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!”

Mission to the Crescent Moon

“But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun–almost as hot as it is here today–and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out–then we must be bold.” – President John F. Kennedy, Rice Stadium Mission to the Moon Speech, September 12, 1962.

There is much I would not have had in common with President Kennedy had I lived during his presidency. His values and priorities differed from mine in many ways. But one thing I treasure from his time in the White House was his clear and exciting vision for space and space exploration. Kennedy tapped into and managed to execute some fundamentals of vision casting that the current administration should discover. For example, the vision must be huge (beyond anything we have ever attempted), compelling (able to capture the imagination of the masses and foster enthusiasm), focused (limited in its scope), time-based (a deadline for the goal must be set), and functional (matching the vision to a particular resource that can functionally accomplish the vision). Further, any great leader must possess the ability to see the vision, communicate the vision, allocate resources in the direction of the vision, and then persevere until the vision becomes reality. But it all starts with a bold vision and one that complements an entity, group, or agency rather than contradicting it.

This past year we saw the gutting of the greatest space exploration agency in the history of the world. Gone are the days of visionary leadership reflected in Kennedy’s historic speech on our national adventure to reach the moon. My own niece, after pursuing a graduate education for the express reason of serving within NASA and becoming decorated for her efforts together with her team, lost her job in the fray. Would we realistically shoot for Mars or set any other grand vision for NASA and our great nation or would some other purpose be established for our space agency that has been the envy of the world for fifty years?

Well, the answer is in. This past week the NASA director in the Obama administration revealed to news organizations that his chief goal for NASA, as directed by Obama, is to reach out to the Muslim world to encourage them for their contribution in math and sciences. Huh?!? I’m really starting to feel like Alice in Wonderland here trying to figure out how this agency would be pushed so far out of its charter to become the personal ambassador for Islam under this administration. Could you imagine if a sitting president made the NASA director’s top goal to reach out to the Jews or strengthen ties to the Vatican? President Kennedy cast a vision for a mission to the moon while our sitting President pushes a mission to the crescent moon.

I don’t like the socialistic bent of this administration, the out of control spending, the propensity to apologize on behalf of our nation for every ill ever known to man, or the shady back door deal making and intimidation that would make G. Gordon Liddy blush. But I (at the risk of going Glenn Beck for just a moment) simply cannot stand by and watch the ridiculous redirection of our nation’s agencies and resources to further an Islamic agenda when they should be activated for the accomplishing of a function that is consistent with the agencies’ stated purpose and resources and consistent with our long-term interests as a nation. We must pray for the eyes of our leaders throughout the nation to open to the reality that we are in a spiritual war that manifests itself as a cultural, political, or military war. This revelation will go a long way to slow our national descent down the slippery slope of false expectation and appeasement.

The Seed Thief

Like everything else the Lord does in the earth, He uses a seed to accomplish great things in us and through us. The seed contains and possesses not only the nature of what is to be grown but the full potential of its future. When the Lord made humans He endowed them with some very special gifts that I like to call “Genesis Gifts” or gifts that the Lord has given to mankind at the very beginning indicating not only God’s favor but his divine will for man. We have, from the very beginning, been given God’s image, life, dominion, and seed which allows us to determine and impact our future by the seed that we sow, for everything in life (not just plants and animals) reproduces after its own kind.

Believers are also given hope or life dreams as a seed. That seed comes in the form of God’s thoughts or His Word deposited in the ground of our hearts (Mark 4) that when retained despite trouble and persecution (which according to Mark 4 comes as a direct result of the deposit of that seed in the heart) will produce a harvest. The insight of Mark helps us to understand that the very seed of the dream is also the bullseye or target that the enemy uses to come against that same dream. Ironically the more Word we receive the more of a target we become. That seems counterintuitive and counterproductive on the surface but we must remember that although challenges come because of the Word, it is that very Word that births the dream and brings the dream to reality if we do not faint. As Galatians 6:9 declares, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

The enemy is a master at stealing the dream seed from the hearts of believers and provoking them to quit under pressure. The bigger and more aggressive the dream the greater the level of pressure. The Lord only knows what human contribution and impact has been lost forever simply because those given great dreams could not seem to stand up under the enemy’s constant schemes to influence believers to shrink back and throw down their faith (Hebrews 10:35-30). The writer of Hebrews admonishes, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” Satan is after our confidence in our ability to hear from God and act on His Word and uses several devices to accomplish his agenda.

