Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Jabez Generation

A few years ago, Dr. Bruce Wilkinson wrote a book centered around one verse in the book of 1 Chronicles that holds a prayer of a man named Jabez. I'm sure you've heard about the book, The Prayer of Jabez. with over ten million copies sold, you've likely read it. For the sake of honesty, I must admit that I have never read the book but I've heard sermons preached about it and people proclaimed its miraculous wonders. With great excitement they say, "this book changed my life!" and, "it will cause blessings to flow into your life".

Below is the blurb that describes the book on
"Do you want to be extravagantly blessed by God? Are you ready to reach for the extraordinary? To ask God for the abundant blessings He longs to give you? Let Bruce Wilkinson help you discover how the remarkable prayer of a little-known Bible hero can release God's favor, power and protection. You'll see how one daily prayer can help you leave the past behind and break through to the life you were meant to live."
This blurb sounds just like all the hype I have heard about the book. According to what I've heard, the "truth" of this prayer seems to focus around "enlarge my territory" and "bless me indeed". But this is a very superficial and selfish warping of the truth of Jabez's prayer.

Is it possible that we completely missed the point of Jabez's prayer?

Is it possible that our obsession with the Prosperity Gospel has blinded us to the true heart of Jabez?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Avoiding The Eighth Day

A little over a year ago, God birthed a desire in my heart that I had never felt before. It began as I was reading classic Christian books by A.W. Tozer and Charles Spurgeon. It was a desire for revival but not some pop-corn revival where only a hand full of churches experience it. I wanted to see a national move of God, another great awakening that changes the religious landscape of our nation and the world! I found myself praying daily, "Lord, let me be the spark that starts a revival that spreads throughout America and the world!". Some would call that a presumptious prayer, Stephen Furtick in his book Sun Stand Still calls it a Sun Stand Still prayer that is made possible by audacious faith, a faith that dares to ask for the impossible.

In our day and age the word revival has lost it's effectiveness. We think of it as a series of meetings. We tend to think that it is an evangelistic crusade to win the lost. Evangelists base their effectiveness on how many souls come to Christ. But true revival always begins with one person's desperate cry for change in their personal situation. A cry to be revived and once again feel the joy of fellowship with the Lord. Once revival comes to that one person, it will spread to those around like wildfire. There is no magic formula that starts it. You don't have to be blessed by a message of a great orator. It may begin in a church but it will be perfected in the quite place where only one man and his God meet.

I want to be a part of a move of God. Not the cliche move of God that we proudly proclaim to boost our church's street cred to others. I'm not talking about some marketing program that promises big but delivers little. I'm talking about the move of God that the early church experienced when new followers were added every day! When miracles were common place and they considered themselves blessed to be counted worthy to be tortured for the sake of a move of God!

I want to be THAT man! I want to be a Peter who stood up and preached a message which resulted in the church doubling in size in one day! I want to be a Paul who plants churches throughout the known world and whose written words inspire others to do the same! I want to be a Stephen who stood while being stoned to death and saw Jesus sitting on the right hand of the father and had the moral fortitude to pray, "Father forgive them"! I want be a Charles Wesley, a DL Moody, AW Tozer, Charles Spurgeon. I want to be my generation's Billy Graham or John Piper!

I want to be that man!

Moses, was one of those men and yet he almost didn't make it into the club. There is a little known verse that reveals a great truth of what may be keeping each one of us from our destiny of becoming men of God!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Let There Be...Sex?

Genesis 1:28
And God blessed them and God said unto them, "Be fruitful and multiply..."

