“Revival:” Revive What?

Recently I was privileged to do a podcast with my friends, Stevie Bremner and SJ Hill, on the topic of “revival.” If you are interested in listening in to this conversation where we talk about the issue from a grace-based, new covenant perspective, rather than the straining, striving, performance-based, “What is it going to take to get God to do what we think He ought to do?” perspective, you can find it at the link below from Stevie’s ministry:


If you regularly subscribe to this blog, I apologize for the duplicate posting . . . trying to sort some technical issues at this end.

Football and Fathering

I confess to really enjoying NFL and college football. As far as I see it, there are only two seasons in the year: football season and “other.” I also confess to having a hopelessly irrational thirty-five year addiction and love affair with the New York football Giants. I know, there is no accounting for taste. You can imagine, in recent years, I have been a happy fan. So, if you are a Giant hater, please forgive me, but the Lord often speaks to me and moves me deeply from sports metaphors, particularly football. I want to talk about the Manning family as it relates to fathering.

For those who do not follow the sport, the quarterback for the New York Giants is Eli Manning. Eli has won two championships, as well as being MVP in both games. His older brother Peyton won a championship with the Indianapolis Colts. He was MVP of that game, as well as being the league MVP a record four  times.

They are the sons of Archie and Olivia Manning. Archie had a stellar college career at Mississippi state and Ole Miss. However, he got his brains beat out on a weekly basis playing in the NFL for what was a very weak New Orleans Saints team at the time. As  a young lad, I can remember Archie running for his life, getting the dickens pounded out of him, as he valiantly tried to help his team win. Not only did Archie never win a championship, the New Orleans teams he played for, were dismal laughing stocks of the league. Even as a boy, I can remember feeling so sorry for Archie, watching him get literally pummeled, week after week.

To me, this is the essence of fathering: being willing to have your brains beat out, not seeing any success, so someone who shares your DNA can come after you and succeed beyond your wildest dreams. There is nothing like the joy in a father’s heart to see his children realize dreams that he never could. As a “father,” I actually get teary-eyed when I think of the joy that must reside in Archie and Olivia’s hearts when they see what their sons have accomplished.

Paul captures the essence of spiritual fathering so well in one of my all-time favorite verses: 2 Cor. 12:15.  The Corinthians, were a people for whom he was significantly responsible for birthing into the kingdom in the first place, and for whom he had apostolic care and oversight. They were in the process of rejecting him personally, the message he was carrying, and his fathering/oversight relationship to them. He wasn’t flashy enough for them. In the presence of a staggering level of emotional and literal rejection, Paul writes to them and says:

I will very gladly, spend and be spent by you, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved. (2 Cor. 12:15)

This is the essence of fathering. Folks, there is much talk these days about spiritual fathering. It has nothing to do with networks, accountability, submission, authority, “tithing up-stream,” government, ruling, and other control grids.

A spiritual father is someone whose love for you is unstoppable by circumstance, or your own rejection of him. A spiritual father is willing to have his metaphorical brains beat out, for your sake, that you might succeed. If we really believe in “generational vision” and “generational transfer” and “raising up the next generation,” as spiritual fathers-mothers, our own dreams are the fertilizer for others. The younger generation doesn’t exist to make our dreams come true (It’s nice if it’s mutual, but it is neither necessary nor required). We exist for them . . . our sorrow, our loss, our failure, our lack of “success,” becomes the fuel to make them champions  . . . when absorbed in Calvary, liberty and a prevailing love one with another in relationship. The battles I may fight today, that do not seem to produce desirable outcome, are merely investment in a son’s future victory.

NOTHING offered in genuine faith (not our own imaginations, but genuine relational faith) to, for, in, and on behalf of Jesus Christ is EVER wasted. It is not possible for His kingdom to suffer decrease.  The fruit just might not be in my lifetime. Oh, there will be fruit, as surely as Eli and Peyton are the fruit of Archie’s labor’s spent, how much more so, shall you and I be as the fruit of the Lord’s labor spent?  How much more so, those in whom we have invested our life’s virtue, and perhaps seen no return in our mortal days? God thinks generationally for His purpose, not individually for success. Our individual “success and acclaim,” or lack thereof, is of no concern to Him.

