A CALL TO BE FEARLESS

The ‘Fear of Man’ with its crippling affects is an ever increasing and relevant issue that must be addressed in our individual lives. Many within the church body and marketplace are in the grip of this paralyzing mindset. Those called and commissioned within the prophetic umbrella cannot possibly function as God’s messenger and mouthpiece and yet, fear man. It becomes increasingly more frustrating to move in obedience to the Lord’s voice and to fulfill our destinies if there is a tendency to withdraw out of anxiety or a fear of another’s opinion and response.

I am sure that many (like me) have prayed for the Lord to “use me”,”write through me”, and “speak through me.” If you have prayed these prayers, you can be assured that the Lord will begin dealing with the elements of the fear of man within our lives. It is essential that we understand the impact of this debilitation in our natural and spiritual lives as a prophetic generation to fulfill our personal and corporate mandates at this hour in history. Many out of pride may already be rejecting this message as non-applicable to their lives. However, we are all guilty to one degree or another and this refining work will enable the fullness of prophetic ministry and natural abilities to flow in and through our lives to others in practical ways which produces fruit that remains.

The truth is that we are afraid or fear others because we are too in love with ourselves and oftentimes we don’t even realize it. When the Lord deals with the love of ourselves, He simultaneously addresses the fear of man. In other words, the fear of man is but a symptom of self (ish) love. Overcoming our love and protection of self is an important key to our prophetic life, impact in the marketplace, and destiny.

Our love for affirmation and the acceptance of others can easily become a hindrance of our prophetic impact. The longing for others to understand our heart and to comprehend our words and actions can inflict bondage rather than kingdom liberty. Far too many folks are stagnated in the mire of the fear of being misunderstood or misinterpreted. Our love and desire that others embrace our words can easily taint and water-down the truth that may change lives. The anointing upon a message is not graded on a curve and there must
be greater accuracy beginning to arise upon our voices and pens. The words of the kingdom today must be shared with the purity of fearlessness and the confident assurance of the word being from the Lord

If we choose to speak a word or write a message that we declare to be from Christ (the Spirit of prophecy) but are eaten up with man’s approval – the word will be tainted with wordy additions of the flesh rather than Holy Spirit. We must be content with the approval of the Lord in obedience to His voice and the exercising of wisdom of when and when not to speak. The learning of this  ‘wisdom’ has been very painful at many seasons in my own life. On the other hand, Jesus was many times misunderstood and His words were rejected. However, He never justified Himself for the sake of approval and the admonishment of others. We can be content that if the words we speak and pen are from the Lord – Those who reject it, do not reject us, but the Lord. To overcome our fear of man, we must be willing and expect to be misunderstood and unappreciated. Only then, will we have the kingdom liberty and anointing to partner with Christ in affecting the environments at arm’s reach as well as the world. Likewise, without recognizing the necessity of dealing with rejection – we will never prophetically mature.

The desire of acceptance and the longing for a title of validation will also render our words and messages to a polluted and non-affectual state. The conflict of interest is obvious in that those who are in power who give titles cannot be offended or challenged by those who seek the title and validation from their hand. Simply put, we don’t bite the hand that feeds our desires and needs – both good and not so good. Even friendships may find the fear of man hindering our genuine spiritual growth. We must admit that the tone and intensity of many words we speak are predicated on the desire of another’s feelings about us. We need to speak soft when the Lord directs and we need to speak firmly when the Lord directs. Again, we must be obedient to the Lord within our commission and not a slave to the feelings and fear of man.

It is the love of self and our desire to protect the sacred cows of our pride and presentations that stunt our spiritual growth on many levels. I have stated in the past that pastors and teachers will continually have a difficult time in bringing a clear, lasting, and life- changing ministry to fruition if they rely upon the finances, feelings, and recognition of those whom they minister to as their primary means. Again, a definite conflict of interest arises that creates a religious line that must not be crossed without offending and thus, cutting off the finances and support of one’s ministry. Could it be that many if not most of today’s ‘spiritual leaders’ fear man more than God? In overcoming the fear of man, we must not look to man for our primary ministerial support and approval…But to the One who graced us with it.

Abraham rejected the gifts from the King of Sodom, and afterwards the Lord said to him, “Fear not, for I AM your exceeding great reward.” Since the Lord is our Provider as well as our Provision, we must look to Him alone. We do not look to gain “seed” supporters, “seed” partners, “seed” pledges, weekly tithes, and weekly offerings. We look to the Lord to anoint and empower our prophetic commission through a life that reflects the giving of ourselves. This does not mean that other people will not bless us. Indeed, the Lord will use others to richly bless us and He delights in this. But this will come to realization through the sowing of ourselves toward others (Christ-likeness). The point of this message is the position and understanding of the fear of man and the affect that it has had upon the church. It has undermined our supernatural abilities and made us a literal laughing stock in our weakened and diluted state to the discerning folks of everyday life. We have become a caricature of the church that Christ left us because we have created religious systems built upon the fear of man for both spiritual validation and promotion.

The moral of story is that Mary was infected by fear as she reported back to the disciples that somebody had stolen the Lord’s body. We know now that this was not a true or accurate statement and Jesus was resurrected. Even though Jesus had previously told Mary in advance of His pending resurrection, she could not help but to base her spiritual conclusion on her past natural experiences rather than believing by faith the words of Christ… The Spirit of Prophecy.

