The Bare, Bottom-Line

America, why are billionaires, mainstream media, and mega-rich, Hollywood types—fighting so hard for Socialist, high-tax, control-freak ideologies? It doesn’t make sense. They certainly have as much to lose by an over-controlling, over-taxing government as any conservative small business owner or dual-income household. Why do they seem so willing to overlook every other dividing issue—even to their own hurt—for the chance to simply keep control? Why do they seem so adamant about cleaning up the ‘basket of racist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, deplorables’ that they feel are standing in their way? Way to what?

Could there be a hidden agenda? A bottom-line buried beneath the bottom-line? An ideology, a passion, a world-view so intensely personal that, strangely enough, it runs deeper than control itself? America, is there in fact, a—bare, bottom-line? bom, bom, bom! {insert suspense music here} 😀

Stay or Go

Strangely enough, there is a common factor—a tipping point of sorts. And that tipping point is—God?

What?! I know, right? What the—who knew … God?!

But seriously America, the proof is in the pudding. Since the turn of the century the deophobic left has slowly been taking God out of … well, everything. From textbooks and prayer in schools, to courtrooms and politics; From military and college, to holidays, marriage, speech—even the public square. Now they want to kick him out of our constitution, our economy, and ultimately our country. This strange phobia of God, it is the one thing that truly, at the core, unifies—even defines—the progressive left, liberal agenda. In their heart of hearts, they want to kick God out of everything.

So what exactly does this mean for us, apple pie love’n, Americans? 

Strangely enough—with at least three supreme court justices on the line—this becomes the overriding decision we are making this election: What do we do with God? Do we stick with our roots, America’s core identity.. that all men were created equal with unalienable rights given by their creator? Or do we re-write our constitution with a godless, socialistic ideology/world-view? America, don’t be fooled, this is the true choice we are making this November. What do we do with God?

The progressive left has tried to cover it up, labeling their opposition ‘racist, greedy, socially unjust, phobic, deplorable, basement dwellers.’ But the hard-boiled, truth-of-the-matter is this—a vote for the left is a vote to kick God out of America. And a vote for the right is a vote to include God in America. This is no longer a democrat/republican thing. This is so far past party lines. It’s not a race thing, a business thing, a social justice/injustice thing; it’s not a Veteran, retirement, immigration, free-internet or free-market thing. This comes down to one issue, and one issue alone: What do we do—what do you do—with God?

Christians (and those comfortable with the idea of God), may I speak plainly to you? Make no ‘ifs, ands, or buts’ about itif you want God to include you in his house, you must include him in yours.  Sound too rough? Jesus said it—but whoever denies me before men, I will also deny before my father who is in heaven [Matt 10:33].

Christians, this election is more then just a vote. For us, it is an expression of faith. There is no staying home this November, no sitting this one out. Jesus also said, whoever isn’t for me is against me [Matt 12:30, Luke 11:23]. Friends, voting in this election is not just our right, it is our God-ordained, duty. If we want Jesus to stand up for us, for our family, our country, our eternity—then we must stand up for him. Vote to include God this November. Vote Trump.

Registered? Check Your Status/Register to Vote

Kickback: Certainly, there will be some kickback for the conclusions drawn in this blog. So to all of those swearing there is no core, God-issue – answer this:

Why? If you truly have no problem with God, then why make up rules to kick/keep Him out? You only make up rules about somebody/something that you have a problem with. For example: If nobody has a problem concerning, ‘concealed writing utensils in public buildings,’ then guess what, you won’t find any rules about it. Conversely, look at all the rules (and public postings) concerning concealed firearms. They are posted on practically every public/business door. Why? People have a problem with them … they are potentially dangerous. The fact that the progressive left has spent the better part of sixty years slapping restraining orders on God, speaks for itself – They have a problem with Him.

Which brings us back to our point. Why does the progressive left feel that God is so potentially dangerous that they would forsake all other issues, even at their own expense/determent, to keep him out? Maybe it’s because the truth always trumps lies? Ok, nuff said … I’ve gotta go vote Trump.

America..

America, what’s happened? Kennedy puts a man on the moon, while Obama puts a man in the woman’s bathroom? Where did we go so wrong? Historically, Democrats are some of the hardest-working, salt-of-the-earth people out there. Amazing people. At what point did we let the far-left, ivy league, nut-job ideology creep so far in? It’s embarrassing. We’re stuck arguing about bathrooms, when terrorism, bankruptcy, and racial tensions are threatening to rip this country apart. Not to discount people with true gender identity issues – but the solution is simple: Keep our children safe, use the family restroom.

Come on America. These people aren’t true Democrats.

America

8 Trillion, that’s how much debt we had 8 years ago. Now we’ve got 18 Trillion. Say what? Our government has managed to spend more in 8 years then all previous administrations combined? How is that even possible? Remember when we were kids and we used to joke about digging a hole to China? Well, it looks like our government just dug that hole for us. At this rate we only need 8 more years, and China will own us. No wars. No guns. No confrontation necessary. Just a few scribbles of a pen and this nation will become Socialist overnight..

..but maybe that’s the point?

Strangely, a Chinese takeover is the least concerning of our problems. At least China’s socialist government understands the value—and does their best to imitate—our ‘free market’ economy. There are far worse socialist countries for us to be absorbed into. Still, that begs the question: If even China’s leaders can see the intrinsic value of an economy modeled after the free market, American economy … why can’t ours?

I know, I know – robbing the rich to feed the poor – it sounds so noble.. so poetic.. so—Robin Hood. But that’s the crazy irony. Does anyone remember the actual story? It wasn’t the rich, hard-working business owner that Robin Hood was stealing from. Nope. He was stealing from Prince John … the over-taxing, over-controlling government.

Hmm, let’s move past that sour note: How about gun control? That’s sure to solve all our problems … no guns = no terrorists = no worries, right?

Fact, Turkey has some of the toughest gun laws in the world. Yet those laws didn’t stop a June 2016, “double suicide bombing” at Istanbul’s Atatürk International Airport. Nor a July 2016 coup uprising. Maybe making guns illegal doesn’t end terrorism any more then banning narcotics has stopped drug abuse?

America, why do we continue to drink the Kool-Aid these radical, far-left, ivy-league extremists are serving? These people don’t believe in Democracy. They aren’t even Democrats. Democrats look out for American workers. They put men on the moon, crush Communism, free slaves, and win world wars. They provide a hand up, a way out. They inspire Americans to work together and to overcome impossibilities. Democrats are not takers, traitors, or enablers. They don’t pass the buck or the blame.

Bottom line—this election isn’t about Democrats or Republicans, it’s all about control. Do people control government? Or does government control people? That’s the fundamental choice we are making. Forget the parties. Forget the candidates. Forget the “issues.” They’re just distractions. Distractions blinding us to the simple reality, that ultimately every answer hinges on just one thing—who is in control. And with at least two seats on the supreme court to fill in 2017, this election doesn’t just determine the next 4-8 years … it has implications reaching as far as 40.

America, this is it. This election we decide. Don’t take it lightly. Don’t sit this one out. This is potentially the most important vote we will ever cast: Do we keep a limited government ‘for and by the people’ or do we want ‘big brother’ (ehh, big sister) telling us how to live? America, it’s not my job to tell you who to vote for … only to make you painfully aware of what your vote truly means. If you want a government who protects, works for, and believes in youall of you—there is only one choice … you have to vote Trump.

Christians (and those comfortable with the idea of God), may I speak plainly to you? Now is the time to unify—to vote together, as one. We can’t afford to sit this one out. Neither can we afford to ‘opt-out’ by passively writing-in a third-party name. We’ve got to push past the labels, the accusations, even our own personal reservations and vote specifically for Trump. He is the candidate that most supports/preserves our values, God’s values, and America’s values. For sure, it’s easy to have reservations, but this election is so much bigger then the perceived shortcomings of any one, single candidate. This election is about the type of government we want—not only for us, but for our children and our grandchildren. Do we want a Trump-led government that protects our freedoms? Or a Hillary-led government that dictates our freedoms? We can’t be naive. We must realize that any vote not cast specifically for Trump is a vote cast for Hillary. ..Please vote!

Beyond casting our vote, what can we do? Well, we can vocalize our support to our clergy. Let them know that we want them taking a public stand this election. We must encourage them to speak boldly and plainly from the pulpit. Encourage them to stop this PC, ‘vote your conscious,’ rhetoric, and instead call for an ‘in your face’ unity across denominational/racial linesurging those lines to vote Trump. If not for the man himself, then for the principles, freedoms, and form of government that he preserves.

Certainly, many pastors may hesitate to take a stand because of the fear that they will lose their tax exempt status. (A government scare tactic—by the way—that Trump intends to permanently remove). But why should we wait? Let’s come together and ‘one-up’ the government. Let’s remove that threat now. Let’s ‘Pledge 13’ to our pastors: “We pledge, that if they are willing to speak up, and as a result lose their tax exempt status. Then we will personally raise our tithe from 10% to 13%—and completely cover/absorb the imposed tax loss.”

