WILL THE REAL VICTIM PLEASE STAND UP?

I submit this offering with a view toward the future but also utilizing humanity’s past, history and habits in the hope of painting a social picture of the days ahead and a snapshot of America’s choices.

I’ll start by stating that ideologies can easily tempt those who originally reject them! A particular ideology, when stripped by time or partisanship of its political and economic connections, becomes a moralizing form of explanation for such horrors as mass control and mass killing – one that comfortably separates the people who attempt to explain them from the people who control and kill. It’s convenient to see the perpetrator just as someone who holds the wrong idea and is therefore different or even indifferent for that reason. It is easy and even reassuring to ignore the importance of economics and the complications of politics – factors that might in fact be common to historical perpetrators and those who later contemplate their actions. It is far more inviting, at least today in the West, to identify with victims than to understand the historical setting that they shared with perpetrators and bystanders in the fields of natural and spiritual battles. The identification with the victim affirms a radical separation from the perpetrator. The Holocaust guard who starts the engine or the SS officer who pulls the trigger is not ‘me’ – he is the person who kills someone like myself. Yet, it is unclear whether this kind of alienation from the killer is an ethical or correct stance. It is not all obvious that reducing history to morality ‘stage plays’ makes anyone more moral.

Unfortunately, claiming victim status does not in and of itself bring sound ethical choices. Stalin and Hitler both claimed throughout their political careers to be victims. They persuaded millions of other people that they, too, were victims of an international capitalist or Jewish conspiracy. During the German invasion of Poland, a German soldier believed that the death grimace of a Pole proved that Poles irrationally hated Germans. I once read a story of a Ukrainian communist during one of the famines in the Soviet bloc that found himself beleaguered by the corpses of the starved at his doorstep. The catch is that both portrayed themselves as victims. No major war or act of mass killing in the twentieth century began without the aggressors or perpetrators first claiming innocence and victimhood. In the twenty-first century, we see a second wave of aggressive wars with victim claims, in which leaders not only present their peoples as victims but make explicit reference back to the mass murders of the twentieth century…Ironic? Certainly not, and should be expected by those who have ears to hear and eyes that survey historical and spiritual landscapes. Victimhood will manifest as a powerful dynamic for both forces of light and darkness. Understanding the motive of the victims, perpetrators, and bystanders will be paramount in choosing the right social path and personal destiny.

The human capacity for subjective victimhood is limitless, and people who believe that they are victims can be motivated to perform acts of great violence. In other words, history has shown us that the Austrian policeman shooting babies at Mahileu, Belarus imagined what the Soviets would do to his own children. Victims are people; a true identification with them would involve grasping their lives rather than grasping at their deaths which seems to be our human nature when swaddled in fleshly reactions and media bias / ignorance. Although, by definition, victims are either dead or unable to defend themselves from the use that others make of their deaths or loss. It is easy to sanctify policies and even identities by the deaths of the victims. It is less appealing, but morally more urgent , to understand the actions of the perpetrator. The moral danger after all, is never that one might become a victim but that one might be a perpetrator or a bystander. It is tempting to say that a ISIS murderer is beyond the pale of understanding. Renowned politicians and intellectuals – for example, have justified revenge and people who have called others subhuman were subhuman themselves. Yet to deny a human being his human character is to render ethics and morality impossible. To yield to this temptation, to find other people to be inhuman, is to take a step toward and not away from past positions that have been embraced by the Babylonians to the Grecian Spartans to the Nazi Germans and permeating the present day. To simply find people incomprehensible is to abandon the search for understanding, and thus abandon history which will surely repeat itself on a much grander scale.

To dismiss some of the worlds most tragic regimes of the past as beyond human concern or historical understanding is to fall into their moral trap and temptation. The safer route is to realize that their motives for mass control or even killing, however revolting to us, made sense to them. Heinrich Himmler said that it was good to see a hundred, or five hundred, or a thousand corpses lying side by side. What he meant was that to kill another person is a sacrifice of the purity of one’s own soul, and that making this sacrifice, elevated the killer to a higher moral level. (This is critical to the church’s understanding in discerning the mindset of the antichrist deception…for even the elect will be tempted by its lure of misguided righteousness when the times will get even tougher). The truth is that this behavior was an expression of a certain kind of devotion. It was an instance, albeit an extreme and evil one, of a Nazi value that is not entirely alien to most of mankind – the sacrifice of the individual in the name of the community. Herman Goring said that his conscience was named Adolf Hitler. For Germans who accepted Hitler as their leader, faith was very important. The object of their faith could hardly have been more poorly chosen, but their capacity for faith is nonetheless undeniable. The truth is that evil depends upon good in the sense that those who come together to commit evil deeds must be devoted one to the other and believe in their cause. Devotion and faith did not make the Nazi Germans good, but they do make them human. Like everyone else, they had access to ethical thinking, even if their own was dreadfully misguided.

The conclusion is that only those who are redeemed and exercise their prophetic muscles will be able to comprehend the truth and rightly discern social ideologies that align with the spirit of Christ and which we choose to follow. God is deeply involved in government, economics, and yes, even politics. If He wasn’t – He wouldn’t have us pray for these institutions nor honor the men and women who have committed to them. The persona of ‘victim’, ‘perpetrator’ and ‘bystander’ possesses the power to implement tremendous change – both tremendously good and horribly bad.

