Thursday, July 27, 2017

Do not embitter your children

When we think of bitterness forming in a person, generally we think of it in adults. Truth is childhood is often the place where bitterness begins to form and grow, so by the time the child has reached adulthood that is when the bitterness has become a major issue in the life of an adult. 

If you are a person of faith, make sure that your children understand the ultimate consequences of bitterness, and that you do all in your power to clear up bitterness before it hardens in their hearts.

As Colossians 3:21 advises, Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. That word, discouraged is athyméo and it means to be disheartened, dispirited, broken in spirit. Once this happens, bitterness can form in the place of those open wounds.

I know this to be true because I was one who developed bitterness as a child over a parent with mental illness. My parent also had developed bitterness as a child and by the time it had become full grown in her, mental illness took over.

The Scripture says that the root of bitterness defiles many. That is because we are not islands. The bitterness developing in our lives not only limits or destroys our capacity to love ourselves and others in our lives, it also defiles the others who are around us. Those we are embittered against and those we are so sure we will do better to than was done to us.

Life is messy. Especially lives that are not devoted to the Lord and to becoming like Him. So many of us have traveled through many years of our lives before finding the Lord which means we have traveled many years stumbling and blundering along...perhaps making people bitter against us along the way and not having any inkling how to deal with it.

It is quite a shock to the system to suddenly see how our own mistakes of the past have led to great bitterness in others - a bitterness that to this day is a spoiler of relationships for that person. We are rarely in it alone, and truth be known, every person ultimately has to own their own bitterness. No one made them choose bitterness, we just do.

Fortunately, whom the Son sets free is free indeed. There is a way out of bitterness for every single person and it is not dependent upon what anyone else involved does or does not do. It is forgive. Not just a one time forgiveness, but a dedication to walking in forgiveness for the rest of your life.

Regardless of how easy it might be just to renew our bitter feelings, we can CHOOSE to forgive and keep walking in it towards those who are bitter. And we can pray that God will give them grace to recover themselves from this most powerful trap of the enemy used to destroy those who hold onto their bitterness.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Guest Post: Arni Klein of Emmaus Way in Israel 7/18/2017

Arni Klein
of Emmaus Way

As some of you know, last month a delegation of five from our congregation in Tiberias were ten days in the Far East taking part in six days of worship on a 19-story cruise ship along with 3000 believers and a crew of 2000. It was an unprecedented complex experience with ramifications at personal, corporate and global levels. Shortly before the trip began, I was reminded of how deeply the world was impacted by what took place in that region fifty years earlier and was impressed that this company of worshipers had been called and commissioned by the Lord to do something in the spirit realm designed to have a significant and far-reaching effect.

People’s perceptions and beliefs about the Vietnam War varied from one end of the spectrum to the other.  Many were convinced that our involvement was wrong and immoral.  Others believed it was a righteous cause justifying the high price paid in human lives.  There are many stories of how individual lives were saved by the US involvement in the region.  It is not our intention here to take a position on the motives, methods or morals of those making the decisions, or the ultimate effect it had on those directly involved in the conflict.  Regardless of the truths about underlying elements and individual ramifications, the war divided the US like no other single event of our day. The civil rights struggle, the exposed corruption in the government, and the string of high-level assassinations were all factors that also affected the spiritual atmosphere of the nation.  But none polarized and mobilized the population, as did the war in Vietnam.

The resultant societal breakdown was a primary factor in opening the way for a spiritual revolution that brought a mass of young people into the Kingdom of God.  Alongside the positive aspects of the spiritual awakening, many ungodly spiritual forces found expression that caused or enabled a generation to set aside long-accepted Biblical principles and beliefs.  ...

The sheer magnitude of the cruise, the likes of which has probably never taken place anywhere on the open seas, and surely not in the place we were, is something not to be considered lightly.  To coordinate something like this out of purely human desire, not to mention getting visas for some 1700 Mainland Chinese, would be unlikely if not practically impossible.  There were some challenges and difficulties along the way, but we can testify that the Presence of God manifest throughout the entire journey took us to places where words and sounds and any manner of human expression fell short of being able to adequately respond to His beauty and glory. In the light of it all, we are constrained to believe that something of global significance took place.  ...  For two weeks I was unable to connect with daily life or focus on anything except to mull over the cruise.  I was aware that my spirit was reaching out to lay hold of what this was from God’s perspective.  I had no choice but to be still.  My time was not my own.

Some days into this waiting period, a friend forwarded me a word delivered by someone known as a prophet spoken over a particular nation.  The word declared that over the next three years God was going to pour out untold blessings and wonders over this people, and that they would become the very platform for worldwide revival.  In all that was related, there was nothing about the people needing to do anything. There was no call to repentance, change, or any manner of preparation.  As the “prophecy” stood, it was solely a matter of God deciding that on a certain date, by a sovereign act, for no apparent outward reason, heaven was going to open.  It left me feeling grieved in the spirit. 