Remember, the government is free to talk about the Church (and Religion) however and wherever they see fit. Yet the Church is forced to play with one hand tied behind it’s back, unable to return the dialog. Well, no more. Let’s remove the muzzle. Let’s Pledge 13 and make it a fair fight once again.

Pastors, there really is no sugar-coating it. If you take a stand, you will face potential misunderstanding, loss of finances, and/or members. Still, to speak or not to speak—that’s the decision you must make. Paraphrasing a passage from Esther (a type of Church put in the position to speak up and influence the king in order to save her people from persecution/destruction): “Pastors, if you choose to remain silent about the dangers of not putting Trump in office. If you choose to remain unwilling to exercise your free speech rights or wager your current tax exempt status and Hillary does win—be assured, relief and deliverance for America will certainly arise from another place … but as for you, you will lose both. Besides, could it be that you were given your position and influence (however great or humble) … for such a time as this?”

Looking ahead, it’s almost a blessing that this battle has landed so perfectly on the church’s doorstep. It provides some great incentive to transition the current church into the church of the future. What exactly is that? The ‘church of the future’ is a church that proactively builds up business men, politicians, and artists/entertainers within its own congregations. A church that uses a portion of its budget to regularly invest in those entrepreneurs, politicians, and artists/entertainers. Not to serve in the church, but to serve in the culture … and to put the culture’s money back into the church! This new model serves two purposes. One: It gives members a leg-up on the market, increasing the likelihood of success, and instilling a deep, tried-and-true loyalty to the church. Two: It gives the church a perpetual source of ever-increasing residual income, while building strong influential ties between you, the pastor, and the rising stars of your community. Ultimately, this creates a culture-shaping, profoundly influential, far-reaching, self-sustaining church that no longer needs the crutch (or the muzzle) of tax exemption.

Going one step further. The new church model softens and/or deadens any future legal ‘arm-twisting’ dolled out by an increasingly deophobic Washington. How so? By simply establishing a God-friendly, local leadership culture which, in turn, will naturally buffer the system. Here’s how it works: First we unite. We come together with other local pastors—maybe at a common breakfast once a month—where we begin to strategize on how to change politics locally. We don’t worry about Washington, or even our own state’s capital. We simply unify locally. We select godly men and women to sit on our local school boards, town halls, and in our political offices. We pull human resources from willing/gifted/anointed people in our own congregations.. then we unify with other churches in our area—telling them exactly who and what to vote for. We brazenly orchestrate it—even from the pulpit. Then we show up, and we rock the local elections. This is easy to do. Most local elections only need a few hundred swing votes to solidify a win. Begin today, and within 24-48 months you can have mayors, police chiefs, town halls, and school boards in place that line up with moral, Biblical world-views. Then, even if Washington (or your state government) sends out executive orders—orders that are unconstitutional or un-godly—your local world will not be shaken. You will have established a bubble. A bubble that will ignore or severely limit bad rhetoric. Like Colonial America in the time of King George, bad rhetoric will not be followed—or followed very loosely. The country may be shaken, but your local world will not.

Sound overwhelming? Or out of your league? Those with an ear to hear, listen. This new church movement is a micro church movement. This isn’t about numbers. Small is the new big. The smaller your church, the stronger you unify, the more impact you will have. Remember, Jesus changed the world with only 12 (11 + Paul) totally unified individuals. Look at the gay agenda. The LGBT—comprising less then 3% of the American population—has revolutionized our culture (even unwillingly) in just a few decades of unified movement. We can do the same. All that is needed is a handful of completely committed, completely unified disciples. This is the church’s hour to shine. Let’s rise up. Let’s cast off restraint. Let’s unify as one, as it is in heaven!and let’s start by voting Trump.

Good or God

So John Bevere has a new book called, Good or God? I got to see him talk about it live, and it was awesome. There was Holy Spirit all over it. You could feel it. If you want a sneak peek—check it out.

Good or God

His message paralleled a chapter in my book so well, I wanted to post part of that chapter. The chapter is all about discernment. It touches on the difference between good, God (and evil) and how to discern between them in your own life. Enjoy!

Excerpt from Desktop Revelations, Vol 1 Spiritual Warfare – Pages 69-81

What if you could tell when somebody was lying to you? What if you could tell when someone was telling the truth? What if you could see everyone’s personal agenda? What if you could hear their thoughts and recognize their intentions? What if you could clearly perceive the spirit world around you? How dangerous would that make you to the enemy? Well, my friends, that is exactly the power contained in both discernment and discerning of spirits.

Discernment is simply seeing life through clear, undistorted lenses with no agendas. It’s the way God sees life. It’s the way life really is.

Discerning of spirits is the ability to feel, hear, and identify (even see) other spiritual beings currently in the room or in control over a particular area.

From the outside it’s not always easy to tell these two tactics apart. Often they work simultaneously. Generally, discernment has to do with recognizing the truths, lies, and underlying motives an individual is hiding in his or her heart and releasing through his or her actions, words, and deeds. While discerning of spirits has to do with identifying sudden internal or external pressures, changes, and/or feelings related to the spiritual activity presently in the room.

We see Jesus operating in both types of discernment all the time. This is why He seems to always be answering a question different from the one openly asked of Him [Mark 10; John 4] (He is addressing the motive/heart issue). This is why He could recognize faith [Mark 10:52]. This is why He could perceive thoughts and judgments of the heart [Mark 2:8; Matthew 9:4]. This is why He so clearly identifies and handles demons [Mark 5; Matthew 17], and why He could tangibly feel spiritual power flow out of him [Mark 5:30].

If we are called to do what Jesus did (and we are) [John 14:12; John 1:16]; if we are called to clearly see and analyze the world, the heart motives, and the spirits around us [1 Corinthians 2:15], then we should dig a bit deeper into comprehending both of these tactics. They should be regularly used to read, understand, and interact with the world around us.

Let’s start with discernment.

Discernment is learning to clearly (and correctly) identify the underlying heart motive of a thought, word, or action. Discernment is primarily developed by listening to the Word, getting free of old bondages, receiving new revelations, and through heart change. Practically this is done through regularly memorizing and meditating on Scripture. Memorization and meditation is our part in the process. As we ingest Scripture, think about what it means, and recite it over and over, God uses that Scripture to heal our heart of the past lies we’ve believed. As this healing process takes place, we will begin to view life through a clearer and clearer lens. Once we begin to filter every action, motive, and word entering our soul through this ever-clearer filter, this is when we will start to see all of life’s “gray” elements slowly simplify and crystallize into black and white.

This is when life gets easy! When we can clearly see motives for what they are, decisions become easy to make. The enemy becomes easy to spot. God becomes easy to follow. Masks no longer work. Walls are no longer unidentifiable. Roots become exposed. Problems become easy to address.

So what do we need to know to get a jump-start on discernment working in our lives?

First, we need a simple, solid foundation. We truly have to see life as black and white, not multiple shades of gray. Obviously, this is only possible if life truly is black and white. Fortunately for us, if we look deep enough, it is. Let’s check out Genesis 2 for the answer. Looking at verse 9, we see two trees. One was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the other, the tree of life. These two trees (choices) Adam faced are the same two trees (choices) we still face today. No matter how big or small, these two choices are the only two choices, the only two paths available. They lie hidden at the root of every decision we make. Do we get smarter and make ourselves look better (knowledge)? Or do we really connect and help someone else (life)? Do we become a distant critic (knowledge)? Or do we become an intimate friend (life)? The choice is ours. The fruits of both trees are consumable, but the ultimate results are polar opposites. One takes and one gives. One connects and one disconnects. One is safe and one is awkward. One produces life, the other death. This is it! This is life’s core “black” and “white.”

Notice that we must look past the tree and its fruit to actually see the black and white. A tree and its fruit, in and of themselves, are not bad things. Quite the opposite, they are good things. If we look only skin deep, we can easily be confused and tricked by the tree’s outward “good” (“white”) appearance. What we must learn—to truly see life as black and white—is to look more deeply. We must look past the “containers” of life and into each container’s core. What does that fruit carry? What does that container hold?

Our enemy understands this principle very well. He uses it constantly. From television to Internet, movies to music, glamorous superstars to well-versed politicians, our enemy uses all these very good, compelling (white) things to deliver his twisted agendas and (black) lies. Agendas wrapped so professionally, so innocently, so appealingly, so convincingly that we eat … and eat … and eat. We rarely stop to realize that what we are consuming is death.

Adam’s trap, like our trap, is that we can’t always see the core. We try to judge things by the external appearance or the package it comes wrapped up in. A tree with delicious, pretty, edible fruit is not a bad thing at all. In fact, it is quite a good thing. However, if we only perceive at this limited external level, our lives will be forever filled with lots of “gray.” We will potentially be subjected to large amounts of loss and/or confusion. Why? Because we are not looking deeply enough to clearly see the inner black and white. We are not looking deeply enough to clearly see the life or death contained within the pretty package. Therefore, we end up consuming what appears to be good and beneficial (even harmless) but constantly reap unexpected results.

Well then, what is the deeper black and white of life?

