Posts Tagged ‘agreement’

Loving What Emerges

This post is from the start of the very first Apostolic Training Center…….5 years later God is still up to amazing things.

Sometimes we put our hands to work and we are very aware of the outcome… and then there is the ministry. Its the work of God’s hands! He is the Ultimate Potter, we become the clay and the emerging masterpiece is of His craftsmanship. I love it, I love watching it and being part of it.

The Quest:

There is this wonderful vulnerability where grace, tears, risk and adventure come together. Its like there are no blueprints, no plans to follow. Its just faith in God’s power at work that shapes the mission. We have a vision of where we are going, but there is no quest on earth that so yields itself to the will of another. Not just any “another” but “The Another” - God, Himself holds our attention, our heart beat and our foot prints. And somehow a ministry emerges from our efforts that brings Him pleasure, while at the same time transforms a culture. Wow, what a life changing opportunity to join God in this quest.

Mission Uganda:

In my resent journey into Uganda there was one specific goal that God seemed to be emphasizing over and over; opening the Apostolic Training Center. Our teams on the ground were set and ready to move and I have never seen such passion for God’s Word to be taught. Pastor Francis Wanyama met me at the airport with my schedule in his hand and a fire in his belly. Our driver was not about to waste time with small talk; for he was a pastor as well, already engaged in the process of mobilizing a network of laborers. I could tell this was not an ordinary day… a New Day was emerging in the hearts of these people and all I could say is, “Its just the beginning!”

Apostolic Training Center

March 2012

A Grand Opening:

My schedule was filled with conferences and teaching sessions, but the one event that stood out was the Grand Opening of our Apostolic Training Center. I arrived at about 9 am to about 125 students of all ages, hungry and waiting. Blessed and energized by what I was experiencing, we stepped into the process together… all of us knowing nothing of where God was taking us. One thing we were all in agreement upon… we would not have wanted to be anywhere else. There was a buzz in the room that assured us almost immediately that this was a New Day and that God was doing a New Thing.

The Emerging Wineskin:

For the next 4 days something wonderful began to emerge. A wineskin of sorts was beginning to take shape. It was filled with spiritual substance, Holy Spirit stuff like joy and laughter, hope and expectancy; as well as some tough questions about truth… God’s Truth. And no matter how difficult we imagined this challenge to be, God seemed to be offering a resource. He was doing something I have watched Him do time and time again, governing by peace (Isa 9:6-7).

Just the Beginning:

Now, with over 150 people carrying a dream that no man on earth will be able to sustain. All I know to do is love what emerges. It looks a lot like the vision we had in our hearts when we heard from God, but we could never have taken credit for how it felt to us. It was God’s dream first and it thrills me to have brought Him the glory!

Ministry is like that… its the work of God’s hands. When its all said and done we realize, we are His workmanship and He is shaping our hearts (Eph 2:10).

The Garment of Praise

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;  To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)

The answer against a “spirit of heaviness” is to put on the ”garment of praise.”

Satan hates praise:

Praise exalts Jesus no matter what the circumstances may look like. It engages our trust in God and activates our faith like nothing else can do. You see, praise introduces light and supernatural life into our circumstances. It is the ultimate release of spiritual freedom. Just listen to the following verses and let something click inside.

(2 Cor 3:17) “The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

(Gal 5:1) ” Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

(Jn 8:36) ” Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Praise is Agreement with God!

Praising the Lord and agreement with the truth of God’s Word, renews the mind and lifts the spirit of heaviness off your shoulders. Notice the Prophet Isaiah says that your life is designed to reflect your calling as “trees of righteousness”. Its your destiny to become the “planting of the Lord”. As you praise Him daily, you will release the stature of Christ within you… “that He may be glorified”, seen and celebrated as your Deliverer! Nothing so clearly displays the power of God like our freedom in the spirit.

The Effect of a Spirit of Heaviness:

It darkens our countenance. Our hearts are down cast. This spirit brings a “heaviness” over us and dims our vision, robs our hope and crushes our sense of purpose. There are testimonies I’ve heard from people who say “when this spirit comes it even makes the room feel darker”. It brings a heavy and oppressive atmosphere that restricts and quenches our perception. It may come like a cloud hanging over you or your location, but the most difficult part to deal with is that it causes isolation. The devil’s goal is to remove you from the atmosphere of love and approval. Think about it, if Satan can get you isolated, then he can break your spirit and remove your source of inspiration and hope.

Recognize it:

This is the first step. You are a Child of God! This is not God’s will for you!  “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31) Don’t believe the lies… Praise God instead! Accept no criticism and carry no extra baggage. You must learn the art of selective hearing, so that you choose the things you ignore and the things that come from the Throne of Heaven. We destroy arguments and pull down strongholds, so that every thought is made captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5). That means I am actively discerning where my thoughts are coming from and believe me… I can rule over them with praise!

