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Over the last few decades particularly there has been a disturbing trend that has mushroomed; that is the “Christian celebrity” scene. This in turn has led to something I call “celebrity led Christianity” which has crept in to the Church and has caused some people to become more celebrity led in their Christian walk than Spirit led.

In many ways celebrity status Christianity it is nothing new – the Christians in Corinth had the same problem saying “I am of Paul, I am of Apollos” (1 Cor 1:12). Yet during the last half century the tendency to elevate people and their teaching to celebrity status has reached a new high-water mark. This has, I believe, largely happened because of the increase in media saturation particularly through the Internet; not to forget the devils purpose in it of turning people away from their priority of loving and following Christ first and foremost.

Why does someone become a favourite – usually because they preach what we believe or because they bring us fresh revelation. If they preach what we believe then the trap is that it can subtly feed our ego and sense of pride. And if they bring fresh revelation then the feelings of thankfulness and emotion we have because of that can sometimes causes us to focus more on that person than on the Holy Spirit who is in fact the one who leads and guides us into truth. Liking what someone shares and liking them as a person isn’t wrong – it’s when that liking slips over into a subtle idolatry that it’s wrong.

While it is not always bad for preachers to become popular there are inherent problems in that. One is the problem of preachers believing their own PR and getting sucked into the celebrity trap. This has in some cases led to pride and fleecing the flock with some preachers charging thousands to speak in a church meeting or conference either because they believe they’re worth that much or they have big money hungry organizations to keep running. The size of an organization is not necessarily a indicator of it’s effectiveness in the Kingdom. Also they can fall into the trap of believing that they have the monopoly on “their revelation” or on the truth.

Another problem comes on our end, when we accept everything someone says simply because they are popular, one of our favourite preachers or are our Pastor.  The more popular someone is the more influence they have over people and there is a danger in this because they are not infallible, they do not always see things correctly, they are growing in understanding as well as character – as we all are! Don’t fall into the trap of accepting blindly everything your favourite preacher says just because they say it.

We all see things through the lenses of our current theological understanding and preachers are no different; they all preach from their place of current understanding and revelation. That understanding should develop and change as we gain more understanding and the Lord gives us more revelation. In five years time I may look at some things I believe now and be less convinced of them or I may be more convinced of them – depending on the fresh revelation and understanding that the Lord has given me. We must make sure we don’t fall into the trap of believing that our current understanding will be our only one on any subject – it can and should change as we grow in understanding and maturity.

In this media driven world we live in it is so easy to fall into the trap of relying on what our favourite preachers say without checking it out in scripture for ourselves or asking the Lord about it. In some cases we are even taught not to question those who hold some sort of position of authority. Asking questions is sometimes seen as sowing discord or being rebellious or even worse leading to someone being labeled as having a Jezebel spirit; the amount of times I’ve seen that happen over the years isn’t funny! The reason why it is seen like that is often because a leader was themself taught never to question authority figures or sometimes because of insecurity in that leader’s life.  An insecure person will sometimes be tempted use their position to prove or bolster their sense of worth.  So if their teaching is questioned they will sometimes see it as a personal attack or an attack against their credibility and not see it as what may simply be a very reasonable enquiry.

By our fascination and promotion of Christian celebrities we are in danger of building a Church that relies mostly on other peoples revelations, that no longer thinks for itself or asks the Lord for direction to the extent that we should. In fact it may be hard for many of us to accept that our favourite preacher has somehow become someone of celebrity status to us and a subtle idol instead of being simply a brother or sister who is on a journey of progressive growth and revelation just as we all are.

There are people that are gifts to the body – the five-fold ministry is a part of that, but even they should keep pointing you back to Jesus as the focus of your attention and not try to draw you to themselves. Their job description is to train the body for it’s work of ministry, not to just do the ministry themselves, become a celebrity and build a following.  They are given to train people in how to hear from the Lord for themselves and follow him, becoming good Kingdom representatives and sons and daughters who grow into maturity, releasing heaven into earth, bringing freedom wherever they go. If they are not doing this, then they’re possibly not a real five-fold ministry person or they have gone astray from their calling.

Today do take the time to do a spot check. Are there those that you follow who have become someone of celebrity status to you? Do you accept whatever they say without checking it out for yourself; if you do then determine to change that. You have the freedom to question and to grow, the liberty to think for yourself and to learn how to function as a mature son and daughter of God, walking a Spirit lead life not a celebrity led one. By all means, honour people and their gifting but don’t make them something they were never meant to be. Don’t fall into the ‘celebrity status Christian’ trap.

Last month in our ministry newsletter we featured an article by Stephen Crosby that unpacked the verse “The just shall live by faith”. We had a couple of emails regarding it so I thought I’d share a little bit more on its theme this month. (see original article here)

In his article Stephen shared that from a Jewish perspective/understanding faith had more to do with relational trust than with cognitive belief. Obviously both are needed, but as western Christians we have tended to believe that faith has more to do with mentally understanding something than relational trust. This has caused an imbalance in our Christian walk on a large scale with many Christians filling our churches who read the Bible, listen to sermons, give mental assent to what they hear and end up with a religious belief in Christ rather than a living, growing relationship with Him. We hear and understand that the Christian life is one of relationship with the Lord yet for many that relationship is a formal and somewhat uneasy one, based on their ability to believe in their minds instead of trust in His nature and character.

The Bible tells us we have all been given a measure of faith (Rom 12:3) and that we need to believe in the Lord (John1:12; 6:29). That’s where the problems lay – we think that believing means agreeing in our mind. Yet believing has as much to do with relational trust as it does with mental agreement. We can only truly believe someone when we know that we can trust them.

