Thursday, June 23, 2016

We are the Watchman

By now I’m sure most of you have heard about the tragedy in Orlando where 53 homosexuals, lesbians and transgender individuals were killed. And, as you also know, some of the responses were pretty typical of what you would expect to hear. When it comes to this one issue – the gay and lesbian community – there is a divide in the body of Christ.

You have Christians who say and believe that everyone has a right to choose how he or she will live – even if how they live is not in agreement with the will of God. Then you have Christians who say and believe that if the Bible says something is wrong, then you don't have the right to live that way and will condemn you to hell unless you repent.

Neither one of these positions work for God.

After hearing about the shooting, I sent out a tweet from my twitter account, which is also linked to my Facebook page. I said “Orlando was not God's punishment” with the hashtag “heart aching for Orlando”. 

Later that day I tweeted “Orlando did not make God's day. It broke his heart.” Again my hashtag was “heart aching for Orlando.” 

My last tweet of the day was “You need to understand there was no joy in heaven early Sunday morning.” My hashtags were “heart aching for Orlando” and “Don't blame God”.

After my first tweet, my cousin from Tennessee posted on my Facebook feed “You will not believe the ridicule that I'm seeing on my page.” By the tone I knew he was referring to the things Christians were saying.

I also received a post from a young lady in Texas and what she said really broke my heart. Her Facebook feed disturbed her so much that she said “I'm almost finished with being a Christian. Shaking my head.” 

My response: “one of the things I've said repeatedly over the past three or four years is that you can't judge Christianity by looking at Christians today. Jesus did not like the behavior of most of the people he dealt with but he dealt with them with love and compassion. Sadly missing in most of the body of Christ today.”

I added that instead of calling myself a Christian, I'm thinking about referring to myself as a “disciple of my master, Jesus”. She replied “anything is better. I'm ashamed to be named among many. So much hate. Christianity seems to be no different than any of any other religion. I’m out.”

Christianity is supposed to be a family.

It really bothered me to hear her say that because our father sees us as a family. He doesn't see a group of people who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. She’s not seeing what our Father sees and, in a way, I can understand her feelings. Truly I can. Sometimes our emotions can really get the best of us.

So I said “Sweetie, I understand but let us be the ones to show the world what it really means to be Christ-like. Let us be the ones who respond to the hatred and the judging by opening our arms wide to those who need to experience His love from people they thought didn't care.”

Ladies and gentlemen, if we don't reach out to those who are not part of the family they will never have an opportunity to be part of the family. That’s what we're supposed to do as sons and daughters.

Her last post: “I will not from this day forward be labeled as a Christian. I’m filled with love of God and I refuse to be named among those who hate.” I continue to pray for her because I know she's hurting.

Satan is dividing Christians.

Remember in Matthew where Jesus said that a house divided against itself cannot stand? Right now, we are witnessing how Satan is causing schism in the body of Christ. One of the primary ways he's doing that is through politics. We, the body of Christ, have allowed ourselves to be given political labels in this country. You are either a liberal Democrat or a conservative Christian. Neither one of these labels are in the Bible.

Jesus never says He wants “Christians”.

Jesus says He wants “disciples”. He does not want Christians. He wants disciples. Anyone can attach to themselves the label of Christian. If you are a disciple people are going to know it. A disciple is one who tells the world that I am not above my master. What my master says is what I do. And people are not going to like it.

My prayer is that you are neither "far left" nor "far right" but that you are trying to walk the Word the way Jesus desires it to be walked. If you are, then we will have an opportunity to show the world who Jesus really is and His heart’s desire.

Most of the people who are living the homosexual, lesbian or transgender lifestyle don't think Christians love them. We have no one to blame but ourselves for allowing the enemy of the soul to get us to respond in certain ways when we hear about anything related to the homosexual community.

Recently I asked for prayer because sometimes when I hear things related to this behavior, I can feel a wall rising up in me. When I feel the wall rising up what it is doing is preventing me from showing the love of God. When you read the Gospels Jesus never criticized or marginalized those who were in sin. He always treated them with love and compassion. He saved his anger for the religious leaders who were leading the people astray.

It broke my heart when I heard that one pastor, after the Orlando tragedy, said that it was nothing more than what they had earned. It was God's judgment released upon them. Another pastor said the only thing that he regretted was that there were not more homosexuals in the night club. If they are saying these things, what do you think their congregations are saying?

These pastors told their people that the men and women deserved what happened to them in and that it was God’s judgment against them. And we wonder why the gay and lesbian community think Christians don't care about them.

Let’s be clear: "God and Son Corporation" has one mission: to seek and save the lost. I don't believe the body of Christ understands its mission. There doesn't seem to be enough love flowing out of us to override our emotions.

A life of faith is a life lived in love.

The Bible says in Galatians 5:6: “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncirumcision; but faith which worketh (is activated) by love.”  If the reaction to Orlando is any indication, there is very little faith at work in the body of Christ and it goes back to those of us who are not walking in love toward those who need to experience it the most.

Hebrews 11:6 says “But without faith it is impossible to please him (God)...” Since faith is activated by love and faith is what pleases God, then what is the issue? Love is the issue. That’s lacking in the body of Christ today.

