Friday, November 30, 2012

Where Have All The Producers Gone?

I often ask this question of people: Are you a producer or a consumer? The short answer is that we are both but the eternal answer should be that we are producers. Unfortunately our society is bent on creating consumers; people who do nothing but consume whatever junk is thrown their way. Very little of it is of any value, mostly just entertainment related things. But we eat it up with an insatiable appetite. What is it that we are contributing, producing for our society?

The seed of God is not a consumer but a producer. Wherever God's Word goes things are produced. Wherever God's love is shared things are produced. Wherever he sends his children things are produced. We are seeds. We are producers. We contribute. If we are born of the Spirit it is part of our new character and we can't help ourselves.

In one of my favorite passages of the Bible, Isaiah 55, God says this of his Word:

As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (vv. 10-11)


"It will not return to me empty". Jesus gave that same direction for our lives as he told the story of the talents. A master was going away for a while and he gave some money for his servant's to invest for him, to produce more. The one who produced the most from what he was given was rewarded the most. The one who produced nothing was rejected. Our lives are like that money. We have been given many blessings but those blessings are not to be selfishly hoarded away but instead they are meant to be given out, shared, planted, invested so that they will produce.

Paul encouraged the Colossians with this:

All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. (Colossians 1:6)

Wherever the gospel goes in produces growth. We have been given this gospel to seed into people's lives but we are like farmers who hold on to the seed, afraid of offending the soil. People are not being saved from death because we are too afraid of offending them; we withhold the good news. We have not yet understood that we have the key of life to be offered to those who are dying. If they accept it or not is up to them but how will you know unless you offer it?

So again I ask, are you a producer or consumer. We have enough consumers in this world, what God has called you to be is a producer. Wherever the gospel goes it produces fruit and there is growth. Are we taking the gospel with us wherever we go? Do we trust that God will do something with it? Are we willing to set aside our fear of rejection and just trust that God will use the words he places in our mouth and the action he gives to our hands? We are producers because of Christ in us, so let's get to work.













Thursday, November 29, 2012

There Is A Hope That Springs Eternal

Hope is a funny thing. In the context of this world it is something that is dependent on circumstances. We hope that things will get better. We hope we will get the job. We hope she "likes me as much as I like her". We hope and we are told that hope springs eternal. But hope is often left unexplored in the fear of seeing it crushed.

Hope is often fleeting like trying to chase after the wind. The least little word or action can suck it away from us, leaving us empty and dark. In an instant our castle built on the foundation of hope is reduced to rubble. All those things you hoped for, gone when you lose ... your job, your fight with cancer, your spouse, your court case. All hope destroyed as you see ... her with him, your failing grade, your rejection letter, your home gone up in flames, your car wrecked beyond repair. Lost hope can be described in countless ways and we have all tasted that bitter pill in one form or another.

That is the hope of this world, weak, fleeting, dissipating like a wisp of smoke. But that is not the hope born of Jesus. It is not the hope of which Paul wrote:

Faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. (Colossians 1:5-6)

The hope that is stored up for you in heaven is a treasure where no thief can steal it away, or rust corrode or moth destroy. Circumstances cannot get close to what has been stored away for us in heaven. This is not a weak hope because our hope is Jesus himself. Paul writes:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Does this sound like a cashing after the wind to you; or something that dissipates like a wisp of smoke? This hope comes from trust, a trust that says "No matter the circumstances, I have peace Jesus because I know I am yours and you are mine. I know your promises and you are the great promise keeper. I know your priorities trump my priorities and I trust you".

Our hope is based on relationship, on trust which comes from faith. How can we forget these words:

Love ... "always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres". (1 Corinthians 13:7)

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

You see, our hope is based on love. Not love as defined and known by this world but the eternal love which is our God. Our hope is based on Jesus Christ, his act of love and redemption. No matter what this world has to throw at us it cannot touch our hope. It can't even come close, unless we have a false faith, false trust, false love and a false hope. This is why we must make sure that the ground we are standing on is solid so the storms can't steal the ground away from us.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:19)

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

Let your hope, your real hope be renewed today. Know the promises of God. Place your life squarely upon them. Make sure it is the solid rock of Jesus Christ you stand upon. In everything give thanks to him who has given you new life. Trust Jesus so that your heart will not be troubled. He has given you peace; it is yours and it cannot be stolen away.

















Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Misplaced Admiration

There is no denying that the Christian perspective is different. To have the mind of Christ and be controlled by the Spirit results in us seeing things differently from how we once saw them. At one time we placed value on people according to what they could do for us. It's a harsh reality but true. Maybe we didn't even realize it but we would always spend time with the people from whom we got the most. As Christians we spend time with the people to whom we give the most. Jesus has turned us from takers into givers; from haters into lovers.

The people for whom we have the most admiration are no longer those who contribute the most to our lives but those in who we see Jesus. We admire the givers, the lovers; they become our heroes even though they may not impact us directly:

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints. (Colossians 1:3-4)

This world will dull our spiritual senses if we allow it to, turning us back into the self-centered thinking we were raised in. But we are inspired when we see those who live like Jesus, always giving, never taking, but always open to receiving. We look and wish we could be like them, not always realizing we were designed to be this way. All of us were saved and given the opportunity to gain the character of Jesus.

It isn't that we wake up one day and decide that we are going to be like Jesus. It is a surrendering and a rejecting of what we know does not belong to that character. We give permission to the Spirit to control and teach us. It is a submission to the will of God, the character of Jesus. We can't change anything about ourselves but the Spirit can and does.

We know that our relationship is right with Jesus when we see our priorities and perspective changing. When we see people becoming more important to us and when we start spending time with people who we can contribute to instead of those from whom we can take, we know that Jesus is the major influence in our lives. That is the important thing to allow to happen; everything else has to become less and Jesus has to become more.

There are many things in this world that will look for your adoration and precious little deserves to have it. Sometimes we can think that it is well with our soul when actually darkness has crept in. Look to those things you admire, the things that make you laugh, the things that occupy your heart, mind and time, and much will be revealed to you concerning your relationship with Jesus. Surrender control of your heart and mind to the Spirit and things will change:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8) 









Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Discouragement Comes When We Forget

Is it possible for a Christian to become discouraged? Absolutely, when we forget. There are a lot of things we can forget that would lead us to discouragement, even depression. We can forget God's promises, presence, love, forgiveness, mercy, grace. We can even forget that we did not choose him but he chose us.

