Category Archives: Repentance

The Hawk of Heaven and the Bush Hog

imagesBush hogging helps me clear my head (no—that’s not hunting wild hogs in the bush). It’s a farm implement one hooks to a tractor and mows the grass, weeds, or bushes that have gotten a bit out of hand. This week I climbed aboard my Ford 2600 tractor, set the height I wanted to cut, engaged the power take off, and off I went. For the next several hours it was just me, the tractor, and the field I was cutting. I had plenty of time to chill out and think even though the temperature was hovering close to one hundred degrees.

God often speaks to me during times like this from his creation. As I was grinding the imagesweeds into mulch, a rather large field mouse was forced out of his liar in the weeds and headed for a safer place. I didn’t think much about it until I made a round and headed back. Then out of nowhere I saw a reddish copper blur descending at breakneck speed toward the ground where the field mouse had fled. It was a rather large red-tailed hawk. In a blink of the eye, the hawk and his field mouse filet were headed for a private meal in a dining room in one of the pine trees that surround the field. It all happened in a matter of a few seconds.

imagesLater that afternoon, I flushed another large rodent out of his cozy condo in the underbrush and the very same thing happened—table for one and a free range mouse steak served rare off the grill in Chez Pine Tree. This hawk was racking up and waiting for me to set him up with the prime cuts.

As I pondered my contribution to the decimation of the of the field mouse population, I began to hear God’s unmistakable voice in my spirit. I had been witnessing far more than a lesson in nature’s food chain; I had been witnessing a picture with tremendous spiritual meaning. Let me show you what I mean.

Every person is like a garden or a field that must be tended or maintained very carefully. If we neglect that care—if we are inattentive to God—if we are careless and allow sin to take root—spiritual weeds start to grow. And if left untended for very long a fruitful garden or field can soon become overrun and turned into an overgrown jungle.

Weeds attract vermin like rats and field mice and allow them the cover to feed and breed without too much fear in the natural. Spiritual weeds also attract vermin of the demonic nature, and that undergrowth allows them to hide and carry out their work undetected. A little neglect, spiritually speaking, can quickly produce bondage in many different areas without a person even knowing it.

The only thing that gets rid of these spiritual weeds is confession and repentance—a high powered bush hog guided by you or me. Confession and repentance is our responsibility. Every so often, all us need to climb up on the tractor of prayer and unleash the bush hog on the weeds that have taken root in our own garden spot. (Stay out of your neighbor’s field—that’s his responsibility alone.)

“What about the hawk?” you might be thinking. “Where does he fit in all this?”

Oh, he’s there. Whenever we confess and repent, the enemy has no place to hide—no ground from which he can launch his attacks. He has to run, and when he does, the Hawk of heaven—the Holy Spirit—attacks with his talons bared and the enemy is no more. Gone in the blink of an eye.

What about your garden or field? Is it neatly manicured and mowed, or filled with underbrush and weeds? The Hawk of heaven is there—there high above your field…waiting. Why not crank the tractor and put the bush hog in gear?

Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice of the Church (Part 6)

In our last blog we discussed four of the eight essential parts that make up the essence of a prophetic church. Essence is the core—the spirit—the heart—the lifeblood of what something is. God created his people to be prophetic and to establish powerful prophetic churches. But if these things are missing we are not not prophetic, powerful, or in reality, his church.

A prophetic church demonstrates the power of God. This essential element is missing in most churches—there is little or no power present. I know all the excuses couched as arguments. Those arguments go something like this: we don’t need the miraculous, we have the Word of God, or if we had miracles all the time people would get bored or stop seeking after God. Those are nothing more than the excuses of unbelief.  One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is working of miracles. It seems quite biblical for that gift to be present in every church.

God’s power manifested in a person or group of people is a demonstration of the in-breaking of the kingdom of God. When we proclaim Jesus according to his word powerful demonstration will follow. Miracles are valuable because they are proof that God is present. Where God’s presence rests—his power is demonstrated. No power—no presence. Check out the Scriptures if you don’t believe it and see what it teaches.

We need a renewed awareness of God’s presence and power or churches tend to become museums that memorialize a Jesus who died on the cross 2,000 years ago, instead of a resurrected Jesus who is alive and working among his people at this very moment. The power of God simply proves that the God of the Word is still working in an active, intimate, and tangible way.

