not mean that God does not heal! Amen? It just means there were several possibilities that happened within that particular circumstance that had a direct influence on the outcome. His Word is true whether we can live it or not! Praise God! If an alcoholic preacher delivers God’s Word, the divine power is in the Word – NOT the broken vessel. What we all need to do is start putting less faith in humans and more time in our prayer closets so that God can change us into what He has called us to be. People spend more time watching others stumble than they do examining their own heart. Selah.

Actually, the fact of not being able to live what we know is not a new problem. The Apostle Paul, a very knowledgeable and spiritual man of the time reveals his frustration in Romans chapter eight. He’s trying to live out what he knows is right and to stop doing what he knows is wrong. Allow me to use the Living Translation to make it easier for us to follow. “I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I DON’T want to do – what I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my old conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. But, I can’t help myself, because I am no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things.” (Verses: 15-17) I know we are to have more willpower and discipline. I know we are to go and sin no more, but this is why the CROSS is so important in our battle with sin. As you have noticed, the influence of our flesh is strong and we must embrace His cross in order to harness its control. This includes even the smallest details of our thinking. If we cannot resist our urges in the tiny things, how can we be a spiritual overcomer that will cast out demons or lay hands on the sick? If we cannot fight the temptation to eat a cupcake, how will we ever become a faithful frontline warrior? Let us go deeper and look at this scripture. “I AM crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ who lives in me: and the life which I now live in the FLESH I live by the FAITH of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Here it appears that we have been redeemed by His grace and are secure with HIS righteousness that was activated by our faith within His BLOOD covenant. In this light, when Father sees us – He sees the righteousness of Jesus! He does not see our righteousness because even in our good times, our goodness is not good enough! Does this excuse us when we fail? Of course not! We are still accountable to Him when we sin and are required to be transformed into His image as our highest priority, but that is what HIS forgiveness is all about! Thank you Jesus! Yes, sanctification is a conscious, determined effort to be holy and is not to be ignored but our salvation does not fluctuate from moment to moment. The grace of the cross does not excuse our lack of effort as God knows our heart and mind, and if we are trying to get away with something behind His back, we are just fooling ourselves. But this is the beauty of His love in that we are not saved by how good we can LIVE – because if that were true, salvation would be based on a list of laws, which in turn would “turn the tables” making us worthy and DESERVING. Everything would boil down to how good we lived and would fall into the mindset of the self-righteous Pharisee. We are not playing a game to see who has the highest batting average. Yes, we are to pray, fast, study and be determined to WALK in His Divine Reality with all of our mind and strength but also to remember that His GRACE opened the door of opportunity for us to KNOW HIM! The thought finishes in the next verse, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness comes by the LAW – then Christ is dead in vain.”

I have been listening to many different opinions about politics and social issues lately. Some are saying that we must choose what is best for our families or the lesser of the many evils. Some are saying that morals do not trump the practical everyday life challenges of surviving with things like providing and making a living. It seems the more social subjects are brought into law, the more “numb” the masses become because all they are really wanting is money to be able to buy what they need. I believe when it is “boiled down” that most people do not really care about what is right or wrong because they do not live for God that much anyway. The only people who are truly offended with laws that endorse sin are the ones who have the revelation that God is holy and they in turn try to live holy also. As our laws continue to embrace humanism it is clear the anti-christ will continue dangling the carrot of money in front of the mule as he allows everyone to keep “enjoying their toys”. This will include participating in the mark of the beast and being counted within the New World Order. This will not fly with the remnant of God that is being prepared to face whatever persecution is on the horizon. I believe taking up our cross includes standing up for God’s truth no matter what the cost. If Christians are afraid of the consequences of being exposed as followers of Jesus, this reveals they need more faith that God will take care of them. If Christians are afraid of being persecuted this means they need to devote more time in spiritual fellowship with Him to build their confidence in Him.

Our life should be filled with wisdom and doing all that we can but at the same time we do NOT compromise or bargain with the devil in anything. Most people visit God on Sunday and try to figure out how to live on their own the rest of the week. This is NOT taking up our cross! Do HIS WILL and you will not have time to worry about the difficulties. If we OBEY His voice – He will provide the miracle power! Those that allow themselves to be deceived with the “fluffy” gospel will not want to fast and pray because their flesh knows that what God has to say is difficult and it would “interrupt” their carnal lifestyle. They will refuse to confess and meditate on God’s Word because they are so busy with their plans, ideas, and distractions of their own making. These are the ones who will be deceived. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they will turn away their ears from the truth, and will be turned unto fables.” (II Timothy 4:3-4) Father we cry out to you, we need you desperately. Help us prioritize and “screen” everything we are involved in – through your CROSS. It is time for us to let go of things that have no meaning. It is time to put away our toys. Today is the day to KNOW YOU and your WORD and to TRUST you completely. In Jesus Name, amen.