Put on the Garment of Praise!

This literally means to be “wrapped up in praise”. God has given it to be worn and provide insulation. So put it on like a jacket every single day. Take a few moments each morning and every time there is a battle raging, to put it on like armor on a soldier. You will watch your enemy run for cover with his tail between his legs… like a whipped puppy. That’s right, praise is your most effective tool in magnifying God and shrinking the influence of the devil. Get loud, get aggressive and set your heart on spiritual freedom!

It is the anointing that breaks the yoke! (Isa 10:27)

Living Free

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Col. 3:13)

There is freedom released in the heart of a man who forgives and feels forgiven by God! No question, forgiveness is the very heart of God toward us. But its also an agreement with the heart of God toward others. How do we know when we have entered into the process of Biblical forgiveness? A burden is lifted in our heart!

Forgiving is the experience that shapes the heart of every follower of Christ! When a burden is lifted – freedom breaks forth! The fruit of engaging in the process of forgiveness with God increases your ability to be yourself and love as you were created to love… with all your heart. This work of the Holy Spirit results in a tenderness toward God and those who have wounded us. We come to the other side of forgiveness when we are able to agree with the heart of God toward those who have wronged us. We begin to see those who hurt us through the eyes of Jesus. We begin to feel what He feels towards them.

Best of all, we can begin to pray for others as Jesus prays for them – without hindrance or hesitation! (Heb. 7:25)

Free of Wounds:

Jesus commanded us to pray for our enemies and bless them with our words. We can do this only as we forgive and live free of wounds. As we contend for and practice walking in forgiveness, we see the fruit of true freedom on the inside by breaking the roots of bitterness and judgmental attitudes. Forgiveness must be understood as a spiritual reality, where God gets involved on a level that goes beyond our human reasoning. Forgiving is, to our heart; like cancelling a debt we feel we are owed by the person who wronged us. Yet, when done in the power of the Holy Spirit, there is always a burst of energy to live in greater victory in Christ!

“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance…” (Rom. 5:3)

Rejoicing in the Freedom:

Learning how to rejoice in the reward of our temporary sufferings and pain, is one of the greatest spiritual principles of life in Christ. We forgive because it is the will of God, but also because it releases greater freedom in the spirit! This is how we overcome everything that life throws at us… with praise. Over time, we discover the great joy that is on the other side of wounds… something is produced in us.

The process of restoring our wounded heart, begins with a choice. Choose to look up, not inward! For the strength to believe, that His love is enough to soften the hurts; comes from God through the Holy Spirit (Ps. 121:1-8). The Lord is your Keeper, He is the shade that protects from the heat of the sun, He shall preserve your soul (your mind, will and emotions). He will release in you a freedom to sustain you in your going out and coming in… forever. This promise is true and I consistently rejoice in it every time I need to forgive!

…And freedom breaks forth to sweeten my victory.

Spirit of the Age

You are invited

The word “another” in the New Testament is translated from two different words in the Greek. They are similar and yet very different. One is allos, which expresses merely a numerical difference. It literally means “another of the same kind”. For example… a second apple would be another apple, but it would be the same kind – both are apples. The other Greek word that is translated “another” in the English is heteros. It means “another of a different kind”. An orange; for example, would be another fruit of a different kind from the apple. Its basic nature is different, even though it is in the same group with other fruits.

So what’s the thought here?

Jesus makes a big deal out of this concept when He defines our calling to become His disciples.  “And another of His disciples said unto Him, Lord suffer (wait for) me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, follow Me and let the dead bury their dead.” (Mt 8:21-22)

At first glance this would seem to be a strange reply. A person could come away with the idea that Jesus was a bit demanding. This man was a disciple of Jesus; not one of the twelve, but he certainly had potential… didn’t he? He was called by the Lord to follow, but was unsure in the immediate future that he wanted to see the impact of Christ’s teaching in his own life, family and community. He felt unable to commit to follow the Lord “at once”, or at this “opportune time”. He felt it was more important to bury his father; who many scholars believe, may not have even been close to death yet. His dedication to Jesus Christ was not great enough to walk away from the cultural responsibilities of his personal life. He was not free to commit.

After all, what would the neighbors say about him not being there to bury his father?

James and John walked away from the life they had as fishermen, to begin a new life with Jesus (Mt 4:21-22); but this man could not. He was a disciple of “another” (heteros) kind. He probably felt justified in his reluctance to follow the Lord. His reasoning was bound to his values and those values were set by natural realities, not Jesus’ invitation. He could justify staying at home and fulfill his duties there and still serve the Lord in some way.

