Archive for July, 2012

Freedom is Hard to Accept

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Learning to Trust Happiness

I can’t get used to being in a church that works. The farther I get from the degrading experience I had at my old church, the more I understand the depth of the hole I was in.

It’s a little like a failed romance. While it’s going on, you know things aren’t right, but you try not to argue and complain, because you know relationships take work. One day you realize it’s over, and you move on. Weeks later, you start to feel angry at the other person. The resentment you buried comes to the surface, because you’re not trying to like that person any more. You see things more clearly without the rose-colored glasses.

My old church didn’t pass out glasses, but they ran a brainwashing campaign. They harped on positive thinking and submission to authority so that the people they abused would think it was wrong to mention or even think about the corruption in the church. It takes a while for the effects to fade. When my friends and I got out, and we talked about the old church, we soft-pedaled our criticism. Now the gloves are off. We’re not absorbed in bitterness and resentment, but we’re clearing the air and dispelling the illusions.

One reason this is happening is that the new church–New Dawn Ministries–is so healthy. It’s very hard to get used to. I guess if you’re pulled into a lifeboat after a long time in the ocean, if you doze off from fatigue, you will probably start trying to tread water any time you’re awakened. The mindset is taking a while to fade. It’s like being raised in a crawl space and then coming out into the open air. The natural thing is to crouch for a couple of months.

My old church has been teaching “the Abishai anointing,” which, summed up, says ordinary church members will never be acknowledged or rewarded, and that they should do everything they’re told to do, without complaining, in order to support the “Davids” in the leadership who get all the money and attention. Meanwhile, New Dawn is teaching the opposite. They’re teaching about the kingdom mindset. Each of us is royalty, appointed by God to rule the earth, and God’s help increases as we identify ourselves with his purposes, as his uncomplaining, faithful servants. We’re supposed to grow and then move on to our own ministries.

You can see the difference. My old church teaches unquestioning loyalty to human beings. New Dawn teaches unquestioning loyalty to God.

The Abishai anointing is a spiritual castration. It turns us into palace eunuchs. We serve the king and queen so they and their seed can increase, but there is no possibility that we will bear fruit of our own or have our own kingdoms. It’s exactly what Satan would teach if he managed to succeed God on the throne. God has absolute authority, yet he is humble and exists to serve and give. He receives worship for an unselfish purpose. If Satan were on the throne, he would accept the honor and worship and give nothing back, just like the leaders in an Abishai church. All the blessings would flow UPWARD.

Yesterday our pastor told us the gospel wasn’t about getting our needs met. He openly disagreed with the idiots on TBN, who live to tell us the more money we give God, the more money God will give us. I loved it. He said we are to put the kingdom first, as Jesus taught. God blesses his servants so they can do his work, just as the military provides care, training, and weapons to recruits.

He also pointed out that Jesus told us we were to go out into the world and make DISCIPLES, not “converts.” This was a major issue at my old church. They didn’t care much about teaching. They were seeker-friendly. They talked a lot about all the things they were willing to do in order to get people saved. The head pastor refused to criticize Barack Obama, who is an enemy of the church, Israel, and the unborn. His son went on the stage and said, “I love Obama. I think he’s great.” They didn’t teach much about prayer. They didn’t tell people much about repentance and holy living. So the church is full of people who think they can do absolutely anything, because they’re forgiven. They quote Matthew 7:1 all the time. Just don’t ask them if they know any other verses.

Here’s something funny. I know people at my old church have said some horrendous things about me and other people who left. Lies and accusations. Today the pastor’s son put this on Facebook: “There is nothing you can do about people who talk behind your back, so focus on the people who talk to your face.” I could not resist “liking” it. Maybe that was wrong. I think God will forgive me.

The brother of a friend of mine came to New Dawn yesterday. His name is Carlos. He had a couple of huge knife wounds that were healing. Some guy mugged him for four dollars and a bicycle. An usher put him next to me so I could talk to him. The pastor’s father came and sat down and got a conversation going. Carlos said he had been offended at another church, because they threw money on the stage and told people God would not bless them unless they gave a certain amount.

My old church has done this kind of thing. They squeeze unsciptural Passover, Pentecost, and Yom Kippur offerings out of people, and I’ve seen the pastor stand on the stage and say, “If you don’t want to give, that’s fine. But you’ll miss out on the blessing.”

It’s funny; Carlos, who doesn’t go to church regularly, knows more about Christianity than my old pastor. At least in some aspects.

The pastor at New Dawn started speaking after we talked to Carlos. He did not know what we had talked about. He spent a good long time telling us how wrong it was for a pastor to teach that God won’t bless people unless they give money. I loved it. This is what happens when a pastor listens to the Holy Spirit instead of trying to build a monument to himself. The Holy Spirit will tell him what to say. I’m sure Carlos will be back.

