PRAYER TWO-STEP…


Matthew 6:9-13 – “In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.” NKJV

You have heard of the Texas Two-Step dance but how about the Prayer Two-Step?  I would never suggest there are only two steps in prayer but wish to offer two that I believe are crucial to Victorious Praying. 

  • STEP ONE – – Praise.

In this step as we enter our prayer closets praise enables us to shift the focus from “self” and “circumstances” to GOD!  It is as we focus on Him, His Promises, and His Provisions we create a place for faith to rise up and become strong.  Our confidence begins to flourish and our hope soars in new and powerful ways, enabling us to rise above the struggles of life and view things from God’s perspective mounting up with the wings of an eagle.  It is here that our hearts are strengthened, emboldened, and encouraged for the more difficult matters of Spiritual Warfare.

  • STEP TWO – – Submission.

Until we come to the place of total surrender and submission we will never soar with the eagles and become the mighty warriors in prayer the Kingdom needs and God desires.  It is in the place of TOTAL SURRENDER of everything that we become formidable weapons in the hands of the Holy Spirit waging spiritual warfare and pulling down strongholds, moving mountains, and plucking souls from the clutches of hell.

As we do the Prayer Two-Step we find that a new dimension in the realm of the Spirit opens. Prayer becomes much more than a daily chore or obligation but a joy as we sense. We see the hand of God move in ways we may never have experienced or dreamed possible.  In this condition, we can invite God’s Presence into our lives so powerfully that the stage is set for the Holy Spirit to begin praying through us and guiding us in prayer to be the most effective. 

We must determine in our minds that God’s will is of paramount importance and that we are willing for His will to be done fully in our lives here and now on earth.  This is a total surrender.  I am not talking about getting saved all over again but a daily TOTAL SURRENDER of ourselves to HIS WILL!  It is here that we are in a position and condition to engage in prayer.  For it is here that the Holy Spirit takes control of the rudder of our lives our tongues and in agreement with the Spirit and Word of God, we set the course of life in prayer!

In this Two-Step we find four areas of focus: 

SELF – We place self on the altar of sacrifice daily and completely.  We determine that we will stay before God until the Holy Spirit charts that day’s course and then we proceed but not before. 

FAMILY – We should be praying for our spouses, children, and extended family.  We are placing them on the altar before God and praying for His guidance in their lives. 

THE CHURCH – If you are not praying daily for your pastor, the leadership, the congregation, and the harvest, I must ask why not? 

THE NATION – We are commanded by God to pray for those who have the rule over us and pray for His guidance in the decisions of the state that will affect everything we do in life.  I would suggest a fifth focus according to Psalm 122:6 that we are to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. 

Someone asked me how long we should pray and my consistent response is UNTIL!  Until what or until when?  UNTIL you have heard from God, come into His presence, and received your marching orders for that day.  I have never placed a time on prayer for I have found times when in a matter of minutes I knew that I knew that I knew and at other times it was hours and even days before I knew.  Prayer is more than an exercise to twist God’s arm and get Him to do something for us it is Worship and Warfare as well as Petition.

God bless you as you embark on today’s journey in Jesus!

SIX PRINCIPLES OF PRAYER…


Matthew 6:9-13 – “In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”  NKJV

Through the years of studying Scripture and the Prayer Strategies that Jesus taught I find there are at least “six” definite topics or principles which need our focus. As we incorporate those principles in our lives we will become more effective prayer warriors in the Kingdom. 

Victorious Prayer affects others and incredible things result.  We must never forget or fail to realize that we are engaged in a Supernatural War. Our commission and directive are to utilize the Spiritual Weapons we have been given to defeat the enemy. Jesus commissioned us to pull down strongholds, and set the captive free from the chains of darkness. 

Our fight is not against flesh even though, at times, it seems it is.  We are battling those things not seen by the natural eye in heavenly realms.  We are standing against and battling principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness in high places.  We are battling a defeated foe but one that will fight until the final chains are placed on them.

Let’s briefly consider the Principles we should learn and focus on in Prayer:

  • PRAISE – – I call this the recognition stage where we give verbal and mental acknowledgment and recognition of whose we are and who we serve.  “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Your Name.” 