First, the enemy uses the scheme of distraction to divert us from focusing on the dream and on to challenges, circumstances, opinions of others, and a litany of emergencies and urgent situations. It is impossible to walk in and fulfill a God-given dream without focus and the enemy knows that all he has to do is keep dust perpetually kicked up around us and we will soon become sidetracked and forget all about God’s mandate for our lives. Like Martha, we sometimes get so distracted by the good that we fail to pursue God’s best (Luke 10:40). The key to maintaining focus is revealed by Mary’s behavior in this same Scripture. When we focus on our relationship with Jesus we are more likely to stay focused on the mission.

Second, the enemy, through the scheme of pressure, setbacks, and opposition, frequently shuts the believer down with discouragement. It is telling that the Lord spent so much time directly encouraging Joshua at the beginning of his ministry and leadership: “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers” (Joshua 1:6). Discouragement is the loss of courage, and faith is in fact spiritual courage. When discouragement moves in, the motivation and drive to continue fighting and believing God disappears.

Third, the enemy is the master of deception. As the Father of lies (John 8:44), Satan is a master at the scheme of deception. From the conning of Adam and Eve in the garden to the seduction of Judas at the close of Jesus’ ministry, the enemy knows exactly how to distort our perception with half-truths and down right lies. The antidote, of course, for his deception is the truth or the Word of God. People who spend quality time in the Word are much better equipped to recognize and reject the schemer’s attempt to pull us away from the dream of God through deception.

Fourth, the enemy understands all too well how important is is for human beings to feel like they belong. Rejection, or the scheme of disowning, is one of the most powerful tools in his arsenal to neutralize a believer’s impact in this world for Jesus Christ. By invading the sacred area of human relationships and inspiring various parties to reject one another, Satan effectively demoralizes us and pushes us into a fog of introspection and self-questioning trying to determine what prompted the rejection. The lack of understanding just adds to the feelings of pain. Jesus was familiar with rejection and since he bore rejection on the cross (Isaiah 53:3) together with the sin, sickness, and shame, let’s be quick to reject this device designed to immobilize us in a day when the Lord needs us up and running. What matters most is the fact that God loves and accepts us and if people reject us, they just don’t know what they’re missing.

Fifth, we know from John 10:10 that the devil is a destroyer. In fact the Scripture says that he comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. Through the scheme of destruction, the enemy attempts to take advantage of every situation to bring devastation into our lives in the the hope that we will falsely accuse God, doubt His Word, and reject His plan for our lives. This tool is made even more effective by the fact that many of God’s servants unknowingly preach that God, rather than the enemy, is behind the stealing, killing, and destroying. What a racket Satan has going. Wreak havoc in the earth and in the lives of people and then lay the blame at God’s feet. This is a criminal’s dream come true. But once the antics of the enemy are exposed and the believer understands that the Lord is good and does good (Psalm 31:19; Acts 10:38), the enemy’s days of destruction in our lives are numbered.

Finally, if the enemy fails to take us out through distraction, discouragement, deception, disowning, or destruction, he will do everything he can to discredit us with an all out attack on our credibility. The scheme of discrediting is designed to cause people to lose confidence in us as believers and when this happens any influence for good and for God is compromised. The true shame of this scheme is that people who desperately need to receive from the discredited believer can no longer do so. Discerning believers will of course see through this but unfortunately people in the world and carnal Christians wouldn’t know the truth if it came up and tweaked them on the nose. The ultimate goal of the enemy is to get the slandered Christian to become disheartened and reluctant to stand up in the future for God’s Word and His plan of redemption effectively silencing another voice of truth.

