Category: Christian

Guest Post: Kathy Degraw “Testing Soulish Prophecies”

kathy-degraw
Kathy DeGraw (Facebook)

Note: This is a guest post by my good friend, Kathy DeGraw. She has some tremendous insight. Please connect with her at degrawministries.org and check out her books. You will be blessed.

By Kathy DeGraw

In the end times the Bible warns us to not be deceived. The Bible speaks of false prophets rising up, but what about people that aren’t really false prophets, yet are prophesying out of their flesh or natural knowledge?

They aren’t purposely trying to deceive you, they just have not been taught properly about the prophetic and are operating in their flesh more than the Spirit.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1). The Bible says to test the spirits, but how do we test the flesh? I used to run from the prophetic because I had seen it distorted so many times. It seems like every prophetic person I heard was consistently prophesying that people would come into lots of money. It took me on a journey at the Lord’s direction to bring balance into the prophetic.

Through biblical revelation and real-life application and experience, I learned and now teach through my online prophetic training school. As I travel the country teaching ministries about the prophetic, I’ve imparted these knowledgeable insights to others. They too have agreed they have experienced the manifestation of some of these and unfortunately have fallen trap to a few of them.

Discern carefully the following before activating a prophetic word:

  • Be cautious of a prophetic person suffering persecution and using their persecution as a platform for soulish prophecies. This could include the fact they are being attacked by Jezebel spirits and now seem to be releasing an abnormal amount of prophecies on Jezebel.
  • Prophetic people warn of Jezebel spirits, but they can also be operating in a spirit of Jezebel themselves. The enemy likes to blind us sometimes to the very thing we need deliverance from. Discern the words and actions of a prophetic person to make sure they aren’t in bondage to something they can’t see.
  • Seek the Father for wisdom on whether or not to receive a prophetic word from a person in advance of the situation. You don’t want the words spoken to distract you.
  • Beware of prophets who think everyone else is wrong. A true prophet is humble and will admit their imperfections.
  • Listen for commonalities in the prophetic word being released. Are they always releasing the same words, phrases or financial increase? Although there are some normal commonalities in their style of delivery make sure there is a witness in your spirit before taking in the word.  Listen carefully to what is being released.
  • If you don’t have an affirmation to receive a spoken word due to what you are seeing in this person, it is okay to kindly ask them not to release the word to you.
  • Avoid receiving prophetic words from prophetic people who are operating in judgment and criticism of others. A finely refined prophetic person will hold their opinion of others to themselves.
  • When in a prophetic conference don’t get to know the people ministering before the altar ministry time.  By telling people as little as you can about yourself they can’t gather information from you to use in your prophetic word.

Discern the character of the prophetic person delivering the word if you don’t know them. Check out their website or social media posts and make sure they are releasing the love and power of God. Prophesy is love—even when in correction, love should be the goal. Discern the prophetic ministry or person and make sure you can see fruit being produced in their ministry and the lives of those they minister.

Don’t be in a hurry to receive a prophetic word. The Bible is full of prophetic instruction that we can tap into at any given moment. We also have direct access to the throne room of God, through prayer and communication with our Father we can receive all the prophetic words we need.

There are churches and ministry leaders who don’t embrace the prophetic. As we diligently search ourselves and release prophecy in order, these leaders will begin to be open to the prophetic. We have a part to play in making sure the prophetic we release is pure. Churches will never trust us with the prophetic if we don’t clean up the prophetic.

Prophecy is in part. “For we know in part and we prophesy in part” (1 Cor. 13:9). The prophetic person delivers the word and your responsibility is to discern it. Upon receiving confirmation from the Lord this word is for you, then claim it and call it forth. You have a responsibility in your prophetic word. You cannot sit back and wait for the manifestation you must co-labor with the manifestation through prayer!

Type up your prophetic words and put them in the front of your Bible. Keep them in front of you and call them forth and then enjoy how the will of God unleashes in your life!

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries a prophetic ministry releasing the love and power of God, igniting people in the prophetic and releasing people from emotional bondage. She’s passionate about teaching people the power of prayer through declaring. She speaks at conferences and travels hosting evangelistic love tours.  She is the founder of Change into Colorless, an anti-racism corporation and co-pastors a church. Kathy is the author of Spiritual Warfare Declarations, A Worship Woven Life, Time to Set the Captives Free, and Flesh, Satan or God. Connect with Kathy at degrawministries.org.