THE INVASION OF THE INTELLIGENTSIA – THE RISE OF SOCIALISM

It’s certainly obvious that the past few U.S. governmental elections have garnered more passion, questions, uncertainty, and outlook for the future of the United States than any other time in my life or memory. Ideologies have magnetized to extreme poles which has produced a social furnace revealing the true heart condition, moral make-up and spirit of its population. I have stated in other posts that the United States’ political and judicial realm is not composed of the best qualified people to administer its institutions, defense, and economy. Thus, we are essentially left to choose from a pool of candidates that are oftentimes cut from the same institutional cloth. My hope is that this message will reflect both historical and prophetic vantage points to gain clarity as the days unfold. I have used a few example nations as illustration points. These examples are not exhaustive in most cases and usually point to many other nations which experience the same cause and effect. The end game is that our voice and vote are still powerful means for change. The key is that we support and vote for candidates that represent our values and who will promote the highest degree of encouraging and fostering ‘productive people’.

It is interesting that countries such as Mexico and Nigeria can be poor countries in regard to standard of living but yet rich in natural resources. Likewise, and just as interesting is the prosperity of countries such as Japan and Switzerland which have some of the highest standards of living in the world reflect some of the poorest availability in regard to natural resources. In my opinion, the key to success for a nation and local society (naturally or spiritually) resides in the productivity of its people and culture. I believe that documented history, biblical data and prophecy support this conclusion. The problem is that many nations, and local institutions fail to implement a truly productive culture.

Similarly, it is not uncommon for immigrants to arrive in a new country and rise above the average wage and wealth level of many of that country’s indigenous citizens. Whether nations, groups or individuals – it is human capital (the desire to be productive) which produces both natural and spiritual wealth. The dynamic output of natural and spiritual productivity far surpasses and goes beyond the natural or monetary resources around us because of the supernatural blessing which manifests within creativity, productivity, or people who are willing to produce. Monetary capital without human capital (productivity) is limited, short-lived, and ultimately leads to social bankruptcy.

Human capital must not be confused with formal education which is just one small slice or facet of it. Likewise, human capital must not be confused with pure economic capitalism without regulation which is essentially Darwinism in that natural selection and survival of the fittest must be the foundation that underpins the entire system. In other words, pure capitalism can only survive if another business dies at the expense and birth of another. And finally, human capital must not be confused with the intelligentsia which may either reflect a positive or a negative influence on economic development and political stability depending on the particular kinds of skills these individuals really possess and the particular attitude they take toward those with true productive capacity or ability to advance the economic level of a particular country, society, or local body.

Note: Capitalism within inclusive or pluralistic institutions (market based) is necessary for sustained political and economic growth as history has shown. Socialist and Collective based institutions are extractive (government based) and have arisen because of the failure of societies to embrace what I will call “Creative Destruction.” (Today’s Venezuela is a prime example) Creative Destruction must be embraced for outdated technologies and systems to die in order for new technologies and systems to take their place and promote new growth. We saw this form of social fear and protectionism manifest in the automobile and financial government based buy-outs in the last major recession.

Modern industry and commerce in the west developed at a time when the intelligentsia was a relatively small and non-influential group (Late 17th to early 18th century). However, many third world societies as the 20th century dawned, became independent nations led by the educated elites based on formal education and political charisma, but with little to no experience in economic matters or critical thinking aptitudes. This naturally generated hostility toward autonomous economic institutions and toward economically productive minorities in their own country. This is a common human defense mechanism and behavior pattern to justify protectionism which leads toward governmental control over a populace. However, the core issue slowly eases away from ideology and moves into greed upon tasting the bitter-sweetness of power.

Another important aspect which I found as a pattern – is that the specific kind of education received not only affects technological and economic development in a country, but also the direction of its social and political development. Education in science and technology has obvious economic benefits but not all groups or all nations have been equally drawn or interested in that type of education. In Malaysia for example, the Chinese minority received more than 400 degrees in engineering during the decade of the 1960’s while the Malay majority received just 4. Differences in core curriculum fields or quality of education have also existed between Protestant and Catholics in Ireland, Caste Hindus and Untouchables in India, Russians and Cossacks in Kazakhstan, Middle Eastern versus European in regard to religious dogmas, Jews in America versus Jews in Israel, Tamils versus Similes’ in Sri-Lanka, and Whites versus Blacks or Hispanics in the United States. Lagging local groups and lagging nations tend toward the easier or soft subjects rather than such difficult fields as mathematics, science, engineering, and medicine. I do not generalize this comment lightly. I am basing my comments and opinions on researched facts. These differences not only affect their economic productivity but also their socio-political attitudes toward those who do have the skills to make a society more productive and prosperous.

Newly educated classes of people or cultures have been especially likely to specialize in softer core subjects and to be prominent among those fostering hostility toward more advanced groups while promoting ethnic identity movements. Such movements have been typically mobilized against other ethnic groups, the existing authorities, or other targets that would stand in the way of the new agenda. In various periods of history, the intelligentsia in general and the newly educated classes of people in particular have inflamed group against group promoting discriminatory policies and or physical violence.

Whether at the level of minority activists in a given local society or at the leadership level of national revolts against external powers – promoters of nationalism have been disproportionately intellectuals and intellectuals from a very limited range of fields. Very few nationalist militants, ultra-religious, or Socialist leaning politicians were and are engineers, economists, scientists, or skilled professional administrators. As an African student once quoted in regard to the generation of African leaders during the transition from colonial status to that of independent nationhood: “…K. Nakuma was a British educated lawyer, J. Kenyatta was an anthropologist, J. Kasabuvu was a teacher, and L.S. Sengor a poet just to name a few. Much the same pattern could and can be found in other parts of the world as well…” Leaders of the Basque separatist movement in Spain and the Quebec separatist movement in Canada were also birthed and promoted by soft subject intellectuals.