We forget this because we think that the decision we made meant that we chose him. We forget who created us in the first place and we forget he created us for friendship with him. We forget that he has pursued us throughout time and he laid down his plans to rescue us. We forget that he chose the cross. We forget he sent the Spirit. We forget that he decided for us before the beginning of time. We forget that Jesus even told us:

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. (John 15:16)

I think Paul often reminded himself and his readers that he had not chosen this relationship and calling himself but he had been chosen:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. (Colossians 1:1)

This was important to remember because Paul had been a persecutor of the Church and there were many people in the world who did not want Paul to forget. I am sure there are many people in your life who do not want you to forget what you were or what you have done. The great accuser certainly doesn't want you to forget. He wants you to remain weak, pitiful and useless to God. Between yourself, other people, and the great accuser it is hard to forget. But you must forget in order to remember who chose you.

You are not a freak chance of nature; you were purposefully designed and given life. You have been called to greatness in the Kingdom of God of which you are a citizen. You are a constant companion of God, called friend by Jesus and filled by God himself. You have been pursued by Jesus who does not want to lose you. You are cherished, loved and protected.

There are other choices you can make yourself. You can chose to ignore God. You can chose to stay miserable in the darkness of your soul. You can chose to hide under the blanket of tormenting emotions. You can chose to hide behind the frailty of man's logic. You can chose to remain enslaved to things you do not even realize exist. You can make these other choices or you can accept the fact that you are chosen.

Jesus is reminding you today, to encourage you, to lift you up, that you did not choose him but he chose you. Live in that knowledge today, accepting the fact that you never face anything alone but are always in the presence of the great overcomer. He said he will never leave you or forsake you. You will never be abandoned or forgotten. You are precious. Despite how you feel, what you think, how you act, God is always pursuing your friendship. He has chosen you, and his forgiveness, mercy and grace are enough to preserve you until the day of Jesus' return. Relax, forget about everything else, enjoy the journey and enjoy Jesus.













Monday, November 26, 2012

Are You An Encourager?

If you are not sure what your calling is yet or you have not had revelation of your gifts, there is one thing you can be doing. Basic to all of us is the ministry of encouragement. It does not take a lot of effort but the fruit produced is almost immediate.

Whenever Apostle Paul sent off one of his ministry team to deliver a letter to a church he always did it with the idea of encouraging that church. These team members were sent out as agents of encouragement:

Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you. (Ephesians 6:21-22)

Paul is sitting in jail in Rome and yet his first concern is the encouragement of the Body of Christ. Today too many of us are too busy with our own circumstances to even notice what others are going through. When we do notice we don't consider it any of our business to get involved. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ; we are responsible for each other.

We don't encourage as the world encourages. We don't compliment each other, our talents, appearance or some false notion of hope. We encourage each other in the Lord. We encourage each other by giving glory to Jesus. We encourage each other by speaking the Word of God into each other's lives. We encourage by praying. We encourage by reminding each other of God's love and faithfulness. There is real power in this type of encouragement.

We also encourage by our actions. When we take time to be with a person, there is encouragement. When we cook them a meal. If they are sick or busy we can come by and help with their house cleaning. We can offer to take the kids for the day so they can have a break. There is always encouragement found in acts of love.

We spend far too much time looking at people with the wrong perspective. We are far too critical. I am reminded again and again of this scripture:

Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:4)

Don't be one of those who stands on the sidelines and criticizes those who are in the game. Suit up and get on the playing field. If you don't know what to do start with encouragement. It is as you are active with the ministry of encouragement that you will receive greater revelation into your gifts and what it is to which you have been called. We have enough critics in the Church. What is needed is the person who is willing to step up and lift others up by encouraging in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Church needs more encouragers, especially as the Day is approaching. Stay strong in the Lord my brothers and sisters. Stand!















Sunday, November 25, 2012

Far From Ordinary

You are not ordinary. You are far from ordinary. You may have been ordinary but you are not ordinary any more. It is done; you are finished with being ordinary. Whatever you were, forget about it. Whatever limitations you had, forget about it. Whatever people think about you, forget about it.

This is what struck me as I read through Amos the other day. He was one of the prophets of the Old Testament. As a prophet he was given a message from God for the king and the kingdom and it wasn't always pleasant. However, prophets didn't get to choose what to say as they were simply messengers. It is because of the message that most prophets were seldom respected or treated well. No one wants to be told that what they are doing is wrong.

The king of Israel did not like what Amos was saying so he ordered him out of the kingdom. This was Amos' response:

I was neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ Now then, hear the word of the Lord. (Amos 7:14-16)

Notice his credentials? He only had one: "The Lord took me". He did not come from a line of prophets. He had no education or training. He was a farmer. A farmer! What business do farmers have in being God's prophets? The same business as fishermen and tax collectors. The same business as miners and construction workers. The same business as a hamburger flipper and newspaper sellers. The same business as students and stay at home moms.

There is only one credential anyone needs to preach the word or do anything in the Kingdom of Jesus: Be anointed by God.

I can`t say this enough. Professionalism has taken over the church. Credentials are all that matters. When I identify myself as a pastor most people look for my credibility by asking where I trained or studied. My credentials are found in the anointing of God and if you cannot sense that anointing then walk away. The well educated, the "trained", businessmen and teachers should not be heading up the Church as they do today. Jesus is the head and the Holy Spirit is the power. We have too many thinkers and not enough doers. Too much self-direction and not enough anointing.

When you are sure of your calling and know the anointing of God, not even kings can scare you. No authority on this earth can turn you aside from you purpose. No discouragement or fear can turn you back. Amos heard what the king said and responded with "God sent me to prophesy to Israel, now hear the word of the Lord." I really appreciate that. He says "I was nothing but God chose me and I am obeying". You have to appreciate the obedience.