I had an interesting experience last week. A few months back, my dad hired a guy to fix his deck. He found him in a local publication called The Flyer. It has ads for services in it. I never use it. I prefer Angie’s List. My dad needed some drywall repairs, so he tried to find the same guy. He could not find the check he used to pay him, and he had no record of the man’s name. He searched and searched. Finally, he gave up and got out the latest edition of The Flyer. It had 18 ads for general handymen and dozens of ads for various specialties. He picked an ad and made an appointment.

On Monday, the person who posted the ad showed up. It was the man who had fixed the deck.

I oversaw his work during the week. On the last day, there was some conversation, and he asked me some things. I mentioned my religon, and that I was hoping to write Christian books. He started telling me his testimony. He knew God was there. He didn’t like Catholicism because the church protected sexual predators. He felt God’s presence outside of church. It had brought him to tears. One day when he was very discouraged, he was walking in the ocean, and he saw something shiny near his feet. He picked it up, an it was a medal with the word “manna” on it.

He said he didn’t want to live by rules. He thought we should become good on the inside, so good behavior was a consequence. I told him about the baptism with the Holy Spirit. I told him he was right. God wants to work inside us and change us. The rules aren’t enough.

My dad, the unbeliever, witnessed all this.

I told him about New Dawn and gave him the address and service times. He said he would come by himself. He didn’t want his family to go until he had checked it out. I thought that was smart.

I said something about hoping my dad would eventually go. My dad said what he always says. He said he agreed with Albert Einstein, who said something about a sense of the mystical making him religious in the truest sense. The handyman pointed out that Einstein spent most of his life on a wild goose chase. His work gave rise to quantum mechanics, and he tried in vain to discredit it. That amazed me. How does a handyman know a thing like that? It’s exactly what I tell my dad, but I have a degree in physics.

I’m hoping this guy will show up on Tuesday night for Bible study. I think God has a heavy-duty purpose for his life.

In other news, I’m going to be an armorbearer again. At my old church, the pastor had a habit of trying to make influential people armorbearers, and I believe this is how I got on the team. They were hoping to attract more affluent white people, and I think I looked like a prospect. I think it shocked the other ABs when I worked out. At the new church, I was accepted on the team because I had proven myself at the old church. I spoke briefly to the team leader yesterday–the guy in the trenches, not a pastor looking to network–and he said he was “one hundred percent” sure they wanted me. That was an honor. Not an Abishai moment.

I probably won’t serve as much as I did at the old church, because I’ll be doing other things, and it won’t be quite as much like police work, because the congregation is different. But I look forward to it. I don’t think they’ll take advantage of me.

I hope I get used to this soon. Sometimes I feel like I’m carrying an invisible prison cell around with me.

I am Not a Bonsai Christian

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

God has Moved me to a Wide Place

Over the last week or two I read the best Christian book I’ve ever seen. It’s called Fire on the Altar, and it was written by Fred Stone, the father of TV teacher and evangelist Perry Stone.

I love Perry Stone’s work, but if I have to be honest, I’ll say I think his father has helped me more. I think his father was somewhat more humble and closer to the Holy Spirit.

The book is full of remarkable testimonies that illustrate the kingdom principles he teaches. As a young man in West Virginia, he accepted God in a time when revival was washing over Appalachia. He learned about the gift of tongues, and the power it carries. He dedicated his life to God. He spent much of his life pastoring churches, and he exhibited many of the gifts of the Spirit, including tongues, the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, supernatural faith, and miraculous healing. He writes about these things as a witness and practititioner, not as a spectator or theorist. His accounts are helpful. A person who has never done a certain thing can’t teach as well as someone who has done it.

He spoke to foreigners in languages he did not understand. He saw God put an iris and pupil in a deformed eye. He had visions in which he left his body to learn from God. He saw angels. You really need to read the book to get a picture of it.

It confirms so many things God has taught me. It’s great when God corrects, but it’s even better when he tells you you’re right about something.

You can get the book at the VOE website, which I linked to, above.

My own adventure keeps unfolding and improving. The progress never stops.

For a long time, I’ve been telling people prayer in tongues would fill them with power and bring them closer to God. As time passes, God confirms that message over and over, more and more strongly. I was not wrong about it. It came from him.

God’s power and presence fall on me more and more often, and they do so with increasing intensity. Some people call this the “anointing,” but anointing means authority, so I just say “power and presence.” I feel that the veil between me and him gets very thin at times. Here’s a peculiar truth about God: the ability to perceive him and to believe him is not natural. It’s not something you can manufacture by trying really hard. It comes from the Holy Spirit. You may have a little faith before you are baptized with the Spirit, but it’s nothing compared to the faith that develops in you over time, as you maintain a regimen of prayer in tongues.