In the less developed regions of Europe, the rising intellectual class in the years between the two World Wars likewise tended to concentrate on the softer subjects rather than in science or technology and sought careers in politics and government bureaucracies rather than in industry or commerce. Much of the same pattern would be seen a half a century later in Sri-Lanka which was all too typical of other Asian third world countries in having a surplus of unemployed graduates who had specialized in the humanities and the social sciences. Is there a common pattern beginning to arise in the United States? Is there a social pattern which is in common with our current political body and previous president? I strongly believe so and the soft subject elite in the United States are seeking to overthrow the sacred and economic successful ideologies with Socialist and centralized government ideologies. The political and social landscape is coming into prophetic and spiritual clarity. How we prophesy the truth and define resolution will require much wisdom and I certainly do not have all the answers. However, the powers and systems which are creating the world’s economic and social sickness are coming into plain view for those whom possess discernment.

History shows us that cultural and ethnic leaders would later instill and promote the breakup of Yugoslavia and the atrocities that followed in the last decade of the 20th century were again birthed by professors in the humanities, the social sciences, a novelist, and a psychiatrist. The mass slaughters in Kampuchea, under the Khmer Rouge were likewise led by intellectuals including teachers and academics. Historian A.J.P. Taylor has stated: “…that the first stage of nationalism is led by university professors and that the second stage comes when the pupils of the professors get out into the world…” Whatever the actual sequence, the intelligentsia have played a central role in promoting inter-group and international animosities accompanied by atrocities in trying to artificially preserve, revive, or fabricate past glories. This social and political mind-set will continue to be woven into the mind and cultural fabric of the unredeemed which will escalate into the antichrist system and promoted counterfeit glory.

Newly educated and semi-educated classes have often sought positions
in government bureaucracies rather than in industry and commerce (marketplace) because their education has typically provided them with few skills to be useful in the ‘real’ marketplace Moreover, the growth of bureaucracies is needed to accommodate or absorb such people in preventing them from becoming a political problem which is oftentimes a handicap to the genuine development of industrial, commercial, and social growth. In other words, the social and political attitudes spawned by those with diplomas and degrees but without productive skills, constitute yet another barrier to economic development and growth as well as developing a productive society which technology and spirituality grow in similitude. Spiritual dynamics must also be strongly considered as the church is oddly split along ethnic and cultural lines in regard to social policy in the U.S. The pull is so strong and deceptive, that a Bible believing individual will abhor abortion, but vote for a pro-abortion candidate simply by built-in social conditioning or comfort in regard to a lack of cultural productivity. We must understand that differing social cultures have varying views of productivity as some are content to live off of another if the system provides that option or choice.

It was said of Romania’s institutions of higher education between the two World Wars: “…they were numerically swollen, academically lax, politically overheated, as well as variable incubators of surplus bureaucrats, politicians, and demagogs…” The truth is that this could be said of institutions in other nations within eastern and south-eastern Europe during the same era and in various nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America in later times. The direct economic and social drain of supporting a intelligentsia with little to contribute to the economy is by no means the crux or most important cost they impose upon the rest of the people in various societies. The kinds of policies and attitudes they promote and the internal strife they generate or aggravate are the major impediments to economic advancement, spiritual harmony, and political stability.

The post-independence history of many African nations for example, have especially shown the tragic results of following policies that are diametrically the opposite of economies that developed social productivity in earlier centuries such as Japan and Malaysia. In multi-ethnic societies, confiscatory policies (to take something away) toward the most economically productive groups have been promoted for the short run benefit of those seeking a way out of their own poverty at the expense of others rather than becoming more productive themselves. Those targeted have included as a prime example, the Germans and Jews in Czechoslovakia when it existed, and Romania. I have used Czechoslovakia as an example a couple of times for a reason as it no longer exists for a reason! Other good examples are the Chinese in Malaysia and Indonesia. The Indians and Pakistanis in Kenya and Uganda among many, many others Those losing in the long run have included the poorer and less skilled masses who cannot replace the more productive groups they suppressed or driven out of the country (This will unfold within the boarders of Israel if the Palestinians are given more territory) Rome as a city did not fall due to barbarian invasion. The invasion was only the tip of the iceberg. Rome fell because the barbarians could not run the cultural and political apparatus nor repair its systems and products when broke. In other words, the barbarian invaders were not a productive nor creative people. They pillaged and took what another earned and worked for a short-term gain. The long-term effect was slow decay and eventual ruin. Sound familiar?

Both internally and internationally, western intellectuals have for centuries romanticized noble savages, barbarians, and warlords in various parts of the world. People whom supposedly lived in some sort Eden before evil was introduced from the outside by modern western society. In fact, many Islamist nations refer to the United states as “The Great Satan” However, facts about the carnage, oppression, or brutality in such societies have been glided over, totally ignored, or brazenly denied by those pursuing a vision and disseminating that vision through their educational writings, teachings, motion pictures, media, and other channels to the extent that they are successful in creating a virtual reality different from the factual realities. These falsehoods produce false public policies (now globally) with dire consequences upon the particular nations or societal populace. This causes such policies to be misdirected, ineffective, and even counter-productive. Sometimes a foreign “Eden” is ideologically defined such as the Middle Eastern Spring, the Soviet Union under Stalin or China under Mao. Again, a wonderfully fluffy virtual reality has for decades, completely submerged facts that included the slaughter of millions. In these and other ways, an intelligentsia can make policies less informed as well as misinformed and less intelligent than otherwise dreamed of. The catch, is that it is not too late. God still deeply loves us and desires His best for our lives. Let’s not curse our country and world with judgment. Rather, let’s pray as we have been directed for our national and world leaders and that those who are truly called and commissioned would come forth in authority and power to declare faith, hope, and love for all humanity.