BELIEFS ON A LEASH

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Do you sometimes hold back because you may be afraid of the unexpected? Do you sometimes fear failure as I once did? I’ll be the first to admit that I feared failure for most of my young life and it resulted in ‘limiting beliefs’ which held me back from ‘powerful beliefs’ that were required to support my personal development. It’s been stated that “Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy.” Limiting our beliefs is what holds us back and prevents us from following our dreams and providing a positive influence within our communities. Folks with limiting beliefs fear failure and humiliation based on expectations, previous attempts, and past failures. Powerful beliefs support our dreams and mental model suggesting that we can apprehend anything we aim to achieve in life. It’s important to note that even when we possess varying degrees of fear in regard to failure, we can change our limited beliefs to more powerful beliefs. Powerful beliefs shape us and makes us become the people we have the potential to become and have been created to realize. Maybe, just maybe, our New Years resolution should focus more on the root cause rather than the symptoms such as over eating and various bad habits? Our New Year’s outlook and focus should be strengthening our spirit man and the powerful beliefs in our lives that proves our true identity in Christ.

Darren Hardy wrote an interesting story about a little dog whose owner kept it on a leash for years, tied to a tree. The little dog would see other dogs and run right to the end of his leash. The dog knew precisely how far it could go. One day, the owner felt sorry for the dog, so he decided to let him off the leash. Instead of removing the entire leash, however, the owner simply unfastened the leash from the tree but the collar remained around the dog’s neck. The owner thought the dog would take off running, happy and free. When another dog came along, sure enough, the little dog got up and took off running. Much to his surprise, when the little dog got to where the leash would have ended, the dog stopped dead right where he always had. The little dog was free but he didn’t realize it. This story is timely for many reading this and we have to begin focusing on our powerful beliefs.

It takes commitment to enhance our powerful beliefs. The story about the dog illustrates that limiting beliefs are holding us back from achieving results. As we move into 2016, I want to challenge you to change your view of limiting beliefs and commit to powerful beliefs instead. Remember this quote: “We were all born equal, but where we are in life now is of our own making” Powerful beliefs and powerful commitments can take you far and and my hope is that you to realize that.

The past does not equal the future and whatever has happened in the past does not necessarily dictate your future. Humans are unique in that sense. We are the only species who can completely change the course of our lives. All animals are directed entirely by impulse written into their genetic code as instinct.  Humans are different though. As a human, if you do not like the story of your life thus far, you can rip up the script and write a completely new one. You know what it requires? You have to make a conscious decision that you want to change your belief system and habits…It’s as simple as that. Remember the story about the dog? Don’t let the leash hold you back. It is not there anymore!

There is always a way to the abundant life if we’re committed. Commitment and always determines whether you get a successful or unsuccessful outcome. I have a powerful belief telling me that no matter what I want to achieve – it is possible. I know that commitment can take me places I dreamed of as child and new dreams which are birthed in my adult experience. When we commit to something, we automatically tell ourselves that we accept no excuses, but only results. Continuous committed effort will take you where you want to be. Take that leash off and chase your dreams because there is always a way if you are committed to travel the road regardless of the turns and pot holes. God is the creator of your breath and life – You are the creator of your future.

Failure is learning and learning is the ingredient for success. One of the most common limiting beliefs is the fear of failure as previously stated. The vast majority of people are afraid of failing and naturally associate failure with something extremely bad and humiliating. In case you have this limiting belief, I want you to change it as the first step toward obtaining the abundant life. Whether we like failure or not, I think we can all agree that failure can be the best teacher. When we learn from our failures we are more likely to succeed in the future. Don’t be afraid of failure, but embrace it as the school master it is. If you want to have more powerful beliefs I suggest you perceive failure as learning and learning as success and success as fulfillment.

Life is an awesome event to be played not a problem to be fixed. Some people make the most of their situation and other people feel like victims no matter what happens. 2016 presented these disparities in plain view. I want you to remember that your life is an event to be played with eternal ramifications and not a problem to be fixed. Be positive about what you are doing and keep in mind that, at the end of the day, what really matters is how content you are with with your commitment to ‘life’ which is exceedingly rare and priceless….You are a one of kind. We can’t always determine what happens to us, but we can always determine how we react. Have a positive outlook on life and join the event because it is fun once we are committed to invoking powerful beliefs.

We see the belief system in action when we consider a football team. When a team starts losing a few times in a row the players adopt limiting belief systems and continue the bad streak. However, when a team has won for 5 games in a row they have the confidence and powerful beliefs. The power of belief is amazing and the power of belief can bring new results and contentment into your life. Adopt a powerful belief system in order to create instead of destroy your future. It’s your choice!