My friend, know your calling. Accept the anointing. Obey what the Lord says. Ignore the haters. The only one you are ever going to answer to is Jesus and all he is looking for is obedience. So forget what anyone else tells you and respond to the Spirit who is revealing the calling, anointing you for the task and is directing you what to do. If there are true elders in your church, they will know the calling that is there and they will confirm what the Lord has put on you. Unfortunately there are many who call themselves elders who have never been anointed for the responsibility. So, you may have to accept and trust that God has called and anointed you. Listen to the Spirit. That is the only voice to which you should be listening

Thank you Amos.



Saturday, November 24, 2012

Let's Let Them Know About Jesus!

Given the right circumstance and motivation, we can all be bold. Some of you know that I was always a quiet kid growing up; quiet when adults were around. However, get me with my friends, away from everyone else and I was a wild man. At home with my parents I was a reader, stayed to myself, didn't venture an opinion on anything. With my friends I was an adventurer, building forts in the tree tops, daring to jump bikes over dangerous places, speeding down snow covered hills at break-neck speed. In the right circumstances we are all bold.

Boldness takes a certain level of confidence and trust. When we are with those we trust, those who we know will watch out for us, those who accept us for who we are, those who do not put limits on us, we can be fiercely bold. Imagine how bold we should be in the presence of our Lord and friend. Imagine how we should be all day long as we journey through the day with our Jesus. Imagine the confidence we should have in obedience to our King, who has promised to always be with us and who knows us better than anyone else. Imagine the comfort we feel considering Jesus has seen us at our worst and still covers us, still calls us blameless and innocent and who still desire a deeper relationship with us.

Who cares what anyone else has to say or whatever opinion anyone else has. I am looking for Jesus' approval and I want to do his will. All day long I just want to be in obedience to his desire for me. It's all that matters. It's all that should matter.

Remember though, he has purpose for our living. He has given us a message to give to others. He has done something wonderful for us and has told us to tell others about it. He wants the whole world to know how wonderful and loving he is. He wants them to know there is hope, a way out, a better life, a greater way, someone to love them, someone to set them free. You have that message they need to hear. You are Jesus' testimony.

It's not easy at times because our flesh still tries to hold us back. We hate rejection. We hate standing out in a crowd. We hate being alone, caste out, marginalized. But this is where we need to remember how important Jesus is to us and we need to remember we have been called to this important task and we need to remember the boldness that is ours because of this relationship. Apostle Paul knew it was hard at times but he also knew he had to be bold in the proclamation of the good news:

Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:19-20)

Fearlessly? What did Paul have to fear? Death? Rejection? That his flesh would try to set different priorities for him? That he would be worried about the opinions of others? Paul had more enemies than all of us combined and he was facing trial. Paul was about to stand before Caesar and he did not want that fact to cower him into speechlessness, or to react by his flesh. He recognized his weakness and he wanted to be strengthened against it.

Do you love Jesus enough to seek fearlessness in your daily walk, in your speech  decision making, and proclamations you make every day? Are you willing to live large according to the Spirit's direction, to be bold in sharing the good news of what Jesus has done for you? There is no time for reserved character or shyness. If Jesus is our confidence then we should be able to talk about him all day long. Don't hide the good news in your secret spiritual closet. Bring it out for the whole world to see and marvel at the greatness, love and grace of our Jesus. If you need prayer for this then we will pray for you. Let's let them know about Jesus!










Friday, November 23, 2012

An Uneducated Pastor

Can you imagine volunteering for your job instead of getting paid? Imagine walking into your boss and telling him you don't need the company computer, you are going to provide your own. Or a bus driver telling the city he's going to provide his own bus? Silly, right? Yet so many of us do that with God. He doesn't want anything from us except our friendship, love, emptiness and availability  For everything he calls us to he equips. Yet, most of us turn down his provision and try to resource the tasks ourselves.

How many things do you do in God's name that actually come from you? How many times have you spoken from your wisdom, served in your strength, reacted by your conviction, given from your riches? We can do a fair job in our own ability but God intends for us to go beyond fair to supernatural, beyond anything we could have ever imagined. When we do things in his anointing everything changes. He doesn't need anything we have to offer, he pours it out on us. Wow! do we ever have it backwards.

This is what the great apostle Paul requested the Ephesians to pray for him:

Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:19-20)

"Words may be given me", he writes. Paul did not speak from his own great knowledge and training. Paul did not speak from his own opinion or speculation. Paul did not study for four years to come up with the gospel of grace. Paul was in-filled by the Spirit. equipped, enabled and empowered to be the apostle to the Gentiles. He was given the revelation of the gospel of grace through the Spirit of God.

We've gone crazy with education. Knowledge is great. All minds should be expanded to the best of our capacity but God is not dependent on our education. We do not have to go off and be trained according to the methods of man before we can preach, teach and evangelize. A pastor does not need letters after his name and neither do apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers. There is nothing wrong with Bible colleges but God doesn't require them. We need to have Paul's understanding of God's equipping.

Style and methods do not mean anything compared to the anointing of God. We need more servants who are dependent on God for all things than we need educated men and women filling the positions in the Church. We need men and women who say to God "here am I send me" and desire their lips to be touched by the burning coal. We need men and women who understand that their power to serve comes from the Holy Spirit not seminary courses. We need men and women of God who are more interested in the anointing than in man's recognition of their studies.

I would rather sit under the training of an uneducated former alcoholic, saved by grace, empowered by the Holy Spirit than the best trained and educated seminary graduate. The anointing of God is all that we need to serve him to the full potential to which he has called us. Do not let anyone tell you any different. God's training school is all you need. Put your confidence in Jesus and you will be amazed how he uses you for his glory.


















Thursday, November 22, 2012

The True Weapon Of God's Warrior

If you want to know how healthy your relationship is with Jesus look to your attitude toward prayer. We talk a lot about prayer. We teach a lot about prayer. We think a lot about prayer. But do we pray? And when we pray, what is our attitude? Are we engaged? Connected? In actual conversation? Or is it simply a thought we throw out there in the hopes that something will come of it?

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

Does that describe your prayers, powerful and effective?