Simply put, it is motive. Is our motive love or hate, life or death, relationship or separation, selfishness or selflessness? Are we doing what is best for us or best for others? Are we chasing prideful knowledge or hands-on experience? As we mentioned before, the Bible depicts our two types of heart motivators as the knowledge of good and evil (death) or experiential life.

What’s the difference?

Life gives us experience, revelation, relationship, vitality, growth, and health. It requires that we give our control away and replace it with trust in the person we want life with. We are no longer calling the shots. It requires submission. It is motivated by love, by selflessness.

Conversely, the knowledge of good and evil gives us the ability to distinguish and decide for ourselves what is good or evil. It leaves us (and our limited, finite understanding) in control. It leaves us in the driver’s seat, calling the shots. It makes us look good. It appeals to pride. It is easily motivated by indifference (hate), and by selfishness. It makes us “god” of our life.

Here is the problem with knowledge. A person who spends his whole life gathering knowledge never spends that same time giving life. It’s like a person who spends all his time building and collecting the perfect tractor/garden set while never actually growing a garden. Not only does he lose all that food (life) for himself, but all the life he would have grown and given to others is shut down as well.

Can you see the distinction? Knowledge in itself is not a bad thing, but it is a dead thing. It leaves us distant and unconnected. Does that make sense? We can have all the knowledge in the world yet never connect to or change anything in that world. We can have all the knowledge in the world yet never know how to use all those random facts to actually fix our current circumstances, to actually balance our budget, to actually heal our family, to actually beat terrorism.

Knowledge is a hoax. It is smoke and mirrors. It appears as if we have something when we really have nothing. It appears as if it is our answer without ever giving us a tangible, usable solution. Yes, knowledge is needed, but it is dead. Like a tool, knowledge can be used to get something done more easily, but it can’t do the job without something or someone putting it wisely to use. For example, our rake can’t rake our yard for us. Likewise, our knowledge can’t solve our problems for us.

It’s like a guitar. We can study the instrument. We can learn what it looks like, about the strings on it, how we should hold it, the types of wood it takes to build it, what temperature to store it at, how to polish it, how to tune it, all the chord shapes, all the scale shapes, all the arpeggios, etc. This is all knowledge. It is all necessary. It is a great tool. But it is death. Why? Because we can spend an entire lifetime learning, perfecting, and expanding our guitar knowledge, and meanwhile, our guitar is still just sitting (like an expensive, dusty paperweight), unused in the corner of our music room. Even with all our vast guitar knowledge we have not created any life or inspiration, any soul-moving, soul-healing music on it. We still can’t play the thing. All the knowledge in the world has gotten us nowhere. We still haven’t strummed a chord. We still don’t know our guitar. All that knowledge is a waste. It is stagnant; it is death.

Conversely, life is experience. It is obedience. It is practice. It is relationship. It is reality. Let’s say we instead spend a lifetime playing the guitar, practicing it, strumming its chords, playing its strings. We spend all that time we would have spent learning about it actually being with it. We spend all that same time getting to know it better and better—its touch and feel, its nuances, strengths, and weaknesses. Now we can create. Joy, laughter, peace, healing, power, boldness, and love can all flow through us and out of that guitar. It can flow into the world around us, changing it, healing it, influencing it, shifting it. We may never know much about the guitar or about the music theory behind it, but we can still connect to others and change our world with it.

This is the difference between knowledge and life.

Let’s give one last example that may help clarify this statement. Pick your favorite celebrity. One who has always been at the top of my list is Will Smith. Let’s say we spend our whole life learning about Will. We learn what he likes, where he works, and where he lives. We study all his movies and learn all his songs. We exhaustively research him on Google and memorize his Wikipedia page. We blow all our friends away with our massive knowledge about him. We make a living writing books about him. We even grow to be the resident “Will Smith genius” of North America.

We can have all the knowledge in the world about Will Smith. We can fool all our friends and everyone we ever come across with that knowledge, but the truth is it’s a hoax. Sure it may appear to everyone that we intimately know Willard Christopher Smith, but the reality is we’ve never even met the guy. It is just smoke and mirrors. We don’t know Mr. Smith. If we passed him on the street he wouldn’t even nod. If we showed up to his house he would ask, “Who are you?” Knowledge isn’t bad, but it’s a lie. It’s a false reality. It’s a trick. Why? Because it is dead. Thus, it leads to death.

On the other hand, we may have never learned one single fact about Will but instead call him every day to ask what we can do to help him. Finally he agrees to let us buy him coffee every morning before work. We actually do it and the relationship begins. Now, after a lifetime of bringing him coffee, when we show up at his house he will greet us with a smile and call us by name. And through the process, almost by accident, we learn more about Willard Christopher Smith Jr. than a lifetime of head knowledge could have given us.

This is the difference between the two trees we eat from every day. This is the difference between the two motives contained in every decision we make. This is the difference between knowledge (death) and life. This is life’s black or white.

Now we could also call it: law or grace, theology or obedience, distant judgment or intimate engagement, following rules to relate or having open, honest relationships, hate or love, death or growth, hell or heaven, bondage or freedom, any other god or Jesus. Life’s black and white is simply the motive that lies within the fruit and the eventual final destination to which the fruit leads us closer toward. It can only be one of two places.

Personally, I like to think of it as selfishness or selflessness. In my mind this sums up and clarifies everything we have previously discussed in two easy-to-remember words and one easy-to-remember question: Is it really about what is best for others, or is it really about what is best for me? Once we understand this simple foundational truth we can begin to question everything. “Is the motive behind that word, action, or deed selfless (creating life, freedom, and encouragement)? Or is it selfish (releasing death, bondage, and discouragement)?” We no longer care if something appears “good” or “evil.” Instead, we look beyond the external and address the root motives. This is when life becomes a simple black-and-white picture. This is when life becomes easy to sort.

We must learn to think of actions, words, and thoughts as containers. They are neither good nor bad in and of themselves; they simply contain the life or death motive placed in them. It is up to us to determine which, so we do not receive, entertain, or permanently ingest containers full of death. Rather we accept, believe and ingest only those containers full of life. This is the basic principle of discernment.

With this in mind, the questions we need to be asking the Holy Spirit are, “What is the heart motivation of that ‘good’ thing? Is it selflessly motivated? Is it motivated out of love?” If the answers to those questions return as yes, then that “good” thing is in fact full of life and will prosper and grow. Receive it.

Conversely, if we ask those same questions but the answer is no, and instead we perceive that the good thing is actually selfishly motivated (or motivated out of pride or hate), then that good thing is full of death. It will destroy and kill. Handle it loosely, handle it wisely, use it freely as a tool, but don’t ingest.

When we begin to see life in this way, as one of only two possible motives, then we are living in a black-and-white world. It becomes simple to comprehend.

Let’s run this principle through a couple of practical examples.

Q: Is the news wrong to watch?

A: Well, does the news bring me down, make me fearful and discouraged? If yes, then it’s a container of death for me, and I’m not gonna waste my time. Do I watch the news and enjoy praying in the Holy Spirit for all the hurt in the world, leaving me feeling invigorated and refreshed? If yes, then the news is life for me, so watch freely. Did watching the news used to make me come alive and now it drags me down? If yes, then it’s time to pull back and do something else.

Q: Is dancing wrong?

A: Well, is the dancing all about me? Do I do it to show off and boost my own ego (even though it’s in church)? If yes, then it’s a container of slow, selfish death. I’m not gonna waste my time. Is the dancing a good way to spend time with my partner, to have fun, build each other up, grow as a couple, and have fun with Jesus (even though it’s in a bar)? If yes, then dancing is life to me. Dance freely. Did the last song make me come alive, but this new song is just a great beat with self-hating lyrics that are fueling my lust? If yes, then maybe it’s time for me to step outside and take a break for a song or two.

Q: Should I give this generous gift?

A: Am I doing it to be seen or to promote myself? If yes, then this gift is actually a path to death. It is a Trojan Horse. It will have strings attached. Don’t do it. Am I giving it gladly and willingly? If yes, then go ahead. This gift contains life. It will lead to growth. Will this gift help others first with a potential of helping me too? Either way, give gladly and generously and don’t worry whether a reward comes back around. Leave that part up to God.

We could do these all day. See how each answer is person specific? What may really hook and affect me may not hook and affect you. See how what appears good may not actually contain life? See how each answer could even vary depending on the day or even the time of day it is asked? From case to case? Situation to situation?

This is why we need to be constantly in tune and listening to the Holy Spirit in everything we do [Proverbs 3:6]. This is a relational life. This is a discerning life. This is the life Papa wants from us. It’s interactive. It’s spontaneous, ever-growing, ever-changing. It relies on Him (not dead, unyielding, set-in-stone, “here’s how it always is” knowledge). It’s fun.

Before we move on, let’s take this just one step further. We also need to ask the Holy Spirit, “What is the heart motivation of that ‘bad’ thing?” Is it selflessly motivated? Is it motivated out of love? If the answer is yes, if the core of that bad thing is life, then it is from God and we should gladly receive it!

