The Ananias Anointing

The Scripture indicates that in the middle of his High Priest sanctioned rampage against the early Church, Saul of Tarsus had a supernatural encounter with the resurrected Jesus (Acts 9).  Falling down from the overwhelming force of God’s glory, Saul exclaimed, “Who are you, Lord?” The Lord replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Saul, now blind and infirmed, was taken into the city of Damascus to receive care.

The Lord then came to a man named Ananias in a vision and commanded him to go to Saul of Tarsus and lay hands on him that he might be healed and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Despite the threats Saul had made and his notorious track record of persecuting, arresting, and even affirming the execution of Christians, Ananias, whose name means “to be gracious and to show favor,” honored the call of God and went to Saul because the Lord had great plans for Saul of Tarsus. Jesus called him his chosen instrument to preach to the gentiles and to their kings.

The Ananias type of believer, or the Ananias anointing, is desperately needed in the day we live.  Like Ananias with Saul, they help to restore to God what was previously lost, allow God to use them to bring healing to those that are afflicted, help God’s people get filled with the Holy Spirit, and help raise people up for God’s service and glory. We need more individuals in the body of Christ who, like Ananias, will be dispensers of God’s grace and favor, refusing to pay attention to the anti-supernaturalist and cessationist who deny the present day ministry of the Holy Spirit.

How can you become an Ananias in this critical hour in Church history? First, you must yourself be born again and filled with the Spirit. You cannot impart what you do not possess. Second, you must be tuned in to the realm of the spirit so that you can pick up on the signals of the Holy Spirit’s direction.  Notice Ananias was told to go specifically to the house of Judas in Damascus on Straight Street where he would find a praying Saul who had a vision Ananias would come to him. Third, you must be fearless in the face of the ominous threat and intimidation so prevalent in the world today against Christians.  It’s not that Ananias didn’t feel afraid. He simply refused to be ruled by that emotion. Fourth, you must be obedient and simply go.  It’s amazing how often Jesus uses that simple command.  Finally, you must be deliberate to carry out the details of your assignment, including the who, the what, and the where.

When Ananias placed his hands on Saul he was filled with the Holy Spirit, healed of his blindness, received water baptism, and began to eat and regain his strength. The Lord is in need of bold believers just like Ananias to share the resurrected Jesus with the lost, confused, religious, bound up, and hurting of our world.  He has sovereignly chosen to use people to lead people to salvation, Spirit baptism, deliverance, and healing.  Ask the Lord Jesus to send you, and don’t be surprised when he says, “Go!”

Trump, Clinton, and The Cyrus Effect

clinton_trump_splitLike many God-fearing believers around the country, I have struggled to make sense out of this election cycle. After suffering the radical progressive policies of the past 8 years, I long for someone to take the helm of this great nation who has the spiritual and leadership credentials to bring restoration, healing, security, and prosperity back to our country (you know, someone with the moral and spiritual depth and maturity of a Billy Graham mixed with the economic, policy, and communication prowess of a Ronald Reagan).  After a long and contentious primary season that feels like Alice in Wonderland, we seem to be left with Tweedledee on the right and Tweedledum on the left.

I realize there are some Christians and Christian leaders who will exhort us all to just preach Jesus and stay out of the political arena altogether, but that position is out of sync with our nation’s history and inconsistent with God’s demonstrated concern for the nations as indicated in the prophecies to the nations in Isaiah. No, God is very much concerned with the governance of nations and He uses the nations throughout time as instruments of his purpose and plan.  I believe He still has a great plan for our country. The truth is we have a Scriptural, moral, and civic responsibility to participate and not in a LBJ IRS amendment “churches keep your mouths shut kind of way.”  We as Christians are citizens of the United States and we did not forfeit our citizenship or constitutional rights when we joined a church or accepted the call into the ministry.  We simply cannot stick our heads in the sand while our national fabric is unraveling, our country is being drained morally and financially, our future is being held hostage, and our people are being slaughtered around the world with no clear champion to defend them.

