March 2010


I’ve been walking with the Lord for 30 years, and it occurs to me that one thing I’ve never seen is a miraculous healing or move of God at a Christian entertainment venue…like at a church where the pastor’s singing voice, pulpit style and tailored attire are just as important as ‘telling the story.’ Churches with James Brown preachers and Jerry Lee Lewis musicians. (A’ight, don’t hate or palpitate, just appreciate the weight of the truth I’m about to levitate!)

Christian entertainment speaks to the flesh & will chase the spirit of prophesy & the anointing for the miraculous immediately, because it establishes a ‘culture of dishonor’ for the spirit. That’s why miracles and entertainment don’t mix! The very point of entertainment precludes the environment for miracles: attention. Entertainment, by definition, is the capturing of the attention and the disconnection of Spirit-led thought. It’s all about amusement, the very absence of thought. That really makes the term ‘Christian entertainment’ an oxymoron, because anything that’s Christ-honoring focuses all the attention on Jesus.

Am I saying that all entertainment is bad or wrong? No! Absolutely not. In fact, one could argue that Jesus supplied and engaged in an atmosphere of entertainment at the Wedding of Cana. But once the bubbly is flowing and attention is turned to pleasure, the possibility for miracles is lost. Entertainment isn’t wrong. It just has no place in an environment where miracles are sought or expected.

Neither Jesus nor any of the miracle-working apostles ever did engage in ‘Christian’ entertainment while ministering. They never tried to get people’s attention for the miraculous by appealing to their flesh. The Holy Spirit was always honored above the flesh. There are no empirical or anecdotal confirmations of miracles in an entertainment environment. The music used, especially in a meeting that invites the Holy Spirit to enter and minister, must honor the Spirit, rather than appeal to the flesh, for the culture of miracles to be birthed.

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“In the 18th century and until 1 January 1980, Britain defined alcohol content in terms of “proof spirit,” which was defined as the most dilute spirit that would sustain combustion of gunpowder. The term originated in the 18th century, when payments to British sailors included rations of rum. To ensure that the rum had not been watered down, the test or “proof” was by dousing gunpowder in it, then testing to see if the gunpowder would ignite. If it did not burn, the rum contained too much water and was considered to be “under proof.”” (I got this from wikipedia, so get a grip and don’t trip!)

Gunpowder burn was the 100% spirit proof for alcohol back in the day. What is the 100 proof of authentic, spirit-bred, spirit-led ministry today? Fruit! For some 20 years I pastored (or perhaps merely attempted) churches from one side of the country to the other and produced the same results: no fruit. Although there were clear ministry gifts in place, a love for God and a seriousness about winning souls and building the church, year after year the churches I led continued with the same, wonderful people, and dismal conversion stats. And when you’re pastoring a church, which is a lot like managing a vineyard, eventually the owner, who’s in the vineyard business for production, is going to demand an accounting, and there are only three possibilities: decline, stagnation, or growth. Fewer grapes, the same amount of grapes, or more grapes. I saw decline. I saw stagnation. But I never saw any growth.

THE EVIDENCE THAT YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT MINISTRY FOR YOU IS YOUR FRUITFULNESS! If there is no fruit in your life ministry, but you are saved, you’re in the wrong place and/or ministry. If you’re in the right place and/or ministry you will bear much fruit that will remain because you were ordained by Jesus to do that ministry in that place (Jn 15:8). The proof of your ordination (having been set in place by Jesus) is your fruit. The proof of any person’s or ministry’s ordination is its fruit.

So, you might be asking, “How were you able to stay in the pastorate for 20 years bearing no fruit if you were gifted, loved God, and wanted to win souls?” Good question. Corny-but-true answer: I was able to stay in the pastorate for so long (without bearing fruit) because I had no prayer life. Oh I prayed once in a while, especially when something really big was coming up. And I prayed before meals and for people and at public ceremonies. But a daily routine of seeking God’s face? Nah! That was something I taught, but didn’t do myself. And I’m sure a piece of my rationale was, “I spend all day with (working for) God, I don’t need to spend regular time with Him in the mornings, too!” That attitude in itself is an indication of misplacement. When God really plants you in a ministry, you will recognize your utter dependence on Him and have no choice but to seek Him regularly just to breathe! Once I began praying regularly I became more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in ministry. It took all of two months for God to arrest my heart and convict my conscience that I was in the wrong area of ministry. Three months after that He moved me out of the pastorate and into an area of ministry where I becoming much more fruitful.

Is your life and ministry 100 proof? Show me the fruit!

To learn how to build an effective personal prayer time with God and find your place of ministry, click here.

Have you ever yawned at a miracle?

I have.

