POWERFUL WORD from 2005 – by Ron Wood

Years ago as a young believer, naïve and full of zeal, I came to think that being like Jesus meant we should battle in prayer to heal, deliver, and encourage hurting people. That’s what my ministry beginning was like. Somehow I’ve gotten away from it and I confess that I miss it greatly.

I assumed then that everyone who claimed to be a Christian, and certainly every pastor, would be delighted to see more people becoming more like Jesus and doing more of his works. Before I became a paid professional pastor, that’s what I used to do. Then I found out that doing the works of Jesus had a lower priority in the religious world than having big crowds, fancy buildings, and keeping everybody under control of the system of our unspoken expectations.

It’s not the written expectations that hold us back, nobody would dare put on paper what is wordlessly communicated. For example:

Don’t get too passionate for Christ or too burdened for souls, it may become emotionalism. Don’t hold small prayer meetings in your home, it may get out of order if an elder isn’t there. Don’t prophesy out of turn, it may be imperfect or you might miss the mark. Don’t pray for the sick, only the elders are authorized to do that. Don’t attend other meetings across town, they may have error. Don’t plant another church or preach elsewhere unless we’ve sent you, or else you will be in rebellion.

How can obeying Jesus be rebellion?  To this day, the seat of Moses has not lacked a Pharisee to sit in it and issue new decrees.

There’s something about the clerical collar that chokes the spiritual life out of good men who used to be spiritual sponges. All of a sudden they know everything. The spirit of adventure, of learning, of lowering themselves to admit their need, departs. They quit humbly spreading the kingdom to small circles of intimate acquaintances and start managing the crowds, building the facilities, raising the money, holding advertising campaigns to reach the world. I’m saddened by this outcome of our success.

We’ve become ‘professional clergy’ instead of men who simply follow and imitate Jesus. Our prayers get pious; our demeanor gets cynical; our preaching gets hard; our family life suffers. People around us feel used instead of treasured. How do we get out of this trap? We turn and we bow down at the feet of Jesus. He hasn’t changed; we have.

The road back to reality is the road of repentance. It is the way of honesty and humility that first gave us our taste of salvation.

One of Jesus’ ways was secret prayer. He was always moving from one prayer meeting to another. He talked with God like He was his Father. Why, he even prayed with his eyes open! In between times of prayer, he was fellowshipping with real people. And along the way, he stopped to heal people, to forgive sin, and to break oppression off of them. Sounds like fun to me. Does it to you?

This company of un-churched, un-bathed non-religious pioneers ate together, drank together, sat around the fire talking, rode through storms on rough seas, and then worked miracles outside the sanctuary under the noses of the Pharisees. “Hypocrites, white-washed tombs, murderers of the prophets,” Jesus named them and shamed them.

Those same ordinary men watched Jesus demonstrate God’s kingdom through the power of the Holy Spirit. He demonstrated it by driving out demons, forgiving sins, curing diseases, and encouraging beaten-down people. Why, he even prophesied to blatant sinners! That, my friends, is the kingdom of God in a nutshell. We need it today.

No formality, no religious piety, no rigid rules, no legalistic “thou shalt nots.” Just men and women being progressively liberated and becoming whole, and in the process, doing real damage to Satan’s realm as many victims were set free. I like the thought of it, don’t you?

This band of brothers also saw Jesus get roaring mad at religious leaders who burdened people with rules but never lifted their loads.

Later, after training by “doing” (not lectures), Jesus sent his disciples out to do what he had been doing. “You go do it, too,” he was saying. He didn’t keep the authority to himself. He delegated to them the power to drive out devils and heal diseases. He shared his anointing with them. He made every person who believed in him an agent of his kingdom. He didn’t create a new elite priesthood who alone had the franchise; instead, he distributed gifts freely to his whole body.

Recently I had a conversation with an experienced supervisor at one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing companies. He told me that his purpose was to help the people under his care develop, to use all of their gifts and talents, and to be promoted beyond where he was. He said if they succeeded, then he was a success.

My heart cried silently inside. This secular manager knew more about God’s ways than most preachers. I said in my heart, “If only every pastor viewed every person on every pew as a soldier in the battle and would not rest until everyone under his (or her) influence was equipped to wage war and to win in the name of our King!”…..