A prophetic church nurtures prophetic dreams and visions. Jesus designed the church to be a birthing room, a nursery, and a training school for prophetic people. God continues to raise up people with gifts to see and hear what others cannot. They need a safe place to learn, to experiment, to fail, to find correction, and to succeed in the practice of their gift. All spiritual gifts increase in power and precision as they are practiced.

Most churches are fearful of prophetic people. They are either told they have an over-active imagination or that they are just plain crazy. They are asked to keep silent or told to go somewhere else. These gifted individuals need a refuge to mature in their gifting and we need their gifts to comprehend what God is doing now—in the present! Or, we miss it and we lose something that cannot be recaptured.

A prophetic church is a voice crying out against social injustice. The church is to be the conscience of a nation and a voice for those who have no voice. Presently, the church has gotten amazingly silent. Who will stand for the rights of the unborn if the church keeps silent? Who will stand against the slavery and debauchery of the sex-traffic trade if the church turns her head? Who will stand against poverty and help the impoverished step out of its ravenous jaws if the church does nothing? Who will be the champion of the abused if the church closes her eyes? The answer…no one! Many people wonder why God does not act to stop these things. He did—he created us!

Finally, a prophetic church will cry out for personal holiness and repentance. Sadly, many Christians believe our nation is sliding down the slippery slope to ruin due to the politicians, Hollywood, the music industry, and the special interest groups. They blame “them.” It’s “their” fault. That is a tragedy because as the church goes, so goes the nation. We are responsible—not “them.” As Christians, we have not portrayed a credible image of our Savior. Instead of showing life-changing love of Jesus—we have buried our heads in the sand. Or worse—we have allowed culture to erode biblical values rather than using those values to change culture. A prophetic church calls believers back to repentance and with repentance comes revival. Biblical revival is not a series of evangelistic meetings. Revival is the people of God humble and broken over their own sins and the sins of the nation, crying out for God’s forgiveness and mercy. Revival will happen when we stop blaming “them” and start repenting of our own sins. We must take responsibility for our sin and then awakening will come and change will take place in our government, our entertainment industries, and in our nation.

These eight things are the essential essence of a prophetic church. Check each of them out and evaluate yourself and the church you attend, and you decide whether or not you are a part of a prophetic church…or if you want to be.

A prophetic church:

  • Constantly reveals the heart of God.
  • Continually fulfills biblical prophecy.
  • Consciously provides a prophetic standard from the Scriptures.
  • Consistently moves when the presence of God moves.
  • Celebrates by demonstrating the power of God.
  • Carefully nurtures prophetic dreams and visions.
  • Cries out against social injustice.
  • Calls the church back to personal holiness and repentance.

Reclaiming Biblical Healing (Part 6)

If the words that have been wasted on debating what the will of God is and is not were collected and stored, the warehouse space needed would force all of us off this planet. This is especially true in the area of healing. Is it God will? If it’s God’s will? What is God’s will? The answer to those questions and a thousand more just like them is…Jesus! Jesus is perfect theology. If you want to see what God looks like or thinks like in high definition—3-D—just look at Jesus. Jesus is, was, and will forever be the invisible God made visible.

If you want to know what God is interested in—take a long hard look at Jesus. An honest and unprejudiced reading of the first chapters of the Gospel of Mark, believed by many scholars to be the earliest account of Jesus life and ministry, show that the message of the kingdom was demonstrated and proclaimed through his ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing. Jesus preached the present reality of the kingdom of God—accessible to all and literal present among the people he encountered. He taught his followers how to relate their lives to God and the kingdom. And—he healed, bringing physical, emotional, and mental health to those sick in body and mind due to physical affliction or demonization.

Twenty percent of the four Gospels (727 verses out of 3,779) record the healings of Jesus and the discussions and controversies they spawned. Healing must be very important to God the Father if the Holy Spirit dedicated one-fifth of his space about the life and ministry of the incarnate Son of God and recorded his healing ministry in those gospels. There are no wasted words in Scripture! The Holy Spirit was not chasing rabbit trails—he had a divine purpose. Healing was a central ministry of Jesus, and if Jesus did it, then perhaps we should pay far more attention to it, and…just maybe, be doing it ourselves as his body.

There are 41 distinct instances where physical, emotional, or mental healings were recorded in the four Gospels (72 accounts in all including duplications). These by no means represent every person Jesus healed because Scripture tells us Jesus sometimes healed “all” who came to him—meaning large crowds and even whole towns. Healing was a major part of his ministry.