I want to encourage you to be alert in these last days for the schemer and his ways. Understand that you are not paranoid and you are not dreaming. You really do have an enemy and he would like nothing more than to undermine your confidence in God and in His Word to the point where your dream seed is dug up, your destiny is aborted, and your impact is compromised. When you recognize his activity in your life or the lives of others, immediately move to expose his operation and declare the Word of God over the situation. Remember that the ultimate remedy for the schemes of the enemy is the truth.

The Dream Killer

“After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them–to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates–all the Hittite country–to the Great Sea on the west. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:1-9, NIV).

I believe the Lord has a purpose and plan for every person. Jeremiah 29:11 (some of the most powerful words in the Bible) says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future). The first key for tapping into that divine flow and guidance is to experience the new birth. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “you must be born again” (John 3:7). We know from Ephesians 2:10 that we are created from the foundation of the world unto good works that expand the Kingdom of God in the earth. It is, however, impossible to discern and walk in God’s will until we become alive spiritually. We simply do not have the spiritual hardware to hear God’s voice and follow His direction.

Once we are saved, the Lord begins to move us in the direction of the best life possible for us. We now have the eyes to see and the ears to hear, and we have the added ability to receive a dream or vision from God into our hearts. That dream now becomes an internal guidance system taking us in easy stages down a path that will bring about the fulfillment of God’s will and dream for our lives. The dream says, “I can make a difference.” The dream declares, “I can become everything God has created me to be.” The dream boldly proclaims, “I will impact lives through the gospel of Jesus Christ.” The dream is ultimately what connects believers to God’s future and hope for their lives.

The problem is that we do not live in a spiritual vacuum or bubble insulated from the operation of the enemy to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). It would be nice if we had that kind of utopian existence where everyone was pulling for us and there was no opposition to the dream in our hearts. But that would be fantasy, not faith. The reality is that the enemy will do everything he can, use anyone he can, and employ any and every tactic he can to stop us all from living lives of spiritual significance in the earth. One of his most effective and consistent weapons is the weapon of fear. The same dream of God that inspires us to action and directs our course is also a bullseye for the enemy and his devices. But we are not ignorant of his schemes and possessing that knowledge we do not have to allow him to compromise the dream of God in our hearts (2 Corinthians 2:11).

A brief review of great leaders of the Bible reveals that every one of them had to deal with the fear issue. Moses was certainly intimidated to stand before Pharaoh and demand the release of the people of God. The Lord countered that spirit of fear by reminding Moses in Exodus 33 that He would personally go with Moses. Joshua must have certainly felt all alone and afraid as he realized that his leader, mentor and friend Moses was now with the Lord. Immediately in Joshua 1 the Lord spoke to remind Joshua to be courageous and to stay out of fear. God told him that He would be with him like He was with Moses. The Lord also gave Joshua the antidote to fear – meditating on and speaking the Word without ceasing. In doing this he would literally make his own way successful or prosperous. Jeremiah, when called by God as a prophet, hesitated reminding the Lord that he was only a child. The Lord promised that He would watch over His Word to perform it and challenged Jeremiah to not be afraid of the people but stand up and proclaim what he is told to say. In the New Testament Paul admonished Timothy to not be afraid to stand up and witness. He was told directly that he has not been given the spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

The people of God today are exposed to the same kind of fear mongering by the enemy. Every believer that receives a dream from God and wants to do something great for God will be challenged by fear. Some are afraid of a lack of resources. Some are afraid of the opinions of people. Others are afraid that they will be rejected if they take a stand for the Lord in these challenging days. Still others are afraid of failure. I have found that the enemy will always use some kind of manifestation of fear to try to stop the dream in the heart of the believer. Fear, being a form of perverted faith, will bend our lives away from God’s best, compromise the dream, and imprison us in a jail of uncertainly, confusion, and inactivity. Our only other option is to stay in faith by focusing on the dream and staying in Word like Joshua was commanded. Whatever we give our attention to the most will determine whether we walk in faith or fear. Faith will cause the dream to come to pass. Fear will cause the dream to die. Why? Because fear causes us to question the dream and fail to act in the direction of the dream. Unless we add action to our dream (faith in picture form), we will never see the fulfillment of it.

