Pastors are now Attacking Conservative Christians. Are they right?

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Pastors are now Attacking Conservative Christians.  Are they right?

By Mario Murillo

A new book by a well-known pastor says that there is “the tendency on the right and on the left to conflate the kingdom of God with a particular political party. “Many conservative Christians have made the mistake of substituting America for the Israel of the Old Testament, failing to realize the danger of adopting Old Testament principles that were never affirmed in the New Testament. Their message has sometimes been harsh and legalistic, making it difficult for them to proclaim a gospel of grace. Even though there is a great deal of emphasis on the Bible in such churches, it can often be the wrong emphasis.”

What possible fault could you or I find with these words?  At first nothing but a second look reveals plenty.  

1.The author does not balance his criticism.  He only singles out Conservative Christians.  He never uses the term “Liberal Christians”…with good reason, because, in this current manifestation of liberalism, Liberal Christian is a mind-numbing oxymoron.   And who can say with a straight face “I have conflated the Kingdom of God to the Democratic Party?”

Democrats roundly booed God and Israel at their last convention and essentially told the believers among them “pick up your Bible and get out.”  They are the party of abortion, atheism, Islam, and same sex marriage.  And then there is their long list of antis’:  Anti-police, anti-constitution, anti-church, anti-Israel, anti-military and anti-free speech for any voice that disagrees with them.

2.Even Paul understood that he had to make a choice even when it is not a perfect choice.  In Acts 23 he faced a death sentence and stood between two political parties:  The Sadducee who sincerely believed in wrong things and the Pharisees who hypocritically believed in right things.

Verse 6 says “But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducee and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!”  With these words Paul clearly sided with the Pharisees.

Matthew Henry said of this moment in Paul’s life “His own prudence and ingenuity stand him in some stead, and contribute much to his escape. His being a citizen of Rome saved him in the foregoing chapter from his being scourged by the chief captain as a vagabond, and here his being a Pharisee saved him from being condemned by the Sanhedrim, as an apostate from the faith and worship of the God of Israel. It will consist very well with our willingness to suffer for Christ to use all lawful methods, nay, and arts too, both to prevent suffering and to extricate ourselves out of it.”

In plain terms, the Republican Party is as bad as the Pharisees but like the Pharisees they are our best choice at this time to escape the disastrous policies that Obama has set in motion that will not only dismantle our freedoms but will drive the church underground.

However, I can tell you with great assurance that many Conservative Christians are displeased with the Republican party and will bail on them if they do when they assume control of the Senate is to  mirror the other party.

3. Conservative Christians do not believe America is modern Israel.  They believe America is a modern miracle.  The author continues his attack on Conservative Christians by saying ““Many conservative Christians have made the mistake of substituting America for the Israel of the Old Testament.”

I can only speak for myself and the multitude of Christian leaders I know.  We do not believe that America is modern Israel we believe America is a modern miracle –a miracle worth fighting for.  We believe that it was a miracle that we defeated England.  We see divine wisdom is in the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution.

4. Who is being harsh?  The writer finishes his attack on Conservative Christians by saying “Their message has sometimes been harsh and legalistic, making it difficult for them to proclaim a gospel of grace.”  When I read this part, I said a big “HUH?”

As I look around me, I see nothing but grace being preached.  In fact, I see it being exalted even above God’s rightful demands for holiness.  I see a bevy of preachers on talk shows back peddling, parsing words and obsequiously kowtowing to the media.  It would have been more accurate for this writer to say “there are a few pockets left here and there of preachers who are still not preaching grace.”

Don’t ask me who this author is.  I admire him and respect his ministry.  My object in writing this is not to keep you from reading his book but to point out the mistake of trying to be neutral on an issue that is so painfully clear.  Oh, and also, I am saying to any pastor, don’t be a traitor to your brethren just so the world will like you better.

It sounds so spiritual to say “I am not right wing or left wing; I am out of the political arena all together.”  This is especially for urban pastors who face brutal persecution for opposing Obama and for other ministers who wish to appear progressive.

We are in a battle for America and everyone has to choose sides. You either believe that America became great by our own wits or it was God that made us great.  Once you settle that question, you will know what to stand for and what to preach.

HERE IS WHAT WE ARE GOING TO DO

Here is what we are going to do

January 1, 2015

Without a miracle, in 5 short years, the America you have always known and loved will be gone forever.  Here is what we are going to do in 2015

 By Mario Murillo

Part one:  Fact the facts.