I am convinced that too frequently we enter the Prayer Closet with “gimme, gimme, gimme” and bombard heaven with our petitions rather than dealing with our hearts and entering God’s presence with thanksgiving and praise.  This is the conditioning of our heart in recognizing the One before whom we are standing or kneeling.  HE IS GOD!

  • PRIORITIES – – This is the submission stage where we make a verbal commitment to obey the Will of God in all things and at all times.  “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven.”  In or on Earth AS IT IS in Heaven.  First things first and we know from the words of our LORD that we are to “seek first the Kingdom of God… seek first His righteousness…”  HE MUST BE FIRST!
  • PROVISION – – This is the appropriation stage where we learn to appropriate the promises and receive the provision of God’s supply.  “Give us this day our daily bread.”  Remember Jesus telling His disciples, “take no thought of tomorrow, sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof…”  I do not have to know what tomorrow holds but I do need to know who holds tomorrow and know that HE WILL PROVIDE.  This is the development of trust.
  • PEACE – – This is the stage where we reconcile differences and learn how to get along with others in this life.  “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”  The conditional aspect of that is incredibly powerful and should be both comforting and arresting.  The word “AS” is incredible and key.  In this stage, we learn to roll our cares on the LORD and learn to release those who have wronged us and how to reconcile with those we have wronged.
  • POWER – – Here we learn how to consistently and effectively defeat the devil.  “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”  There is power in the presence of God and this gives focus on the position and condition where we take up permanent residence in His presence.
  • PRAISE – – We come full circle and this is where we reestablish our commitment, trust, and confidence in God.  “For thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, for every. Amen.” 

For us to become mighty in God it is imperative that we learn how to pray!  For us to fulfill the commission given us, we must learn how to pray!  But more than learning HOW we MUST PRAY!

God bless you as you embark on today’s leg of life’s journey!

THE HARVEST and THE HARVESTERS…


Matthew 9:35-38 – “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.   36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”  NKJV

I recall, early in my Christian service, thinking about the immensity of the Harvest and the great need for the Gospel to be proclaimed to the whole world and became despondent.  Some would chastise me over that statement and have, but I was viewing the work through the lens of one man and my insignificance and limitations. 

I believe that, in a great measure, is what the writer of Ecclesiastes was speaking to when he said, “He who observes the wind will not so, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.”  When we look at a project or objective through the lens of our personal limitations we will have a great tendency to pull back and not venture out because of the enormity of the task.  The Holy Spirit helped me overcome that mentality and explained something to me in such simplistic terms I was delivered from my fear and frustration as to the immensity of the task before us as believers.

The Lord helped me understand that the harvest is not dependent upon me alone but is a collective effort of every believer in every part of the world.  Some will reap thousands if not millions and some will reap one or two but each will reap in their field and contribute something to the harvest. 

It is not my responsibility to reap the entire harvest by myself but reap that harvest that is open before me where I am.  If my field increases I will increase my reaping but if it remains the same I will reap in that field and other fields are not my responsibility except to pray for the worldwide harvest and worldwide laborers to be trained and thrust into those fields of harvest. 

If the only opportunity you have to spread the Good News is occasionally to only a few people then rejoice in that opportunity and faithfully discharge your duties and invest yourself in your opportunity.  If God opens the doors for you to speak to millions personally or via various electronic media invest yourself in that opportunity that is your new field of harvest.  If you find yourself experiencing dry season and drought, then immerse yourself in prayer and remain faithful, planting seeds knowing that “some plant, some water, but God gives the increase.”  It is a collective and collaborative effort of the Body of Christ not each of us individually.

The Harvest Fields have not diminished even with the increase of evil in the world or the rise of religions that oppose and reject God and the Bible.  The number of laborers increases and decreases for various reasons but our individual responsibility is our “Jerusalem, our Judea, our Samaria, and our door of opportunity.”  Then, we are charged to PRAY for more laborers to be sent forth into God’s harvest. 

I have known of churches that invested themselves in prayer that God would do that very thing and send forth laborers into His harvest. When He did the harvest did not affiliate with their local congregation and they became jealous of those God choose or invited to participate and reaped the benefits of the harvested souls. 