I want to encourage you to treasure the dream in your heart and protect it. Guard your heart with all diligence (Proverbs 4) and when you notice even the slightest tinge of fear trying to move in regarding your dream open up your mouth and say, “I reject this fear in Jesus name and choose to maintain the spirit of faith regarding the dream of God for my life.” The moment you open your mouth your mind and emotions will stop to listen to what your mouth is saying. Don’t allow even a smidgen of fear to reside in your heart because like mold in a dark, damp place, fear tends to grow and expand. Be diligent to feed on the Word of God because faith grows as the Word is received into the human heart. Focus also on the development of your love walk because perfect love (mature, developed) casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). The prevalence of fear in our lives, even regarding our dream, is an indication that we are not walking in love as we should. The season where the dream is cultivated until it becomes reality is a prime time for the enemy to try to introduce fear into your life through some situation, setback, or even some person. We need to make sure at this time that we are living free of unforgiveness, bitterness, jealousy, envy, or hatred. Quite frankly, what someone did to you or said about you is not worth losing the dream, destiny, or blessing.

Don’t Give Up On Your Vision

“Where there is no vision, the people perish : but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18, KJV)

A life vision is one of the most precious gifts we can be given. Vision can be defined as a clear picture of what you see yourself doing of being for the Lord. We are blessed with a vision for our lives, for our families, for our businesses, and for our ministries. But for most of us, the vision usually does not come to pass EXACTLY they way we originally saw it and the temptation is to quit the vision in disappointment or frustration.

I want to encourage you that your vision may cycle through many revisions and changes but that the guidance and direction the Lord is providing you through that vision is valid and valuable. If fact, one of the ways you can tell if you have a heavenly vision is opposition and challenges to that vision. Don’t be so quick to conclude because of the difficulty that you missed God or that the vision is wrong.

I have great respect for the ministry of Seacoast Church in the Charleston, S.C. area. Mac Lake, the leadership development pastor for this pioneering multi-site ministry recently posted some great insight regarding vision on his blog. I hope this encourages you greatly:

The Six Stages of A Vision

Now that we’re three weeks into the new year, vision architects are busy assembling the pieces they need to build their God-given dream.  Plans are unfolding, resources being gathered, teams mobilized and undoubtedly somewhere in the near future roadblocks will be hit.  That’s why it’s important for the leader to understand the stages of a vision. When you understand the different phases of vision then you’re able to respond with wisdom and maturity when you encounter challenges. A vision typically goes through six stages.

Imagination Stage

This is the fun stage where you get to think outside the box and dream about possibilities.  Typically you’re focused on solving a problem that is close to your heart and praying through ways God wants to use you to make a difference.

Preparation Stage

This is the hard work of putting together the timelines, budget, priorities and goals of the vision.   Vision is seeing tomorrow’s possibilities today, but it’s not enough just to see it, you have to design a blueprint in order to minimize frustrations along the way.

Execution Stage

This is where the vision train gets to leave the station.  Teams are deployed and people move into action to make things happen.  Day by day you get to see the framework of the vision being put together.

Frustration Stage

Rarely does a vision come together as planned.  Teams will miss deadlines, circumstances will change, resources become scarce and people will criticize or complain.  Every vision will face a challenge and this will prove the commitment of the leader and the team to the vision.

Rejuvenation Stage

If handled the right way the frustration stage causes the leader and team to think deeper and push forward with innovative ideas, fresh perspective and new determination.

Celebration Stage

When the team crosses the finish line and the vision becomes reality it’s time for celebration.  Don’t forget to recognize and reward all those who contributed to making it all possible.  And mostly pause to thank God for using you to accomplish His will.

Mac Lake, Seacoast Church, 2010