Let’s look at 2 Timothy 2:1. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” Notice the verse doesn’t say we should do these things for the body of Christ. It says we need to them for all men. In other words, the saved and the unsaved. All men (and women) are not just the people you like. All means all! If you cannot make intercession for the homosexual person, you are in sin.

Let’s continue reading with verses 2-4. “For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour – and verse 4 tells us why we are to pray this way: “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

Our Heavenly Father's heart cries out for the lost.

After hearing of the shooting, I could see God on His throne weeping. His tears were for the men and women who died in that tragedy and had not repented of their sin or accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. God wept because they went to hell.

There was absolutely nothing but sadness in Heaven early Sunday morning. We know people who are living this lifestyle. We grew up with them. They were, and in many instances, are our friends. If we don’t show them the love of God, they might not see it from anyone else and be lost for all eternity.

It’s really about how much we love our Heavenly Father.

In First Thessalonians 3:12 the Apostle Paul writes “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.” What does the Lord want us to do? He wants us to show love to those who are not yet part of the family.

In chapter 5, verse 14 we read: “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” We are to be patient, not just with those who are in the family, but all men – including those who are not in the family. We are to treat them with love and compassion. If we don’t, there may not be anyone else who will.

Let’s look at an example from the Gospels. In Matthew 9:10 we read “And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eatest your Master with publicans and sinners?” The religious leaders couldn’t understand why Jesus would break bread with tax collectors and sinners.

Let’s bring this passage to 2016.

“And it came to pass, as Jesus sat down at meat in the house, behold, many homosexuals and lesbians came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when some of the pastors and leaders saw it, they said unto his disciples, “Why does your master eat with homosexuals and lesbians? Doesn’t he know that they are sinners of the worst kind?”

Jesus’ response would have been the same today as it was 2000 years ago. Look at verses 12 and 13: “But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them (the Pharisees), They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: (notice what He says next) for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

In John 14:12 Jesus tells us that He wants us to duplicate the works He did when He was here on Earth. One of those “works” was reaching out to people to get them to repent. If we don’t do it ladies and gentlemen it is not going to happen.

We are the watchman.

We’re going to finish up in Ezekiel 33 where the prophet is talking about the house of Israel. There is a spiritual application for us today. In verses one and two we read: “Again the word of the Lord came unto me saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman:”

The “sword” represents the judgment that is to come. What “sword” – judgment – has been released upon the land today? Jesus tells us in John 12:46-48: “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejected me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”

Ezekiel 33:3 says “If when he (the watchman) seeth the sword (judgment) come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people...” The watchman is to warn the people that the judgment is coming. Why? The Lord wants those sin to have an opportunity to repent.

Verses 4 and 5: “Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.” The watchman’s job is to warn the people, not judge them and not be condescending. The word “warning” means “to teach and caution.” The watchman is to help the people understand what will happen if they continue to live in sin and don’t repent.

The problem with the body of Christ

We haven’t learned how to deliver the warning with love and compassion. We have not done a good job of helping those who need to repent understand why they need to do so and why they need to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. If you want someone to change, you have to help them see what needs to change and then show them how to change.

But look at what happens if the watchman does not sound the warning. “But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” Let that sink in ladies and gentlemen.

Now verse 7: “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel (unto your community); therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me (What I tell you to say, say it with love and compassion because it’s coming from my heart.). Do you see this? You are the watchman! If we are not the ones teaching those living the homosexual lifestyle why they need to change, God is going to hold us responsible.

Ezekiel’s job as watchman was to the house of Israel. At that time everyone was spiritually lost. Today, there are some pastors and leaders who need a watchman in their lives to show them that what they are teaching people about how to view and respond to the homosexual community is not right according to the Word of God.

God wants the wicked to repent and live, not perish.

Jump down to verse 11. “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live...” Do you see this ladies and gentlemen? When the wicked repents – that brings our Heavenly Father pleasure.

Jump again. This time to verse 16. “None of his sins (the wicked, in this case the homosexual, lesbian or transgender person) that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right (heard the warning and repented); he shall surely live.” I think this is so neat. Once a person repents, the Lord never mention their sins again!

The body of Christ needs watchmen – men and women who allow the love of God to develop in them to the point they see things the way God sees them, hears things the way God hears them and loves the way God loves. This is what the world needs and God has given us the honor and the privilege and the grace to do it. The decision point is ours.

How much do we love the lost?

Do we love the lost enough that we want to be watchmen? Do we want to have the responsibility of teaching the homosexuals, lesbians and transgenders that there is another life to be lived – either with our Heavenly Father or without Him? Do we love them enough not to scream at them or condemn them but simply tell them what will happen if they continue to live the way they’re living?

The watchman’s job is to sound the warning.

There will be some who will not want to hear what we have to say, and that's okay. You see, the watchman’s job is to sound the warning. That’s our job. Three words: sound the warning. We are not responsible for the person’s response. Our responsibility is very simple: deliver the warning – deliver the teaching – as to why they need to make a change.

I know that some of those who died in that tragedy, if they had had a watchmen, there’s a possibility they would have repented. A watchmen cares enough to treat people right and with respect. You can’t be a watchman for someone you’re judging and condemning. Ladies and gentlemen, never forget about all the things you have laid at the Lord’s feet and received forgiveness. Never forget.

Love people. Respect people.

You are the watchmen and some of you have children that you can train up to be watchmen. Trained them to love people first. Train them to respect people first. Train them to always treat people with love.

