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10 SIGNS OF PROPHETIC ABUSE AND OR MANIPULATION
By Joseph Mattera

Master Manipulator

I have been in the body of Christ now since the late 1970’s. I came into the prophetic movement in the early eighties and started moving out prophetically, even participating in prophetic presbytery while doing itinerant prophetic ministry. Furthermore, our local church has nurtured many outstanding prophetic leaders and voices as well as hosting numerous prophetic trainings and schools. My primary motivational gift and mode of ministry is prophetic, even when it seems like I am teaching. (I rarely use notes and teach and preach as prompted by the Holy Spirit when I am ministering.)

Furthermore, I have found the prophetic gift, including inspirational preaching, teaching and prophetic words to be the most edifying of all the gifts as St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14. However, with every true gift of God comes either a counterfeit and or an abuse. You can say that about all of the cluster of gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4:11. The prophetic gift can especially be very dangerous if left un-checked, since people think the words spoken are directly from God and will often obey them without question or the use of discernment. Based on all my years of operating in the prophetic, as well as mentoring, nurturing, overseeing and hosting many prophetic ministers, the following are ten signs of prophetic abuse and manipulation. Continue reading “10 Prophetic Abuses and Manipulation” »

Three Marks of a Spiritual Man
By Zac Poonen

“I could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh.” (1 Cor. 3:1)

We read in First Corinthians 1:5,7 that the Corinthian Christians excelled in three areas – knowledge of the Scriptures, preaching and the gifts of the Spirit. Yet in spite of having all these, they were not spiritual. It is rare indeed to find believers who have the discernment to recognize that a gifted, eloquent preacher whose knowledge of the Bible is extensive and who in addition, has miraculous gifts of the Spirit as well, need not be a spiritual man at all. He could be thoroughly carnal.

Unfortunately, we live in a day when most believers think that a man is spiritual if he is a good “Master of Ceremonies” who can conduct meetings in a lively way, put people at ease with his many jokes and preach eloquently as well.

Preachers today are respected, unfortunately, for their gifts and not for the fruit of Christlikeness in their lives – in spite of the fact that Jesus clearly taught that false prophets would be identified by the lack of Divine fruit in their character (Mat. 7:15-20).

Jesus also said that in the day of judgment many would come before Him and say that they had prophesied and done miracles in His Name. But He would reply that He never knew them (Mat. 7:22,23). They called Jesus “Lord” and had supernatural powers. But there was sin in their lives. This shows us clearly that much “Christian” activity and even supernatural gifts do not make a man spiritual. In fact, they are not even an indication that a man is born again, for the Lord told these people that He NEVER knew them at any time!!

To understand what makes a man spiritual, we could first of all make a list of all the abilities that Satan possesses. That would show us clearly the things that are NOT the marks of true spirituality.

Consider activity, for example: Satan is a full-time worker who is active day and night (Rev. 12:9,10). He never takes a holiday. He is always seeking for people whom he can accuse – and he has many helpers too!! He also has plenty of Bible- knowledge, for he quoted the Scriptures even to Jesus. He has supernatural gifts, zeal, many co-workers, a great following and authority over many people. But he is not spiritual!!

What makes a man truly spiritual could be summed up in three statements: An upward look, an inward look and an outward look.

A spiritual man looks in these three directions constantly:

1. Upward – in worship and devotion to God and Christ.
2. Inward – in acknowledging and repenting of his unChristlikeness.
3. Outward – in seeking to help and bless other people.

A Spiritual Man Looks Upward

God has called us first of all to be His worshipers – to hunger and thirst after Him. A spiritual man worships God. His one desire is God. He does not desire anything or anyone other than God in earth or in heaven (Ps. 73:25). Money does not mean more to him than God. As the deer pants after the waterbrooks, so the spiritual man longs after God. He longs for God more than a thirsty man longs for water.

A spiritual man longs for fellowship with God more than he does for ease or comfort. He longs to hear God speak to him daily.

Those who worship money, ease and their own convenience, will always find something or the other to complain about. But the spiritual man never has any complaints, because he desires only God and he always has Him. He is never disappointed with the circumstances of his life, because he sees the mighty hand of God in all those circumstances and he humbles himself underneath that hand joyfully at all times. Because a spiritual man is in touch with God he does not need any laws or rules to regulate his life. He has found the tree of life (God Himself) and so he has no interest in the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Because he is taken up with simple and pure devotion to Christ, he is not sidetracked by secondary issues. Looking at Jesus, the spiritual man becomes increasingly like his Lord year by year.

A spiritual man humbles himself constantly. And so God exalts him constantly. He is exalted higher and higher – into a closer and closer relationship with God. Such a man having seen the realities of the heavenly life will always seek to do his good deeds hidden from man’s eyes.

A Spiritual Man Looks Inward

The upward look leads on to an inward look. As soon as Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord, he immediately became aware of his own sinfulness (Isa. 6:1-5). It was the same with Job, Peter and John (Job 42:5,6; Lk. 5:8; Rev. 1:17). When we live in God’s presence, we become aware of many areas of unChristlikeness in our lives. The spiritual man is thus constantly getting light over the hidden sins in his life.

We are commanded to worship the Lord “in holy array (dress)” (Ps. 29:2) . Without the clothing of holiness, we are naked before the Lord. So the spiritual man “does his best” at all times to keep his conscience clear before God and before men (Acts 24:16). Just as the businessman does his best to make more money, and the research scientist does his best to make new discoveries, even so the spiritual man does his best to keep his conscience clear at all times.

