Category: SpiritualWarfare

The Focus of all human existence is Jesus Christ

Within mere moments of mankind’s fall from grace and our exile from the Garden, we received the promise of redemption and restoration. The third chapter of the Book of Beginnings guarantees that the heel of Adam’s seed would indeed crush the head of the serpent that led them astray.

And for the next four millennia, godly judges, patriarchs, prophets and kings were sent to direct the focus of every seeker of truth to the coming Messiah. Yet not every man and woman on earth elected to seek to understand and establish a relationship with their Creator. Many preferred the camp of the deceiver, and his promise to fulfill every lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

Even when Jesus Christ appeared at the apex of human history, putting a face on our God, many, influenced by the theologians of the time, closed their eyes and ears to His acts, words and works that proved Him to be the expected Savior. Now as time winds down, the deniars and the rejecters vastly out-number those who align themselves with the triune God of the Bible.

All this demonstrates is that for all of history, the focus of human existence has been Jesus Christ. No other Name has drawn and continues to draw such pervasive love and such vicious hate from every corner of the earth. Those who deny His and His Father’s authority, teachings, doctrine and existence go to extremes to try to destroy and denigrate those who honor and serve Him. Yet one day ALL will bend their knees to that Name which is above every name, and all on earth, under the earth and in the heavens will proclaim Jesus is Lord.

Ministering to the Broken

The following is my response to a question raised by a Pastor friend of mine in the midst of a recent energetic back-and-forth on FB.

Challenge: John, will you acknowledge that every sexual relationship outside of marriage is sin in the eyes of God?

Response: I believe that there has to be an order in which a person (especially an unbeliever) is taught and brought into the knowledge of God and of spiritual things, including an understanding of sin and its consequences.

I believe that making a broad declaration of the mind and will of God over social media, which includes a very large audience of non-believers (i.e.: not-Holy Spirit-minded people) is unwise and will accomplish little, and may in fact build impenetrable walls between them and the doctrines and followers of Christianity.  My basis for this is found in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, where he notes that no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 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 2:11-14

I offer a second spiritual truth for your consideration as well. I think it’s pretty clear from the Bible that people are only accountable for the knowledge they’ve received. That’s why Jesus declared that the people of the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum would be judged harsher than the people of Sodom and Tyre and Sidon. (Luke 10:10-16)  The people of Judah and Galilee had access to the written words of Moses and the Prophets and studied the Holy Scriptures constantly and even heard Jesus preach the good news of His mission on earth, and still they rejected Him as their Messiah. Much more was expected of the Jews than was expected of the heathen nations that surrounded them; and even more is expected of every New Testament believer.

Unbelievers are judged, not for their sexual sins, but for their choosing of things above their desire for God. In fact, it was God Who “gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves.” Clearly Scripture tells us that the “non-believer” is justly punishable for his or her “exchanging the truth of God for the lie, and worshiping and serving the creature rather than the Creator.” For “the heavens” and “things that are made” have adequately revealed God, “even His eternal power and Godhead” to every man and woman, yet some have “suppressed the truth in unrighteousness,” so they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:18-25)

But back to the original question, in a one-on-one spiritual counseling session with a man, whereby I can assess his relationship with God, if any, and the roots of the problems that are going on in his life, of course I will explain the spiritual devastation that every sexual relationship outside of marriage brings upon them. When Paul stated: “Do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For ‘the two,’ He [God] says, ‘shall become one flesh,’”  (1 Corinthians 6:16-17) he was explaining to the morally bankrupt Corinthians how every sexual relationship is also a merger of spirits.  Two becoming one flesh is as much a spiritual union as it is a physical one, whether in marriage or outside of it. The spirits that each person carries, whether they be spirits of light or spirits of darkness (the latter including unclean spirits, spirits of divination, spirits of alcohol and drug addiction, spirits of fear, anger, etc.) all are brought into and attach to the ones engaged in a sexual relationship – and stay attached long after the relationship ends.

Everyone needs to be taught this, but there has to be an order in which a person is taught and brought into the knowledge of God and of spiritual things, including knowledge of the activities of the spirit realm. And I don’t believe it’s either necessary or wise to focus on an unbeliever’s sinful nature to reach him for the Kingdom of God.

  • First a person must be introduced to the Sovereign God Who created him and loves him unconditionally and the Son of God Who suffered and died that he might have eternal life.
  • Once the person is saved and has the Holy Spirit residing within him, now he is capable of understanding spiritual things, so you can proceed to explain the absolute need to forgive all those who have hurt him in the past. For unforgiveness leaves one mentally, emotionally and behaviorally imprisoned.
  • Then and only then is a person ready to truly understand sin and its power and destructive nature and the need to be set free of the consequences of sin that are destroying his life and his relationships, and the need to modify his behavior to live a morally righteous life.