What can we learn from this? Several things arise, and these truths are essential seeds that must take root and bear fruit in our belief system if we are to fulfill the promise of Jesus—that we would do what he did and even greater things (John 14:12).

First, Jesus believed that God “is healing”—present tense—right now! He demonstrated that reality every time he encountered a sick person. He believed he had been anointed with power and authority to bring the kingdom of God—the domain of the King—from heaven to earth. He did not believe “God could heal if he wanted to.” Jesus did not have to pray and see “if it was God’s will to heal.” He acted! He knew it was God’s will because healing is a part of God’s nature. Healing is who God is (God revealed himself to Moses and the Israelites as Jehovah Rapha—I Am that I Am Healer). Who God is reveals God’s will. He has not changed.

Secondly, Jesus believed sickness, affliction, paralysis, and infirmity were from the devil. They were not sent by God. This belief was evident in his words and actions. The religious system of his day taught all sickness was the result of sin in a person’s life, the life of his parents, or ancestors. It was God’s judgment. In other words, sickness comes from God. Healing could come only if one repented, confessed that sin to a priest, and offered the appropriate sacrifice.  The ministry of Jesus was in direct opposition to their traditions, interpretations, and religious systems—but not the Mosaic Law. Jesus fulfilled that law and perfectly obeyed it.

Jesus never made repentance a requirement for physical healing. He simply healed people. In his mind and by his actions, healing and forgiveness were synonymous. Remember, sozo (Greek for “save or salvation”) means forgiveness of sin, deliverance from torment, and physical healing. If sickness did not come from God, then it must have come through the devil. There is no sickness in heaven. There is no disease in the throne room of God. Jesus was demonstrating God’s will. Heaven was touching earth.

Peter proclaimed to Cornelius’ house that Jesus healed all who were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38). Jesus stated in John 10:10 that the thief takes life, but that he gives life. Sickness and disease take life, they do not give life. Jesus did not act or believe that sickness was the will of God. Instead he gave life each time he healed a person. If sickness is the will of God, then God the Father and God the Son were fighting one another and this is simply not possible. If it was not the will of God in Jesus’ day—it is not the will of God today!

Finally, Jesus did not heal every sick person who was alive in his day. But, he healed every person who came to him for healing. There are no exceptions! His healings were not dependent on faith either. He healed those who had great faith and others who had little or no faith. He healed organic diseases where structure or tissue was damaged. He healed functional disorders where organs or parts of the body were not operating properly.  He healed the demonized who were afflicted in mind, body, and soul. He healed them all, and rejected none who came to him.

Tell me—what has change? Has God changed or have we changed? Far too many people believe sickness is either God’s judgment or a tool God uses so that through suffering we might become better Christians. Who should we believe—the empty theologies of men or the inerrant, inspired, and infallible Word of God as demonstrated and proclaimed by Jesus?

Reclaiming Biblical Healing (Part 4)


Foundations are extremely important. The strength of the foundation determines the scope of the building project, whether it is a building, a ministry, a life, or a theological belief. As followers of Jesus, we must recognize that the foundation of the New Testament is laid in the Old Testament. The people of the O.T. looked forward through the Mosaic Law and its sacrificial system toward the coming of the Messiah. But we, as N.T. believers, must interpret that Law and sacrificial system through what Jesus (the Messiah) did. In other words, without Jesus Christ, much of the O.T. makes little sense to us.

The Old Testament is a progressive revelation of who God is and what God desires. Over time he revealed his character, his attributes, and his holiness—the essence of who he is. This culminates when the invisible God became flesh, giving us a fuller revelation of who he is in Jesus Christ. If you want to know who God is, how he acts, and what is important to him—look at Jesus. He is the invisible God made visible.

We often forget when we read the O.T. that God was calling a people to be singularly his out of a sea of paganism where idolatrous worship was filled with all types of sexual perversion and human sacrifice. Every nation, tribe, village and even individual families had their deities they worshipped. The world was filled with false deities—demons and wicked spirits who caused calamity and were believe to be the source of ill-fortune, sickness, disease, and death. This is the atmosphere out of which God calls a people to worship him alone—a holy people. We often fail to interpret O.T. passages through this lens and when we do, we end up with a religion filled with countless rules, rituals, and regulations rather than a relationship meant to be experienced through grace. In other words, we attempt to enjoy the benefits of grace through the labor of the law, which is impossible.