Ah, the issue is, our desire, yes, even our demand to see a desirable determined outcome for our “efforts for Jesus.”   In effect, we still think and act like employees, expecting “just recompense” for “efforts provided.” That is the opposite of fathering.  Our desire and demand to see a determined result on our efforts is nothing other than refusing to let God be God . . . we are still lord’s of our own life, dictating the terms of employment for the factory-master in the sky. So sad. Genuine spiritual fathers have given up their rights to desirable determined outcomes . . . for the sake of Jesus’s interests in others.

If you are interested in more on this topic, I recommend our little booklet: Father-Son Ministry, that re-examines some themes that are prevalent today regarding “spiritual fathers and sons,” particularly the ethos that wants to make younger people the personal property and perpetual slaves on the plantation of an older person’s frustrated carnal ambitions for greatness. That is not spiritual fathering. The booklet can be found in soft cover or Kindle at the Online Mall tab at www.goczn.com/srcrosby.

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.

Hebrews 7:25 – Jesus IS the Heavenly Intercession

There is a common understanding of Hebrews 7:25 that gives the impression that Jesus is not at rest, seated on the throne on high after His resurrection, but rather is engaged in eternal intercession, praying to the Father, more or less pleading for humanity, in the eternal state, forever and ever. This is very unfortunate.

This understanding also gives rise to the idea that God is still looking for someone in the earth to intercede and “make up the hedge, and stand in the gap:” to plead with God along with Jesus who is pleading in heaven, to . . . basically . . .  not wipe us all out in one way or the other. This too, is very unfortunate.

In the KJV the verse reads:

Wherefore he is able also to save to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

We have to remember the historical context and grid of understanding that the KJV translators brought with them in regard to “Christian practices” such as prayer. Think Church of Rome minus the Pope. Think: strong performance, works, duty orientation.

The phrase “to make” is added by the English translators, and is most unfortunate, as it gives the impression of something yet undone, as if some sort of prayer is going on by Jesus, interceding as if His finished-work sacrifice really wasn’t enough to realize all of God’s longing in and for humanity.

Some very literal readings could go like this:

He is able, the ones coming through Him, to God, always living for the purpose of pleading for them.


He is able the ones coming, to and through him to God, always living for the appeal on behalf of them.

The significant point (without getting bogged down in a bunch of Greek technical stuff) is, His eternal life, His resurrection life, is what is doing the appealing, pleading, etc., not his prayer. Christ in resurrection IS the intercession.

Only God has eternal life. It’s a quality of His existence, His Deity. It is His to share and give, and His to withhold. There is now, not only at the center of the universe, but in union in the Godhead, at the right hand of the Father, a resurrected God-Man. There’s a representative man, present not only “before God” in some petitionary mode. But “in God” in perfect union. He is there as a representative man, vivified by God’s very own eternal life.

The intercession of Hebrews 7:25 is not something we do, you do, I do, or Jesus does. No, the intercession is God’s own life in a man. He has found His rest in the Man he was looking for in Isa. 66:2.  That is the intercession. That is the “pleading.”  That is the rest. God need look no further than Himself in Christ-Jesus. The Sabbath of Genesis 1-3, has come full circle. God took humanity out of the question when he made a covenant with Abraham (he was asleep). He made a covenant with Himself (Heb. 6), and that covenant has come full circle . . . His own rest . . . in a man.

This gives substance and meaning to all the so-called  “positional” truths (in Him/in us, united with Him, seated with Him, etc. )  of the New Testament. They are not “positional” at all. They are ultimate reality truths. Too often, teachers and theologians throw the term “positional truths” around and it is code for: not real, doesn’t work, and you are not good enough yet.