Sadly, this one trips the church up the most. We are missing out on so much needed revelation and life because of “bad” outward appearances. Not everyone who outwardly appears drunk is drunk on alcohol [Ephesians 5:18], not everyone in black eyeliner and tattoos worships satan, and not everyone with a lisp and flamboyant T-shirt lives a secret, alternative lifestyle. Some are hardcore disciples.

Furthermore, not everyone who is currently drunk on alcohol, who is currently worshiping satan, or who is currently living a secret, alternative lifestyle channels death 100 percent of the time. Many are simply pre-Christians searching for what actually works. They are searching with honest hearts for the genuine truth. If we recognize this, then with a keen eye and developed perception we understand that there is still life, truth, and wisdom that we can glean—even from them. Remember, everyone has been given at least one irrefutable gift or talent from God [Matthew 25]. Every “bum” on the street has at least one nugget of gold to give.

Back before I had a real, tangible relationship with Jesus, I got some of my wisest counsel and life-altering course corrections from Jesus through the advice of unsaved (pre-saved) friends, in drunken, late-night conversations at parties. That statement might really mess with some of today’s popular church theology, but it’s true nonetheless.

Life is life, no matter what it is packaged in and no matter who it comes through. We can’t let “bad” containers keep us from enjoying the life they carry, just like we can’t let “good” containers trick us into blindly ingesting death. Remember, Jesus can come to us riding on a donkey [Matthew 21] or riding on the clouds [Revelation 1:7]. Likewise, our enemy can come to us plainly as a great dragon [Revelation 12] or masquerading as an angel of light [2 Corinthians 11:14-15]. Still, Jesus is Jesus and the devil is the devil. This is why accurate discernment is so important to us individually and to us as a body of believers.

Without digging too deep, here is a good, simple visualization of this concept. While there are only two internal core motives (only two trees to pick from), when we combine those motives with the two external appearances we end up with four options to any container (word, action, thought) that we are presented with.

They are:
External Appearance              Internal Motive
Good                                       Life                                 ( Choose This  )
Bad                                         Life                                 ( Choose This  )
Good                                       Death                             ( Don’t Choose This 😦 )
Bad                                         Death                              ( Don’t Choose This 😦 )

Like God says in Deuteronomy, choose life! We aren’t often confused by the good-life, bad-death choices. Those are easy. It’s the other two, the bad-life and the good-death choices that we need clarity to discern. Often this is what people are referring to when they call life’s choices gray. Clearing up this “gray” is why we desperately need such a close, personal relationship with our all-knowing and loving heavenly Father. He is never fooled by packaging and is always willing to answer our questions and guide our paths.

Okay, so we understand the whole “container” principle, but we’re still having trouble recognizing what is actually a life-or-death motive. Our next step to clarity is memorizing Scripture.

I would suggest starting with Matthew 12:34, James 2:18, and 2 Corinthians 10:5, and then moving to Proverbs and first, second, or third John (or however the Spirit directs you personally). Although there are many discernment secrets strewn throughout Scripture, I’ve found these particular books have lots of little anecdotes (and antidotes) specifically designed to help us pick up on life or death motives.

Let’s start with the basics. Matthew 12:34, James 2:17–18, and 2 Corinthians 10:5 are great starter Scriptures because they provide the scriptural base for our previously discussed container principle. These biblical excerpts provide the solid fundamental insights we need to start building our arsenal of discernment.

Matthew 12:34 says, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Meditate on this, and we realize that every word we say comes from the overflow of our heart. In other words, our words constantly reveal what is in our heart. This is huge. This means we can simply listen to someone talk (even ourselves), unwrap the motive within those words, and know exactly what is going on inside his or her (or our) heart: the drive, intentions, agendas, insecurities, or securities hidden there.

James 2 continues. It talks about how faith without works is dead and that living faith is displayed by our works. This verse reveals that we can discern a person’s level of faith, what he or she truly believes and trusts in, by simply observing the person’s actions. This means we can unwrap any action (or lack of action) to find motive and clearly see what belief system is flowing out of that person’s heart.

II Corinthians 10:5 (KJV) completes the trifecta. It expresses our need to “cast down [vain] imaginations” and to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Wow, even our own thoughts are containers of life or death! We must be willing to analyze even what is being placed in our own head. What thoughts do we catch ourselves “entertaining” again and again? This helps us determine the intentions (even the hidden intentions) in our own hearts.

The combination of all three verses reveals that we can unwrap motive in every thought, word, or deed. Sounds cool, but practically how do we use this? We start by simply applying these Scriptures to our life and to the circumstances surrounding our lives. We filter actions, thoughts, and words through these Scriptures and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth or lies hidden within.

Often I look for “red flags” in my life—inconsistencies. Red flags are words, reactions, interactions, or scenarios that just feel “strange” or “off” or “weird.” In other words, they don’t sit quite right. I will pass those through the discernment filters I already know and/or give them to the Holy Spirit for further explanation. Frequently I find the Holy Spirit has “checked” them in my spirit for a specific reason, and the understanding I receive from them guides the steps, prayers, and insights I take into the future.

For example, let’s say we have a friend who is always joking around in a patronizing (putting others down) kind of way. According to what we learned in Matthew, we know the person’s mouth is simply revealing his or her heart. The person feels worthless, worth less then others. He or she is fearful that they don’t measure up. So naturally, out of that abundance of fear and worthlessness, the mouth speaks, pointing out the shortcomings the person sees in others before others can point out flaws in him or her. As we gain a wider Scripture base, we will clearly see how insecure (negative) words, even as jokes, come from the enemy. They curse us; they bind us and trip us up. They are death. Source identified!

However, that’s only the start. Now we can use this newfound insight to take control of the scene. Instead of blindly following our friend down the enemy’s road of negative joking (to eventual death), we simply stop and steer the conversation back to a positive direction, back to life. Then we combat the enemy by combating the insecurity in our friend. We begin to look for ways to speak encouragement, value, and hope into them.

That’s really all there is to discernment. Not all thoughts, words, or actions are as easy to “unwrap” as our example. And that is where gradually memorizing Scripture and learning to communicate with the Holy Spirit come into play. But as we continue to follow God, our discernment will continue to grow clearer all the time.

See you next time!

 

Is Your Man, The One?

In this world of uncertain, roller-coaster, on-and-off-again relationships. Where achieving marital bliss is just as likely as achieving marital blisters. Where 50% of all “sacred unions” end in divorce. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way—a sure-fire way—to know (going into the marriage), whether or not the marriage was forever?

Well, ladies.. today is your lucky day  😀

blog32-fbpic-theOne

Before we spill the beans, let’s first lay down all the marriage cards.

Ladies, here’s what you get (ideally): You get a man to protect, love, and provide for you. Someone to put a roof over your head, shoes on your feet, clothes on your back, and food on your kitchen table. Not to mention a ring on your finger, a car (or two) in the garage, those fancy (mostly useless) window treatments—even the kitchen table. He’ll provide you with emotional support, cover your weaknesses, give you kids to love, and then provide for them too.

Ladies, this is marriage for you. What’s not to love? It’s pretty much like winning the lottery 😀

Here’s what a man gets: You—a woman to love, protect, and provide for. Someone (besides himself) to feed, cloth, and shelter. Someone who will need him to: mow the yard, fix the fence, wash the car, change the hard to reach light-bulbs, trim the bushes … you get the point. On top of that, here come the kids—the one, two, five more mouths to feed and clothe. There goes the rest of his weekends (and week-nights too).

Ladies, do you see the difference? While an ideal marriage is a lottery win (of sorts) for you … for a man it’s a life altering, mind-blowing, can’t catch my breath, totally overwhelming, almost soul-crushing responsibility.

So why would any man in his right mind ever get married? He wouldn’t. 😀  Nope, not unless he was crazy, head-over-heals, madly in love with you! In love so much that he would be willing to do ten times the list mentioned above, just for the chance to have deep, intimate relationship, a life-time friendship, (and super hot sex, over and over again) with you.

Which brings us back to the point, how can you know if your man—the man you are currently dating/interested in/facebooking—is the right man for you? How can you know—for sure—that he is in it for the long haul—and not just for the fun, physical relationship?

Here’s the secret: Test him—make him wait.

Seriously—make him wait. Make him work to buy a ring (a nice one). Make him wait and walk the wedding isle (before God, and 500 of your closest friends—publicly confessing his undying love for you 😀 ). Make him jump through hoop after hoop (the more the better) before he ever gets, even the tiniest sample, of your goods.

I know, I know … all you 21st century ladies have just stopped reading—and/or thrown-up in your mouths a little. But don’t worry, it’s not mean. It’s not archaic. It’s not prudish. It’s actually your best friend. It’s your test, your concrete proof, that he really does love you, and not just what he can get from you. It’s proof that he values your relationship above his own happiness and desires. And if he passes that test—if he is willing to delay his own burning passions for you before he even has you—you can be sure that when he gets his prize—you—he will not easily let go.