When Your Heart is Broken, Cling to This

praying-broken-heart
God will never leave you nor forsake you. (Getty Images)

When I first came to Charisma Media in 2012, I wrote an article titled “Leave It All at God’s Feet.” The story shared my wife’s and my personal struggles with infertility. I invited those faced with the same issue to write me and share their story so we could pray for them and try to help them.

More than four years later, I continue to receive emails from readers. One I received this week from a woman in Norway touched me. She and her husband have suffered through seven years of infertility.

“I am desperate and somewhat depressed. Barrenness is like a filter over your whole being … My thoughts are that God might have a plan, higher and better than I could ever think of myself. … I would like to spend my life destroying barrenness because it kills your spirit, and God is about life, Hallelujah! I am greatly touched by your email.”

I answer each email. My wife, Patty, and I listen to God’s guidance to discern opportunities to minister to hurting couples.

Infertility is only one form of heartache that brings challenges to believers. My friend and Charisma columnist, Carol McLeod, recently wrote a heartfelt article titled “How Does a Believer Deal With a Broken Heart?” in which she quotes Psalm 147:3, “He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds.” Carol reiterates that God knows of your pain, has heard your cries of desperation and wants to respond.

“If you have a broken heart, you can count on His presence and His closeness to bind up your wounds and to begin the healing process,” she says. “Do not push Him away at these moments of brokenness, but welcome Him gladly and receive the comfort that He has for you. So many Christians squeeze God out of their lives at the very time they need Him most desperately and when He has promised to stay close.”

God’s promise to stay close to you is only one of more than 7,000 He makes to His children in the Bible: “He will not fail you nor forsake you. Do not fear, nor be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8b).

Cling to that, and you will never be alone. {eoa}

Spiritual Warfare: Outsmart the Crafty One

lion-crafty
The lion can’t roar and devour if you vigilantly keep watch for him. (Flickr)

“Be sober and watchful, because your adversary the devil walks around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8, MEV).

The enemy is “devilishly” crafty. He takes advantage of every opening you give him to enter your life. I am familiar with his schemes.

In my 50 years, I have given Satan footholds in my life—footholds that, unfortunately, became strongholds. And those strongholds have brought chaos and heartache for my family and me. I blame no one but myself for opening the door to the devil’s wiles.

The devil has already lost the war. It’s simply that you have to be intentional about the battle and take advantage of every weapon of spiritual warfare God has supplied you with to beat him down.

My friend and editor at Charisma, Jennifer LeClaire once wrote, “The Holy Spirit also showed me that we already possess every weapon we need for battle, but we sometimes don’t know we have them. He showed me that the fruit of the Spirit manifested can be a weapon against the enemy: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control. It drives the devil crazy when you walk in love or remain at peace. It’s one way we submit ourselves to God; resist the devil and watch him flee” (James 4:7).

In other words, it’s up to you to take the battle to him and refuse to allow him to get his foot in the door of your life. “Do not give place to the devil” (Eph. 4:27, MEV). He can’t work in your life if you don’t allow it.

The lion can roar and but he can’t devour.

8 Ways I Will Worship God Better With My Life in 2017

intentional-time-god
If you want to move forward in your relationship with God, you must be intentional about it. (Flickr)

If you want to move forward in your relationship with God, you must be intentional about it. (Flickr )

Heading into a new year, many people, including Christians, boldly make New Year’s resolutions and tell themselves, “This is the year I’m going to keep them and make things right with God.”

I’ve done that in the past—and I know many others who have also—only to fall (way) short of our own expectations. For better or worse, I’m through with making New Year’s resolutions.

It’s time for some real change—covenant change.

Instead of making ridiculously shallow resolutions, I’m going to follow the advice of my good friend, Lee Grady. In Wednesday’s Fire in My Bones column, Lee posted five ways you can grow spiritually in 2017. His advice? “Quit wandering and determine you will move forward in this new year.”

That’s exactly what I am going to do, and I am going to be intentional about it. I hope and pray you will too. It’s what God wants from us.

Here are eight ways I WILL worship God better with my life in 2017. I pray you can draw strength and motivation from these too:

1. I WILL read and study my Bible more diligently than ever. Second Timothy 3:16 is self-explanatory, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness.” Aren’t we all striving for righteousness in Christ?

2. I WILL pray for others much more diligently and trust God that He WILL answer my prayers. “Pray in the Spirit always with all kinds of prayer and supplication. To that end be alert with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).