He did not realize, he was enslaved by a “spirit”.

What this helps us to see is that often demonic spirits do not work to get you to reject the Lord. What they tend to do is enslave you to a lower level of discipleship than what God has called you to attain. Jesus tells us, “strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Lk 13:24).

Remember Gates hold authority in Scripture.

The strait gate is the entrance; where a threshold of personal authority and agreement must be stepped over or broken through, in order for us to reach that higher calling… that opportune time in Christ. Many individuals sense their invitation to experience a closer walk with the Lord, but find they are not able to break free from the spirit of the age. Wow, that is an important word, because it tells us of a limitation that is often hidden in our soulish desires and cultural allegiances. The dedication and commitment to the Lordship of Christ will not be great enough to make the transition.

They want to and they seek to enter in, but are unable. They don’t realize a spirit has enslaved them to a lower form of following… “at a distance”.

This “spirit of the age” must be broken.

If we are not guarding our commitment to Christ, stretching our spiritual muscle and growing in our knowledge of Him, we can find ourselves seduced by this spirit of the age. In a media driven nation like America, this is an easier thing to fall into than we would like to believe. I am convinced (as are many) in our conservative Church culture that our lifestyles do not reflect a truly Biblical world view.

The Apostle Paul said this would be based upon the spirit of the age blinding people’s minds through unbelief, so that they do not comprehend the glory in the face of Jesus (2 Cor 4:4-6). Its not a new thing at all; in fact, he also gave this warning to the Church of Galatia, “I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another (heteros) gospel” (Gal 1:6).

This “another gospel” carries the seductive spirit of compromise and will cause you to feel you are doing fine on your present level of commitment and growth. You may never hear yourself say “I do not need to grow spiritually”. It may be that you just lose that fire in your belly… the hunger is gone. Maybe you intend to commit more someday, follow through with that call sometime, but right now your life is just too full to earnestly seek after God. This spirit will lull you to sleep and make you unable to follow God’s original call upon your life. And it does become stubborn.

Breaking free requires radical repentance and fasting!

Radical repentance and seasons of fasting are often needed, to reveal the chains and crush their hold around our ankles. In order to believe the Word of God, we must capture every thought and renew the mind with Truths that will set us free to live for Him and commit to Him. This is the Spirit of Life in Christ that brings joy and peace.

Words & Arrows

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, Oh Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Ps. 19:14)

Wow what a prayer…

Life carries challenges and words create trouble… the kind of trouble that hinders our ability to walk in peace on a variety of levels. When judgement or criticism is spoken (either by us or about us) we must make a choice to walk in the favor of God. Words can become arrows that harm or maintain our peace… and the “acceptable” place in God’s sight. When words are spoken that shake our identity or cause us to feel offended, we must recognize the spirit that “rules” over those words.

Every word is an arrow designed to carry power and influence… blessing or curse!

We must guard the heart at all cost, because that is where our thoughts and motives arise and bear fruit… “words”! The Bible says that out of the heart flow the issues of life. Guarding our hearts takes enormous training. I would like to suggest that the Psalmist is showing us what is at the center of that training… the spiritual principle of “agreement”. The Psalmist is saying “I want my words and my meditations to be in agreement with Your mind and acceptable to Your heart, Oh Lord!” Agreement is like spiritual glue that ties us to the Father’s power! Jesus said, “if you abide in Me and My Words abide in you, then you can ask whatever you want and it will be done for you” (Jn. 15:7). That is an agreement that offers connection to the power of God.

Agreement with evil thoughts happens by speaking evil words! To speak evil is to rehearse emotions that carry the weight of curses… an intent to harm. Situations that effect us the most emotionally are opportunities for the devil who wants to rule our thoughts, motives and actions. Don’t give the devil your agreement and he will have nothing to rule over you.

These simple things called words have the potential to become our life or death… literally!

Jesus stated that His words were spirit and life to those who believe and agree with them (Jn 6:63). The sad thing is that most of us are unable to govern our mouth, because we have weak emotions. We become easily offended and then fail to discern or control our words. Remember that self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. All the Holy Spirit needs is our agreement to release this fruit into our lives.

Listen: We can… and must agree with God!

We must look to God in faith and recognize the power of our words! We can use our words as arrows that strengthen and connect us to the power of God! Jesus has given us the ability to triumph over all the works of the enemy and rule over our soul (Col 2:13-15)(2 Cor 10:3-6). As New Creatures in Christ, new identities and thought patterns enable us to overcome the activities of Satan. Evil words are designed and spoken to make us feel we have no right to our inheritance among the righteous, but agreement offers us freedom (Col 2:4-8) and an acceptable place to rest. The Truth sets us free!

The shield of faith… agreement has the ability to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one (Eph 6:16).