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"