You can pray for increased faith, and for God to reduce your unbelief. It works. It’s a shame people don’t know this. Faith is the currency of the supernatural realm, and God wants you to have it, because he wants you to be able to do his work. He is ready to give it to you; you are not required to do it all on your own, like the Hebrews who had to gather their own straw to hold bricks together.

I am now spending a minimum of 1 1/2 hours a day in prayer, much of it in tongues, and most of the time I do much better than that. As a result, God is teaching me more and becoming more obvious. And good things are happening around me. The closer you get to God, the more you are identified with him. The more you are identified with him, the more you do his work and invite attacks from his enemies. That makes you part of him, and he will increase his interaction with you, and he will increase the provision and protection he gives you.

Sometimes I can’t pray in English. The Spirit won’t allow it. I’ll try to stop praying in tongues and go on in English, and he will not permit it. The Spirit knows the will of the Father. There are urgent needs I have to pray for, and only the Spirit knows what they are. Apparently, sometimes they are so important, they take precedence over anything I could ask for in my own language.

The Bible tells us the Spirit knows the will of God, and it tells us God will grant us what we ask for, if we pray according to his will. It’s obvious that letting the Spirit pray through us will bring results.

It’s important to get information from people who know God. The Bible says we perish for lack of knowledge. God will literally let you die, when you don’t know what to do about your situation. Our predecessors were supposed to gain and preserve knowledge of God and pass it down to us, but they didn’t do it, so now most Christians are ignorant. They don’t know their rights. Teaching us was not God’s responsibility. We’re supposed to make this world work; it’s not his job. You have to listen to people who have knowledge, and you have to store it up and apply it.

The new church is very satisfying. I’m probably going to do some armorbearer work there, but it won’t be quite as hairy as working at the other church. Less like police work. That would be nice.

It’s hard to get used to being in a church where people mean what they say. Jesus said we would be judged for every idle word. In most churches, they’ll let idiots go on stage and “prophesy” and “bless,” and everyone knows none of it means anything. It’s like incense that fails to rise toward God. But at New Dawn, they really expect things to happen, so you have to pay attention and take it seriously.

The other day, one week after my old church taught the ridiculous “Abishai anointing,” which is basically intended to neuter everyone but the pastor, my new church taught that we were supposed to think in kingdom terms. We are supposed to be kings. We have authority. I am always a little nervous about “speaking” things into existence, but the Bible does say we can prophesy, declare, and bless. The pastor decreed that we would come to think in kingdom terms, and he asked us to receive it, and I went for it.

Ever since then, I’ve felt the authority inside me. We really are supposed to be kings. As I said above, God put us here to run the earth. What is a person who runs a planet? A king, obviously. We were supposed to be on top, but we sold out and ended up on the bottom.

Paul said Satan had principalities and powers on his side. Satan has never had an original idea. He copies everything; he was even copying when he said he would be like God. Clearly, Satan stole the idea of supernatural powers and authorities. So who are God’s principalities? Angels? Presumably. But also human beings. The Bible tells us we are God’s children. What is the child of a king? A prince and future king.

I now feel more confidence in my prayers, which is saying a lot. I feel more serious about my purpose. I don’t just have a right to ask for things. I have an obligation. A soldier wouldn’t turn down a machine gun or body armor. God expects to supply and help me.

Here’s something interesting. Last night, a pastor taught us that Jezebel had castrated men in order to dishonor them. I had never thought about that. I had read that eunuchs had thrown Jezebel to her death, but I had never thought about the incongruity: castrated men in a Jewish castle.

The Jews did not castrate. The practice has been done in other places, like China and Babylon. The idea is to prevent gifted subordinates from impregnating the queen or raising up sons to challenge the incumbent dynasty. It must have been considered disgraceful for Jezebel to have castrated men in her service. Did they volunteer? Were they forced? Did ambitious parents send them to be castrated? Was Jezebel such a slut that Ahab had her servants castrated? I don’t know. But it was an anomaly.

At my old church, they taught people they were supposed to be lowly “Abishais.” They could not comment on church policy, or on corruption in the leadership. They were not to expect rewards or recognition. They were to dedicate their lives to promoting the pastors.

By this definition, what is an “Abishai”? It’s a eunuch. Greedy, abusive pastors do not want their subordinates to flourish, especially if they’re talented or capable. They pretend to offer their underlings promotion, but somehow, the pastor and his family end up getting all the glory. Eunuchs serve until they get fed up, and then new eunuchs who don’t know any better come along. Eunuchs get limited authority. They don’t get to succeed pastors. They don’t bear fruit, because the pastors undermine them. Pastors want to stay on top, and then they want their sons to take over.