Because of our union with Him (John 14:3 – that where I am you may be also, is not talking about heaven. It is talking about oneness in the bosom of Father on the throne in the universe) you and I are in that place, also. United with Him by the indwelling Spirit of sonship. We are not “absorbed into deity,” changed into “God” or “gods.” However, they that are joined to the Lord are one Spirit. Our union with a resurrected God-Man, by the Spirit, has profound implications.

You and I, and every other believer, are the Sabbath of God in Him. He finds His rest in us, in Christ.  You and I and every other believer are the intercession of God.  The church, the bride, you and I, are the living sacrifice of Romans 12:1 (literally: the worship, the “liturgy” – meaning “the work done on behalf of the people,” the intercession) for the world. My literal presence and being in the world, in Christ, is the intercession.  My “prayer life” is simply the expression of the realities of what I am in Him.  I can’t get any closer to God than: “seated with Him in heavenly places.”  Our prayer and intercession is praying out from heaven to earth, not from earth to heaven. We are the executors of the last will and testament of a resurrected God-Man who is seated at the throne of the universe. He is seated, we do the praying. However, New Testament intercession is more than the disciplines of my prayer time. It is my very life.

This is New Testament priesthood.

I believe this is linked directly with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. In my opinion this has very little to do with speaking in tongues, but rather, is the outpouring of Jesus’ ascension and glorification enthronement/anointing of His investiture as King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek (it would take too long to unpack the significance of Psalm 2/Psalm 110 being the foundation of New Testament doctrine and the foundation of New Testament priesthood). The baptism in the Holy Spirit is the realization of Moses’ dream in Exodus 20 of a nation of king-priests: first realized at Pentecost, and in every bona fide, Spirit-regenerated believer since.

If we don’t get this stuff right when we teach prayer and intercession,  we will inevitably energize striving and Old Covenant mentalities, intentionally, or not.

My hope is not that Jesus might be praying for me, that somehow, I am on the eternal prayer list of the Son of God.

My hope is that He is alive forever after the order of Melchizedek. Priesthood is the energizing power of government and kingship: a priesthood based on the quality of God’s own life,  His own eternal life in the resurrected God-Man, in human beings . . . the new creation race. That is the intercession.

That Spirit of priesthood has united with my spirit. I am a new creation. A member of a royal priesthood after the order of Melchizedek. I am (along with others in the family of God) a living sacrifice, a living intercession for the world. My being is the intercession, of which my prayer life is but a fragment.


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.

For a deeper examination of the topic of prayer and intercession from a New Covenant perspective, please refer to our book with Don Atkin, New Creation Prayer, available at www.stevecrosby.com.


How to Identify Spiritual Abuse: 'You Might be in a Cult if . . .'

Identifying Spiritual Abuse

How to Identify Spiritual Abuse

It is a sad reality that many folks have bad church experiences in Christianity. These experiences range from mild disappointment to severe abuse, and in some cases, even criminality. Recovery from one of these experiences can be a painful and at times, a lengthy process. People who have experienced hurtful church experience can suffer from symptoms similar to PTSD or Stockholm Syndrome.

It can be helpful on the path to recovery, to be able to reflect upon our history, or perhaps our current circumstances, to provide either the inner healing and recovery from spiritual abuse, or, to find the inner motivation necessary to make changes to get out of a very toxic, unsafe, unhealthy church environment.

Everyone makes mistakes. All of us are prone to imperfections, mistaken opinions, errors in judgment, belief systems, and practices. However, when isolated errors multiply, become compounded, systematized, institutionalized, and defended; and conformity to these errors is demanded, a very dangerous line has been crossed.

You MIGHT BE in a cult if . . .