Sounds sacreligious? Dangerous even? Like lightning-bolt-enducing dangerous? Well, it’s a lot more common than you might think. And it’s actually very easy to do. In fact, many biblical characters have done it. Including those we consider spiritual giants: Moses (Exodus 3 & 4). Yup. The entire nation of Israel (Exodus 32). David (2 Samuel 11 & 12). That’s right. Peter, too (Luke 4:38,39). I could go on and on, till the break o’ dawn!

What did all these veritable sleepy heads have in common? When God did something super dee duper, something that doesn’t happen every day, or ever, for that matter, all these knuckle heads did was look at it, and keep on going. No pause for celebration. No monument to the moment. No declaration of a special, annual day of observation. No holiday. Not even a plaque. They just moved on and let the moment pass, in violation of the very purpose of the moment: to be remembered by people forever (Psalm 111:4).

As amazing as God is, it’s easy to begin to take all that miracle working power for granted. When we begin to expect the spectacular, after a while the spectacular becomes routine. And the routine gets taken for granted. And our response to the routine becomes condensed, perfunctory. We save the fireworks and the band for something really outstanding, and yawn at the amazing-spectacular-routine stuff. Amazing-spectacular-routine stuff like getting healed of that headache-ulcer-disease-cancer, or getting the money to pay that bill-note-mortgage-hospital, or having the door blasted open on that opportunity-internship-job-career-presidency. Man, it’s a tough gig being God.

I’m tired of yawning. I’ve decided that I’ll make myself praise God for every wonderful, amazing, spectacular, routine act. When my flesh wants me to yawn at the mighty acts of God, I will stir up my spirit to praise God for what God has done. The flesh is harder to amaze than the spirit. The flesh will yawn in God’s face the way Phaoroh’s magicians did after Moses’ first three miracles (Exodus 7 & 8). We must rise above our flesh through our spirit and praise God with full band and fireworks for every wonderful act! And if I catch you yawning, I’m gonna stick a spoon in your mouth! 😉

An Open HeavenSomehow, you ended up under an open heaven. You received. Great revelation, a powerful anointing, a new burst of faith, energy and purpose. And now, just as suddenly, you find yourself in a huge wilderness! If you’re human, you’re questioning God’s love for you, and the validity of the experience you had before the wilderness.

When all hell breaks loose after the reception of a powerful move and word of God, it is not an act of divine hatred. It is a fulfillment of divine promise. Jesus said persecution and affliction, pursuit and pressure, would arise because of the word. The clouds have rolled in and the supply has dwindled because the enemy is after that word. He wants to snatch it away before it goes from your heart to your mouth and begins to produce change in your life and environment. He comes only to steal, kill, & destroy. When ferocious fire & tribulation follow a powerful word from God, ask yourself, ‘What is the enemy trying to steal, kill, & destroy in my life?’

The wilderness is always a test. All that happens in it is a test. Do your best to pass every wilderness test, not by how you feel, but by what you believe. Let your faith guide everything you do and say in the wilderness.

Wilderness tests are usually tests of offense. i.e. the Devil wants to get you into a place of offense, where you begin to harbor resentment against God. Once you’re off-ended (knocked off your end), it takes longer to get back on track and finish your wilderness course. Some people never get back on track and die in the wilderness. That was the fate of the Israelites who died in the wilderness. They got offended at God (and Moses) because they thought He brought them out of Egypt to kill them in the wilderness. To accomplish this, Satan will always remind you of what you don’t have, what you’ve lost, and what you don’t have access to in the wilderness. All three wilderness temptations of Jesus were about lack (food, power/protection, material wealth), with the goal being to get Jesus to turn against God and supply his own needs.

TemptationThe best way to pass a wilderness test is to refuse to complain so you won’t get detained. Deal with it the way Jesus would and did–remember that he was despised, underappreciated, and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief as a result of losing so much in his life! You have to be acquainted with loss to be acquainted with grief! Yet, he opened not his mouth! (Is 53:7) He did not complain! When you are feeling loss, shut up. Just be quiet. Tell your natural man to retreat. Don’t give Satan a chance to steal your victory through a poor choice of words or a fleshly expression. Don’t even say anything to your closest confidante on earth. Instead, cry out to the Lord in the spirit, and rejoice!

The only reason we complain is because we think our complaint will somehow get God’s attention faster than our praise, stop the pain, and change our circumstances. It is when we realize that complaining only makes things worse for us by delaying our exit from the wilderness until we pass the test, praising God through the adversity, that we will stop complaining and keep our mouths shut, like jesus (who did not complain because he knew he was supposed to be going through what he was going through). Israel was detained 40 years because they complained. Let’s make a better choice.