Monthly Archives: October 2010

Kingdom Prayer: Invasion (Part 4 of 6)

Obviously, you are no longer crouching in your foxhole or sitting behind the walls of a city under siege. You may be asking, “What do we do now?” The answer is we invade enemy territory through the warfare of prayer. Kingdom prayer expects to take any area, circumstance, or situation held presently under the kingdom of darkness, and transfers it to the kingdom of light. By praying “Thy kingdom come,” we are forcefully advancing the kingdom of God.

Invasion is the forceful entry into a territory with hostile intent for the purpose of taking possession of something. Take an assessment of your life right now. Is there any area where God does not rule? If so that is enemy territory and it must become battleground if you ever intend to conquer it. If you think the devil will wave a white flag without a fight, you are sadly mistaken. You must wade ashore in this area and plant the flag of God’s kingdom. You must go with the hostile intent of taking possession of what is currently held by a well-armed enemy. This may be your marriage, one of your kids, a work situation, a personal struggle, an addiction or habit, or an emotional or spiritual wound. Whatever it is, this territory is flying the enemy’s flag, and in Jesus name that flag must come down.

Whatever the situation is pray “Thy kingdom come,” and place your feet squarely in the midst of the problem and stand firm. This is invasion. The ground you stand on is battleground and must be fought for. You must establish a beach head from which you can move inland. The key is taking the first step out of the dark water swirling around you and planting your feet firmly on the contested ground.

This takes total commitment. There is no giving up at this point. If you do, the enemy will not only take back your foothold, but he will also push you back into the blackness and drown you. If you have a plan B to fall back on, you will not succeed.

You must be focused. This is war—kill or be killed. Your sole purpose is to destroy any enemy that blocks your path with the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus.

As you secure that foothold, you are establishing the rule of King Jesus in that tiny area of your life. From there you will expand the battle and extend His rule. This is where you must begin to use the spiritual armor of Ephesians 6 and stop modeling it like you are in some kind of spring fashion show. The enemy will not give up an inch. You must take it—you must exercise the authority of Jesus Christ and take dominion.

Well, you know what to do. That grinding sound you hear is the door of the landing craft beginning to open. Make sure your sword is ready. When the door drops, scream at the top of your lungs and don’t stop running or swinging until your reach solid ground. I’ll see you later on shore…that is, if you keep praying

Kingdom Prayer: Going on the Offensive (Part 3 of 6)

The only thing worse than the foxhole mentality, is the besieged mentality. There’s no doubt that the church has shut her gates, stored up her food, gathered her subjects to safety, and clamped down the padlocks, hoping to wait until the enemy gives up and returns to his kingdom. The only problem is the church has been planted smack dab in the center of the enemy’s land.

The besieged mentality says “save yourself and don’t worry about anything or anyone else.” It is the “to heck with the world—it’s headed to hell in a hand-basket anyway” mentality. This is a defensive posture—wait and see—don’t shoot unless shot at kind of mindset. It is one of those “whatever you do, don’t draw any attention to yourself” ideals.

The problem with this defensive posture is that sooner or later the devastating effects of a spiritual siege take on the same deadly results as a historical siege. A city under siege was faced with famine and starvation. There was no way to replenish food supplies. Water supplies soon ran out and thirst began to take its toll. Disease and plague wasted the inhabitants. Cannibalism for survival soon ruled. The weak and young disappeared first, and those who had any means soon resorted to bribery, willing to make any deal to survive.

That, my dear friend, is a picture of many churches in America. We have allowed the enemy to come out from behind the gates of hell and we have run to our little cities on a hill and closed our gates. He is eating our inheritance and drinking the new wine of our vineyards, and we are surviving on empty fluff and faithlessness.

The time has come to stop playing defense and go on the offensive. Defense means you try and hold on to what you’ve got. Just a note: Jesus told us to give it away not hold on to it. Offense means you take something—you score early and you score often. Eventually, a besieged defense will make a deal and the only deal available from our enemy is slavery. Defense is a recipe for disaster. The only choice we have is to play offense. We are at war. If we remain on defense we will disappear.