Side Note: Of course ladies, if you too are only interested in your own physical desires—skip the test, go right ahead, do what you want. But just know this—life, real life, is only found in deep, open, honest, non-judgmental, fun relationships (relationships where the relationship is protected at all costs). Using relationships to satisfy your own needs, dreams, goals, social status, gratification, pocketbook … yes, it will bring you fleeting happiness (for a moment), but it will be a hollow, empty, shallow happiness … and you will constantly be moving, using, avoiding, looking for the next relationship that can only temporarily sustain you.

Ok, back on track.

Why waiting works: Simply put, making a man wait forces him to decide—are you worth it? His answer may depend on a number of key elements, ranging from: age, goals, personality, and looks; to family, fun, maturity, beliefs, hobbies, and more. And whether he consciously knows it or not, when faced with that question (and forced to decide)—every man instinctively, and fairly quickly, knows his answer.

I know ladies, the truth may be more then you think you can handle. What if his answer is “no?” What if he thinks you are not worth waiting for? What if he thinks you really do look fat in those pants? You’re right. Depending on the scenario, it may sting a little (or a lot). But here’s the bottom line. If he doesn’t think you are worth it now, he will definitely not think you are worth it later when he really has to fight for you (and when you really are fat in those pants).  😀

So here’s the question you have to ask yourself: Would I rather a little sting now, or a big rip, a life-long scar (and a permanent scrub in my life) later?

Again, this test is only for those who are looking for a good man—a man who is willing to fight for you. Remember, every man is different. Every man has different standards, different visions for who he wants his partner to be, and different calls on his life. But in all the uncertainty, one thing is certain. If you make your man wait—and he does—you can rest assured, he is really into you, he values your relationship, and to him—you are worth it!

Happy marriage, happy waiting! 😀

Going Deeper

 

Have you ever felt stagnant, distant, or stuck in a relationship? Like you can’t seem to make that “deeper connection?” Even when all the right words, love, and interaction seem to be there—somehow it still feels feels dry, or even faked?

blog31-fbpic-goingdeeper

Don’t worry, you are not alone. All relationships go through this cycle, multiple times. However, if you find yourself perpetually stuck in this cycle, and remain unsure of how to get out—here are the two questions to ask yourself that will change everything:

  1. Am I being flagrantly, completely honest with myself (and my partner) in this relationship?
  2. Am I truly, completely trusting my partner in this relationship?

So how does that change everything? Glad you asked 😀

Here’s how:

  1. Honesty is the starting point for all trust in a relationship.
  2. Trust is the starting point for all real, meaningful, connected, deep, emotional relationship.

Here’s what I mean. We can have all the love in the world: all the positive thinking, all the right words, all the hugs, kisses, and grace a person could ever want. But if we don’t truly trust the other person, we will never feel close to them. We will never feel secure around them. We will always feel like we have to keep them ‘in check,’ manipulate them, and/or hold them at arm’s length.

This causes the relationship to never grow past surface interactions. It never goes deep. It’s never truly fulfilling.

So how do we create trust? And how do we help that trust to grow? Simply put, honesty. Complete, embarrassing, flagrant, open, raw honesty. Why does it work? Because, when we are honest, even to our own embarrassment/hurt/judgment, others inherently know …’I can trust this person.’

This is the problem Lucifer (satan) had with God. He had the perfect Father. The best, most loving, most open, must honest, most trustworthy Daddy in the whole wide world. Yet he still rebelled against him. How is that possible? Trust. There was no trust in the relationship. Lucifer did not believe that God truly had his (Lucifer’s) best interests at heart. And so everything God did, Lucifer couldn’t truly believe or receive it. Because of this, the relationship became increasingly superficial—until ‘superficial’ was all that remained. That’s when Lucifer turned to other things (besides relationship) to make him “happy.”

Let’s go deeper.

Why was there no trust? Again, it all boiles down to honesty. Lucifer was the father of lies. All that was in him was deceit. Therefore, there was no honesty in him to enable trust to be rebuilt when that trust was broken. Had there been honesty in him, as soon as he felt slighted, taken advantage of, or offended by God—he would have simply spoken up and said so. He would have said that God appointing him the, ‘Chief Servant of Adam,’ made him feel hurt, belittled, underutilized, and rejected. He would have also said that God’s overwhelming love for Adam was making him feel strangely jealous and offended at God. And by the way, why was he not the object of this same deep affection? This honest confrontation would have opened up a real, deeper dialog, in which God would have been able to explain his true intensions: That he was actually trying to teach Lucifer the deep, secret paradox of becoming like himself—far greater yes, but still a servant to all. A true God.

Instead, Lucifer followed his own distrusting heart. Hiding the misunderstanding/darkness within, he followed his own blind, warped world-view. In fact, he used it as justification to let all manner of dishonesty and evil flow—taking from Adam what he felt “rightfully belonged to him.” Instead of valuing and fixing his relationship with God (his true source of life), he chose to use, manipulate, and abuse that relationship—all the while justifying his taking/stealing of “life” elsewhere.

How often are we just like Lucifer? Whoah, I digress 😀

Ok. It’s like this. Honesty and trust are the foundation of any relationship. It doesn’t matter how ‘big’ the relationship gets—without the foundation, it is only a showy facade. A farce. A fake. Toppleable at any moment.

Or like this. Honesty and trust are the startingline of any relationship. It doesn’t matter how well, or how much of the relationship race we run. If we don’t start at the startingline, we are disqualified. The relationship is a farce. A fake. And subconsciously, we can never truly enjoy it at a deeper level. Why? Because the whole time we are too busy looking over our shoulder, wondering if anyone noticed we cheated. Justifying our illegitament position in our own minds. Justifying our illegitament position to others. Jumping at shadows, covering our bases, stressing, worrying, and/or waiting for ‘the hammer to drop’ … we can never truly just be.

I know this was true in my own life. I “got saved” when I was 5. But I never really had a true, dynamic, two-way relationship with God until I was 26. The difference? At 26, I finally got flagrantly honest with him. And because I finally got honest, I was finally able to truly trust him.

Likewise, every other major breakthrough in my relationship with God—every deeper level, every step closer—has come about through another dimension of this same revelation. Either I’m not truly being honest with myself (or with him). Or I’m not truly trusting him (completely) about something.

For example: Since 26, I can’t tell you how many times I told God, “I’m sorry. I don’t really love you.” I told him so much, that he finally showed me John 14:23: Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. And I realized, “I guess I do really love him – even if it’s not overflowing emotionally – because my greatest heart’s desire is to do things his way.”

Likewise, I can’t tell you how many times he’s showed me that I’m not truly trusting him in an area. (Such as with my story on fear) And as I begin to practice trusting him (and really began to trust him) – suddenly I would gain freedom, and stay free in that area.

I think it was Paul who said, I pray that Christ will be more and more at home within your heart, living within you as you trust in him. Paul understood: trust is the starting point. It’s the doorway into our heart. Why do you think the devil spends so much time breaking down trust in children? Why do you think it’s not cool to be ‘naive’ or gullible? Simple: no trust, equals no true relationship. And if true relationship is where all true life, love, joy, and fulfillment comes from – then a devil (who is good at what he does) would want to break all true, trusting, honest relationship as quickly as possible.

Random thought:

Trust = a doorway to light/truth/love (God) in our heart
No trust = a doorway to darkness/misunderstanding/hate (devil) in our heart.

Ok, let’s wrap this up by listing a few, sure-fire signs that we don’t truly trust.

  1. We throw temper-tantrums
  2. We get offended
  3. We get impatient
  4. We have to have/be in control
  5. We have to know what’s going on
  6. We lie, gossip, or manipulate
  7. We struggle with jealousy or comparison

And some sure-fire signs that we are not honest.

  1. We avoid
  2. We make excuses
  3. We bow to peer pressure
  4. We stretch, enhance, exaggerate stories
  5. We are quiet, avoid the spotlight, are “shy”
  6. we make assumptions
  7. we’re fearful, suspicious

As for me: I was the quiet, “shy,” avoid-confrontation-at-all-costs kind of guy, who threw temper-tantrums (mostly at God). As God has led me into deeper, and deeper relationship with him over the last 12+ years, all those things have fallen away. I am no longer quiet, shy, or scared of a spot-light/good confrontation. On rare occasion, I still do feel the urge to throw a temper-tantrum at God—although, I think the last time I actually threw one was prior to 2011. I can confidently say—by the grace of God—I’m forever over that phase … (Hmm, does that mean I’m not two any more?) 😀

So after 26 years of stagnant/backsliding growth, what finally changed all that? Honesty and trust.

Likewise, in these last 12 years, I’ve gone through some of the craziest, toughest times in my life. And while I have felt the sting of my teacher being silent during the test (God hasn’t said a word about some of the biggest/most challenging things I’ve faced) … I can truly say, my relationship with him has never felt stagnant, stale, or dry. I get fresh revelation daily (like he promises in the Lord’s prayer). I see my prayers answered all the time—and miracles on a regular basis. Certainly, I still battle through things. Yes, I’m still far from where I want to be.. (living 100% in his full, manifest presence, daily). However, only 12 years in, I’ve got a laundry list full of the things God has done/changed/given me victory over—and it only continues to grow. And my relationship with him has never felt faked, limited, or boring. Why? Because I do my best to stay completely, flagrantly open and honest before God. Nothing is off-limits—even if that means I have to admit something he brings up is true, but I can’t (and/or don’t want) to change it. And I always look/ask for ways to trust God more completely. And then I do my best to actually do the ideas he downloads to me.