THE SWINGER AND THE SLINGER

A 3rd day message for the kingdom as the body of Christ receives resurrection and revelation power. It is declared and prophesied that the church has risen with vision and armed with the knowledge of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit whom works mightily in you. The Spirit of the Lord says, Come, for the hour has struck in which great feats will be accomplished and awesome victories will be birthed in the valleys of decision as dead dreams are resurrected to life.
I want to thank Kevin and Donna for allowing me to share what the Lord has placed upon heart and if you want to follow along, we’ll start in John 20:2
“Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.” (John 20:2)
The Bible states that Mary ‘saw’ that the stone had been rolled away and that someone had “taken the Lord’s body.” First, was this an accurate statement that Mary had just spoken to the disciples? Did someone actually take the Lord’s body as Mary clearly interpreted?
The answer must be no. Most reading and hearing this know and understand that Jesus had been resurrected in power. What Mary had ‘seen’ was according to her vision in the natural realm and what she discerned from a natural perspective. Essentially, Mary was formulating a belief system and a conclusion based upon her past experiences in life rather than a prophetic promise which could only be comprehended by spiritual discernment.
In other words, Mary’s past natural experiences wrongly influenced her spiritual insight. The Greek word in the earliest Codex and manuscripts for ‘saw’ is ‘Blepo’ which means to ‘casually or naturally see which is limited to natural observation’.
Continuing in verse 4:
“Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in.” (John 20:4)
The original intent and context for what John ‘saw’ in this verse is the same word ‘Blepo’ that Mary had previously based her assumptions on. We see very little progress in discerning the resurrection and the supernatural events Jesus had foretold concerning Himself and the future of the church. We also notice that John did not go into the tomb (which is a picture and type of dying to oneself). Because of this perspective, John’s spiritual understanding would be limited to what he ‘saw’ with his natural eyes and past frames of reference.
“Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.” (John 20:6-7)
We’ve now read and recognize that Peter chose to go into the tomb. The original context in which Peter ‘saw’ is the Greek word ‘Thereo’ which is the obvious Greek equivalent of the modern word ‘theory’. Peter is pondering the facts that he is witnessing and we do have some progress, but we do not base our faith and prophetic discernment on theory, assumption and presumption.
“Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he SAW and BELIEVED.” (John 20:8)
John “saw and believed” and something spiritually snapped in the blink of an eye. The Greek word for ‘saw’ in this verse is ‘Eido’ which means to see with understanding or knowledge. It’s no accident or mistake that we have three different Greek words for the same modern translation of ‘saw’ in this short passage and historical event. This is the prophetic and spiritual vision that the Lord desires you and I possess as we continue to experience the kingdom of God on earth moving in power. (Remember the statement: The Kingdom of God on Earth. It’s important that we understand that the earth is evolving as more and more corrupt by the sons of perdition. But the earth is also crying out for the redeeming of the sons and prophets of God for it is our inheritance!)
John saw into the reality, power, and love of the Spirit realm and this anointing of prophetic vision would continue to increase and mature in John’s life, culminating in the Revelation of Jesus Christ – The Spirit of prophecy.
 As we transition into the meat of this message, the Lord said to Samuel “Do not look upon his appearance or in the height of his stature because I have rejected him. For the Lord does not see as mortals see for they look on the outward appearance. But the Lord looks on the heart”. (1 Sam. 16:7)

Am I a dog that you should come to me with sticks?

In the heart of ancient Palestine, is the region known as the Shephalah which is a series of ridges and valleys connecting the Judean Mountains to the East with the wide expanse of the Mediterranean plain.

It’s an area of historic and breathtaking beauty. It’s home to vineyards, wheat fields, and forests of sycamore and terebinth brush. The Shephalah is also of great strategic importance. Over the centuries, numerous battles have been fought for control of the region because the valley’s rising from the Mediterranean plain offer those on the coast a clear path to the cities of Hebron, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem in the Judean Highlands.

The most important valley is Aijolon in the north. But the most storied is the Elah Valley. Elah’s dirt bore witness to the arrival of the knights of the crusades in the 12th century. It played a central role in the Maccabean Wars with Syria more than a thousand years before. Most famously, during the days of the Old Testament, it was where the fledgling kingdom of Israel squared off against the armies of the Philistines.

The Philistines were most likely from Crete. They were a seafaring people who had moved to Palestine and settled in along the coast. The Israelites were clustered in the mountains under the leadership of King Saul and in the second half of the 11th century B.C., the Philistines began spreading out and moving east winding their way upstream along the floor of the Elah Valley. The goal and enemy strategy was to capture the mountain ridge near Bethlehem and split Saul’s kingdom in two halves as a house divided will not stand!

The Philistines were battle tested and dangerous and already the sworn enemies of the Israelites. Alarmed, Saul gathered his men and hastened down the mountains to confront them. The Philistines set up camp along the southern ridge of the Elah and the Israelites pitched their tents on the other side along the northern ridge which left the two armies gazing across the ridges at each other.

As strong as the Philistines were, neither army dared to move as attacking meant descending down the hill and then making a suicidal climb up the enemies ridge on the other side.

Finally, the Philistines had enough waiting. They sent their greatest warrior down into the valley to resolve the deadlock – one on one (manos-a-manos). He was a giant at least 6’9″ wearing a bronze helmet with full body armor. He carried a javelin, a spear, and a sword and his battle attendant went before him carrying a large shield which was customary for the day to support infantry. The giant faced the Israelites and shouted out, “choose you a man and let him come down to me. If he prevail in battle against me and strike me down – we shall be slaves to you. But if I prevail and strike him down – you will be slaves to us and serve us.”

In the Israelite camp, no one moved. Who could prevail and win against such a terrifying opponent? Then, a shepherd boy who had come down from Bethlehem to bring food to his brothers stepped forward and volunteered. Saul objected to his request and stated, “You cannot go against this Philistine and do battle with him, for you are a lad and he is man of war from his youth.” But this non-assuming shepherd was adamant: “I have faced more ferocious opponents than this” he argued. When the lion or bear would come and carry off his sheep from the herd, he told Saul, “I would go after him and strike him down and rescue it from its clutches.” After all, Saul really had no other options.

Saul relented and the shepherd boy ran down the hill toward the giant standing in the valley and stating: “Come to me that I may give your flesh to the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field.” Thus began one of history’s most famous battles and misconceptions of the position of ‘underdog’. The giant’s name was Goliath. The shepherd boy’s name as most of you know was David.

David and Goliath is a true story about what happens when ordinary people confront giants in their life. By giants, I mean powerful opponents of all kinds. From armies and mighty warriors to disability, misfortune, addictions, financial issues, and various forms of oppression. Each verse of this event tells the story of all of us – whether famous or unknown, ordinary or brilliant, and those who have faced an oversized challenge and have been forced to respond.

Should I play by the established rules or follow my own instincts? Should I persevere or give up? Should I strike back or forgive? Through this story, I want to explore two ideas. The first is much of what we consider valuable in our world arises out these kinds of lopsided conflicts because the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and realizes the abundant life.

Secondly, that we consistently get these kinds of conflicts wrong and more often than not, misread them. We misinterpret them due to our past and natural frames of reference just as Mary thought that the Lord’s body had been naturally stolen out of the tomb. In other words, we base much of our faith out of past natural experiences rather than spiritual promises. Giants are usually not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of their greatest weakness as I’ll explain.