For the last couple of days I have been blogging on being equipped as warriors and about standing your ground for Jesus. All of that comes down to prayer. Prayer is the weapon that has been given to us in this warfare, but it is more than a weapon. Prayer is what allows everything to flow between us and Jesus. I don't fully understand why God ties his will to our prayers but if we are sensitive to the Spirit, he will tell us what to pray so that his power will be released and his will will be done. That is how important prayer is.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18)

On all occasions  In another place we are told to pray without ceasing. That means our relationship with Jesus is such that we are in conversation with him all day long. Prayer is not reserved for a certain time of the day or in a certain place. Prayer is an attitude, a state of mind, where we are engaged in the affairs of the Kingdom all day long.

With all kinds of prayers and requests. Jesus is not a rescuer who we run to every time we are in trouble. He is that but so much more. He is the lover of our soul, who we share every intimate moment of our day with. We include him in our triumphs, celebrations, defeats, desires, longings. But it is far more than just us. We also intercede for other people throughout the day.

Keep on praying for all the saints. It is terrible stuff that has been happening in Israel and Gaza. Of course, as Christians, we cover Israel in prayer but what about Gaza? You do realize the Church is there to, don't you? There are Christians there, struggling to represents Jesus in a sea of persecution and opposition  Have you interceded on their behalf?

It is more than that. We are told to be alert, pay attention, look around you and see what is going on. Did you notice how red and swollen the bus driver's eyes were this morning? Was that from crying? Did you take a moment to intercede for her? Did you notice how agitated the Math teacher was? Did you intercede? Did your friend just tell you that his uncle has cancer? Did you pray?

We are warriors. This is part of our equipment. This is our weapon. This is how we stand. This is how we fight. This is how we cover those in our lives. We can talk about it all we want but nothing comes of it unless we do it. We need to get together to pray in accord with the Holy Spirit and each other. We need to pray as individuals, prompted by the Spirit. We need to pray as we sit on the bus, We need to pray in class, in the office, on the park bench. On all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

Let's get back to basics. Pray, mighty warrior, pray!










Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Armour Of God - Essential

We are far too independent. It's not a good thing. We were created to be dependent on our Father. Unlike human fathers who's purpose is to help train their children for independent adulthood, our heavenly Father never wants us to become independent from him. In fact, he has made it impossible for us to be independent.

We died with Jesus on the cross. It is the only way that we could be separated from sin, breaking our slavery to it. In dying we had to be raised to life again so we were raised in Jesus. There is life as long as we stay in Jesus. Away from Jesus there is only spiritual death. We are absolutely dependent on him for life and everything we need to be victorious.

There is nothing in us that is of any use except the Holy Spirit. We have nothing to offer Jesus except our emptiness. It is our emptiness that he can use and that he gladly excepts from us. If we think we have anything to offer God we have not yet matured to the point of understanding this relationship. This is a truth that is important for us to understand if we are going to be effective warriors.

The armour of God is not natural to us. There is no part of it that comes from us. All of it is provided by God. Underline this fact in your thoughts so you will understand that fighting the darkness of this world is not natural to us and in our flesh we would rather just hide under the covers. But in Jesus we rise up as mighty warriors, heroes of the faith, putting on the full armour of God. From Ephesians 6:

- belt of truth: it holds everything together. If we allow falsehood to be part of us it unties the belt and everything falls apart. We cannot fight without truth. Not ours. God's.

- breastplate of righteousness:  God's righteousness has been declared over us. It is ours and it covers our heart. Regardless of what the enemy may accuse us of, truth or fabricated, it is covered by this breastplate. Learn to depend on that fact and let the sins of the past go. Do not allow those things to cripple you when God has declared you clean and innocent. This needs to be settled in you or the enemy will squash you in an instant.

- gospel of peace:  which keeps you ready to move, to take action. This peace is not world peace but is the declaration of what Jesus has done in bringing peace to us in our relationship with God. That is the good news that we hold out to the world and you must be prepared to share it wherever the Spirit sends you. As a soldier is ready to move out in an instant when the signal is given, so must we be prepared to share as the Spirit signals.

- shield of faith: protects us from all those flaming arrows flung at us from the enemy. Arrows of fear, doubt, anxiety. The shield is our declaration of trust. Jesus said it so it is. This is what so many potential warriors try to go out into battle without. It's crazy. We are open to every attack of the enemy when we leave behind our shield. Faith must be with us daily. It is given to us by God, not natural to us at all.

- helmet of salvation: covers us. It protects us. It keeps our head in place. It protects our mind which gives us perspective. We do not get lost in the perspective and values of this world. Our salvation reminds us that we belong elsewhere and that we get our values from a different source. Salvation keeps us grounded in God's perspective, especially as we are reminded of his love, mercy and grace.

- sword of the Spirit, the Word of God: which we use to strike back at the enemy. Remember what Jesus did when faced by the enemy. The Word of God was his defence. It is our defence. Philosophies and clever ideas from our own mind already belong to the enemy. It is only the Word of God that has any effect on our foe. Know it well. Learn to use it. Become an effective warrior.

I will talk about prayer in all of this tomorrow.

For today, if you have any desire to stand for Jesus, to take your stand, to be the mighty warrior you have been called to be in the army of Jesus Christ, then you better understand God's armour well. You better make sure it is in place every day. Without it you will not succeed as you have been called to succeed. With it, no evil force or influence can come close to touching or harming you. With it, you are a giant walking on the face of this earth. Make sure you have it in place before you start your day. Rise up mighty warrior of God.






Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stand

Could you imagine being an athlete preparing for the Olympics. All those years of eating well, sleeping properly, training hard. All those days of forcing your will to submit to that one goal. Those days when you just don't feel like it, forcing your body to submit. Doesn't matter the other circumstances in your life, everything must submit to this one goal. You have to admire the dedication and hard work of  athletes. But imagine being that athlete who puts in all those years of training and then doesn't bother showing up for the Olympics.

Imagine the student who has put in over 2,280 hours of homework in their time as a student. Who has attended 13,680 hours of classes. Who has written a few thousand books of notes. Who has been taught by at least 42 different teachers. Who has gained knowledge and learning skills. Who has used the resources of his parents to go through 348 pencils, 87 pens, hundreds of trees worth of paper, countless rulers, compasses, protractors  lunch boxes and other various school supplies. Imagine the students how has put in all this time, throwing away his last year of High School.