2014 – A NEW YEAR OF NEW BEHAVIORS AND HABITS

As we enter into the new year, many will resolve to incorporate resolutions in their lives. It’s embedded in our human nature to look for times and recognize reasons to change certain habits and behaviors in our lives that are in need of changing. The New Year just happens to be a yearly point of reference for many as a time of new beginnings, fresh starts, and even prophetic declarations. In a nutshell, a myriad of resolutions and prophetic words which have already come forth as typical covering a wide range of topics from doom, gloom and destruction to greasy grace.

I would like to cut through the red tape of christianese verbiage, prophetic catch-phrases, and the seemingly never-ending messages which are just re-canned and re-packaged under a different name and author. Where are the specifics and tools for success in today’s prophetic jargon? The Bible states that the Lord is coming back for a “glorious church”. This is a fact and something spiritually profound is going to take place that will transform and move the church (you and I) from a shade of grey and stained to being adorned in a bridal garment that is sparkling white, without blemish and glorious for his return. This garment is not made of silk or cotton – it is made from the fabric of our conscious and social choices.

The question at hand and one we should be asking daily is how is this going to happen and what will be required of ‘me’? The corporate manifestation of his glory begins at the individual level. It is time to buckle up and knuckle down as the signs of the times are indeed changing and it is changing in yours and my life. A new years resolution is not what the Lord is requiring in this hour…He is requiring a new years resolve in completing your maturity and overcoming all that would prevent this from becoming a reality.

Gathering or attending a church is far different than ‘being’ the church…Just as being filled with the spirit (a gift of grace upon salvation in Christ) is much different than being led by the spirit which is a personal choice. Being the church and fulfilling the leading of the Holy Spirit are personal choices that we make in everyday life. Many of our citizens do not gather together and the lost do not seek salvation because they have already been to ‘church’ once and have tried the interesting experience. It is not the building, paint scheme or neighborhood that has promoted the various reasons for many not to return to church or seek salvation – It is what they have experienced in the lives of those who go by the name or title of ‘Christian’ at the individual and corporate levels. Sadly, the history of the church’s conduct has proven some very good reasons and justifications of why an individual would not desire to be a part of the rank and file!

God is speaking to us individually that we have much work to do in regard to perception of how humanity views us as the church. All of us, without exception are in need of a spiritual facelift, emotional overhaul, and examination of self-discipline if we are to fulfill our purpose and our destiny in ushering his return. Our wedding garment is stained with centuries of abuses and in need of soulish cleansing as the church moves from its stained state to sparkling white. The transformation of the bride of Christ begins on a personal level which will unfold as a corporate expression of genuine love, unfiltered truth, and creative solutions. But most importantly to this hour – It will reflect emotional stability. The Bible states that only those who are holy will see the Lord in his fullness. Holiness requires deep and healthy relationship that is built upon emotional stability. That’s right – It’s time we address our stinkin thinkin and emotional swings of immaturity.

What our families, friends, and society recognize in our lives dictates the type or quality of seed (words and acts) we have sown. Trust me, whatever we sow will soon grow into plain view for the saved and unsaved alike to see. It will either exude the fragrance of life or the stench of death. We can only sow, reveal, and impart to another what we truly possess. There will be a tremendous amount of information that will be released as the new year unfolds. Much of these writings and declarations will be interpreted or passed on as revelation. However, for information to move or transform into revelation – it must be revealed or be a reality in our own lives. Otherwise, it’s still simply good “information” and of no spiritual or revealing value.

The genuine anointing is that simple – It is the fruit of the spirit and kingdom revealed in our lives and imparted by the life we live – It’s who we genuinely are. The fruit of the spirit can not be purchased, picked from a tree, wished for, or imparted by magic foo-foo dust. It must be received from the Holy Spirit through intimacy with Christ to be revealed in our lives which imparts change to the world around us (building the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven). Who we really are and what we truly have to offer (our anointing) is the end result of this message. The heart and center of this message is who we are and what others ‘perceive’ us to be which are the habits, compulsions, and mindsets that we possess and have chosen to obtain over the course and experiences of our lives. It’s the ungodly habits, compulsions, mindsets, and addictions that first must be dealt with if we are to truly fulfill our personal part and function within the corporate body of Christ. Only then, will our lives reflect value to humanity with everlasting benefit. Only then, will trust in the name ‘Christian’ be restored.

There is a structure behind most habits (that lead to strong cravings) which many in psychology fields know or refer to as ‘habit loops’. I strongly sensed upon seeking the Lord for this message that I needed to share a base knowledge along with tools to overcome habitual tendencies which are preventing many from realizing the kingdom and fullness of God in their lives. The bible states that we are set up for emotional hurt, loss, pain, and even destruction because of our lack of knowledge.