If we keep in mind that it is HIS CHURCH, HIS KINGDOM, and HIS HARVEST we will rejoice when a soul is born again and plucked from the clutches of the devil.  I told a group of ministers that I was convinced I had helped build several churches other than the one I was charged with leading.  We would see people born again and their heritage caused them to gravitate to other denominations and rather than becoming angry I rejoiced they were born again and seeking to become established in a local congregation where they could be nurtured and developed spiritually.  It is God’s Harvest and I trust Him to plant people where He wants them planted and am committed to being a “faithful servant” and “steward” of His commission.

There is a Great Harvest, too few laborers, and too many times we seem to be hindered because of the immensity of the task.  Let’s move beyond that hesitancy and invest ourselves in the field of labor the Lord has set before us, reaping that which we can for the Kingdom.

God bless you as you embark on today’s leg of your life journey!

GOD IS NOT SADISTIC…


Jeremiah 29:11-13 – “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”  NKJV

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! My devotional today is not a typical Thanksgiving message but one that I believe is needed in this hour! God bless you and may your celebration be joyous and your heart full of thanksgiving!

I need to explain my title before launching into this devotional.  The text and the title do not seem compatible in many ways but I believe they are in perfect harmony.  Frequently, people argue that they are the way they are because God “made them that way.” 

In a measure, I can accept that and yet totally reject it at the same time.  If you follow that thought or idea through to its logical conclusion God would, in fact, be quite sadistic. He would be other than the God of Love of the Bible and the God who offered those comforting words in our text.  If we follow that idea through to its logical conclusion then one would have to determine that we are simply robots.

We would be without the ability to choose and therefore controlled by the divine. That would mean that sin is not sin because if we are not responsible for our actions we cannot be held accountable for them.  Sin would be God’s fault and if I sin, blame God.  I know of few Christians who would embrace that idea.  However, it seems to be taught indirectly by some who envision themselves as God’s Voices and Authorities on all things spiritual if not all things.

I readily acknowledge that genetics and environment play a significant role in our character and makeup.  I would never argue that there are not genetic, neurological, and even chemical factors involved in addiction and physiological and psychological bents in life.  However, if I adopt the view that “God made me this way” regardless of what “this way is” then whatever I am is God’s fault. If my makeup is unwholesome it is His fault and if it is wholesome He gets the credit.  The Bible speaks of choices from Genesis to Revelation and if we have no choice then those directives could be considered sadistic and that is foreign to the Bible’s teaching about the nature, person, character, and purpose of God. 

Let me approach it this way, I have battled weight for a considerable amount of my adult life but if I believe God made me fat, why should I get off the couch or out of the easy chair? Why take the steps needed to get in shape, lose weight, and become more healthy?  To do so would, under that ideology, be fighting the very design of God because after all, “He made me fat.” 

The Bible also gives warning about the dangers of anger or rage but if God “made me this way” then why resist?  Hey, I can fly off the handle and go into a fit of rage with no accountability because after all “God made me this way”, right?  NO! NO! NO!  The Bible clearly warns that if we become angry and that anger is not bridled it is akin to murder and God forbids murder as a violation of His righteous principles and a violation of the right to life of another human being. 

We have many people today who are addicted to something whether that be alcohol, drugs, food, sex, money, power, or many other things, and if we adopt the idea that “God made them that way” why fight against God?  Of course, genetics and other factors can and do come into play but there is also a choice and sometimes that choice is simply to call upon God for help. 

Remember our text and the promise of God.   He has plans for us that are good, not evil, and wants us to have peace, not turmoil.  He wants to give us a future and a hope, not a life of despair and the darkness of depression through addiction or something else.  His declaration was, “…You will call upon me and pray to Me and I will listen to you.”  He further said, “And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”  

Seeking is one thing Finding quite another and it would be sadistic for God to instruct us to SEEK HIM with no hope of FINDING HIM.  If we are doomed to a life, whatever life, of darkness because we were made a particular way that is not HOPE that is DESPAIR and that is not God!

God is not out to get us. Although human beings cannot explain fully why there are birth defects, difficulties, and propensities in some and not in others we can trust that God is not SADISTIC. He did not intentionally design us to make us suffer or cause us to be other than the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. 

If I believe, and I do, that God is a Loving God who wants us to prosper and be in health even as our soul prospers I cannot accept the notion that He made me a certain way with no hope of deliverance or healing.  I cannot adopt the mentality that God creates us in ways to force us into actions and lifestyles that propel us outside His will and desire to punish us. 

