Category: Religious

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.

It’s Time to Get ‘Unstuck’

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“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.

Where Would We Be Without Barnabas’ Boldness?

AD-Bible-series

Barnabas (l) and Saul appeal to Peter in
Barnabas (l) and Saul appeal to Peter in “A.D., The Bible Continues.”

For those of you who have been watching “A.D., The Bible Continues,” on Sundays on NBC, you know that they’re hitting the homestretch. This Sunday marks episode 10 of 12, and with the conversion of Saul having taken place, the show is well building up to its climax (of course there’s no suspense, we all know how it turns out).

At Calvary Assembly in Orlando, our pastor, Ed Garvin, is in the midst of a series of sermons surrounding “A.D.” This past Sunday, Pastor Garvin preached on the life of Barnabas, who was very instrumental in the growth of the early church. Barnabas was a man of courage and encouragement, and he took many risks in life, especially in his friendship with Saul, who formerly sought to hunt down and kill Jesus’ disciples and early Christians.

Because of his immense persecution of Christians, most believers, including Jesus’ disciples, were leery of Saul’s intentions to the point of fear. Acts 9:26 says, “And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.”

Enter Barnabas (translated as Son of Encouragement), a Levite from Cyprus and respected leader of the church, who was one of the first, after Jesus’ death, to sell his possessions to help Christians in Jerusalem. Barnabas was obviously a man of conviction, and he believed that Saul’s radical transformation wasn’t simply a plot to trap Christians and kill them. Although it’s difficult for anyone to change their reputation–especially that quickly–Barnabas believed Saul’s experience with Jesus was real.

Because of his good character, Barnabas, a Jewish convert himself, brought Saul to the disciples and became a bridge between them. In other words, Barnabas showed no fear by sticking out his neck for Saul. So, in a way, we can thank him for most of the New Testament, which was written by Saul (who later became the apostle Paul).

Think about it. Without Barnabas’ boldness, we can only wonder what might have happened to Paul. In turn, where would we, the 21st-century church, be without Paul’s wonderful ministry? I doubt that you would be reading this.

In other words, Barnabas showed no fear in doing what he believed to be right.

So, how do we develop Barnabas boldness? Take a look at these three L’s:

1. Listening. While the disciples did not want any part of Saul at first, Barnabas at least was willing to listen to what Saul had to say. He took a risk by listening to Saul and not being afraid of Saul’s checkered past. We, today’s church, must do the same with anyone that has undergone radical transformation and is seeking a life of serving Jesus. Let us not be quick to judge, but to listen to their testimony and their cry for help.

2. Learning. We must learn to understand that God is taking care of us and will never leave us. Remember what He said in Joshua 1:5–“No man will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, I will be with you. I will not abandon you. I will not leave you” (MEV). He reiterated that in Hebrews 13:5, “… For He has said: ‘l never leave you, nor forsake you'” (MEV).

3. Leaning. We are a culture that is captivated by fear, and it’s easy for us to play the victim. We become paralyzed by fear. If we don’t learn to lean on Jesus and to trust Him, then we become an invalid for the gospel of Christ. Like the Israelites, when we allow fear to dominate our lives, we will choose slavery over uncertainty.

Remember when Pharoah and the Egyptian soldiers were pursing Moses and the Israelites? At the Red Sea, they said, “When Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and indeed, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they were extremely terrified, so the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness” (Exodus 16:10-12, MEV).

“There’s never been an army that God could not defeat or an ocean that He cannot part,” Pastor Garvin said in his Sunday sermon.

Think about that the next time you wonder how you are going to pay a bill. Think about that the next time the doctor gives you a bad report. Think about that when you are discouraged and bereft of hope because there’s no medical reason you and your spouse are having difficulty trying to have children.

What if Barnabas had allowed fear to override his faith? How would the narrative of the Bible be different if he allowed fear to stop him?

We can be just like Barnabas if we only put our complete trust in God and lay our problems at His feet. Barnabas operated in Holy Ghost courage. You can, too.

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

‘Rekindling the Power of God in An Age of Compromise’

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Let me first say that I am not a theologian nor am I an expert on the Bible. I am simply like you, and I am trying to be everything that God wants me to be. I can’t solve all of your problems with the wave of my Bible; I can only relate to you how my life is continually changing because of my willingness to surrender everything to the Lord.

You can’t have everything God wants for you until you’re at least willing to do that, that much I know.