  • honest disagreement and asking questions are interpreted as being of a “Jezebelian” or “Absalom” spirit, or being disloyal, a rebel, etc.
  • Matthew 18 is used by leadership as a mandatory speech and thought control template to stifle thoughtful criticism, dialogue, discussion, and disagreement.
  • Old Covenant leadership motifs are practiced: “Mosaic” style leadership “hears God for you,” rather than equipping you to hear God for yourself.
  • your group’s identity and existence is dependent on a single individual and his/her gifts and talents; celebrityism; personality idolatry.
  • you are rewarded for conformity by relational “access to the leadership,” and “punished” (overtly or covertly; openly or subliminally) for nonconformity by denial of relational access to leadership.
  • you are told your heart is desperately wicked, and not trustworthy, but leaders expect you to trust theirs.
  • transparency in relationship is demanded before trust in relationship is established; “transparency” is leveraged and used against you.
  • leadership “de-gifts” you; that is, proclaims to be able to remove your gift, grace, and calling from you for alleged nonconformity.
  • you are told you cannot make a personal decision without approval from your “covering.” There is no such concept as covering in the NT.
  • leaders nurture a culture of infantile dependency upon themselves, rather than maturing, equipping, and releasing the saints; corral and control rather than equip and release.
  • your leaders tell you who you can date (or if you can date at all!), who you can marry, if you can have children, how many children you should have, where you can live, what job you can take, when and where you can take vacation, etc.
  • your leaders mandate how your children are to be educated (home school or not, etc.).
  • Godly boundary lines of natural family (immediate and extended) are violated: “spiritual fathers and mothers” manipulate the affections of natural family members; natural family members are estranged and devoted to “spiritual parents.”
  • you are told to sever all relationship with natural (blood) family members who are not “believers;” don’t go to their birthday parties, anniversaries, etc.
  • your leaders discourage women from getting an education under the guise of being “keepers at home.”
  • you are discouraged from getting an education, pursuing a career, saving for retirement, or buying insurance, etc., because it is the “end times” and Jesus is coming “any minute.”
  • you are taught that only your group has the “real truth;” your group is the “remnant,” every one else is wrong, apostate; your group is in the Holy of Holies, others are “outer court.”
  • you are threatened with dire spiritual peril should you leave the group; belonging to your group is considered being in the “ark of safety.”
  • those who leave are “black-balled,” socially ostracized; you are forbidden from contact with those who leave.
  • anyone who leaves your group is called a “covenant breaker.”
  • you are told to “turn your mind off, and turn your spirit on;” that the exercise of rational faculties is somehow “not spiritual.”
  • honor, authority, submission, loyalty, etc. are inordinately emphasized and only flow one way: up the hierarchy, a lack of a culture of mutuality–submitting one to another in the fear of the Lord (Eph. 5:21).
  • leaders foster a culture of elitism or  superiority; a fraternity of insiders:  the clergy-laity divide.
  • your time, talent, and treasure are fuel for another person’s ambitions of greatness; you are consumed by another’s carnal drive for significance.
  • you are psychically manipulated with music under the guise of “worship.”
  • leaders can correct you, but you cannot correct leaders.
  • you are told that correcting or criticizing a leader is “touching the Lord’s anointed;” in the NC, all believers are equally anointed.
  • leaders try to get you to do things for them for free (babysitting, lawn mowing, house repairs, etc.) under the guise of  teaching you “to serve.”
  • insistence on titles of rank and position are required under the pretext of “teaching honor and respect.”
  • devotion to the scripture replaces devotion to the Person of Jesus.
  • devotion to the scripture does not produce character transformation.
  • your leaders only associate with young people – they have no peer level, age-level, and maturity level equals in their social sphere.
  • the “leadership team” is stacked with family members, cronies, and yes-men.
  • you are not allowed to say “no” at appropriate times and in appropriate ways, to leaders; godly boundaries are not honored.
  • the finances of the group are managed in secrecy. Only official “leadership” is allowed to see the money, how it is spent, where it goes.
  • loyalty to leadership is thought to be equivalent to loyalty to the Person of Jesus.
  • emphasis on being doctrinally right is valued more than being relationally right with God and humanity.
  • leaders live a lavish lifestyle of privilege and “perks,” while the poor, orphans, widows, etc., are ignored or thrown some scraps to ease the conscience.
  • pursuing holiness results in isolation and insulation rather than transformation, integration, and societal penetration.
  • the teaching emphasis is on obscure and esoteric topics, rather than the things that really matter; majoring on minors.
  • flattery is used to manipulate behavior.
  • giving/finances are used as tools for emotional extortion; giving monetary gifts to influence thought and behavior.
  • you are made to feel inferior if you do not routinely demonstrate supernatural manifestations, gifts, miracles, etc.
  • you are accused of being unspiritual, judgmental, or critical for questioning the source of unusual supernatural manifestations; for desiring to “prove all things,” you are accused of not understanding “the things of the Spirit,” or of being “an intellectual rationalist.”
  • leaders with a vested self-interest, try to tell you where to give your money.
  • typological teaching from the OT is not Christ-centered; selective proof-texting in preaching and application; legalism.
  • your group uses insider language/jargon that makes others feel like outsiders.