Now think about David, who was a king. He started out as a shepherd, and then he became an armorbearer. An armorbearer is supposed to be promoted eventually. Some succeeded their masters. Others went on to their own domains. An armorbearer isn’t sterile. He is expected to go on and bear fruit. He eventually becomes a king, and the cycle repeats.

My old church gave me an Abishai award. I was gracious when I received it, but I never knew what to do with it. I eventually used the frame for a photo of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and me, at the National Day of Prayer.

Now I feel the award was an insult from a principality. The people at the church intended to honor me, I suppose, but that’s the natural understanding. In all likelihood, there was a supernatural reason for the award. I think it was the enemy’s way of saying, “You are stuck here, and you will not grow or expand God’s kingdom in your own right. Keep your head down, continue making those bricks, and then die.”

I have realized I can’t be stopped. I have God’s favor. The kingdom of heaven is like a tree, and while you can try to stunt a tree by putting it in a small pot, the roots of a tree can break stone in order to grow. As long as I water myself with prayer in the Spirit, I will grow, and God will always move me to a place where I can continue to expand. People have tried to stop me, but they lost, and they will always lose, because I’m not the one they’re actually fighting. They are fighting someone so great, in his presence, they don’t even amount to specks of dust.

I the end, I will have fruit, but their fruit will dry up and die. I want to say, “unless they repent,” but I don’t feel it’s correct. Maybe that just means I should pray for them.

Another interesting thing: Fred Stone died without much money. He was a wonderful servant of God, but by his own admission, he did not have faith for financial help. He believed this had hindered his ministry. His son built a multimillion-dollar ministry which is always solvent, and Fred Stone believed his son was able to do this because he had no problem believing God would supply him.

I am not a prosperity buff. I am disgusted by the way charismatic preachers talk about money all the time. But I do believe God wants us to do well. I’m not practicing law now, and I don’t want to starve in the future, so I do pray for new sources of income. Reading what Fred Stone said gave me great confidence. I prayed about it last night while driving home from church, and waves of faith hit me, just like the time faith told me my ex-girlfriend’s crazy lawsuits were going nowhere. Now I know something is going to break. It’s done. It’s absolutely done. I’m telling this because it may be useful to someone reading this. I received the gift of supernatural faith through regular prayer in tongues, and you can see how it’s paying off. If it worked for me, it will work for you. Just don’t put your carnal desires ahead of your desire to please God.

Be God’s Doormat

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

It’s Okay; You’re not Special

I don’t want to spend the rest of my life filled with annoyance at fat, spoiled, lying preachers who cheat and enslave their flocks. I would much rather focus on the great things God does for me. Things like love, joy, peace, and success are available to everyone, and we don’t have to do all that much in order to receive them. Those are the things I’d like to spend time talking about (as a witness, not a plagiarist or theoretician), but how can you help people find the truth when they’ve been brainwashed by greedy liars who claim they’ve already shown them the way? You have to say something.

Today’s dose of aggravation: the “Abishai anointing.”

Abishai was one of David’s followers. He joined David in the cave at Adullam, along with other men whose lives were not going well. He was not a remarkable person, but he was brave and extremely loyal. He would have done anything for David. Naturally, the preacher-worship cultists have latched onto him as a role model. This is what the Abishai anointing is all about. You can read all about it in a little booklet written by prosperity preacher Denny Duron. I just finished it this morning. It was given to me a long time ago at a gathering at my former church. I believe it was a men’s conference.

The Abishai anointing is very big at my old church. They’ve even named an award after it. They have (or used to have) monthly meetings at which they gave out prizes to volunteers, and the Abishai Award was one of them. They had a Servant Leader of the Month award, which was the top honor. With that, you got temporary custody of a huge trophy, and you got a parking space for one month. They also had the Lionheart Award. Smaller trophy. I forget what you had to do to qualify for this award. There was a fourth award which I no longer remember.

I actually received an Abishai once. I think it’s safe to say I destroyed my chances of further awards when I quit working in the church kitchen. After I made that scriptural and intelligent choice–actually, God made it for me–I felt that I was pretty much outside the circle of wagons. That’s good, because the award thing was a little creepy.

Basically, the Abishai theory goes like this. Anyone who complains or even looks at practical considerations is a whiner who is–I suppose–full of demons or something. You are supposed to serve “the king,” not “the palace,” so no matter how badly a ministry fares (after God curses it for stupidity, for example), you stick with it.

Here’s the beauty part. You don’t get to be a “David.” He was handsome and talented and smart. You’re more of a drone. The pastor is Hall, and you’re not even Oates. You’re like the guy who makes sure Oates has his favorite hair gel in the dressing room at the arena. You are God’s gofer. God’s chai walla. But God loves you for that, and you should be really happy that your function in life is to promote “David,” who is–no, not Jesus–the pastor! David is special and wonderful in ways you can’t really understand, so don’t analyze his motives, and be really proud you get to take his jackets to the cleaners and trim his hedges and lie about his girlfriends and so on.