Between 597 B.C. and 581 B.C. the Jewish people were exiled to be held captives in Babylon where they cried out to Almighty God for their deliverance: “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion” (Psalm 137:1).  If you were to gather the rulers and elders of Israel together in that captive place and asked them what their deliverer from captivity would look like, I’m sure they would be thinking of a Moses or a David like historical and biblical figure to execute that deliverance. Shockingly, Isaiah prophesied that Israel’s help would come from a total pagan ruler, Cyrus, and worse yet, God would have the audacity to use messianic terms to describe him: “This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him…so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.  For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen…though you do not acknowledge me” (Isaiah 45:1-5). Cyrus came to power 170 years after the prophecy, captured Babylon in 539 B.C. and two years later decreed Israel’s return to their homeland, the rebuilding of the temple, and that the treasury of Cyrus would pay the bill (2 Chronicles 36; Ezra 1).

I mentioned to my sister back in January of 2016 that I believed something is going on in this nation that transcends normal politics, political parties, and political alliances.  By the millions, born again Christians have been crying out to God on behalf of our nation for years, a country being held captive philosophically and spiritually. God’s dealings with man throughout history reveal one important lesson that may have some application to our nation’s current election cycle – we have the right and liberty to cry out for deliverance, but just like the Jewish leaders in Babylon, that does not mean we get to choose through whom that deliverance will come.  Too many Christians are looking for a president that would qualify for a deacon, Sunday school teacher (Jimmy Carter was a great Sunday school teacher), or pastor in their church forgetting that God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:9).  

I believe we are experiencing our own Cyrus moment in the United States this year.  My candidate of choice in the primary did not survive the process (and considering his behavior at the RNC I’m glad) so it looks like I have a choice between Tweedledee (Trump) and Tweedledum (Clinton).  Despite the misgivings and ambivalence I may have toward both candidates, the question is simply who is most likely to be an agent of that deliverance?  Who appears to have the favor of God?  To me, Tweedledum has demonstrated failed leadership as a Senator and Secretary of State, she holds policies and values that are completely contradictory to mine, and she does not possess a clear moral compass as indicated by the never-ending ethical issues.  Tweedledee, a recently born again believer, is a brash, blunt, bold, and successful businessman who lacks the polish and couth (but also lacking the veneer) of a seasoned politician, but says things that resonate with many disillusioned and alienated Americans.  

I have concluded during this election cycle given the enormous stakes, including the fact that the next president will most likely appoint as many as four Supreme Court justices, to put away my grocery list of likes and dislikes and attempt to discern God’s big picture agenda and his Cyrus for this moment in U.S. history.  At the risk, well, of alienating everyone, and although as distasteful to some Americans and Christians as Cyrus was no doubt to the Jews who benefited from his political, military, economic, and human rights policies, I believe the mantle of Cyrus is on Tweedledee during this turbulent and unprecedented election season as an agent of change, not based on his spiritual or political credentials, but based simply on God’s sense of humor, penchant for irony, the prayers of his people, and directional sovereignty. Of course, time will shortly tell.

 

 

It’s the Sin Stupid

Phil Robertson I remember the presidential campaign of 1992 and how the Clinton election team pushed itself to remember their fundamental and playful campaign message, “it’s the economy stupid.” When other issues would rise to divert Clinton from that message, staffers would forcefully remind the campaign staff that the election would hinge on the existing economic malaise at the time and the hope a fix through Clinton’s policies.

At the risk of beating a dead horse (or dead duck show in this case), I can’t help draw a comparison to the current situation with Phil Robertson recently pushed off the A&E hit reality television show Duck Dynasty.  Now I don’t really care about ducks, duck calls, beards or A&E for that matter.  What I do care about is the boldness of this man to take the platform the Lord gave him to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and clearly communicate the teachings of the Word of God.  Time after time I’ve witnessed God promote believers to a national platform only to see them compromise once they reached that pinnacle.  Phil and his family should be commended not criticized for their stand and for honoring the Lord for the gift of their platform.