DARK NIGHT of the SOUL by Mario Murillo

… Another key similarity between revival and nuclear fission is a strange phenomenon that occurs right before the atom splits. The nucleus actually depresses. Scientists observe that the neutron bombardment which seemed to be changing the nucleus, now shows no sign of reaching critical mass. Nothing seems to be happening.

That is also what happens right before a manifestation of God’s glory. The revival core will be praying and sensing a rising tide of power and expectancy. All of a sudden, you hit a brick wall. The power is gone. God’s presence seems to have lifted. Your prayers feel trapped in your mouth. A deep despair settles in. You feel physically drained.

This is the dark night of the soul. This is where every revival pioneer has been before you and now it’s your turn. It will take everything in you to keep moving. The sobering fact is that many who have reached the dark night of the soul have retreated. Eternity will reveal a long, sad history of revival near-misses.

Let me state emphatically that 90% of revival is getting to the point where an unshakeable resolve is born. Everything you have done before you reach this dark night will seem unimportant. It is what you do now that makes or breaks your heart’s desire.

At no other time does God express love more than when He allows this time of total emptiness. God risks being misunderstood. He faces the potential of one of His children walking away frustrated and confused, but He believes the good it will produce is well worth the risk.

What do you do when this cloud of darkness settles on you?

Scientists respond to a depressed nucleus by intensifying the neutron beam, and resolve to do so until fission occurs. They commit to keep moving, not relying on any physical signs. That is precisely what we must do to see the end of this night.

Why does God allow this dark night? I strongly believe that our Father realized that those through whom He works to bring revival receive great praise from the church and awesome attacks from Satan. A person lacking humility won’t survive the praise of men. A person without perseverance won’t overcome Satan. The revival core must realize this and stand the test.

Just as a scientist turns up the force of the neutron beam even though he sees no result, so true revivalists will turn up their prayer during the dark night of the soul. If the children of God demonstrate that they won’t go by what they see or feel, God will know that He has vessels that will not rely on circumstances or feelings to keep them on a straight course.

If the prayer of the revival core continues during this dark night, their true motive surfaces. The only thing that will hold us when the nucleus depresses is a pure heart of love for the lost and a true desire to see God glorified. God wisely observes that anyone who survives this night is rightfully suited to invade enemy territory.

Again we see this fifth stage in our key verse, 2 Chronicles 7:14, “…will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways…’

It would seem that by this stage, God would know we have abandoned our sin. The issue, however, is something deeper; it deals with our ways.

Our repentance has dealt with what we have done; now the purification focuses on what we are.

The psalmist distinguished two aspects of God: His acts and His ways. “He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel” (Psalm 103:7).

The children of Israel only knew God from miracle to miracle, but Moses knew the deep intentions and the long-range plan of God. Moses understood the essence, heartbeat and direction of God.

To turn from our wicked ways doesn’t just mean to repent of our sins. Hitherto, we have repented of our acts, now we need deliverance from our ways.

Gethsemane was the dark night of the soul for Jesus Christ; it was the test of His ways. You wonder if Jesus had to repent. The answer is no, but He had to be examined in His Father’s court of justice.

The dark night of the soul is a very baffling test, for it comes at a least expected time and with special conditions. The inner nature must be surprised, caught off guard, in order to be exposed and conquered.

In the many records of revival, there is an almost uniform description of this crucible… on the mountain top one moment, feeling run over by a train the next.

Joseph, barely recovered from a glorious dream, is thrown into a pit by his brothers. David, still hearing the chant of the throng saying, ‘Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands,’ wakes up in a cave being hunted like an animal.

Even Jesus, with the hosannas still ringing in His ears from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, now prays alone, cold, tormented, sweating blood, and surrounded by sleeping disciples.

The battlements of heaven are waiting for that unmistakable ring of genuine obedience where the dragon of human nature has been met and beheaded. “Not my will but thy will be done!”

Before the crown comes the bitter cup. It must be swallowed to the bitter dregs.

