Be Warned or Bewitched

“Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft…” (I Samuel 15:23).

The worst form of rebellion is passive. Passive rebellion is demonstrated by an attitude that is dismissive of spiritual authority. It ignores directions and instructions. This kind of rebellion does not openly confront spiritual authority. It is rebellion by stealth. It is rebellion through lethargy, absence and non-participation.

The goal of all rebellion is to offend the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit governs the Church. He alone assigns and anoints true spiritual leaders. Rebellion seeks to undermine the vision and direction of Spirit-filled leadership. People who conduct, and even coordinate, rebellion in the life of a church or ministry are “witches”.

Rebellion and witchcraft have the same nature. Witchcraft seeks to manipulate people through intimidation, seduction and deception. Rebellion seeks to manipulate vision by threatening leaders with the lack of support, tempting leaders to become immoral and treating leaders with disrespect and disregard.

Witches do not fly on brooms and cook in cauldrons. Witches sit in pews and serve in ministries. They use rebellion, not magic, to manipulate ministry. They are determined to have their own way. They will not be submitted to godly authority.

God’s remedy for rebellion is repentance. Repentance requires humility. Repentance acknowledges the government of God and submits to God-ordained leadership. Repentance requires aggressive obedience. Only obedience to the Divine and His delegated authority can break the curse of witchcraft.

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Thankful for the Painful

Sunset along the Fundy Coastal Drive Route 915...

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“It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes”(Psalm 119:71).

This is a praise for pain! The psalmist reflects upon his life and the dealings of God in his affairs and comes to a celebration for affliction.  What he has endured, the hardships he has overcome, the pain he has felt, the shame he has faced has given him an appreciation for affliction.  He does not curse his moment. He says, “It was good.”

What hurt us may have been evil, but it doesn’t have to be our evil. What has hurt us does not have to hinder us. We can be blessed by our pains, our wounds and our bruises. There is no reason to let pain prevent the purpose of God in our lives. Our  pain should propel us deeper into God’s purposes. Surely, trouble does not have to keep troubling. The troubling can become the blessing!

When does pain become useful?  How can we use the hurt in our lives to advance us and not crush us? What do you do when you don’t see any gain from your pain?

Remember the requirements of pain:

Pain requires your focus. The psalmist says, “that I might learn thy statutes”. Pain has the power to get you to focus on what you need to be learning. What are you suppose to be learning from your pain? When there is a pain in your body the pain demands your attention. You give pain the attention it needs until the pain goes away. When you are hurting the Lord wants you to focus on the cause of the pain and deal with it so  you can move on and function at your best.

Pain requires your faith. Pain can make you numb. Pain can rob you of your will to believe for better. Pain must be faced with wide-awake faith. Pain is the process not the product. Beyond the pain there are statutes waiting for you. “Statutes” are biblical principles for success. The purpose of a statute is to give you a supernatural edge for success in life. You can gain through pain. Your faith turns scars into stars. There is success beyond your pain!

Pain requires your fitness. “Afflicted” is not easy on the body, mind or heart. When you are afflicted you are being put under extreme pressure. The pressures of an anointed life can be beyond our imagination. This kind of pressure is designed to give strength and shape to the character and courage you need for what you will face ahead. Fitness of character and fitness of courage are essential for those who have come through pain and are preparing for success.

No pain should ever be wasted! Remember the chemistry of Calvary. God uses the worst pain as His plan to redeem. Pain in the plan of God is a process that leads to you to experience God’s best Resurrection!

Be thankful for the painful!

Returning To Richmond

Map of San Francisco Bay bridges

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Strange things, like the undeniable smell of a triple cheese burger escaping from Johnnie’s Diner, wafting across the South side is one of those unforgettable Richmond aromas that brings my mind back to the city that helped shape the man and the ministry I am today. Richmond is never too far away from where I am. My urban experience came from the streets and sanctuaries of Richmond.

The South side neighborhood I grew up in was filled with some of the most raw street life and  some of the most ritual church life. The gangs and the gospel were on every block.

There we were growing up on 8th Street and Florida Avenue taking our fights to the streets and our faith to the sanctuaries. That is how it happened –  the Lord used the streets and the sanctuaries of Richmond to prepare me to reach the world. I thank God!

Returning to Richmond this time is unlike any other time I have ever returned to preach and conduct ministry. This time is different, first of all, because I am coming to minister specifically to the issues and interests of  urban men. Most of the problems women deal with could be handled by a godly man. Women are greatly encouraged to attend and be empowered to support the men in your life.