We are CREATED in the Image and Likeness of God and unless you want to label God in the ways we accuse Him of creating us you might want to rethink your argument.  We do a fine job of making ourselves other than the righteousness of God and He is not the blame.  He has provided a way of escape and a door to salvation and invites us to enter into the Joys of our Lord.  I cannot and will not blame God for any sin or flaws in my life but will credit Him with His Grace and Mercy that brings me forth to victory!

God bless you as you go through this wonderful day in Christ Jesus our Lord!

CHRISTIANITY IS NOT HARD, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE…


Psalm 15:1-5 – “LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? 2 He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart; 3 He who does not backbite with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; 4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised, But he honors those who fear the LORD; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;  5 He who does not put out his money at usury, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.” NKJV

My title is possibly confusing so let me state at the outset that Christianity is impossible IF we attempt to live it in our own human strength.  It is hard even when we are strengthened by the power and Grace of God but impossible if we attempt to live it by willpower and human strength.

Consider the question of the Psalmist.  His inquiry was who could live in God’s presence and could be acceptable to God.  A question each of us has or should have.  “Lord, what do you require and what do I need to ABIDE in your tabernacle and DWELL in your holy hill?”  If we want to maintain a permanent residence in His presence we need to know what is necessary and if there are things that will ensure our steadfastness we need to discover them, right?  Therefore, let’s walk through this in a limited manner.  He asked the question and the answer from the Lord is as follows:

  • Walk uprightly, work righteousness, and speak the truth.

(On the surface that may not sound difficult but think back to the number of occasions you felt compelled to taint the truth, take the path of least resistance, and engage in behavior or act that was not completely upright.) 

  • No backbiting (gossip, etc.), no mistreating or taking advantage of others, and resisting the temptation to reproach a friend or anyone.
  • Despise evil but always honor the upright.

(That almost sounds contradictory to the New Testament’s directive of loving our neighbor but if you recall the apostle Paul warned to not even give Godspeed to those who promote heresy and hypocrisy.  While God is no respecter of persons He most assuredly takes note of the heart and so should we.)

  • Keeps His Word (Swears to his own hurt and does not change).

(Your word is to be your bond in all things and at all times even if you come out on the short end of the stick, so to speak.)

  • Never make excessive demands on others based on what you do for them and never allow money, power, or influence to cause you to be moved against the innocent.

A most amazing statement is in the final sentence, “He who does these things shall never be moved.”  WOW!  But, even if we in our best pious mindset and self-righteous assertion insist and believe we fulfill all those with ease, if we honestly examine them in the far-reaching aspect they present we will find that without the Grace of God we fail. 

Therefore, I am making a new commitment of my life to the Lord and asking that He grant me the grace and strength to be a person so described in this Psalm and thereby become so rock-solid in my commitment and faith though all hell assail me heaven’s grace will not fail me and I will present a life in which others see less of me and more of Jesus!

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

THE SIDE-EFFECTS OF CORRUPTION…


Psalm 12:8 – “The wicked prowl on every side, when vileness is exalted among the sons of men.” NKJV

I had a person tell me that they didn’t like “hellfire and brimstone” preaching and was so glad that the modern church is now presenting a much more sanitized version of the gospel.  This individual stated they did not like hearing things called sin for sin was an ambiguous term and drove people away from the church rather than drawing them to it. 

That conversation caused me to meditate and contemplate on the state of my own life, my nation, and the church.  It sent me back to the Bible to examine that view and caused me to ask other ministers their views. I proceeded to question churchgoers as well as non-churchgoers what they thought about this matter.  After that, the Holy Spirit whispered in my spirit and heart, “What do you think God thinks about it?”  Whoa, Nellie!  That arrested me like nothing I had heard from those I spoke to.  That was the heart of the matter and where the rubber truly meets the road.  WHAT DOES GOD THINK?

I would suggest that is the question regarding every question of life. Once we determine what God’s Word says and through prayer determine the heart and mind of God, we have a clear path or direction, or we should. 

Let’s take the text and examine the thought presented that the wicked, not just wickedness or sin is present and prevalent WHEN vileness is exalted among men.  We are living in a time when evil is called good and good is called evil. Many in our society from politics to pulpits have abandoned some of the central teachings of God’s Word. They have adopted a view of reinterpreting the clear declarations of God on various matters and no longer identify them as sin.  Some have sought to sanitize the Gospel to make it less bloody and less constraining.  Please understand, I do not like to hear someone preach ‘hellfire and brimstone’ without a broken heart and without the clear view and objective of redemption. 