Fact: Right now, the best equipped to win young American hearts are wealthy leftist politicians, atheists, media moguls, singers and actors.  They have the biggest stage, the loudest microphones and the largest bankroll.

Fact: They all have this in common: They despise Jesus Christ, the Bible, and Israel.

Fact:  They want a world without the traditional family or any restraints on abortion, drugs, pornography or pedophiles.

Fact:  Their ideology thrives on policies that divide and destroy.  They see chaos as a good thing because it destroys the old order to make way for the new order.  Prolonged economic depression, brainwashing, riots, and even cop killings are permissible for the “greater good.”

Fact:  They are ahead of schedule.  Without a miracle, in 5 short years, the America you have always known and loved will be gone forever.  The unified efforts of the God-haters are paying off in a big way.

This land of opportunity, this nation under God, this firewall against tyranny, this lighthouse for the Gospel is gasping for air beneath an avalanche of wickedness.

So what is Mario Murillo Ministries going to do in 2015?  Today we begin our 48th year of soul winning in the United States.  We begin with profound soberness and immovable resolve.

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God will cause hardened hearts to fall before God in utter amazement and surrender.

Part two:  Here is what we are going to do in 2015 step by step.

Step1:  Pray:  “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”- Acts 4: 29, 30.

Not just any prayer but the specific prayer that Peter prayed after the church was threatened.   He did not pray to escape but to confront.   He wants boldness.  He wants, power, he wants signs and wonders to prove his message.  We find ourselves in that exact same situation.   We must emulate his prayer and look for the same result.

Step 2: Plan:  Any plan devised by man is doomed to failure.  No plan that comes through the agency of prayer will fail.  The plan that we seek will put us among lost souls and put lost souls in our events.  The Holy Spirit must infuse us with a strategy that neutralizes the resistance to the Gospel.

Step 3: Prove:  Living Proof cannot be a symbolic title.  It must be reality.  Whatever we must do whatever it takes to free the Holy Spirit to work in our meetings.  We must come saturated with prayer expecting supernatural manifestations.   Our unambiguous goal must be to remove our flesh from the equation so that God will cause hardened hearts to fall before God in utter amazement and surrender.

Step 4: Plant:  Jesus said “make disciples.” We must pray in and then seek out churches of like heart.  We must give converts the greatest chance of success by planting them in churches that believe as we do in revival, the gifts of power and integrity to Scripture.

In conclusion:  To make a difference we must see the threat.  To retake the land we must call on God.  We must speak out loud and clear.  We must provoke the lukewarm to action and the lost to redemption.

In 1972, I stood in the rain outside Pauley Ballroom on the Berkeley Campus. Inside, Jane Fonda led a thousand students in chorus of obscenities.  They were cursing God and America. Instinctively, I raised my Bible it pointed it at the hall.  I confessed that one day I would lead a bigger and louder crowd in shouts of praise to God and blessing to America. It came to pass in vivid detail in less than three years and as a part of the larger Jesus Movement it changed the mood of the nation.

Today I am pointing my Bible again.  This time I am pointing it toward all the places where the same leftist anti-God spirit is screaming and cursing our nation again… and once again I expect a miracle.

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Do this one thing and you will not fear the New Year.

 

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Do this now and you will not fear the New Year.

You must do one thing today. If you do it, you will not fear the New Year–guaranteed.

However, don’t fool yourself.  2016 looks dangerous and the last thing you need is Pollyanna advice.  So start by separating the wheat from the chaff.

On one hand, it would be a terrible mistake for you to sit back and let 2016 happen because you feel spiritually entitled.  Don’t abuse the phrase “it’s all in God’s hands” to justify inaction.  When something is truly in God’s hands, He speaks and directs.  To ignore that direction is to wrest your safety back from God’s hand.

On the other hand, it is worse to fear the New Year so deeply that you over plan and leave no room for God to work.

So what is the one thing that we must do?  For the truth that I am about to relate to stick, you must first see the towering importance of this simple statement:  There is nothing more important to you and those you love than victory over a specific contamination that comes at us from American culture.   That contamination is that we live in a culture of liars.

Lying, cheating and deceiving for the “greater good” is now so deeply ingrained in our culture that an entire generation may not know what an unselfish motive looks like.

Nothing has ruined us more both inside and outside the church than our hidden agendas.  We assume that the voices we hear today are lying: civil rights leaders do not care about black people, feminists do not care about women and ministers do not care about the Word of God.  They say they care but we know when they do not.