The liberal media and activists groups want Americans to believe that Robertson’s language in a GQ interview was crude, vile, inappropriate, insensitive, and even hate speech.  What believers need to remember at a time like this is whenever a believer quotes the Bible on morality and sexuality it is not hate speech but the Word of God. What if GQ had interviewed the Apostle Paul?  Enough said.  The real issue here is that the powerful demonic spirit behind human sexual perversion goes ballistic (especially when it ends up printed in black and white) whenever it is called out and exposed for what it is – SIN.  Just like the irrational response of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah in Lot’s day when the men threatened to rape angelic beings (Genesis 19:5) or Herod’s violent treatment of John the Baptist for calling out his sexual immorality (Matthew 14:3-4), that spirit bristles today whenever the behavior is correctly labeled as sin.  One can attempt to quote and address these Scriptures with a gentle spirit, loving heart, a twinkle in the eye, and a smile on the face but the reaction of equating homosexuality with sin with always be met with the same ferocious response.

Notice Robertson paraphrased Scripture about drunkenness but no one called him a drunkaphobe.  He addressed idolatry but was not labeled an idolatorphobe. He mentioned the greedy but no one called him a greedyphobe.  He called out swindlers but no one said he was a swindlerphobe.  He spoke of slanderers but no one cared to call him a slandererphobe.  But when he mentions what the Bible says about homosexuality he is called a hater and a homophobe. In other words, it’s fine to label other areas of immorality as sin but one must simply not equate homosexuality with sin.  Make no mistake about it.  The modern persecution leveled at Robertson and others who dare to speak up is about identifying rightly sexual behavior that is sin. “It’s the sin stupid” and we would be wise to remember that everyone who will live a godly life in Christ Jesus and care enough to share that godliness will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).  

We should also remember that no one need remain in the clutches of sin – any kind of sin – for God has provided the remedy for all manner of sin, the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. The catch is that our personal redemption hinges on confessing our sin (saying the same thing God says about it) and not redefining or dismissing our sin.  It is unscriptural and naive to believe that we, as the modern church, can lead people to Jesus without addressing the sin issue.  After all, Jesus’ first message to the world was, ‘Repent (change your mind and corresponding behavior), for the kingdom of heaven is near’ (Matthew 4:17).  Repentance gives us access to the supernatural power that will set us free from the sins that we confess.  Consequently, there is no substitute for the place of repentance in our redemption, salvation, and deliverance.

Only the Best

Recently, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin released 24,000 pages of email from her days as the governor of Alaska. Buried in the mountain of paper was one very special message signed by “Trig’s Creator, Your Heavenly Father.” Gov. Palin had drafted the email from what she believed was God’s perspective for her family regarding the unique circumstances of welcoming a new son with Down’s Syndrome into the world. I can’t praise God enough for the courage of this family and their bold affirmation and stand for life. Be encouraged no matter what you face in this life because the Father’s love is also with you always and He only has the best in mind for you!

Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2008 14:17:11
To:gov.sarah@yahoo.com
Cc:gov.palin@yahoo.com
Subject: Baby

To the Sisters, Brother, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Friends of Trig Paxson Van Palin (or whatever you end up naming him!) :

I am blessing you with this surprise baby because I only want the best for you. I’ve heard your prayers that this baby will be happy and healthy, and I’ve answered them because I only want the best for you!

I heard your heart when you hinted that another boy would fit best in the Palin family, to round it out and complete that starting five line-up. Though another girl would be so nice, you didn’t think you could ask for what you REALLY wanted, but I knew, so I gave you a boy because I only want the best for you!

Then, I put the idea in your hearts that his name should be “Trig”, because it’s so fitting, with two Norse meanings: “True” and “Brave Victory”. You also have a Bristol Bay relative with that name, so I knew it would be best for you!