As the online managing editor at Charisma Media, I literally see between 20 and 30 new books come across my desk each week. From individuals who are hoping to get exposure for their Christian books in our magazine or on our websites to public relations people from publishing houses sending galley copies and emails requesting interviews with their authors, I always get a healthy dose of the latest teachings out there in book form.

And, over the past year or so, I have begun to become a very avid reader. At lunchtime at work, co-workers can attest to seeing my with my nose buried in a book. With as many as I see each week, I always pray to God for discernment. I ask Him, “Lord, please don’t let me read anything that will displease you or that will be a waste of my time. Bring me material that will be beneficial in my walk with You and that will help me in my ministry to spread the gospel for You.”

In the last eight months, I have read books like Mike Bickle’s Growing in Prayer and The Pleasures of Loving God; Jennifer LeClaire’s The Next Great Move of God (a book I will blog about soon), Satan’s Deadly Trio and The Spiritual Warrior’s Guide to Defeating Jezebel; Rabbi Jonathan Cahn’s The Mystery of the Shemitah; R.T. Kendall’s Holy Fire; Todd Starnes’ Godless America; and Perry Stone’s Deciphering End Times Prophetic Codes, all of which can be found here.

Another book that impacted me greatly was one titled, Compassion Without Compromise: How the Gospel Frees Us to Love Our Gay Friends Without Losing the Truth. I wrote a two-part series about that which you can read here and here. I also have read Dr. David Jeremiah’s Agents of the Apocalypse and Dr. Ben Carson’s One Nation.

As with this fast-paced generation and society, we’re all trying to keep up with the next big thing, even in the Christian realm. But with all of the new ones that come my way, it’s a book that was published five years ago that I recently read that has impacted me the most. And I’m not saying that simply because the author is a friend of mine. The fact that I know him and that he is my friend is simply a blessing.

In the office one day, I ran across a copy of Lee Grady’s The Holy Spirit is Not For Sale. (I hope Lee forgives me for the title of this particular blog. I borrowed it from the subhead of his book. At least I used quotation marks and I am attributing it now, according to the rules of ethical journalism).

I am a firm believer in divine appointment. Again, keep in mind that I come across many books weekly, but my prayer is for God to prompt me about what to read. To me, this was divine appointment because I have been diligently seeking the Holy Spirit in recent weeks. I am saved and I do speak in tongues, but I’m looking for a fresh indwelling of the Holy Ghost that will envelope me and overwhelm my life. I mean, I’m all in; and I want everything the Holy Spirit has to give me.

One of the first steps, I believe, was to read The Holy Spirit is Not for Sale. R.T. Kendall, who wrote the forward for the book, said he could not put it down, and that it is compulsive reading. I second that notion.

Pastor Jack Hayford said of the book, “No more discerning voice speaks with such clarity and compassion as Lee Grady’s. Today’s church needs not only to hear but to heed the wisdom set forth in this book.” As someone who really respects Jack Hayford, I whole-heartedly concur.

As someone who has been “saved” since 1989, I thought I had spent the past 25-plus years of my life serving the Lord. As it turns out, I have discovered that a great deal of that time has been wasted. It’s not that I haven’t read the Bible or that I haven’t prayed or that I haven’t attended and served in church during that period. It’s simply that I haven’t taken advantage of the gifts that God has for everyone.

As I said before, I do speak in tongues, but I haven’t been using my “prayer language,” as my wonderful mother Florence calls it, to edify myself. I haven’t allowed the Holy Spirit to direct me in many parts of my life, and it’s because of that I have experienced many disappointments and failures–some with my career and some with my personal life.

One of the most intriguing parts of The Holy Spirit is Not for Sale comes in Chapter 12, titled, “How to Have Your Own Personal Pentecost.” Inside that chapter is a subsection titled, “What is Your Spiritual Temperature?” When answering that question, there are 10 questions you need to ask yourself. I have, and the answers are in parentheses:

  1. Have you broken all ties to your sinful past? (not yet)

  2. Are you ruthlessly dealing with all known sin in your life? (yes)

  3. Are you grieved by the blatant sinfulness of the culture around you? (Yes, adamantly grieved)

  4. Are you pursuing the things of God with more passion than other personal interests? (Yes, finally)

  5. Are you intimate with God? (diligently working on it)

  6. Do you harbor unforgiveness? (unfortunately, yes, and I’m repenting)

  7. Do you need an attitude adjustment? (everyone does in some ways)

  8. Do your tongue need an examination? (it’s gotten much better)

  9. What’s happening in your most private areas? (As many are, I’m battling and God’s prevailing)

  10. Do you have compassion for those who don’t know Jesus (I do now more than ever)

Lee says, “The Holy Spirit is sensitive and he can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30) and quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19). This means we can do things that cause Him to withdraw His presence and blessing in our lives. To quench the Spirit is to throw cold water on His flames.