“But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:18-20

Complaining about a depraved culture solves nothing

People use social media for a variety of purposes, from sharing family adventures, to selling products and ideas, to venting about politics and social issues. While each person has the freedom to do whatever they like with their personal FaceBook page, sometimes we need to be reminded that there’s a better way. One of the foolish things I see much too often are posts complaining about liberal bias in the media, our leftish education system, the depravity of society, you name it. Crying about unfairness or bad behavior solves nothing. I know, because I’ve been just as guilty in this regard as the next person.

I think the majority feels frustrated with the moral decline we witness every day, and our apparent ineffectiveness to slow it down, much less turn it around. Most of us have children and grandchildren and we have nightmares of them wending their way through the garbage pit that our post-modern culture is spewing out – so we cry foul – perhaps hoping some warrior will step forward to their and our rescue. But it ain’t gonna happen that way folks!

Each one of us has a part to play in the rescue of our culture and our kin. In spite of scriptural warnings that the world would “wax worse and worse,” my generation never anticipated how morally corrupt our society would become, and so soon – so we didn’t adequately prepare our offspring. Now we’re in catch-up mode. Fortunately, at the same time as we face a daily attack on our traditions and morals, God has raised up a number of wise men and women to help us. So we have at our technological fingertips a number of tools to combat those attacks and to prepare our young folks for the challenges they’re going to face as they proceed through each phase of their growth and education, into adulthood.

As a starter, let me recommend an article by Stand to Reason’s student impact director, Brett Kunkle entitled A Practical Plan to Equip the Next Generation. It’s at: http://www.str.org/publications/a-practical-plan-to-equip-the-next-generation-solid-ground-may-2016#.VzSrNfkrL7A

 As Kunkle explains in his intro, growing up in a Christian home, a family committed to the local church, coming to Christ at five and baptized at six, the model teenage youth group kid, a student leader and a ministry intern, even committing his life to full-time vocational ministry before graduating – none of this prepared him for the serious intellectual challenges awaiting him or the barrage of moral challenges from an increasingly secular culture. His freshman college Philosophy 101 instructor systematically dismantled the Christianity he grew up with, in class and in front of everyone. And sadly that’s the story for the majority of our Christian kids and explains why the Church continues to hemorrhage its youth out the doors once they experience the outside world.

So stop the complaining and start doing whatever is necessary to prepare your kids and grandkids and other people’s kids to defeat the enemy’s advances on their minds and spirits. Stop sulking about your own mistakes and failures – learn from those mistakes and share them honestly with the ones you most love. If you of the older generation blew it with your own kids, turn them over to God; then start anew with your grandkids – study and share what you learn. It’s never too late to turn things around.

Reliance on Experience – a guaranteed Path to Deception

 Every Christian has a story – our unique testimony of how the Father personally drew each of us to His Son Jesus.  And this story is so powerful that the Bible lists our personal testimonies as among those weapons a follower of Christ has to battle our common enemy: Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death….”  (Revelation 12:10-11)   Our salvation testimony will be ours until the day we leave this earth to join our Savior in heaven.  We know who we were before we made that commitment; we know who we are now; and we know the difference – living under the shadow of God’s protection, care, peace, strength, compassion and love.  No one can ever rob us of our story.

 Still, charismatics like myself often place too much reliance on supernatural experiences, and not enough on a solid foundation in what the Bible calls “the word of righteousness.”  Personal, even group experiences, form some of the least reliable evidences of spiritual truth available to the believer.  They are like the milk that babies depend on for nutrition.  In contrast, the mature believer feeds on solid food – the written Word – the revelation of God.

 While our experiences may elevate us one moment; they may deflate us the next.  But the written promises and directions of God are always trustworthy and constant.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.  But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.   (Hebrews 5:13-14)  Only a mature believer is equipped to accurately judge the authenticity of an experience, either spiritual or physical, as being a sign of the working of the Holy Spirit.  For the Holy Spirit determines the “if, when and how” of a spiritual experience – not vice versa.

 Jesus’ departing words to His followers were: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover…”  (Mark 16:16-18)   He did not say, seek to create Holy Spirit “moments” (i.e.: outward signs and wonders) that you and others might believe.

 If you pray for the sick and you don’t observe a recovery, the voice of experience says, “It must not be God’s will that you or they be healed.  Give up!”  But the Bible says, “It is My will that you and they be healed.  Just seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added.  Keep praying.  Speak My Word – for it is life and it is healing.  I shed My blood for your health, even as your soul prospers.  Keep asking.  Keep seeking.  Keep believing.”

 Long before charismatics, Adam and Eve put experience above God’s Word

 When people let their senses (experiences) guide their decisions and actions, they are opening the door to mentally debating the truth of the Word of God – a recipe for deception, rationalization of one’s actions and disastrous results.