It has been said, “What we allow in moderation or children will do in excess.”  The Psalmist warned that if we exalt or give place to vileness among men and justify, excuse, or ignore sin and evil the wicked gain prominence and power. In that place of power they plunge our world deeper and deeper into a depraved state opening the door for wickedness of all kinds.

Those evils and wickedness not only become prominent but acceptable or non-troubling to our sense of rightness and godliness.  We have become so desensitized by the incessant barrage of language, violence, corruption, and lasciviousness through Hollywood and television many are no longer troubled and grieved in their hearts by what is happening in our world. 

I cannot imagine that God is so desensitized, and I truly believe that His heart is grieved when “vileness is exalted”.  Why would we be told to “shun and flee the very appearance of evil” if evil was not like leaven with corruptive power?  Why would we be told to “come out from among them and be separate” if there was not a corruptive influence in the ways of the world?  Why would we be instructed to “be holy for I am holy” if there was no redemptive value in holiness and godliness? 

If we fail to paint sin as it truly is with its corruptive and destructive influence we do great harm to the church and the world. When we fail to identify the reality and eternality of hell, as well as the beauty and wonder of heaven, people tend to diminish, justify, and excuse behavior that violates God’s person, character, and word.  Conviction will fail to grip the heart because they have been or are being told that it’s just part of human nature to be, think, and do those things. 

I am not suggesting legalism, but I am promoting preaching the Cross with its gruesomeness for “without the shedding of blood there is no remission.”  Without the Cross, there will be no Crown.  Without the Cross, there is no satisfaction of Divine Justice and the open door to pardoning for whosoever will that comes and calls on the Lord. 

We wonder why our world from Wall Street to Main Street, from the White House to the Tenement House, and from the President to the Average Joe on the Street is in the state it is in where evil is prevalent and the Wicked seems to be ever gaining power, influence, and strength.  It is we have allowed “vileness to be exalted among men.”  Therefore, it is high time that we awaken from our slumber and return to the Cross and God.

God bless you as you make a reaffirmation of your faith and receive a rekindling of His Grace in your heart and life!  

WHAT ARE WE PROFESSING?


John 18:33-38 – “Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?”  35 Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”  37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this, I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”  38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”  NASB

The question of Pilate and the response of Jesus is intriguing.  Pilate asked Him a political question, “Are you the King of the Jews?”  Jesus answered with a question that should resonate with each of us, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?”   

It would seem that Pilate was asking a question that would facilitate his justification for consenting to the request of the Jewish leaders to crucify Jesus.  If Jesus responded in the affirmative Pilate could label him an insurrectionist and accuse Him of treason, a justification for crucifixion. 

Jesus did not fall for the bait but turned the tables on Pilate and asked a question of heart, not hearsay.  The question for us should be and is, “Is what we are professing something we have heard from others or what we have determined in our hearts as truth through study and experience?”  Mama and Papa’s religion would get us into heaven.

Jesus did not totally refuse to answer the question and in a very real sense did answer it clearly saying, “My kingdom is not of this world.”  Simply, “Pilate, I am not a political threat to your rule, authority, or Rome although I may be a threat to your ideology and philosophy because my Kingdom will transform the heart.”  

I gave the Roy Beaird translation there but I believe you can grasp the meaning and message of Jesus.  Jesus, even acknowledged that He was truly a king but not an earthly one.  His response confused and conflicted the non-believing Pilate and the question of Pilate is one that still rings through the ages, “What Is Truth?”  In other places and other ways, Jesus answered that question as well for He is “THE TRUTH” and He is “THE WAY” and “THE LIFE.”

I have never been one that wanted to base my life or hope on what someone else thought but have always sought to know for myself or experience personally. That has brought me both joy and pain through the years and placed me in situations where I had to learn hard lessons. Lessons that could have been avoided had I not been driven to know personally and experientially. 

I do not want to simply Hear About Jesus I want to Know Jesus personally, and I do.  I do not what to Hear About God’s Truth, I want to Experience God’s Truth in my own heart, life, and mind.  I want what comes out of my mount in my Profession of Faith to be something I know from my personal experience and study rather than simply reciting a Church Creed.