3. I WILL surrender my sinful habits to God. Rick Warren once said, “Aren’t you tired of being at war with God? (I am, aren’t you?) Wave your white flag. Surrender is the ultimate expression of faith.” It’s as simple as James 4:7, Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

4. I WILL devote myself more to helping others, especially those in need. I’ve always been told the best way to get your mind off your own problems is to help others with theirs. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).

5. I WILL love my wife as God intended and WILL put her needs before mine. I’m ashamed to say, in the 19 years we’ve been married, I don’t know if I’ve really done that. “Likewise, you husbands, live considerately with your wives, giving honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they too are also heirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7).

Evaluate your marriage. See what you can improve upon and honor your wife in a godly way every day.

6. I WILL give my children my full attention and be a softer and gentler dad. I don’t think “soft” and “gentle” are two adjectives my kids would use to describe me. That is going to change. How about you? How would your kids describe you? “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, lest they be discouraged” (Col. 3:21).

7. I WILL call my extended family and talk to them more often. Who knows how much time we have left with our loved ones? I’m in Florida, and the rest of my family is in Illinois, so I hardly ever see them. The least I can do is talk with them on the phone and share my life with them. “Honor your father and your mother, just as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Deut. 5:16).

8. I WILL refuse to rob God of my time. As my wise publisher, Dr. Steve Greene, wrote recently in his Greenelines column, “The lesson of tithing is to give back to God a portion of what He has given to us. Time is certainly a gift worthy of a tithe.” For me, it’s as simple as severely cutting down on the time I spend watching football on TV.

What about you? What can you do to honor God with your time?

Determine you will move forward in your relationship with the Lord this year. Make covenant change, not empty resolutions.

Shawn A. Akers is the online managing editor at Charisma Media. He is a published poet and published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can read his blog here. To sign up for his newsletter, “Step Out of the Boat,” and other Charisma newsletters, click here. You can also listen to his podcasts, the Javelin Sports Show, on the Charisma Podcast Network.

When Everything You’ve Ever Dreamed Of Disappears

landry-fields
Landry Fields (No. 2), guarded by fellow Christian Steph Curry, is faced with starting a new life. But, he now trusts Christ to guide his endeavors.

Landry Fields reveled in his identity as a professional basketball player. The perks—the fame, the fortune and the adulation—were all he ever needed to be happy in this life.

But what happens when all you ever wanted—all you ever dreamed of, all you ever worked for—suddenly disappears?

When the New York Knicks drafted Landry out of Stanford University in 2010, Landry had achieved his lifelong ambition of making it to the NBA. He grew up knowing who Jesus was, but had always treated Him as a mere afterthought.

And now that he had made it to the big time, He certainly had little room in his life for the Lord. The life of an NBA superstar—overindulging in alcohol and sexual promiscuity—suited him just fine.

“My family brought me up in church, so I never had an issue believing in God,” Landry said in my “Javelin” interview with him. “I’ve lived a lot of my life as a person who believes in God but lives as if He doesn’t exist. I already had a ‘gospel’ of my own—the promise that love and wealth are the world’s to give to the popular and gifted. I thought I was truly saved, but I’m not sure how God saw that. I didn’t need to trust God because I already trusted another god: the NBA. … I preached a gospel of cheap grace to make myself feel better.”

In other words, as Landry put it, he was unashamedly “living in idolatry.” He had no problem in breaking the first commandment, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other Gods before Me” (Ex. 20:2-3, MEV).

Check out Shawn’s compelling interviews with various sports figures on Javelin on the Charisma Podcast Network.

Throughout his playing time in New York, Landry looked at teammate Jeremy Lin of Linsanity fame with awe concerning Lin’s relationship with Jesus. Yet it wasn’t enough to adjust his lifestyle.

But then, as God does with most of His servants, he brought Landry back to reality. And reality was hard for Landry to deal with.

After signing a free-agent contract with the Toronto Raptors that would pay him $20 million over a three-year period, Landry suffered various injuries and underwent several surgeries to repair the ulnar nerve in his right arm. He underwent constant rehabilitation, forcing him to learn a new shooting form.

A two-year starter in New York, Landry missed 136 games over the next three years with Toronto. The dream had become a nightmare.

On top of that, in 2013, Landry and his girlfriend, Elaine, discovered they were going to have a baby out of wedlock.