Imagine the Christian who has spent their lifetime believing. Who has spent decades in training, learning, being shaped. Who has spent years studying the Word and applying it to his life. Who has spent countless hours in conversation with God. Who has had a deep fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Who has learned to wear the Armour of God. Who has been trained in spiritual warfare and is prepared for battle. Who has learned what it is to trust, to have faith. Imagine such a Christian walking away when the battle is upon him.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)

The whole purpose of our training and equipping is so that we will stand. What is the sense of all the training and preparation to prepare us to stand if, on that day of battle, we walk away? That would be a very sad life and one I would not want to live.

But truth be told, those who are active in their training and preparation never walk away. It is those who forget to train, who forget to prepare, who get distracted by other things, who end up falling away. It doesn't take long and it doesn't take much. In the end, we are very weak creatures, prone to failure and defeat. Our success is found in our source of all things. Our strength is never found in us but in Jesus Christ. It is when you unplug from that source or neglect the relationship that things begin to fade away quickly and we forget. Then when the day is upon us, we fold and are blown away with all those who are without Jesus. It is sad.

I have put in too much time to give up now. I have invested too much to walk away. This relationship is far too valuable for me to throw away. There is nothing of any greater value in this world and I must remind myself of that constantly. Every day is a training day, a day of preparation. When that day of evil is upon us I will stand because I have been trained to stand. What about you, mighty warrior of God? Have you settled the matter in your heart? Are you going all the way? Are you prepared to stand?







Monday, November 19, 2012

Understanding The Nature Of The War, Mighty Warrior

Everyone wants world peace but it isn't going to happen. As long as the enemy is here we are going to be involved in this war with many battles ahead of us. What is important for us is to understand the nature of this war and the battles we are engaged it. How can we be effective if we don't understand what we are doing and what we are up against? The nature of it is this:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

There is more to it than what you see. To the enemy people are nothing more than pawns in his battle against God. He uses everyone who belongs to the dark as pawns in this great war but he cannot use us. We are not his pawns because he cannot control those who are covered by the blood of Jesus. He will try to scare us, intimidate us, confuse us, even discourage us but he can't touch us or use us. We are the object of God's affection and he hates that. We are filled by the presence of God and he hates that. We smell like Jesus and he definitely hates that.

As we are engaged in battle it is important for us to remember that those who are lost in the darkness are still the objects of God's affection. Jesus died for us while we were still sinners and he died for the entire world. Each person is a potential Kingdom dweller. We are not out to kill them or even destroy them but the dark influence that is over them. In fact, their salvation is the reason we fight. They are just puppets and they have no idea what is going on. But we do.

We need to grasp this picture of a great realm of darkness at work in this world. We do not fear it. We stand against it. We fight for people not against people. We use the full armour of God to take our stand in the place God has given to us and we fight for the people God has placed in our lives. We do not pray for the destruction of governments but instead we pray for their salvation. We never pray against a person but for a person. We pray against the darkness as we hold out the Light and Hope to this world.

Just be aware that the enemy is always looking for ways to discourage you. You must be aware of this in order to defend against it. This morning I woke up to the thought of setting aside my writing and preaching, of quitting, just walking away. There was a great spirit present trying to discourage me when I was the weakest, when I wasn't fully awake and when tiredness creates openings. It is only as I turned to the Word this morning that such thoughts were sent fleeing as I encourage myself in the Lord. With the Sword of God in my hand I remembered who I am in the Lord. Those thoughts did not belong to me but were ploys of the enemy.

Pay attention. Be aware. Be on your guard. Stand your ground. Fight, warrior of God! Fight against those dark realms. Pray without ceasing.






Sunday, November 18, 2012

Who Does God Hate?

Who does God hate?

No one!

But that doesn't mean he will not judge those who are in rebellion to him. That is the tragedy in this whole thing: God's love is so great it has produced a grace that will cover any sin, but most people reject this love. Listen to these words and understand the depth of the love from which they come:

‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die?' (Ezekiel 33:11)

Who does God hate?

No one!

Is there a day of judgement for those who chose themselves over God?

Sadly, yes.

And God's heart will break on that day as it breaks every day we choose wickedness over life. But there will be judgement. And, listen to these words that came from the most beautiful lips, words that speak of grace and death in the same breath:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:17-18)

Those who stand and preach that there will be no hell because in the end God's love will win out are calling Jesus a liar. Oh, it can be our desire that everyone on the face of this planet will realize the brilliance of God and his great love for us and will make the right decision, but the decision over heaven and hell is entirely ours.

Who does God hate?

Absolutely no one!

He went to the cross for us. He spilt his blood for us. His love drove him to pay the ultimate price for us. But even that wasn't enough because he has planned more for us. The grave is empty for a reason. He has called us to him for eternity. He has even given us a taste of that by sending us his Holy Spirit; a deposit guaranteeing what is to come. But there is still a choice to be made.

Understand fully what it means to make that choice. It means being crucified on the cross with Jesus. It means dying to yourself. It means rejecting anything that is not from God. It means not pursuing your selfish desires but the will of God. Too often we use the love and grace of God to mask our selfish desires and sins, but it is still rebellion and a decision against Jesus. Those who advocate the acceptance of sin, the rebellious acts of the unsaved, calling the holy common and the common holy, need to wake up to this fact. God's judgement is as real as his love and grace.

Who does God hate?

No one.

Now the decision is ours.







Saturday, November 17, 2012

Is There A Beating In Your Future?

I hope you know you are hated. The enemy of God hates the smell of you. If he could, he would destroy you in an instant, not because of you, but because of the one who loves you. By hurting you he is hurting God. You are nothing to the enemy, but if he can use you to get to God he will. You don't need to be paranoid about him but you do need to be aware.

You need to be aware that the enemy is plotting against you. He is hiding behind the pack, waiting to pick off any strays. He is nothing compared to Jesus but he is stronger than we are. If we try to fight him in our flesh we are toast. In fact, we do not need to fight him at all, only resist him. But even resisting him is impossible if we are not equipped.

Let me put it this way: If you play football without any equipment you will be carried off the field on a stretcher. If you play hockey without any gear you will end up in traction for a few months. If you attempt to follow Jesus without the full armour of God you are going to get beat up.