Lying is the virus and cynicism is the sickness.   Cynicism places our emotions under a wicked siege of distrust, defensiveness and dread.  It puts us into a whirlpool of stress and confusion until our mind spins and our body shuts down.   What good are we to anyone in this condition?

 

The one thing that you must do is to find your golden motive.  There is no treasure that we seek both as individuals and a nation that is more precious than a right motive.

It is time for a fresh definition of FAITH:   Faith is now the supernatural conviction that if I have a pure heart in a time when a pure heart is deemed to be a grave handicap, God will reward me in all areas of my life.

I located hundreds of benefits of a pure heart in the Bible.  There is not a single area of our lives that will not be blessed by having a golden motive. I saw where it heals our body, pays our bills, causes disaster to go around us, grants wisdom for the most complicated problems and even makes our enemies to be at peace with us.

With so many clear promises in the Bible for those who have a pure heart it was hard to find just one that really drove the point home.  Here is my choice:

Psalm 24:3 “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive blessing from the Lord, And righteousness from the God of his salvation.”

Men and women of God hear these words: “These free men will serve God and mankind from motives too high to be understood by the rank and file of religious retainers who today shuttle in and out of the sanctuary.  The will make no decisions out of fear, take no course out of a desire to please, accept no service for financial considerations, perform no religious act out of mere custom; nor will they allow themselves to be influenced by the love of publicity or the desire for reputation.” – A.W. Tozer

The greatest armor you will wear against evil in the New Year is your motive going into the New Year.  If you charge forward determined to live truthfully in an age of liars, God will overtake you with wisdom, safety, favor and abundance.   It is simple:  God will grant you great things because you can be trusted with great things.   HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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I need you to own this opportunity to save our nation

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I need you to own this opportunity to save our nation

By Mario Murillo

If there was an opportunity to restore America and leave one nation under God  for our children and our grandchildren would you take that opportunity? 

But how can we imagine any opportunity while we watch the nation go up in flames?  We are engulfed in lawlessness, racial hatred, and decadence. Images of rioting and looting cover the nation.  Instead of turning to God in our disaster our citizens casts Him away.  Our elected officials squander precious time obsessed by things that do not matter.

How can we imagine any opportunity while Christian leaders are throwing their hands up saying that it is impossible to rescue America?  Some even employ Bible prophecy to insist that America must be destroyed so we can have an antichrist, one world government, and hence the Second Coming of Christ.

Blinded and choked by the smoke of chaos outside the church and by defeatism inside the church how can anyone see any opportunity?

But what if there was a glimmer of hope?  What if in all the twisted rubble there was a chance to make a real difference?   What if there was something we could do?

At this point, I am not even asking you to imagine a solution for America.  I am asking “if there was a real opportunity, would you take it?” 

Not long ago I returned from a ministry trip.  I opened my front door, and dropped my luggage.  I became keenly aware that I had just done something for the very last time in my life.

There was something that I could never do again and I will never do it again…to do it again will at best shorten my life and at worse, it will take my like.  Never again could I be a part of a regular church meeting.

In that moment, everything I had ever done for Christ was being lumped into one seed and was about to be put in the ground to die. From that point on, Mario Murillo Ministries had to become an unimpaired vessel of healing to the nation.  Whatever personal sacrifice that it would require and whatever rejection it might bring became irrelevant.

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Now I had to let God expose these false assumptions:  

America cannot be saved.  Joel 2: 13, 14 say, “So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him?”

The words “Who knows” jumped out at me!  Since God relents from doing harm who are you and who am I to say America is finished?  Who knows but God?

When the disciples wanted destruction Jesus rebuked them.  Luke 9: 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”

Habakkuk “3:2 shows us how to pray; “O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.”  We should be trying for mercy not destruction!

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Americans are too sophisticated to sit and hear the Gospel.  Yes, this is the most complicated and easily offended culture ever.  It is virtually impossible to even know what to say to them.  However, we have no excuse because Jesus Himself promised in Luke 21: 15 “I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.”

James 1:5 promises us we can ask for that wisdom, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

I asked and I received wisdom!  That is part of the great opportunity that I want you to own.

Mario Murillo Ministries cannot stay where it has been.  It is time for us to make radical changes because the crisis demands it and God has ordered it.

When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.  Here is our danger and our opportunity.