So what do when you’ve hit rock bottom and nothing makes sense anymore?

“That’s when God gave me sort of my own Damascus Road experience,” Landry said. “I wasn’t playing, I had a pregnant girlfriend; everything began to spiral downward. Everything you’ve ever known and everything everybody has ever wanted or expected from you is going down the toilet. God had to intervene or I don’t know what might have happened.”

Not knowing where else to turn, Landry called a friend, Carl Lentz, the head pastor at Hillsong NYC and an avid Knicks fan. Lentz didn’t pass judgment on Landry, but told him it was time for him to “come home to Jesus.”

“Carl is the only guy that I really trusted with all of this,” Landry said. “He drew close to me and loved on me exactly how Jesus would.”

Lentz began to disciple Landry, bringing Landry to the full knowledge of Jesus. But Landry’s injuries still kept him off the basketball court, and he had to eventually realize that he might not ever play again.

“That’s how God works. He never wastes a drop of pain,” Landry said in an article he wrote for desiringgod.org titled “Injury Interrupted My Idolatry.” “God gifted me faith through my suffering. If you’re in the midst of suffering—especially if it’s long-term, complex or confusing—there are three gifts of faith that grow out of suffering in ways that will last. I’m talking about 1 Corinthians 3:15, 2 Corinthians 7:10 and Matthew 11:30.”

  • 1 Corinthians 3:15 – “If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss. But he himself will be saved, still going through the fire” (MEV)
  • 2 Corinthians 7:10 – “Godly sorrow produces repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but the sorrow of the world produces death” (MEV).
  • Matthew 7:10 – For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (MEV).

“God dims the light of our life with suffering, so that our hearts embrace a grace that really sustains,” Landry wrote. “Not all at once, but day after day, over the course of years, God brought new clarity. The joy that God gives in suffering is a game-changer.”

Landry’s life has undergone drastic changes since his “Damascus Road Experience.” He married Elaine, a believer, and they are raising their son, James Jackson, to love Jesus. Still hoping that God will allow him to make a comeback in the NBA, Landry is working part-time at his church and serving the Lord. He frequently tweets Scripture and wants God to use his story to inspire others who have lost their dream—and their way.

“I’m not sure what God has in store for me, but I live by Proverbs 3:5 that says, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart.'” Landry says. “I keep clinging to that mustard seed of faith that’s floating beside me.

“If you are going through something painful or difficult, it doesn’t mean God isn’t paying attention or doesn’t care. It means God wants to win you to true faith in him, a better hope in His salvation, and deep humility and joy in His grace.”

Landry Fields—a man who thought he had it all and lost it, but found it all through Christ.

And as I always like to say, “there is that.”

Shawn A. Akers is the online managing editor at Charisma Media. He is a published poet and published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can read his blog here. To sign up for his newsletter, “Step Out of the Boat,” and other Charisma newsletters, click here. You can also listen to his podcasts, theJavelin Sports Show, on the Charisma Podcast Network.

 

Believers, the Sky is NOT Falling

Don't be a Chicken Little. The sky is NOT falling.
Don’t be a Chicken Little. The sky is NOT falling.

At Charisma Media, we have been closely covering the fallout from last week’s Supreme Court ruling that declared same-sex marriage as the law of the land. We have received many, many comments on our stories, some of which are predicting gloom and doom for America to come soon. For example:

“Judgment.”

“Yes, judgment!”

“Judgment will come.”

“It won’t be long now.”

There certainly are a lot of Chicken Littles out there.

OK, suppose God’s judgment is coming really soon. Just suppose that it will come at the end of the summer or early fall. Will it come in the guise of a nuclear war? Will there be a major economic collapse? How about a plague that will wipe out half of the earth, or a famine or a major earthquake?

Does that scare you? If so, you’ve got to ask yourself one simple question: “Am I right with God?”

This may sound very simplistic and like a sermon that has been preached for years by many. But why aren’t believers of Jesus Christ getting it? If the answer to the above question is yes, then what are you so worried about?

Romans 8:31 says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (MEV). In his sermon on the mount, Jesus told the crowd, “Who among you by taking thought can add a cubit to his stature? (Matt. 6:27, MEV).

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31, MEV).

My wonderful, spirit-filled mother Florence, with whom I credit my spiritual foundation, even today corrects me when I use the word “worry” when I talk to her. “Remember what God’s Word says about that, Shawn.” And every time she says that, indeed I’m convicted. Thanks, Mom!