So then, what is the Lord really looking for? A servant who knows that the cup cannot pass. Take heart if you wish that it would pass. Even Jesus asked if it was necessary to drink. But He did not ask to escape because of fear of pain or selfishness. He asked because, for the first time in eternity, He would be separated from His Father. He knew that the plan to save man would have to break His Father’s heart. Only Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah could begin to understand the grief.

Herein lies the truth that releases the glory. In repenting of sin, we rid ourselves of evil but in the dark night of the soul, we surrender the things we dearly love, things we can’t readily identify as being in conflict with God.

Here the issue is not right and wrong, but high and low purposes of living.

Spiritual awakening is not simply getting rid of sin, it is giving God what He wants.

Again and again I have tried to stress that we must conclude with iron resolve that there is no substitute for revival. It is the higher ground we must reach because the flood is rising. No point of return can exist, no alternative can be considered.

For fire to fall and consume the sacrifice, it must be innocent and without blemish, but, most of all, it must be on the altar to stay.

Under every other circumstance our nature can hide, but in this dark night it screams for its way, and its many tentacles are exposed.

The protest was immediate. “Why this waste?” screamed the apostles, led by Judas Iscariot. Their outrage was almost convincing. The ointment was worth a year’s salary (maybe $12,000 today). It could have been used to have fed the poor, they argued (actually, Judas wanted to steal it).

This is the entire issue with revival. They wanted to do something for God. Mary knew it was time to do something to God.

The time has come to pour out our best on God. Jesus said, “The poor you have with you always.” Good deeds are always available.

America is spiritually dying because God has sales reps and not channels of His glory. We feverishly do the right things, almost as a bribe to postpone the needed pouring out of ourselves as a living sacrifice.

Again we must no longer see the bad things as barriers to revival, but the seemingly good.

We can’t dole out precious ointment to the poor in doses that don’t cure them or honor God. We must be poured out on God!

Spiritual awakening means that the faithful become fiery, the decent become dynamic, and the acceptable become excellent. But, most of all, we become disgusted with our evil, and totally dissatisfied with our good.

We realize that now is the time to pull out all the stops. No program is sacred, no worthy project is worth enough. None of the ointment can be spared. It is revival or death!

As I said before, the nucleus of the atom depresses right before fission and in that lies another key parallel to revival… the nucleus explodes from that depressed condition. It does not split when it looks inflated and energetic but rather when it is shrunken and lifeless.

Revival comes out of nowhere by sovereign timing. The prayer core is ready to fall from exhaustion but hangs on by its confidence in the faithfulness of God.

Jehovah detects that special quality that can be rewarded with revival.

An eviction notice falls with a loud crash on the porch of the local satanic supervisor. Angels receive their invasion orders. The prayer core looks up and sees the glory coming. The roar of God is about to be heard in the land once more….

    ———————————–

    -From the book “Critical Mass” by M. Murillo

THE OLD CROSS & the NEW

by A.W. Tozer

ALL UNANNOUNCED AND MOSTLY UNDETECTED there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles.

It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental. From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique-a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam’s proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor.

The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and a jollier way of living and saves his self- respect. To the self-assertive it says, “Come and assert yourself for Christ.” To the egotist it says, “Come and do your boasting in the Lord.” To the thrill-seeker it says, “Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship.”

The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public. The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross. The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended.

The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more. The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape.

God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life. That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers.

The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die. We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God’s just sentence against him. What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life?

Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God’s stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die. Having done this let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power.

The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ. To any who may object to this or count it merely a narrow and private view of truth, let me say God has set His hallmark of approval upon this message from Paul’s day to the present. Whether stated in these exact words or not, this has been the content of all preaching that has brought life and power to the world through the centuries. The mystics, the reformers, the revivalists have put their emphasis here, and signs and wonders and mighty operations of the Holy Ghost gave witness to God’s approval. Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we with our stubby pencils erase the lines of the blueprint or alter the pattern shown us in the Mount?

May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the old power. 

-Source-

A. W. Tozer, ‘Man, the Dwelling Place of God.’

A DECADE of SHAKING

by Andrew Strom

Ten years ago my family moved for a time to a little country town here in New Zealand. While I was there I met a Christian man who had shifted his entire family out of the city into this little town because he believed that “Peak Oil” and other calamities were imminent. He felt the need for a place of safety.