Our danger: Mario Murillo Ministries is in danger of losing its life if we remain where we are at this time.  America is too far gone for regular meetings in regular places.  We are too far gone to have any more regular meetings in regular places.  What is killing us is threefold:

  1. Limiting our outreaches to church buildings. This has never been a good way for a soul winning ministry to change a nation. To continue to do this will only break my spirit and ultimately take my life.  For my family’s sake I refuse to do this anymore. The only time that I feel healthy is when I walk out of a meeting where the masses have been saved and healed.
  2. Interrupting our invasions at key moments because we have to go back to churches for needed offerings. To make a meaningful dent into this present darkness we must have an uninterrupted flow of supernatural outreach.  In short, our ministry must turn into a movement and the only way to do that is to let momentum build in city after city.
  3. We have not had a chance to show what our team can really do. We want unchurched audiences to experience our event done our way. We must be the creative force behind every moment of a Living Proof Event.

The public should not be forced to choose between Christian events that are either frozen or freaky.  There is no rule that says a soul winning event should be a boring, powerless, apology tour that blunts the gifts of the Spirit.  On the other hand, there is no excuse for a hyper emotional meltdown that blesses self-indulgent believers but leaves outsiders rolling their eyes.

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Why can’t we have order and freedom? In describing manifestations of the Holy Spirit Paul said “Let all things be done decently and in order.” – 1 Corinthians 14:40.

Likewise, we believe that worship music does not have to be a carnal concert or mindless repetition.  Let music be anointed to touch the hearts of outsiders.

We are finally in a position to be able to present to the unchurched public a very unique kind of experience in our meetings.  It has taken years to get here but God has done it! 

We need a onetime infusion of money that will release us to finally and fully present Living Proof to America. I am asking for $100,000.  It is not a random amount it is a prayerfully discerned amount.  It represents a gift that will take us to the level where we can attack without interruption and present the Gospel without restriction.

This is not a lot of money in today’s world.  In many organizations this would not make a dent but with this gift we can launch a full scale attack.

Mario Murillo Ministries is in a life and death situation.  We have already shut down business as usual.  We are going to change our ministry even before the money gets here. We cannot wait until it is affordable to win America, we are going now.

If just 200 people responded to this letter we can meet our goal.  I have prayed for people to be moved to give a onetime gift in these 5 amounts:  $5,000, $2500, $1,000, $500, and $250. 

I am so certain that those core of partners are about to change our ministry forever that I am planning a commemorative wall of honor to inscribe the names of those who gave at this critical moment in our history.  You can put your name or the name of someone you love on a wall that will always be remembered as the heroes who carried us into our future.

Let me say one last thing to you.

Every day something good about America is erased.  It is going to take more than cozy talks to reverse our moral avalanche.  The sickness of our nation calls for something unlike anything we have seen so far.

We cannot keep doing what we are doing…that is the inescapable truth.  When it comes to Satan in America, the Church must quit taking a dull knife to a gun fight.

Here is an important point: Any ministry that operates without the weapons of the Holy Spirit is just spinning its wheels.  Nothing can stand against the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

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Would you please consider giving a thousand dollars?  Maybe you are that one person who would give a $5,000 gift because God restored your finances and blessed you abundantly.  Maybe $250 is a big step of faith for you but is one that you want to take.

We are calling gifts of $5,000, $1,000, $500, or $250 FOUNDER’S GIFTS because they are laying the foundation for our greatest outreaches ever. We will inscribe their name or the name of a loved one on our Wall of Remembrance and Honor. But remember, no matter what you give it will take us toward our goal of $100,000.

Maybe you meant to give more to the Gospel this year but did not get around to it.  By clicking below you will be directed to our donation page and if you give by this Thursday it can be credited to your 2014 income taxes.  

Click here to give a gift to save a nation!   http://mariomurillo.net/contact-us/

The worst attacks of Satan I have ever heard of are striking God’s people right now. Here is what you do.

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 The letters in my mail bag   lately have shaken me to my core. These are the most vicious attacks I have ever heard of.  More of you than ever are locked in the battle of your life.  With breathtaking suddenness, Satan has stripped people of everything but their soul.

Dear Friend,

I read your letters.  It is a cherished part of my ministry. Yes my prime directive is to “Preach the Gospel to this generation with ever increasing effectiveness”, but there is another urgent calling on my life.  I am called to our partners. You are an important part of my calling.