Again, I’m nobody special. I’m far from perfect. In fact, I’m probably the most below-average, able-to-completely-mess-up-a-sure-thing guy on the planet. But if I can do it … If I can have a real, exciting, life-changing, on-going, perpetually deeper relationship with the creator of the universe,  I guarantee, so can you. And this is where you start: Honesty & Trust.

Love ya’ll. See you next time!

Chosen

Wow. Just got done listening to Seal of God by Chad Williams. Awesome book!

blog30-fbpic-sealofgod

Uhmm, maybe I should clarify. Awesome book … on CD 😀 Because let’s face it, with two littles running around and a business to run, actually reading a book is a pipe dream these days 😀

But I digress. Besides being a compelling listen, and a great recommendation. This powerful story of a Navy Seal turned ‘Seal of God,’ opened my eyes and gave me insight into a verse I have long misunderstood.

That verse is Matthew 22:14 – Many are called, but few are chosen.

At first glance the verse seems to make sense. But in reality, shouldn’t it read – Many are called, but few accept the call?

Obviously, it doesn’t read like that, but that’s kind of how I always interpreted it. In my limited world view, it simply meant that God put out the call and only a few people ever truly followed the prompting. But Seal of God changed all that!

As I was listening to Chad’s description of Navy Seal Boot-camp: How the instructors pushed, tortured, and stretched the recruits to their physical/mental limits. All the while – sinisterly offering them an “easy out.” A way to end it all. Simply quit, walk over the bluffs, and “ring the bell,” ..a literal bell, the instructors had stationed just outside the training grounds.

The fundamental idea was to strip away every person who wasn’t willing to die before they quit. The class started out with nearly 200 recruits and ended with around 15 still standing. Fifteen, unwilling to cave. Fifteen willing to die. Fifteen who had proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they wanted—even more then life itself—to be a Navy Seal. And subsequently, those fifteen recruits were chosen by the Navy to be Seals.

Woah, when I heard that statement, chosen by the Navy to be Seals, Matthew 22:14 immediately came to mind. Suddenly, the verse made perfect sense. God isn’t interested in building a following. Not a business, a social club, or even an empire. He’s into making Seals!

Think about it: Many are called.

Just like the Navy calls anyone—any American, any Navy recruit, any of the class of 200—to become a Seal. So too, God calls anyone who is willing. (God wishes that none should perish. God so loves the world.) Like the Navy, God’s call is open to all.

But: Few are chosen.

Just like the Navy. If we answer God’s call and begin to follow him: begin to obey, walk in His ways, put God and His righteousness first—we will be put through a training camp that will push, torture, and stretch us beyond our physical/mental limits. Like the Navy recruits, if we are not willing to die before we quit, then we will “ring the bell,” and take a short-cut, some easy way out, some more comfortable/convenient/faster way to our destiny.

This is what the devil offered Jesus in the wilderness. He showed him three shortcuts to ease/end his immediate, wilderness suffering. Three ways to achieve his destiny more quickly, on his own, circumventing God. But if we, like Jesus, persist. If we, like Jesus, are truly willing to be destroyed before we stop. If “ringing the bell,” or circumventing God’s way is not even an option. Then, when our “hell week” is finally over – and we are still remaining – we, like Jesus, will be chosen. We will be chosen by God.

That is what this verse means. Many are called, but few are chosen. Many enter God’s training class. Many begin the course, but few make it to the end. Few reach their destiny God’s way, with God included in the entire process. Few get to the point where God says “Ok, you passed all the tests. You really are willing to die before you quit or find your own solution—your own easy way out. And because I can trust you. Because you are willing to do it the right way, the way it must be done… I choose you!” And that, my friends, is when all the fun begins!

So here’s to a random insight. And here’s to us becoming hard-core, unstoppable, Navy Seals for God!

I may be busted up, bleeding, bruised, shamed, and beat down. But I’m never stopping. I’m all in. Are you?

See you next time! God bless & kick some butt 😀

God Loves You More!

There are two ways to rescue someone from a pit:

One – You can pull them out.
Two – You can teach them to climb out.

Conclusion: God loves his church! … Ok, ok. Let’s back up.


A few months ago I was listening to one of my favorite teachers, Robby Dawkins. He made a peculiar statement which got me thinking. He said that miracle (instant) healings were much harder to get in the church then on the street. His conclusion was because there was more enemy opposition in the church—ie: the enemy wants God to look unloving to his kids and get us floundering in disappointment and misunderstanding, rather then growing in love and boldness. And while that conclusion is very true, God dropped another insight on me that broke this whole thing wide open!

What was that insight? Well I just told you—there are two ways to rescue someone from a pit..

I know, let’s dig a little deeper and connect all the dots, shall we? 😀

Way One: Pull them out. Pulling someone out is easier, quicker, and less messy. This would be comparable to a miracle or an instant healing. It only takes a moment, there is no confusion, no room for misunderstanding, and both the victim and rescuer can soon be on their separate ways. Love is felt immediately. Love is displayed immediately. A strong connection is made. However, this method of rescue is significantly less loving.

Say What? First, it only lasts for a moment. Granted, a strong initial connection is made, but it’s only momentary and leaves no room (no need) for continued, strengthened connection(s) in the future. Second, it creates carelessness and entitlement in our victim. Think about it. If our victim knows that every time he/she falls into a pit, they will simply be rescued—they will one, not bother to avoid pits (aka: live carelessly with no incentive to ever learn from his/her mistakes), and two, expect (even demand) a rescue every time they fall into another. Additionally, it leaves our victim powerless—meaning that every time they fall into a pit they remain stuck until the rescuer comes along again. Lastly, this method becomes substantially taxing on the rescuer. How so? Not only must the rescuer always be on the lookout for their own pitfalls, but now for other’s pitfalls as well. Furthermore, when those ‘others’ are in need of another rescue, the rescuer must drop everything and help them out—over and over and over and over again. For the rescuer, this is no way to live.

Way Two: Teach them to climb out. Teaching someone how to get out of their pit is much harder, slower, and a lot more messy—at least at first. This method would be comparable to a healing or to gradually getting better over time. It takes a while, potentially a long while. There is lots of room for confusion, misunderstanding, disappointment, and failure. However, this method is significantly more loving.

How so? Simply put, it’s empowering. This method empowers the victim. Sure, it’s tough at first. But eventually the victim will not only be free, but he/she will have a deep understanding of how to climb out of a pit should they ever fall into another. Additionally, knowing how much work and effort it takes to climb out—they have a very strong incentive to avoid similar pits. Not only that, but they can turn around and help others to climb out as well. All this combined and repeated creates powerful, unstoppable people. Not to mention that it significantly strengthens the relationship between the rescuer and the victim as much communication and time spent together is needed to successfully climb out.

It’s like the old adage: Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Both acts are kind and loving, but which is more loving? Certainly, it’s the act of teaching a man to fish and forever solving his problem.

It’s like this: Bandaging a gun wound is loving. But removing the bullet, cauterizing the flesh, and applying regular physical therapy until the wound is healed permanently—while much more time consuming initially—is undoubtedly much more loving.

Similarly, making your child breakfast every day is loving. But teaching your child to cook breakfast for themselves is much more loving. How so? One, they are free from dependency on you (yey!). Two, they can eat any time they want (they’ll never starve to death). Three, they can now move forward—have and feed their own family, (give you grandkids),  etc, etc.

Again, is it more loving to give someone a million dollars or teach them how to build a company? Well, that million dollars will immediately solve a lot of problems. But teaching someone how to build and run a million dollar company—well, that takes care of them forever. And even if they lose the business, they know how to build another, and another, and another.

See, the guy who “won the lottery” will eventually run out of money and need another “win.” But the guy who walked out of his poverty. That guy will never go back. No matter how bad the world beats him down. Because he knows more then just the desired destination, he knows the exact pathway to get there. He is armed. He is empowered. He is unstoppable.

So, have we successfully connected the dots? There are far less ‘instant miracles’ in the church because God actually loves the church more!! He doesn’t want to just run around giving us instant, miracle healings—creating an army of entitled dependents. No way. He climbs with us, out of our pits, because he wants his bride to grow into a beautiful, mature, powerful, unstoppable, engaged, intimate, relational adult! Just like cells in our body, God wants his bride to be full of warriors (cells) who can reproduce, recreate, build, and do everything as needed, as desired, and on their own.

Ahhh, we could go on and on, but who has the time to read it all? So we’ll just end with this:  Friends, family, church, bride—person still holding out for your promise(s) to manifest—have so much fun climbing out of your pit because it means that GOD LOVES YOU MORE!!

