Cry havoc

JehovahSabaothCombinedAt 4:00 AM on the morning of September 13, 2014, a loud voice in my spirit woke me up from a sound sleep.

“Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war!”

I had been dreaming an ordinary, nonsense sort of dream – nothing about war, fighting or politics. No conflict of any kind. Suddenly, as if inserted from beyond the dream came that emphatic statement.

It’s a quote from Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. It means, Declare war! Send forth the battle warriors. Marc Anthony was declaring vengeance for the murder of Caesar.

Is there a new war somewhere, I wondered? There are so many armed conflicts around the world already.

Wide awake and meditating on those words, I soon realized who had been speaking. The Spirit of God was letting me hear His declaration of war.

Humans were not declaring yet another war, God himself is declaring War. Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts is loosing his battle warriors across the earth.

(See Joshua 5:13-14)

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Cross purposes

PrayingAtMall“It’s just my cross to bear,” people say sometimes. They mean trouble, hardship, sickness or disease they can’t seem to get rid of. Bad job. Bad marriage. Bad health. They want you to think they are “bearing up under it” with a good attitude, much long-suffering.

They’re referring to a verse they heard somewhere. They have a vague idea that they are carrying their cross for Jesus’ sake, trying to be a good disciple. But of course, getting rid of that particular cross is their heart’s desire. No matter what else they do, they desperately try to get out from under it. Seek a better job. Go to marriage counseling. Make doctor appointments.

A question: When did Jesus’ cross-carrying begin? When did it end? When did the disciples’ cross-carrying begin? When did it end? What does that even mean, actually?

Some background may help. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Jesus went about doing good and attracting disciples. (See Luke 3-4.) After a while he hand-picked twelve of those disciples, instructed them in some basics and sent them out under his auspices, his authority and power to preach, heal, cast out demons and raise the dead, the way he had been doing.

He also warned them. The disciple is not better than his master, he said. If I’m persecuted, you’ll be persecuted. So consider carefully — do you really want to do this?

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”  (Matt 10:34-39 KJV)

Heart-warming way to begin an assignment, wasn’t it.

Later on, Jesus asked them who the crowds thought he was? Who they themselves thought he was? Peter firmly declared their belief that Jesus was the Christ. Wonderful! Keep it to yourselves, Jesus said.

Jesus then plainly told the twelve that he was going to Jerusalem to be arrested and killed. But, not to worry, he would be raised from the dead in three days. Peter couldn’t accept that, it wasn’t his idea at all of what the Christ would be and do. Jesus rebuked him. Peter just didn’t understand the plan.

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:24-26)

“Life” in verse 24 is the Greek word psyche, which has several meanings. One is life-force, but the other is soul; the mind, emotions and will — the decision-making ability. “Soul” in verse 25 is that same Greek word, psyche.

“And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”

Wow. Hate your parents? Thought you were supposed to love your parents…

Jesus illustrated his point with two examples of considering what you’re getting into, before you get into it: (1) If you’re thinking of building a tower, you’d better calculate the cost. (2) If you’re deciding whether or not to fight a war, you’d better inventory your troops.

“So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-33) Compared to loving God and following Jesus, your affection for family will seem like hate.

When he declared these things, Jesus wasn’t carrying a cross yet. Up until this time the disciples thought he was going to be the next King of Israel, and that certainly didn’t involve a cross. That’s why he had to be so explicit in his explanation to the disciples, and even then they just didn’t understand it.

Well, they eventually got it when he was arrested, made to carry a cross and then executed. Of course, not until he was raised from the dead did they understand the whole plan.

Back to my original question: When did Jesus’ cross-carrying actually begin? When did it end? When did the disciples’ cross-carrying begin? When did it end?

What does that even mean, actually? Let’s take this one first.

When you’re carrying a cross, what else are you carrying? Not a job, not a family, not a lifestyle. Not your own agenda, your own goals, your own routine. You have a purpose, but it’s not your own purpose. You have a destination, but it’s not the one you’d rather have. You’ve given over your will to someone else — or you wouldn’t have picked up that cross in the first place.

Jesus came to earth on assignment. He began carrying that “cross” before he came to the earth. It’s why he went where he went, said what he said, did what he did. He didn’t quit carrying that cross just because he died. He did God’s will on earth, completing that part of his mission successfully.

He was killed, raised from the dead, and ascended to begin the next phase of his mission, sending the Holy Spirit to empower the disciples back on earth as he had been empowered, to do the work that he had been doing.

The disciples did not pick up physical crosses on their way to Jerusalem, nor on their way to Golgotha as Jesus did. But they did pick up crosses — assignments — when they began to follow Jesus. They did whatever Jesus said to do, whenever he said to do it.

If they hadn’t, he would not have taught and trained them, would not have named twelve of them as apostles, would not have remained on earth for forty days continuing to teach and train them after he rose from the dead. (Acts 1:3)

He would not have instructed them to wait for the Holy Spirit to empower them also, before beginning the next phase of their own assignment.

Carrying our crosses today doesn’t mean remaining confused, doubtful, sick or troubled. It doesn’t mean having your life destroyed by the enemy.

It means carrying out your assignment — doing whatever the Holy Spirit says to do, whenever he says to do it. Preach the gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead. Continue the mission of Jesus on earth: “For this purpose the son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” (I John 3:8)

God’s smelter, God’s forge

The Holy Spirit — AND fire?

Smelter“John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” (Luke 3:16 KJV)

Hmmm. Jesus will baptize you with the Holy Spirit, John said. Okay, that I understand. But fire? Why baptize with fire? Some thoughts:

When precious metal is “fired,” it’s purified, thus made more valuable. When a human being is “fired,” the same process happens. The baptism with fire is God’s smelter…

Smelting produces a metal from its ore, such as silver, iron, copper and other base metals. The process removes unwanted elements and leaves just the metal behind.