If you have experienced, or are experiencing any of these symptoms, you need to make some changes. You can be healed and find restoration to spiritual vitality. Your trust can be restored: trusting God, trusting God in you, trusting others who genuinely love without an agenda, and trusting your Heavenly father to make up the difference when honest human beings let you down. We will always have to deal with human weakness and frailty, but we do not have to put up with systematized abuse and corruption. Spiritual abuse may have marked your past, but it does not have to define your future. We hope that some of the resources and articles that you will find here on this blog, and at www.stevecrosby.com will assist you on your hope-filled pathway to recovery.


Copyright 2013,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.stevecrosby.org. 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 stephrcrosby@gmail.com.

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The Good Side of the Wrong Tree

God’s purpose in humanity is not behavior conformed to biblical standards. It is transformation into the image of Christ, and the two are not unequivocally the same. Transformation is a faith appropriation process realized in us through death and resurrection, not a behavior modification process realized through the acquisition of layer upon layer of correct biblical information.

Have you ever wondered why sometimes when someone is teaching something biblically true, imparting a “great revelation,” or trying to implement something biblically accurate, that the end result is often spiritual death? It doesn’t matter how “biblical” the topic is—authority, family, marriage, government, finance, honor, submission, leadership, “accountability,” repentance, forgiveness, revival, worship, prayer, etc.—or how great the revelation is. The animating power and spirit behind it makes the difference between life and death. It’s possible to be deeply “revelational” and biblically accurate in one’s doctrine and practice, and touch nothing of the life of Jesus in the process.

There were two trees in the middle of the Garden of Eden: the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The promise the serpent made to Adam and Eve was not, “Eat of this tree and it will make you a bad person.” The promise was God-likeness. God is good and you will be like Him, only without God. The serpent wasn’t joking. He delivered on his word. Unbelieving humanity resembles God in human “goodness.”  There is a good side of the wrong tree. The good side of the wrong tree has a striking resemblance to the tree of life.  The only problem is, it is a form of goodness and God-likeness, separated from Life, and the end result is, and always will be, death.

The tree of life and the good side of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil are like identical twins—you have to be close to notice any difference. Imagine two identical quarts of milk in the fridge. Neither has been opened. You cannot tell from a distance and by outward appearance if they are really identical or not. You have to open them, and check the expiration date. Though they look the same, the aroma will tell you which you want on your cereal. So it is with the good side of the wrong tree. It stinks. Biblically conformed behavior, of itself, means nothing.

There are many legitimate principles and precepts in the scripture. However, when any biblical precept is implemented or energized from the good side of the wrong tree, its effect will be death:

Accurate Bible doctrine + good side of the wrong tree = death.
“Prophetic” revelation + good side of the wrong tree = death.
Well meaning intentions + good side of the wrong tree = death.
Passion for Scripture + good side of the wrong tree = death.
Passion for prayer + good side of the wrong tree = death.
Passion for the kingdom + good side of the wrong tree = death.
Passion for soul winning + good side of the wrong tree = death.
Passion for moral purity + good side of the wrong tree = death.
Governmental order + good side of the wrong tree = death

A life built solely upon adherence to biblical principles is designed by God to fail. A life built precept upon precept, line upon line, was the judgment God put on a leadership that was acting like babies, drunken in their own vomit. It is designed to cause those who try to build their life that way, to fall backward, be broken, snared, and taken. Precept upon precept, and line upon line was the punishment God laid upon Israel for refusing Him in His Person and the relational rest that is in Him. (Please read Isaiah 28 in context.)