God had spoken life into existence. The entire world was created and available for man to find pleasure in and explore. The sun, moon and stars were in place, plants were in full bloom creating a beautiful scene of majesty. Think about it, Adam and Eve at this point where like babies and just as clueless how to do even something as vital as eating and yet God's first words spoken to them were "be fruitful and multiply"...that's Christianise for "Go have sex"! No wonder Satan fights men and women with the false view of what sex is.  No wonder he makes it seem so dirty that Christians in Medieval times had hundreds of restrictions such as to forbid sex during the forty days prior to holidays and festivals like Pentecost.  According Mary Ann McPherson Oliver in Conjugal Spirituality the Medieval church had so many restrictions on when you could have sex that "There would have been eighty-three remaining days in the year when couples could, with the permission of the Church, have indulged in (but not enjoy) sexual intercourse!"

If sex is an ugly and sinful thing the why would God's first command to man be to have sex? Was it simply for the purpose of replenishing the earth? Did the God who spoke the heavens and earth into existence and breathed life into man not have the ability to create more than one man and one woman?  Was his strength and power now so spent after six days of creation that he needed man's help?

On the contrary, God doesn't need sex to populate the earth. Think about it, Jesus was born without any intercourse and if you want a modern example to look at for proof you don't have to look any further than the hammerhead shark who's female has been know to come to full pregnancy without the presence of a male for mating. (This process is called parthenogenesis) No my friend God didn't create sex for mechanical reasons but instead He had a spiritual purpose in mind.  Sex was not a "necessary evil" but a beautiful experience that will help us to better know our creator.

We find God in the contact of our bodies,
not just in the longing of our souls.
-Evelyn and James Whitehead                           

Sex, in it's intended purpose, is a spiritual act of worship. It is supposed to represent the intimacy between God and man.  It represents how we are to know and understand God. There is something called "The Law of First Mentions" that tells us we should look to the first mention of a subject in the bible for the purest and least complex form of that subject, in other words start from the bottom and work your way up to gain a better understanding of the subject. The first mention of the word "know" in the bible is in Genesis chapter 4 when we are told that "Adam knew Eve and she conceived".  The Hebrew word used here is Yada (yaw-DAH) which means to discern, experience, confess, consider and know relationally. Sex with our spouse has a two fold purpose, in addition to experiencing the hidden emotional depths of each other we are also becoming intimate with God. In essence when we have sex with our spouse we are transported to back to the Garden of Eden when it was okay to be naked before God and each other and we walked with God in the cool of the day.

The word "know" here is the same word the Psalmist used in Psalms 1:6 "For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous but the way of the ungodly shall perish". When we look at this through the backdrop of marital intercourse it shines a new light on this verse. Think about this for a moment, Adam and Eve were told to be "fruitful and multiply". A tree cannot bare fruit unless a seed is first planted. The seed has something inside it that needs, by nature, to be on the outside but it first must be inserted into the ground to be nurtured and cared for until it grows to it's full potential. Just as the tree is able to grow strong and mighty because of the seed being inserted into the ground so are the righteous able to grow when God penetrates the fertile soil of our heart with His seed of love. That is what intercourse points to and that my friend is why God didn't call His creation "very good" until He created sex! (Genesis 1:31)

In case you have forgotten, there is a flip-side to this verse.  The Psalmist goes on to say that "the way of the ungodly shall perish".  That's where Satan comes in with his evil manipulation of God's true meaning of sex. Satan knows that if he can warp our thoughts of what sex is and cause it no longer to be an act of worship but instead a selfish, ugly act of hedonistic pleasure then we won't learn how to open ourselves up to God to be "known". As a result our "way" is not able to penetrated with the life that God gives and we are unable to be fruitful and other words we die.

In his book Sacred Marriage Gary Thomas says, "our restlessness for the sexual experience mirrors our restlessness for God" but Satan's goal is to cause us to look away from God for sexual fulfillment which means our desires for intercourse can no longer mirror God's image but instead we become the mirror of sex as the World views it.  In the World's mirror sex is not about worship but about selfishness.  It's about what I deserve. Worldly sex asks the question "what can you do for me?" instead of being an act of giving yourself to another. In the world's eyes sex is simply there for our pleasure and doesn't require intimacy. It can be found in a one night stand with someone you met at a bar or in the solitary corners of your home with only the company of a computer, a magazine and some fantasies to assist in pleasuring yourself. It can be purchased on a street corner in darkness of night and experienced in a hotel that's paid for by the hour. It's dirty, it's shady and it has lost every resemblance of the sacredness it was created with. God is not found in this twisted form of intercourse and as a result we trade the fullness of joy that is found in sacred sexuality for the unclean emptiness of sinful sexuality.