None of us wants to be around to experience a nuclear war. None of us wants to see the economy collapse like a wet noodle (it is the year of the Shemitah, after all). Nobody wants to live through a cataclysmic plague and suffer physically. Any or all of those would be, to say the least, more than a bit uncomfortable.

But what is it that we’re forgetting here? Are we conveniently dismissing the fact that God has ALREADY defeated Satan and that we have the victory in Jesus? “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Cor. 15:57, MEV). “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:37, MEV).

Granted, I know I still have work to do on this earth. I know that I’m not finished with the task that God has so graciously given me stewardship over–to continue to spread His gospel and help bring souls into the kingdom.

There are still things that I would like to experience. Some day, I would like to see my kids graduate high school and college, and to see both my son and daughter walk down the aisle to get married. I’d like to have grandkids some day–just so i can see them mentally torture their parents (lol, just kidding of course). I would like to take my wife to Australia some day.

If those things happen, I’ll be eternally grateful to my Lord and Savior. If those things don’t happen because of the rapture, His Second Coming or some unforeseen circumstances, then I’ll be eternally grateful to my Lord and Savior.

Fellow believers, don’t spend your time worrying about what could happen in the future. Nothing that happens to us on this earth compares to the glorious eternal life we have ahead of us. However, we need to be ready for anything that comes our way, and we need to live our lives for Christ and to be as Christ-like as we possibly can to show the rest of the world that there is something else for them besides the hollow life that they are living without Jesus.

And please stay off of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., with the negative stuff about our society. That only shows non-believers that we are not trusting that God is in control of EVERYTHING. That tends to blow our witness, you know?

As Dr. Michael Brown tweeted this past weekend, “The moment you post with anger & immaturity & insults, even if your cause is right, you’re wrong.” I also ran across the title of a book called, Defending the Christian Faith With Holiness, Respect and Truth, by Michael C. Sherrard. I haven’t read it, but judging by the title, I’m sure I’ll read it soon.

Again, it may sound simplistic, but really that’s all there is to it, isn’t there?

And as I always like to say, “there is that.” God bless.

Shawn A. Akers is the online managing editor at Charisma Media. He is a published poet and published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup For the Soul. You can read his blog here.

How to Cut Child Materialism Off at the Lego

Josh and his latest Lego project.
Josh and his latest Lego project.

“Then He said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness. For a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions'” (Luke 12:15, MEV).

Obviously, no parent wants to think the worst of their children. When they develop a habit that’s not pleasing, many of us want to believe that “it’s just a phase they’re going through” and that “they will grow out of it.”

Such is the case with my son, Josh, who is about to turn 11. As with many children his age, he’s going through a stage of life where he seems to be simply consumed with materialism. In his case, he’s caught the “Lego bug.”

First it was Star Wars. Then it was Guardians of the Galaxy. Next it was Ghostbusters. And now, predictably, it is Jurassic World.

God has given Josh the gift of creativity, something for which me and his mother, my wife Patty, are very grateful. He’s built his own little Lego city in his room, and it’s quite the site. Maybe he will be an engineer some day.

We’re not going out and buying him a set every week. As a matter of fact, he often pays for his own sets from money he earns from allowance or gets from relatives.

The issue is, anything he sees on TV, he’s got to have the Lego version, and he wants it now. If he doesn’t get instant gratification, he internalizes it, gets sad and withdraws. Any of this sounding familiar, parents?

Don’t get me wrong, Joshua is a wonderful child. He’s got a huge heart and Patty and I have always referred to him as our God’s boy.” He loves hearing the scriptures and loves to pray.

It’s just that he gets on this selfish jag–especially with the Legos–and he won’t let go. He’ll talk about his birthday the day after his last one and Christmas on December 26. We’ve never encouraged selfishness or materialism, and we’ve stressed a hard-work ethic, like my parents did.

I hate labeling it as a sense of entitlement, but let’s call a spade a spade. This behavior needs to be cut off at the proverbial pass.

Don’t despair, however; there are some things you can do to help the situation:

1. Be patient. I’ve had trouble with this myself, but I’m learning. Don’t get angry with your child. It only makes it worse and makes them feel bad about themselves. Address the issue, not the child’s character.

2. Pray. Pray with your child that God will take away his or her earthly desires and that He will help your child set their minds on the things above.

