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Archive for March 2013

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Video of The Month - Executing God's Plan For Your Life

Once you discover your purpose your next step is to carry it out. That's what this video is all about. Join speaker Donnell Duncan in this awesome teaching on carrying out God's Will for your life.

This is Part Three of a Three part series. For Part Two, "Discover The Will Of God For Your Life" you can follow this link; http://youtu.be/uilSnu6oLT4

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Life Over Death

Victory Over Death In The Words Of Apostle Paul

This week all over the world we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As a result, I am sharing with you excerpts from my first book, I Curse Death. Today's blog is the fourth excerpt. Click here for yesterday's installment, "Jesus - Our Present Version of the Tree of Life"

What did Paul know about the God of Life mentioned by Jesus?

Romans 5:12 - Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned

Death was introduced to the world after the first sin in the Garden of Eden. We inherited death because we were born out of that first man and God established a system of inheritance. Therefore, we are guilty of sin without doing anything to deserve that guilt. So, here we see that the only reason for death is to deal with sin.

Romans 5:17 - For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.

God never intended for man to die so He created a plan to restore us to His Kingdom of Life. His Son, Jesus, defeated death by walking sinless, dying and coming back to life. In the process, He demonstrated that the master key to defeating the Spirit of death is a life devoid of sin. His Father was not a man but the Heavenly Father and all of His choices maintained His position as a sinless man.

As a result, He was not bound to sin and was released from death because it no longer served a purpose. Death keeps a check on sin. The worst men on this earth have always died, and as a result their death signaled the end of an era of domination by a particular type of sin.

Now, we get to be like Jesus by accepting Him as the Savior of mankind. We must also accept His death and resurrection as an opportunity for us to die to sin and arise to a new life (Romans 6:5, Philippians 3:10). I have arisen to that new life and here is a secret: this new life is not just spiritual. Mull on that one a little bit before you move on.

Romans 6:22&23 - But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The wages of sin is death! The sin of man brought the advent of death, so if we walk free from sin by the Blood of Jesus, serve God with all of our hearts and manifest the fruit of the spirit, death should no longer be a part of our lives. Remember, I can’t say this enough: the devil is a thief and will take whatever we leave lying around unprotected. If we only accept part of our redemption and leave some aspects out, he will defeat us in those areas where we lack the knowledge to claim victory.

The second part of the scripture listed above is what makes our access to the God of Life so interesting. It is only possible through Jesus Christ. Why is it that we refuse to accept the entire gift? We have allowed a spirit of fear to grip us whenever we consider the fact that we don’t have to die. We struggle to believe that we can live as long as it takes for us to accomplish our destiny on the earth and then be translated.

What? Did someone just say I don’t have to die if my purpose on earth is not complete? That someone happens to be one of the founding fathers of the church among the Gentiles and I was just quoting him.

1 Corinthians 15:22&26 - For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive…….The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

You will see this verse mentioned several times in this book because it is one of my favorites. Men die in Adam because of sin but the freedom from sin offered by Christ gives us victory over death. So what about all the great men of God who died? That is a good question. I have one for you. What about all the great men of God who were sick? Oh, since I am on a roll, I have another one. What about all the great men of God who were murdered in cold blood for the whole world to see?

My answer is simple. It is all good! The Word will always have precedence over experience. I do care what happened in the past to men of God but I care more about what God says is possible. Each of us has to believe God for ourselves regardless of what happens to anyone else.

2 Corinthians 1:8-10 - For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

Paul separated himself from most of the other Apostles with his ability to connect with any group of people he had access to. In this particular passage, he was writing out of great distress and persecution. He felt like the pressure was unbearable and the threat on his life was affecting his emotions. He knew of the imminent possibility of natural death and immediately found solace in the gift of life presented to him by God through Jesus.

Within himself he could not stop death, but he trusted in God who could deliver him from death even if he was to die. Here is my thought—since we accept that God could be a healer and deliver a man from sickness, is it too extreme to think that He can also keep someone healthy? I think not! So, if we all accept that God can raise a human being from the dead, is it too far-fetched to think that He can keep someone alive?

Think about it! If Jesus had gotten to Lazarus in time, wouldn’t He have been able to prevent the death of that man? Of course, it is much more amazing to think that He can put life back into a corpse than for Him to simply keep the person alive. I will live and not die as I fulfill my heavenly calling until the trumpet sounds and God calls me to heaven!

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Jesus - Our Present Version of the Tree of Life

Jesus - Our Present Version of the Tree of Life

This week all over the world we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As a result, I am sharing with you excerpts from my first book, I Curse Death. Today's blog is the third excerpt. Click here for yesterday's installment, "The Truth behind the Tree of Life"

The ministry of Jesus is the template for all Christian ministries. He knew who He was, exactly what He was supposed to do and didn’t think twice to vocalize it. In fact, because of His Words we can clearly understand His role in history, 2000 years after He spent His time as a man on the earth.