I told him that I believed the 2020s would be the decade when the real shaking would happen. I said I did not sense any imminent threat at the time – though of course there are always serious incidents going on. So are the 2020s really to be a decade of shaking? Yes – I believe they are.

HARVESTING IN a STORM

Years ago a friend of mine from Australia was trying to choose a name for his prophetic newsletter. “Construction Site” was one name he was considering. “Stormharvest” was another. Immediately when he shared this I told him that “Stormharvest” had to be the one. For there is no doubt that in these last days, many of us are going to be bringing in the harvest in the midst of a giant tempest. But never fear. One can actually get used to “storm-harvesting”. And that is exactly what a lot of us will be doing. We will live in the eye of the hurricane, calmly bringing in the harvest while panic is all around.

Stockmarkets may crash, oil markets may roar, divisions and schisms may roil the politics of nations – but we have a job to do – bringing in the sheaves. And brothers and sisters, our destiny is to get that job done. We need to keep our focus straight and our heart at peace. We are laborers in the harvest of the Lord – and our task is clear.

SHAKING of THE CHURCH

The very first book I wrote back in 1996 was called “The Coming Great Reformation.” I believe that book begins in this decade. Along with great shaking among the nations will come a great tidal wave of change in the church. This will not come from current church leadership. It will be forced on them from outside the ranks. The entire meaning of Christianity is going to change – back to the book of Acts. The “clergy-laity” divide will disappear and all will become “ministers”. It will be the greatest revolution in the understanding of “church” since the days of Luther. Much of the existing system will be dissolved as true New Testament Christianity returns.

My friends, we are headed into a decade of shaking unlike anything that most of us have ever seen. But it is a time to be excited – not to fear or become anxious. For those with boldness, this will be a decade of great opportunity and advancement in the kingdom. Do not be among those who shrink back or hide away. Embrace the shaking, embrace the turmoil – and get to work. A lot of it will just be “noise” – more fearful in people’s minds than in actual reality. Let others cower in fear. You can be one who goes forth in boldness at such a time – following the hand of the Lord.

We are living in the most momentous of times. Do not waste this window, my friends. It is time to put your boots on and get ready for a true “storm-harvest”.

God bless you all.

-Andrew Strom.

The Church of Tomorrow

-by Andrew Strom

A lot of people probably read some of our writings and wonder, “Where is all this headed? What is the goal?” A glib answer might be- “We want to get back to real ‘New Testament’ Christianity.” But what exactly does that look like?

This is an important topic – and something I have pondered a great deal over the years. What exactly would the ‘New Testament Church’ look like if it was translated into a modern western city?

To get started, I want you to forget about today’s church just for a moment – with all her obvious problems and contradictions, and picture something quite different. I want you to imagine that you are still living in the same city, in the same year, but you are right in the middle of a ‘Book of Acts’-type scenario. Somehow everything has changed.

For some reason, all of the Spirit-filled Christians in your city have left their Denominations and divisions behind. They have truly begun to fulfill the prayer of Jesus – “That they all may be ONE”. They now hold huge gatherings all over the city – right out in the open. And as well as these united gatherings, on most streets there is now a house-meeting, where all the Spirit-filled believers from that street gather together, eating and sharing and having communion, etc. (ie. A “NEIGHBORHOOD CHURCH”). The power of God flowing in these house-meetings is amazing. Many healings and miracles are occurring. The ‘gifts’ flow freely every day.

It seems also that many of the church buildings and cathedrals have simply been abandoned. No longer do Christians want to hide them-selves away behind “four walls”. They want to gather out where the people are – presenting Jesus to the whole world. They want to be truly “one body”. There is no way that any of their old buildings could contain the crowds, anyhow.