Ephesians 5:25-26 says, "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her..." The blood of Jesus has cleansed us from "all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9) but as Beth Moore says in her book When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, "Satan so vehemently despises what Christ has done for mortals that one of his chief objectives is to make the clean feel unclean [that is ] why one of Satan's most powerful weapons is sexual seduction." If Satan can get us to fall for the seduction of worldly sex then he knows that the dirtiness of it will make us feel unclean or unsaved. Although Paul tells us that "nothing can separate us from the love of God" when we feel dirty we run and hide from God, just as Adam and Eve did after Satan's first victory in the garden. When we hide from God we are no longer able to know Him intimately. He is no longer able to infuse His life and love into our hearts and we also are no longer able to experience the true pleasure of sexuality even when it is experienced in boundaries of marital intercourse. Score one for Satan!

In order for spirituality to reach a point of maturity we have press into God until we truly know Him. The more we know God, the more we become like Him. Do you desire to know God? Are you tired of not being able to experience Him intimately? Are you still a baby Christian who can't handle the mature meat and potatoes of the Word but can only stomach the milk? Maybe you need to change the way you look at sex. Maybe you need to realize the reality that sex is a wonderful tool for guiding us into the presence and holiness of God. Gary Thomas asked a very poignant question in the book I mentioned previously, "If God looked at nothing other than my sexuality, would I be known as a mature Christian?"

If that question hit you between the eyes the throw out the magazines, turn off the computer, quit watching the shows that promote promiscuous lifestyles and grab your wife's hand - beg her forgiveness - then embark on journey filled with unmeasurable pleasure that will climax in an amazing knowledge of the sacredness of God's first command to us..."Go have sex!"

A slave no more, except to Him who saved me!
Lee Lumley

Romans 6:6
"Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. FOR HE WHO HAS DIED HAS BEEN FREED FROM SIN"

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Life After The D-Word

It's an ugly word and God hates it.  No matter how you use it it brings anger and bitterness. When used in a relationship it's guaranteed to turn ugly very quickly. This word has brought even the brightest relationships to the gallows to lay down and be separated by it's cruel blood stained blade.  The D word I'm referring to is not the four letter word that is a homophone for Dam. No this word is much worse and has far greater impact on the stability of humanity. The D-Word I'm referring to is the word DIVORCE! It literally means to cut in two, an idea that boldly goes against what Jesus commands..."What God has put together let no man separate" (Matthew 19:6).  Unfortunately in this day and age divorce is a common occurrence.  We are so full of ourselves today that we no longer work things out but instead we take the easy route and pay a lawyer thousands of dollars to drag each other through the mud so we can get "everything we deserve".   

Now if you think I'm writing this blog to condemn anyone you are wrong.  How could I condemn someone for something that is also touching me and my family right now.  I am currently going through a divorce and I know how easily Satan can get inside your mind and make you want to "fight for your rights".  You see Satan's greatest tool is get you to pray against someone else.  He'll bring scriptures to your mind about God destroying your enemies and cause you to believe that's the attitude you should have. Satan knows that if he can get you to pray against those who hurt you then He's won the battle because you're failing to pray against him, the real source of your battle! Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said "pray for you enemies". That's where the power is.

So men this is where I'm gonna step on your toes and like a former pastor of mine says "I don't step on your toes with anything that God hasn't already stepped on mine with".  Part of becoming a Square Watermelon is realizing that your ex-wife is not your enemy. No matter what the court says, no matter what that stack of legal mumbo-jumbo locked away in a box says, and no matter what your broken heart says your ex-wife is still your CALLING and your RESPONSIBILITY!