The instructions are simple:

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:11)

What is the full armour? We will get into more detail in a future blog so let me just give you the list: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, Word of God, prayer. This is the equipment that God has given to you so that you can take your place as a warrior of God, to take your stand against the schemes of the enemy. On our own we are dead meat but with Christ in us we are more than conquerors.

You need to check you armour; make sure it is all in place. Check your heart: is there anything there that would allow the enemy to get a foothold? What is coming out of your mouth; blessings or cursings? Check your attitude; is there hatred, prejudice, malice or rebellion there?

A warrior of God, with the armour in place, is protected so that the Spirit of God can produce fruit in him. Check your fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. If this is what is being produced in your life, if this is what people see in you, then your armour is in place and you are taking your stand. However, if there is a great lack of this fruit being produced in you, you need to check your armour. Maybe you left bits of it at church, or under your bed, or in your prayer closet.

Come on mighty warrior, leave the civilian affairs to others and get back to the fight. Check you armour so you do not have to face correction from our Captain. Get back to the ranks, we need you. In the mighty authority of Jesus Christ, cast out any ugliness the enemy has planted in you and allow the brilliance of Jesus to shine. Stand up and let's see that armour. The enemy doesn't have a chance to succeed against those called by God. Rejoice! Stand!






Friday, November 16, 2012

Friendship With God

It is amazing how God has created us. In a perfect environment we can accomplish whatever we put our mind to. From the very beginning we have tried to be God, building towers to reach the heavens. We have put men on the moon, sent robots to Mars, split atoms, harnessed the power of fire, water, air and sun. Our accomplishments are long and amazing because God has created us to be amazing. Yet, we are falling short of what we could be, of what God created us to be.

There is no doubt that God created us to be industrious. When God created Adam he also created a special garden so Adam would have some work. He put him right to it, giving him the job of naming everything. We are much more content when we are working; when we have purpose. We are pretty well destroyed and reduced in spirit when there is nothing for our hands to do. As great as this realization is, it is not our ultimate purpose, the reason we were created.

God created us because he wanted friendship. I realize that this concept might be totally odd for you, after all   what goes an ant have in common with a human. Why would God what to be friends with his creation? I guess that is a question we can ask when we get home but for now we can just look at the evidence. Just consider the relationship he had with Adam as they spent time walking in the garden together. Consider his friendship with Abraham who simply chose to believe God. Consider his relationship with Moses as they worked together to bring the people to the promised land. In fact, consider anyone in the Bible who chose to take God at his word, to trust him, and who entered into that relationship of friendship.

Our greatest role is friendship with God and he invites us to join him in his work. He invites us in to fellowship with him, to walk and talk with him. The work is to keep us balanced but it is the relationship that is the focus. Our obedience in the friendship is not based on fear but love:

If you love me, you will obey what I command. (John 14:15)

We have been invited into this friendship, that we would be included in the council of God, to know his will, his mind, his plans:

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15)

Yes, we have accomplished and will continue to accomplish great things because it is how we were created, but the greatest thing is our friendship with God. For this reason we are able to say that our strength is not found in ourselves but in our friend. We need to stop looking at our strengths and weaknesses, putting limitations on ourselves or even over achieving and realize our dependence is on our friend. This is what we must understand every day of our life:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (Ephesians 6:10) 

Our strength is not found in our hands, in our efforts, but in our relationship. We are to be strong in the Lord because he is our everything and his friendship matters more than anything else. It is his power that saved, rescued and invited us into this friendship. There is nothing we have done or could do to save ourselves just as there is nothing we can do to accomplish our great potential. The secret is all found in our relationship. Let's learn to walk with God in the cool of the evening and enjoy great conversation about everything. It is our true nature and purpose, to enjoy the companionship of God. Without that there will always be emptiness in us.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

On Being A Boss

A lot of people aspire to be a boss, a leader, someone in charge. When I was younger I always thought it would be the ultimate freedom with no one to tell me what to do. It isn't that I wanted power over other people but instead I wanted to be free from people having power over me. It wasn't until I became a boss that I realized a couple of things. First, being a boss is more about responsibility than privilege. Second, we always have someone to whom we have to answer.

Those to whom God calls and anoints for leadership, any leadership, in the Body of Jesus, he also holds to a greater accountability. We know that apostles, evangelists, prophets, pastors and teachers will all be judged more severely and will have to give account for everything God gave to them to invest for the Kingdom. But so too will each elder, deacon, Sunday School teacher, worship leader, band member and anyone else with any responsibility over anyone else. It is also true for any Christian given responsibility in the world:

And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him. (Ephesians 6:9)

When Paul says "in the same way" he is referring to what he just finished saying to the salves. There has to be an attitude that we are serving the Lord. There must be an attitude of respect, fear, and sincerity. We should be afraid to do any harm to anyone because, even if they are not saved, they are the objects of God's love. If an employee must show respect and serve sincerely, as if they are serving the Lord, how much more someone with responsibility over someone else?

We need to always keep in mind that we have to have Jesus' attitude and he said that he did not come to be served but to serve. Even when we are the boss we need to have a servant's heart, caring for those for whom we are responsible. If we saw them as Jesus would we act toward them any differently? This is even more so when you have responsibility over a fellow Christian.

Being the boss of a Christian is probably the hardest thing to do. We have such high expectations for each other and when we fail to meet those expectation it can affect they way we treat each other. It is hard not to judge. This is the verse I try to keep in mind:

Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:4)

The Lord will get us all there in the end, no matter our level of maturity or revelation. Meanwhile we are to respect, fear, be sincere and love each other.

Bosses have to remember that we all serve the same Lord and he is Master of us all. It is good to remember that he has no favourites  From the greatest evangelists to the worse sinner, God loves us all. It is because of that love that we must show respect to all human life. How can we mistreat the objects of God's affection? How can we have poor attitudes toward those for whom Jesus went to the cross?  How can we allow something like being a boss interfere with our greater responsibility of being vessels of God's love?

It is a beautiful thing when it all flows together, slave respecting master and master respecting slave, but it doesn't always go that way. It doesn't matter. How a boss is treated cannot affect the responsibility of the boss to treat the employees well, showing them respect and love, serving them as if he is serving Jesus. We are all accountable to the same Master. Serve him well.









Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Radical Teachings Of The Bible

We often use our circumstances as an excuse for our attitude or reaction to things. We feel justified in what we say or do when there is just cause behind it. It makes us feel better but it also prevents us from being accountable for our actions. The thing is, it doesn't work that way for Christians. Regardless of our circumstances we are to follow the direction of the Spirit and the Spirit always directs us in words and actions of love. No excuses.

What is the worse possible human condition you think you can be found in? How about when all freedom and rights are stripped away from you? Maybe, when you are treated like a possession, no better than a piece of furniture? We call it slavery and it is still going strong in this world. How would you react if you were found in that circumstance? Stolen off the streets, smuggled out of the country and sold to the highest bidder. What would you do? Well, here is how radical Christianity is:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. (Ephesians 6:5)

Yes, the attitude of submission goes even that far, regardless of your circumstances. Remember, when Jesus told us to love our enemy it was not just words he was speaking. Did you think he was just talking about kind thoughts you were to have? Love equals action. If as a slave we are to obey with respect and fear, emptying ourselves of self so we can obey with sincerity of heart, and have the same attitude as if we were obeying Jesus, how much more in every other circumstance of our life?

What about that teacher that always seems so hard on you? Everything in you wants to tell that teacher off. What about your parents who treat you so unfairly? How about that boss that keeps changing things and expecting so much out of you? What about that police office that always seems to pick on you? The flesh tells you to rise up in rebellion but the Spirit in you yells obedience with respect, fear and sincerity.

I have to be honest, these words are convicting me this morning. My church is small so to help take some of the financial burden off of it I work as a customer service professional from home. I am not always respectful in my attitude toward the company I work for. I often find their expectations to be unfair. There is a rebellion in my heart toward them and I am not sure I have always given my best effort. I have been robbing Jesus of his glory. I can't say that I have been in step with the Spirit with this:

Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. (Ephesians 6:6)

What is the will of God? Submission. That I would submit to the demands and expectations of the company I work for and do it with sincerity. This truth is hard when I examine my attitude toward different circumstances in my life. What is my attitude like to all authority in my life, from bus driver to Prime Minister? If this is what slaves were being told, how much more should we check our attitude. It's not about us; it is about the glory Jesus receives in our Christ-like attitude:

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. (Ephesians 6:7-8)

As if you were serving the Lord, not men. Yes, this applies to that teacher, boss, police officer who treats you unfairly. Is there anything more unfair in life than being a slave? If this is the expectation for a Christian slaves, how much more a person with freedom? The most radical thought out of all of this is that the riches of this world hold no value to us compared to doing the will of God, because our reward is coming. Our reward is not found here. We are not to seek things for our own benefit but always for the benefit of others. We are servants. Our reward is coming. Trust Jesus, live a life of submission and serve with sincerity of love.























Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Inconsistancy Of Love Exasperates A Child

We tend to point out to children that the Word says they must be obedient to their parents and that they must honour them. However, the Word has something to say to parents as well, especially fathers. It is not a "free for all" for parents. They don't get to do whatever they want. They have the huge responsibility to love their children and to train them in God's ways. Neither of those things are easy when you are trying to balance a busy life. I will stop myself here. No excuses. I want to address this:

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

How does a father exasperate a child? Unfairness. Decisions based on selfishness. Inconsistency. I think the latter must be the most exasperating for a child, when the rules keep changing or promises are not kept. The reason this happens is because dad's don't have a plan; they parent by the seat of their pants; they hand over all parenting responsibility to their wife; they try not to get involved unless it is a real emergency situation; they rule the house like a king or dictator.

Ever notice this is addressed to fathers and not mothers? The spiritual welfare of the family is the father's responsibility. Fathers are responsible to see that their children grow into well-balanced, mature, Christ following men and women. They must instruct their children. They must teach them, by word and example, God's Word.

Can I say, some of  these lessons are taught in failure?

What exasperates a child is the falsehood of a father; the fa├žade of perfection; the failure to admit mistakes; the lack of repentance. There is inconsistency in what we teach (if we teach) and what we live. Our children need to see how we handle failure. They need to see that even though we are far from perfect God sees us as holy and blameless. They need to understand that we deal with mistakes and imperfections and not hide them behind an act of strength. Read this again, God's instructions on training children:

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21)

The greatest lessons are not taught in Sunday School but in the everyday living of the parents, as they train, teach, instruct their children as they live life.

Children need to be trained by fathers, taught by them; not just the words but how to put those words into action. They need to see love in action as fathers humble themselves to help and pray for their enemy. They need to see fathers ask forgiveness when mistakes are made. They need to see and understand what it is to stand your ground and defend those God has given you to defend. They need to see fathers be honest so Jesus can be glorified in their weakness. They need to see their fathers be consistent in their service to Jesus and consistent in their training of their children.

When we fail as fathers we cannot allow that failure to define us or cripple us. We are not perfect and our imperfections cannot be allowed to destroy our strength, which is our dependency on Jesus Christ. Even though our children may turn against us we must realize our innocence before God, take up our responsibility and press forward as this is a new day. Yesterday we may have failed but we stand blameless before the Lord today and as such we must take up our responsibilities to defend, protect, instruct and love our children.

Maybe that is the greatest lesson we can teach our children; to press on in the aftermath of failure; to trust the love of God; to trust the forgiveness of Jesus.

The responsibility of a father is huge but that is no excuse to hide from it. The responsibility is daunting but that is no excuse to shirk it off onto someone else. The responsibility requires total commitment but that is no excuse for being spotty and inconsistent in the application of that commitment. Our children need us to love them with consistency more now in this dark age than ever before. Even when they exasperate you they are still looking for you to love them unconditionally. Fathers, make sure you do not exasperate them in your lack of love.



Monday, November 12, 2012

Is Rebellion Natural For A Teen?

Rebellion is natural to our flesh. Since the days of Adam it is natural in our human nature to rebel against authority, especially God's. So of course it is only natural in our flesh for teenagers to rebel against their parents. Parents are the ultimate authority in a child's life so if there is going to be any form of rebellion it is going to be aimed at those parents. It can be more complicated than that but this is the truth of the matter in simplified form. However, as Christians we are a new creation, we no longer live according to our flesh but by the Spirit of God. Rebellion is not part of our nature any more.