God bless you as you embark on this day’s leg of your life journey.

THE POWER OF PREACHING…


John 17:20-23 – “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;  21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:  23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”  NKJV

Jesus’ pray for the disciples was powerful and it is most encouraging that He intentionally stressed that His prayer was not for those hearing and following Him at that time but for future believers as well.  He identified that this prayer was for them but also for all WHO WILL BELIEVE and then emphasized the importance and power of preaching. 

My lament to the church is that we too often relegate the idea of ‘preaching’ to that activity in the pulpit on Sundays and at other times.  Preaching is simply the ‘proclamation’ of the gospel and that can transpire anywhere, at any time, and under any conditions.  The opportunity to ‘proclaim’ the gospel should be exhilarating to every believer regardless of their oratorical ability or lack thereof.  We are instructed to “go” and “proclaim” to anyone and everyone the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Some of the greatest preaching I have ever heard has come from believers who would cringe at the thought of standing in a pulpit and preaching.  Yet, on the street corner, offices, homes, and restaurants some of them give a powerful presentation of the Gospel in the most simplistic terms and the anointing is powerful and the message gripping.  Their lives so authenticate their words it reaches deep into the soul and arrests the hearer leaving them no choice but to receive or reject the conviction that floods their hearts and minds.

Please do not think that I am discounting our devaluing pulpit preaching for I have heard some incredibly powerful, enlightening, and arresting proclamations from that sacred desk as well and treasure those memories and experiences.  The Word of God coupled with a life of Righteousness has a power to which nothing can compare. 

The Word of God is, according to Hebrews 4:12, Alive, active, sharper than any man-made sword, and capable of penetrating to the very depths of the soul, judging and inspiring the heart.  When God’s Word is verbalized and delivered orally it has a unique power and one that is sometimes missed or misunderstood.  God’s Word in the mouth of God’s children is a mighty weapon of spiritual warfare.  It provides spiritual nourishment and sustenance that can be received in no other place.

Therefore, let me encourage you to be unafraid to ‘proclaim’ the Word of God and know that when you speak His Word you are speaking Spiritual Power into the atmosphere, and when it is spoken in faith and confidence it pulls down strongholds, encourages hearts, breaks chains, and sets captives free.  So, let’s do more and more PREACHING daily through our living!

God bless you as you continue your journey in Christ!

SOUR AND DOUR…


Psalm 126:2-3 – “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” 3 The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad.”  NKJV

I had a very serious saint in a particular church I was leading who said to me, “You cannot be a real man of God because you laugh and tell jokes.”  She was dead serious!  I laughed and had to apologize for any seeming disrespectfulness but I found her assertion laughable and almost beyond belief. 

However, after years of Christian service I have discovered there are a significant number of believers who believe that we must be “sour and dour” or we are not exhibiting righteousness and godliness.  They are “sour and dour” while the world is “crying and dying.”  I know that the passage in Hebrews 1:9 speaking of Jesus being anointed with the “oil of gladness” is not speaking about humor but anointing but the message through scripture is that laughter is like medicine and a good thing not an example of a worldly or evil heart.  It could be but cannot be a blanket description. 

In Luke 6:21, Jesus said, “…Blessed are you that weep now: for you shall laugh.”  Job, a man who endured incredible difficulty in life spoke in Job 8:21 of God filling our mouths with laughter and our lips shouting joy. 

The wisdom of Ecclesiastes is revealed in 3:2-4 where we are informed there is “A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.  A time to kill and a time to heal.  A time to tear down and a time to build up.  A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.”  

Even the Proverbs 31 woman is described as being a person that “laughs without fear of the future.”  Then in Proverbs 17:22, we find that a “cheerful or merry heart” is like medicine but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.  So I ask which is better, “being able to laugh” or being “sour and dour” and presenting an image that no one outside the faith would want.

In Proverbs 15 we find in v.13 the declaration that “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but with a heartache comes depression.” Then in v.15, we are told, “For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.”  

So, again, which is better “Sour and Dour” or demonstrating the ability to “Laugh and Smile”?  I truly believe that God has a sense of humor, after all, we are made in His image and likeness are we not?  If we have that woven in our nature and have that ability do you think God does not? 

