Listen and Live: Three Miracles of “Quietness”

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If you come from a modern Evangelical church expression, it’s likely that there’s a facet of life in Christ that has been significantly under-represented to you. That is the practice/discipline of quietness: contemplation and meditation.

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Is God a “Revival Genie?” : Rub with Prayer, Get Revival?

If prevalent teachings about revival are to be believed, our God is more like a reluctant genie in Arabian Nights than a gracious heavenly Father.

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How to See Kingdom Increase – Let the Wind Blow!

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In John chapter three, Jesus linked being born of the Spirit—necessary to perceive (KJV: see) the kingdom—to the wind. The spirit-wind metaphor would have been very MP910216389familiar to His hearers. Connecting it to the kingdom of God in response to Nicodemus’s question about eternal life was unique.

In the metaphor, the wind is not subject to human analysis: its effects are recognizable, but they cannot be controlled. The spirit-birthed sons and daughters of the kingdom are not known by human observations, evaluations, and metrics, but their effect can be recognized. My, what a conundrum for the natural man! No wonder this confused and offended Nicodemus! It has the same effect on us today!

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The Real Church Dilemma by Jose Bosque

Guest Blogger: Jose Bosque

MP900289918I have had this article on my heart for months. I am both intrigued and broken hearted as I contemplate this issue. Why do born again brothers and sisters that I am acquainted with come so close to dealing with the issues of organized church in their own Christian walk only to pull back and never truly engage? They claim to be hungry for a genuine Christ-centered walk, yet they seem incapable of escaping the trappings of a church-centered religion.

Now when I speak of the “real church” I am talking about the One Church of the Lord Jesus Christ – the Church He is building. I am not talking about a physical structure but of a people in whom the God of Love dwells. That is the true church – the ekklesia. Unfortunately, the counterfeit is well known. These counterfeits often look like glorified amusement parks and country clubs that masquerade as the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s not about the name game, either. I don’t care what an organization calls itself. They may be Independent, non-denominational, Pentecostal, Baptist or Catholic etc. These names are man-made labels used for identification and separation that will find no place in the Lord’s eternal redemptive plan. What I am talking about is a Bride for a King who is pressing in to break free of the bondages of human religion and embracing the freedoms and joy of a life in Christ.

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The Other Guy’s Church Needs “Revival”

"Here & Now" Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.The idea of renewal, reformation or revival  (whatever one wants to call it) can be quite stimulating, when it is the “other guy” who has to abandon his error to come to the light.

I know so many who can speak quite elegantly and esoterically on the topic of revival, renewal, reformation, unity, oneness, city-wide unity, etc. However, these same individuals don’t exactly line up to be the first to abandon their beliefs and practices that hinder the very thing they wax eloquently about. There’s a bit of a con game going on. We are fooling ourselves in these things unless we get down to some bedrock issues that carry a lot of emotion with them.

These are great concepts when it is the OTHER church, the OTHER home group, the OTHER denomination, the OTHER network, who comes under discipline or whose “theology” is “off,” or who has to embrace “reform” and come out of “religion.” Religion is like spiritual halitosis. It is always the other guy’s problem.

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What is REAL Spiritual Warfare? PART TWO

Warrior Statue Silhouette and Orange SkyThe response I have received on the original post on real spiritual warfare has been overwhelmingly positive! Thank-you to all who have communicated/posted. However, there were a few voices of criticism who are not too happy with me. Oh, well. Anything worth anything is going to be criticized. Maybe I need to be criticized. On the other hand, maybe the nerve that needed to be hit was hit, and the toe that needed to be stepped on, was. An arrow that hits the intended target is likely to get a reaction. No big deal. Goes with the territory.

I am including here two examples of what real spiritual warfare based on incarnational and transformational authority looks like to me. These testimonies are examples of spiritual warfare that actually MAKES A DIFFERENCE in time and space, rather than esoteric spiritual exercises, that are constitutionally unable to be evaluated for legitimacy and effectiveness. When God really speaks to, in, and through (declaraction/proclamation) through His kingdom-aligned people, in real authority in their metron (sphere of assignment and relationship) in a real prophetic dimension, things on earth REALLY change!

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Spiritual Warfare: 'Separating Reality from Hype'

Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual Warfare: Separating Reality from the Hype

Spiritual Warfare–it seems Christians either obsess over it and engage in all kinds of antics and hype, or they ignore it because the intellectualization of their theological categories disallows for the reality. The fakery and the hype inoculates the inquiring novice from accepting the real thing. Arid intellectualism leaves believers unequipped to deal with phenomena outside of their worldview. What is genuine spiritual warfare and what is just a bunch of noise and enthusiasm in a meeting?