A spiritual man judges himself constantly, because he discovers many things in his life that need to be cleansed away – things that other believers may not be disturbed by, in their own lives.

A spiritual man realizes that he has to die inwardly every day, to many things that hinder him from being effective for God. So his lifestyle becomes one of taking up the cross and “always bearing about in his body the dying of Jesus” (2 Cor. 4:10).

The spiritual man has no problem in humbling himself before anyone or in asking for forgiveness from anyone – whether that person be older than him or younger than him. He realizes that his prayers and his service will never be accepted by God, if he has hurt even one other person – whether wife, brother or neighbor – in any way. And so, as soon as he realizes that he has hurt someone, he “leaves his gift at the altar and goes and settles matters with that person first, and then returns to offer his gifts to God” (Mat. 5:23,24).

A Spiritual Man Looks Outward

The upward and inward look lead on to the outward look.

A spiritual man is one who realizes that God has blessed him only in order that he might be a blessing to others. Since God has forgiven him so much, he gladly and readily forgives all who have harmed him. Since God has been so good to him, he is good to others too. He has received freely from God and he gives freely to others.

A spiritual man is genuinely concerned for the welfare of others. He is filled with compassion for lost and suffering humanity and can never ignore a brother whom he sees in any need – like the Levite and the priest did, in the parable of the good Samaritan (Lk. 10:30-37).

God is concerned for fallen man – to help him, to bless him, to lift him up and deliver him from Satan’s bondage. The spiritual man’s concern is the same. Like his Master, the spiritual man seeks to serve others and not to be served. Jesus went around doing good and delivering people who were bound by Satan (Acts 10:38). The spiritual man does the same.

A spiritual man does not seek to gain anything from others through his service for them – neither money nor honor. Like God, he only seeks to bless others through his life and his labors. He will NEVER expect any gifts from anyone – for he trusts in God alone for his every need. A little booklet that has come down to us from the second century titled “The Teaching of The Twelve Apostles” tells us that the early apostles taught all believers in their time to beware of any preacher who asked them for money, for such a person was a false prophet. If only we understood this, we would be saved from many false prophets today!!

A spiritual man looks upward, inward and outward. If he looked only upward, he would be unrealistic – “so heavenly-minded as to be of no earthly use.” If he looked only inward, he would be depressed and discouraged most of the time. If he looked only outward, his work would be shallow. But a spiritual man looks in all three directions constantly. May God help us to be balanced – and spiritual.###

This article was first published at: http://www.cfcindia.com/article/three-marks-of-a-spiritual-man.

Zac Poonen was formerly an Indian Naval Officer who has been serving the Lord in India for over 50 years as a Bible-teacher. He is an elder at Christian Fellowship Centre, Bangalore, India, and has responsibility for a number of churches in India and abroad. He has written more than 25 books and numerous articles in English, which have been translated into many Indian and foreign languages. More about him, his ministry, and CFC, are available at: http://www.cfcindia.com/zac-poonen.

EIGHT SIGNS OF HYPER-GRACE CHURCHES
By Joseph Mattera

The past several decades we have seen a dramatic decline in doctrinal and Biblical preaching. We have gone from theology to therapy in the pulpits. In the past decade we went from therapy to motivational speaking instead of preaching.

In addition to this, whole churches and movements have oriented themselves to a distorted understanding of the gospel by espousing a “hyper-grace” approach that trickles down to not only what they preach but who they allow to minister and teach. (I was told there is even a new television station devoted to this view of “grace.”) Continue reading “Signs of Hyper-Grace Churches” »

This article is part of 1 in the series Apostasy

Biblical Proof Christians CAN Fall Away (Part 1)
By Steven Lambert

Jesus specifically said that in the case of this second category of hearers He identified and characterized in the Parable of the Sower: “…when affliction and persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away” (Mk. 4:17). According to Jesus, the result when they met with adversity after having believed is that ─ “immediately they fall away.” According to the doctrine of a number of Christian denominations today, this just cannot be so. Nevertheless, according to Jesus and God’s Word, it is immutably so. Continue reading “Biblical Proof Christians CAN Fall Away” »

7 CONTRASTS BETWEEN TITULAR AND FUNCTIONAL LEADERSHIP
By Joseph Mattera

Through the years, I have observed various types of leadership styles as well as how people operate within the flow of leadership titles. In this article, I use the word titular, to refer to a person who tries to lead primarily on the merit of their title and or official position. When I use the term functional, I am referring to a person who earns the respect of their peers and subordinates through their effectiveness and relational capital. Continue reading “Functional Vs. Titular Church Leadership” »

LET US PRAY!
By Steven Lambert

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Early one morning many years ago now, I was driving toward a particular intersection on my way to the Post Office. On the right at that intersection was a particular church whose services I had attended a few times, and the pastor of which with whom I had enjoyed some fellowship. Until that moment, my only intention in my mind was going to the Post Office; nothing else. But, about a block from the intersection, the inner voice of the Spirit of the Lord said, “The light ahead will turn red, when it turns green, turn right, and then turn into the church!” It’s probably also a good thing that I had only a few seconds to either obey or keep driving.

I turned right and turned into the driveway of the church property. Then, I remember saying to the Lord, “Lord, what in the world is this all about; I was going to the Post Office?” He answered, “Get out!” To which I responded with the highly intelligent and spiritual reply that one is often inclined to speak at 7:20 in the morning, “Huh?” I thought, “Get out? Wow, that’s kinda harsh, Lord, what did I do wrong now?” He said, “Get out of the car, and go walk over there in the trees, on the corner.” There was a portion on the corner of the church property that had remained undeveloped because it actually was not the church property but, the pastor later told me, was a zoned “easement” of sorts that belonged to the owners of another piece of property—a long story.