We need a better understanding of God’s template of facing the giants in our lives and there is no better place to start that journey than with the epic confrontation between David and Goliath 3000 years ago in the Valley of Elah.

When Goliath shouted out to the Israelites, he was asking for what was known as ‘single combat’. This was a common practice in the ancient world as two sides in a conflict would seek to avoid the heavy bloodshed of open battle by choosing one warrior to represent them in a dual. For example, the 1st century B.C. Roman historian Quintus Claudius Quadrigarius (author of 23 books of ancient history) tells of an epic battle in which a Gaul warrior began mocking his Roman opponents. This immediately aroused the great indignation of a man named Titus Manlius Torquatus, a youth of noble birth. Quadragarius writes that Titus challenged the Gaul to a dual. He stepped forward and would not suffer Roman valor to be shamefully tarnished by a Gaul. Armed with a legionary shield and a Spanish sword, he confronted the Gaul. Their fight took place on the bridge over the Arno River in the presence of both armies amid great apprehension just like in the Valley of Elah. Thus, they confronted each other – the Gaul according to his method of fighting – with shield advanced and waiting in attack. Manlius, relying on courage rather than the established skill struck shield against shield and threw the Gaul off balance. While the Gaul was trying to regain the same position, Manlius again struck shield against shield and again forced the man to change his ground. In this fashion, he slipped under the Gaul’s sword and stabbed him in the chest with his Spanish blade. After he had slain him, Manlius cut off the Gaul’s head and tore out his tongue as it was with blood upon it and placed it around his own neck.

This is what Goliath was expecting. A warrior like himself to come forward in hand to hand combat. It never occurred to him that the battle would be fought in anything other than the terms he had prepared for. To protect himself against blows to the body, he wore an elaborate tunic made up of hundreds of overlapping bronze fish-like scales. It covered his arms and reached to his knees and probably weighed more than a hundred pounds. He had bronze shin-guards protecting his legs with attached bronze plates covering his feet and wore a heavy metal helmet.

He had three separate weapons all optimized for close combat. He held a javelin made entirely of bronze which was capable of penetrating a shield or even armor. He had a sword on his hip and as his primary option, he carried a unique short range spear with a metal shaft as thick as a “weavers beam.” It had a cord attached to it and a elaborate set of weights that allowed it to be released with a powerful force and accuracy. To the Israelite, this extraordinary spear with its heavy shaft and long and heavy iron blade when thrown by Goliath’s strong arm, seemed possible of piercing any bronze shield and bronze armor together. Can you see why no Israelite would come forward to fight Goliath from natural eyes and a natural perspective?

Then David appears. Saul tries to give him his own sword and armor so at least he’ll have a fighting chance but David refuses. “I can’t walk in these he says, For I am unused to it.” Instead, he reaches down and picks up five smooth stones and puts them in his shoulder bag. Then David descends into the valley carrying his shepherds staff.

Goliath looks at the boy coming toward him and is insulted as he was expecting to do battle with a seasoned warrior. Instead, he sees a shepherd, a boy from the lowliest of all professions who seems to want to use his shepherd’s staff as a laughable weapon against Goliath’s sword. “Am I a dog” Goliath says gesturing at the staff – “That you should come to me with sticks?”

What happens next is a matter of legend. David puts one of his stones into the leather pouch of a sling and he fires at Goliath’s exposed forehead. Goliath falls and is stunned. David runs toward him; seizes the giant’s sword and cuts off his head. The Philistines saw that their warrior was dead and they fled as the Bible states.

“The battle is won miraculously by an underdog who by all expectations should not have won at all”. This is how we have told or explained to one another this story over the many centuries since. It is exactly how the well known phrase “David and Goliath” has come to be embedded in our language, conscious, and culture as a metaphor for improbable victory. But the problem with that version of events and the pipe we’ve been smoking from is that almost everything about it including its perceived revelation is entirely wrong!

Ancient armies reflected three kinds or types of warriors. The first was cavalry – armed men on horseback or in chariots. The second was infantry – foot-soldiers wearing armor and carrying swords and shields. The third was projectile warriors or what we would understand today as ‘artillery’. These artillery skills would be expressed on ancient battlefields as archers and slingers.

The Slingers had a leather pouch attached on two sides by a long strand of rope. They would put a rock or a lead ball into the pouch, swing it around at increasingly wider and faster circles and then release one end of the rope hurling the rock forward. Slinging took an extraordinary amount of skill and practice, but in experienced hands, the sling was a devastating weapon.

Paintings from medieval times show slingers hitting birds in mid flight. Irish slingers were said to able to hit a coin from as far away as they could see it. And in the Old Testament book of Judges, slingers are described to be accurate within a “hair’s breath.”

An experienced slinger could kill or seriously injure a target at a distance of up to 200 yards. The Romans even had a special set of tongs just to remove stones that had been embedded in some unfortunate soldier’s body by a sling. Imagine standing in front of a major league baseball pitcher as he aims the baseball at your head. That’s what facing a slinger was like. Only what was being thrown wasn’t a ball of cork and leather, but a solid rock and understanding what and who the quote: “Rock” is will translate into defeat or victory!