And the men whom God has raised up to lead this vast movement do not seem much like the ‘Reverends’ or even the ‘televangelists’ of old. In fact, quite a few of them have never even been to Bible College, and they seem to be very plain, ordinary people from humble backgrounds. But what an anointing! It is very clear to everyone that these ‘apostles and prophets’ (as they are known) have spent many years in prayer and brokenness before God – drawing closer and closer to Him. When they speak, the very fear of the Lord seems to come down, and many people repent deeply of their sins. Demons are cast out and the blind and crippled are made whole. -These kinds of things are happening all the time. The whole city is just in awe of what is going n, and thousands upon thousands are being saved. Even the newspapers and television are full of it.

As soon as someone repents they are immediately baptized in water and hands are laid on them for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. -This is expected from day one! And it is also expected that every Christian has a gift and calling from God – and that they should be encouraged to move forward and fulfill their calling. No longer is there a distinction made between those who are “ministers” and those who are merely ‘laity’. Now it is expected that EVERYONE is a minister of the Lord! (However, there are ‘elders’ – ie. older Christians to guide things).

Some of the bishops and pastors from several denominations have actually denounced this great move of God very strongly. They say it is “deception” and warn their people to stay away. (-Every Revival in history has been accused of this – usually by religious leaders). But to be honest, it is so obvious to most people that God is the one behind it all, that very few take these men seriously. The Spirit of God is sweeping all before Him. The glory of the Lord has come.

One of the reasons that these leaders are so upset is that a lot of the Christians’ GIVING now does not go to church buildings, but rather to the POOR. In fact, God has spoken to many people to start supporting widows and orphans overseas, etc. They also give generously to anyone in their midst who is in need. Many even sell their own possessions in order to do this.

The huge over-riding theme of this great movement is LOVE. “Behold how they love one another” is the catch-cry of many who watch this ‘new church’ in action. And everyone is given to MUCH PRAYER.

And so, gathering “as one” in the outdoors and breaking bread from house to house, they eat together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord adds to their number daily those who are being saved.

CAN This REALLY HAPPEN?

The above description is taken straight out of the Book of Acts – as applied to today. Everything in the above paragraphs is put there to give you an idea of what it would be like to live in the Jerusalem church at the start of Acts. -And it was like that for YEARS. Imagine the impact of such a church on the world around it! God is wanting to do this again. And He wants to use ordinary people like you and me to help bring it to pass.

I am convinced that we are NOT supposed to treat the early church as a “special case”. It was given to us as an ‘example’. It is what the “normal” church should be like all the time! And yet we have fallen so far below this standard. Only in times of Revival do we approach it again for a time. But I believe it is supposed to be “normal” for the church to be like this – day in and day out. This is the way that Jesus always wanted us to be.

However, one thing is clear. It will take a great “SHAKING” for us to get anywhere close to the above description today. You have to be aware that in order to get there from here, a whole lot of ‘hierarchies’ and church boards and careers and titles and positions would be on the line. And a lot of men simply don’t want to lose those things. It doesn’t matter to them whether it is Truth or not. If it affects their reputation, their position or their organization, they will oppose it with everything they have.

Sadly it is very difficult to see a “smooth” transition to this kind of Christianity. I believe we are in for a shaky ride. But I certainly believe that it is on God’s agenda. And like the Great Reformation before it, I believe He will do WHATEVER IT TAKES in order to get us there.

Here’s to true ‘NEW TESTAMENT’ Christianity, my friends – the kind that Jesus and the apostles actually invented in the beginning.

Let us settle for nothing less – WHATEVER IT TAKES.

God bless you all.

Andrew Strom.

THE QUESTION that CHANGED MY LIFE

-by David Ryser.

A number of years ago, I had the privilege of teaching at a school of ministry. My students were hungry for God, and I was constantly searching for ways to challenge them to fall more in love with Jesus and to become voices for revival in the Church. I came across a quote attributed most often to Rev. Sam Pascoe. It is a short version of the history of Christianity, and it goes like this:

“Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise”. Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old–barely out of diapers–and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding, “An enterprise. That’s a business.” After a few moments Martha, the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha’s raised hand, “Yes, Martha.” She asked such a simple question, “A business? But isn’t it supposed to be a body?” I could not envision where this line of questioning was going, and the only response I could think of was, “Yes.” She continued, “But when a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?”