When we initially come to Christ we trust that what is shared with us about Him is the truth. And when He comes into our life, filling us with Himself, we find out that it definitely is true! From there we get to know Him, and He proves over and over again His faithfulness, love, trustworthiness and so much more.

So when troubles and challenges come our way we look back on that track record and know that because He previously came though in all those times, He will do so again. That track record of His faithfulness is what builds relational trust. And relational trust makes it easy to walk in faith because we know He can be depended on to come through.

So when it comes to the Lord asking us to do things that require faith, it’s actually relational trust that we step into more than cognitive understanding. We still need the cognitive understanding but that is not all we need; we must combine the two, understanding and trust. It’s this combination that will get us through. We read in the Word testimonies of His faithfulness to others; we read His promises to us and we recall His faithfulness to us. We then step into the reality of His faithfulness, knowing that as He has come through in the past, He will do so again. He will provide all that we need to accomplish what He calls us to, and what our need in that situation calls for.

The Christian walk is one of relationship, not mental assent, so it figures that faith must also be about relational trust not just mental assent and understanding. Everything in the Christian life is about trusting in the Lord, knowing that He has already granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness and that He will supply all our needs according to His riches in Christ – He’s done it many times before and nothing is going to cause Him to violate or break that trust you have in Him. You can depend on Him and put your faith in Him – He is trustworthy. That’s why you can walk and live by faith!

A new year has well and truly started, my batteries are refreshed and my creativity is flowing… sounds great doesn’t it? And it feels great too!

I have just finished the first draft on a new book about how to grow and enhance your creativity. It’s funny – but when you start to write you realise you know a heck of a lot more than you thought. You just are so used to putting it into practise unconsciously that you don’t stop to think what you’ve learnt along the way. You also find out how much you don’t know lol, and how much you can still learn. So the new book is in it’s infancy but should be reality fairly soon. I’ll let you know when it’s ready.

Today – can I suggest that you take some time to think about something you are currently involved with doing and consciously think about and be thankful for the things you’ve learnt that you’re putting into practise in that task. Gratitude is such a positive creative booster and mood booster you’ll find that your day will even go better because you took a moment to be thankful. And quite possibly your task will too.

Part 2

As I was praying for this year there were four statements that came clearly to me – SEE, ALIGN, DECLARE, MOVE INTO IT!

See

Seeing or recognizing what God is doing is of course the first thing that needs to happen. This can happen in different ways and one way is not better than another; all revelation from God is of the same immense value, no matter what form it comes in. To receive revelation by an open eye vision is not more spiritual or valuable than hearing the still small voice of God whisper in your heart and mind; they are just different forms of receiving the same life changing revelations. Be thankful no matter what form revelation comes to you in; if you let it, it will change your life!

Align

Alignment is key in this time. We must choose to align ourselves both internally and externally with what God is doing and ask Him to give us understanding and experience of it.

For example, in our nation of New Zealand we have been crying out for years for God to move, and over the last few years we have seen the beginning of an awakening that is spreading through the church in our nation. Yet in many ways we haven’t recognized that God has answered our prayers, because we are looking for Him to move in the same ways He has moved in the past. Because of that many are missing what He is actually doing now.

For the past few years, as a ministry, we have been proclaiming that God is moving ‘now’ in our nation and recently at a Prophets’ Hui that I attended this prophetic word was given by a respected prophetic minister in this nation, Lorraine Hagen, which confirmed that. Part of it said this – “I saw as we began worshiping, a complete change over in time, and the Lord said “I have come, I have come”.  It’s not a time to call out and say, “Come”, anymore; He says “I’ve come”. It’s almost like “coming ready or not”.  He says “I have come”.” You can read the whole word here on our website.

Declare

We need to align ourselves with what God is doing and saying and begin to say the same things that He is saying. What comes out of our mouths must be in agreement with what God is saying and doing.

New Zealand, God has come to you and is doing wonderful things in your midst! Salvations, deliverances, healings, signs, wonders and miracles are happening each day somewhere in our nation and the groundswell is building! Get ready, see it, align yourselves with it, declare it and move into it!

I love how prophetic voices around the world are decreeing the same things. In a recent article that I read Francis Frangipane said this “We must recognize that our prayers, attitudes, and agreement with God are an integral part of establishing the reality of the Kingdom of God on earth!” What we say and decree will become established!

While I have talked about New Zealand specifically, what God is doing is not limited to New Zealand, it is a global move. We are in the beginning stages of a reformation of the church that will lead to a new reformation of society as we know it. The church is not getting ready to ‘ship out’; she is getting ready and beginning to release Heaven into earth like never before, and this will affect whole cities and nations! Bob Hartley recently said this “The first reformation initiated on the heels of the dark ages in the 1500’s answered the profound question of the human heart, “How will we be saved?” It restored to the church the truth of Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” This understanding of how we are saved is now widely understood and accepted throughout the church. This second reformation now coming forth answers the question, “How shall we then live?” This divine initiative significantly relates to how we are to live and minister to God and with God in a spirit of hope in this world, in this age. Hope is a relentless force and an earnest expectation of seeing God’s goodness and the fulfillment of His many intentions and promises for this age, not just for the one to come.”

Move into it

No matter where you are in the world, God is moving and doing the same things for you as He is for others. It is a global reformation, not just a local revival, that is taking place. It is an awakening of never-seen-before proportions that will flood the world and see Kingdom realities released and established in the earth to such a degree that it will be impossible to miss. Move into it, ask the Lord to make it a reality in your life, cooperate with Him and live the life led by the Spirit that you were created to live. Release Heaven with confidence everywhere you go, knowing that God works with you and will perform wonders through you!

As far as specifics go we will continue to see great fluctuations in different nations’ economic circumstances. National debts will continue to escalate and the global community will find increased pressures put on them in many areas because of that.