 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.  For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.  Genesis 3:1-7

 Knowing the Truth and using the Word

 In contrast, when Jesus “experienced” hunger and thirst and loneliness in the desert, He demonstrated that the Word always takes precedence.  It is the only thing that will overcome the world, our flesh and the lies of the enemy – and get us through these difficult situations.

 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into[a] the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.  And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”  But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’” Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him[d] all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.  Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”  And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here.  For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said [in the Word], ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”  Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time. Luke 4:1-13

 Enjoy the experiences you are blessed with, learn from them,and share them with others; but Lean only on the Word of God

Trouble, Trouble Everywhere

 I talk to a lot of men – older men mostly.  Sometimes these conversations occur at the mall, where I go intending to initiate spiritual discussions.  More often it’s during a casual get-together – the sharing of a meal with acquaintances or a game of bocce ball at the senior center.  Other times it may be a more formal spiritual advisory session across a conference table.  Still, regardless of the occasion, I never get used to hearing about the bitter and cruel upbringing that many men endured as children and which continues to affect their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

 I know that kids today have a difficult time dealing with the evil so rampant in our modern culture.  And I’m sure, as the Bible says, things are “waxing worse and worse” as the end of days approach.  But I always thought of the former days, as innocent times – with children generally insulated from the harsh world that may have affected their parents.  I was wrong!  Many men have dark memories from their childhood.  And from the beginning of time, the mind of man has been such, and the enemy of mankind will always be such, that the dark memory of a person’s past will be forever-played in their mind’s eye every day – many times a day – unless and until they are set free from these attacks by God.

I’m so glad that my childhood was generally pretty good, though mundane; because I remember much of the minutia.  I remember the halloween costume I wore in the first grade, and the final score of the football game my brother sat on the sidelines and didn’t play in.  I remember themes and parts of poems I had to memorize in elementary school – and I’m not even a fan of poetry.  Why would I remember Gunga Din, Rudyard Kipling’s poem about a regimental water-carrier in India told from the point of view of a British soldier, whose life the man saved.  As the black man lay dying from the wound received while moving the soldier to a safe place, the soldier declared that his fellow troops were not worthy to lick the boots of the man they daily insulted.  And at the oddest times I find myself reciting the soldier’s words:  “You’re a better man than I, Gunga Din.”  Could it be that, though it’s a secular poem, there’s nevertheless some spiritual lesson God wants to teach me?

The mind of man is an amazing instrument.  I knew from studying the Greek philosophers (Plato, Aristotle and Socrates) and the Christian theologian Aquinas in college that the human soul is made up of the mind, the will and the emotions.  And common sense told me that the mind was more than a complex computer that evolved over billions of years.  Its ability to reason, to emote, to seek self-fulfillment, to write music and to seek an Objective Moral Agent outside of itself could only be explained by the existence of a non-material substantial form that controls these processes.  But only after I made Jesus my Lord and Savior did I begin to understand the extent that the devil could feed the mind evil thoughts to destroy the man, or that God’s Word could feed it righteous thoughts to produce life.

As I talk to these men, I find many more reject than accept my reasoning and the “good news” I present.  They seem more willing to live with “trouble, trouble everywhere” than to change their behavior.  And when these are close friends and relatives, it grieves my spirit to know where the path they are on will lead.  In those cases, it doesn’t make it any easier to recite the words of the Apostle Peter, “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.”

I wish there was a way to rewind these men’s lives – to erase their bitter memories of childhood abuse and addictive behaviors – to replace them with mundane memories of boring family dinners, baseball games and time spent memorizing the Gettysburg address.  But that’s not going to happen.

So what’s left for me is to introduce as many as possible to the loving God Who can erase those memories – Who is able and willing to heal the hurts and restore the childhood years they lost.  What is left for me is to exercise all the authority and power over the devil and his demonic cohorts, which Jesus delegated to His spiritual army, the Church, (of which I am a soldier).  What’s left for me is to disciple other Christians to do the same.  What’s left for me is to simply obey Christ – to go into all the world – to preach the Gospel, to free the captives.

Why do the nations rage

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision.   Psalm 2:1-4

A few days ago I was honored to witness a young couple give their lives to God and to ask His Son Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.  This man and woman had been blessed with a beautiful little girl a year and a half earlier.  Now they were living in a small rental house in Roseville, while they planned their wedding.  A friend of theirs contacted a friend of mine to say that these people needed help – badly.

The couple insisted that their house was haunted – something right out of the movie Poltergeist.  Lights, TVs and radios would turn on and off on their own.  Strange music and sounds would begin to emanate from a corner of the ceiling and horrible smells would come and go in different parts of the house.  The refrigerator door would open and close on its own.  An extreme cold temperature would follow one or the other of them throughout the house for a time, then leave.  The man had occasional dreams or visions of snakes sitting on the windowsill.  So realistic were they that he felt he could have reached out and touched them.  But when their daughter began to act odd, that’s when they knew they had to do something drastic.  The toddler started wandering around the living room staring at the corners and the ceiling, as if she were listening to voices.  At times in the evening, she’d wake up screaming, not just crying, with her body forming weird contortions.  When they would cry out “God help her please,” the child would straighten out and calm down, and go back to sleep.