What does this have to do with healing you might be wondering? Everything! To understand the heart of God we need a proper foundation to build a biblical theology of healing. There is little revelation of an afterlife in the O.T. Sheol (the Pit) was a shadowy place where the dead, both the righteous and the wicked, resided until the resurrection. Therefore, most people believed the reward or punishment for the kind of life one lived was received, not in the afterlife, but right now. God was seen as the giver of all good things, as well as the dispenser of misfortune and pain, which included sickness and pain. In other words, one reaped what one sowed…now! The Law was crystal clear about what they could expect if they obeyed, and what would happen if they disobeyed. People began to believe that health and wealth were rewards of God, while sickness, poverty, and misfortune were divine punishments. People came to believe that all sickness was the result of sin. As the O.T. developed, the rabbis taught that healing could only come after one’s sin was forgiven. The sinner must appear before the priest and repent. No repentance—no healing! This strand of belief still permeates the church today.

Yet God revealed himself to his people as Jehovah Rapha (literally—I Am That I Am Healer). God’s name reveals who he is—his essence—not just what he does. God is saying, “I am healing. Healing is who I am!” Remember, the O.T. is a progressive revelation of God’s identity and his will.

In the next blog, we will look at two seemingly different strands of thought on healing that appear to be diametrically opposed. In reality, they are not opposed when we look back at the O.T. through the lens of Jesus and find his interpretation. Jesus did not ignore the old covenant, he fulfilled it. Then he established a new one, but the foundation for the new one is foreshadowed through the former one.

Standing Firm (Part 10)

The Stronghold

The key to winning the battle of the mind is to realize you have a new heart and mind available to you in Christ. If we utilize these elements we can always find the door of escape when temptations arise and then slip through it.

When we came to Christ we received a heart transplant. God removed the old heart of stone and replaced it with a new one made in the image and likeness of Christ. This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws upon their heart, and upon their mind I will write them” (Hebrews 10:16). The writer of Hebrews is quoting Jeremiah 31:33. Because of our position in Christ, we have his heart.

We also have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16b says, “. . .But we have the mind of Christ.” That is, we can know exactly what Jesus would do in every situation if we simply allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. We also find this promise in 1 Corinthians 2:12-13: “Now we have received, not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit of God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words”

These available abilities in Christ allow us as spiritual warriors to be transformed by Christ, rather than conformed to the image of this world. Our minds can think like Jesus, but we have to exercise them and rid them of the lies we have believed. Lies provide construction material for Satan to build strongholds in our minds. Strongholds are fortresses of wrong thought, unbelief, or disbelief. These stronghold color how we think and act. They also create fear, insecurity, anger, or uncertainty at the most inopportune moments during the heat of the battle. These are the moments God want us to step out in faith, but strongholds if not dealt with, will cause us to freeze up in fear. That stronghold is like a remote control the enemy uses to control us from a distance. When he hits it, we tend to pause, act inappropriately, or panic and  run for our lives.

These strongholds of wrong thinking must be dealt with. They are also prisons that chain our minds in bondage to a particular belief system or thought pattern. Jesus gave us his mind so that we might take our mind captive and lay siege to these citadels of sin. We can regain control of the battlefield, but only if we deal with the enemy’s playground lurking between our ears. We must take every thought captive and deal with it.

The Siege

Perhaps you need to lay siege to some of the strongholds Satan has erected in your mind. They are footholds of enemy occupation within you. A stronghold is a traitor in your camp—in your mind. In the heat of the battle a traitor will turn against you and deliver you over to the enemy. You cannot defeat the devil if you are always fighting yourself.

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you any stronghold of wrong belief. Acknowledge how it got there. Ask God to forgive you. Renounce it! Throw the grappling hooks of faith over its walls and breach those walls with the battering ram of God’s Word, which is truth.

Take back the ground the enemy has taken in your life, and then get ready to advance in power across the battlefield. If the enemy has no ground in you—he cannot stop you.

A Simple Request

Sunday was a great day to worship God. What a privilege it is to gather with brothers and sisters and freely worship God in spirit and truth. We should never take that freedom lightly. We must maintain vigilance and guard it with the same tenacity that those who came before us did. Many sacrificed everything, including their lives for the opportunity to worship God according to their beliefs and conscience. America was founded on this treasured belief. Puritans from England, Huguenots from France, Presbyterians from Scotland, Catholics from Ireland and Spain, and a host of religious dissenters from other countries left their families and their native lands for a chance to freely worship God on the shores of this New World, and so they came by the thousands.