It is possible, and common, to have one’s outward behaviors morally conformed to a biblical standard, and to be at the same time, relationally alienated from God and humanity. We can be blameless according to the “scriptural standard of behavior,” and be relationally toxic at the same time. According to Paul’s own testimony, his behavior was blameless according to the standard of God’s law. Yet, he was the chief of sinners, alienated from God and humanity, and he counted all that moral conformity as excrement compared to the excellency that is in Christ.

That is why a new convert whose behaviors are . . . well, consistent with being a new convert . . . can experience life-changing transformation into the image of Jesus, and know very little about the Bible. Freshness of love and relationship begets life, not mastery of the Bible. It is a matter of right relationship, not right doctrine. Knowledge puffs up . . . yes, even “Bible” knowledge. I can be “wrong” in my doctrine, and “right” in my relationships, and thus enjoy the manifest life and blessing of God. I can be right in my doctrine, and wrong in my relationships, and enjoy neither.

Since Jesus was explicitly clear that the fulfillment of all the law, and all God’s moral expectations for humanity were relational not behavioral in essence,[i] morally conformed but relationally alienated behavior that is from the good side of the wrong tree is still sin, and the fruit thereof will always be death.

The Adamic nature in us—the propensity to live life without consideration of God and His ways—has a death sentence on it, not a mandate for self-improvement through the exercise of biblical principles. We all would rather “try to live right,” than to die daily and experience His newness of life.

The unredeemed, natural, soulish, Adamic human nature can, from a base of sheer will power, conform itself to the mandates of biblical principles. This is especially true if there is some incentive of esteem or reward that the Adamic nature will receive from being conformed to biblical principles.

The life we have been given in Him is like an artesian well.  We do not have to flail the Adamic pump handle trying to make Christianity “happen.”  It cannot be coerced to manifest through the application of biblical principles.  If yielded to through faith appropriation of Christ’s finished work, and the experiential process of death and resurrection, it flows freely.  It is in the nature and design of an artesian well to flow. It doesn’t need any help.

The problem is, Adam would rather flail than die.   Professional pump-men earn the respect and admiration of others in the Christian community: “Look at how hard Brother Pumps-A-Lot is working for Jesus.”  “Look at his earnestness!” “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone were as devoted as Brother Pumps-a-Lot?”

There is just a small problem. Brother Pumps-a-Lot may not be converted.  You cannot tell by his activity what kind of water he is bringing up, just like you cannot tell if the milk in the fridge is good or sour by looking at it from a distance.  Religious activity in the name of Jesus is not the same as having a life-source change.  Adam in a tuxedo and clean fingernails or Adam in grimy rags is still Adam.

Adam would prefer to pump in the noonday sun until the sweat is rolling off His nose like water over Victoria Falls, than to embrace the death sentence he has in Jesus, yield to the Spirit of Christ within, experience unspeakable deaths, and be brought up again in His newness of life.  Adam will always choose the pump handle over the grave.

The yoke that is easy, the burden that is light, is the yoke of His rest. The familiar Psalm 23 states: He makes me to lie down . . . (Not try harder!)

Makes me . . .

 That sounds to me that we are not inclined that way!

The essence of the Christian life, the life we have been promised, is not the arduous acquisition of virtue through human discipline. It is the unfolding of the life that is in us, that has been given in the indwelling Holy Spirit. Through faith—relational trust—learning how to appropriate moment-by-moment, the ever sufficient, eternally emanating life of Christ in resurrection. Through cycles of death and resurrection, all the days of our mortality, you and I will be transformed into the image of Christ: God gets many sons, and Messiah gets the nations!

[i] Please see the Great Commandment and the New Commandment. They are both relational in essence, based on love, not behavioral conformity.

Copyright 2011 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby www.drstevecrosby.wordpress.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.