Open the gates to your safe little compound and join me with Jesus. He came the first time to destroy the works of the devil. He invaded the kingdom of darkness to destroy it—to conquer it—not to leave it for us to defend in little denominational subdivisions. It’s time to drive the destroyer back into his hole and lay siege to it.

The way we do this is through prayer—kingdom prayer. To do this you must first make the decision to move from being a defensive player to an offensive player. You must declare war and fix your bayonets and charge. If you choose to remain behind the safety of your city walls you will become a slave in a grave and there you will probably die awaiting your deliverer. He probably won’t come because He is busy leading our charge against the gates of hell

Kingdom Prayer: The Poison of Passivity (Part 2 of 6

Jesus said, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10:1). This statement clearly defines the borders of two opposite and opposing kingdoms. One kingdom is a land of death and the other, a land of life. One is ruled by Satan and the other by God. One is filled with darkness and the other, bathed in unimaginable light. Every situation or circumstance we find ourselves in has the potential to push us out of one and into the other.

We have a choice—to live an annihilated life where we are constantly being destroyed or an abundant life where we are forcefully advancing in victory. We were born into the first, but Jesus has given us the second, but we have to take possession of it. The choice is ours, and our belief system will determine what we do. We can remain passive and go along to get along. Or, we can become militant and reach out and take what is ours by spiritual inheritance. It all depends on how we pray.

Most of us have been taught to pray very passive prayers—“If it’s your will?” The mainstream faith of the Western Church is a very passive mediocre flavor or what was once a kingdom-killing, serpent-stomping, cultural-crushing militant faith. The Christianity we have today sounds similar to the original, but acts nothing like it. It has taken a defensive posture rather than an offensive one.

Many believers are convinced we have to hunker down and stay low in our foxhole. That is, Jesus is coming back (and He truly is), and if we just hold on, we will escape the desolation and impending doom. For certain, it will get worse, but Jesus never told us to hold on or dig a fox hole and wait on Him to rescue us. His mentality was more the gates of hell will not prevail. Last time I looked, gates keep things in or out—they do not go on invasive assaults. Could it be we are crouching in foxholes, fearing an attack of the enemy and the enemy is sitting in the same foxhole next to us, wondering how long it will be before we realize whose we are and get a backbone and go on the offensive?

Our prayers have become passive because we have become passive. Passive people pray passive prayers, and passive prayers rarely get answered because they are usually very general in nature. We are fearful of praying specific prayers because the devil has convinced us that God won’t answer them.

Hello…let me tell you a secret the enemy does not want you to know. God loves it when you pray specifically. Specific prayers have specific answers, and when they are answered there is no doubt God answered. Kingdom prayer is the specific prayer of a warrior who is tired of living in a foxhole. Kingdom prayer is purposeful, not passive.

Kingdom Prayer: Re-discovering a New Realm (Part 1 of 6)

The disciples of Jesus never asked Him to teach them how to preach, teach, heal, or cast out demons; they requested that He teach them to pray. The reason; when Jesus prayed He got results every time. Some might say His success lay in the fact that He was God. He was God, but most people neglect the fact that He was also man. In fact, I would argue His success in prayer had nothing to do with the God part and all to do with the man part.

Jesus promised His disciples that they would do the things He had done and even greater things. How could this be if all the things He did were the result of His being God? You or I will never be God, and if we follow that logic, we will never do the things He did (makes me wonder which logic the church is following). Everything Jesus did was the result of being a man fully surrendered to God and filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus came to fulfill Adam’s original mandate, and in doing so, He provided each of us with the opportunity to do all that He did and even more.