Habit loops consist of three main parts. First is the ‘cue’ which is the trigger from the environment that tells your brain to go into autopilot and which habit to use. Next is the ‘routine’ which is the mental or physical action you take whenever presented with the cue. And lastly is the ‘reward’ which is what you get from the habit that fulfills a craving in your brain.

When the pattern of ‘cue-routine-reward’ gets repeated many times it becomes more and more automatic. This is because the more we repeat it, the more it gets hard-wired into our brains. In neuroscience, this is known as ‘long-term potentiation’. This is natural and how God created us. Otherwise we would essentially shut down with mental exhaustion if our brains were perpetually in high gear to perform basic tasks endlessly without the benefit of habit loops. There is a little oval the size of a walnut in our brain called the Basal Ganglia which essentially stores our habits and habit loops.

The process in which the brain converts a series of actions into a routine is known as ‘chunking’. This is the beginning of how habits and cravings form. There are hundreds of behavioral chunks that we rely on everyday. Some are simple such as putting toothpaste on a toothbrush, putting on our socks, or even how we fold our socks. We perform these functions over and over with very little thought or brain power. On the same hand, some chunks can become so complex that it is a miracle that such a small part of the brain can produce such powerful responses.

Let’s take for example, backing a car out of the driveway. When we are first learning to drive, it required a good dose of concentration (brain power) just to back a car out of the garage and for good reason! We had to open the garage, unlock the car door, adjust the seat, insert the key in the ignition, turn the key clockwise, adjust the mirrors and discern the how near or far objects really were, putting our foot on the brake; moving the gear shift into reverse, removing our foot from the brake, mentally gauging our distances and obstacles such as the mailbox and trash cans while keeping the wheels aligned, monitoring for oncoming traffic all while applying slight pressure to the gas pedal and brake. However, all of these responses within a relatively short amount time required hardly any thought all.

This routine occurs through the dynamic and power of repetition and the brain creating a habit loop. Millions of people perform this function every morning unthinkingly. As soon as we grab the car keys, our basal ganglia kicks in – identifying the associated habits stored in our brains in regard to backing out a vehicle. Once that habit starts unfolding, our grey matter which is closer to the cranial surface is free to quiet itself or chase other creative and complex thoughts. Habits occur because our brains are constantly looking for ways to save effort. Left to its own devises, the brain will try to make any routine a habit loop because habits allow our minds to ramp down and adjust.

This type of brain efficiency is biologically necessary because it requires less room and allows for a smaller head which makes child birth easier and infant/mother mortality less likely. It also allows us to quit thinking about basic behaviors and routines such as walking and choosing what to eat so we can invest time inventing spears, irrigation systems, and eventually airplanes and video games. But conserving mental effort is a double edge sword because if our brains power down at the wrong moment, we might fail to notice something important – such as an oncoming speeding car as we back out of the driveway! (The Lord is addressing our natural and spiritual blind spots) Our natural propensity to create and store habits is biologically necessary and a tremendous blessing when stewarded well. It can also be a curse when abused for self serving motives within the temptations of a corrupted world.

By better understanding our habit loops, we can more easily disrupt vicious cycles and rewire our brains to new habits which glorify the Lord and reflects Spirit led precision. For example, let’s take something simple or generic and say everyday after dinner you sit on your couch to watch TV while eating a carton of ice cream or munching a bag of chips. It’s a nasty habit – and it’s probably the reason you’ve gained 25-50 pounds over the past few years. However, no matter how hard you try to break the habit you can’t seem to change it. Why is something seemingly so simple as eating habits so difficult to overcome? Especially being the temple which stewards the Lord’s Spirit? Look, if you cannot steward and discipline your earthly tent well, how should I believe you are stewarding well other spiritual structures?

The primary goal to victory over adverse or even destructive habits is to identify our habit loops. What are the routine(s) that we desire to change? What are the cues triggering us to fall or fail within the routine? And what are the rewards we are getting as a result of that routine? By better discerning and understanding the cycle of “cue-routine-reward” we can more easily modify our adverse or unhealthy behaviors.

Find the cue.

A cue is a stimulus from your environment that triggers us into a particular routine. Often we have trouble identifying cues because there is so much unconscious information that motivates our habits. For example, do you eat dinner at a certain time each day because you are hungry? Or, is it because the clock says 6:00 PM? Maybe, it’s because your children start asking for dinner? Is it routine because you’re home from work, and that’s just when your dinner routine is supposed to begin? There are different categories of habitual cues that often trigger and lead to unwanted habit loops.

Location – Where are you when your habit loops are triggered?

Time – What time of the day is it?

Mood – What’s your emotional state?

Thoughts – What are you thinking?

People around you – Who is around you when you act out these habits?

Immediately preceding action – What do you do right before the habit starts?

Once we understand the cues that trigger our habit loops, we can use that insight to modify or completely change our behaviors. For example, say you’re an alcoholic whose habits are triggered by your location (party, bar, or club) or the people you are with (friends who like drinking as a social crutch). One way you can try to disrupt your habit loop is by avoiding places or people that motivate you to drink. If pornography is your habit, you must break the cue or trigger of a particular time, location, or internet site. NOTE: We must understand that any pain caused by an event in our daily lives will always or naturally seek pleasure to relieve or justify itself. We see this clearly in the act of overeating. The first step is to recognize the trigger or cue.

Try out different rewards.