Anyway, I got out of the car and began walking in amongst the stand of trees on the property. I remember when I was still driving thinking, “Wow, what a gorgeous day, so still and peaceful.” Then, all of a sudden as I stood in the trees, a strong gust of wind came out of nowhere and began whipping through the tops of the trees that was so strong that I thought I better get out from under all those trees, lest the wind break a branch and it fall on me. I crouched down a bit so I could looked across the street to see if the wind was blowing there, and it looked as calm and peaceful as a mid-day in July on a Florida beach. It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck and gave me Goosebumps from head to toe.

Then, I heard the inner voice of the Spirit say, “Listen carefully, I have some things to tell you that I want you to tell the pastor when he comes in a few minutes.” I said, “The pastor is coming in a few minutes? Are you sure, it’s awfully early; he doesn’t usually come in that early? Besides, I don’t have an appointment, he may not want to talk to me.” “He’s on his way and I’ve prepared him to hear what I want to tell him through you; now listen,” the Lord said.

When I shut up and began listening, the Spirit began giving me a vision concerning this church, the future plans God had for it, its pastor, and how parts of the vision also pertained to the Church at-large that Jesus is building. For the sake of time and space, I will omit from this article the details, meaning, and significance of the vision that God showed me, part instantly, and part over the course of several months.

I was so caught up in this vision, I have no idea how long I was there and have no recollection of the hundreds of cars whizzing all around me traversing through that intersection. But, then, the Spirit said, “The pastor is here now and he is looking for you; tell him the part of what I just showed you that I will tell you to tell him about the church and him.”

But, hurriedly, I inquired of the Lord, “Does he already know all this?”

“Some of it; I’ve been trying to speak and show it to him for over two years now, but I’ve brought you here to confirm what he’s been able to receive and has not yet obeyed and remind him of it, as well as to tell him some parts that he’s been resistant to hearing and receiving because of certain mindsets.”

Then, I said, “But, Lord, he’ll think I’m nuts or some kind of weirdo mystic, if I come marching out of the woods and tell him everything I just saw!” The Lord replied, “I will lead you in what you are to say to him.”

So, somehow, I “came out of it,” and walked out of the trees and toward the church building, and sure enough, there was the pastor walking toward me and saying something that I was not yet able to get myself to understand through my normal human faculties. Saying to myself repeatedly, “He’s going to think I’m nuts! He’s going to think I’m nuts!” I walked toward him and just plastered the biggest grin on my face I could muster up, waved the biggest one-hand round-house wave I’ve ever waved in my life, and hollered, “Morning, Pastor!”

“How ya doing?” he asked, “Didn’t know I’d be seeing you here this morning.” Sounding to myself like Hank Hill on the TV program, King of the Hill, I muttered, “Uhhh, well…uhhh…neither did I…(ha ha)…but…well…just thought I’d drop by…uhhh…you know, and…uhhh…just say hello.” “Oh, okay, well, whatcha got on your mind?” he queried graciously (but probably thinking to himself “what the heck does this guy want, he’s going to mess up my schedule right off the bat this morning”). All the while I’m sending up a major HELP! kind of prayer to God inside, and asking, “What am I supposed to say now???”

Then, feeling sorry for me, I’m sure, the Lord said, “Ask him if the church’s plans have ever included a pre-school, after-care, day-care, and elementary school.” With that, he seemed to freeze, his face flushed, and he just stared at me for what seemed to be an eternity, but in reality was only a second or two, then he responded with one of the most classic responses I’ve ever gotten in almost thirty years (at that time) of prophetic ministry, “Do you HAVE to be so PROPHETIC?!”

We both laughed nervously, and, thank God, he invited me in for a cup of coffee and we talked, and I shared with him some of what the Lord had shown me in the vision (mainly only the parts I thought he might be receptive to, honestly).

After I had taken up the man’s entire morning, probably just to get rid of me (I’m joking…I think), he asked, “Would you be willing to come tonight to the mid-week service and share some of what we’ve been talking about this morning with our congregation? They need to hear what you’ve been sharing with me. I’ve been trying to tell them some of these things, but I think it will help for them to hear it coming from someone other than me who knew nothing in the natural, as a confirmation.”

“Sure, I’d be happy to,” I said, before I could even think about what I was saying.

That night we had a powerful visitation from the Lord in that church that had no idea when they came to church what they were in for. The Presence of the Lord charged the atmosphere like electricity. People who had never been slain in the spirit in their life, and some who were staunchly opposed to such crazy fanaticism, “fell as dead men” when the Lord’s hand came upon them, from wary, wise adults to unassuming children and adolescence, some of whom had never seen or heard of anyone being slain in the spirit before. Words of knowledge, discerning of spirits, prophetic utterance, healing, and miracles flowed like Niagara Falls. Demons were cast out, captives were set free, healings and miracles were reported, and we had a glorious time in the Lord, as the Lord put His seal of authenticity and affirmation on the prophetic word I shared with the congregation concerning what the Lord had shown me in the vision.

All of that happened—from God sending me there to speak to the pastor to all that transpired in the service that night—as a result of a number of prayer seasons the Lord had called the church into prior to that day over a number of months, and which they had humbled themselves and obeyed! Prayer changes things! Prayer brings about change! Prayer prepares the hearts of God’s people for the manifestation and fulfillment of His purpose and plans!