History has also shown us that the sling was such an important weapon in ancient warfare that the three kinds or types of ancient warriors balanced each other. This would be similar to each dynamic in the game of rock, paper, scissors. With their long prods and ground pikes and armor, infantry could stand up to cavalry. Cavalry could in turn defeat projectile warriors because the horses moved too quickly for artillery to take proper aim. And projectile warriors were deadly against infantry because lumbering soldier weighed down with armor were a sitting duck for a slinger who would be slinging projectiles from over a hundred yards away. This is exactly why the Athenian expedition failed in the Peloponnese War. The Athenian heavy infantry was decimated in the mountains by local light infantry – primarily using the sling. (Russia was defeated by tribal Afghanistan using the same methodology). Goliath is a type of heavy infantry. He thinks he is going to be engaged in a dual with another heavy infantry-man. Our gravest error is fighting evil on evil’s playing field and expectations. In the same manner as Titus Manlius’ fight with the Gaul – Goliath states, “Come to me that I may give your flesh to the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field.” The key phrase is: “Come to me.” In other words, Goliath means, come right up to me so we can fight at close quarters. When Saul tries to dress David in armor and give him a sword, he is operating under the same assumption and carnal understanding. He sees or envisions David fighting Goliath hand to hand.

David however, has no intention to honor the traditions of man, traditions of single combat the establishment, and the means of “established warfare.” When he tells Saul that he has killed bears and lions as a shepherd, he does so not just as a testimony to his courage, but to create another testimony as well (Folks can dispute your doctrine, but they can’t dispute your testimony) David will fight Goliath the same way that he has learned to fight large and wild animals as a projectile warrior. David, without hesitation, runs towards Goliath because without armor, he has speed and maneuverability. He puts a rock into his sling and whips it around and around, faster and faster a t 6-7 revolutions per second while aiming the projectile at Goliath’s forehead – the giants only point of vulnerability.

Modern tests and calculations reflect that a typically sized stone hurled by an expert slinger at a distance of 115 feet would have hit Goliath’s head with a velocity of 112 feet per second. This is more than enough to penetrate his skull and render him unconscious or dead. In terms of stopping power, that would equate to a medium sized modern handgun. We find that David fired and hit Goliath within just one second. This range of time so brief that Goliath would not have been able to protect himself and which he would have been stationary for all practical purposes.

I mean, what could Goliath do? He was carrying over a hundred pounds of armor. He was prepared for a battle at close range where he could stand strong but immobile warding off blows with his armors and delivering a mighty thrust of his spear. He watched David approach first with scorn, then with surprise, and then with what could only have been genuine fright as it dawned on him that the battle he was expecting has suddenly changed shape. The prophetic application to this statement is paramount to church’s and our personal future success.

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin. But I come against you in the name of the Lord and the Lord will deliver you into my hands and I will strike you down and cut off your head. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves, for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give all of you into our hands.”

Twice, David mentions Goliath’s sword and spear as if to emphasize how profoundly different his intentions really are. He then reaches in his shepherd’s bag for a stone and at that point no one watching from the ridges from either side of valley would have figured David’s victory improbable. David was a slinger and all in attendance knew that slingers beat infantry hands down.

Goliath had as much chance of victory over David as any bronze age warrior with a sword would have had with a Green beret armed 45 automatic pistol. Folks, this wasn’t even close!

Underdog my…..As I earlier stated, there has been much misunderstanding and what has been passed down from generation to generation and the true essence of what happened that day in the Valley of Elah. David is representative of you and me in that we have been redeemed and empowered which should reflect a different perspective than the world’s perspective in overcoming giants and obstacles. It also reveals the church’s preconceived notions and folly in regard to genuine power and what is already available as Kingdom citizens. If we are truly kingdom culture, then we understand that we are from heaven and colonizing the earth. We are not defensive nor are we underdogs. We are colonizers!

The reason King Saul is skeptical of David’s chances is because David is small and Goliath is large. Saul thinks of power in terms of physical might, past frames of reference, and doesn’t understand that power comes in many other forms and expressions. Adhered rules of the mind generated by our past natural experiences are meant to be broke! Spiritual speed (prayer) and maneuverability (prophetic utterance) will always overcome natural and brute strength in overcoming giants as we are more than conquerors. We can take this story and prophetic offering and apply its lessons in many areas of life. Again, what we perceive as a strong and undefeatable adversary – It’s pronounced strength is usually its greatest weakness in being defeated.

FLAMMING LIPS SINK SHIPS

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As we move into the year 2017, what should be our focus and what is the Father corporately speaking? I’m sure that many of us would love to know, but why don’t you know? Maybe, we can start by understanding that although we do not live in the past, the past certainly lives in us individually and culturally in varying degrees. Warfare, conquest, and revenge is a major part of that past and has been a major developer within the cultures of world history. We experience these collective and cultural offsprings in our generation today. Wars or battles of conquest have changed languages, economies, moral and social fabrics of entire people groups which continues to the current day. The manifestations can be attributed via many mediums such as military, media propaganda, sociopolitical, and economically within the marketplace.

As a result of man’s propensity to satisfy greed through conquest, the western American hemisphere (where I live) is today a much larger natural and spiritual geography of a European civilization than Europe itself! Even those today in the western hemisphere who may dislike European ideologies express that form of displeasure in European languages and denounce it as immoral by European standards of morality. Ironic? Have we ever really or truly thought about these dynamics within a prophetic context?

The truth is that America ‘had’ to rescue Europe many times such as World War I and World War II for very specific reasons. This statement is akin to children who still unconditionally love and oddly protect their parents whom may not treat them well and even abuse them. Such is the relationship between America and Europe.

The history of conquest and man’s propensity to embrace secular, religious, and spiritual ‘armies’ and references to weaponry is not just about the past (although it has shaped the world’s cultures as I stated earlier) – it’s also very much about the present and the future as it unfolds. Warfare and conquest ultimately speaks to why we have arrived at where we are economically, intellectually, and socially. Likewise, it will define our future as the ultimate revelation.

Humanity in its spiritually unregenerate state is the offspring or first born of violence and its spirit has continued to grip many hearts (even those who are spiritually redeemed and especially of the prophetic persuasion). The flesh nature of man continually desires to conquer from both selfish agenda and perceived goodness. We need to look no further than much of today’s damning prophecies of doom directed toward mankind within the dispensation of grace and God’s love.