3. Look up scriptures and read them to them. Here are a few: Luke 12:15; 1 John 2:16; Matthew 6:19-21; Matthew 16:26; James 4:4; Galatians 5:17.

4. Tell them the story of the rich young ruler. That should get them to thinking.

Again, it may simply be a phase that your child is going through, but if it isn’t dealt with properly, you could wind up with a 24-year-old living with a mountain of debt living in your basement because it’s the easiest way to go. I cringe at the thought.

And as I always like to say, “there is that.” God bless.

Shawn A. Akers is the online managing editor at Charisma Media. He is a published poet and published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup For the Soul. You can read his blog here.

It’s Time to Get ‘Unstuck’

stuck-mud

“See then that you walk carefully, not as fools, but as wise men, making the most of the time because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-17).

For years, like many others, I have been a “stuck” Christian. Although no one I know has ever referred to me as the “prodigal son” since I supposedly gave my life to Jesus in 1989, it’s been what I would call a pretty unproductive 26 years since in terms of service to God.

No, I haven’t ventured out into the world and squandered a huge inheritance like the young man in Luke 15. Nor have I lived in the moment, so to speak, to continually and unabashedly satisfy my own selfish desires.

One definition of the Greek word “astos,” translated prodigal, is “reckless and shamefully immoral.” But another is “wasteful.” I plead not guilty to the first two charges, but throw myself on the mercy of God’s court concerning the latter.

It’s not that I have been living a life of extravagant sin. I’ve been taking care of my family. We’ve been going to church. I’ve been serving the Lord in my job at Charisma Media.

Sin, however, is something of which you can repent. You cannot retrieve the past or turn back the hands of time.

In my eyes, I’ve been doing something far worse than committing extravagant sins. I have NOT been serving the Lord diligently and will all of my heart. I’ve simply squandered precious hours–even days and years–being lazy and selfish. I’ve paid more attention to my favorite sports teams than I have my Lord and savior. I’ve devoted myself to other pursuits rather than give God everything I have.

And because we have a jealous God, that’s simply unacceptable. Rick Warren once said, “God wants all of you. He doesn’t want 10 percent of you, He doesn’t want 50 percent of you, He doesn’t want 99 percent of you–He wants all of you.” Romans 6:13 says, ”Give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God.”

To quote C.S. Lewis, “The only thing Christianity cannot be is moderately important.”

Like the church in Laodicea, I was lukewarm. And what did Jesus say he would do with those types of Christians? “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of My mouth.” (Rev. 3:16, MEV).

I don’t know about you, but I don’t even want to picture Jesus figuratively “spitting” me out of his mouth. When I’m standing before him on Judgment Day, I do not want to hear the words, “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice evil.” (Matt. 7:23, MEV).

The past few months have seen a radical transformation for me. The Holy Spirit has prompted me to read more scripture. I’ve been praying more. I’ve been writing this blog in hopes of impacting others for Christ. I’ve been boldly doing my job “as unto the Lord” more fervently than before.

I’m telling you, Satan has really hated this new found diligence of mine. In the past, he has thrown many different kinds of distractions my way; but it comes down to this. I’ve made up my mind to heed daily to James 4:7 which says, “Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

Since submitting to God completely, I’ve found myself–as someone who has been moderately unhappy (self-imposed) and has kept those he loves from being as happy as they could be–enjoying life more than ever before. In other words, I have been freed from the quagmire. I’m no longer stuck.

Even in trials and tribulations–as James 1 says that we as believers will have in this life–I’ve found myself more at peace with the world. That’s saying something for me and my Type-A personality.

And to think of all that time I wasted. All I had to do was submit and surrender to God.

I know what some of you are saying. It’s not all that easy. You don’t know what I’m going through.

Maybe not, but I do know this: You are not going to get unstuck from the mediocre life that you’re wallowing in by staying status quo. The Lord can and will do for you what he’s done for me and with me.

James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (MEV). As Warren so eloquently puts it, “There is not a single verse in the Bible, not one, that says you can be a Christian and live your life any old way you want to.”

Please, don’t waste precious time as I have wallowing in the mire.

Isn’t it time you surrendered all to God? Isn’t it time you “stepped out of the boat?” Isn’t it time you got “unstuck?”

And, as I always like to say, “there is that.”

Shawn A. Akers is the online managing editor at Charisma Media.