Justice issues like human slavery will continue to be a focus, although the overwhelming hugeness of the problem will cause many to do nothing because they believe that what they could do is but ‘a drop in the bucket’ and will change nothing. But just as dictators and systems have been toppled in the past, the issues of injustice like human slavery can be toppled too. But it will not be the policy makers and politicians that cause that to happen, it will be ordinary people who believe in an extraordinary God.

The answer for our nations is not the policy makers and politicians; the answer for our nations is you and me, the children of God, moving in His love and power, releasing Heaven into earth in every sphere of society. I am not just talking about miracles and healings here but also about things that will revolutionize societies and bring changes that will cause cities and nations to prosper. Ideas that will cause positive changes in education and learning, inventions that will solve many food, lighting and fuel issues, especially for third world nations. All these things will happen in the years ahead. The world’s media tells us that the world is getting worse day by day and that we are descending into chaos in an ever increasing way, but the church will arise in the midst of this as one with answers that will cause national and global changes as the Kingdom of Heaven is released into the nations of the world. And you and I get to be a part of that, if we will see what God is doing, align ourselves with it, decree it and move into it.

Bless you. Have a wonderful year discovering more of God’s amazing plans and purposes for your life, and releasing Heaven with love and power wherever you may be!

 

We are in the midst of a great awakening in the Church where the children of God are waking up to “who they really are.” Part of the foundation of this awakening is a deepened revelation of the love and goodness of God that is giving birth to a “Love Revolution,” now sweeping the earth. The Church is learning how to live loved and, as a result, is becoming “living love” – pouring out love in ways that is causing transformation to come to thousands daily. You are called to be a part of that revolution, and it starts with knowing that you are loved – unconditionally and irrevocably.

Let Father God love you, really love you, and through the transformational effect on your life, you will not be able to do anything but love as He does. As a result, you too will transform the lives of those you come in contact with.

The One Word That Is At the Heart of the Good News of the Gospel

One of the amazing things Jesus accomplished through both His life and death was to reintroduce a reality that had not existed since the fall of mankind – a loving close relationship with God.

With one word Jesus changed everything. He declared the end of religion and proclaimed the restoration of relationship. He changed forever the way man would see God (if they really looked). That one word is at the heart of the Good News of the Gospel. It’s not the word “forgiveness,” or even the word “grace.” Those are powerful words, but the one word Jesus used to change everything is “Abba.” Abba is the word for “Father” or “Daddy.” It may not sound like much of a revolution-starting word when you first hear it, but that word “Father” changed everything and assaulted every religious belief in existence, both outside and inside Israel.

Knowing “Father” Changes Everything

Jesus came not only as the Savior, but also as a Son. He came to reveal the Father and to provide a way for us to return to relationship with Him. Knowing God as “Father” changes everything because it reveals our reason for being created – to be in a loving, cared-for, protected and provided-for relationship with Father God. We were never meant to have to strive in order to know God, or have to earn a relationship with Him. We were meant to be “children” to the Father – a Father who loves us with 100% pure, untainted, undiluted love and goodness.

Jesus came not only as the way back to the Father but as a model of how we were created to be in relationship with the Father. That’s why He came as a child, as a Son, because only a Son could reveal God as Father. A servant cannot reveal God as the Father – he can only reveal God as “master” or “boss.” Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father”(John 14:9). In Jesus we see the Father’s love revealed and expressed. And once we see the Father, something in us wakes up and remembers that we were made to be in loving relationship with Him!

Experience His Daddy Love

God wants to lavish us with His love. He wants the experiential knowledge of His love to be the very foundation of our lives. He wants all that we do – all the decisions we make and our revelation of who He is and who we are – to be a result of knowing and dwelling in His glorious love. The apostle Paul understood how important it is to have this revelation of God the Father’s love and to experience it. That’s why he prayed, “That you, being rooted and grounded in love…may comprehend what is the breadth, length, height and depth and to know the love of God that surpasses understanding, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).

He’s a Good Dad. God is Love. Everything He does is motivated by love. He has no ulterior motives, no agendas except to love. Love is not just something He does; it’s who He is! He doesn’t love you because He wants something from you. He’s not looking for servants. He’s not expecting people to try hard to please Him. He is looking for someone to lavish His love upon. That is the type of Father He is. Yes, we will serve and we will obey, but those are the results of knowing His love, not the means of gaining it.

Some of us never knew our fathers. Or maybe we had fathers who were absent emotionally even if they were there in person. Some of our fathers were abusive. Others demanded perfection of us. Earthly fathers have let many of us down, but we can’t afford to judge God the Father by what our experiences tell us a father is like. I used to, and because of my relationship with my dad I didn’t want to know God as Father. In my mind, fathers weren’t nice; they abused their children. Thankfully those hurts have been healed and I am set free from those lies. Now my relationship with Abba, Daddy God, is so precious to me. I know He will never abuse me, that He only has good things for me. And I know He is the same for you.

His Treasure

Daddy God has chosen us as His special treasure. He IS love and His love melts away our performance-oriented mentality. God does not want to treat us like a servant/slave but as a son/daughter. He’ll let us be a servant if we insist, but it’s not what He wants from the relationship. And if we insist in seeing Him just as master and not Daddy, Abba God, we miss out on so much.

You are a son or daughter of your heavenly Father, the One who is Love and who is forever good through and through. There are no hidden agendas in His love. You now live under a new and everlasting covenant based on Daddy’s promise that He will never stop loving you or doing good for you (see Romans 8:38-39, Jeremiah 32:40)!