Then, I let Trig’s mom have an exceptionally comfortable pregnancy so she could enjoy every minute of it, and I even seemed to rush it along so she could wait until near the end to surprise you with the news – that way Piper wouldn’t have so long to wait and count down so many days – just like Christmastime when you have to wait, impatiently, for that special day to finally open your gift? (Or the way the Palins look forward to birthday celebrations that go on for three, four days… you all really like cake.) I know you, I knew you’d be better off with just a short time to wait!

Then, finally, I let Trig’s mom and dad find out before he was born that this little boy will truly be a GIFT. They were told in early tests that Trig may provide more challenges, and more joy, than what they ever may have imagined or ever asked for. At first the news seemed unreal and sad and confusing. But I gave Trig’s mom and dad lots of time to think about it because they needed lots of time to understand that everything will be OK, in fact, everything will be great, because I only want the best for you!

I’ve given Trig’s mom and dad peace and joy as they wait to meet their new son. I gave them a happy anticipation because they asked me for that. I’ll give all of you the same happy anticipation and strength to deal with Trig’s challenges, but I won’t impose on you…

I just need to know you want to receive my offer to be with all of you and help you everyday to make Trig’s life a great one.

This new person in your life can help everyone put things in perspective and bind us together and get everyone focused on what really matters.

The baby will expand your world and let you see and feel things you haven’t experienced yet. He’ll show you what “true, brave victory” really means as those who love him will think less about self and focus less on what the world tells you is “normal” or “perfect”. You will grow and be blessed with greater understanding that will be born along with Trig.

Trig will be his dad’s little buddy and he’ll wear Carhartts while he learns to tinker in the garage. He’ll love to be read to, he’ll want to play goalie, and he’ll steal his mom’s heart just like Track, Bristol, Willow and Piper did. And Trig will be the cuddly, innocent, mischievous, dependent little brother that his siblings have been waiting for…in fact Trig will – in some diagnostic ways – always be a mischievous, dependent little brother, because I created him a bit different than a lot of babies born into this world today.

Every child is created special, with awesome purpose and amazing potential. Children are the most precious and promising ingredient in this mixed up world you live in down there on earth. Trig is no different, except he has one extra chromosome. Doctors call it “Down’s Syndrome”, and Downs kids have challenges, but can bring you much delight and more love than you can ever imagine! Just wait and see, let me prove this, because I only want the best for you!

Some of the rest of the world may not want him, but take comfort in that because the world will not compete for him. Take care of him and he will always be yours!

Trig’s mom and dad don’t want people to focus on the baby’s extra chromosome. They’re human, so they haven’t known how to explain this to people who are so caring and are interested in this new little Alaskan. Sarah and Todd want people to share in the joy of this gift I’m giving to the Palin family, and the greater Alaska family. Many people won’t understand… and I understand that. Some will think Trig should not be allowed to be born because they fear a Downs child won’t be considered “perfect” in your world. (But tell me, what do you earthlings consider “perfect” or even “normal” anyway? Have you peeked down any grocery store isle, or school hallway, or into your office lunchroom lately? Or considered the odd celebrities you celebrate as “perfect” on t.v.? Have you noticed I make ’em all shapes and sizes? Believe me, there is no “perfect”!)

Many people will express sympathy, but you don’t want or need that, because Trig will be a joy. You will have to trust me on this.

I know it will take time to grasp this and come to accept that I only want the best for you, and I only give my best. Remember though: “My ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts… for as the heavens are higher than the earth, my ways are higher than yours!”

I wrote that all down for you in the Good Book! Look it up! You claim that you believe me – now it’s time to live out that belief!

Please look to me as this new challenge and chapter of life unfolds in front of you. I promise to equip you. I won’t give you anything you can’t handle. I am answering your prayers. Trig can’t wait to meet you. I’m giving you ONLY THE BEST!