Much love! See you next time 😀

The Truth About, Inside Out

OMG. Check out Pixar’s latest release, Inside Out. It may be another decade or two (or five…teen) before it’s fully embraced, but the world—whether consciously or subconsciously—is beginning to understand. Emotions are not just random impulses triggered by chemical reactions, but actual beings.

Inside Out

Whoa, sputter—gasp, dry heave. Harold, ship this here boy off to the funny farm..

Hol’ on Lucy—let me es’plain.

Certainly, emotions (or feelings) are neurological impulses and triggered chemical reactions. That is indisputable science. However, what causes those reactions—what triggers those neurological impulses—well, that would be … spiritual entities.

Still not buying it? Here’s an example.

Let’s say we hear a voice—a loud voice. What is the first thing we instinctively do? Well, we turn and look for the person(s) who spoke to us. Likewise, let’s say we feel a hand on our shoulder—a firm hand. What do we do? We turn and look for the owner of said “firm hand.”

Why? If internally—within our body—that voice, that touch is nothing more then a set of neurological impulses and triggered chemical reactions, then why do we instinctively attach the responsibility of those impulses to another being? It’s because deep down inside, we all innately know: If we didn’t do it—then it was someone (or something) else who stimulated our senses.

In the same way, emotions (aka: feelings) are the voice—the touch—of the spirit. They are our 6th sense. They are our “hands,” our “feet,” our “eyes and ears,” our connection into the unseen, parallel universe we all live within—the spirit realm. Emotions are not haphazard or dreamt up—randomly triggered chemical impulses. Nope. They are intentional, deliberate communication, confirmation of undeniable evidence, letting us know that we are in the presence of another—albeit spiritual—person.

For more info on this fascinating subject, check out my book, Desktop Relations vol 1 Spiritual Warfare. Specifically check out the chapter titled, Discernment and Discerning of Spirits. It was written nearly five years ago, most likely around the same time that the screen-play for Inside Out was being penned. Since that time, other voices, like Jimmy Evans, have touched on this phenomenon. Seems like this was a revelation God dropped openly on the earth around that same time. I’m sure many others have picked up on it as well. Still, it is really cool to see mainstream Hollywood planting the cultural seed.

Ok. All that being said. Don’t just take my—or Pixar’s—word for it. If all this crazy banter is actually truth—then we must see it clearly confirmed in scripture.

Please turn with me to Galatians 5:22-23.

But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law!

Whoa. Wait. Look at that again. Love, joy, peace, patience.. What’s that? The fruit of the Spirit are—emotions! No way. Can’t be. So you are telling me that we can tell when we have the Spirit by simply checking our … emotions? For real? Our emotions are the way in which we sense the presence of this Selfless, Holy Spirit—the third person of the Trinity?

Oh no.. Shut up. Now the wheels are coming completely off the proverbial bus.. You are telling me that the Bible says we are to sense the Holy Spirit—a spiritual person—with our emotions?

Yes 😀 ..and that’s not all.

In the same way: Grace, selflessness, and truth is a person (Jesus). Sin, selfishness, and deception is a person (Satan). Likewise, Fear is a person. Lust, is a person. Suspicion, is a person. Shame, is a person. Guilt is a person. Rage, is a person. Depression, is a person. All are spiritual persons, but persons nonetheless!

Wow. Did we just swallow the red pill, or what? 😀

Ok world. The truth is revealed. What you wanna do with it is up to you. You can embrace it and change everything, or throw it away and remain the same—it’s up to you. But as for me and my house … it’s time to start living, Inside Out!

See you guys next month 😀

My Dad

My Dad shared this awesome revy (revelation) with me. It was so good—and with this month being Father’s Day and all—I wanted to share it with you.

The insight comes out of Genesis 47:13-25.

A little back-story: Joseph, the protagonist, has been established as second-in-command over all of Egypt. The seven years of plenty he foretold have finally ended, and the seven years of drought have begun. We pick up the tale at the point when the Egyptian people are coming to Joseph for food.

The passage is bit lengthy, so to paraphrase:

The people gave Joseph their money. He gave them food. Eventually their money ran out, so they gave their livestock and possessions as well. Joseph gave them food. Then their assets ran out. They gave themselves and their land. Again, Joseph gave them food, but this time he also gave them new seed to plant in their land. As repayment, he required 20% be given back while 80% could be kept for the next year’s seed and as food for the family. Then they praised and thanked him. They were exceedingly grateful to be his servants! He had saved their lives.

Random little passage, but here is the gem of wisdom my Dad shared.

This passage is like our journey to Christ. Joseph is a type of Christ. The Egyptian people are like us. When we come to Christ the first thing we give him is our money. And we watch God’s provision in return. The next step of trust is completely submitting our business and our assets to him. Again, we watch God provide for us in return. Our final step is submitting our heart (our land) to Christ. Notice that this time Christ not only provides for us, but gives us seed to start providing for ourselves and our family. And finally, if we’ve taken every step we can toward Christ and trusted him completely with everything—he is so good—that we will find ourselves thanking him for allowing us to serve him and being grateful for the famine, the struggle, that brought us to him.

As I listened to my Dad share all this, the wheels in my mind started spinning like crazy. It all made so much sense..

Joseph was indeed a type of Christ. He was favored by his Dad, given a special covering of many colors, sold out by his brothers, falsely accused, stuck in prison before ascending to second in command over everything & everyone, and as a result saved the very same brothers and false accusers who caused all his persecution along the way.

The Egyptians are like us—smart, capable, spiritual-minded people. Primarily occupied with simply living their life—worried mainly about themselves and their own livelihood. Not really looking for a savior, but willing to serve the one who could save them from their trouble and truly provide. In a nutshell, they were just regular, hard-working folk.

Money really is the first thing we learn to fully trust God with. It is our first “spiritual step.” The bottom rung on the “spiritual ladder” to achieving “heaven on earth,“ so to speak. God understands this principle all too well. In fact, when speaking about money he says, “test me in this [Malachi 3:10].” It is the only promise God ever invites us to test him on. Why? Because it is the very first rung to complete trust in God. Only a fool would not test the latter he was about to entrust his entire body to. On the flip side, it is also God’s test of us. Jesus said it best, “If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth [unrighteous mammon], who will [how can I] trust you with true riches? [Luke 16:11].” Money is our first step to testing the capability of Christ to take care of us, and it’s the first step to proving we have had a true heart change toward God.

Step two is submitting our business and possessions. When we see that God can be trusted with our money and with our livelihood, it’s just natural to turn our business over to him as well. Let him direct our company. Let him bring the resources. Let him finance his own kingdom. When we truly do this, we can finally get off the “hamster wheel” of life, and step out of the rat-race. With Christ at the wheel we can just manage his growing business instead of trying to build a business ourselves. Certainly we work, and we work hard. But we work out of his direction, his rest, his energy. In the same way, when we see how faithful God has been, in providing for us. Then all the things we’ve been buying with that provision we begin to desire—more and more—to give back. His tested goodness opens our hand of generosity even more.

Then comes the final, ultimate step—giving ourselves and our land. In the Bible “land” or “earth” is a symbol of the human heart. So in essence, the Egyptians were giving Joseph not only themselves but their hearts as well. This is also how it works in our relationship with God. When we see how good he has been to us—how trustworthy, and how faithful. Not only with our money, but with our career and assets. Then we not only give him ourselves (sell out totally), but we give him our heart as well. For this precious of a gift, Christ will not only continue to take care of us, but will now teach us the secrets to taking care of ourselves and those we love around us. It’s the same as a good father turning over the company business to his son. He will only do so once the son truly loves the company and is 100% sold out to the success of the company. Without love, without commitment—that companies days are numbered. It may take a few years or a few decades, but an unloving, uncommitted son will run a world-renown company right into the ground. In the same way, Christ does not show us the secrets to his kingdom until he has all of us, heart included. But once he does have all of us, then nothing is hidden from us, nothing is off limits.

And finally, when all is said-and-done, we—like the Egyptians—really will turn around and thank Jesus for allowing us the great honor and privilege of being his servants. For allowing hardships (famines) to give us incentive to turn to him and be crazy enough to trust more and more of ourselves completely to him. For taking us through the trials of boot-camp and the torture of SEAL training. Why? Because now we know how good he is. Now we know we are forever taken care of. Now we know he is the answer in every way, all of the time. We weren’t necessarily looking for it—looking for him. We were only trying to save our own skin. But we found it—we found true, complete, eternal salvation … the true, complete, eternal Savior. Yea, Jesus rocks 😀

And my Dad rocks too! Thanks Dad for the incredible revelation and new insight into a rather obscure and slightly strange passage of scripture. Amazing 😀

I’ll leave you with one last thing before we part ways for the month. This is the latest release from Desktop Revelations’ parent company, elci Productions LLC . Also fitting for the month of June, it is a song all about my Dad (my other Dad). My other, heavenly Dad 😀 (and yours too).

It’s called Ha-Halelu, and features local artist and NEVERLEFT front-man, Dean Berman. Enjoy!