Our nation was birthed on biblical foundations and founded on the belief that freedom of religion is essential in the life of a republic. This Thursday we celebrate the birthday of our nation, but our freedoms are slowly slipping away as we sit idly by thinking it will never happen. Those early settlers and freedom fighters fought the battle of freedom for future generations. They were willing to sacrifice everything so their children could live free. What about you? Many in our nation worry only about today and themselves. If freedom of religion or any of the other freedoms we enjoy as Americans are to endure, we must stop living for today and only for ourselves. We must defend and guard our freedoms so that our children, grandchildren, and those children yet to be born may experience the blessings we have experienced.

God says, “If my people, who are called by my name humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). God calls on the believers of this nation—his sons and daughters—to go after his heart in humility and repentance through prayer. God is calling us to get our lives right (to return to his biblical standard instead of society’s standard) and then intercede for this nation. If sin freely lurks in our hearts as born-again believers, it will arrogantly strut up and down the streets of our nation. The return of a nation to God is always preceded by the cleansing of Christ’s bride—his church. The time has come for God’s people to stand up by kneeling down and confessing our sins and crying out for mercy. When, not if, we do this, God has promised to hear, forgive, and heal this nation. The responsibility for the healing of America rests on our doorsteps—not on the president, the congress, the courts, or any other group clamoring for recognition and acceptance under the law. The law of man can never bring real freedom to any man or woman. True freedom rests only in a relationship with Jesus Christ where we have surrendered everything—including our fleshly desires.

So as you celebrate America’s birthday this week, please take a few minutes and spend it alone with God. Allow him to shine his light deep into your heart. Acknowledge the darkness he shows you and then do the work of confession and repentance. If you are willing to do this, God will do what he has promised. and both revival and awakening will take place in this nation.

But…if all you do is listen to the naysayers and the gloom and doom prophets declaring judgment while screaming derogatory condemnation as you eat another barbeque rib and fork filled with potato salad, it is likely our nation’s birthdays will indeed be limited and the memory of her hallowed and glorious past lost.

The Forgiveness Factor (Part 18)

Be the Victor not the Victim! It’s your choice.

Now that the lies of the enemy have been exposed, we can return to the process of forgiveness. It is a process and it begins with a choice of the will to forgive the specific offender for a specific offense. “God, I choose to forgive ________ for _________ in Jesus name. I release and forgive this person. Please forgive me for my sin of unforgiveness, in Jesus name.”

Once you do this, you take control of the offense and responsibility for its results and you are no longer a victim. A victor refuses to be a victim. Victims give control over to the offender and become prisoners of the offense. Victims allow what was done to define who or what they are—to determine their future. Forgiveness allows you to shake off the victim mentality and reclaim responsibility for your life (past, present, and future) and ultimately, surrender all of it to God. Areas of unforgiveness are ruled by the offender’s offense not God’s grace.

Earlier in this series we described the prison cell of unforgiveness. The person who refuses to forgive shuts the door and locks it from the inside. But when forgiveness is offered the door swings open and God steps in to heal the hurt or wound in your soul and spirit. Invite him to restore your heart. Ask for what you need. Cry out for him to restore what the devil has stolen. Jesus is the one who binds up the brokenhearted, meaning he comes to heal those who are shattered in pieces. He will gather all the pieces and heal the memory, and in doing this, he heals the soul. He is Jehovah Rapha (the God who is our healer).

As he does this, he will also reveal the ground the enemy has taken in our lives. Unforgiveness opens the door, but once forgiveness is offered, his legal right to be there ends. Jesus will expose his handiwork, but we must repent and renounce each stronghold (things such as bitterness, hate, rage, anger, fear, insecurity, jealousy, envy, revenge, etc). Each time we repent, God brings a new level of freedom. This is an ongoing process. As long as we are willing God will work and complete healing will come.

Once the initial step of forgiveness is taken, God starts the process rolling that will eventually bring about total forgiveness. Once we take the first step, he empowers us to take the final few steps. It’s a partnership—his power and grace coupled with our obedience. The end result is total forgiveness and healing.

Hang in there! We are almost there. It’s all downhill from here.