God is love; and Daddy God loves you with an everlasting, 100% pure, unfailing love! Revel in His love; soak it up! You are not being greedy; you are not being somehow less spiritually mature by reveling in that love. In fact, really knowing His love is a mark of maturing in childlike faith and trust. Enjoy it – go on, really enjoy it. There are no catches here, no tricks, just pure undefiled love. God, your good Father in Heaven, wants you to know that glorious love, to be set free by it, to make your home in it, to be comfortable in it, and to find the full expression of who you are in it.

 

It’s almost Christmas and every year Christians around the world get upset with the whole Santa thing, the commercialism of Christmas and how to live in this world while not taking it’s standards as their own. When my kids were growing up I worried about the same things and in the end chose the route of teaching my children how to discern for themselves instead of using blanket “no’s” to many things.

When our kids got to an age where they could understand (about two – three years old) we explained Santa to them. They grew up understanding that he was make-believe yet fun and we didn’t feel it compromised our Christianity by allowing our children to partake in make-believe. After all God gave us our imagination to use not only to dream with him and see into the spiritual realms but to imagine – to make things up – thats where CS Lewis dreamed up Narnia and his other wonderful stories – in his imagination. (The world would be a very sad place if all imagination was removed – we would be automatons without dreams or vision and nothing that man has dreamed up would have been created yet)

The other day I was checking out some craft blogs and came across this wonderful example of explaining the whole Jesus & Santa thing. The explanation doesn’t kick in until a little bit down the page but I loved what they have chosen to do to explain it all. The couple in the blog are also learning to walk in grace-based parenting and share a couple of great books in the link that I’m sure would be well worth the read. Here’s the amazon link for them as well as another one called “Grace based parenting” which is on the same page.

I hope it gives you some ideas of how you can approach this whole subject with your family. I am certainly going to share it with my kids and hopefully we can incorporate something like it into their Christmas family traditions.

Part 4 –  Training for reigning & Protocols for accessing heavenly places

 

Part of what the Lord has for us is to do with the ‘here and now’ – taking dominion and releasing Heaven into earth. To do so we need to be able to see and understand what God wants released into the earth. Jesus walked and lived like this – accessing the Heavenly realm, seeing what the Father was doing and releasing that into earth. We, too, need to be able to see and access the Heavenly realms in order to live like He did. Some of what He has for us to do in releasing Heaven into earth is contained in scripture – like healing the sick, cleansing lepers, setting free the captives, raising the dead and more; and some is revealed by way of revelation. Whichever way the revelation comes it is given to cause us to grow in working out our kingly reign and dominion here on earth.

There is also the aspect of ruling with Christ throughout eternity. Part of the training for that takes place now here on earth, but a part of it also takes place in the Heavenly places now. In the Heavenly places Jesus, angelic beings, and those who have gone before us tutor us. Most of us don’t think about that because we have our ‘hands full’ putting into practice the things Jesus has already revealed that we should do, so ‘Heavenly things’ are often rather low on our priority list. Yet this tutoring is a part of the Lord’s plan in this season and more and more people are now experiencing it.

For example, a friend of mine sits in the Heavenly places daily with ‘Wisdom’ and learns from her. A young girl I know goes to Heaven each night as she sleeps and is taught by Jesus and others. There are also other people that I know who are being taught by Jesus and others in the Heavenly realm, including myself. This is not a new thing. It has been happening since the Church began and we will find that it happens more as the days go by and as more Christians learn to walk in their inheritance.

When Jesus leads you into situations where He introduces you to people in Heaven and allows you to speak to them, that is not New Age or witchcraft and it is not calling up the spirits of the dead. It is simply a function of the Kingdom. It even has a scriptural foundation – Jesus, as man, before He died, conversed with Moses and Elijah at the time of his transfiguration. Moreover Peter, James and John were present with Him when it happened (Mark 9:2-8).

Right of Access to the Heavenly Realm

In the New Covenant our right of access into the realities of Heaven is through Jesus and His work on the cross, not through our works.

My first experience in the Throne Room

In my first experience in the Throne Room, as I stood before the Throne I was asked a question, “How did you come here?” As I thought about the question I realized that it was asking about my right of access, not a transport question, asking how I had travelled there. The answer was a simple one. It was not dependent on anything I did but on what the Lord Jesus did. I came there in confidence, knowing that I had a right to do so because of the work Jesus did on the cross in making a way open for me to come boldly into the presence of God (Heb 9:24, 10:19-22).

That is the only right of access for the Throne Room and the Heavenly realm. You access it by faith, by the new and living way Jesus opened for us – through the finished work of the cross. You cannot access it any other way except through the shed blood of Jesus. You don’t go there timidly or unsure as to whether you have a right to be there; you go in confidence, knowing that an invitation has already been extended to you and the way has been opened for you. You can access the Throne Room, and Heaven itself anytime because of the invitation that came through Jesus’ finished work on the Cross. Also scripture tells us that the Throne of Grace is a very real place that we can go anytime to receive help and strategy in times of need (Heb 4:16).

Right of Access questions

As I shared above, sometimes the Lord or an angel will ask you a question regarding your right to do something. These are not usually trick questions nor are they asked because the Lord needs to know the answer. From my experience they are usually asked in order to see what our understanding is and because the Lord is inviting you to dialogue with him and to question him on it so that He can teach you something. Often it’s not until we are asked to explain something that we find out what we actually believe.

If we don’t understand why He is asking a question, we may end up misunderstanding the question completely. It is always better to ask the Lord to explain what He means by a question than to make assumptions. He won’t be offended by your questions. He is the Daddy who never gets fed up with his kids asking “Daddy, why?” or “Daddy, what?” And, of course, we should always weigh up what we hear in light of scripture.