Once you find the cue that triggers your behavior, you can experiment with different rewards to see what your brain is actually craving. Let’s go back to the example of eating ice cream or chips (foods that lead to being overweight) while watching TV. By trying out different rewards we can recognize what it is we get from the activity. Are we eating ice cream or chips because we’re hungry? Or, are we just bored due to inactivity and it’s a way to pass the time? Maybe, it’s something we do to socialize with family or friends?

There are a myriad of reasons we may construct a certain habit, but it’s not always clear why we do the things we do. Regardless, we choose by the gift of free choice to enter into a routine that served a particular or false need in our life. By experimenting with different rewards, you can discover what it is you are really getting out of your routine and find a substitute or healthy habit that is spirit led.

It may take a couple weeks before you discover what it is your brain is craving. People with addictive or compulsive behavior patterns already know what their craving (e.g. drugs, alcohol, pornography, gluttony, pattern gossip, etc.) Maybe, the first day you experiment with eating a salad, but afterwards you still feel an urge for ice cream or chips. This clearly points that the reward you’re getting is probably not related to hunger but to drives within the brain designed to mimic hunger to fulfill the reward mechanism.

You might try socializing with the family in a different way, such as playing a game together instead of eating ice cream together. After this activity maybe you find that your craving for ice cream goes away. If that’s the case, your routine of “eating ice cream” may be a result of your desire to connect more in a deeper level with your family. This is just one very simplistic or generic example for reference, but hopefully you get the idea. People do things for many different reasons, but experimenting with different rewards can help us find what it is our brains actually want fulfilled. If we understand that, we can replace our old habit loops with new habit loops that still fulfill the rewards we want and bring glory to God, our personal witness, and our personal wellness – both naturally and spiritually.

Make a plan to change adverse habit loops.

Once you identify the “cue-routine-reward” behind your habit loops, it becomes much easier to make a plan on how to change them.

Psychologists have found compelling research that making a plan to act in a certain way at a certain time and place makes it much more likely that we will commit to new and healthy behaviors. These are called ‘implementation intentions’. The basic idea is to form an “if-then plan” to help instill new habits. Write down and repeat your plan, such as, “If situation X arises, I will perform response Y.” X refers to the cue from your environment. Y refers to the new routine you want to replace with the old routine.

Habits have become the destiny of many with adverse affects. These habits can affect those closest to us as well as society. Habit loops can be ignored, changed or replaced. But it is also true that once the unhealthy habit loop is established and a habit emerges, your brain stops fully participating in healthy or spirit led decision-making. Unless you deliberately recognize, engage, and fight a habit — unless you insert new responses to cues and rewards — the old pattern(s) will unfold automatically.

The Lord is all about your victory. Victory over death and the grave was accomplished at the cross and this is our eternal “reward”. However, the Lord also desires personal victory in our everyday life which is a composite of daily choices. These daily choices are birthed within a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit and a honest perception of who we really are and where God would have us. We must understand that our perception of what is right may not be God’s! Our willingness to be holy rolls off our lips so easily, but yet our mind and eventual actions so easily deceive us. The truth is that we all have created adverse, unhealthy, as well as ungodly habit loops and once patterned in our brains – they will never go away and will always be there. In other words, once hard-wired, they never disappear. The good news in Jesus Christ is that new and godly habit loops can transpose or overlay the old ones in our brains or consciousness. When we recognize the cue or trigger for a bad response – we can choose to be led by the Spirit to respond in a new way. Trust me, it will not take long before this becomes our new expression and perception of how others see us. If we’ll only be consistent for a few weeks, our resolve will become the resolution of others! This is the power and witness of our testimony.

TURNING NATURAL TRAGEDY AND LOSS INTO SPIRITUAL MATURITY AND GAIN

A writing from the 3rd century BC states: “When heaven is about to confer a great responsibility upon any man, it will exercise his mind with suffering, subject his sinews and bones to hard work, expose his body to hunger, put him to poverty, place obstacles in the paths of his deeds so as to stimulate his mind, harden his nature, and improve wherever he is incompetent.”

I must say that this quote is most likely offensive to many within the modern, comfortable, unprepared, and weakened western church. But do these words speak truth? Or, are these words a rock of offense to those who prefer the natural and spiritual tonic of ease? These words are certainly an offense to the camp which embraces that wealth, health, and prosperity as a given right to any Christian who simply “believes.” Does a “believer” have a right to health if they are gluttonous and in bondage to unhealthy food choices? Does a believer have a claim to prosperity if they sow gossip or insecure? Can people gain prosperity by simply sowing a little seed cash? Can we lump every person, dogma, and every need into one basket and say: “This is what we should expect from God?” While God’s promises are true – maybe, our understanding, timing, and paths which lead to truth have been greatly misunderstood from a prophetic vantage.

We all have heard the modern saying, “What doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.” Is this statement true? Before we answer this question, we must agree that many societal (spiritual) traditions, whether old or new have various traditions of fate, predestination, and divine foreknowledge. Likewise, there are cultural beliefs in other parts of the world which states that “God writes the destinies of each man upon their foreheads.” Suppose that on the day that your first child is born, you are given two gifts – A pair of glasses that allows you to read his or her future forecast and the second gift which is a pencil that allows you to edit it. Suppose further, that the gifts come from God with full permission to use them as you please. What would you “really” do?

Let’s read the future destiny of a person that you and I may know: At age 9 – best friend and neighbor dies of open heart surgery. At 18 – graduates high school at top of class. At 20 – car accident while driving impaired leads to amputation of right leg from the knee down. At 28 – gets married. At 32 – becomes a single parent due to unexpected death of spouse. At 42 – publishes a successful scientific article. At 47 – experiences a traumatic divorce from second marriage. At 48 – gives his life to Christ.