When I get to heaven I want my father to say “Barry, you didn’t do everything and you made a few mistakes but I'm proud of you son.” That's what I want to hear ladies and gentlemen. Please be watchmen for the body of Christ and for those who are not yet part of the family. Be watchmen. Don’t let people die on your watch!


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Satan's only hope

Sometimes sporting events are good analogies of spiritual principles. The Cincinnati Bengals’ loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the NFL playoffs is an example.

You had two teams that some believed were evenly matched. But in reality, Cincinnati was the superior team, except at the quarterback position. If you looked at their rosters, position by position and then the depth in those positions, Cincinnati – on paper – was the more talented team hands down.

When you listened to the analysts and play-by-play announcers, there was no doubt in their minds who was the better team. They talked about Cincinnati’s skilled positions (receivers, tight ends, running backs, etc.) and the speed at those positions and the overall team depth. Cincinnati would win this game even with a backup quarterback.

Pittsburgh also knew Cincinnati was the better team.

Don’t believe me? Then let’s look at Pittsburgh’s strategy.

Cincinnati had two players on defense who played with a great deal of “passion and aggressiveness.” Translation: their emotions would cause them to become reckless and make poor decisions at some point in the game.

One player was a young linebacker with a “fuse so short” he could burst into flames if, for example, he felt an opponent’s blocking was illegal and no flag is thrown.

Pittsburgh knew that.

The other player was a seasoned veteran whose life, before joining the team, was spiraling out of control because of poor off the field decisions.

Pittsburgh knew that too.

Throughout the game Pittsburgh’s offensive linemen and receivers blocked and pushed these two players – just a little past the whistle.

You could see them “jawing” (raising their voices and probably cursing) at these players – just a little past the whistle.

Everyone knows that talking is part of the game and I’m sure Pittsburgh “jawed” at all of the Cincinnati players and vice versa. But you could tell by their reactions that, at some point, the two Cincinnati players took what was being said personally.

Pittsburgh had identified their emotional buttons.

Whatever those buttons were Pittsburgh pushed them over and over again throughout the game. Why? They needed one of these players to become so focused on what was happening that he would forget about his job and the team’s game plan.

Pittsburgh used a strategy that, when executed properly, has predictable results: get into the opponent’s head and cause him to become so emotionally involved in what is happening to him that he self-destructs and hurts the team.

And it worked.

With less than 90 seconds to play and trailing 16-15, Pittsburgh starts deep in its own territory. After getting a first down, the culmination of all the “jawing” throughout the game pays off and changes the outcome of the contest.

Both the young linebacker and seasoned veteran commit 15 yard personal fouls on the same play. The 30 yards in penalties moved Pittsburgh, with seconds to play, from Cincinnati’s 47 to their 17. Pittsburgh kicked a field goal and won the game 18-16 as time expired.

The less talented team had overcome, not defeated, the more talented team.

The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t defeat the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Cincinnati Bengals lost because two players had self-destruct.

Satan, the enemy of the soul, works on the body of Christ in much the same way.

He knows that “on paper” he has no shot at victory. He knows that the life that lives in us is capable of, listen to me, never experiencing defeat. He has to convince us to ignore that life and defeat ourselves – to self-destruct – and too many of us are obliged to do so.

Some of you may remember “The Flip Wilson Show.” One of the characters he played was Geraldine. When she got caught doing something wrong her response was “The devil made me do it.” The audience would howl!

But the reality is this: Satan cannot make you do anything if you are a born again child of God. He needs your cooperation in order to make the reality he desires for you a reality in your life. And he does this by “jawing” at you every day, all day until he finds an open door into your life.

Satan wants you to do what the Cincinnati players did.

Because the referee had not addressed “their issues” during the game, the constant “jawing” and resulting frustration led to the young linebacker and the seasoned veteran acting independently and outside the rules of the game and handling things themselves. The result: 30 yards in penalties.

Satan wants you to:

  • Act independently of your Heavenly Father’s plan for you.
  • Live outside the rules of the kingdom of God, where you are always the victor.
  • Handle your business rather than trust your Heavenly Father to be your father.
Let’s look at the one area where he influences Christians the most – finances.

Let’s say that each month when the bills (monthly living expenses) are due you seem to fall short of money. You find yourself paying your bills with credit cards or even skipping some payments. You know that the Bible says “For my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19) and you want to believe it.

But Satan whispers “what the Bible says really isn’t true. After all, it hasn’t worked for you so far, has it?” “What you really need to do,” he says, “is pick up more overtime or, when push comes to shove, go out and find a second job. You have to take care of this because no one is going to help you and you don’t have time to wait on God” – you don’t have time to wait for the referee to call a penalty on the illegal block.

It’s a strategy that is as old as the Garden of Eden.

And like Eve, most of us listen to the enemy of the soul when we think “What can I do to take care of this [whatever “this” is]?” What you are really doing is following Eve’s example of unbelief: “God didn’t really mean what He said.”

Your Heavenly Father is asking you to believe that “the rules of the kingdom” will come to pass in your life if you simply trust Him. (I just heard in my spirit “Lean on me, when you’re not strong and I’ll be your friend. I’ll help you carry on.”)