Getting a divorce doesn't free you of your God given responsibility as a husband. In fact in God's eyes you are still married to your ex-wife. Your divorce is not even something God acknowledges. Jesus said that divorce was allowed because of the "hardness of your heart" but "from the beginning it was not so". (Matthew 19:8) He goes on to say that a man who is divorced and marries another woman is committing adultery.(verse 9) Now correct me if I'm wrong but in order to commit adultery you have to be married.  So according to Jesus you may hold a piece of paper that says you are no longer married but in heaven you are still one flesh.

Now again I want to be clear that I am not condemning anyone.  If you are divorced and remarried please don't feel like I'm calling you out.  I know many Godly people who have been divorced. God "works all things together for good to those who love Him"...even divorce!  What I am saying is that we, as ex-husbands, are still responsible for loving our ex-wives "as Christ loved the church" (Ephesians 5:25) How did Jesus love the church?  He died for us while we were yet sinners. (Romans 5:8) Sin separates us from God and is a choice on our part.  We choose to sin, which means that ultimately we choose to be separated from God.  That sounds a lot like divorce to me.  Yet even in the midst of our divorce from God He still chose to die for us.  He put aside His rights and laid down His life to save us.  That's what we as Square Watermelons must decide to do with our exes. We must put our selfishness aside and start putting them first. 

So how do we flesh this out in real life?  Do we start buying our exes flowers and asking them out for supper?  Dedicate love songs to them on the radio? No. (unless of course God tells you to that)

First of all we must forgive them. I have a friend who says that all divorces happen because of a decision not to forgive.  That is so true.  Divorces ultimately don't occur because of adultery.  They don't occur because of addiction. They don't even occur because of finances.  They occur because at least one, but most of the time both spouses make a conscious decision not to forgive the other spouse for a wrong done.  This is not the way Jesus loved the church and so we as ex-husbands have to forgive our spouse. The Apostle Paul said in Colossians 2:13 "And you being dead in your sins...He has made alive together with Him having forgiven you all sin" As I said earlier divorce means to cut in two.  Literally to separate flesh.  In other words to murder.  When a couple gets divorced it's as if the spouses have become "dead" in their divorce.  This type of "dead" is similar to the "dead" we were when we were in sin. It's a spiritual death that can only be dealt with by forgiveness...unforgiveness is not an option!

The next thing Jesus does regularly is He prays for us.  Jesus is our heavenly intercessor.  He even prays for us when we make mistakes and sin.  I love the story of when Jesus tells Peter "Satan has requested to sift you as wheat but I have prayed for you that when you return you will strengthen your brothers".  Jesus knew that during Peter's sifting he would fail Him.  He knew He would deny Him yet He prayed for Peter.  We also have to pray for our ex-wives no matter how badly we have been hurt.  We are still the spiritual head of our household. Now obviously we can't go over to there house and have a bible study each night. It's too late for that but we can intercede on our wives behalf.  We have to protect them and bind any stronghold that Satan has on their mind that keeps them from being free in Jesus.  We have to ask God to give us opportunities to show them His love. We have to pray for God to bless our exes with peace.  We have to pray for God to bless them financially...better yet pray for God to bless US financially so we can bless THEM!  Their spiritual well being is at risk when the divorce occurs and Satan would love nothing better than to get a foot in the door and exploit that weakness.  We have to spiritually stand in front of them to protect them from the true enemy.

Maybe you've been divorced or maybe you're like me and you're in the middle of one right now.  Maybe you've fallen for Satan's lies and started thinking of your wife as your enemy.  Don't get discouraged and think that you can't start over.  It may be too late to save your marriage but you most definitely can help protect your exes soul from the attack of Satan. Make a decision today to pray for your ex.  Notice I said pray FOR your ex.  Ask God to change your heart to still think of her as your wife.  Ask Him to help you have the resolve to love Her even though she is "dead" in divorce.  If you'll do this I promise you'll live a better life.  You won't be wrapped up in fighting for your rights but instead you be living the way Jesus calls us to, by "putting others first"!