No Substitute For Prayer

There is no substitute for prayer. One great preacher on the subject of prayer once wrote, “It is as if God can do nothing unless and until someone first asks Him.” Ask, seek, knock—this is the process the Lord has decreed that allows His intervention into the affairs of men (Mat. 7:7). He has established forever the principle of free will, and it governs everything upon the Earth. He will not violate it, no matter what; He simply cannot. But, when we ask, He will! “ALL things, WHATSOEVER things you ask IN PRAYER believing, you SHALL receive.” That’s as close to carte blanche as it gets, Folks! Our asking gives Him the “permission” or the “opportunity” to do it! But, He cannot do it until and unless we ask!

A very detrimental mindset that besets us all at times is the presumption that whatever God wants to do He CAN and therefore, we presume, WILL do! After all, He can do whatever He wants, He’s God!, right? Wrong! Bad theology! He can only do what WE want and ASK Him to do! “The HEAVENS are the heavens of the Lord; But the EARTH He has given to the SONS OF MEN!” (Psa. 115:16). Human governmental authority in the affairs of men on this planet is sacrosanct! Even His WORD believers must announce, apply, and assert, over the affairs of men, and everything that transpires on this planet that is not otherwise governed by a God-set and immutable law.

Most Powerful Weapon

Prayer is the most powerful weapon believers possess, yet the enemy makes it seem like the most difficult to wield, and even the most ineffectual. But, that is deception. God’s word says, “The effectual and fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much!” Interpretation? Prayer works! Is it difficult? About as difficult as thinking the next thought that wistfully and effortlessly flutters through your mind. The only thing difficult about prayer is overriding one’s flesh that resists us doing it with all it’s got!

Though thousands of books have been written on the topic, the matter of prayer boils down to this: Prayer is two-way communication between people and God. Prayer is conversation with God. But, beyond that, God’s highest intent is that prayer would be communion or fellowship with God. Like the old gospel song says, “Just a little talk with Jesus makes it right!”

Anyone can pray. And, anyone can pray effectively, if he/she prays in faith believing. It is impossible to have faith for and believe for what is wrong and ungodly. Neither will you have true faith (for faith is a gift from God) and believe for those things that are not from, of, or inspired by God. That’s why it was not as big a deal as some critics of the Gospel make it out to be that God said, “ALL things, WHATSOEVER things you ask for in faith believing, you shall receive.” He could not have possibly meant for that to be taken literally, they allege. But, He meant exactly what He said, and said exactly what He meant. He always does!

Eighteenth Century English poet and hymnodist, William Cowper, wrote: “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest Christian on his knees.” Jailed Paul and Silas praying and singing at midnight caused Hell and earth to shake to break open prison-cell door, setting the two abused prisoners free (Acts 16:25)!

Renowned revivalist and primary founder of Methodism, John Wesley said, “God does nothing except in response to believing prayer.” “Prayer is where the action is.”

A.J. Gordon, founder of Gordon College and Cornwell Theological Seminary, speaking of the utter requirement of prayer, stated: “You can do more than pray after you have prayed; but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed.”

Synchronization with God and His Will

Martin Luther profoundly quipped, “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness.” When you believe prayer is your fleshly (and futile) warring to try to overcome God’s reluctance in a matter, prayer becomes a laborious and loathsome thing you force yourself to do with reluctance, as opposed to understanding prayer is two-way communication in communion with God to determine what HIS will is in the matter, and then praying in accordance with His will. Those are the prayers that He always answers:

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. (1 Jn. 5:14-15)

So many people take out of context God’s promise to “give you the desires of your heart,” passing over the condition that precedes that portion of the verse—“Delight yourself in the Lord!” God will give you the desires of your heart, but He will also take you through some processes that will dramatically and forever change YOUR desires to make them coincide with HIS desires. When our desires are synced up with His desires, we can, indeed, ask what we want, and it shall be granted us. Effective prayer essentially is asking, petitioning, requesting, for God to perform what He has already promised! We essentially speak forth His Word! His Word IS His WILL, and His Will is His Word. When we speak His Will it comes into being or comes to pass. That’s why both Joshua and David declared that not one word of all God’s good promises have ever failed (1 Kgs. 8:56; Josh. 21:45)! God’s Word is fail-safe. When we have determined God’s Word on a matter, we have determined His Will on the matter as well, and when we speak forth that Word declaring or announcing His Word or even merely repeating His Word back to Him in prayer—two-way conversation with Him—we are inviting His intervention and the application of His promises! That kind of prayer is a sure thing!

Emptying Yourself

Today, too many professing believers petition God to fill them up with everything He’s got before they’ve agonized in prayer to empty themselves out of all they’ve got!

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” (Plp. 2:5-7)

Before the Son of God was manifest in the form of a human, wonder of all wonders, He EMPTIED HIMSELF (one of the great mysteries of God) of His deity for the duration of His existence in the form of a “Man.” But, after being baptized in water by John the Baptist in the Jordan River and then Baptized in the Holy Spirit, the Word of God says,

“And Jesus being FULL OF THE HOLY GHOST returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” (Lk. 4:1)

Everyone is full of something…usually themselves more than anything else! The burden of every believer must be to EMPTY him/herself and implore God to FILL him/her with the Holy Ghost so that he/she will be “FULL OF THE HOLY GHOST!”

Many people’s problem is they are too full of themselves to be full of the Holy Spirit! Regular sessions in the “prayer closet” until you “pray through” sincerely petitioning the Lord to show you some of the junk inside that you need to be emptied of will result in much purging over time.