Destroying Your Outer Man Takes Holy Spirit Discipline

bird-graphic-red-burst-creationswapDo you ever sometimes wonder why your walk with God falls short of your own expectations and why your spiritual life is so unfulfilling?

Chinese evangelist and author Watchman Nee once wrote: “Many of God’s servants are not able to do even the most elementary works. Ordinarily they should be enabled by the exercise of their spirit to know God’s Word, to discern the spiritual condition of another, to send forth God’s messages under anointing and to receive God’s revelations. Yet, due to the distractions of the outward man, their spirit does not seem to function properly. It is basically because their outward man has never been dealt with. For this reason revival, zeal, pleading and activity are but a waste of time. As we shall see, there is just one basic dealing which can enable man to be useful before God : brokenness.”

Brokenness. It’s not a word with which many, including followers of Jesus Christ, have made themselves familiar. Why? Could it perhaps be that brokenness is closely associated with discipline, submission and humility–a trio of concepts that are foreign to our selfish human nature?

For the true believer, such an ideal should not seem so far-fetched. After all, as John Piper so eloquently put it in his book Desiring God, “… there is no calling greater than praising God. This is true not only for us, but surprisingly also for God himself, he being the greatest, to glory in anything else would be idolatry. Therefore, if the greatest thing God can do is give himself glory, and nothing any created thing does can be greater than God, the greatest thing we can do (our purpose, you might say) is to glorify him.”

Colossians 1:16 (MEV) backs that up by saying, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they are thrones, or dominions, or principalities or powers. All things were created by Him and for Him.”

The problem with that is, due to our flawed human nature, our outward man and our inward man “are not one,” as Nee so adamantly points out in his book, The Releasing of the Spirit. Nee says that “the breaking of the outward man is the basic experience of all who serve God,” and that “this must be accomplished before He can use us in an effectual way.”

Our American way of life has lulled us into such a state of comfort and complacency that many of us are simply not familiar with the concept of brokenness.

Our American way of life has lulled us into such a state of comfort and complacency that many of us are simply not familiar with the concept of brokenness. Our compassion for God and for his work has been overwhelmed by our big-screen televisions, our fascination with cars, our compulsion to know what’s going on with Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner, our desire to dine at nice restaurants and our obsession with college and professional sports. We’re more concerned about which four teams are going to make the college football playoff than spreading the gospel and drawing the lost into God’s kingdom.

Can we at least be honest about that?

If the outer man, which is much more fascinated with the things above than the matters of God, remains unbroken, then one’s inner man may be, as Nee says, “inert and unable to function.” Thus, as Nee explains, “the breaking of the outward man is the first lesson for everyone who would learn to serve God. He who is truly used by God is one whose outward thought and outward emotion do NOT act independently. If we have not learned this lesson, we shall find our effectiveness greatly impaired.”

In other words, we need for God to bring us to a place where the outward man is completely broken. And how does that happen?

It happens simply by submitting to God, as James 4:7 instructs us, and by drawing near to Him, according to James 4:8 (MEV). While it is contrary to human nature to relinquish control of our everyday lives, we must do this to become the powerful spiritual warrior for Christ that many of us aspire to be. We need to yield to His authority and will, commit our lives to Him and his control and be willing to, “… deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24).

We need to “resist the devil. Don’t allow Satan to entice and tempt you. We need to “cleanse our hands and purify our hearts. That is, be cleansed from sin, replacing our desire to sin with a desire to experience God’s purity.

We need to repent. Don’t be afraid to express deep, heartfelt sorrow for your sins. And, we need to “humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift You up:” (James 4:10, MEV).

I certainly include myself in the “we need to do these things” category. I have wasted a lot of precious time–both mine and God’s–in my nearly 49 years of life. In the last few months, however, I have committed myself to “destroying” my outer man and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide my inner man.

I have read many books concerning the Holy Spirit, including the above-mentioned Nee offering as well as Lee Grady’s The Holy Spirit is Not For Sale. As a matter of fact, Lee loaned Nee’s book to me, and I’m grateful. The wisdom in these books have prompted me to seek a more intimate relationship with my Creator through His Word and prayer. I am seeking all of the gifts of the Spirit the Bible promises can be given to me.

I realize all of that will come with great sacrifice, but it’s time. And, it’s time for all of us believers to show the world Who we belong to. “So, seeing that you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that you may excel to the edifying of the church” (1 Cor. 14:12, MEV).

And, as I always like to say, “there is that.” God bless.