Our main intercessors have been involved with MMM for over 30 years! We rarely talk about it, but we have watched your children grow up, wept with you over your losses, fought for marriages and rejoiced in your victories.  We have helped some of you find a home church, a college for your kids and even jobs!

Some are surprised when I answer their letters, emails and phone calls personally.  As a matter of fact, as the ministry grew, I was advised many times to turn this part of my ministry over to others because I was so busy. Those that know me well know that I will never stop pastoring our partners.

Your letter is important because we can pray over your need.  They are just as important because they let me know how the enemy operates.  It is impossible to answer every letter.  This is why I work hard to make Fresh Fire a personal letter that answers the needs I read about in your prayer requests. Yes, Fresh Fire is a window to our work worldwide and a vital source of love gifts to win souls but to me it is so much more than that!

The letters in my mail bag lately have shaken me to my core. These are the most vicious attacks I have ever heard of.  More of you than ever are locked in the battle of your life.  With breathtaking suddenness, Satan has stripped people of everything but their soul.

I took your letters, my Bible and a deeply burdened heart to prayer.  I asked the Lord to open my understanding.  I asked Jesus to rise up and rebuke the devourer. What you are about to read emerged from that time of prayer.

When my understanding was opened I saw something strange. This new attack is like a dragon with three heads.  I want to warn you that you may see yourself in the portrait that I am about to paint.  Be prayerful over this letter. God wants to use it to identify your attack and to arm you to slay it.  This letter will not spell the end of attacks on you but it will give you the divine edge you need right now! Remember, these attacks are not reported by weak or carnal Christians, but by warriors of God on the front line!

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Here are the three heads of the dragon.  The first attack I see is like a poisonous bite, the second is like suffocating squeeze and the last is like claws tearing lives apart.  This is the trifecta of tribulation!

1. The serpent’s bite.  You feel toxic. Something has bitten you.  You feel that you are gradually losing control of your body and mind.  Your heart races and fearful images flood your mind. You reel under a cloud of confusion. You jump from one solution to another trying to get the upper hand but all the while feeling that something outside you has taken control of your life.  You are exhausted. The least demand of your day can drain you.  You find yourself alone and crying and unable to explain your emotions to even your closest friend.  The people you love are drifting away.  You are gripped with paralyzing feelings of dread.  You feel helpless to make important decisions. You sense disaster is just around the corner.

2. The serpent’s squeeze.  This attack is sudden and crippling. Something came out of nowhere and changed your life in an instant. Your crisis is mummifying you.  You want to run but you cannot move.  You want to scream but your voice is trapped within you.  This attack often strikes at a time when all is going well.  It feels as if everything that could go wrong has gone wrong and there is no way out.  You cannot breathe.  The point of this attack is panic.  The enemy wants you to do something rash.  The devil wants you to abandon your place in God.  He wants to do permanent damage.

3. The serpent’s claws:  This attack is designed to tear people apart.

For silly reasons, people take offense. Disagreements that should be settled easily escalate into name calling, abuse of power, and end in incurable breaches.  Marriages are breaking up over trivial matters.  Churches are splitting over inane issues.  Children are turning on their parents without provocation or prior history of problems. Friends who once walked together suddenly become worst enemies bent on each other’s destruction. A disgusting wave of believer on believer hatred is spreading.

Yes, these three shocking attacks are everywhere.  Not a day passes where I do not hear of each and everyone.  From all quarters I am getting desperate prayer requests.  People say, “Please pray I am so down I cannot get out of bed,” or “I am drowning in fear,” or “I do not know what is going on, friends and family are tearing each other apart!”

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There is not doubt that we must take drastic action!  We must not panic or cave into the trap of Satan.  We must not forget our God and the power of His word.  So please take a deep breath and listen to this strategy to neutralize your Satanic attack!

The word react kept coming back to me again and again.  The Holy Spirit kept saying, “Learn how to react to your attack.” Victory and defeat are not decided by what happens to me. I choose the result. It kept coming over and over…react, react, and react. Then it turned into REACT, REACT, and REACT!  Finally, it was R.E.A.C.T.   An acronym for: Remember Enforce Abandon Continue Train. Here is a 5 step strategy to stop these vicious new attacks and launch a withering counterattack!