He also says, “I believe we quench the Holy Spirit in many ways. One is with doubt and intellectual pride. If we base all our decisions on what we know, we leave no room for the realm of faith. The Spirit speaks to us in spiritual terms that cannot be understood by the natural man. As long as we live in that realm we will never be filled with the Spirit’s power.”

Amen and amen. I’ve spent a great deal of my life relying on myself and what I know, and not what the Holy Spirit wants to teach me. Fear can also quench the Spirit. Ask yourself, are you afraid of the supernatural? Do you really believe that the Holy Spirit can give you the power to heal and even raise people from the dead (yet another blog to come)?

“The Holy Spirit’s work can seem strange to us. But we must not let fear stop us from embracing His work,” Lee says. “We must be people of faith who expect God to do miracles.”

I don’t know about you, but that’s exactly what I want to be. And, I never want the Holy Spirit to want to withdraw from me. That’s why I believe we all should be seeking a life of purity and holiness and not a life of selfish gain and decadent living.

While many Christian leaders write with a voice of condemnation, that’s not Lee’s thing. In The Holy Spirit is Not For Sale, he simply reminds us Charismatics of why we profess what we do and why we need to be led by the purifying fire of the Holy Ghost on a daily basis.

It’s time, as Lee says, to “stop the funny business” and for the church to get return to integrity and discipline. Let’s all seek a fresh indwelling of the Holy Spirit and led Him guide us every day in everything we do. Let us, as believers, show the world the character of Jesus. We will stumble along the way, but let the Holy Spirit correct us, repent, and move forward without compromise.

It’s time, in other words, to surrender ALL to the Spirit.

After all, the Holy Spirit is not for sale. And as I always say, “there is that.”

Why Can’t We Simply Believe?

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“Lord, help my unbelief!”

In Mark 9 (MEV), Jesus was presented with a demon-possessed boy by his father. He had been taken to Jesus’ disciples, but even they could not cast out the demon. And what was Jesus’ response?

“O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? And how long should I bear with you? Bring him to me. … If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

Immediately, the child’s father cried out with tears, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!”

Jesus then commanded the spirit to come out of him and not return. And so it was. He later told His disciples that “this kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”

But, you’ve got to wonder: Did the disciples REALLY believe that the demon would come out of the boy when they tried to cast it out? Or, was there a measure of doubt because it was something that, to the natural mind, would have been utterly absurd?

In other words, do we REALLY have the faith of a mustard seed, and that ANYTHING can happen in the name of Jesus Christ? I wonder.

Take, for instance, the man who was reportedly raised from the dead during a church service in Northern England by Evangelist Robby Dawkins. The man, Matthew Catlow, began convulsing during Dawkins’ sermon. According to the report, Catlow’s pupils had become fixed and dilated, and Dawkins said he “heard the death rattlethe sound a dying person makes when fluids accummulate in the throat and upper chest—and then it stopped.”

A doctor who was sitting behind them–a general practitioner named Alastair Murdoch, confirmed that Catlow had no pulse, and Catlow’s mother even screamed out, “He’s dead. He’s dead.” 

Dawkins wasn’t giving up that easily. According to the report: 

“As I continued to pray I began to bind the spirit of death and say, ‘You can’t have him!’ I began to declare the resurrection life of Jesus Christ over him. People were beginning to get a bit restless but then I could hear his breathing start to recover and his color started to return,” Dawkins says. “His lips that were purplish black started to get less dark. His eyes stopped being fixed and dilated and started to move. We rolled him onto his side at that point to allow his tongue to fall forward, but he was starting to come round.”

Suddenly, Dawkins says, Catlow’s “color started returning and his breathing was less labored. He started rolling back and forth and then did something he couldn’t do before the episode—he spoke. Past strokes had left Catlow unable to speak but he was not only raised from the dead, his speech was fully restored.”

Even Dawkins himself said he had only seen someone raised from the dead on video. The experience enhanced his faith.