A true picture comes into view that after thousands and thousands of years, mankind is still juvenile and delinquent in its treatment of one another. Greed for earthly treasure which is surely to pass in our short life rules the day as it did in generations past. Humanity’s legacy is stained by the blood of religious zealots, political greed, marketplace greed, and the lust for economic cargo which is forever tied to what is earthly and temporal.

Many have wondered where and how America will be positioned and its relevance in the future as the days unfold. Why is America or the western hemisphere not specifically mentioned in most ancient texts that speak to the prophetic future? The answer may be that America is still spiritually tied to Europe and the soul-ties have never been broken due to the ‘conquest spirit’ that was inflicted upon native cultures and the soon enslavement of other peoples thereafter?

The Revelation of days will unfold for America as it will Europe who birthed her unless the ties are broken. The U.K. exiting from the E.U. is the first step of untying these spiritual and constrictive ties. Essentially, the umbilical cord of mother Europe that nourished the hostile takeover of the Americas was never severed through true and genuine repentance. America is still drinking the mother’s milk and she has never truly asked for forgiveness nor been forgiven.

We must ask ourselves why are the predominate parts or verbiage of prophetic offerings today laced with such militaristic or conquest laded wording such as “army”, “swords”, “battle” which continue on in the dispensation of grace? I believe that these militaristic messages reveal spiritual importance and are significant as I sought clarity concerning our culture, impact, and heart condition as believers in Christ and how prophecy is meant to reveal the Spirit or mind of Christ. In other words, who are we culturally in regard to identity as a prophetic church? Do we accurately reflect the culture and mandates of the kingdom? What is our true agenda and genuine spirit for this hour and generation? Could we be missing something when we look back at the lack of impact we have had upon humanity as the church? Why has the church lacked impact with such catastrophically nominal results? Are Christians really ready to have their paradigms, dogmas, and spiritual cultures turned inside-out? Maybe, as many continually cry out and seek a paradigm shift or breakthrough from God and desire change…But do we really? The answer is not yet…But we will!

The bible states in Revelation 22: “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book; If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

We should consider if these relatively modern types of prophetic and militaristic proclamations are essentially “adding to the book” since the Revelation has been declared, determined, and sealed. As a prophetic individual or generation, we can only justify our declarations of ‘judgement’ by stating that we have not added to the ‘words’ of the Revelation as it has been decreed and sealed. To clarify: First, does it really matter? Yes! Doesn’t the words we speak or pen reflect our true heart condition and culture in usurping the position of God in rendering judgement upon another as a supplement to ‘this prophecy’ as stated in scripture? This is interesting since we are all likewise sinners saved by grace, and to have received grace ourselves as filthy rags and then to turn and cast judgment upon another(s) via prophecy is questionable and should at least be prayerfully considered.

Secondly, the Bible states this directive: “To everyone who hears the words of this prophecy.” It would seem that adding to prophecy through the actual letter or Word via pen was and is not the intent or meaning since the far majority of folks (especially the saved) were not skilled in writing or literate at the time of this inspiration anyway. The warning was clearly directed to “everyone who heard” the prophecy and understood its meaning. In other words, it was not only adding to the canon of scripture that instituted the warning – but adding to it’s intent and purpose in our hearts as well!

Most prophetic utterances of judgement regarding family, people groups, countries, political leaders etc., generate from frustration. This is understandable and hinges from the wickedness and debauchery in the world today…I get it. Although there are certainly many areas which are tragic in the cultures of humanity as a whole, we have actually come a long way in regard to civilization and how we interact with one another (especially across ethnic, social and cultural boundaries). Just a generation ago, the United States was still exhibiting strong elements of racism and prejudice under a warped guise of ‘Christianity’. Native Americans were annihilated under the banner of manifest destiny. Private properties were confiscated under abusive immanent domain laws, and the judicial government under the Hoover years were much more abusive / intrusive in spirit in regards to personal privacy.

If we look back from the time of Christ’s burial and resurrection which ushered in the dispensation of grace, we can easily see a trend toward improved global behavioral and cultural improvement. Slavery and forced labor was common and accepted in all cultures and societies around the world. Human brutality, chronic rape, serfdom, child sacrifice, superstition, mythology, fear mongering, no rights for women, blood revenge, manhood rituals, taxation without representation, despotism, and continual warfare were the norm and expected rather than unexpected on every square mile of dirt on the planet.

How can we as a prophetic generation declare with a clear conscience that the world is so much more evil and wicked than any other time previous in history? This is simply not true and negates the authenticity of the prophecy at its conception and inception. Sin still ravages the world, but this is to be expected as long as souls encased in flesh and bone walks upon it! However, we have a choice to make moving forward in regard to how the prophetic voice (the Spirit of Christ) views the world, views its people, and how it translates the purpose and power of the cross.

The sacrifice and power of the cross must not be declared as having no effect. It is still active, powerful and cuts to the core of soul and spirit. As Ambassadors of Christ, the same mighty power to affect others resides in us as believers. But yet, many prophesy and declare judgement and disaster upon humanity and geographies because we fail to see results in our frustration. The core problem is that we have created a vicious cycle of judgement and plagues upon ourselves because we have not heeded the warning in Revelation 22 and have “added to these prophecies” in casting retribution upon others no different than ourselves – except that we have been saved and transformed by grace and not of our own merit. Many easily declare that the hearts and intentions of others will be revealed…But do we want ours revealed for all to see as well? Self-righteousness is the seed-bed which easily grows full bloom into pride and spiritual arrogance.