I wonder how painful or unnerving it would be to see your child’s future times of suffering written out before you? I wonder how many parents couldn’t resist the desire to cross off or erase the tragedies or traumas and correct the self-inflicted wounds? However, we all must be very careful with that pencil. Our good intentions could actually make things far worse. If “what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger” is correct in its pure sense, then the complete erasure of adversity from your child’s future would most likely leave him or her weak and under-developed in many ways. As the end of days unfold and if we are in fact to endure to the end – we must understand with prophetic insight the aspects of adversity and its potential value both mentally and spiritually.

People, in my opinion need adversity, set-backs, loss, and even trauma to reach the highest levels of strength, fulfillment and personal development (both mentally and spiritually). I understand that the before mentioned saying – “what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger” cannot be taken literally in all life circumstances all of the time. People who face the real or present thoughts of their own deaths or who witness the violent deaths of others sometimes develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD)which are debilitating conditions that leaves its victims anxious and over-reactive. These people mentally change and crumble under the dynamics or pressure of adversity. I prophesy and state emphatically that it is essential that we overcome and seek divine healing if we suffer from PTSD and anxiety related traits. People in the grip of these stress disorders reflect depression, anxiety attacks, negativity, and increased potential for heart related disease. It is the Lord’s desire to completely restore and renew our minds to reflect the mind of Christ. The body as flesh is certain to decay in a fallen state and world. However, assaults on the mind require spiritual intervention or divine healing as the mind possesses eternal significance. We will need and require this mental healing, assurance, faith, and power as the ultimate Revelation begins to unfold. With this said, I want to bring a balanced approach and understanding to the statement “What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger” as well as shed light upon the certain adversity that is coming in our lives. It is also imperative that the church (you and I) view and understand how adversity can be harmful, but more importantly, how it can also be very beneficial and required when properly discerned.

This is not about the value of adversity with “some limits attached”. It’s a much more intense and interesting story than that. It’s a story that reveals how human beings grow and flourish in the real world and within our spiritual reality. It also defines how you and your child (if you have children) can best profit from the adversity that is certain to arise in your future. I would like to refer to this adversity as “post traumatic growth.” The story below will help illustrate.

My friend, which I will name Tony – life fell apart in 1996. On that day, his wife and two children ages 6 and 8 disappeared. It took Tony 4 days just to find out that they did not die in some sort of accident or even worse. Who I will name Brenda, had taken off with the children and left with a man she had met while eating lunch at restaurant a few weeks earlier. The four of them had been driving around the country and had been spotted in several western states. The private detective company that Tony hired quickly discovered that the man who ruined Tony’s life had earned his living as a con artist and petty criminal. How could this possibly have happened? It seemed to Tony that this was the type of things that only happened in movies. Tony felt like Job and striped of all he loved most in one day and like Job, he had no explanation for what had befallen him.

Tony called within the week to discuss whether I had any prophetic insight as to why his wife had fallen under the influence of such a fraud. The insight that I offered was that the man sounded like a genuine psychopath. Most psychopaths documented over the last 50 years are not physically violent (although most serial killers and rapists possess psychopathic tendencies). They are people who are usually men and possess no moral emotions, attachment systems, or concerns for others. Since they feel no shame, embarrassment, or guilt – they find it easy to manipulate people into giving them money, sex, and even trust. I told Tony that if this man was indeed a psychopath as I sensed, he would be incapable of love and would soon tire of the Brenda and the kids. I assured Tony that he would most likely see his children sooner than later.

Two months later, Brenda suddenly returned. The police returned the children into the custody of Tony and his panic phase was over but so was his marriage. Tony had to begin the long and painful process of rebuilding his life. He was now a single parent living on an assistant professor salary. He would face years of legal expenses fighting Brenda for custody of the kids. He now had little hope of finishing the published documents that his academic career depended upon and worried non-stop about his children’s emotional and spiritual health…As well as his own.

What was he going to do? I visited Tony 2 or 3 months later on a beautiful August evening in Michigan and as we sat on his porch, Tony explained to me how the crisis had affected him. He was still in pain but he learned that many people genuinely cared and were there to help him. Families from his church were bringing him meals and helping out with child care. Even his parents sold their house to move closer to him to help assist with raising of the children.

Tony explained to me that the experience radically changed his perspective about what truly mattered in life. As long as he had his children back; career success was no longer so important to him. He stated that he now treated people differently which was caused by a stark change in his changed values. He found himself responding to others with much deeper love, forgiveness, and sympathy. He just couldn’t get mad or upset at people for what seemed like “little things” anymore. It was then that Tony said something very powerful – “This is my moment to sing the aria, I don’t want to do it nor do I want this chance, but it’s here now and what am I going to do about it? Am I going to rise to the occasion?”

To have framed his circumstance in such a way showed that he was already rising to the occasion. With the help of his family, friends, and most importantly – a deep connection with God, Tony rebuilt his life, finished his book, and a couple years later found a fantastic job. I know without doubt that Tony still feels wounded by what happened. However, he said that many of the positive changes he had endured and that he now experiences more joy from each day with his kids, family, and friends than he did before the crisis.