“My faith for sure took a leap forward. I kept hearing in my head, ‘You can’t do this! Stop or people will accuse you of his death!’ I knew all of this to be the lies of the enemy. I have heard them all before,” Dawkins told Charisma News’ Jennifer LeClaire. “It’s Satan’s fear he feels about us destroying his kingdom. He launches those thoughts and feelings at us as fiery darts. I feel affirmed by them knowing that the feelings of fear I feel are his feelings about me doing what Jesus did. He should be afraid.”

So, do we REALLY believe Philippians 4:13 which says that I can do ALL things because of Christ who strengthens me? Do we REALLY believe Jesus himself who said in Matthew 19:26, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible?” 

I’ve got to believe that Rebecca Colley, Matthew Catlow’s sister, is a little short of faith when it comes to that. In a Facebook post to Charismamag.com, Colley says, “Regarding the ‘death’ … what Robby is telling everyone is not true. It has since been MEDICALLY proven that Matthew had suffered an epileptic seizure which often can display similar signs of someone dying. TWO nurse family friends of ours both had their hands on Matthew throughout and not once lost his pulse. So no, Matthew did not die.”

The preacher from Inglewhite Church has been so thrown by all of this that on Sunday just gone he stood at the front of church and apologized to his congregation for allowing Robby into their church. The doctor who was also there is said to be apologizing to them next week for all the pain caused through this unbelievable encounter that he had given and the shock that all this had been broadcast on Facebook by this coward of a man who will not face up to the actual truth.”

Hmm … this seems to be extremely contradictory to what the Dr. Murdoch said in an email to Robby Dawkins this past week. “You started to pray against the spirit of death and as you did so, his pupils became fixed and dilated (as they do when people have died) and his breathing became much worse: this was “agonal breathing” (breathing that people do around death–a bit before and a bit after). In other words, for a short time, he was dead.”

It simply sounds to me that Ms. Colley’s faith isn’t strong enough to believe in the supernatural. She simply refuses to believe it because the supernatural to the natural mind is, once again, absurd. “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14, MEV).

Ms. Colley says she comes from a Christian background. But, it sounds like she’s a bit embarrassed to confess to the world that the miraculous indeed happened to her brother, and that’s why he’s still alive today. 

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His own glory and in the glory of His Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26, MEV).

Reports have come from all over the world about similar experiences of people being raised from the dead. Why is it so difficult to believe? If the Bible is the infallible Word of God–and it is–what about John 14:12, which says, “Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in Me will do the works that I do also. And he will do greater works than these, because I am going to My Father” (MEV, emphasis added).

So, when we claim, “By His stripes, we WERE healed,” do we really believe it, or do we have our doubts? 

So, when I plead the blood of Jesus over my car, which I was recently told needs a new engine, do I believe that, because I don’t have the money to get a new one that the old one will be fine until the finances are provided to buy a new or used one?

When I pray Psalm 91 around my home that nothing else will break and that Jesus will supernaturally protect it, do I believe it or not?

Why is the supernatural so hard for us to wrap our brains around? Why did Thomas doubt until he saw the holes in Jesus’ hands? Is it because we’ve gotten so used to the way of the world and the garbage it tries to teach us that we simply don’t believe the words of the one that made the world?

Remember Hebrews 11:6:  “And without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (emphasis added).

And as I always say, “There is that.”

Joel Osteen’s Encouragement is a Blessing, But …

Jesus-at-the-tomb

“Do not touch My anointed, and do My prophets no harm” (1 Chron. 16:22, MEV).

First and foremost, I believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. No errors, no excuses. It is perfect because God guided the hands and minds of those that created it.

And it is because of that belief that I want to preface this–my first blog in the Christian realm–by saying that I do not want to malign any fellow believer, any leader that has been anointed by God.

I’ve never had nor do I personally have anything against Joel Osteen, the lead pastor at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. I’ve read some of Joel’s books, and I’ve watched his television program and received many a good and encouraging word from both.

As a matter of fact, more than three years ago after I lost my job at Anthem Motorsports in Daytona Beach, Florida (my wife Patty lost her job the very next day as well), I began to get frustrated after a series of failures in trying to obtain another job. I flipped through the channels one night, mad at the world and mad at God (mainly due to my still immature relationship with Christ).

I passed by Joel’s program, but God spoke to my heart and said, “Shawn, go back to Joel Osteen. You need the good word I will give you through him.” I did as I was told, and indeed Joel, as he usually does, was preaching on hope. He conveyed, among other scriptures, Proverbs 13:12 which says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life” (MEV).