Man’s seeking for judgement upon another man rather than justice tempered with mercy always develops into a cycle of retribution. We can clearly see through history to the present day that if a wrong is committed against a certain individual – that individual will usually desire equal or oftentimes a more severe punishment than the crime committed against them. We know this as punitive nature which is ingrained in the flesh of man. This spirals out of control not only at the personal level, but at societal and national levels as well. These are the punitive retributions that most wars are made of. Humanity’s impulse and propensity for others to pay dearly for their crimes is an overwhelming one which we must take note of and wonder if it has affected our persona and culture (spiritually as much as naturally)?

The good news is that we can rest in Christ because we know that we serve a Lord and God who will make all things right at the end. This has been the overarching power that has held mankind back from destroying itself generations ago. The judgement and justice of God is awesome in both power and intense love. We see this attribute exhibited in the redeemed man in that we can possess wrath and anger not in spite, but because we love so deeply. Anger is not the opposite of love. Hate is. The final form of hate is indifference which many prophetic offerings sadly possess.

God’s wrath is not a mean explosion, but His intense opposition to the spiritual cancer which is eating out the insides of the human race which He loves with his whole being. If I don’t believe that there is a God who will eventually put all things right and in order, my flesh will take up the sword and will be sucked into the endless vortex of retaliation. Only if I am sure that there is a God who will right all wrongs and settle all accounts perfectly do I have the power to refrain. This not only includes physical violence, but the violence we declare from our words that so easily roll off our tongues which may be the the most powerful weapon of all…

We don’t need to judge and condemn the world, our countries, our societies, political leaders and others. They are already judging themselves in knowingly rejecting His grace and love. Our position is to proclaim truth in the spirit of faith, hope, and love. Our ‘culture’ is to extend love and hope in bringing them to faith in Christ in 2017.

LIBERTY OR LIBERALISM?

Please note that this message is not filled with spiritual catch phrases and actually does not reflect any scripture. However, this shouldn’t prevent us from comprehending the prophetic applications. It’s imperative that the church not take a back seat to politics at this hour with the understanding that the gospel of Jesus Christ is shared much more fluidly in a free and capital based society. The architecture is now in place for a one world government philosophy. How will we respond? I ask because the earth is our inheritance and ground zero of the Kingdom decent of heaven… We’re not going anywhere beloved and we have some work to do in ensuring that we are stewarding our inheritance well. This includes weening ourselves off reliance within the government of man and relying upon the government of God.

Contrary to what much of the American public wants to believe – big government cannot create wealth, jobs, or income. Because government has to take money from somebody else before it can spend it, there is no economic gain from anything the government does. Money collected in taxes or borrowed would have been either spent or invested in the private sector. Any jobs government claims to have created are only in place of other jobs the same money would have produced if people had been allowed to spend it themselves.

Contrary to what much of the American public wants to believe – if big government provides things for free, they will end up being low quality, cost more than they should, and may disappear when most needed. Public education, free health care, welfare programs; does anybody think these programs are high quality, reliable, and have no waste in their budgets? Most states fund the majority of their technical and community college programs. Thus, in the recent recession, right when lots of people wanted to get some new job skills, technical and community colleges had to cut their budgets and offer fewer classes. The freebie disappeared at just the wrong time. The sad reality is: when the customer does not pay, the product is rarely any good and oftentimes piss-poor.

Contrary to what much of the American public wants to believe – big government cannot correct cosmic injustice. None of us likes to see or experience cosmic injustices such as kids with serious health problems through no fault of their own, families whose homes are destroyed in natural disasters, etc. However, when the government steps in to correct a cosmic injustice, the price must be paid by someone else—a someone else who had nothing to do with causing the injustice being addressed. Thus, every time government fixes or eases a cosmic injustice, it creates a new one by sticking somebody with the bill—either a financial one or one measured in some other form of cost. For example, each affirmative action college admission by definition mean some other applicant must be turned down. We may be willing, as a society, to bear an injustice in order to fix some cosmic injustices (e.g., many will willingly chip in to pay for a child’s medical care), but we cannot create a world free from all cosmic injustices.

Contrary to what much of the American public wants to believe – big government has lied to its people as folk’s wages are not under the thumb of corporate exploitation. In a free and democratic based country, people voluntarily accept employment, so all workers believe their current job to be the best choice from among their opportunities. If a business paid its workers much less than they were worth, a competitor would offer more and hire them away. As consumers, when we go shopping, we are happy to find low prices. We certainly do not go out of our way to pay more than we need to for things. Businesses are the same when they are ‘buying’ labor; they do not pay more than they need to pay. Businesses exist to make profit, so a business will not, and should not, pay its workers more just because it has the profits available to do so. Workers get paid more only when they become more productive or when the price of what they make goes up.

How much longer will literally half of the American public want to believe that free hand outs, unnecessary regulations, and social entitlements will really solve our issues today and tomorrow?

PROPHETS OF DOOM

On the heels of the big oil discovery in Texas, I knew that it would only be a matter of hours before I’d read prophecies of a powerful earthquake coming to middle America. This is part and parcel with the addition to increasingly dire predictions from more and more people of mass death and destruction on an apocalyptic scale. Look, an earthquake in middle America is inevitable. It’s not judgment. It’s geology 101. These things and similar natural disasters happen periodically in a roughly predictable pattern. In the winter of 1811-12, the central Mississippi Valley was struck by three of the most powerful earthquakes in U.S. history – over 8.0 on the Richter scale. It has happened. It will happen again and it may be just about due again.

That being said, we all need to be in prayer and correct spiritual posture to counter-balance all of these gloom and doom prophecies. These kinds of words have a tendency to  build up with an energy all their own. Jeremiah 23:30 contains a warning,  “‘Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,’ declares the Lord, ‘who steal My words from each other.'” We have a tendency to get caught up in the excitement and intensity of what we’re hearing from others and then build upon it until what seems to be the prophetic word has become something entirely different.