I am going to use His own words to show you some similarities between the way Jesus described Himself and the way the Bible described the Tree of Life. It is then up to you to determine whether or not these similarities are mere coincidences or fit into God’s plan for man’s redemption from the curse of sin and death.

Clear Similarities between Jesus and the Tree of Life

1. In John 14:6 He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

2. In Matthew 16:28, Mark 9:1 and Luke 9:27 Jesus said the same thing so I will quote from the first reference, “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his Kingdom.”

3. In John 5:24, Jesus stated, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

4. In John 8:51, Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.”

5. Jesus astonished the multitude in Matthew 22:31-33 by saying, “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at this doctrine.”

Jesus Christ, Our Living Water

John 4:10 - Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

I love Jesus. He used words the way an artist uses colors to create images that transcend the human imagination. There went Jesus, offering living water to the woman at the well. We read this story and like the multitude get the parable level of understanding (Matthew 13:13). Very few of us try to dig deeper into the Word of God and even fewer choose to dedicate the time necessary to discover the many secrets hidden in this Word of God for the last days.

John 4:13&14 - Jesus answered and said unto her, whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

I’ll make this simple. Not only is Jesus Christ our present day Tree of Life but He is also the Living Water that is necessary to sustain the tree. A Christian is given the unique opportunity to tap into the life initially supplied by the Tree of Life in the Garden. It was first made available by Jesus and then by the Holy Spirit since the day of Pentecost. Consequently, we can walk in a life that is full of vibrancy and effectiveness because of the Holy Spirit within us.

John 7: 37-40 - In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified). Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, of a truth this is the Prophet.

When Jesus was on the earth, all men had to go to Him for the living water that only He could provide. The Holy Spirit is now within all of us who are in Christ (John 14:16-26). He has brought life to everything that we are. My spirit, soul and body would all have been subject to death had Christ not died.

Without Him, I am just like the earth before the recreation process, without form and void. The Holy Spirit is now within me and can flow through me like rivers of living water. The curse of death is broken. I can tap into my rivers of living water on a daily basis because I choose to live and not die.

Revelation 22:1-5 - And He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the Tree of Life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.

The Tree of Life and the River of Life exist simultaneously and according to the Book of Revelation, Jesus Christ, who is the Lamb, is our access to both. The Tree of Life brings healing and most importantly, breaks the curse of death. We can be guided to Jesus by the Holy Spirit and we can walk in the light of the Father on this earth. This light represents supernatural wisdom and understanding which will confound even the wise that dwell among us (1 Corinthians 1:25-27).

The sun, however, is the source of all natural life, because it is the source of all energy. Plants at the bottom of the food chain need energy from the sun. This is for photosynthesis which they use to produce food and live. Therefore, the sun represents the beginning of the food chain.

God can replace the sun in our lives when we receive Jesus as the sacrifice for our inherited sinful state. He is our Tree of Life and the living water. When we do receive God as the light or source of our lives, He supplies all that we can ever need.

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The Truth behind the Tree of Life

The Truth behind the Tree of Life

This week all over the world we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As a result, I am sharing with you excerpts from my first book, I Curse Death. Today's blog is the second excerpt. Click here for yesterday's installment, "Do People Die Before Their Time?"

Genesis 3:22-24 - And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the Tree of Life.

The man sinned and God took action! We accept that. However, look carefully at where God placed His focus as the major reason for removing the man from the garden. He was concerned about the man’s access to the Tree of Life. What would happen if the sinful man had continued access to a diet of life?

What possibly could have been so important about this tree that armed Cherubims were sent to keep man from it? We assumed all these years that God just wanted him out of the garden to punish him for his disobedience but that really wasn’t the point.

Why let a disobedient child stay in a beautiful house? He deserves to be put out, right? Well, I beg to differ. The love of God would have been demonstrated in even that situation. There must have been a good reason for God to serve mankind an eviction notice. The Tree of Life represented something major that we will now discuss.

Revelation 2:7 - He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

This statement is part of a letter sent by John to the Church at Ephesus. They did not have proper personal relationships with God and needed to repent. If they could overcome their religious bondage and once again yearn for the presence of God they would get everlasting life. Nevertheless, please note that the Tree of Life was in the midst of the paradise of God. This statement in Revelation 2:7 is a major eye opener.

The Tree of Life, initially, was in the midst of the Garden of Eden and is now located in the midst of the paradise of God. However, I have not seen a treasure map leading me to the Tree of Life and if it was once available to Adam it should also be available to me now in some form, somewhere. It is obviously God’s desire for His people to accept the gift of life but they must know how to access it.