Remember!  You must remember the amazing victories of your past and how you won those battles.  Psalm 20 “some trust in chariots but we will remember the Lord our God.”You must remember your God.  Nehemiah 4:14 says “remember the awesomeness of God and fight…”  You must remember who you are and what your future is. Abigail reminded David that he was a king and to judge himself against 1Sam:25:29 his future.  Finally Paul said, in Romans 8:18 “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us!”   The thing you want to do most now is to get relief from the pain of raging storm.  The devil would gladly give you peace.  You simply have to give up on what you were born to do.

Enforce! You must enforce the victory of the Cross on Satan! Things are not what they seem.  You know that Satan is the master of disguise.  If you leave it to Lucifer to define your reality defeat is certain. The devil relies on your weakness of mind to keep the lie going.  Our enemy kills through special effects.  Bending reality is his stock and trade. The goal of his smoke and mirrors is to get you to accept disaster.  He cannot kill you but he can get you to kill yourself through a fatal panic attack.  (insert Luke 21) It is up to you to impose reality on the evil one.  He must know that he cannot win. He must suffer the results of 2 Corin 10:4. You must put your foot where it rightfully belongs; on the small of his neck!  No matter how out of control your crisis feels the truth is that God is in control and you are His einforcer!

Abandon:  In every attack there is something you must abandon, something that you are holding onto that is actually holding onto you.  2Tim 2:24 (insert).  You may want something bad to happen to someone else.  You may be fantasizing about a destructive relationship.  You may be entertaining suicidal images.  You cannot hold these and gain victory.  Forgive your enemy; cut of the parasites, lighten your load so that you can attack with speed and clarity.  There may be someone that is no longer supposed to be in your life. As T.D. Jakes said, “their part of the story is over, let them go.”

Continue: You were doing something that forced the devil to attack you.  Some harbor the illusion that Satan will let up if we stop doing what riled him up in the first place.  The opposite is true.  You must redouble your efforts to do whatever you did that made Satan mad.  If you cave in, it will embolden him to do this to you again.  On the other hand, if you press on, it will show him that future attacks are futile.  The secret to your victory is to declare your intention to do more than you did before.  Look at Peter.  He was beaten for the healing of the man at the gate beautiful and ordered not to preach about Jesus.

What was his reaction? To pray for boldness to preach and for more miracles! Acts 4:29 “Lord Behold their threats and grant unto your servants boldness that we may preach your word while You stretch forth your hand to heal and let signs and wonders be done in the name of your holy Child Jesus.”

At the moment that you least want to you must get up and rage against the dragon.  He must understand that you are not going to back down, back up or back out of your marriage, ministry, family, career and your life.  Figure out what it is that you were doing that this dragon hated most.  Tell him you will to do it again, do it more and better do it than ever.  The humiliation that Satan hurled at me through the pastor’s lunch only forged a deeper determination to get workers to win souls.

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Train:  Yes, you will see victory.  However, victory is no time to let up. It is the scourge of our flesh that we do not like to get ready for future attacks.  Our flesh takes no thought for intense prayer or setting in place a strategy for future attacks.  George Barna said that the majority of pastors today preach motivational sermons but they do not teach strategy.  When Paul said in 2Cor 2:11 (insert) he was training the Corinthians to fight and to be ready for the next fight.

When General Patton said, “no amount of courage will avail against an educated bullet,” he was talking about the urgency of training.  Spirit-filled bravado is useless unless it is backed up by a life that is an educated bullet.

After every attack every believer needs to go through a debriefing! Now is the time to ask urgent questions. What did you learn from your last attack?  What were the mistakes and pitfalls you will avoid next time?  What weakness in me does the enemy use to get in and disrupt my life? What will I do now to keep friendships strong, my body healthy, my children safe, my marriage loving and my money secure against future assaults?

So here is the bottom-line.  You are not crazy.  Your attacks are vicious, intense, and completely unfair.  The essence of your crisis is supernatural. This is why your counterattack must be supernatural! These 5 steps are not human wisdom, or soothing psycho-gooblygook.  You can rest in the power of God and the Word of God for victory if you will REACT!!

Mark Rutland: 10 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was 21.

Mark Rutland

Mark Rutland: 10 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was 21
Mark Rutland

You might think you’re smart when you get out of college, but I suggest that the real education is only just the beginning.

In an Amish kitchen in Bird-in-Hand, Pa., in the heart of Dutch country, I saw a sign I’ll never forget: “Too soon old, too late smart.” When I saw it, I thought it was memorable but hardly meaningful. I was 21. Now the words are meaningful, but I can barely remember the farmhouse. I am 64.