Words such as these have become normal and common within the Charismatic body, at least in the West.  Remembering back forty years, in the movement’s early days, it was not so.  But as time progressed, the focus on self, our identity, our calling, our portion, our anointing, our authority, etc. etc. grew and grew to where the person of God effectively ceased to be the central focus of the life of the Church.  Rather it was about what He does and will do…in particular for us.  As these thoughts ran though my mind, the spiritual fog that had engulfed me began to lift.

I got an email in response to a question I posed to someone about where they stood concerning the revelation they received about the central place of Israel in God’s heart and global strategic plan.  The lack of visible response was in stark contrast to the dramatic way God had spoken to them of their need to wake up to Israel.  A line from the mail jumped off the page.  It read, “I can't speak up in un-lived truth but will always speak up as prompted and led by Him.” 

The words un-lived truth...were the key to unlock the understanding my spirit was reaching for.  The scriptural discussion of faith and works immediately came to mind.  As faith without works is dead, so truth un-lived is dead. ... How does God view our seeing and knowing something as truth that is not part of our life that does not produce in us a contending…a pressing in…a battling through into full light?  ....There is no middle ground.  The existence of a sit-upon-fence is an illusion…or moreover, a deception.  To hear His voice and not respond immediately is to harden our heart and reject Him who is the living Word.  To lightly esteem what God values brings a bitter curse.  (See the literal Hebrew for Genesis 12:3)....Regardless of where we think we are and what we think we know, to not take into our heart what we recognize as God’s very truth is to reject it.  Actually, we are not rejecting an “it”.  It’s Him, Yeshua…the Truth… we are turning from. 
For some 25 years, we have traveled to the nations speaking about Israel.  Out of multiplied hundreds of meetings, we can recall only one where there was an outright rejection of the word we brought.  In well over half there was a clear acknowledgment of the message as truth.  However, in most of these situations, we have seen little if any follow-up to what was revealed.  

How can followers of the Lord not feel the need to battle and struggle until our hearts beat in sync with what our minds know to be true?  How can we know Him and love Him and not be moved by what moves Him? 
Perhaps the answer partly lies in the fact that the modern Western Church has generally grown up without understanding the fear of the Lord.  We emphasize that God is love and proclaim His grace, but somehow miss the fact that in the very chapter (Heb.12) that follows the great discourse on faith and of our coming to Mount Zion we are sternly warned, “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks” (vs.25). The chapter ends with…“our God is a consuming fire.”  
We would suggest that to understand the true nature of un-lived truth and how this unacceptable denial of life has gone virtually unnoticed will have a revolutionary effect on the Body of Messiah.  Most professing born-again believers have read the Scriptures and consequently know what is written about the significance of Israel, yet seemingly remain as yet unmoved.   Though this dynamic of non-response to truth extends beyond things concerning Israel, the place of Israel, both in Scripture and the daily news, makes it something of a universal “acid test”. 
Let’s connect a few dots to hopefully get the fullness of this picture.

Un-lived truth is un-loved truth.  In 2 Thess.2:9-10 we are told that to whomever does not receive the love of the truth, God will send a strong delusion, that they will believe a lie and perish.  It does not get more serious than this.  God asks, “Will you walk with me?  Will you go where I go?  Will you love what I love?”  He opens our eyes.  He shows us His heart.  We see how Israel is the key to His plan.  Will we cling to what is true?  Will we press in to lay hold of that for which we have been laid hold of?  Will we change our direction?  Will we change our thinking?  Will we align ourselves with His heart?  Will we cry out for Him to quicken us to be passionate for what He loves?  Will we wrestle in the spirit until His truth is alive in us?  Can the love of the truth be anything but a consuming fire?  This question hearkens back to the prophecy over a nation to which I referred earlier in this letter. 

We mark as a trend that began in the late 1960’s with the Charismatic movement, that personal experience became a primary measure of spiritual reality. Individuals with unique and dramatic gifts came to the foreground and were lifted up.  Ministry after ministry was named after the “anointed person of God”.  As the issue of gifts became more central, believers looked to people and spiritual experiences for motivation.  This has produced a spiritually-weak, emotionally-driven, blessing-oriented, man-centered church that is able to abide with un-lived truth.  The water has been slowly heating for fifty years.  Our frog is now quite cooked. 

The understanding to which we have come concerning the place of the worship cruise is that the Lord sent 3000 people to release His Presence in a region out of which came a literal revolution.  It awoke a whole generation to jump out of the pot.  (The fact that most climbed back in is another matter).  It may seem somewhat remote and subjective, but given all what we have experienced before, during, and after, we are constrained to present our sense that something has been released that will have a global effect.

When we arrived in Danang Harbor in Vietnam, which had been a main landing point for the US troops, something dramatic happened. The Israeli team was ministering in the main hall with about 1000 worshipers present.  The Spirit of the Lord brought us to nearly complete silence for about 30 minutes.  Not a small thing!  As far as we know, that was the only time anything like that happened during the cruise.  There was no doubt that God was doing something of significance in that place in that moment.  It felt like a repeat of a history -- that somehow something was released into the spirit realm destined to shift the focus and course of the present-day Church. 