Access for Other Places

We are all on a journey of maturing; that maturing happens as we continue to get to know the Lord in a deeper way and as we learn the ways of his Kingdom through faith, understanding of our experiences, and scripture. It is possible that some places or experiences in the heavenly realm may only become accessible as a result of maturing in faith, understanding, experience and obedience. It also is very likely that there may be requirements to gain access to places in the heavenly realms that we are presently unaware of, and we may discover those as we continue to access Heaven’s realities.

From my experience we can access any of the public places anytime by faith and by following the Holy Spirit’s leading. There are a multitude of different places that we can explore at our leisure. There is the Throne Room, libraries, gardens, teaching rooms, fun places, the river and its surroundings and much more. Have fun exploring them; they were created for your pleasure and learning.

There are many books now that chronicle peoples’ adventures in the Heavenly realms and they tell of many different places. Be aware as you read them that their experiences may or may not be literal in their meaning, even though they were very real experiences for those that had them. For more understanding on the difference between literal and symbolic meanings in visions and experiences, read article 2 in this series.

In the heavenly realms there are also council chambers, courts, strategy rooms and other formal rooms and buildings. From my experience some of these places seem to be accessible in the first instance only by invitation.

Where the doors or gates to a place are shut then the safest thing to do is ask Holy Spirit if you can access it, and if there is anything that needs to be done in order to access it. Remember, though, that it is ultimately not our works that gain us access to anything – it is because of what Jesus has done, and because we are now in Christ, that we can have access. I have had times where He has said “Not today”, because accessing a certain place wasn’t part of what He wanted me to do at that time. I have, however, been allowed to enter that same room or place at another time. My thoughts are that it is always better to ask Holy Spirit if you may do something instead of just assuming that you can. I don’t think you can go far wrong then. He may say “You don’t need to always be asking for permission to do something”, in which case that is your open invitation to access at any time.

There may be times when the Lord will take you somewhere sovereignly but He may or may not tell you that you can come back there anytime. If He does then that is your invitation to do so and He expects that you will follow up on that invitation. If He does not, then ask him if you can access it at other times and see what He says.

If places are closed to us, they are closed for a reason. Just accept that and know that when the time is right you will be granted access. In the meantime enjoy exploring the vast array of things that you can access in the Heavenly realm.

Protocols

We are still learning about the way the Kingdom of Heaven operates and we will spend all eternity discovering that. The Kingdom of Heaven consists of many things – government, values, vision, relationships, culture – music, art etc. assignments, creation, education, travel, pleasures, fun and laughter, times of state and ceremony and much, much more. Each of these situations will, of course, call for different responses and behavior. Just as we are not one-dimensional, one-response beings here on Earth, we likewise will not be one-dimensional in our responses and behavior in the Heavenly realm.

While Jesus’ work on the cross enables our access into the Heavenly realm are there protocols to follow once we are there? Let’s look at what the word ‘protocol’ means, to be sure that we understand what we are talking about.

Protocol 1

  1. Forms of ceremony and etiquette observed by diplomats and heads of state.
  2. Code of correct conduct; e.g.”safety protocols”; “academic protocol”.

So the word ‘protocol’ relates to proper conduct, ettiquette or ceremony.

Our heart attitude should always be one of reverence and gratitude but our conduct may vary depending on how the Lord is relating to us. Some people think that any encounter with the Lord in the Heavenly realm will be somber, full of awe and reverence and weighty, causing you to act in a somber, awed way, and that any other way to act is inappropriate. Yet scripture tells us that not only is He holy but in his presence is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psa 16:11). While that reverence and awe is never lost, and we don’t come into his presence with brashness and arrogance, we must realize that God has more aspects to who He is than just being Holy.

For example scripture reveals Him as Father, the Good Shepherd, Bridegroom, Commander of the armies of Heaven, Wise Counselor and much more. So He will relate to us in different ways as He reveals himself to us, depending on what aspect of his nature He is revealing. How He wants to reveal himself to us will determine the correct form of behavior in his presence. For example, if He reveals himself as Father it may be entirely appropriate for us to call him Daddy (Abba) and to maybe snuggle close to him, as a child does. If He reveals himself as Commander it is probably not appropriate behaviour to treat him that same way. How He reveals himself will dictate our way of conducting ourselves, but in every instance we know that we have a right to be interacting with him in relationship.

My present understanding of protocols in the Heavenly realm is growing, but still limited. Some of you may have greater understanding than me on this subject and I would love to hear from you regarding it.

In the natural realm, when you come into the presence of a King or dignitary there is often ceremony to observe or protocol to follow. From what I have experienced in Heaven so far there are some aspects where that is also true of that realm. Again it will often relate to what aspect of himself God is revealing to you, or where you go. For example, there are times in the Throne Room when you are there on serious business and these times require different behavior than at other times. There are times when the only appropriate response is to bow before him or prostrate yourself, giving him the reverence and respect He deserves.

Yet the Throne Room is not all serious business. Times of celebration happen there where everyone is dancing and shouting and playing with the freedom that only comes with knowing Christ and being set free from earth’s limitations. There are other times where I and others have sat leaning against Daddy’s knee in rest or danced with Jesus on the sea of glass.

Many people have experienced playing with Jesus in the river that flows from the Throne, laughing and splashing each other as they do so. In this instance it would be inappropriate to stand on the bank saying “No, Jesus, You don’t do that sort of thing.” The only appropriate response is to jump in and play.

Heaven is a wonderful place full of adventure, life, fun, laughter, reverence, holiness and much more. Enjoy discovering it and the reality of a Kingdom full of culture that is rich beyond compare.

This series of articles is a very basic understanding of things we need to know in order to wisely steward our visions and experiences, but I hope it’s enough to help you begin to operate with some understanding in the Heavenly places.