Agonizers in Prayer

The genuinely anointed and appointed Man of God receives the fire-fraught messages that burn the ears of the nominally-believing and the hearts of the unrepentent out of hours spent agonizing prostrate at the altar long before he stands behind any form of pulpit. To paraphrase Leonard Ravenhill, the ecclesiastical realm today is filled with myriad of organizers but few agonizers!

Eventually and inevitably at some juncture in your personal Christian sojourney with God, you will experience and thenceforth experientially identify with the Son of God’s most intense period of agonizing in prayer, Gethsemane. The word literally means “oil-press,” referring to the final destiny and destination of olives judged worthy to make the grade for pressing out to produce what to this day is considered the finest and best oil known, Olive Oil.

Gethsemane was an olive-tree orchard populated also with various varieties of wild flowers that contemporary locals called a garden, located fittingly at the foot of the Mount of Olives, or Mt. Olivet, the very place where Jesus will return and literally stand at His physical return to Earth, to establish and commence His thousand-year Millennial Reign upon the Earth with the Saints! The Mount of Olives is the place from which the risen Lord ascended on a cloud of innumerable angels into Heaven in the actual eye-sight of the Apostles of the Lamb.

But, before the Messiah’s agonizing purchase of mankind’s salvation on Golgotha, before His triumphant resurrection from the dead, three days later, before His bedazzling and awesome Ascension into Heaven to sit down on His Throne of Rulership, preceeding all of that on the eve before His “Passion,” as some call it, there was Gethsemane, the place where our Lord and Savior literally agonized in prayer to such an extent that great drops of blood, a medical condition known clinically as, hematohidrosis, in which extreme anxiety causes the blood vessels to constrict to the point of rupture, passing blood into the sweat glands, resulting in sweat mixed with blood pressing through the skin.

Gethsemane is where the battle was won, where the choicest of all Olives met its glorious destiny, where the Son of God, knowing the trauma and ultimate tumult He was about to suffer as our Kinsmen Redeemer to purchase our redemption by paying the ransom for sin, thrice declared resolutely to His Father, “Nevertheless, not My Will, but thine be done.”

Gethsemane is the Place Where the Battle of Flesh vs. Spirit is Waged

Yet, during that indescribable all out war for the souls of men our Lord Jesus single-handedly waged in that garden, the three men He had hand-picked to accompany Him to this place of agony, slept through it all, unable to crucify their flesh long enough to intercede with the Lord, “even for one hour,” the Lord said, though He had come out of the garden a total of three times to each time find them fast asleep and too groggy to even respond to His sorrowful laments of utter bewilderment and disappointment. Sometimes it will be in the hours we are facing the most horrendous struggles of our lives, that we will find our own professed closest friends, loved ones, and colleagues fast asleep on the careless cushions of their own self-centeredness outside our Garden of Gethsemane, unable to defeat their flesh long enough to “bear (our) burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ [Love]

” (Gal. 6:2), as Scripture commands, in prayer with us. In our Gethsemane crisis in life, we will find it to be the most lonely and alone moments of solitude with the Lord.

Maybe this painful abandonment by others is by divine design, because being alone with the Lord, and with only the Lord at and on our side, is when we discover that the Lord at and on our side is enough, and more than enough, because He is El Shaddai, the God who is more than enough, who abundantly supplies our every need, even at the neediest, most agonizing precipices of our life! Gethsemane, the birthing room, the “valley of Baca”1, the place of sheer agony, is the place where we come to total reliance on the Lord, plus no one else, and we resign our present and future to His Will, and not our own. Gethsemane is the place where we truly come to know our God in the sweetest fellowship and communion of all!

If more of God’s people—”those who are called by (His) name”—fervently pursued a degree in “Knee-ology” fewer of any other kinds of degrees would be needed, and the Church would be more empowered and in every way more powerful on the Earth!

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16)

The world is FILLED with needs, but God never responds to needs; He responds to the petitions of believing saints! God is not an interloper and never intervenes uninvited and unsolicited in the affairs of men; He only responds and acts when believers ask Him in audacious and believing prayer!

“Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers,” said Sidlow Baxter.

The great preacher and seminary professor, Charles Spurgeon, said it all when he said, “I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.”

Vocalization of God’s Will

So prayer is a vital key to implementing everything that God desires to do on this planet, whether in or out of the Church. Knowing God’s will is not enough to implement it. His will must also be vocalized! Effective prayer is the vocalization of God’s Word/Will. We ask; He moves! We ask; He moves! That’s the process! That is fervent and effectual prayer of righteous people! People who know their God!

Moreover, all that must be applied to the “new thing” that God is taking the Church into—the new paradigm, the new dimension of the Spirit. It is not enough for prophets to reveal the “secret counsel” of God. It is not enough for teachers to teach about it! It’s not enough for apostles to be sent with the apostolic dimension and measure of the Spirit to bring these things into existence. The people of God must also PRAY IT! PRAY IT INTO EXISTENCE! There is no substitute for prayer!

Pray What the Prophets Say

What the prophets are foretelling and forthtelling will not come about apart from the praying of the saints! What the Apostle Paul spoke from his heart as a spiritual father to Timothy, his protégée in the Lord, and is now canonized as part of Scripture, is God-breathed admonition to every believer, including every Pentecostal/Neo-Pentecostal believer:

“This COMMAND I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROPHECIES previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight….” (1 Tim. 1:18).