Make this your confession

“I am fully persuaded – living in boundless faith – that what My Father says My Father will do.” (Acts 27:25, Romans 4:21)

One final thing.

Remember when you were growing up and another child said something you didn’t want to hear? You took your hands and covered your ears and said something like “la-la-la-la-la-la-la” until you drowned out the sound of the child’s voice.

In Matthew 21:16 Jesus asks “... Yea, have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” He had just healed the blind and the lame in the temple. What He said is more striking when you read the verse in Psalm He’s referring to.

“Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings has thou ordained strength [“perfected praise” in Matthew] because of thine enemies, that thou mightiest still the enemy and the avenger.”

The word “still” means “cause to cease or rest.” When the enemy and the avenger are “jawing” in your ears, the Bible says that our Heavenly Father has given us the strength to shut them up and drown them out if we open our mouths and raise our voices and praise and worship our Lord and Savior!

When the enemy comes, stop and take a moment to praise and worship Jesus. When you do this, the enemy will be unable to cause you to self-destruct because you are no longer focused on the situation and what he’s doing. You have your eyes squarely on Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). You have your eyes on your deliverer, your salvation!


Saturday, January 16, 2016

I would be rejected today

My pastor, Jim Martin, has given me the honor and privilege of editing the prophecies we receive in our church services during the year. I'm almost finished with 2015. The following prophecy, "I would be rejected today", was delivered on June 28 and as I read through it I felt the Lord impress upon me to share it with you. It's sobering yet encouraging. 

One of my favorite passages of scripture is 2 Timothy 2:1-2: "Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also."

I believe each of you are faithful to the call God has on your life. When you read the prophecy, if "other faithful men and women" come to mind, pray about sharing this prophecy with them. 

All of you have my respect and my love.


I would be rejected today 

There are many of you, you look around in this world and you wonder what is it coming to? And I would say to you have you not read My Word? For if you’ve read My Word you [would] know what it’s coming to. Just read the book of Revelation. You know what it’s coming to.

So many of you feel great disappointment in things that are done within the governments of nations. But I would have you know that if you feel great disappointment, how much do you think I feel? You truly do not know how bad things are.

I want you to think about what happened when I came to earth.

  • I was born there.
  • I grew up there.
  • Then I began to minister.
  • I healed many, many, many people.
  • Miraculously I fed thousands of people.
  • I calmed storms.
  • I cast out devils.
  • Healings took place that people said could not take place.
  • Miracles happened.

I did all of these things in public, not in private. People saw what happened and yet, as you read, you see I was rejected.

I would ask you, what do you think would happen if I were to come back to earth now in My body? How do you think I would be received in your nation? If they rejected Me 2000 years ago, do you not understand I would be rejected today?

There are some who believe “Oh, if only Jesus were here to where people could see Him, they would believe.” Do you honestly think that is true? Oh there are some who would believe. But I want you to know, listen closely to Me, if I were to manifest in your nation, in My body, and if I were to do more good works as I did the first time that I was on earth – I would not be elected your president.

And there are those in the Church who would not even vote for Me. Some of them would say “But Christians have no business being involved in politics.” And yet there I would be, the king of kings, rejected again.

You are in a very bad situation. You cannot see the depth of the corruption, but I can. And I want you to know that one by one I’ve watched as those who are a part of My body are falling away. They’re turning on Me, departing and they’ll never be recovered. The number of those who are standing strong in Me is dwindling.

But I want you to think about what I said. Did not I say as it was in the days of Noah it would be the same at the end? What happened in the days of Noah? One by one those who yielded to Me, cried unto Me, [and] lived for Me died until Noah was the only one left. The same is happening today.

You’ve heard much preached about a remnant in the last days. You have no idea how true that is.

I need you to be strong in Me.

I need you to be strong in Me.

I need you to lay down your own agendas, to lay down religious traditions [and] completely sell out to who I am and to My Word.

I need you fully committed to Me so that I can work through you and together we will reach those who can still be reached, for there are millions, millions on earth who can still be harvested into My kingdom.

Let not your heart be troubled. I warned you that in this world you would have tribulation. And things are going to get worse. But did I not say that I have left My peace with you? My peace will sustain you through anything that happens. My peace will strengthen you to face whatever comes up. And so I want you to know My hand is upon you. My hand is upon this place.

Yes like you I would like to see more people here but I cannot force anyone to do anything. But I will work with those who are committed. And I will work with those who are dedicated. And I will bring things to pass that you have not yet seen.

My glory will rise among you. I will be known in your midst and you will glow with My glory in the realm of the spirit in this region. And even the devils will take note and tremble at the potential that you represent. So continue to press into Me and know you are not alone for I am there with you, says the Lord. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Noah and the Flood (Part 3) – The Family's Promise

It's been nearly three years since I first began reading the Genesis account of the flood. I can't tell you the number of times I've read Genesis 6-9. Each time the Lord has pulled back a little more of the curtain to help me see and understand the account in a way I never imagined. 

He is developing an image in me of the story that I'm still praying out. I hesitate to use the word "story" because this is not fiction. It is a spiritually-inspired retelling of the Scriptural account. 

What you are about to read is what the Lord is birthing in me. I have no idea how long the process will take. I'm not in charge. I'm simply the vessel that is blessed to be used and I am looking forward to the journey. 