Sometimes I have the fantasy that I will sit up on my deathbed and cry out, “Oh, I get it,” and lie down again and die. The Amish have it right.

Recently a friend said he wished he were 21 again. The thought held little interest for me, but he made an intriguing counteroffer: What if you could be 21 and know what you know now?

That held more allure, but it begged a question: What, if anything, do I now know that I wish I had known at 21?

I came up with 10 things, none of which I think I would have placed on my priority list at age 21.

1. Inner healing is greater than outward success. It is probably impossible to arrive at 21, let alone 64, without wounds in the inner person—deep wounds that need God’s healing grace. The more I see of inner healing and the more I face up to my own inner wounds, the more I wish I had let Messiah touch my deepest hurts earlier in life. That childhood hurt, that hidden outrage, that long-suppressed horrific memory can lurk like a monster in the basement waiting for years, even decades, to rise and wreak havoc.

Hiding the monster, denying that it’s down there, is a dangerous game. The temptation is to create an alternative reality where success and accomplishment and appearances seem so very real and the monster but a mirage. If I were 21 again I would bore down into the inner world of me and find Christ’s healing touch in the darkness under the floorboards.

2. Mercy is greater than justice. I have found that many in the church want the wayward to “get what’s coming to them.” Too often, there is a shortage of mercy among the followers of Christ, who blessed the merciful in His most famous message, the Sermon on the Mount. Were I 21 again, I would learn and practice mercy, knowing that later I would need it.

Churches, boards, denominations and individual believers who hanker for justice when a colleague stumbles may be planting for a bitter harvest. They gloat over the sins of others, humiliate the fallen and demand their administrative pound of flesh.

Competitiveness and legalism are the death of mercy. Mercy makes love real, acceptance and understanding a practice, and tenderness a way of life.

3. Kindness is better than being right. Just before my friend Jamie Buckingham died, I asked him for a word of wisdom. He said, “It is better to be kind than to be right.”

At 21, I advocated my positions too aggressively. I argued with an eye toward winning, unconcerned about the heart of my “adversary,” who may not have been adversarial at all. I made debate a contact sport. In preaching I let the bad dog off the chain, to the applause of the gallery.

Should time travel be mine and were I to be back in the land of 21, I would be kinder and less concerned with being right. Too many young adults give little thought to kindness.

They Twitter hurtful words like poisonous birds. Their humor is mocking, acidic and unkind. And they are more concerned with being thought clever than with being kind. The value of gentleness has declined on the world market; if I were 21 again I would wish to know the worth of a kind word.

4. Serving is better than being served. Encircled by their entourages, the “success” merchants of modern Christianity place high dividends on being catered to. When I was a pastor, the church I led invited a singing group to come minister. Their list of special demands, including a particular type of orange cut into equal fourths (I kid you not), was five pages long. We canceled.

I wish I had known at 21 how hollow is all that outward stuff. I wish I had known that caring, not being cared for, is what Christ had in mind.

I wish I had changed more diapers instead of leaving that to my wife. I wish I had served more meals, carried more bags, held more doors and lightened more burdens.

5. Brokenness is the doorway to wholeness. This mysterious paradox was hidden from me at 21. I feared brokenness. I ran from it, and when it got too close fought it off with all my might.

If I had but known brokenness was the key to my healing, it would have lifted such fear from me. I thought it would maim me at least and maybe even kill me. Now I know that there is very little real wholeness that does not emerge from real brokenness.

6. Truth is liberating and devastating. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” My friend Jamie tacked on, “But first it will make you miserable.”

How true. There is a phrase popular among many young adults that I quite like despite my usual distaste for pop jingoes. It is, “Keep it real.” I am not sure of all that is meant by it, but I know what I mean by it.

I wish I had known not to fear the truth about myself. I wish I had known that the temporary misery of the truth was worth going through to find the freedom that it brings.

7.Learning is greater than education. I am a university president, and Oral Roberts University (ORU) is a great university. I am not saying that higher education is unimportant. What I am saying is, I hated getting educated.

At 21, I was a miserable college senior. I was a miserable student from the first grade right through high school and on through three degrees. I was miserable because I did not understand the connection between education and learning.

If I were 21 again, I would still go to college. But this time I would go to learn not just to graduate. I would unleash my curiosity, embrace the process, worry less about my grades and enjoy learning.

How strange that I love to learn at the age I am now. I read voraciously—any subject. I want to know, to understand, to go deeper. If I were 21 again I would take that to college.