I can’t even tell you how many things are wrong about this. First of all, David was “a man after God’s own heart,” and he was a great prophet. He made mistakes, but he was not a fool whose main goal in life was to build a megachurch with its own cruise ship dock. David was generally worthy to be followed. And he truly was anointed; he had God’s approval, and that’s all that really matters.

Many of our modern megachurch and wannamegachurch pastors are cut from cruder cloth. They are of a lower class. They tend to be insincere, unconcerned with the poor, oblivious to the problems of the people they are supposed to serve, vain, greedy, rude, and so on. They pay themselves, their unanointed relations, and their buddies big money, and they tell poor congregants God wants them to give huge, unscriptural offerings in order to keep the show going. It’s okay to be an Abishai when you’re following a David (or Jesus, whom David actually symbolized). It’s not okay when you’re following a Robert Tilton or a Kenneth Copeland.

Second thing: the idea about serving the king and not the palace is a little ridiculous. In fact, the office is more important than the man. That’s obvious even in the secular world, where incompetent CEOs get the boot all the time. Venal preachers need to be cast down so they can’t continue doing harm, and those who follow them need to find better leaders. You don’t dump a pastor the first time he does something dumb, but if he’s an utter fool, you don’t waste an inordinate amount of time getting him replaced or moving on. It’s probably okay to put up with a bad pastor for a year, if he is teachable and humble, but if he thinks he knows everything, eventually he has to go.

Look at the Bible. When Saul screwed up, did God get rid of the king’s office? Of course not. He got rid of Saul. When Eli’s sons screwed up, did God get rid of the priesthood? No, he destroyed Eli’s line. Over and over in the Bible, we see unworthy people kicked out of office. It’s as Biblical as salvation.

Third thing: the book has an accusatory tone worthy of Satan, who accuses us before the Father day and night. This is a classic and cheap debating tactic of which Satan has always made good use. When a righteous person stands up for God and opposes men who are in error, the smart thing is to accuse him of wicked intentions. Then he’s on the defensive. And if you’re a preacher, the congregation will presume he’s right.

Good preachers don’t spend their days making up doctrines they can use to silence their just critics. This tactic is something we’ve seen in Nazi Germany, Islamist regimes, and the former USSR, not to mention Scientology and other cults. If you disagree, you are wicked, and if you choose to defend yourself, the burden of proof is on you. And defending yourself is just more proof that you’re wicked, because a real ABISHAI would admit he was wrong!

The Abishai anointing is a brainwashing tool. It’s a typical cult doctrine. In a real church, leaders put people in contact with the Holy Spirit, and he grows in them and unites them. They don’t need mind-control tactics. In a church where the Holy Spirit takes a backseat to greed and pride, you have to have a cheat in order to keep people in line.

Last night I realized my old church was teaching this nonsense again. I can show you some tweets and Facebook statuses I saw.

Submission will take you to places that ambition will never take you

Sure, but you have to submit to people who are, themselves, submitted to God.

It’s either shut your mouth or leave, support the vision or leave! -Sermon Title: The Abishai Anointing

All I can say is, “Find THAT for me in the Bible.”

You do not owe your friends an explanation! -Sermon Title: The Abishai Anointing

Right. We all remember that verse in Proverbs. Do whatever you want! Accountability is for the little people!

But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord ‘s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that a…

So now if I compare sermons to the Bible and point out the glaring disagreement, I’m laying a hand on the Lord’s anointed. That’s great news.

“The seeds you sow as a follower, you will reap as a leader.”

So if the leader abuses people, and you put up with it instead of calling him out, I guess you get to abuse people when you become a leader.

Actually, that seems to be true. When Mr. Burns dies, Smithers will probably be the boss from hell.

You can probably see why I was unhappy. This stuff is not about God. It’s prophylactic preaching. Its purpose is to shield the pastor from accountability.

People need to be taught about fasting, prayer, Bible reading, and the promises of God. Instead, the pastor is putting out landmines in case anyone tries to challenge him when he does wrong. Is this why people come to church? Do addicts in base houses sit up and say, “Man, I feel a burning need to be told not to criticize bad preachers! I have to get to church NOW so I can become a mindless butt-kisser! I know this will fill the gaping void in my soul!” Of course not. They want to know God and see his restoration and redemption.

I hate to spend so much time criticizing, but how do you fill a vessel with something good if you don’t empty out the pus and corruption that already fills it?

In my own life, things continue to improve. The more I pray in the Spirit, the more faith I have. The more God speaks to me and guides me. The more success I have. He fixes my faults. He helps me become like him. He defeats my enemies. Anyone can have these things, but they won’t get them from sitting in a blind church maxing out their credit cards.