Noah sits and now his family sits. He looks at his sons. “How long has it been now Shem? A hundred years?” He looks at them and says, “Time passes and you forget a lot of things, and sometimes that’s a good thing.” They are nodding their heads in agreement. “But what the Lord did 100 years ago, I will never forget. How about you boys?” You could hear them say “No sir,” almost in unison.

Noah looks at his family. His face is stern. He slowly rises from his seat. He takes his staff in his right hand and slowly points to his family. It’s almost as if he’s following an invisible line from on one side of the meadow to the other. 

“And I don’t want you to forget either.” His voice is firm and commanding and increases with each admonition. “I tell this story year after year because when I’m gone, I want you to tell this story to your children and to your grandchildren and to their grandchildren!” 

He’s now pounding his staff, up and down, on the stone slab and it startles some of the little ones. They're crying as they rush into their mother's arms. The older children, who have heard the story many times before were talking and laughing. They are quiet now and looking at grandpa. He has their full attention.

“And when you’re gone I want your children to tell this story to their children and to their grandchildren,” he says, as he continues to pound his staff on the stone slab. He looks at the staff as he’s about to pound it again and stops. The tears are starting to flow freely again. He closes his eyes and breathes slowly to let the emotions pass. 

“This story,” he says slowly, deliberately and slightly above a whisper, “will not die with me. Do you hear me? It – will – not – die – with – me!" He looks at Shem, then Ham and then Japheth and says, "Promise me this! Promise me!” 

His family is silent. The seriousness of the occasion is sinking in – again. In the silence, Shem stands. All eyes are now focused on him. He looks at Ham and Japheth and nods and they slowly stand. “You have our word father,” he says. The eldest son has spoken for the family.

Noah takes a moment to look at his family and then he sits. He closes his eyes just for a moment and then looks up toward heaven and sighs. "The story must be told again Lord," he says in a soft whisper as he wipes away the last of the tears. He will tell it again because, for Noah, it’s a story of necessity.

To be continued

Monday, August 24, 2015

Noah and the Flood (Part 2)

It's been nearly three years since I first began reading the Genesis account of the flood. I can't tell you the number of times I've read Genesis 6-9. Each time the Lord has pulled back a little more of the curtain to help me see and understand the account in a way I never imagined. 

He is developing an image in me of the story that I'm still praying out. I hesitate to use the word "story" because this is not fiction. It is a spiritually-inspired retelling of the Scriptural account. 

What you are about to read is what the Lord is birthing in me. I have no idea how long the process will take. I'm not in charge. I'm simply the vessel that is blessed to be used and I am looking forward to the journey. 

Shem, Ham and Japheth worked on the boulder off and on for nearly a year. They were determined to have it ready by the time their father told the story again. 

Noah slowly sits down on the stone, which is layered with fresh hay and blankets. His sons want him to be as comfortable as possible because they know he will not rush the telling of the story -- a story they know first hand and oh so well.

Noah pauses before he sits. He smiles as he looks at his family, who will remain standing until he takes his place on the stone seat. The Lord has blessed him. He had told Noah, his sons and all the animals to be fruitful and multiply – to have lots and lots of children. 

”Make me happy Noah,” the Lord said, "by filling the earth with people again. And be sure to tell them why I commanded you to do this.” "Yes sir," Noah says to himself, again.

Noah knew the Lord was entrusting him with something very sacred. He would be the keeper of the record of mankind's destruction and, most importantly, of mankind's rebirth and redemption. 

"Noah, I will never again destroy the whole earth with flood waters," the Lord said. "Listen to me Noah. The time of this judgment has passed. I am going to make a covenant with man and the animals. From this day forward I promise you that mankind will never be destroyed from the face of earth with flood waters again. You have My word.

"And Noah, when you see clouds forming in the sky, just remember My covenant with man and the animals. I am going to do a new thing. Water will fall from those clouds to nourish your crops and cause plants and trees to grow and it will provide drinking water for you and the animals."   

Noah smiles and shakes his head. It seems that every year, just when he's about to tell the story, the Lord reminds him of this promise. He knows that without the promise there would be no story to tell.

The family is patiently waiting on its patriarch. Everyone knows he is about to pray so they're standing. They are still. They are quiet with eyes closed and heads bowed. Everyone in the meadow is holding someones' hand. The little ones look up at their mothers and fathers and then close their eyes and bow their heads too.

Noah thinks to himself and chuckles and again he looks at his family. “Well, Lord, take a look at what your blessings have produced.” At that moment a gentle breeze sweeps through the meadow as if the Lord is replying, “Noah, you did well, my friend. You did well.”

Noah, balancing himself with both hands on his staff, pauses and looks up toward heaven and he thinks about the promise the Lord made when the dirt was again loose and dusty on his feet. 

“Lord, this family, the one you’ve blessed, has gathered together again," Noah says. "You've kept your promises to me. I knew you would. Our families have grown and each year we spend this time together to honor you. Lord, I have no words to express how deeply thankful and humbled I am because of what you have done for my family.

“But so many died in the waters Lord, and they didn’t have too. My heart still aches. But you know that already, don't you? We all lost family in those waters.” He pauses and breathes deeply. “But, I imagine your heart aches more,” he says slowly and barely above a whisper.