Thanks for taking the time to read these articles. Please pass them on to those you know who are having visions and experiences. We all need to walk in those experiences in wisdom and steward them well. In fact I believe it will become more critical than ever in the days ahead to know how to wisely steward our visions and experiences as the amount of revelation being released increases.

1 – Websters online dictionary http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definitions/protocol

 

 

 

Part 3 – Stewarding Trance Visions & Visitations

In this article we are going to look at trances and extended periods of revelation. I was also going to cover protocols for entering the Throne Room and heavenly places but decided that it would be better handled in a separate article, so I’ll look at that in the next one.

Things like trance visions and heavenly experiences are being talked about much more today than they ever have been. Are there more instances of these things happening or are people just feeling freer to talk about their experiences? I believe both to be the case. But with the increase in these things it becomes all the more important that people are taught how to understand and steward their visions and experiences. In the last article I looked at the different components of revelation – the revelation itself, the interpretation, the application, and whether what we are seeing is literal or symbolic. If you haven’t read that article (or the previous ones in this series) please do so, as it is foundational to what we’ll look at now in this article.

Trance Visions

I want to talk about trances for a minute because of all the ways that God gives us revelation, they are the most prone to being called ‘New Age’. We need to realize that nothing was created by the Devil. Everything was created by God (John 1:3; Col 1:16; Rev 4:11) and is a part of how his Kingdom functions, including the different ways people receive revelation. All the devil can do is twist and distort something that was created for God’s purposes.

I think the aspect about trances that freaks people out is the state of being ‘out of control’. As I said earlier, trances are happening more frequently and I know people who experience them often. For some of them the idea of ‘not knowing what was happening to them’ was freaky at first, but knowing that God is with you and is leading you is a great source of assurance and comfort. Yet not all trances have this component, as we’ll see later.

This aspect of being ‘out of control’ doesn’t seem proper or right to many of us. We believe that God is the ultimate gentleman who will only empower us, never overpower us. Yet when we look at scripture we find that in most trance states, some of peoples’ natural faculties seemed unable to function – like physical movement or ability to see the natural realm. In other words God took them over to some degree or another. This also happens when a person gets ‘the shakes’ in the Holy Spirit – their body is taken over by the power of God. Some examples of this are as follows.

  • Peter on the rooftop (Acts10:10)  – one of the most well known trances in scripture. In this trance state Peter was able to interact by speech with God.
  • Saul before he became King – he was changed into another man (1 Sam 10:6), although this is not officially a trance, as Saul was still conscious, this was an overtaking of Saul’s person by God, according to Browns-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions.
  • Paul in Acts 22:17 went into a trance where God communicated with him and told him to leave Jerusalem quickly because of danger.
  • John in the book of Revelation Rev 1:17 “I fell at his feet as though dead”, this is a trance like state – Thayers Greek Definitions says this means destitute of force or power, inactive, inoperative.

So what does a trance look like? To an observer it may seem like the person has ‘spaced out’ and is unresponsive. In trance vision states often the Lord and your spirit will supersede your body functions.  You may be unaware that you are in this state, as you will be caught up into the vision or experience. Your body functions will often slow down or cease to be an issue during this time, especially in extended trance times. Hunger and thirst become non-issues and bodily functions relating to eating and drinking often don’t happen. I know a lady who has had many trance visions. Her first one lasted approximately 24 hours, during which time she didn’t move or even blink, let alone eat, drink or need a bathroom break. She was caught up into the heavenly realm, seeing visions and having experiences with the Lord there. This trance was witnessed by at least three others for this whole period of time.

 Stewarding Trance Visions

How do we steward a trance vision.

  • If it is happening to you then you will probably be unaware that it is even happening, so you won’t be able to do much. Some people have a physical or Holy Spirit given warning that it is about to happen so that they can sit down somewhere comfortable first.
  • If you observe it happening to someone else then, if possible, stay with the person and stop others from interfering, poking and prodding them etc. People try to do that to ‘prove’ whether the experience is real or not.
  • Try and make them comfortable, maybe cover them with a blanket to keep them warm if the building is cold. If they need to be moved for safety sake then do so, otherwise disturb them as little as possible. Often they will be stiff as a board so laying them on the floor or a mattress is the safest thing to do. Pray for them during this time, covering them as they are experiencing this encounter.
  • When the person comes out of it don’t pepper them with hundreds of questions. Allow them space and time to come to terms with what just happened. Later on, get them to write down as much as they can remember of what they saw and heard. They will then be able to go back to it later and process it through with the Lord. If it has been an extended time then maybe offer them a drink and some light nourishment, as they may well need it.

Stewarding extended times of revelation

How do we steward extended periods of visitation – over weeks or even months? When we are going through a season of visitation it’s important to understand how we deal with that. The following are suggestions, not a  formula. Most of them are intensely practical, but are still a part of stewarding wisely our revelations.