After a really bad day, I was greatly encouraged to go on, knowing that the Lord had my back. I had been through this before, and when I have laid my problems completely at God’s feet and left them there, there has always been good results.

My confidence in Joel’s ministry was strengthened. Indeed there is a place in God’s kingdom for preachers like him. I’m fairly certain that I am not the only person that has ever been encouraged by the Lord through the mouth of Joel Osteen.

By the way, less than a couple of weeks later, Charisma Media called me in for an interview, and Steve and Joy Strang decided to hire me, for which I am absolutely grateful. Indeed, God is good.

In the three years that I have been employed at Charisma, I have grown by leaps and bounds in the Lord. My heart has been softened in so many ways, and a lot of the anger I once held on to about a great many things in this life and culture has left me. So has the selfishness that once kept me in a self-imposed bondage. Indeed, I am a changed man, and I owe it all to Jesus. “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8, MEV).

As I said before, I never found fault with Joel Osteen’s ministry. But that has since changed, especially after a phone call I received a few days ago.

Since I had given financially to his ministry previously, I am on their list. I can deal with that. And, I do get a call from them every once in a while. Most, if not all of the time, it’s a live person and then they send me off to a message from Joel or his wife, Victoria. And, most times, I do not have the time to listen, so I hang up on the recording. Better to do that than the real person; I would never be that rude.

But this time, it was a live person, and she started going through her spiel and, of course, asked for money. I simply told the person that my family was going through a bit of a financial crunch, and that I could not give anything at this time. The zealous person, however, kept going and asked me if I could give less. I told her again, politely, that I could not at this time. This time, she acted as if she were put off, like what’s wrong with this guy. Hmm; that’s a red flag with me.

How in the world, with a personal worth of more than $40 million according to pennlive.com, does Joel Osteen need my $25 or $15 to keep his ministry going? And how in the world does this worker get put off by me refusing her? Is that what they are doing, training their telemarketers to simply take no prisoners and to not take “no” for an answer?

If that’s what prosperity is, I want no part of it. This is the exact type of thing that puts people off and makes them want to cringe about Christianity, isn’t it? Isn’t that part of the reason why people are leaving the church in droves, and turning to other interests?

I know that God wants us to prosper. John 10:10 says, “I came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” It can’t be any clearer than that.

However, we also know that we are going to face trials and tribulations in this life, and that we, as believers, must suffer (James 1:2-4, MEV). 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5 says, “So we boast about you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you are enduring. This is evidence that God’s judgment, being righteous, will count you worthy of the kingdom of God for which you are suffering.”

Evangelist John Bevere, in his book, How You Can Shut the Devil’s Door, says, “Just as Jesus did, we learn obedience by what we suffer. This prepares us for His kingdom because spiritual growth progresses as we obey in the midst of suffering.”.

Once again, not trying to malign him, but that is something that I NEVER hear coming from the pulpit of Joel Osteen. While God wants you to blessed, it’s not all about receiving your blessing. It’s not all about rainbows and unicorns and a room filled with Hershey’s chocolate kisses. It’s not about iPhones, iPads and big-screen televisions in a 10,000 square-foot mansions. It’s about obedience that comes from understanding God’s Word and seeking a more intimate relationship with Him. You’re not going to get that by reaching for your blessing every day.

Remember Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter at the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who are going through it, because small is the gate and narrow is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

If you don’t think there’s going to be suffering in this life, then perhaps you might want to start listening to someone else. “… and if children, then heirs: heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:17).

In The Devil’s Door, Bevere goes on to say that the apostle Paul, “longed to participate with Christ in His sufferings, for he came to understand that in Christ sufferings he found intimacy with Jesus.” Have any of us really suffered WITH Christ? I would think not many truly have, including myself. No one wants to suffer, but if it gives you a better understanding of our Lord and Savior, then it’s something we all should be willing to endure, right?

I am certainly grateful for the encouraging word that God gave me through Joel Osteen that night. It helped me to plow forward and to realize the path that God wanted me to take with my life. After years as a sportswriter and editor, I was finally ready to begin my destiny working for the Lord, doing the things He wanted me to do to spread the gospel.

However, the milk that prosperity gospel teachers are feeding us no longer sustains me. While their encouragement is good for a season, it falls far short of the meat of God’s Word we need to do the job for which God commissioned us.

And as I always say, “there is that.”