The lady that came to me with her accusation of my condition was not amused when I asked if she thought God had a sense of humor.  She said, “He is serious because life is serious.”  Therefore, I could only conclude that her answer was no, so I said, “I am reminded of His sense of humor every morning when I look in the mirror.”  She said, “Are you saying I’m funny looking?” then stormed off in a huff.  No, I said, “When I looked in the mirror I was reminded of God’s sense of humor.” 

Let me state emphatically that a person laughing and making light of everything may well be hiding behind that mask of frivolity not wanting to face and address real problems in life.  But, if we remember the words of the writer of Ecclesiastes, “There is a time for everything…” 

There are times that laughter brings healing to a heart and can restore relationships as well as enable a person to move past a difficult moment.  There are times when laughter and lightheartedness are inappropriate and thus the warning of Ephesians 5:3-4, “But among you, there must not be either sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, or greed, as these are not fitting for the saints.  Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting – all of which are out of character – but rather thanksgiving.”  Ecclesiastes 7:6 also tells us, “For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.”  

What kind of person has zero sense of humor?  In my view, that would be a robot not a human being with feelings and emotions.  As I read the encounters of our Lord with the Pharisees I cannot miss His wit and humor. 

If you read the parables and his zippy asides to Roman authorities, His tart replies to the Scribes and Pharisees, and even His off-the-cuff remarks how do you not see His humor?  God in me brings JOY and I want to be so overflowing with JOY that people who meet me are not threatened by me or turned off by my “Sour and Dour” outlook they want what I have and open their hearts to hear about Jesus. 

Yes, you can joke too much and at the wrong times but if you never see the humor in anything my heart breaks for you.  I want to embrace life and live it abundantly rather than simply endure life and live in day to day drudgery thinking I am making God proud in being “Sour and Dour.” 

God bless you as you go through this wonderful day and “Live, Love, and Laugh” it will make the day go better and even extend your lifespan according to many reports I have read. 

ONE MORE LOOK AT WHAT I BELIEVE IS “God’s Message to the Church Today.”


Matthew 16:13-19 – “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”  14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.  19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”  NKJV

I realize that some might disagree that there is a need for Restoration today but I believe that is biblically verifiable and applicable for today’s Church.  But, what is Restoration?  To “restore” is to bring back to the original condition. 

I fully believe that God is moving on hearts today to bring us back to and into the condition and function He purposed in the beginning and is required for the Last Days Harvest.  I believe God is moving to bring us back to our “biblical roots”.  He is not bringing us back to some point or place in man’s tradition, structure, or governmental form but is bringing us back to HIM and Fullness in Him. 

I fear that we have, at times, attempted to take the New Wine of God and put it in Old Wineskins of tradition.  There comes a time when an overhaul is no longer acceptable and replacement is required.  Sadly, we keep trying to remodel the church rather than returning to His order, structure, function, and purpose.

Challenging traditions is a difficult and often dangerous endeavor.  We can and sometimes do the same as the Pharisees and make commandments of God out of doctrines of men and that is not what God desires.  One question I have asked and been asked is, “How far are you willing to go to follow the cloud spiritually?”  If we are going to be what God has intended us to be as the Church ACTION IS REQUIRED!  Throughout history, we can understand that much was lost and is being restored.  Let’s back up and walk forward a bit and see if we can see this as reality.

The church lost the truth of Justification by Faith and God used Martin Luther to restore it to the Church.  The truth of Sanctification was lost and God used Wesley to bring it back.  The infilling of the Holy Spirit was lost and God used the men like W.J. Seymour to bring it back.  Davidic Worship and Praise was lost and God used the Charismatic movement to bring it back.  Those are only a few examples of some things that God has and is bringing back to the Church.  But the bottom line is we must return to being a people who “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”  God is moving to bring to fullness the ministry and purpose of Jesus to the Church of today.  [Note:  Isaiah 61; Mark 16; John 14:12; Ephesians 4].

At some point, each of us has to determine which is more important, our traditions, place, rights, or perceived rights or God being manifested in fullness.  When we have truly and fully died to self the only thing that matters is God, His will, and purpose in our lives and world.  I am convinced as we see the Church become more aligned to the biblical pattern and purpose we will see a greater and greater release of ministries and functions than we have in the past.  God is moving in today’s world and His purpose is that each of us is available and involved in His Harvest.

God bless you as you take another step in your journey!