Last night I asked God if he could limit the anger to what is necessary to get his work done. Righteous anger is a very good and necessary thing; anyone who says otherwise is a liar. But I don’t want it in me one second longer than it has to be, and I don’t want it to give rise to bitterness or self-righteousness. I don’t want it to make me forget my own sins and iniquities. I don’t want it to overcome love. I hate to see my friends taken advantage of by sleazy, unworthy people. I hate it. But I can’t let anger linger in me all the time.

I suggest we all pray for a change in leadership, not just at my old church, but at churches across America. Good leaders are everywhere, but unfortunately, many are not running churches. We need God to beat the dogs until they get out of the mangers.

An Ass and His Jawbone

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Keep it Moving

I’ve had some interesting experiences lately.

The Bible tells us to covet the ability to prophesy: “Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues (1 Cor. 14:39).” I’ve experienced a number of the gifts of the Spirit, but I am not really up to speed on prophecy. Once in a while I get a sentence or a phrase which, I’m pretty sure, comes from God, but I’m not one of these people who just flow like a river.

I don’t believe in saying this or that came from God, unless I’m on solid ground. The Old Testament said the Jews were to kill false prophets, so mistakes were not tolerated. Actually, they were tolerated, now that I think about it, because the Old Testament contains examples of a number of liars who were not executed, but still, the principle applies. It occurs to me that actual prophets were not tolerated. They were put in pits and sawn in half and so on, while the butt-kissers got parades. But that’s a rhetorical rabbit trail which I will avoid. What I’m getting to is this: I’m not going to run my mouth and claim God’s authority and HOPE I’m right.

A lot of “prophets” in the church are not so punctilious. They go around preaching and telling people wonderful things about the future…which are not true. You never hear them say, “Pastor, God says you need to stop dyeing your hair and skimming from the church’s charity wing.” They always say, “You’re going to do mighty things! You’re going to have a powerful TV ministry! Your stretch marks are going to go away without surgery! You will be so rich you’ll live on the tithe and give away ninety percent, and you’ll have an orange helicopter in your yard and a tennis court in your living room, just like your megachurch buddies!” They point to people in the congregation and say, “God is going to give you [insert profitable business here] and send you around the world!” Of course, none of this stuff actually happens, but no one keeps track, so there is no correction.

Nobody wants to end up like that. Nobody with any integrity.

Anyway, over the last couple of nights, I’ve felt words rising up inside me during prayer. It starts with praise which seems to exit under pressure, as though it did not come from me (anyone who prays in tongues a lot will understand this), and then out come the statements of fact.

Prophecy isn’t always about the future, and it’s not always highly specific. Sometimes it’s strong encouragement. It can be vague, as the ancient prophets demonstrate many times. The stuff I’m hearing isn’t extremely focused; God isn’t telling me to go to locker number 582 at the airport where I will find an orange kewpie doll filled with Bolivian money. And I’m not hearing that I’ll be on TV with a giant lacquered Christian hairdo and a purple suit, paying myself an eight-figure salary. But I hear good stuff. I’m hoping it’s true. Some of it is about an increase in God’s love flowing through me. That would be nice. I’m not totally unaware of my faults, so I do ask for more empathy, and I would like to receive it.

Perry Stone has a wonderful teaching out this month. Boiled down, it goes like this: spirits need bodies in the earth in order to get things done here. Satan used a serpent. Jesus came in the flesh, and he was killed, and now he is coming again, inside each of us, through the Holy Spirit. This is why he calls us his body.

I agree with this. The fruit of the Spirit are his character (or “righteousness”), put inside us through grace. The gifts are his power (or “kingdom”). In the past, Christians got by with accepting salvation and trying to be good. But we are expected to be little replicas of Jesus, complete with his supernatural characteristics, and that only comes through the Holy Spirit.

If we don’t prophesy, and if we don’t have his knowledge and wisdom, and if we don’t receive and interpret messages in tongues, where will we be? The ancient Jews used to communicate with God in the Holy of Holies, unless I am seriously misled. I am told they could inquire of God, and he would give them answers by miraculous means. This is one of the ways they found out whether they would succeed in battle. It seems a little silly to expect modern believers to try to get by with their own meager understanding. Satan’s servants haven’t lost their supernatural power, yet somehow, we are not expected to develop our own. Does that make sense? Of course not. Paul said we battle supernatural beings in high places. Are we supposed to do that by earthly means alone? It’s like the Polish cavalry, riding out to attack German bombers with swords.