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Love Must Be Free

God’s kingdom is one of freedom. Nothing is forced. Even the good things are not forced upon us. If we try to “force” (persuade) God’s good things on others, we misrepresent our Father and we have failed in love, even with good intentions, message, motive, and methods–good “kingdom stuff.”

Forced love is rape. We try to force truth/love (God is love, God is truth) on people who do not even want to be inseminated, and call it “evangelizing.” People do not need to hear our “stuff,” even our good stuff. People need to smell an aroma of the Bread of Life, take a bite out of us, and because the taste is of the Bread of Life, experience DIVINELY CREATED APPETITE. Then they will be ready to hear about, more accurately, eat of, the One we say we represent. Telling people about the Bread of Life, and becoming the One Loaf with others for the world to feed on, to taste and see of THE Bread of Life, are two unrelated universes.

Telling people is like reading a restaurant menu to someone, but never buying them a meal. They heard about food accurately, but they have eaten nothing, so they still go away hungry. They’ve “heard the gospel” and now they are “accountable for their soul” and we’ve “done our bit for Jesus.” One is shortcut Christian religion, the other is the costly reality of the Way, Truth, and the Life that the world is hungry to see. Gospel proclamation is not about “sowing the seed of the Word” into the world, the gospel is proclaimed by sowing US into the world as seed (Mt. 13:38).

How Intimacy with the Lord Can Go Wrong: 'Intimacy Must have a Context Other Than Ourselves'

Intimacy Without Reproduction is a Deceptive Dead End

Intimacy Without Reproduction is a Deceptive Dead End

A body of water needs fresh inflow and regular outflow if it’s to avoid turning into a fetid, stagnant pond. Over-emphasized truth crimps the flow of our lives in one way or the other: on the input or output side. Without an outward focus and expression, the message of intimacy with the Lord will turn us into stinking spiritual ponds.

In the natural, the objective of intimacy is for reproduction. In the natural, frequent intimacy will usually result in another life unless unnaturally stopped–contraception. Teaching intimacy with the Lord, over, and over, and over, and over again without an “output” equivalency, is like spiritual contraception.

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QUIT PRAYING!

We do not need to pray about that which God has made explicitly clear in his revealed Word! This is hardly hot news to most of you. However, this principle is regularly violated and abused by many well-meaning believers, some not so well-meaning.  

It is inappropriate to pray, when God is asking for responsive obedience.  I regularly interact with Christians who use a pseudo-spiritual cloak of prayer to cover impenitent self-will, rebellion, disobedience, and fear of the unknown or what they cannot control and manage. Fearful controllers will always leverage “we need to pray more” to their advantage. It is a particular plague among “prophetic” believers.  By that I mean Christians who believe, as I do, that the voice of God can still be heard and discerned in the redeemed human spirit. The closed canon does not render God a mute.

Believers often engage in a manipulative spirit when they say,  “I have prayed about it and the Lord told me I must .  . .” This is not the language of mutual respect and dialog.  It is the language of spiritual ultimatum—spiritual blackmail.  It is impossible to interact with people who use this type of language, without stepping all over their prayer life and self-perceived spirituality. How can you or I compete with God? How can you or I give any input to people who believe the Almighty has definitively spoken to them? You can’t reach a soul that is locked down with “God told me.”

It is common charismatic lingo used to keep others at a comfortable distance and to justify whatever notion may pop into our heads to do. You do not need to pray about whether or not you should abandon your wife, cheat on our taxes, have an affair, or other such nonsense. The answer is NO! Quit praying!

You might say, Steve, don’t be so silly, this is obvious. Well, let me briefly rehearse two true stories so I can convince you that this is not silly, nor always obvious, but rather an epidemic problem.

I once had to deal with a situation where a wife and mother of eight children was caught fornicating with her boss. Not rumor . . . in the act. She was the wife of an elder in another  church. When confronted, her response was: “Well, I’ve prayed about it, and I was trying to lead him to the Lord!”  Yes, indeedeeee folks, fornicating for Jesus. That’s some evangelism technique. She was deadly serious, and this was not some “new convert” who fell off the turnip truck yesterday.

I was once in a “city-wide pastors unity meeting” (yuck) of all the so-called “gate-keepers” (yuck) of the city. An older gentleman there began to share that he felt a call to a certain city, but that his wife did not want to go. He “prayed about it” and “felt” he was to leave his wife and “fulfill his calling” as the calling is the most important thing. Every leader in the room justified the man, encouraged him, except myself and one other brother (We were accused of being negative, judgmental and elitists.). Oh, and by the way, the wife of this man was a wheelchair bound invalid on oxygen. Well, with the “endorsement” of the stone-blind “gatekeepers of the city,” he left his wife and “started his ministry,” with the obvious results of disaster. His marriage and his ministry failed . . . well, as Gomer Pyle used to say: “Suhprise, suhprise, suhprise . . .”