Jesus responded by giving them a model prayer (Matt. 6:9-13) from which they could build a life of prayer. All the elements of a balanced prayer are there—praise, petition, confession, and intercession. Jesus’ intention was not that it be memorized and mindlessly repeated from rote; rather, His desire was for us to learn to pray from it much like many of us learned to read from the Dick and Jane books.

Jesus came praying God’s kingdom come, as well as preaching His kingdom was in their midst. The kingdom exists wherever the King is enthroned. It is future, but it is also right now. You and I have the opportunity to bring the kingdom of God to bear in any situation or circumstance we face. It resides in us and can flow out of us as we pray and practice the life and work of Jesus on a daily basis. But, we must re-discover and learn anew what Jesus taught His disciples—prayer is warfare.

How is your prayer-life? Is it passionate and powerful or impotent and inactive? Are your prayers being answered, or do they seem to fall on deaf ears as they bounce off brass heavens? If you find some inconsistencies and frustrations, join me for a few weeks and we will take a walk into a new realm of prayer—kingdom prayer.

Frazzled, Fried, and Fixed at the Fair

“Everyone needs a little time away or so they say.” I think those words are a part of a Paul McCartney song. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”…a nursery rhyme maybe? I know one thing; I need some time off when I start thinking in song lyrics and children’s poems. At that point of mental exhaustion, who knows what may pop into my mind and then out of my mouth? That can be hazardous for a pastor. So, I took Sir Paul’s advice and checked out for a few hours Thursday afternoon and went to the State Fair.

You might be wondering, “What in the name of all that’s sacred would possess you to go to the State Fair? You certainly can’t rest there.” And…you would be right—it’s not a place to sit and meditate. But then again, who said I needed to meditate? Sometimes you just to get away from everything that reminds you of what you do all the time and have a little fun. Besides, most Christians are a little too stiff (rigger mortise) and take themselves far too serious, if you know what I mean.

The State Fair is like stepping into the transporter on the star ship Enterprise and telling Scotty to beam you up. Once inside, I was transported back in time. The smell of Italian sausage, onions, and green peppers sizzling on the grill, hot asphalt simmering in the late evening sun, funnel cakes frying in God only knows what kind of grease, and prize livestock doing what only livestock can do took me back in time thirty-five plus years to another time and another place. “Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind. Sweetened through the ages just like wine”…uh oh, here come the songs lyrics again.

O.K., back to reality, and the reality was I had missed lunch. The Fair is not a safe or economical destination when your appetite is out of control. Strolling hand-in-hand up and down the Midway, we fantasized about what we would eat, munching on a free Southern hors d’oeuvre—a homemade biscuit filled with syrup—as we considered the diversity of the delicacies.

With Steppenwolf’s Born to Be Wild blaring from a ride like elevator Muzak on steroids, we finally settled on corn-on-the-cob dipped in decadent butter, an Italian sausage heavy on mustard and onions, Bops custard, a funnel cake with two scoops of Bavarian crème , and a bottle of water. What a supper! We spent my whole check on the meal, sat in a tent next to a couple of heavily tattooed and pierced women—or men—I don’t know which, and committed gastric suicide.

Light-headed from the grease, we walked through the games of chance or, as I like to call them the games of no chance. “Let me guess your age or your weight—you could be a winner,” shouted an ole boy with a microphone as we tried to slip by. I’m thinking, “Come on buddy, give me a break. There’s no way I’m gonna give you five dollars to tell me that I’m an overweight fat guy sailing through mid-life over the loud speaker for everyone in the state to hear.”

You may wonder where I’m going. Nowhere! That’s the point. Not everything has to be Black Berried, calendared, or notated on a to-do list to be worth doing. Sometimes, you simply need to take a couple of hours and walk through the livestock pavilion and take a couple of deep breaths of what real life smells like. Oh, by the way, pay attention where you step or you may take more of the Fair home with you than you want.

Well, enough of this tale of wonderment and back to the real world. As I lay my head down on the pillow to sleep, my stomach is gently reminding me that the dreams of this day will soon turn to a night of mares.