I think supernatural power is what draws martyrdom. Satan doesn’t care all that much if you get people saved. It’s a defeat for him, but he still gets to rule the earth, as long as we’re weak. And it is widely believed that believers have to reach a certain level of power and righteousness before Jesus returns. It may be that keeping Christians weak prolongs Satan’s reign and postpones his destruction and humiliation. In any case, martyrdom is pretty rare in times when Christians deny the Holy Spirit, and it was very common back in the beginning, when tongues and miraculous manifestations were considered routine. The bigger the threat, the bigger the earth’s immune response.

I keep seeing the things God told me 25 years ago confirmed. Prayer in the Spirit is vital, and you have to do it a lot. The amount matters a great deal. You have to fast. You have to read the Bible. You have to pray with your understanding and analyze and admit your faults. You have to get the supernatural juice turned on. These things are easy to do, because God does most of the work. They will bring power into your life. They will end hopelessness and depression. They will put your life on track. And of course, heaven waits at the end, with rewards you have accumulated.

I think it’s this simple: you can grow, or you can rot. There is no such thing as sitting still. And like a plant, you will not grow without water. That water is the living water of the Holy Spirit. It has to flow every day, just as a plant has to be watered over and over.

Take it for what it’s worth. It has never stopped working for me.

Weeds Before the Idiot Stick

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Don’t Get Stuck in the Afterbirth

Last night I got somewhat depressed. Various things got me thinking about the predicament the earth is in.

This world is ruined. We manage to enjoy it a good part of the time, because human beings can get used to anything. I’m sure there were moments of happiness in the Nazi death camps, because there is almost no limit to what the human mind can learn to tune out. We aren’t always miserable, but that doesn’t change the truth. This place is so full of innocent blood, it might as well be a temple. The world is cursed.

Try and imagine the suffering which is going on right now. As I type this, children and old women are being raped. People are being murdered in front of their families. Billions and billions of animals are tearing each other apart. Crops are failing. Careers are ending. People are dying young. Babies are being born without arms. There is no way for a human mind to comprehend the pain that exists in the world.

None of this was supposed to happen.

We chose to rebel. God gave us free will, because he wanted real love and obedience, and we wasted no time in misusing it. As far as we know, Adam knew God personally and could speak to him face to face whenever he had a problem, and God was always with him, so whatever he did prospered. He did not lack knowledge or help. But he threw it away because he thought his way was better than God’s way, and as a result, succeeding generations knew less and less about God, and Satan’s ability to torment and control us increased, just like the population of the crop-killing weeds that followed the curse.

We used to have plenty. We used to have peace. Now we have cancer, the black plague, venereal disease, birth defects, war, poverty, perversion, natural disasters…we fail when we should succeed, and the evil succeed when they should fail. And the strange thing is that no matter what God does to help, we decline in knowledge, wisdom, and virtue.

God came to Moses and told him how people should live, if they wanted success. God didn’t owe this to us. Running the world is our job, not his. But he did it anyway. And God couldn’t even get half of the Hebrews to listen. Most of them died in Egypt. Then they rebelled on the way out, and God threatened to kill everyone except the family of Moses. God had to kill 3,000 Hebrews before their journey really got started. And when he appeared to them as a cloud and a pillar of fire, to lead them to the Promised Land, they refused to trust him, and a whole generation died in the desert.

God sent Jesus, who took the extraordinary measure of sacrificing his body so that we could receive the Holy Spirit and become like him. He allowed himself to be tortured to death in front of his jeering enemies. He died on Passover and sent the Holy Spirit to his followers on the same date on which God sent the Torah; could anything be more obvious? Is there anything more God could have done to convince people he was there for them? Nonetheless, within a few centuries, the church had abandoned the Holy Spirit, and they had adopted a doctrine of increasing God’s kingdom through human strength and effort. It was as if they preferred striving under the law to having things given to them under grace.

Around a hundred years ago, God practically forced the Holy Spirit on us again, descending in places like Azusa Street. We could have listened. We could have prayed in the Spirit, fasted, studied the word, and tried to serve God, using the incredible power he had given us. But Spirit-filled churches turned into televised whorehouses where oily men and women in gaudy clothes wheedled worthless cash offerings out of us. They’re still at it. We hear about “seed gifts” all the time, but only rarely is charity mentioned. We hear about positive thinking, which is utterly worthless, but we hear very little about sin, repentance, or the need to put God first.

Look where America stands now. Our young people are so enamored of the appearance of evil, they actually try to look like prison inmates. The shaved heads, bad tattoos, and chin beards we see today are the fashion statements of yesterday’s born losers. Thirty years ago, you had to go to a penitentiary to see that kind of thing. And of course, modern sex is coming to resemble prison sex.