Love,
Trig’s Creator, Your Heavenly Father

The Force Is With You

The Lord came to Joshua and told him that his close friend, confidant, and mentor, Moses, was now dead. It would now be Joshua’s job to lead the people of God to take possession of the inheritance promised to his forefathers. The task alone was enough to intimidate the most faith-filled leader, but given Joshua’s personal loss of his spiritual leader, the task would seem impossible. Unlike the appearance of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars movies to encourage, guide, and instruct Luke along his path to Jedi warrior, there would be no reappearing of Moses to help steady his hand.

Instead of Moses, God himself would be showing up to counsel, guide, and direct Joshua in all the affairs and responsibilities now being placed on his shoulders. The power of the Most High God would personally and directly be available to Joshua and the people of God to get the job done. The real force would truly be with him. The Lord came onto the scene during this transition and on the eve of Joshua’s ground invasion to strengthen and encourage his servant so that there would not be a repeat of the fear and destruction that accompanied the first attempt to spy out the land for occupation. The obstacles would still be there. The giants would be larger and more numerous than the last time. But this time, the force of faith would be stronger than the influence of fear and Joshua, with God’s blessing, was positioned and destined to lead the people of God to success and victory!

It’s interesting that the Lord repeated the phrase, “be strong and courageous,” four times in Joshua’s hearing to restore and undergird his courage before the beginning of this campaign. Each time the Lord spoke the phrase, He revealed a different reason why Joshua should be strong and courageous no matter what he comes up against on the other side of the Jordan. These principles are just as applicable to us today as they were thousands of years ago. Apply them to your heart today and may God’s force and power be with you – His ability to strengthen and encourage you no matter what your assignment or challenge in life:

First, we need to understand that God’s promise makes us strong and courageous. The Lord said, “Be strong and courageous, for you will lead my people to possess all the land I swore to give their ancestors” (Joshua 1:6, NLT). A promise is a declaration that something will be done; an express assurance on which we can base our expectation. It’s one thing for a man to make a promise – it’s an entirely different thing for God himself to declare an oath and promises to His people. The key to remaining strong and courageous during a challenging season in life is to focus exclusively on that promise instead of the circumstances or difficulty awaiting us.

Second, we need to know that God’s precepts make us strong and courageous. Joshua was told, “Be strong and courageous. Obey all the laws Moses gave you. Do not turn away from them, and you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed” (Joshua 1:7-8, NLT). Our victory is tied to what we do with the Word of God and not the difficulty of the situation. We need to be Word people more than ever reading, studying, thinking about, speaking, and consistently doing the Word. Too often we have been led to believe that our success is outside of our control and influence, but the Lord makes it plain that if we stay on the Word we will make our own way prosperous and successful. In the midst of your challenging situation, make up your mind to not say anything but the Word of God. Like Joshua, don’t let the Book of the Law depart from your mouth – don’t ever, ever stop speaking and doing the Word.

Third, practicing the presence of God makes us strong and courageous. The Lord commanded Joshua, “be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NLT). The Lord was personally promising to abide and dwell with Joshua and the people of God. He would never leave them or forsake them. But think about the New Testament believer. We just don’t have the Lord among us, we have Him living inside of us through the new birth. God’s manifest presence always emboldens and always gives courage. We need to increase our “God inside of us” consciousness and remind ourselves in the midst of the battle that He is right there with us all the way leading, guiding, and yes, fighting on our behalf. Do not put anything above God’s presence in your life and never trust anyone or anything more than Him.

Finally, we all need to be reminded that God’s people are there to make us strong and courageous. True, some people in the body of Christ are specialists in stealing our courage, but there are believers all around us like the men in Joshua’s day that are telling us, “may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses…So be strong and courageous!” (Joshua 1:16-18, NLT). The bold, dedicated support and commitment of God’s people gives us great encouragement. This is why the Scripture tells us not to stop gathering together for worship and fellowship (Hebrews 10:25). Whenever we come together there are people that need encouragement and people who are in a place spiritually where they can provide it. Down the road the roles may be reversed. The bottom line is that we need one another to accomplish the huge task of getting in the end time harvest. We should not even attempt to go it alone without the love, support, and encouragement of each other.