The goal of the ministry is “Bringing Our Men Back”. The absence of men is the sickness of the city. I have no greater wish than to come and call men in the Bay Area back to the Word and prayer.

Secondly, the dynamic of the moment is even more heightened because of the host church. Independent Community Church is one of the signature ministries and most trusted spiritual brands in the Bay Area. Pastor Raymond Landry and other partnering pastors are striking a new note in the city.

The power of God for men will be manifest in these meetings. I will be laying hands on the sick and ministering the gifts of the Spirit. We expect to experience “Church Supernatural”.

STAND!

Sun Pillar

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When progress is not moving ahead and when retreating is not an option, you must learn to “Stand!”. Standing is underrated in the Body of Christ. Ours is an age addicted to achievement. We want advances, promotions and raises. We are wired by the modernity of our times for upward mobility.

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day” (Ephesians 6:13).

The idea of ‘standing’ is unattractive to the Western mind. It sounds too much like inactivity. The connotations raise suspicions of laziness. It reeks of ineptitude to the progressive American psyche . Standing can seem like a cop out for people wearied by the headwinds of progress.

The Apostle Paul thought otherwise. Paul describes “standing” as a position to take when you are entering and enduring spiritual warfare.

Standing is a position of perseverance. What we have to go through in seasons of  suspension requires “stick-to-it-tiveness”.Those times when we don’t feel like we are making progress is when we are tempted to run. We just want to do something. We are being urged on by our frustrations. This is the fight! When you are stalled, you have to stand. There is no other option. Standing is your opportunity to overcome. Overcoming is standing until God gives you your next marching orders.

Standing is a position of process. We are shaped by where we stay. There is something to be said about staying where you are when you are under pressure. The pressure we endure when we are being processed by the lack of progress creates character. “But we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience, character…” (Romans 5:3-4).

“Tribulation” comes from the Greek idea that describes the winnowing process. This is when the farmer would toss the grain into the air and continue the process until there was a clear separation of the wheat from the chaff. This was time consuming. When God is winnowing our lives of things that hinder our spiritual maturity we are subject to His times. We are powerless in the process. We are being tossed.

Standing is a position of power. We “withstand” while we are standing. There are times when God is calling you to use your power to hold the ground you have already. This may not be the time to launch the business. This may not be the time for you to get engaged or married. This may not be the time for you to go to “the next level”. This could be the time the Lord just wants you to “Stand!”.

“…Having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore..” (Ephesians 6:13-14).

Who is your “Reverend?”

This may shock you to discover- “Reverend” is not a term or title that refers to preachers. The word “reverend” is only used one time in the Bible (KJV). Psalm 111:9 says, “He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained HIs covenant forever; Holy and reverend is His name”.

Now if you want to call yourself “Reverend” you should at least qualify for the position. If you are “reverend” then according to the text you should have at least two things on your resume’.  Number one, you should have the power to redeem people.  Number two, you should have the power to establish a covenant with people that will last forever. Does any pastor or preacher qualify?

God says, “Holy and Reverend is my name”! So why do we call preachers “reverend”? More than likely it  is a tradition shaped out of a good intention. People wanted to show respect to the preacher so they began to use the “reverend” like the culture uses the term “honorable” for civic and judicial leaders. We should show respect to those in ministry and spiritual leadership. The title “reverend” is still, nonetheless not a biblical title for those in ministry or leadership.

I do not seek to be sensational or controversial. I make this case because some of  the cultures and churches I preach in use the term “reverend” while at the same time shying away from terms like “minister”, “elder” or “bishop”  which are all New Testament titles for those in ministry (see I Timothy 3, Titus 1). In fact, I was told by a “reverend” that I should not allow people to call me “bishop”.

There are some churches that will categorically not acknowledge the terms “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). They will however have “reverends”  in their pulpits. They would rather fight than switch. It is mind-boggling how traditions that have no root in Scripture can garnish such commitment from churched people.

You can call yourself or your preacher “Reverend” if you want to. I am not going to go around telling people what to call themselves or others. The question is “Who is the real Reverend?”  The “Reverend” is The One who redeemed me by the blood of His Son and with that same blood He shed on Calvary has secured for me a covenant that will last forever.

You can call me “Elder”. You can call me “Preacher”. You can call me “Pastor”. You can call me “Bishop”. You can call me “Brother”. You can call me “Servant”. You can call me “Sean”. Please don’t call me “reverend”.