Revelation 22:1, 2 - And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the Tree of Life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

As seen in Revelation 22:2, the Tree of Life bears every month and has twelve different types of fruit which could mean a different fruit each month. The leaves of this tree bring healing to anyone with access to it. Therefore, Adam would never have been sick and as a result would not have seen death until God cut him off from the Tree of Life. So my question is: “Where is the Tree of Life right now and has access to it been restored to any man?”

Following this passage from Revelation 22, it can be inferred that in the future, the Tree of Life will be located in the New Jerusalem. So we understand three things about the whereabouts of the Tree of Life. It was present in the Garden of Eden, it is located in the midst of the paradise of God and it will be located in the New Jerusalem.

Revelation 22:14&15 - Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the Tree of Life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

The Tree of Life is available to all who obey God’s commandments. Therefore, our access to perpetual life on a physical level is possible because according to Genesis 3:22-24 that was the main purpose of it. The prospect of life in this new heaven and earth is exciting to me and I anticipate the joy of living in it one day. Nonetheless, once again, we see the Tree of Life mentioned in the Word of God as something of special natural value.

We also see that it is available to the believer and unavailable to the sinner. It should also be noted that the Tree of Life is in focus at the beginning of the Bible in Genesis 2 and then returns to the fore at the end of the Bible in Revelation 22. Don’t forget that God Himself said in Genesis 3:22 that the Tree of Life gives man the ability to live forever. Therefore, by the law of first mention, we can concur that any access to the Tree of Life denotes access to perpetual life.

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Do People Die Before Their Time?

Do People Die Before Their Time?

This week all over the world we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As a result, starting today I will share with you excerpts from my first book, I Curse Death. Here's a short description of the book;

If Adam had never sinned in the Garden of Eden, would he still have died? If death came by sin and Jesus Christ defeated sin on the cross, what happened to death? In I Curse Death, author Donnell Duncan boldly answers these questions and many more. The message is simple: man was designed by God to be immortal and only lost that gift by falling into sin. Duncan demonstrates with scripture that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ restored this gift to all those who believe.

With each intriguing chapter, Duncan draws the reader into a world governed by the original Will of God. In that world, each human being is given a specific time to complete a specific purpose and does not die before it is completed. With an abundance of scriptural support he makes it clear that death has no power over the plan of God for an individual. After reading I Curse Death the reader will be convinced that the Bible holds the keys of life that unlock the mysteries of death.

John 11:11-15 - These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

Lazarus died, and according to popular belief, if a man died it was his time to die. For example, if a young child gets shot to death at eleven, some people think that it means the child was born to live until eleven and then get shot. Somehow, that tragedy fits into God’s grand plan for mankind. Therefore, Jesus should have wept and gone home when He found out that Lazarus was dead. There was nothing more for Him to do unless He considered doing something to oppose the Will of His Father.

So why did Jesus raise Lazarus? If it was his time to die and his death fit into God’s grand plan for mankind, why did He intervene? He did it because He chose to. He wanted to use the death and resurrection of Lazarus as an example of His ability to bring life in any dead situation.

John 11:20-27 - Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

Many people in the church think just like Martha. They consider physical death as final. However, a major difference between the world and the church is the promise of resurrection. Nonetheless, Jesus took it upon Himself to show that He had power over death before His disciples and all of the other witnesses. Therefore, unlike what is portrayed in movies like Final Destination, a person does not have to die at a particular point in time.

2 Kings 20:1-6 - In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying, I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.

The time had come for Hezekiah to die but God was merciful enough to add fifteen years to his life. Was he supposed to die the first time? Yes! However, this example clearly shows that a moment in time for someone's death is not written in stone.

God can add years to someone's life if He chooses to. As a result, someone can also die early. If someone smokes and dies of lung cancer at forty, you better not think that’s in God's plan! If someone overeats and gets a heart attack at thirty-five, you better not think that’s in God's plan! If someone commits suicide at fifteen, you better not think that’s in God's plan!

Ephesians 6:2-3 - Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

Psalm 91:1&16 - He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty…With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

The Bible is very clear that the exact length of someone's life is very subjective. If you do certain things you can live long. If you don't, your life is short.

If you don't maintain a healthy diet and refuse to exercise you will die early. If you choose a wild lifestyle and destroy your body doing foolish stuff you will die early. If you obey the Word of God and live under the protection of God you will live a long life.

It is not God's Will for His Children to experience tragic deaths without experiencing the fullness of their lives. People die early all the time and no, it doesn't have to be that way! Sudden death is not part of God's plan for His Children so refuse to accept the lie!

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March 21, 2013 Posted by admin in Love

Spiritual Love

Spiritual Love

1 Corinthians 13:4-8(NLT) - Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!

Some time ago, I watched a documentary of an Australian man who lived his life as a rebel until he was poisoned. However, just before he died, God gave him an opportunity to have his sins forgiven as a result of Jesus Christ's death on the cross. His mother was a Christian and interceded on his behalf all of his life so while he lay dying in an ambulance God brought the words of The Lord's Prayer to his remembrance.