This long awaited radical breakthrough is connected to an intimacy with the Lord beyond what we have corporately known to date.  In the Song of Solomon, there is a moment when the bridegroom comes calling and the bride is not immediately moved to respond. After what seems like a brief moment’s hesitation, she gets up only to find that her lover is already gone. Running out to look for Him she gets beaten in the streets. What a picture.  Are we ready to grasp this result of a mere momentary hesitation?  Is God really that sensitive?  The word of God is a two-edged sword.  On the one hand, while taking those living in truth deeper into God, it simultaneously releases a spirit of deception upon those who have not valued what they’ve been given.

Here then is a short-form attempt to connect the three dots that brought me out of my two-week fog.  The worship cruise was about a global spiritual release unto a radical shift.  The “God-is-going-to” prophecy highlighted the Cross-less bless-me “gospel” that has enveloped the Body in a lethal passivity.  The lack of conviction and discomfort in the face of perceived un-lived truth is a sign that the great deception has already begun. As a not-so-side note, following the election of Donald Trump a spirit of rebellion and division has manifested in the US, polarizing the nation in a way we have not seen since the days of the war in Vietnam.

If we have understood this moment correctly, to put it rather directly, those who do not contend for God’s passion for Israel will be consumed in the not-so-slowly-warming pot.  As it is written…they will believe a lie and perish.  To live as one out of time is to be established in eternal truth.

Familiar Spirits & the Python

I believe in miracles but I am somewhere between those who deny miracles are for today and those with a spirit of divination who promote supernatural miraculous signs that are not from God.
Even to say such a thing I know I risk being called a heresy hunter. I'm not, but I do have an aversion to all the craziness that has been accepted in prophetic circles over the past several decades.
Last week while doing Israelprayer I had a strong urge to find out what the original Hebrew definition was of the translated term "familiar spirits". In it's biblical usage and definition it is a spirit of divination. I would say that means calling something a prophecy that is obtained through sources other than from the Spirit of God, whether it is from evil spirits or from our own intuition or knowledge.
It seems to me that many traffic in this today - and let me tell you right off the bat that I repented yesterday myself for this very thing.

Being a prophet is a thing many of us desire, but without the acute appreciation for fear of the Lord, it is an extremely dangerous thing to make people think you are operating in the prophetic when it is coming out of your own gifts, or even worse, when you have made such a habit of doing that, that even a true prophetic gift has been tainted with false prophecy.
I believe like any other sin, when you do something knowing it is wrong but you choose to do it anyway, doing it repeatedly becomes easier and easier. In the end you no longer have a conscience toward God in your sin, and you become ensnared by it.
Many years ago Asher Intrater conveyed a prophetic dream he had about Drinking the Cup of the Harlot. It is about the very thing I am talking about here, and how it is a warning to get ourselves out of that sin with fear and trembling before the Lord.

Last week he again wrote about the prophetic in Israel, and how:
"If apostolic-prophetic ministry in Israel will have a humble and servant heart, it could be a source of blessing, revival, and unity. If it has integrity and authenticity, it could be an instrument of kingdom strategy as we prepare for the coming of Yeshua."
I am focused on the part about integrity and authenticity. It is my belief that this is the missing ingredient in a majority of the American prophets who have lacked the necessary "fear of the Lord" to keep them honest and genuine in their prophetic gift.

Sincerely, I do not want to be a heresy hunter, but if anything is selling your soul, it is prophesying by a spirit of divination - whether from familiar spirits or your own intuition or knowledge, yet claiming it is from the Spirit of God.
Now to really upset some apple carts, let me say that this spirit of divination is also spoken of in the New Covenant in Acts 16:16, where the Greek word puthon is used. This is the single Biblical reference to "python" upon which a widespread - yet false - prophetic teaching has popped up over the last decade.
If you do even a light study, you will find this word was used precisely because of the spirit of divination that was on the Oracle of Delphi. She was getting 'prophetic utterances' from the fumes of the rotting flesh of a python which she sat on a tripod over.
The point of that word python used in Acts 16:16 was not about the teaching that Christian prophets have put out about a spirit that causes its victims to have the spiritual life squeezed out of them. In fact, in reality a python is not even a threat to human beings, but only to the small prey like rabbits, or cats and dogs. But the desire to come up with brand new teaching to tickle the ears of Christians is so great in prophetic circles.
No, the use of python in Acts 16:16 is about a woman enslaved by familiar spirits, the spirits of divination - prophesying even right things by a spirit other than the Spirit of God.

Someone I read recently who also values going back to the original language, pointed out that this woman in Acts 16:16 was saying the right thing but Paul was grieved to be associated with her because it was obvious that she was speaking it out of a spirit of divination, not by the Spirit of God.

The writer related that scripture notes the woman was crying out (krazo G2896 which means croaking or shrieking). She was outwardly showing that her prophecy was not coming from the Spirit of God, but coming from an evil spirit. Other outward manifestations are going into what appears to be a trance-like state with jerking, quaking, moaning and other convulsive-like motions. Sound familiar? 
Now is the time to repent of both doing this and following those that do it. I am convinced that we are coming into extremely serious times and all the gold dust, 'heavenly' gems and hovering orbs you can gather are not worth the cost you will pay for not extricating yourself from these familiar spirits.