We now celebrate homosexuality. Women are especially guilty. They adore homosexual men. They can’t believe God could disapprove of their cute, witty little friends. We promote abortion–murdering the unborn within their mothers’ bodies–as a necessary tool to assure the success of young women. We teach arrogance as though it were a virtue. Our entertainment is filthy. We love possessions and pleasures. We call people who stand up for God “haters.” We even teach that Jesus–an Orthodox rabbi–was a pervert. We project our goat-like values back on him, and we claim he was essentially the gay Jewish Buddha. One of many enlightened saviors. I don’t want to get sidetracked, but as the Dalai Lama says, Buddha was against homosexuality and sexual excess. Even Buddha has been watered down. No god is lenient enough for today’s spoiled Americans.

I thought about all this, and I realized how little I liked the world. Strangely, I enjoy life more than I ever did, but I really don’t like this place. I want to live in a world where good succeeds and evil is not rewarded and does not even exist. I don’t want to see sick people any more. I don’t want to see animals suffer. I don’t want to see deformities and diseases. I want to hear an end to the hate-filled lies ignorant people spew about God and his people. It would be so wonderful to be able to look at the TV listings and know I wouldn’t see Bill Maher’s name.

The Bible tells us Christians are not part of the world. We are really missionaries, or, as the Bible calls us, “ambassadors.” The ship is sinking; we are just here to pull willing people into the lifeboats and help them become like God. When I think about the problems this planet has, these truths become more real to me.

I am tempted to say we are not worth saving, but that’s not really right. Many must be worth it, or God would not be working so hard at it. But in the end, it will turn out that the people remaining unsaved are not worth trying to reach by humane means. There will be dregs that have to be filtered harshly. We know that, because God is going to remove the flesh from his people, shaking the dust from his feet, and then he is going to remove his remaining protection from the world, and the Tribulation will follow.

Weak Christians will be here to suffer; many of those who lack the Holy Spirit and deny the gift of tongues will be like Peter, who denied Jesus before the Romans. Those who have filled their lamps with the oil of the Holy Spirit (symbolized by the lamps in the Holy of Holies), and who have managed and cared for the flames, will be gone. Noah and his family were separated from the earth by the earth’s waters. We will be separated by the waters of heaven, which are mentioned in Genesis.

Because America has gotten so filthy, and because we are developing technology which is rapidly giving us power only God should have, I am wondering if the Rapture is closer than I had expected. How much power will God let us have? How much longer will he let his people cast their pearls before increasingly vile and abusive swine?

Our technological boom reminds me of the Tower of Babel. That tower was a religious edifice. It was an observatory dedicated to astrology, which was very powerful in the ancient world. When God saw that man had such power within his reach, he intervened. I think we have seen similar things in the modern era. The people who design computers and software have done things so stupid, they are best explained by supernatural interference. The Apple versus IBM mess. Apple versus Google. Our gadgets would be a lot more dangerous had we made a unified, coordinated effort. I truly suspect that God has slowed things down, and that he will not let us get too strong. He wants to preserve a certain amount of liberty, in order to allow us free will. Technology is reducing our liberty very quickly.

We’ve already lost privacy. The Founding Fathers gave us the Fourth Amendment, but now when you want to travel, you are presumed guilty of terrorism, so you get searched and even molested or photographed naked without probable cause. Unmanned machines can fly over your property without warrants and take photographs at will. Google cars can come to your driveway and photograph your house in the woods, and if you happen to be getting dressed by a window, too bad. The government and creepy private entities run by mischievous punks now have unprecedented power over us. In the near future, things will get even worse. It will be possible to wage conventional war by remote control. When we don’t fear casualties, what will happen to our humanity? People show their true colors when they have no fear.

Part of me wants to avoid looking like a kook holding a “The End is Near” sign, but now that I think about it, Jesus was such a person. He warned us to be ready, and so did Paul. If you don’t know when things are going to get sideways, the rational thing is to live as though it could happen today.

It’s very disconcerting. It makes me sad, knowing that so many of us will never live our earthly dreams. A happy marriage, kids, a nice house, good health, financial abundance, success…these things come unpredictably, to a certain percentage of people. The rest have to be content with the blessings of the afterlife. That makes sense. Each generation is a crop, and in a cursed world, we are subject to blights, droughts, and weeds. It’s natural that many of us should be stunted or barren.

The other day, I realized that chaff is the afterbirth of grain plants. A mammal’s afterbirth is useless flesh that accompanies a birth and then dies and rots. The Bible compares the ungodly to chaff. When the harvest comes, anyone who gets left behind will be like discarded afterbirth.

I am torn between wanting to see it over with and wanting to please God by helping with the harvest.

I was once told that God was displeased with Noah’s weak efforts to reform the wicked people around him. It was good that a few righteous people were saved, but it would have been better had they been able to persuade others to repent. I think Christians should be mindful of this. It’s great to know you’ve got a golden ticket, but we remain on this planet primarily to increase our numbers.

I guess this is a gloomy post, but when this is all behind us, surely the pain we’ve witnessed will no longer distress us.