The room went dead silent. For several seconds no one moved or spoke. We were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the presence of God had flooded into the room, and we knew we were on holy ground. All I could think in those sacred moments was, “Wow, I wish I’d thought of that.” I didn’t dare express that thought aloud. God had taken over the class.

Martha’s question changed my life. For six months, I thought about her question at least once every day. “When a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?” There is only one answer to her question. The answer is “Yes.” The American Church, tragically, is heavily populated by people who do not love God. How can we love Him? We don’t even know Him; and I mean really know Him.

… I stand by my statement that most American Christians do not know God–much less love Him. The root of this condition originates in how we came to God. Most of us came to Him because of what we were told He would do for us. We were promised that He would bless us in life and take us to heaven after death. We married Him for His money, and we don’t care if He lives or dies as long as we can get His stuff. We have made the Kingdom of God into a business, merchandising His anointing. This should not be. We are commanded to love God, and are called to be the Bride of Christ–that’s pretty intimate stuff. We are supposed to be His lovers. How can we love someone we don’t even know? And even if we do know someone, is that a guarantee that we truly love them? Are we lovers or prostitutes?

I was pondering Martha’s question again one day, and considered the question, “What’s the difference between a lover and a prostitute?” 

I realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but only as long as you pay. Then I asked the question, “What would happen if God stopped paying me?”

For the next several months, I allowed God to search me to uncover my motives for loving and serving Him. Was I really a true lover of God? What would happen if He stopped blessing me? What if He never did another thing for me? Would I still love Him? Please understand, I believe in the promises and blessings of God. The issue here is not whether God blesses His children; the issue is the condition of my heart. Why do I serve Him? Are His blessings in my life the gifts of a loving Father, or are they a wage that I have earned or a bribe/payment to love Him? Do I love God without any conditions? It took several months to work through these questions.

Even now I wonder if my desire to love God is always matched by my attitude and behavior. I still catch myself being disappointed with God and angry that He has not met some perceived need in my life. I suspect this is something which is never fully resolved, but I want more than anything else to be a true lover of God.

So what is it going to be? Which are we, lover or prostitute?

There are no prostitutes in heaven, or in the Kingdom of God for that matter, but there are plenty of former prostitutes in both places. Take it from a recovering prostitute when I say there is no substitute or unconditional, intimate relationship with God. And I mean there is no palatable substitute available to us (take another look at Matthew 7:21-23 sometime). We must choose.

-Dr. David Ryser.

Oh Sleeper Awake!

I feel like I am slowly waking up, and the more I do, the more I can see others around me who
are still asleep. Asleep to the realities of the world around them, it’s horrors and the hell that awaits those who are caught up in this world. Asleep to the realities of God and His grace, mercy, love and purpose. And oh the magnitude of His love. It rivals anything that this world has to offer.
I have been asleep to the reality of my own selfish nature, self-indulgence, self-reliance, self-defense and self-preservation. I have known in my head, but not in the reality of my life experience that God is my salvation, my justification, my defender, sustainer and my greatest joy and pleasure. And I am someone who has been walking with Christ since I was ten years old. So what does that say for the rest of us? Oh sleeper awake! Your salvation is drawing near!

A “PURGE” is COMING!

by David Wilkerson

We are not ready for the coming of Christ! Is this the Church triumphant? Covetous, divorcing, depressed, worldly-minded, grasping for materialism and success, competitive, lukewarm, adulterous, rich and increased with goods, unaware of spiritual blindness and poverty, pleasure-loving, recreation-minded, consumed with sports, politics, and power – is this the Church Jesus is coming for?Simply coping, filled with fear and anxiety, satisfied only to have good health and happiness?

My Bible says He is coming back for an overcoming Church! A Church without spot or wrinkle! A people whose affections are on things above! A people with clean hands and pure hearts. A people who are looking for His coming! A people with a “new Jerusalem state of mind.”

The question is no longer, “What can my faith get me? What miracle will He perform for me?” The question now is -“How shall I stand before Him? How shall I make it at the judgment?”

“… who shall stand when He appeareth?” (Malachi 3:2 KJV)

The question is no longer, “How do I feel – how do I get happiness? How do I get the desire of my heart?”

The question Is- “Can I withstand that moment when I stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ? How can I withstand when I’ve lived so carelessly, so selfishly, so neglectful of His great salvation?”