When someone becomes a Christian, some things — unwanted elements — need to be removed. Sickness and disease, physical weaknesses, flaws, genetic predispositions. Emotional and psychological bruises.

Wrong thinking based on incorrect information. Faulty opinions. Painful memories. Harmful influences from past or present relationships. Bad attitudes. Destructive habit patterns. Addictions. Unhealthy emotional dependence.

But not everything that needs to be removed is bad. The apostle Paul said all things were permissible to him, but not all things were profitable. “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” (I Cor. 10:23 KJV)

Consider a rock with a vein of silver running through it, for instance. There’s nothing wrong with the rock. But for the silver to be profitable, the perfectly good rock must go.

Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” He just chipped away everything that wasn’t an angel, until all that was left was the angel.

That’s what happens in the smelting process, except the left-over material isn’t just separated out, it’s burned away. Destroyed.

Recently I’ve watched videos of revival services from around the world, listened to testimonies and read several books by men and women being used by God around the world to bring salvation to the multitudes (Heidi and Rolland Baker, Rodney Howard-Browne, Daniel Kolenda, Reinhard Bonnke, Randy Clark and others).

Miracle healings, signs and wonders regularly occur when they minister. They preach and teach the same gospel message as multitudes of other ministers. Yet they seem more “fired up” than other folks.

I wondered why that is. I sought out their testimonies.

Reading their personal stories, each person mentioned reaching a point in their lives when they felt physically exhausted, mentally and emotionally burned out. Years of work showed too little results, as if God didn’t really care. Several considered leaving the ministry altogether.

Almost as a last resort, each of them reached out to someone else to pray for them, someone who knew what they were going through, had been where they were. Who knew what they needed.

Each one received prayer for the Holy Spirit to refill them, to re-impart to them strength and power to keep on keeping on.

And he did just that, sometimes in spectacular public ways. These weren’t ways they themselves would have chosen, but at that point they were too desperate for God’s touch to worry about appearances.

Now, in the natural realm some metals are fired over and over. They aren’t just being smelted, they are being forged. Smelted (purified) metal is quite valuable, of course. Some of it can be cold-processed, beaten and twisted into beautiful show-pieces without heat. Elaborate silver tea sets. Delicate gold jewelry.

But for other materials, red-hot heat is necessary. They need the heat of a forge, a furnace where metal is heated until it’s malleable, then beaten into the desired shape of the finished product.

ForgeA fine sword for instance, made of steel. An alloy of iron and carbon, steel is hard. More useful and long-lasting. In the forge, steel is heated, hammered, stretched thin and folded, re-heated and re-hammered again and again.

At last the final shaping is done, the edge is sharpened, and the sword is finished.

For men and women called to take God’s word to the most dangerous areas of the world like Mozambique, Central and West Africa, the Far East or Middle East, they don’t just need God’s smelter. They need his forge.

Then there are others, believing men and women under strain, fighting to be persistent and consistent in their faith right here at home. Christian businessmen, homemakers, pastors, teachers and truck drivers, small business owners and workers face real troubles, even active opposition these days. For them, too, it’s a struggle to remain faithful and strong.

I am beginning to understand more about God’s purpose in his baptism with the Holy Spirit AND fire.

More darkness is coming

SoldiersFieryLast night before going to sleep, I had been praying for specific people that came to mind, pretty much as usual. After the last one, I asked the Lord to please speak to me. I had been “doing all the talking,” and even though I knew he had wanted me to pray for those people, now I wanted to listen.

More darkness is coming, he said.

Oh, Lord, I said, again? We’ve had a lot of darkness lately, haven’t we? And there’s a global revival going on, isn’t there?

Yes, but more darkness is coming. More trouble, anxiety, depression, worry, anger, fear, money problems, health problems, family conflicts, community disagreements, arguments escalating into fights, warfare between peoples, between nations. All of it is escalating.

Where there have been floods and fires, hurricanes, tornadoes and super storms, there will be drought. Famine will be accompanied by a lack of resources, and a lack of answers on where and how to get resources.

Infrastructures will fail. Faults, flaws, small damages are growing into major damages. Communication and travel will be affected. Without infrastructure, building materials can’t be located, can’t be transported. Without building materials, re-building is hindered, limited, or prevented outright.

Where, Lord, I asked?

The United States but not just the United States. The entire world is coming apart at the seams politically, on every continent. How to respond to “natural” disasters is a point of political contention which will continue to grow.

But there is no natural response effective enough against supernatural disaster, and these events are supernatural. They are not man-made except in the sense that they are not man-prevented, though they could have been.

The desire and struggle for power is supernaturally expanding across the planet. The aim is not unity, is not peace, is not prosperity, as those being controlled and manipulated believe. The manipulator’s goal is chaos. Destruction of the human habitat, elimination of the human race is his real goal.

Chaos is the natural habitat of the enemy of the human race, and that’s what he is engineering, nation by nation, continent by continent.

But this is my planet, the Lord said. I designed the universe around it. The human race is my greatest creation, my greatest treasure.

As chaos is growing, so is my kingdom. My light is growing, extinguishing the darkness. My goal is for this planet to be inhabited by those who are inhabited by me. Whose goal do you think will succeed?

Instead of going to sleep sad and depressed, I actually fell asleep reassured.

This morning I visualize Jesus standing in my office, watching me type this. He is not wearing the typical robe and sandals that you see in paintings. He is wearing battle gear. Crowding around him are angels dressed as he is, in armor. They jostle one another trying to fit into this small space. Incredible!

This battle is not over, but the battle is the Lord’s. Light will overcome darkness, every single time.