I often hear Christians ask why there are such great revivals and miraculous signs of God’s power in third-world countries, like those in much of Africa and Asia, but we rarely see such in the United States.  I don’t doubt that it’s because people in these third-world countries are much more familiar with, and open to the supernatural realm than we are in our modern culture.  In America, many question that the devil and his demonic kingdom even exists – and the enemies of God are very happy to leave it that way.  Then they can continue to deceive and destroy so many – and they don’t get blamed.  Instead the blame goes to other people, or God, or Christians, or society in general – anyone and everyone but our real enemy.  In Africa, Asia, Haiti, etc., the people know that there are spiritual forces at work in their world, because they affect nearly every part of their lives.

This young couple that we ministered to were open to the good things of God, because they were living witnesses of the dark side.  They just lacked the knowledge of how to deal with it.  Both the young man and woman had a denominational Christian background, but had ended that relationship years earlier – so they had no idea how to deal with these supernatural attacks.  So they turned to friends for help.  Most of their friends suggested all kinds of “new age” and other strange remedies – and they tried them all – but nothing helped – nothing changed.

Until the man mentioned their problem to a Christian friend from work – who happened to know my friend.  So here we were, in their living room, first instructing them in the things of God, then leading them into a personal relationship with the One Who has all authority over the natural and supernatural realms.

Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure:  “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.  I will declare the decree:” the Lord has said to Me, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.  Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.  You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.”  Psalm 2:5-9

Then and only then did we begin to cleanse their home of the unwelcome demonic spirits that were harassing them.  Finally, we spent some time teaching them the authority that they now had over the devil and his cohorts – as God’s adopted son and daughter.  And of course we encouraged them to get hooked up with a good Bible-believing Christian fellowship, and gave them suggestions of churches in their area.

Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth.  Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.   Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.  Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.   Psalm 2:10-12

In the next two weeks I’ll be launching my new book, “Soaring above the storm” with the subtitle, “Practical Applications in Spiritual Warfare.”  You’ll be able to get it on Amazon.com.  I authored it with two powerful spiritual warriors, Bill and Kathy Raulerson. 

The Preface begins:

A quote often attributed to Nicholas Murray Butler (1862 – 1947), an educator, university president, advisor to seven Presidents and a Nobel Peace Prize winner is: “People can be divided into three groups: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder – what happened!”  Rather than grouping individuals into these categories as Butler quips, I feel that these are three conditions that every individual finds himself or herself in at alternate times in their lives.  I’m sure that nearly every being on this planet longs to be the one that makes things happen, i.e.: has complete control of their lives.  Yet, more often than not, we find ourselves watching what’s going on around us and forced to react to situations over which it may seem we have little control.  And who has never looked back at a difficult time in their lives and wondered, “What happened?”  If we’re honest, we’ve all been in that boat.

The goal of each one of us should be to spend increasingly more time in the “making things happen” category, and diminishing the time spent in either of the other two.  A first step in this process is to broaden our knowledge and understanding of the domain we inhabit.  And what is the true breadth of that domain?  How open-minded an individual is in exploring that question will determine how much he or she will get out of this study.

Are you the type of person who has always constrained your search for truth to what can be seen or heard or touched or explored with scientific equipment and theories?  Would you even consider looking beyond the natural for answers to some of your most difficult questions?  I hope you are – for this is more than a book – it is a venture into the “impossible” as far as our natural environment is concerned.

In other words, this book is a venture into the extra-natural, the supernatural.  It’s an exploration into a realm that, though we may not be able to pinpoint its location or measure its breadth with scientific precision, we nonetheless “see” both negative and positive manifestations of it all around us – every day.  The evidence of its existence is observed much like the reality of the unseen breeze is proved by the movement of leaves on a tree, or like the existence of unseen electrons is witnessed via a shining light bulb or a radiating toaster.

I make the case that this supernatural realm not only manifests in our natural world; but it in fact is its most compelling force.  So the reader’s journey will not end when he or she succeeds in seeing the unseeable.  This book’s goal is to empower the reader to take control of their circumstances, their environment, their lives – enabling them to “make things happen” for themselves and others in all aspects of their life.

While this book is written from the perspective of a Christian, I have no illusions that everyone who delves into this work has a Christian background.  A sub-title that incorporates the concept of “Spiritual Warfare” has the potential to draw people for a variety of reasons.

So with that introduction, I invite you to use this God-inspired work as one resource to help you manage your life.  Of course, its true value has to be measured against how it aligns with the written Word of God.