PS – Elci Productions is always looking for ways to grow and improve. We would love your honest feedback on the song you just listened to, Ha-Halelu featuring Dean Berman. Click here – take a few minutes, fill out our five question survey, and download the track for FREE! Thanks again!

See you all next month 😀

Big “Bad,” Grace

This month we’re gonna talk about Gracebig bad, Grace. 😀

I know, I know. Grace is usually portrayed as a “turn the other, other, other cheek” kinda guy. Not that that’s wrong. But family, check this: Grace is way “badder” then you think.

Proverbs 3:34, 1 Peter 5:5, and James 4:6 all essentially say the same thing: God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Woah. Rewind that. Who gets grace? It’s only the humble? ..not everybody?

Yea. Only the humble get grace.

So you mean the guy who repeatedly slaps you in the face—SLAP, and then says, “Just give me grace, man.” SLAP. You mean, that guy doesn’t get grace?

Yep. You got it! In fact, that guy gets opposition.

What?

Hey I didn’t say it, God did. He opposes the proud. 😀

Wanna go a step further? Check out Psalm 68:6, “..the rebellious live in a sun-scorched [Grace-scorched] land.” Yep. Grace will actually burn, dry up, harden, and wither the heart (the land) of a rebellious person.

Ok, ok. I get it. Before this all gets taken out of context and misunderstood—let’s back up a bit.

First, let’s be clear. Grace opposing the proud doesn’t contradict Jesus’ command to “turn the other cheek.” We still do. But turning the other cheek is for our enemy. It’s for the guy who slaps you in the face—SLAP, and then says, “Yea punk. What ups? What you gonna do about that? Come over here again and I’ll hit you, and your Mama, even harder..” SLAAP!

Yep. It’s scandalous. But that’s the guy we turn the other cheek to. That’s the guy we go the extra mile for. The guy we win with our outrageous love—with the silly grin he can never manage to slap off our supernaturally happy face no matter how hard the.. SLAAAP. Ouch.

So then, who are these proud, arrogant people that Solomon, Peter, and James say God is opposed to?

You got it. It is the guy using Grace as an excuse. An excuse to remain the same and not change. An excuse to still do what he wants without earthly (horizontal) consequences.

In short, it’s the guy who is willfully and un-apologetically abusing (leeching) off the system.

See, God has no problem with hot or cold. Be completely for God, or completely against him. If you honestly and openly take your stand, then guess what? God gives you grace. (Whether it be through your own humility or by Him turning the other cheek.)

But lukewarm—being in the system, while abusing the system. Joining the system and then using it for your own best interests. Taking advantage of the goodness of others. Using God’s words to your own advantage. Yes, lukewarm—that guy, God spews out of his mouth [Rev 3:16]. That guy gets a scorching by Grace himself.

Hmm. Maybe the difference can best be seen through interpretive dance … but, this is a blog—so here’s a simple story:

It’s Monday. 8 am. You have just arrived at your brand new, multi-million dollar music studio. The one you’ve spent—and worked—a lifetime to build. You take a seat behind your massive executive desk. You know, the one that costs more then most of the cars parked out front. You sip your Starbucks and take a look at today’s agenda. Oops. Meeting at 8 am?!

You scramble, barely grabbing a pen and paper, when in walks your appointment. It’s Buba Bubbidy, the hottest, unsigned country-western artist in the biz. He’s here to talk with you about producing his next top-selling album.

You size him up. He’s a handsome dude. Easily five-foot six and the size of a toothpick. He’s got the biggest grin—and hat—that you’ve ever seen. And if the truth be told, he’s a little reminiscent of a … thumbtack. But the numbers don’t lie, the fans love, love, love his music.

He shakes your hand and sits down. A smug look all over his face—like he owns the place. Apparently,  it’s more then just a look because he leans back and promptly kicks his muddy, Cuban-heeled, square-toed, leopard-skinned boots up on your flawless, Cadillac of a desk.

First you flinch. Then you wince. Then you wait. It gets a little bit awkward. You wait some more. Finally you respond, “Son, we have a strict no-boots-on-table policy in this here studio office.”

He grins and smacks his gum. “Just keep’n it real Pops,” he replies, “You gotta give me some grace.” He then proceeds to lean back—feet firmly planted on desk—and spit expertly into his plastic chromed dipping cup.

What are you gonna do? That’s right. You are gonna reach over and punch the number for security, and have Mr. Bubbidy firmly, but lovingly, escorted out of the building and out of your life.

Contrast that with your next appointment.

At 9 am sharp, the door again swings open and in walks, Thunda. He’s a hip hop and happen’ rap artist, fresh off the bang’n Atlanta scene.

Again, you size him up. Handsome dude. No smaller then six foot two. He’s dressed to impress, from the vintage pick in his perfectly man-scaped dew to the glittering ice lacing his kicks. He flashes a winsome smile, boasting some fantastic pearly whites and a tasteful hint of gold. It’s easy to see why the fans are drawn.

As before, you extend a welcoming hand, and Thunda takes his seat. It’s strangely deja-vu when he too leans back and props his muddy Nikes up on your desk. He pulls out a towel and begin cleaning them when he notices the strange look on your face. He looks at his shoe. Your face. His shoe. Your face. Oh! He get’s it.

“Sorry,” he says, jumping up and using his towel to now clean the desk where his shoe had just been, “I apologize. I’m acting like I own the joint.” He continues to polish. “I stepped in some mud on the way in and it was bugg’n me so bad, I forgot where I was. Where is my head? Where are my manners?” He flashes that winsome smile again, “Please sir, excuse me.”

Now what are you gonna do? That’s right. You’ll give him grace. And after you talk to him for a few minutes, if this guy has half a decent album, you’re gonna sign him. Why? Because you need that kind of humility on your team. Talent anyone can find, but true humility plus talent is pure gold. 😀

Now obviously our story was a little bit over the top, and very tongue-in-cheek—but you get the point. Not only is demanded grace not given, but true Grace will actually oppose and resist such an arrogant demand-er. However, un-demanded grace is given freely to the humble (and even to the openly confrontational enemy.) Why? For their honesty, they deserve it.

If this is truly the case, then how is it that we’ve painted Grace out to be this nice guy, who avoids conflict at all costs, goes along to keep the peace, compromises at every turn, and keeps his mouth shut? Nothing could be further from the truth. Don’t believe me? See what Grace does to Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. Double ouch.

But please, don’t hear me wrong. Opposing the proud is not an excuse to hate. Nor is it a justification to bring violence. No. It’s simply a license to be good instead of nice. What does that mean? It means that we, as true sons and daughters of God, have a license to stand up and rule our “gardens”—our God-given, God-authorized territory. We get to say who puts a foot on our desk (so to speak) and who is removed/reprimanded when doing so. It’s a license to put distance between us and a repeated offender, to physically remove them from the scene. It’s license for us to boldly ask God to completely remove that opposition too (in His due time, in His right way). Contrary to popular opinion, Grace isn’t a pansy. Grace isn’t a push-over.

If we could “rabbit-trail” on this point just a little: Remember, our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against wicked (selfish) spirits [Ephesians 6:12]. What the Bible calls “spirits,” we often call “attitude.” Because of what Jesus did, we are no longer at odds with men. Rather, Ephesians tells us, we are at odds with the spirit (the attitude) behind the man. To revisit our short story, its not really Mr. Bubbidy that we have the problem with, or that God opposes. It’s his attitude. It’s his spirit. A greater victory is a victory where we don’t have to remove Mr. Bubbidy at all, but simply with our own words and our holy spirit (our loving attitude), we can remove his attitude. Hence saving the man.

OK, enough meandering. Let’s get back on track.

This is true Grace: True Grace will not take one, but two, directly on the kisser. Grace will go the extra mile. Give the shirt off his back. Stop and help you out of a ditch. Get in the ditch with you. Die a horrendous death for your crimes. Yes, true Grace is really, really good. But, true Grace is no push-over either. True Grace will oppose the proud. Expose injustice. Stand up in the face of false accusation. Run at its giants. Crush its oppressor. Take its land. Protect its territory. Protect those in its territory. Kick the enemy (bad/selfish attitudes) out. Lovingly remove arrogance. Yes, Grace is loving. Grace is kind. Grace is good. But ladies and gentlemen, Grace is not weak. Grace is not “nice” 🙂

So this month, let’s take an assessment of our lives. Are there places where we are demanding grace, when we should be apologizing and humbly asking for it? Are there areas that we are using grace as our excuse to do what we secretly, selfishly want? Or using it as an excuse to indefinitely remain the same?

On the flip side. Are there some boundaries, that we need to stop others from repeatedly crossing in our lives? Some places that we know are under our authority, our responsibility, but for the sake of “peace” or out of fear/intimidation we are looking/running the other way? Are there some awkward confrontations we need to have? Some attitudes we need to stand up to? Some people who lovingly, but firmly, need to know that it’s not OK to live with their muddy feet up on our desk anymore?

If so, let’s pray that we can freely tap into God’s grace, power, and love to handle all these issues and more. It’s time to rock the world—with good! ..with some big, bad Grace! 😀

See you next month!