Prophesied events do not just happen on their own, automatically, just because it has been prophesied. Prophecy, above all else, is a revelation of the will, the desires, of God. We must take what has been prophesied and steep it in intense and continuous prayer, if we are to see it come into being in the natural! The prophesying is only the first, and really the easiest, step in a two-step process. The next step is the nurturing, the watering, the de-weeding, the cultivating of the word—that comes through warfare in prayer. When God uses one of His surrogate spokesmen to SAY it, then the saints of God must PRAY it, for it to come to pass!

Summary

As in the case of the church mentioned at the beginning of this article that had been prepared by weeks of prayer for the manifestation and fulfillment of God’s purposes and plans that occurred in an impromptu meeting, fervent and sincere prayer moves God to action and produces a manifestation of the supernatural power of God in miraculous signs and wonders. Desperately needed answers to the petitions of God’s people come when God’s people simply pray and ASK!

Prayer is one of the most vital keys to the Church moving into the dimension of the Spirit that God is calling Her into! Unless we PRAY, we’re going to STAY where we’ve been! So, Saints of God, for this cause, LET US PRAY!

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (1 Pet. 3:12 )

The righteous have available to them more power—through genuine faith-based prayer—than all the evil-intentioned politicians and political demonstrators in the world combined! For this cause, LET US PRAY!
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1 The valley of Baca: “How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion! Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; The early rain also covers it with blessings. They go from strength to strength, Every one of them appears before God in Zion.” (Ps. 84:5-7) “The Valley of Baca” is only mentioned this one time in the Bible. In Hebrew, Baca means bewailing, weeping, mourning, agonizing lamentation. Though it was an actual physical place located in Palestine, it is evoked by the Psalmist as a symbol for a once-in-a-lifetime “crisis-valley” that many people pass through sometime in their life relative to an agonizingly painful experience they have suffered, usually an unspeakably painful loss. But, thankfully, we can draw from the verse that we pass through this valley of weeping and mourning, and its sorrows may last for “the night,” however long that night of darkness might be, once we have passed through it, it will yield uncommon strengthening and blessing and renewal because we drew our strength from the Lord in whom was our strength, and not ourselves to make it through, and the conclusion of the matter is communion with the Lord Himself.###

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TEN CONTRASTS BETWEEN ENTERTAINERS AND LEADERS
By Joseph Mattera

There is a great tendency in human nature to crave the affirmation of other human beings. With some people, their need for affirmation is so great it hinders their ability to discern between the will of God and the will of man. What is more alarming is the fact that those who lead churches and Christian organizations are not exempt from this tendency.

The fact of the matter is, if you are a local church pastor, chief executive officer of a ministry or business, you are called to lead not entertain. Many do not understand the difference. If your primary goal is to make people happy, become an entertainer, not a leader. Leaders by nature should be on the cutting edge of God’s will, which challenges people to leave their comfort zones.

Often times this causes people to be upset with their leaders. The leader also should keep people accountable to standards of excellence. This becomes especially difficult when a leader is close friends or family with those aligned under their spiritual authority. Many do not understand how to discern between business and friendship, and it causes a rift in the relationship.

The following are ten contrasts between entertainers and leaders.

1. Entertainers primary goal is to make people happy. A leader’s goal is to empower/provoke people to excellence.

An entertainer’s primary focus in their ministry is to keep their people happy and satisfied. Sometimes folks are happy because they are comfortable and feel secure but their own hearts is deceiving them. A true leader’s primary goal is to disturb the comfortable and provoke them to excellence. For example if an athlete never pushed himself to the point of pain in his training, he will never excel. True leaders push their people to the perimeter of their potential in Christ.

2. Entertainers perform. Leaders lead.

Entertainers put all their effort into the public performance of their speaking, worship team, visual effects and appearance. They do not take a lot of time evaluating whether their followers are truly growing in Christ. A true leader cares about their public appearance, but puts more time focusing on bringing people into the promised land of their destinies.

3. Entertainers avoid disagreement at all costs. Leaders often provoke disagreement and discomfort.

Since entertainers crave affirmation because of their own lack of self-esteem, they will attempt to avoid strife and disagreement with their people. True leaders don’t really care so much about disagreement because their main motivation is to move people from passivity to purpose.

4. Entertainers gauge their success based on numbers. Leaders base their success on obedience to their assignment.

Entertainers count nickels and noses. It’s all about church attendance and offerings. If both are high then they are happy. True biblical leaders gauge their success on remaining faithful to the call of God upon their lives and organization. For example Jeremiah is considered one of the greatest prophets of all time, but yet he had only a few who believed him. He was not only rejected by his leaders and thrown into prison, he also died in exile.

Furthermore, when Isaiah received his mandate from God (Isaiah 6), God told him nobody would listen to him and the cities would eventually become desolate! John the Baptist only had a six month ministry and died in prison, yet Jesus called him the greatest person ever born of a woman (Matt. 11:11).

By today’s standards of success, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and John the Baptist, to name a few, were very unsuccessful! Even Jesus only had one hundred and twenty true followers after more than three years of ministry (Acts 1). However, the true gauge of success in the kingdom is obedience to our assignments, not numbers.

5. Entertainers are popular with the mainstream. Leaders are often distained by the mainstream.

Entertainers always put their hand in the air to sense where the wind is blowing and then they will go in that direction. They are politicians who crave the vote of the majority, and care little about the holy minority. They will preach only what will receive the least resistance and will always stand on the edges of compromise so not to offend. It is not just what they say, but what they will not say that matters. (They will never say anything controversial when it comes to social and moral values.)