Noah feels tears running down his cheeks. He takes a moment, bows his head to wipe them away. “I’ve told this story each year for more than one hundred years,” he thinks to himself. “Why am I so tore up about telling it again? Why am I still crying after all this time? It’s been one hundred years for God’s sake.” 

He again pauses and breathes deeply. He slowly raises his head and glances at his sons. They are brushing away tears too. Their wives are crying softly and rocking back and forth. Shem and Japheth’s wives are holding newborns. Noah’s beloved is looking down at her hands. He knows his wife is wiping away tears too.

Noah continues to pray. 

"Lord, we owe you everything and that's why we spend this time together. We want the young ones to know that they are a part of this story and they are part of the blessings that you spoke to us all those years ago. 

"This story, Lord, will be told from generation to generation as a memorial to your great love and mercy for man. Lord, again, we owe you everything. You are our God. You are our God. Amen."

Everyone says, "Amen."

(To be continued)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Noah and the Flood (Part 1)

It's been nearly three years since I first began reading the Genesis account of the flood. I can't tell you the number of times I've read Genesis 6-9. Each time the Lord has pulled back a little more of the curtain to help me see and understand the account in a way I never imagined. 

He is developing an image in me of the story that I'm still praying out. I hesitate to use the word "story" because this is not fiction. It is a spiritually-inspired retelling of the Scriptural account. 

What you are about to read is what the Lord is birthing in me. I have no idea how long the process will take. I'm not in charge. I'm simply the vessel that is blessed to be used and I am looking forward to the journey. 

It was a nice breezy morning. Noah was sitting under the tent’s awning and watching his grandchildren. He had great grandchildren. He had great, great grandchildren. He had great, great, great grandchildren. (I could go on but this would really slow down the telling of this story.) The older ones were playing games; some of the younger ones were playing what looked like a game of tag while others watched their fathers feed the animals.

Noah smiles. He begins to daydream.

It has been more than 100 hundred years since he and his family and the animals had left the ark. He still remembers the grinding sound the doors made as the Lord opened them more than a year after He had closed them. Everyone, including the animals, stood in amazement watching the doors open by themselves. It took nearly a half an hour for the doors to open completely and seconds for the air from the outside rushed in. It smelled so sweet. It felt wonderful to the skin. But oh was it cold!

Noah remembers how orderly the animals had been during the days when they walked into the ark. But now, it was all he and his family could do to get out of the way of the stampede as the animals, in all their excitement, made a mad dash for the outdoors.

The animals missed the outdoors – just like Noah and his family.

The ark had been their home – their sanctuary, their covering – for more than a year. As they left the ark, Noah and his family saw a world they didn’t recognize. There was a newness. Or was it simply, he mused, a restoration? It looked nothing like the world they had seen every day while building the ark. All of the buildings were gone. The familiar landmarks were gone. The rivers somehow seemed to be out of place. They were flowing in a different direction.

That’s when it really hit him: the old world is gone.

This new world was empty. There was a sense of sadness as he looked at his wife, his sons and their wives. There is only eight of us now, he thought to himself. Eight of us. No other people. Just animals and fish – lots and lots of fish. A thought that causes Noah to smile.

But what he noticed most was the noise. The noise seemed to be amplified. Not only could he feel the breeze of the wind and smell its freshness – Noah could hear it. It seems like his ears were hearing anything that moved. The rustling of the leaves. The ground cracking under his feet as he walked. The water beating against the rocks as it hurried down from the mountains. The distinctive sounds of the insects. He could even hear the ark as it settled into the ground. And the chirping of the birds – man were they loud!

He remembers yelling “Thank you Lord!” and hearing his words echo far into the distance. “Thank you Lord, Lord, Lord, Lord.” The Lord was right; the human race was starting over.

One hundred years, he thinks to himself. “My God, has it really been that long?” Noah turns his head towards the mountains of Ararat. He sees the hull of the ark. It is still fully intact. The vegetation is beginning to cover most of it. Noah thinks to himself “Pretty soon we will not be able to see it and no one will know it’s there.” After all this time he still looks at the ark in amazement. “We built that. Me and my boys,” he thinks with a sense of satisfaction and also a sense of great sadness.

“The ark,” he sighs and says in a soft whisper. “It was built for so many, so many. Why didn’t they listen to me?” It’s a question that still haunts him. For 100 years he talked about the coming destruction. For 100 years he pleaded with his family to repent and join him. But they refused to believe that the world they knew would be ending.

Noah was a preacher of righteousness but the people only heard the rantings of a crazy man, a fool. Who, in their right mind, would believe God was going to destroy the world? They refused to believe that outside the ark there would only be death. Even his sons were not thoroughly convinced.

A hand touches his shoulder. Noah looks up and sees his wife and smiles. He always smiles when he sees his beloved. That’s what he calls her: my beloved. “It’s time,” she says. Noah turns to his right and sees his family walking toward the open meadow. Most were already gathered there and seated.

For the past 100 years, the family has gathered together to hear great, great, great grandpa Noah tell the story about the old world and why God judged it. The little ones, especially, get really quiet when he talks about what it was like to live with all the animals on the ark. (Noah will never admit it, but that’s his favorite part too.)

Noah gets up slowly from his seat, staff in hand. He doesn’t move as quickly as he used too. His steps are a little more deliberate. After all, he is 701 years old now and he’s not as spry as he was a hundred years ago. He chuckles to himself just thinking about it.