These are not isolated incidents. Folks, you may have no idea of the sheer corruption and nonsense that goes on behind closed doors at “leadership levels.” Reason among many that the way we have been conducting ourselves regarding “leadership” needs a complete overhaul.

You don’t need to pray about some things. The answer is NO! And if the so-called “city gate keepers” are that stone-blind and ignorant . . . what does that say about all our pretention to spiritual significance, “cutting edge” this and that, and spiritual “gate keepers?” What a pile of excrement.

Praying to God for hours to bring “revival,” save souls, or whatever we may want Him to do on our behalf, is useless if He is requiring repentance and reconciliation. This is particularly true concerning interpersonal relationships. It is easier to talk and pray about unity and revival than to get real and deal with the  breaches in relationship that prevent unity in the first place!  Most American Christians simply do not have the stomach for the hard work required for biblical interpersonal reality.  They will leave a church rather than resolve relational difficulties. (Of course, they will pray for unity and revival at the next church they bless with their presence!).

An individual undergoing a crucifixion experience, is not helped by the prayers of others for blessing and escape. Believers with an unsanctified mercy or compassion gift frequently err in this regard. Sentimental prayer based on human analysis of circumstances and a soulish desire to spare people from difficulty, often runs counter to God’s redemptive purposes. We must always pray in wisdom with a God-perspective.  If we do not know how to pray, well, that’s what the indwelling Holy Spirit is for—get to know Him and let Him pray through you.

Endless prayer over the same issue or pending action, can be a cloak for unbelief, passivity, fear, timidity, and faithlessness.  When God is calling for faith action, it is inappropriate to keep praying.  ACT don’t PRAY! 

Moses at the Red Sea is a classic scriptural example. When faced with an impossibility, he cried out to God.  God reproved him for his prayer and exhorted him to use what was in his hand.  Moses’s rod can represent many things: authority, the anointing, etc. Simply, it represents what has already been provided and what has proven effective.  For the believer, this is the Word of God, the indwelling Spirit, our union with Him and with one another, and our confidence as His sons and daughters. 

Vacillation and indecisiveness are not fruits of the Spirit—better to be bold and decisive and have to compensate for mistakes, than to be immobile and right too late!  No decision is a decision.  God’s admonition to Joshua wasn’t “be cautious and be careful,” but rather “be bold and be strong.” Individuals who insist on “more prayer” may be yielding to a human (or demonic) spirit that requires absolute assurance in every detail before stepping out in faith.  This is a religious manifestation of a perfectionistic,  emasculated spirit, not godly virtue. The way of faith always encompasses a degree of uncertainty and risk.

Many in the ekklesia, for whatever reason, are severely damaged in this area.  Change, risk, and abandonment to God are more than they can emotionally,  spiritually, psychologically, and sometimes culturally handle. When confronted with a faith response requirement that affects them personally, they can suffer near personality disintegration. These dear individuals simply must get help, healing, and deliverance, either sovereignly from God or mediated through competent ministry.

Pragmatism often masquerades in the ekklesia as wisdom. Many believers’ minds are deeply impregnated with worldly and culturally conditioned concepts of wisdom, prudence, and caution that impersonate godly virtues.  The world’s wisdom is devilish, and inordinate caution is the protective mantra of the fearful.   

Godly wisdom and faith are two valid biblical virtues maintained in tension by divine design.  They are like a kite and string: wisdom is the string that enables the kite of faith to arise and stay in a proper sphere.  The kite of faith keeps the string of wisdom from being earth-bound. Healthy Christianity requires both.

However, the overall tenor of the New Testament is that faith is the superior and eternal virtue. Faith is the short-supply commodity the Lord seeks in his people and in the earth.  If we must err, err to the side of bold faith–it is what the Lord is looking for.

Inappropriate prayer is simply a manifestation of the carnal mind in rebellion against God, masquerading in religious garb.  The in-working of the cross  and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit are God’s provision and remedy. The disciples asked the Lord to teach them to pray (Lk. 11:1-13).  He promised that the Father would give the Holy Spirit to that very end, if we persist in asking for Him. We have the same confidence and more because the Teacher and the Spirit of prayer is now within us,  forever, to the end of the age.

Let’s stop the nonsense. Lets can the hyper-spiritual lingo. Let’s be real people and let’s not cloak our disobedience with prayer.


Copyright 2012,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.swordofthekingdom.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephcros9@aol.com.