My point? Yes, there has been and will continue to be natural disasters around the world….And maybe even an increase as time goes on. Yes, we’re in for some hard times because the earth can no longer bear up under the weight of the sin and violence of mankind. But we need to back away from prophesying the level of apocalyptic mass destruction that we seem to have built up to. We’re feeding off of one another and magnifying things as we go along. The result has gone well beyond the true word of the Lord in lieu of man’s emotions wrapped in Charismatic religiosity.

God will restrain His hand until Matthew 24:14 has been fulfilled: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” According to Matthew 24 we will indeed see a build up of trials and troubles until that time – including earthquakes, wars and famines – but even in the midst of that increase God must preserve a world like that in Roman times, connected and peaceful enough to facilitate the spread of the gospel to every tribe, tongue and nation. As He did then, He will do now, using the world’s historic connectedness through travel and communication to reach people groups that have not yet been reached. Not all the nations have yet heard.

So back up, prophetic world. We’re being premature. On the same hand, we’re not going anywhere! The kingdom is manifesting on earth (Even in its tribulations) as it is in heaven and those who are born again are its inheritors.

Some may say: What happens IF the growing numbers of the prophetic voices issuing warnings, are right……..then what? What happens to the shepherds who failed to heed the warnings?  How many sheep will be dead because they were scattered, uncovered, and/or unprepared?

Look, our calling and commission is to preach the gospel, lead people to Jesus and be doing our Master’s work when He comes. The warning to shepherds and the way in which we must prepare is that we must lead our people to repentance, healing and selflessness while there is still time. I’ve been involved within the prophetic movement and commission for over 30 years. I remember the 1970s and early ’80s when prophetic voices were telling people that California was going slide into the sea. Pastors who trumpeted warnings about that impending apocalyptic event generated a lot of fear. Some lead their entire congregations to move en masse to places like Idaho and Colorado. I remember dire warnings of destruction if the European Union reached ten nations because that would be a fulfillment of the Revelation, the rise of a new Rome and the precursor of the end. How many are there now? 17? And nothing that was prophesied then has come to pass. I remember many well known prophetic voices predicting doom and gloom over Y2K. People began storing up food and buying survival kits. I know of people who moved to different states in anticipation of what the prophets said would happen. Whole churches mobilized. Nothing happened. Nothing at all.

So, I agree that we must prepare, but not in the way our faulty logic might dictate. This is a time to be winning souls, preaching the gospel of the Father’s love through Jesus, lovingly leading people to repentance, investing in our communities as never before and so on. Prophecies of fear tend to distract us from that focus. Matthew 6:33 stands for all time and all circumstances: “6:33  “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” If we’re absorbed in doing the Father’s will, our Lord will take care of us.

When so many prophecies of apocalyptic doom and gloom are given such press and then don’t come to pass, or when church leaders lead their people to prepare for things that never happen, credibility is lost. Much prophetic credibility has been flushed down the toilet by all the prophetic words and freshly jargon that have not come to pass. A friend of mine once said that if something doesn’t change, This latest prophetic movement wave will soon draw to a close as the Lord will not be mocked.

One theme in understanding the prophetic calling is that all true prophetic words flow from intimacy with God and oftentimes in the midst of deep worship. I’ll close by stating that becoming or being a prophetic church does NOT mean that everybody in it goes around prophesying, but that it bears the marks of Jeremiah’s calling, 1:10, “See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, To pluck up and to break down, To destroy and to overthrow, To build and to plant.” In other words, by its very existence and by the way it functions in the Lord, it causes change in the world around it, uprooting what is not God and planting what is.

ELECTION REFLECTIONS

In reflection, the corporate media and social media kept many well meaning folks ignorant and isolated from differing opinions. They straight up lied, manipulated, and made multitudes think that the far majority of the country was in social and political agreement, when in fact, they straight up weren’t! They used their position of authority to mislead many into believing in a false reality—in propaganda.

This is the problem with America and much of world today, the technology that was supposed to bring us together has actually isolated us into echo chambers and had drove us further apart. The by product of discord and social conditioning is currently on full display for the rest of the world to witness. 

All along while these ‘multitudes’ weren’t paying attention, Trump is actually a former Democrat. If you study his actual values he has far more in common with traditional moderate or liberal values than he does a traditional conservative ( historically speaking). In fact, Trump may even be more liberal than Hillary Clinton on several fronts.

The truth is that the media prevented any kind of discussion on real values, and rather focused on rhetoric and propaganda laced in hypocrisy. So most Americans who immediately defaulted to what the media and Clinton campaign told them never took the time to actually get to know or understand Donald Trump. They just watched the jokes on SNL and the corporate media like blind sheep without considering other sources. While I’m still unsure and have mixed feelings about Trump myself, we at least know politically he’s actually a New York style Democrat in Republican clothing (this is one of the major reasons why the Republican establishment rejected him).

All of us without exception need to consider that Donald Trump just overthrew an entire generational group of political elites who have been ruling this country for decades. He just beat the political establishment singlehandedly with essentially no inside or outside help. No matter what you think about him personally, he just accomplished something historic to become the President of the United States.

At the end of the day, this is an opportunity to learn and grow and consider other views and view points. This is a wakeup call to get out of safe spaces, safe places, politically correct thinking, shatter echo chambers, and challenge yourself to consider the other side of the fence. This is an opportunity to reach out and truly learn to understand each other.

We all have to come together to solve any real problems with our country over the next 4 years. This election was a lesson to consider all ideas equally, regardless of established authority and the agenda laden media. We need to come together, pray together, pay together and move forward together as big government is not the balm that heals us.

This country is a tremendous blessing to live in with unlimited opportunities for those who are willing to work hard and be productive citizens. Those who want to resurrect the past and demand a hand out or receive special treatment…You’re the one to blame and why we have Trump today…