By the time he arrives, Noah’s sons – Shem, Ham and Japheth – have gotten everyone seated. It seems like every inch of the meadow – as far as the eyes could see – is covered with people, blankets and animals. As Noah walks toward his seat, Shem gently takes his right arm and Japheth his left. They steady their father as he makes his way up the slight incline toward his seat.

His sons had chiseled a huge boulder into a flat block of stone for their father about three feet high and four feet long. As Noah told the story the first time, they could see the difficulty he had standing, even when leaning upon his staff. Noah finished the story that day sitting on a mound that was slightly elevated but everyone couldn’t see him.

Shem, Ham and Japheth worked on the boulder off and on for nearly a year. They were determined to have it ready by the time their father told the story again. Noah slowly sat down on the stone, which was layered with fresh hay and blankets. His sons wanted him to be as comfortable as possible because they knew he would not rush the telling of the story – a story they knew first hand and oh so well.

(To be continued)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Adam opened the door to homosexuality

For many years I've said that a person is not born into this world as a homosexual. The Bible says God created the human race male and female and that’s what I believe.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness … So God created man in his image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Gen. 1:26a, 27)

The Bible says God formed, made and created individuals who were total opposites physically, biologically and, in many ways, mentally. (I use “biologically” because it communicates, at least to me, a salient point – birth that is natural. When we are born into this world, male or female, that is who we are born to be.)

Are we limited in how we think about homosexuality?

Even though I know, understand and believe what the Bible says about homosexuality, I’m finding it difficult to dismiss out of hand, or minimize the feelings of people who genuinely believe they were born homosexual.

That’s not to say that I am in any way sympathetic on the one hand or indifferent on the other. Let me be clear: I am not. I am simply saying that perhaps our frame of reference for understanding why a person believes he was born a homosexual is limited.

What we see, observe and hear in the natural is a result of what has taken place, is taking place or will take place in the realm of the spirit. According to the Bible, actions in the spirit result in actions in the natural.

One only needs to look at Genesis 1 to see that God, who is spirit, spoke the world and its original inhabitants, except man, into existence. Man was God’s masterpiece, or as Eph. 2:10 puts it – his workmanship. God formed him. God made him. God created him. In other words, God was intimately involved in bringing man into existence.

The more I read, study and meditate the Scriptures, the more I see God’s fingerprint in the specificity of the language. God is never ambiguous. What He says He means.

Our understanding of why a person believes he is born homosexual must be examined in light of what the Bible says, in particular, Genesis 3 and 6.

Eve, “an help meet for” Adam

There is a phrase that exemplifies the exactness and precision of God’s use of language. It is only used twice – in only one book and in only one chapter of that book.

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet for him. (Gen. 2:18)

“…but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.(Gen. 2:20)

While the word “help” is used in several other passages in the Bible, it is only used with “meet for” in these two verses. Together, the words “help meet for” describe a person who is suitable, adapted and complementary for another person.

The word “meet” is used nowhere else in the Bible. When combined with the word “for” – a marker of comparison – it indicates, in this case, Eve’s likeness (not exactness) to Adam. Eve was not a replica of Adam; she was similar to him.

The Bible drives home the differences between them in verse 23 of the same chapter. God is making it crystal clear how we are to understand the phrase “an help meet for.”

“And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman (isha), because she was taken out of Man (ish).”

God used Adam’s DNA to make Eve, his help meet. He used ish to make isha. Eve was physically and biologically similar to her husband; she was a part of him. But she was also different from him. If this were not so, why the distinction ish and isha?

At this point, we see the godly design for the relationship between the husband and wife – they were to be “one flesh” (verse 24).

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

God formed man and He took part of man and made woman for him. (Some may take offense at my wording “made woman for him,” but that’s what the Bible says.) Adam and Eve were husband and wife. They were similar in design yet uniquely different in function.

Sidebar: If God is this meticulous in showing us the connectedness of the first husband and wife, doesn’t it stand to reason that, even today, every “Adam” has an “Eve” that God knows is best suited for him and every “Eve” has an “Adam” that God knows is best suited for her?

Why the uniqueness?

One reason the man is to be permanently glued to (cleave) his wife is for the purpose of having children. God makes this clear in Genesis 1:28.

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply…”

God wanted Adam and Eve to populate the Earth with children – beings who were similar to themselves yet distinctively different. In God’s plan, only a husband and wife are to produce offspring. In God’s plan, only a husband and wife have the unique differences that make producing offspring possible.

But Adam’s rebellion to God’s expressed commandment (Gen. 2:16-17) changed all of that. Adam’s blatant disregard in Genesis 3 for the “Word of God” had a devastating and chilling effect on creation.

All of this is background for viewing being born homosexual from a biblical foundation that begins in the book of Genesis.

Adam gives Satan access to creation

When Adam ignored God’s direct and clear prohibition to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he unleashed into creation a death producing spiritual typhoon so indescribable, so horrible and so destructive that it forever corrupted the genetic code of every living thing on planet Earth.

For the first time in history, creation was no longer subject to the spiritual life of a son of God. Its new spiritual “ruler” thrived on death and destruction. Satan now had something he didn’t have before the fall – influence and power in this world through the sin nature. Everything he is could now be released upon creation unhindered and without opposition.

Remember how Jesus describes Satan in John 8:44?