  • Realize that if the Lord takes you into an extended period of revelation that He will look after you during this time. Don’t be afraid to surrender yourself to Him. Many people pull back from going into revelation because of fears relating to the ‘unknowns’ involved.
  • Don’t tell everyone what is happening to you – it may not be God’s time to reveal things; in fact you may never get to reveal some things. Some things will be shown to you so that you can simply cooperate in prayer with the Father over them. Pride can also become a factor here – remember your experiences say nothing about how spiritual or mature you are, they just say that you are being blessed with revelation at this point in time.
  • Remember to ask the Lord for help in distinguishing between what is ‘literal’ and what’s ‘symbolic’ in your visions and experiences. This is important, as it will all feel real. In the same vision there may be both literal and symbolic things. Asking for the interpretation and application is also important (See article 2 in this series for teaching on these).
  • Have someone you are accountable to and can share with. We all only see partly (1 Cor 13:12) so it’s good to have someone trustworthy that we can double check our experiences with who can help us measure them against scripture, God’s nature, His character and His heart for mankind.
  • Have trustworthy people who can support you in prayer during this time if possible.
  • Have notebooks and pens ready and accessible – journaling what you see and experience is important for a variety of reasons. It is easy to forget details, especially when you are in extended times of visitation and seeing lots. Also it helps with accountability.
  • Make sure that you look at rearranging your schedule if need be – drop non-necessary activities in order to free yourself up to spend the extra time in the Lord’s presence. If that’s not a possibility then stay in the place of faith for strength and staying power.
  • Make sure that you are getting regular meals, plenty of water etc. Sometimes your body works hard during these times, especially if there are manifestations of shaking, burning etc.
  •  Realize that the Lord will look after you – physically, emotionally and spiritually during these times.

I hope this has given you a little more understanding on trance visions and extended times of visitation. We need to learn how to steward these as they are happening more frequently and may very well happen to you or someone you know in the days ahead.

Please fell free to pass this series of articles on to others to read, too, as the more who understand how to wisely steward their revelations the better.

The next article in this series will be the last and I am going to look at protocols for entering the Throne Room and other heavenly places. I hope you’ll join me again for that one.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Jesus’ cry from the cross has for centuries been interpreted by the church to mean that the Father forsook Jesus, turned his face from him and left him to face the cross by himself. But is that true? Did the Father actually forsake Jesus and turn his back on him?

As we read those words of Jesus in scripture a seed question becomes planted in our minds – if he forsook Jesus will he turn away from us? I want to look at both of those things in this article – did he forsake Jesus and will he forsake us?

If we take the words of Jesus at face value we might believe that God abandoned Jesus on the cross, however if we look at other scriptures and understand some cultural things we actually begin to see something different.

In scripture we find quite a few verses in the Old Testament that seem to indicate that while God promised not to forsake Israel Deut 4:31 he then goes back on his word and does forsake them. But does he actually forsake them or does their sin have consequences; are they are reaping what they have sown? Here are some of those verses for you to check out – Deut 31:16-18; 1Ki 6:11-13; Neh 9: all esp30 ,31; Is 59:2; Is 54:8.

Let’s look at how God dealt with Jesus because that has a huge significance for us and our lives.

Throughout his lifetime Jesus made some interesting claims.

John 10:30,I and my Father are one.” That reality was never rescinded before, during or after the cross.

In John 14:9 -11 Jesus says four times that he and the Father are in each other. v9 “He that has seen me has seen the Father.”  10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” 11  “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.”

In speaking of his coming death, Jesus believed the Father would not leave him to face it alone.

John 8:28,29 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself…. 29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone.

John 16:32, Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

Then we come to those famous words on the cross… My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me (Matt 27:46)

Did God really turn his back on Jesus and forsake him or was something quite different from what the words seem to imply actually happening. I believe that something different was happening.

Why?

Because God is good (Mk 10:18), he is love (1Jn 4:8) he is faithful (Deut 7:9) cannot be false to his word or who he is and his mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13)

Jesus perfectly fulfilled all the law and obeyed all Gods commandments so God couldn’t go back on his word and forsake Jesus. God said to the children of Israel that if they obeyed his laws then he would never leave nor forsake them (see verses earlier in article).

Jesus himself believed the Father would not leave him or forsake him as seen earlier in this article.

Paul says in 2 Cor 5:19 …God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.  God was IN Christ, they were one, and so he hung there too. The Amplified Bible says it like this “It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor).”(AMP)

Although mankind has felt abandoned or forsaken by God since the fall he was not. Even before mankind was created God made provision for the possibility of the fall, even then he decided he would never forsake us. Scripture tells us that Jesus was the lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8)

Jesus, as fallen man, was identifying with us, taking on our sin; our grief, our confusion and the inaccurate feeling of abandonment by God that mankind had suffered since the fall. He was not speaking out of his feeling of abandonment, he knew God was with him, he was speaking out of ours. You might be thinking but the Bible says our sins have separated us from God and hidden his face from us (Is 59:2) Note here it is sin that does the separating, sin that hides Gods face from us making us not able to see him1 not God hiding himself from us because of sin. It is sin that is the bad guy not God. God has not forsaken or abandoned us because of our sin.

Another thing that was happening at that point was something that would be yet another indicator to all present there at the cross, that Jesus was in fact the Messiah, the long awaited one. A teaching practice in those days was that the teacher / rabbi would say the first verse (as we know them) of a Psalm or passage and the listeners would know what was coming, where the teacher was going by quoting that verse.

Those words “My God, my God why have you forsaken me” are a quote of the first verse of Ps 22 – the prophetic, messianic, psalm of deliverance written by David that begins with that cry but goes on to say that God hasn’t despised him or his cry, he has not hidden his face from him, he has heard when he cried to him; and the passage ends with the declaration “they shall come and proclaim his righteousness because he has done it!“  In other words “It is finished” he has delivered us! David is telling us ahead of time that the Father will not turn his face from Jesus and Jesus refers the Jews back to that passage of deliverance by using this phrase.

Most of those Jews listening would know that Jesus was referencing the entire passage especially any Pharisees or Sadducees there. They knew their scriptures and were familiar with the Messianic prophecies. For those that heard this cry aright, they would have heard that Jesus did not feel forsaken; they would have heard that he was proclaiming hope and deliverance.

Yes there were some who did not get that, who thought he was crying out to Elijah but those possibly were not even Jews and while we can’t know that for sure we do know that there were many people there from different nations. Any Jew listening would have known that Eli means “My God” not “Elijah” so they would not be likely to have made that comment.