The central issue now has nothing to do with this world at all. At issue is- “HAVE I NEGLECTED CHRIST IN THIS MIDNIGHT HOUR?”

The purge is going to begin in the pulpit! “…He shall purify the sons of Levi…” (Malachi 3:3 KJV) God is going to accomplish that by “turning up the heat ” God is going to make things so hot, so fiery, so intense, God’s men will be driven to their knees! This is the fire of the Holy Ghost! It is the fire of persecution. It is the fire of tribulation. The fire of unbelievable hardships, ridicule, gossip, financial problems. He is going to shake everything that can be shaken! He is going to shake, and scrub, and burn, and purge – and purify!

No man or woman of God will escape the purging! God is determined to get all the dross and filth out of us. The purge will spread from the pulpit to the pew! Get ready, saints! God is getting ready to expose all sin, all adultery, all foolishness! The Holy Ghost is going to reprove us of sin. How can you play games when God puts you in His crucible and turns up the fire? Your Holy Ghost baptism is going to have some fire put to it now!

Malachi said-“…the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven: and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up…” (Malachi 4:1 KJV)

God also promises to bring down the strongholds of the enemy!

He is going to once and for all let the devil and the world know who has the power!

If God is about to do all that the prophets predicted He would – WHAT A GLORIOUS FUTURE JUST AHEAD!

A purged, purified ministry!

A Church that God is calling back to repentance and holiness.

A people washed, cleansed – offering praises in true righteousness.

A revival among our young people! Drug strongholds coming down!

Alcohol and divorce no longer prevalent among God’s people.

The sound of prayer-intercession!

A people of God who will discern between the holy and the unholy!

Everywhere, God’s people turning again to the Word.

A tested, tried people, once again devoted to the Person of Jesus Christ!

His Person being lifted up to draw all men to Him!

Christ no longer the stranger in our midst, but CROWNED – PRE-EMINENT!

A Pentecost that truly exalts the name and power of Jesus Christ, the Lord of all.

How does Christianity claim that we connect with God?

This is a very important and very crucial question. First of all, let’s clarify a few things about religion.

As we said before, religion means to be re-tied to God or reconnected to Him. So in that respect, Christianity is definitely a religion, based on that definition, but when we think about the word religion in the way that it has come to mean today, then it is definitely not a religion by today’s definition. Today’s definition of religion has more to do with the institution, the rules, the systems, methodologies, etc. When you look at the Christian church today, it appears very much to be a religion based on today’s definition, but that is not what the original intention was. Christ did not say, “hey this Jewish religion thing is not working, so let’s just scrap it and start a new religion and call it Christianity”. Jesus came to save the whole world, regardless of their faith background and to unify everyone under ONE God! Followers of Christ began to be called Christians by the unbelievers, almost as a derogatory term. The believers themselves called themselves “followers of the way”, based on Christ’s words when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”. Around 300 AD, this following began to decline into a religion, man once again messing it up. I suspect the same thing happened to the Muslim faith. Mohammed had what I believe to be a legitimate visit from the Arc Angel Michael and wrote down what the angel told him to write. In that respect, he was a legitimate prophet of God, and as such, a follower of Christ. The Koran confirms this. But once again, man decided to follow the man and turned it into yet another religion causing even more division. Even within the Christian church there has been much division over the decades starting with the protestant reformation and continuing to this day with a new denomination being formed when someone disagrees with someone else.  The word denomination means “a recognized autonomous branch of the Christian Church.” The word autonomous means, “having self-government or acting independently”. There should be nothing self or independent about the church! It should be unified as one with Christ as the head that governs the whole body!

Colossians 1:18 – And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

Ephesians 1:22 – God placed all things under Christ’s rule. He appointed him to be ruler over everything for the church.

So God wants unity, but the “religion” that was intended to connect us to God, has caused major division among faiths and within faiths. In the words of Donald Trump, “We have a huge mess”.

There is a move among Christians lately to say “It’s not about religion, it’s about relationship with God”, which is very true, but unfortunately falls short as nothing more than just a nice slogan if not accompanied by an honest, raw relationship with God.