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

Satan lies. The Bible says the Body of Christ needs to know how he operates (2 Cor. 2:11). When you read Galatians 5:19-21, for example, you are reading verses that describe who Satan is. He is the “works of the flesh” and the reason why they are manifesting on Earth.

Satan is:
  • an adulterer
  • a fornicator
  • promiscuous
  • a prostitute
  • filthy
  • religion
  • cults
  • a witch
  • a warlock
  • unforgiveness
  • hostility
  • a drunk
  • strife
  • contention
  • division
  • jealousy
  • anger
  • a schemer
  • a self-promoter
  • dissension
  • rebellion
  • the false prophet
  • the false teacher
  • homosexual
This is the “thing” that Adam let loose on creation in Genesis 3. His evil is measureless, his knowledge of man is vast and his wisdom is corrupted. And only knows how to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).

Corruption produced the opportunity

As I examine homosexual behavior through the lens of what happened as a result of Genesis 3, it’s clear to me that Adam’s disobedience corrupted man's way of thinking – his very thought processes. More devastating though was the fact that it blew the doors wide open for Satan’s unbridled deception upon man’s soul.

Corrupted thinking

With the corruption of creation and the introduction of the sin nature, the "wiring" in our brains was corrupted and made exponentially more susceptible to Satan’s ungodly influences.

We know that we are spirit beings who have a soul and live in a body. Satan is a spirit and the father of lies and has complete access to our spirits, souls and bodies through the sin nature until we are born again.

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5)

The only avenue Satan has available to him to weave his deception into our lives are our thoughts. This applies not only to the person with a sin nature but also to the person who has the life of God. This is the reason the Bible repeatedly tells us to guard our thoughts.

Enter the homosexual spirit

Earlier I said that even though I know, understand and believe what the Bible says about homosexual behavior, I’m finding it difficult to dismiss out of hand, or minimize the feelings of people who genuinely believe they were born homosexual. I know from Scripture this is not true. Then, what is the truth?

Remember the list from Galatians 5:19-21 that identifies who Satan is? The last thing on the list, out of order by the way, was that Satan is homosexual. This really shouldn’t be a surprise and the reason why it’s so important that society believes homosexuality is a natural occurrence. It keeps him hidden. It keeps him under the radar.

In Genesis 3 he had “likeminded” devils who were like rabid dogs on a leash waiting to be turned loose. They were set free when Adam rebelled. These homosexual devils have been attacking and “ripping to shreds” their unsuspecting prey ever since.

What does a homosexual spirit have to use to deceive people? They have the same avenue for entering a person’s life as their master – thoughts.

Let’s think about this strategically. If you want to inoculate someone with a homosexual mindset, when would be the most opportune time to do so? The absolute best time is when he is a child – when he is the most “teachable.”

If a homosexual spirit can enter into a child’s thoughts at age three or four or even earlier, and “teach” him “line up line, precept upon precept” the homosexual lifestyle, is it possible that the child would believe he was actually born a homosexual? 

Notice how I phrased the question. Satan is very methodical, strategic and cunning in how he introduces “the works of the flesh” into our lives (Eph. 6:11). He doesn’t care how long the inoculation process takes because he is determined to do whatever it takes to rob us of an eternity in presence of Love.

So what's my point? It is possible for a person to be born into this world with a mind that is more open and susceptible to the whispering of a homosexual spirit because of the sin nature. (This same possibility would apply to anyone who is a habitual liar, a smoker, an alcoholic, who watches pornography, commits adultery, steals, etc.)

A glimpse into the homosexual inoculation

A few years ago an evangelist told of a young man who attended one of her meetings. At the end of the service he came up for prayer. He whispered to her that he had been a practicing homosexual for more than 20 years and that wanted to be free.

He told the evangelist that he had begun having dreams of homosexual men when he was about three years old. In his dreams, the men would come into his room, dance and play with him, and “touch” each other. With each dream they became bolder. When he was five years old they would take off their clothes and tell him to “touch” them.

When he told his father about his dreams and how the men were undressing and “touching” each other and then telling him to “touch” them, his father dismissed them as nothing more than dreams. He told the evangelist that after talking with his father and seeing his response, he thought that his dreams were – now listen to me – natural.  

Sometime later, in addition to taking off their clothes, the men had him take off his clothes and join them in “touching” each other. By the time he was 12 years old the young man said he was having sex with the men in his dreams.

Satan doesn’t care about people.

Homosexual spirits were in his dreams – when he was the most vulnerable. Satan turned these devils loose on a child. We need to understand this. He doesn’t care about people, young or old. All he wants is company in the lake of fire. Jesus told us that he was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44).

A different level of understanding

Now that we have a glimpse into how Satan promotes and spreads spiritual death through homosexuality, perhaps we will view the struggles of those trapped in this sin with a little more compassion and a little less condemnation.

Perhaps we will be better able to see them through our Father’s eyes – the lost and broken who need to be loved and who need to hear about the only grace that saves and the only blood that cleanses sin.

Then all they have to do is bow the knee to Jesus and say, “Jesus, I’m so sorry. I want you to be my lord and savior. I want to spend eternity with you. Please forgive me and make me clean.”

This is where my heart is. I don’t want the enemy of the soul to win this battle. I want every homosexual delivered and saved and part of the family.