Leaders (like Dr. Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill) speak the truth even when it could cost them their careers or their lives. When true leaders lead, they are often on the prophetic edge of what God is saying and only have “innovators and early adaptors” as their followers. It is easy to go with the mainstream, difficult to swim upstream; leaders swim upstream and are counter cultural.

6. Entertainers make people feel good. Leaders transform people.

Entertainers dream about how they can make people feel good. Leaders dream about how they can make disciples that will transform the world. Entertainers focus on attracting the crowds, leaders like Jesus, focus on the few that will eventually build a movement that will transform the world.

7. Entertainers long for acceptance. Leaders provoke respect.

Entertainers live to be loved and liked, while leaders primarily desire influence and respect. For example good parents are not always liked, but are respected by their children when they have to correct them because they have their best long-term interests in mind. Likewise, leaders understand that maintaining respect is more important to release the purpose of God then garnering social acceptance and likeability. Jesus wasn’t always liked and understood, but His followers (John 6:60-71) always respected him.

8. Entertainers are focused on the present. Leaders are focused on the future.

Entertainers are focused on making people feel happy in the moment. They base all their strategies around programs, hype, and visceral experiences that lift people’s souls. Leaders not only want to emotionally lift the souls of others, they want to transform the lifestyle of people’s souls towards a divine trajectory.

9. Entertainers focus on their public persona. Leaders focus on their interior lives.

Many entertainers spend hours in front of the mirror practicing their public speaking, reviewing their body language and appearance. They focus primarily on their outward appearance so as to attract the most followers. In contrast, true leaders focus more on their interior lives and gives God space to transform their souls. They obey the words of Jesus who said to first cleanse the inside of the cup and then the outside will also be clean (Matt. 23:26).

10. Entertainers receive the accolades of men. Leaders receive their accolades from God.

At the end of the day, entertainers may go down in history as being popular with men, but what will the verdict be when they stand before God? In eternity it will be known that many loved the glory that come from men more than the glory that comes from God (John 12:43).

Leaders may not always be the most popular ones while they are alive, but they will be received into eternity with a rich reward and will eventually have the most influence on the earth with men.

This article is part 3 of 3 in the series Exposing Dangers of Martial Arts

PART THREE

Black-belt karateka in "gi" (karategi) meditating in yoga "lotus" position

Black-belt karate devotee (karateka) wearing “gi” (karategi) meditating in yoga “lotus” “power” position.

[Editor’s Note: This article series is an adaptation from the book, Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts, by Vito Rallo, a former five-time USA National Karate Champion. See the end of this article for more about the book.]

READ PART TWO of this article.

There are many influences in our western society. Some are good – some are not so good. Some appear on the surface to be beneficial, but in fact, are the proverbial “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” In other words, the acclaimed benefits of a thing or practice of something may, in fact, turn out to be harmful, if not downright dangerous. The irony is, it may not be obvious at the onset.

What matters most is what lies behind the secret mask of all martial arts and yoga—what is at the root! The two are undoubtedly intertwined and are often advertised together. The practice of these ancient practices, driven by a huge popularity factor, has made major inroads, especially of late, into western society. This infiltration has had an enormous impact on both the world we live as well as in an ever-expanding segment of the church realm, and consequently has become a force to be reckoned with due to its widespread acceptance as a supposedly innocuous sport or physical activity. Continue reading “Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts (Part 3)” »

This article is part 2 of 3 in the series Exposing Dangers of Martial Arts

PART TWO

[Editor’s Note: This article series is an adaptation from the book, Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts, by Vito Rallo, a former five-time USA National Karate Champion. See the end of this article for more about the book.]

READ PART ONE of this article.

The Spiritual Principle of Self-Decreasing

The complete incongruity of martial arts along with these other similar so-called “self-improvement” or “self-help” kinds of involvements I’ve enumerated, and the Christian Life described and defined in the Word of God can also be summarized by relating it to the contrast John-the-Baptist described in his statement to his disciples before his execution by beheading: “He must increase; but I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30; italics added). “He must increase; but I must decrease.” While the essence of John’s statement was referring to the fact that now that the time for Jesus to be manifest as the Messiah had come and John had completed his God-assigned mission of identifying Him as same, the time had now come for him and his ministry to decrease or fade into oblivion so as to allow the Christ to take center-stage, so to speak, completely void of all distraction and deflection of attention. Continue reading “Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts (Part 2)” »

This article is part 1 of 3 in the series Exposing Dangers of Martial Arts
Dojo student bowing to pay homage to the "gods" behind martial arts

Dojo student bowing to the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4) behind martial arts.
“Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.” (Ex. 23:24)

PART ONE

[Editor’s Note: This article series is an adaptation from the book, Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts, by Vito Rallo, a former five-time USA National Karate Champion. See the end of this article for more about the book.]

Over the course of the last three to four decades, martial arts have pervaded both the world and the church realm at an alarming rate. During that span, the enemy has been hard at work instituting his insidious plan to spiritually weaken and wreak spiritual destruction in the lives of individuals, as well as even whole segments of the church at large, by means of injection of the expansive package of deceptions comprising the martial arts.

Let us be clear, all forms of martial arts (and yoga), without exception, are rooted in false religions and the occult, and can in no way be sanitized or Christianized. Many individual believers and entire church-groups have been deceived into believing they can be. Such theories and beliefs are total deception from a practical standpoint, and from a theological standpoint would be labeled heresy! Yet, such false beliefs about these ancient religious practices and false claims of their being harmonious and congruous with Biblical Christianity have seemingly inundated the modern church like a tsunami! And at present there appears no indication of this “wave” of false doctrine receding at any time in the foreseeable future (cf., Eph. 4:14).