Stress in and of itself can produce various affects and most documented research focuses on the “resilience” of people or the way people cope with adversity, fend off mental damage, and “bounce back” to normal functioning. But it’s only been recently that prophecy has grown in maturity to understand tragedy and proclaim how we can recognize, handle, and even benefit from its certain occurrences. These benefits must be viewed as “post traumatic growth” as I stated earlier if the church is to move forward within the mandate of scripture as the days of revelation are revealed to the sons of man. This is in stark contrast or the opposite of post traumatic stress disorder which debilitates. It is also in stark contrast with the ease and comfort message that grows a church crowd but fails to grow the church.

I have reviewed research studies which reveals that people who have suffered tragedy including cancer, heart disease, HIV, rape, assault, paralysis, infertility, bankruptcy, house fires, plane crashes, and earthquakes. These studies also reveal how people cope with the loss of their strongest attachments such as children, spouses, and parents. This large body of research shows that although trauma, crisis, and tragedy comes in hundreds forms and hundreds of ways, people benefit from them in three obvious ways.

The first benefit is that rising to a challenge reveals your hidden abilities. Seeing and experiencing these abilities changes your self-concept. None of us really knows what we are capable of rising above or enduring until endurance is stimulated. I have heard many say, “I would die if I lost X or, I could never survive what Y is going through.” Yet, these are statements pulled out of thin air with the stench and weakness of flesh. If you did lose X or found yourself in the same position as Y – your heart would not stop beating and you would continue to respond to the world as you found it and most of those responses would be automatic. People often say that they are “numb” or on “auto-pilot” after a loss or trauma. I truly understand that conscious behavior is severely altered, but somehow the physical body keeps moving. Over the next few weeks some degree of normalcy returns as one struggles to make sense of the loss or tragedy and of one’s altered circumstances. The statement “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” is not the bottom line. The bottom line is that you are now by definition a “survivor.” It is now “you” that others will marvel at and how you endured. It is the self-doubt within the hearts of man and the unsaved in the tragic days ahead that our witness and strength will be required by the Lord. Listen, we must be mentally and spiritually equipped as His witness upon earth.

One of the most common lessons people draw from tragedy, and trauma is that they are much stronger than they previously realized. This new appreciation of their strength then provides them the confidence to face future challenges. These “changes of mind” are not just imagined silver linings to wrap around a dark cloud. People who have suffered through battle, financial ruin, concentration camps, or traumatic personal losses often seem to be inoculated against future stress. They recover more quickly in part because they know they can cope. As a prophetic generation and voice we must be inoculated to withstand the viruses of evil that are upon earth as our witness and leadership opportunities arise.

The truth, which is contrary of much charismatic and “prophetic” teaching today, is that the person who has experienced adversity and even tragedy can stand more firmly in the face of problems than the person who has never experienced suffering and loss. From this view, we must conclude that some suffering can be beneficial as good lessons for our spiritual life.

The second benefit concerns relationships. Adversity is a filter. When a person is diagnosed with a terminal illness or when a couple experiences loss, friends and family members rise to the occasion and look for anything that they can do in expressing support or to be helpful. Sadly, these great acts of unconditional love do not usually occur in man toward another unless stimulated. On the other hand, others will turn away from our times of tragedy. Maybe, it’s that they’re unsure what to say or unable to overcome their own fear and discomfort with the situation which is usually the underpinning of avoidance. If we possess a fear of death, we are certainly not in good standing with both man and especially God. Adversity does not just separate the fair-weather friends from the true. It strengthens relationships when they intersect in crisis. It opens people’s hearts to one another.

We often develop love for those whom we care for and we usually feel deepening love and gratitude toward those who have cared for us in a time of need. One of the most common affects of losing a loved one is that the bereaved had a greater appreciation of and tolerance for the other people in his or her life. A woman who’s partner had died of an extended illness explained, “The lose enhanced my relationship with other people because I realized that time is so important and you can waste so much effort on small insignificant events or feelings. Like Tony, this bereaved woman found herself relating to others in a more loving, lasting, and a less petty way.

Tragedy and trauma seems to shut off the motivation to play petty tit for tat games with its emphasis on self-promotion and competition. This “change” in the way we relate to others points to the third benefit: Trauma changes mindsets and philosophies toward the present and it promotes living each day to the fullest and toward other people. A great many people facing death (even soldiers needing to kill out of self-defense and a justifiable purpose) report changes in values and perspectives in regard to the value of life. A diagnosis of cancer is often described in retrospect as a wake up call; a reality check, or a turning point. Many of these people consider changing careers or reducing the time they spend at work. The reality people often wake up to is that life is gift that they have been taking for granted and that people matter more than money, career, or anything else for that matter.

Please understand that the purpose of this message is not to celebrate suffering, tragedy, prescribe trauma, or minimize the need for you and I to reduce suffering wherever and whenever we can. I certainly do not desire to ignore the pain that ripples out from each diagnosis of cancer which naturally spreads fear along the lines of family and friends. I only desire to make the point that suffering is not always bad for all people and is necessary at times in our life. There is usually some good mixed in with the bad or trying times in our lives and those who find it and learn from it have found something very precious. They have found a key to moral maturity and spiritual development which is not to be feared but embraced with fortitude and strength. It’s time that we (the church) tighten up and stand up in the midst of crisis rather than shake in fear, doubt, and prophetic weakness. The day is at hand for the sons and daughters of God to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord…Yes, even in the midst of tragedy or loss because we understand that all things work out for good toward those who love Him!

“And we rejoice in the hope by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope by faith of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance and perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:3-5)