With God's help your D Word can be transformed into a new word.  It will no longer be thought of in the negative form as a Divorce but instead it will be Delightful! Who knows, God may even raise the dead and bring the separated halves back together again!  He does great things like that when we're obedient.

A slave no more, except to Him who saved me!
Lee Lumley

Romans 6:6
"Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. FOR HE WHO HAS DIED HAS BEEN FREED FROM SIN"

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Seeing God

I spent the morning on the river banks watching the sunrise and praying.  As I sat in the cool, damp air surrounded by the sounds of the earth waking up to sing praises to God I couldn't help but join in. With hands raised and eyes closed I worshipped Him unashamed. With no small determination I pressed into the throne room of heaven thanking God for the trials that are behind me and for being able to see now how His hand guided me through them.  I thanked Him for counting me worthy of suffering in order to bring me to Him. I offered my appreciation for the trials that He has told me are ahead of me and prayed for Him to strengthen my faith so I may come out of them with a testimony to bring glory to His name. 

As I stood there remembering the goodness of God my spirit began to awaken and the desire to draw closer to Him grew stronger. I cried out asking Him to open my eyes and let me see His face.  I so desperately wanted to experience His tangible presence, to gaze upon the face that looked upon me while I was in sin and stretched out His arms to die on a cross. I prayed for His presence to surround me like a cloud, pleading with Him to open the heavens and let me see a glimpse of His backside as He did for Moses.  I longed to be like John and be carried by way of vision to the heavens to see the Lamb of God seated on the throne.  I am a Son of God and I desperately wanted to look upon my daddy. "Open my eyes Lord", I prayed.

When I ran out of words I sat quietly with my eyes closed listening to the sounds in the air hoping to hear a still small voice call my name to look upon Him but nothing came.  Doubt began to set in and I began to wonder if I wasn't living like I should.  I've heard of people's eyes being opened to the heavens, why not mine?  I thought over my life and the mistakes I have made and I wondered if there was anything that I hadn't confessed and repented of.  "Surely there must be something wrong with my life" I thought or He would answer my prayer.

It's then that I turned and felt a warmth come over me defeating the coolness of the morning air. Though my eyes were closed I could tell that there was a great light in front of me.  I felt a tingling in my body that caused me to believe something great was about to happen. Could this be the moment that I see his face? Could it be that my prayers have reached heaven and moved God's heart? With great expectations I opened my eyes to see His face and I did but not in the way I expected.

In front of me was a huge sunrise in a clear blue sky with light reflecting off of the water in a beautiful display of sparkles and colors.  It's then that I realized God gives us a "good morning kiss" every day in the form of a sunrise and every night His face kisses us "goodnight" with a sunset. God is the light of the world. The reason the sun burns so bright and provides so much warmth even though it is 150 million miles away from the earth is because God allowed part of His presence to fuel it's fire. Since God is everywhere at all times the sun is able to warm us with God's presence from so far away.

So looking back now I realize how silly it was for me to pray to see God's face.  God is spirit. Our minds are so finite that we can't comprehend being able to "see" something unless it has substance. We think of "seeing" as setting our eyes upon it and then the image bouncing around in our head until it reaches the brain where it causes us to comprehend the image. That is why we go through life missing God's face. We are looking for Him the wrong way, we are looking physically and we need to look spiritually.

I don't want miss God's face because I'm looking for a sub-par human version of Him. I want to look around me and see Him in everything. 

A slave no more, except to Him who saved me!
Lee Lumley

Romans 6:6
'"Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. FOR HE WHO HAS DIED HAS BEEN FREED FROM SIN"