So now to get to the actual question.

Most religions have human effort as the way of connecting to God. We connect to God by being good and doing the right things, by our own merit. I hear people say all the time, “I’m a good a person so I should go to Heaven”. That is NOT how the Christian faith says we connect to God. It says that we connect with Him by faith and faith alone, that all of our human efforts are useless and ineffective.

Titus 3:5 – He saved us. It wasn’t because of the good things we had done. It was because of his mercy. He saved us by washing away our sins. We were born again. The Holy Spirit gave us new life.

Romans 11:6 – And if they are chosen by grace, then they can’t work for it. If that were true, grace wouldn’t be grace anymore.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – God’s grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn’t come from anything you do. It is God’s gift. It is not based on anything you have done. No one can brag about earning it.

Luke 18:9-14 – Jesus told a story to some people who were sure they were right with God. They looked down on everyone else. 10 He said to them, “Two men went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee. The other was a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed. ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people,’ he said. ‘I am not like robbers or those who do other evil things. I am not like those who commit adultery. I am not even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week. And I give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood farther away than the Pharisee. He would not even look up to heaven. He brought his hand to his heart and prayed. He said, ‘God, have mercy on me. I am a sinner.’

14 “I tell you, the tax collector went home accepted by God. But not the Pharisee. All those who lift themselves up will be made humble. And those who make themselves humble will be lifted up.”

And my personal favorite: Romans 8 – 3-4 God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

5-8 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God!

We come to Him BY FAITH! We live in Him and for Him, BY FAITH. That means letting go and trusting. Do you see how incredibly important this is?! On our own we can do nothing of any significance that is good or lasting, but through Him, we can do all things.

When I struggle to get it right, I remain in that struggle, always focused on the struggle, never really succeeding for long at anything that I struggle with. When surrender and start walking by faith, nothing is a struggle. Everything come naturally because it is God working in me that does it.

Now to Pete’s point, this has the appearance of a cop out and a justification to sin, and there are those who definitely use it as a cop out, but they miss the point completely. The truth is that faith is completely the opposite. There is a new power at work in us when we have faith that enables us to overcome sin, to act in love, and to have a genuine happiness and joy in life that far surpasses any human effort or human happiness, and it comes purely by faith in Him.

So to answer the question, we connect to God through faith in what God did through Christ and the faith in what God in Christ did on the cross, freeing us from all of our wrong doing and shame and struggle and pain! We were weighed down by the corruption of this world. It gets on us whether we like it or not. Our own sin weighs us down, but Christ breaks the chains and brings freedom.

God wants to do amazing things in your lives right now if you let him by faith. Let go of all of those strongholds you hold up, laying down all of the defenses and lay your lives down. You will connect with Him in ways that will transform you and you will know a joy that is beyond description. He is just waiting for an invitation to come flooding in and to give you a life that is full and free.

The New Temple

Jesus essentially did away with the temple system. Almost every religion operates on this system. A holy place, run by a holy man, teaching from a holy book. What Jesus taught and provided for was that we are now the temples of the Holy Spirit (the holy place), making us a holy people with the holy words of God inside each of us that have surrendered our lives to Him.

The problem, in general, with the church in North America is that we have become far too self-sufficient, with lots of money, resources, staff, programs, etc. We are rich in resources but we have become very poor in spirit, in faith and in depth of relationship with Him. We go through the motions, having a solid belief system and a form of Godliness, but denying it’s power. We have become altogether ineffective.

Think about it! If God is real and if He is love itself, and if this power that created the universe lives in us, then why do we live the way we do, ruled by sin, fearful, lacking any real love and compassion that uses God’s great power to change the world, not walking by faith and doing all of the things that His early followers did that we read about in Acts. It baffles me when I think about what could and should be compared to what is.

God wants to set us free from all of our fear, doubt, worry, pride, shame and our self reliant egos that create huge strongholds in our lives. Strongholds that are designed to protect us from an enemy that has already been defeated! Where is our faith? Let Him break all the chains and and surrender fully to Him. Be filled by His Holy Spirit! There are places to go and things to do. You need not fear because He is with you and will not leave you empty handed.