A word to the wise—live a little, laugh a lot, and eat a few things you’ll be sorry for later.

Committing Sacred Cow…icide

A friend sent me an email a couple of days ago and called me an iconoclast. I’d seen the word in the past, but had no idea what it meant, so I looked it up in Webster’s, just in case it was a name I didn’t need to repeat. An iconoclast is a destroyer of religious images set up for veneration or one who attacks cherished beliefs or traditional institutions as being based in error and superstition. In other words, I am a slayer of sacred cows—a lethal assassin of holy hamburger meat.

We are all familiar with sacred cows. They come in all shapes and sizes, bearing both denominational and non-denominational brands. If you belong to a church, there’s probably a large herd leisurely grazing at this very moment in the sanctuary, worship center, shrine, inner sanctum, or whatever you call it. These blessed bovines also love to chew their cud in the hallways, baptisteries, fellowship halls, and vestibules. In fact, there are so many sacred cows in most churches that many pastors are getting rich off the fertilizer that’s being produced, packaged, promoted, and sold for profit.

Many labor past the point of spiritual starvation to keep their precious golden calves alive and wonder why their hearts are dry and their buildings are empty. Sacred cows were never meant to be worshipped; they were meant to be slaughtered. They are gourmet fodder for the gas grill—jumbo burgers for the charcoal.

Now, before you click me off and disappear into the dark mist of the world-wide web, humor me for a few more sentences. Early on, God made it painfully clear that He was unwilling to compete with anything for our worship. He was so clear He wrote it in stone with His own finger so that the print wouldn’t get smudged and Moses wouldn’t misspell a word. And I quote here, “You (that’s you and me) will have no other god (that’s little ‘g’) before me.” Literally, God said, “You will put nothing (that’s no thing) in My face.”

While Moses was getting God’s directions for a “no bull” zone, the rest of his family was doing the Texas Two Step and the Electric Slide around a holy heifer that would soon reproduce itself into the herd from hell I’m describing today.

I could give you concrete examples, but why should I if you’re the cowboy riding herd on a little group of these damnable doggies? Here’s a word to the wise—take a sledge hammer, swing it as hard as you can, and hit every one you meet right between the eyes. When the beast drops to its knees, cut its throat. Your first time will be difficult, but I promise, it gets easier with practice…trust me.

And best of all, most of these USDA sanctified beefs are sleek and fat—corn-fed beauties. Take it from an iconoclast: This will be some of the most succulent steak you’ll ever put in your mouth.

Pursuit and Possibilities

Susie seemed resigned to the inevitable. She lay on her side with her big brown eyes half closed, her breathes coming in slow shallow spurts. Again and again, a contraction would grip her little body, it would quiver, and a tiny beagle puppy would enter the world. I’ll never forget those amazing moments huddled in the dark corner of a little doghouse with my brother, as we watched with a reverent awe the miracle of birth unfold.

Those moments in the shadows of that doghouse had a profound effect on me. They were the genesis moments of an awakening to a God who was real and intricately involved in His creation. I watched in wonder, as life pushed its way out from behind the thick curtains of mystery and onto center stage, as it fought like a gladiator for a place to exist—to stand—to live—to be. I watched with reverence, I dreamed with imagination, and I determined to know this God if it were possible.

Susie survived her ordeal several more times, but that little boy with the short cropped hair, brown tan and black high-top Keds was ruined forever. He was rendered undone, messed up, and I still am, as I struggle to pursue a God who is relentless in His pursuit of me. With the Hound of heaven at nipping at my heels, I have found myself thrust into a realm I cannot comprehend. It is a supernatural place where He desires all of us to walk with confidence in our spiritual inheritance. Whenever I find myself in this place, I am overwhelmed and undone with the same feelings and emotions I experienced so long ago in the corner of that old wooden dog house. I have since discovered it’s not the place or the situation; it’s the Person, in whom resides a realm where all things are possible and in whose language there is no room or meaning for the word impossible.