So, be strong and courageous today because the Lord has given you His promises, precepts, presence, and people to spur you on to victory in everything He has assigned you to accomplish. Get in the habit today of rehearsing the promises, spending time in the Word, practicing God’s presence, and living in life-giving community with the people of God. As you do, you will go out and do great exploits in your time and season just as Joshua went out and accomplished great things in his day. The force and power of the Most High God is truly with you!

Let Em Hear You Roar

On a recent trip to St. Louis my family and I spent some time in one of my favorite places in the whole world – the St. Louis Zoo (and no I was not visiting my relatives). We did visit a special area of the zoo developed and installed by a relative known as Big Cat Country. This unique habitat was built to showcase some of the most exotic big cat species in the world such as the African Lion, Amur Leopard, Amur Tiger, Cheetah, Jaguar, Puma, and Snow Leopard. It’s a rare treat to be in Big Cat Country when one of these amazing animals decides to roar. Most of the time they just pace back and forth or find a place to escape the sun’s rays. The reality is that the captivity of these cats has, for the most part, taken away their roar.

Satan works the same way against the hearts and souls of believers. If he can’t keep us out of heaven, he wants us to be as defeated as possible while here on earth. In essence he wants to silence the believer’s roar of boldness. Boldness is to be courageous and daring, not hesitating in the face of actual or possible danger or challenge. Through trouble, persecution, and fear mongering, the devil tries to silence the bold voice of the believer and reduce our roar to a benign meow. But bold believers, confident in spirit and demeanor, use their faith to “clamp down the teeth of God’s Word on the seat of the enemy’s pants and hangs on until Satan quits” (to quote Marilyn Hickey).  Speaking about the boldness of the believer, Reinhard Bonnke said, “Christians are not the hunted, but the hunters, not the attacked, but the attackers. We are God’s storm troopers sent to release the hostages of hell.”

Today I want to share some principles for maintaining your roar as a believer:

First, we must renew our minds to the reality of righteousness. Jesus took our sin and gave us the gift of righteousness. The more we understand this revelation and allow it to penetrate our thinking and consequently our spirit and demeanor, the more bold we will become. Proverbs 28:1 says, “The righteous are as bold as a lion.” There is always a connection between our application of righteousness and our level of boldness. John Osteen, who taught powerfully on the subject of righteousness said, “As long as there is a sense of inferiority, there can be no sense of authority.”

Second, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit. When we think about Peter and the struggles he had in his spiritual formation and development into an amazing leader in the early church, we can’t help but notice the amazing boldness and transformation that took place in his life after he received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). The same Peter that had previously denied Jesus with cussing was now standing publicly proclaiming Jesus to everyone that would listen. This same empowerment of the Spirit of God is available to every believer and it will change us just like it changed Peter.

Finally, the more time you spend with Jesus in prayer, fellowship, and the Word, the bolder you will be as a believer. The Bible reveals that there is a connection between our knowledge of God, our level of boldness, and our fruitfulness: “…but the people who know their God shall prove themselves strong and shall stand firm and do exploits [for God]” (Daniel 11:32, AMP). The Pharisees were amazed by the courage and boldness of two unschooled and ordinary men, Peter and John. They were astonished “and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). The knowledge of God’s character, thoughts, and will makes the believer amazingly bold and confident. F.F. Bosworth said, “Faith begins where the will of God is known.” The more revelation of God and His will we have, the bolder we will become.

So, when you sense the enemy trying to shut you up, lift up your voice in a roar and declare the Word of the Lord. Be like Blind Bartimaeus who, when told to hold his peace, cried out all the more (Mark 10). Unlike the caged big cats of the St. Louis zoo, you were born free so maintain your freedom in Christ and roar at the enemy any time he even attempts to take you captive or silence your voice of faith.