8. Giving is sweeter than gaining.I believe in the laws of the harvest. If there is any place in the world that understands “seed faith” it is ORU. Seed faith is not a new idea to me. I believed it at 21. I practiced it and am blessed today because it is real.

Yet I wish that at 21 I had known the sheer joy of giving. I know God will bless us when we give, and sometimes we have made this merely a method to gain. I wish I had realized the joy of generosity. I would have given more and delighted more in the good that giving does and less in the returns it provides.

9.Forgiveness doesn’t fix everything. Not the happiest truth I wish I had known, but it’s among the most sobering. Had I known this I might have been less callous, less reckless and more mindful of the cost.

There are things, relationships and hearts that once broken cannot be fully “fixed” by forgiveness. The wound, the uncaring and insensitive word—they may be forgiven, but the damage from them may never quite be right again.

When I was 21 I just wanted to be forgiven. I wish I had known to do less damage.

10. Prayer is more powerful than persuasion. In all of life, at every age, conflict is an inescapable reality. I wish I had known younger that in conflict and crisis talking to God works better than talking to people. At 21, due perhaps to youthful arrogance, I thought that I could talk my way through everything.

Self-sufficiency, a dangerous habit, breeds prayerlessness. The older I get I find that crisis drives me faster to my knees and more slowly to the phone.

I have seen God turn hearts around, change organizations and melt opposition by prayer alone—when no persuasive speech could have made a difference. If I were 21 again, I would spend more time talking with God and less (far less) persuading others to do what I want.

I wish I had known more than I did at 21. I might have considered one or two of these truths, but I doubt I would have fully appreciated their value.

I do not think I want to be 21 again. But if I had to, if some evil genie made me go back and live it all over, then these are the things I would want to know and the things I would want to believe.

Hell in the Hallway: Handling the Torture of Transition.

hell in the hallway

Hell in the Hallway:  Handling the Torture of Transition.

A wise man once said, “When God closes one door He opens another, but it can be hell in the hallway.”  That private hell is a reality to millions of God’s people around the world.  Transition is everywhere and it seems to be coming faster and fiercer than ever.

Transition is God’s way of telling you that promotion is coming.  However, you and I are interested in the promotion but God is concerned with making us like Christ. 

Since He makes the rules let us surrender to the work He wants to do in us in the hallway.

Hebrews 12: 11 “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 12 therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.”

If you are going through the torture of transition right now there are some rules that you must obey to lessen the pain and shorten your time in the hallway.  I did not make up these rules.  They are not my opinion, they are they universal experience of God’s heroes throughout the ages.

Here are the official rules for handling your hell in the hallway:

1. Leave clean:  Acts 13: 2 “while they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”

Satan hijacks divine transitions.  Be it a job, friendship, or a church it is urgent that you leave clean.  By that, I mean your departure should be as peaceful and blessed as possible.  Change location but avoid cutting off relationships lest you damage the Kingdom of God.

What should have been a launching out to greater works instead becomes a sordid affair of accusation and division.  Mishandling transition has destroyed vital relationships.  If you look around, you will see that the real barriers to revival are not the evil in the world but offended Christian leaders who cannot work together.

Leave clean or you will take the class over again.   James 1:4 “but let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” Recently, longtime friends who were like family suddenly offered bizarre excuses and then cut off communication.  We love them!   We diligently searched our hearts and we found not a clue of what offended them.   Then it occurred to us that this was a pattern in their life.  Sadly, this will lengthen their time in the hallway and force them to retake this class.

2.  Don’t stare too long at the door that is closing or you will miss the one that God is opening.

Often we think that we should only have a bad reason to make a transition.  God can call for change when things are great and you love the people you are with.  These are the doors that we don’t want to close.  However there is a grave danger of being the last one to leave the party.

1 Samuel 20: 2: “Never!” Jonathan replied. “You are not going to die! Look, my father doesn’t do anything, great or small, without letting me know. Why would he hide this from me? It isn’t so!”3 But David took an oath and said, “Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said to himself, ‘Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved.’ Yet as surely as the Lord lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.”

David and Jonathan were best friends but God was calling for change.  Jonathan wanted everyone to be one big happy family in the palace.  Had David given in to his friend he would have been murdered.

God wants to open that new door sooner than you think.  He just wants you to let the hallway do its work.    Ludwig Wittgenstein said, “A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.”

Quit pushing for promotion and start pulling on God.