Now to the other question – will God forsake us? I recently received an email from a woman who wrote that she had been through a hard time over the last few years, losing their business and much more in the economic crash. A friend had that day given her a verse (to help her make sense of her circumstances). It was Isaiah 54:8 – In anger I turned away from you for a moment etc.

As his children, does God get angry with us and forsake us this side of the cross?

No he doesn’t ever forsake us, not for any reason!

What about when we sin?

In Jesus God forgave every sin even future ones. To be honest, when Jesus died, every sin you or I would commit was a future sin. And God forgave us ahead of time! Even when you do sin today you are already forgiven and there is no condemnation (Rom 8:1). God cannot condemn you, to do so would mean he would have to discount Jesus work on the cross. He cannot turn his back on you – to do so would be to deny his word and he would have to take back his forgiveness, making him a liar. You are forgiven, totally, eternally already forgiven!

My thoughts are that those verses from Isaiah have no place in a New Covenant believers life other than to show us how different our covenant is to the old Covenant that God had with the Jews.

As New Covenant believers in Christ it simply isn’t true of us in our relationship with the Lord. He will never leave us, forsake us or turn his face from us because of anger toward us!

He says in Matt 28:20 Lo I am with you always, even to the end of the world. And in Heb 13:5 for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Scripture is clear that we are now joined to God in such a way that we are one spirit with him – 1Co 6:17. God cannot separate Christ or us from himself – we are now in Him and one spirit with him.

Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that God will or does forsake us. That God will forsake us is a strategically planted lie of the Devil who delights in blinding us to the truth in scripture and the truth of who God is. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will not turn his back on us or abandon us in our hour of need just as he did not abandon Jesus.

God’s promises to us of his continuing presence, goodness and provision for every area in our lives are too numerous to mention here, but I want you to know that if bad things do happen to you or you do sin, God has not and will not ever leave you or forsake you. He longs to give you peace, wisdom and strategy for your circumstances and to turn your circumstances into good for you (Rom 8:28) because that’s who he is and that’s what he has promised!

1 – Matthew Henry Commentary

This morning I (Lyn) read a blog entry that challenged me and got me thinking and that thinking has led to this post. Thank you Jonathan Welton for that challenge. You can read the post that challenged me here on his blog “The Rogue Theologian”  http://roguetheologian.com/2012/02/25/offended/

A few years ago I heard of a young man who many in the church considered too radical and offensive. His passion, youth and freedom along with the terms he used and the things he taught were considered by many to be almost heretical and some even made the claim that it was of the devil. But they thought and said that about Jesus too.

I have been on an interesting journey over the last few years, layers of religiousity have been peeled off and wrong thinking exposed and corrected. You might not think that is very unusual and in some ways I don’t either as God is continually causing us to be challenged in order to grow up into Him and be formed into the likeness of Jesus. But what has been interesting is who God has used to challenge me. But that is often the way isn’t it – God will use all sorts of things to challenge us, all sorts of people too.

(Passion, youth and freedom will sometimes lead us to do things that age, so-called wisdom and staleness will often not allow and unfortunately our staleness can lead us to feel threatened and challenged by someone who exhibits a life and freedom we no longer have. That is part of what I suspect happened in the case of the young man mentioned above. Add to that freedom his interpretation of scripture differing significantly from the accepted traditional view and you’ve got the potential for major upset.)

That young man was John Crowder and because I never like to take someone elses opinion as gospel without checking things out for myself I googled him and You-tubed him. Immediately I could see why people disliked him, the terminiology he used as he staggered across the platform would be enough to rattle the cages of most of us. I was no stranger however to the effects of the Holy Spirit on a human body and had done my own fair share of staggering and / or falling down and being pinned to the floor under the power of God so the drunken staggering didn’t worry me.

As I listened beyond that point in the videos what I heard began to challenge and yet confirm some things for me that God had already started to show me. (Yet at the same time it was stuff I had always known in my heart to be true but church life and traditional teaching had caused me to doubt it and eventually to bury it and accept the party line.)

I then read Johns books and I discovered a young man with a deeply questioning, searching mind who had done his homework. This man was a modern day theologian disguised with a mystics heart and passion. He had searched scripture and he had researched extensively what he was talking about. His scriptural knowledge was comprehensive and his ability to share it easy to listen to once you got past the drunkeness of the Holy Spirit. Does he have all truth – of course not;  but he has a great deal more than I had.

And then recently I got to go to a Mystical conference he did here in Auckland and there I discovered a slightly older and wiser but no less radical man. I have to say I came away from that time with him challenged more but also more convinced that he knew what he was talking about and that what he was teaching was scripturally accurate.

Johns books are just some of many that the Lord has used over the last few years to challenge and change my world. So today i wanted to say thank you to those people and honour their hungry, questioning searching hearts. I know they will probably not ever read this post but that’s not the point of writing it. There is too little honouring of each other in the church and so I decided I needed to do my part in changing that. Do I agree with everything I have read or listened to over the last couple of years – no; but that’s okay too.

So John thank you for being you, for believing and unpacking grace in a way that has challenged and changed me (it was God changing me of course but he does use people in that process). Thanks too to Benjamin Dunn, Andrew Wommack, Rob and Ryan Rufus, Cornel Marais, Paul Ellis and other grace teachers as well as all the naysayers and opponents. Thanks to those opponents who have challenged me on things I have said you have made me think through things on a deeper level and also dig deeper into scripture. Thanks also to our XP team who have been on the same journey – our discussions have been like rich satisfying food.

God has worked through each of these people to bring me into a freedom and love for God and others that continually delights me and fires the hunger for more. I honour you for the price you’ve paid and the truth you wouldn’t let go of. Thank you.