I hear from teens all the time who are struggling in their relationship with their parents. Sometimes it is because the teens are being selfish and self-centered and other times because the teen simply wants to follow Jesus. Sometimes parents are totally lost in selfishness and others are extremely opposed to Jesus. What then? What is a Christian to do?

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (Ephesians 6:1)

This is part of God's address concerning submission. In the same way a wife is to submit to her husband and a husband is to love his wife, a child is to submit to his parents and his parents are to love the child. Those are big words, submit and love, and if you haven't read my two previous posts you should to understand what the God means by those words.

Rebellion is not excusable in God's sight. He is responsible for all authority in this world and he has purpose for it. If the authority is not meeting his purpose God sends correction or removes it. This goes for all authority, which is hard for us to understand.

Consider Jesus when he was cornered about paying taxes to the conqueror of Israel. Caesar had invaded and conquered Israel at this time and, as is normal for any government, they taxed the people. When asked about this treatment of God's children Jesus simply said to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God. No rebellion there, even against those who ruled over God's children.

No parent is perfect and often there are plenty of mistakes and misunderstandings. There can be a huge battle of the will, but, led by the Spirit, a parents' response should be one of love. But love does not mean giving into whatever a child wants just as God does not spoil us by giving what we want. If we ask for poison God will not provide it and parents are not permitted to give to a child what would harm him. Teens cannot always understand this because they are still learning, exploring, discovering the great mysteries of life. But parents can also be unfair and it is here that God is working maturity into a teens character, if they trust Jesus.

Yes, it is a matter of trust. Teens who have learned to trust Jesus with every aspect of their life are able to submit, even to the unfairness of their parents. It is for their own benefit:

“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:3)

The promise for obedience is that it will go well with you and you will have a long life. If you learn to allow the Spirit to destroy the ugly spirit of rebellion in you great things will come your way. When you learn to walk in submission to God his blessings flow through you like a tremendous river. But you can't be in rebellion against authority and be submitted to God. You cannot have a divided heart.

Obedience and honour, there is no way around them when you follow Jesus. Just as he submitted to his parents when he was a child, so do children today. When he did it everyone was amazed and blessed by him. If you are a teen, you will minister more through your obedience to your parents than you will with any words you speak. In the same way, any rebellion you display will rob Jesus of his glory. Maybe not something you want to hear today but it is something you must understand.







Sunday, November 11, 2012

Men, Called By God To Be Warriors

This is for all the men and the boys becoming men. The enemy and this world, along with your flesh, are trying to mess with your mind. You are under tremendous attack and you don't even know it. The enemy wants you to sink to the lowest level, to live according to your flesh, and we fall for it all the time. But we are more than our flesh. We are more than our urges. We are more than our dark desires. We are leaders, champions, heroes, warriors called by God. Doesn't matter if you don't feel like it or think you don't deserve it or even if you know you don't qualify. You have been called and anointed, and God never revokes his calling.

I will speak candidly with you. The way you treat women, your mother, sister, friends, tells everyone how you will treat the most important person you will ever have in your life; your wife. If you lose yourself in pornography then this most precious partner will be nothing more than an object to you and you will always treat her as a possession, a thing to do with as you want. Those images you are looking at are not innocent activity; they are someone's mother, daughter, sister, friend, and most do not want to do what they are doing. You are contributing to an industry that feeds off the desperation of some women and the sick mind of men.

You call yourself a man? Then be a real man. Be what God called you to be. Start with your wife or girlfriend:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27)

Every Christian husband should be sitting on the edge of their seats when they read these words. Can you imagine how you are suppose to be seeing your wife? How you are suppose to be treating her? Is she precious to you? Is she the great jewel in your life? You are to sacrifice for her, cover her, sing over her, wrap your arms around her, defend her and see her as perfection.

Do you think the Church is perfect? She isn't. We can all see her blemishes. We all point out her short comings. But Jesus doesn't see any of that. He has made her holy. He has washed everything away. She is radiant, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish in his eyes. She is holy and blameless because he has declared her holy and blameless. It doesn't mean she is perfect but Jesus sees her as perfect. Your wife makes mistakes. She says things and does things that could offend you, but you are a man in love. You cover those offences  Forgiveness is quick for you. You do not see blemishes. You have declared her blameless because she is your wife and you are her husband. To say you are her husband should be enough. You are the warrior and defender in her life.

Some men don't understand this whole warrior thing. Your wife is a warrior too. You fight for, not against, each other. But as a warrior you must sometimes defend her against herself. When she does stupid things (because we all do) you cover her. You don't hold things against her. You don't make a list. You thickly spread forgiveness over your relationship and you never, ever, ever bring up those things again. You treat them as if they never happened. You are defending her against herself. You remind her of your love but more importantly of God's glory. You speak the Word into her life. You pray with her and for her. You make her feel like she is worth a million bucks to you, your best friend, the most important person in your life, because she is. If doesn't matter what she says and does, you made a decision to love her as Jesus made a decision to love his Bride; cover her.

You never cheat on her, in action or in thought. This is where the enemy will want to destroy you. This is where he will cause us to sink to the lowest level of our flesh. He will try to move us from the spirit realm to the flesh place. He will use images that provoke flesh desires. Things will become easily available to you on the internet. A quick peek. What does it hurt? It hurts who you are to your wife. It hurts who you are to Jesus. It hurts a whole lot of people. Don't go there. Jesus has equipped you to be more, to rise as a hero, to be that champion, to be more than a conqueror, to fight as a warrior. Sometimes you will have to fight against your flesh to be that warrior. After Jesus your first thought must be to your wife and you would never do anything to offend the most important person to you, the one who lays herself wide open to you, the one who has placed her heart in your hands.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her. Jesus has you covered. If you fail her Jesus covers it. He will intercede for you. Trust him. Do what is right. Confess what you need to confess. It is not about you. It is not about your needs, wants or desires. Be the man Jesus called you to be. Be a man and set yourself aside, sacrifice yourself for your wife. Don't worry about her response, the Spirit is at work in her too. She will respond to the Jesus in you, to the love you pour out into her life. Her reaction is not your responsibility, but your actions, words, attitudes are your responsibility. She is the most important person in your life, the only one who you have opened your heart to, the only one who looks to you as her champion. Rise up!