The bottom line is this: The spirit behind martial arts is antichrist! By that I mean it is contrary to everything we know about who Christ and Christianity is! How can we think that an antichrist spirit is in any way compatible or harmonious with the Spirit of Christ? They are not friends or friendly with each other! We cannot make them be friends or friendly with each other! I have seen people fall away from their faith in God who were once strong in the Lord because of this antichrist activity. The people of God—Christians, Christian churches—have been deceived in regard to the martial arts and just how diabolical they in fact are! It is time to acknowledge that deception and do something about it.

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty. (2 Cor. 6:14-18; emphasis added)

Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; (Eph. 5:11; emphasis added)

Continue reading “Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts” »

For three years or so the Lord has been speaking to me out of the prophetic prediction of Malachi 3:1-6 concerning imminent events that He will be orchestrating in the Church that He is building, i.e., the genuine Body of Christ. In the first quarter of this year, the Lord has been continually increasing the intensity and urgency of what he has been showing and telling me in this regard. I cannot possibly convey much at all of those prophetic insights He’s been communicating to me here in this forum and format or at this time because it is far too expansive and extensive and I have only recently begun to attempt to transfer it from my spirit to paper, so to speak, or in reality, to computer. I will, however, be progressively sharing it in some books and study courses I am currently and concurrently working on.

Anyone who has any substantial experience in “prophetic writing” knows how arduous, strenuous, and time-consuming such an endeavor can be, especially when words so often fail when attempting to convey spiritual impressions, concepts, precepts, and insights into human language as the medium of natural – i.e., intellectual – assimilation. I cannot account for the experiences of other prophets, but I know in my own case, what I “see” in my spirit, is so clear, precise, unambiguous, forthright, apparent, but when I attempt to communicate what I’ve seen in the spirit for consumption by others, words/language fail, and communication methodology conventions hinder rather than help. Or maybe in reality its just my own communication capacities that are lacking.

Many times I’ve wished that God would allow at least momentarily a peeling back of the clouds of human carnality overlaying our spiritual senses (hearing and sight) so that pristine spirit-to-spirit communication could transpire, but as idealistic and desirable as that might seem, it is not His plan or desire. Maybe some of those who are called upon by the Lord to communicate prophetically to God’s people understand what I am trying – probably ineptly and inartfully – to say.

Notwithstanding, I rise today through the auspices of this forum to make a sincere and earnest attempt to convey what I believe I received as a prophetic word from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, which He has instructed me to convey to the Church He is building, that is, His Body. A few days ago, I heard Him instructing me in my spirit to sit down at my computer, write what He speaks to me, and title it “A Prophetic Prognosis.” I did; He did; and what He spoke is what this article is about. It is too long and would take up too much space to place the whole message into this post format. So I have summarized what He spoke to me here and provided a link to the PDF document that contains the entire prophetic word. Continue reading “A Prophetic Prognosis” »

I feel led of the Lord to address a very vital matter that is a stumbling block for many people that prevents them from receiving the ministry they desperately need for their life.

From the beginning of human history, God has always used people as vessels through whom to do what He wants to do on Earth. It would take quoting half the Bible to provide Scripture for that, so obviously that’s impractical here. But, anyone who knows much about the Bible and “His-story” knows that’s true. One Scripture sort of sums it all up for me: “The heavens are the heavens of the LORD, But the EARTH He has given to the sons of men” (Psa. 115:16).

Beginning with Adam and Eve, God established Mankind as the surrogate caretakers of the Earth. So, God has always worked through human surrogates or stand-ins. What He does on Earth, He does primarily and preeminently through people — people acting as God’s human agents or operatives. The Bible is FULL of stories demonstrating that God works through people, and distributes what He distributes through people, and does whatever He does through people.

Ministry—of all things—is the same. Genuine, God-called, God-appointed ministers are God’s select surrogates through whom He distributes blessings and all manner of ministry. Not to say that one cannot receive directly from Him as a result of your intimacy with Him, particularly when you’ve drawn near to Him and He then has drawn near to you. Of course, direct, personal ministry from God is also a reality. But, the fact is that sometimes God chooses to do what He does — even regarding ministry — through someone else, a fellow human, rather than directly. In fact, if that were not true, there would be no need at all for ministers.

Jesus gave a word of instruction to the original apostles that is also a word to everyone in the ministry in all ages, though actually the most frequently quoted part of that word is only one part of the message He spoke: “FREELY you received, FREELY give!” (Mat. 10:8). While this word is one of the most important words He gave to His disciples, unfortunately it has also become one of the most misunderstood and misapplied words of Jesus. Many people whose hearts are not right even though they may claim to be Christians refer to this passage as proof text for their completely erroneous and ludicrous assertion that ministers should do all they do for free, i.e., without any compensation for their labors whatsoever. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth! Continue reading “Did Jesus Command Ministers to Minister Without Compensation or Support?” »

For Christians to claim Christians cannot have demons simply because they are Born Again is like saying their car cannot break down simply because they are Born Again, or even sillier, that they don’t have to fill their gas tank or change the oil or refill the oil if it is low because they are Born Again, or that they are free from the Law of Gravity because they are a Born Again Christian. (I wouldn’t recommend attempting to prove that one by jumping off the roof of a tall building any time soon, if you really believe that one!) That’s all mysticism, which is naturalizing the spiritual and/or spiritualizing the natural. In psychology parlance, such refusal to recognize and acknowledge reality is what is known as “being in denial.” Continue reading “Debunking the “Christians Can’t Have Demons” Theory” »