He saw the words of the prayer appear before his eyes as though they were written in thin air by the Hand of God. When the prayer got to the part where he was supposed to ask God for forgiveness, God asked him if he would first forgive those people who wronged him. Without any knowledge of how God's Kingdom worked, he refused and the prayer was stuck right there until he finally obliged.

Soon after he arrived at the hospital and died on the bed. He could see his physical body lying motionless as he rose from the bed in spirit form. Suddenly the room became completely dark. He thought he was still in the hospital but even though he was able to move around the room, he could not feel the walls or the bed. Even if he reached out to touch something his hands went right through it. In addition, he could not feel his own body because it was not made of physical matter.

However, he started hearing eerie sounds and could see large eyes looking at him through the darkness. He could sense evil around him and since he was only a spirit he knew that he was on his way to hell. The large evil creature in the darkness told him that he deserved to be there and he couldn't even argue with that.

John 3:19(KJV) - And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

John 1:4(KJV) - In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Out of nowhere a light shone from the sky and he was drawn into the air by the light. As he ascended, he could see the darkness disappearing beneath him like a shrinking hole. He arrived in heaven and the most beautiful being stood before him.

Interestingly, even though he spent his entire life as a sinner, his spirit immediately recognized that he was standing before Jesus. All the light he was seeing came out of Jesus and shone from His body as though it was the source of all light. At that point, the guilt of a life dominated by sinful actions overwhelmed him and he started confessing all he had ever done. Then something happened that blew my mind.

He said that out of the body of Jesus emanated love. Jesus did not say "I love you!" He did not do something nice to show the man that He loved him. He didn't wrap His arms around the man in a tight hug. He just beamed Love out of His own spiritual body into the spiritual body of the man. Now think about that!

He said that the Love of God pierced through his spiritual body removing all guilt the same way the beams of light expelled all the darkness. God overwhelmed a man drowning in guilt by just standing there. He didn't need to say a word or do a thing but offered a love that the man's spirit understood completely without the assistance of any other form of manifestation.

Spiritual Love

1 John 4:8(KJV) - He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

That's the theme of my message for today. I'm no "love expert" and I don't claim to have 10 steps to finding agape' love or anything like that. However, one day, I needed spiritual love. I didn't need someone to do something nice for me. I didn't need just a physical hug. I didn't need somebody to tell me that I was loved. I didn't need another scripture quoted about the love of God. I didn't need to memorize another verse.

There was a gap in my spirit that could not be filled with the love I had grown accustomed to. I needed a love that was deeper than anything ever shown or explained to me. I didn't want one that was accessible by my physical senses, understandable by my mind or that could be felt in my heart. I wanted that love that my dad has... that Love that would break down all of my defenses just by being there.

I didn't want to know that I was loved. I knew that already and something was still missing inside of me. I needed God's love to go past my own effort to experience it because I wasn't getting it right. I practically stumbled into church and sat at the back of the section where I usually sit with a desperate heart. I remembered the story of that man and it finally made sense to me.

What if spiritual love cannot be experienced by anything outside of the spirit? Maybe, I've missed it because I was focused on the manifestation or the symptoms of the love and not on the source of the love itself. The agape' love I desperately needed manifested itself in all of those ways I could see but I didn't really care that much because I could no longer trust my senses. So here's the interesting part.

I stood up in the pew during "Praise and Worship" and asked God to release from within Himself that same spiritual love He gave to the Australian guy He saved from hell. God alone understood what I was saying because I knew that unless I had seen that documentary I would not have understood it with all of my knowledge of the Bible.

The truth is that even though spiritual love is manifested in the ways we describe it, it cannot be truly experienced outside of the spiritual realm. So even though we are overwhelmed on a daily basis by the manifestation of the Love of God that we can see, touch, feel and understand we do not truly experience it unless we are in the spirit.

John 4:24(KJV) - God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

So for a couple minutes, after I asked God for His love I felt nothing then suddenly something happened. The guilt of all of my sin began to overwhelm me and I felt as dirty as I had ever felt. I cried out to God for forgiveness and I asked Him for help. There was no room for pride or excuses because in the spirit realm I was standing face to face with God. I didn't do anything special to get there and I definitely was in no position to claim any more rights to be there than anyone else in the room. However, at that moment the people around me became obsolete.

I poured my heart out to God and honestly told Him how helpless I felt as a Christian. My efforts to get this right were worthless and I wasn't getting anywhere with my idea of righteousness. All of my knowledge and all of my gifts could not fill the void in my heart for the spiritual love of God. Consequently, I had tried to sense on a physical and mental level all of my life something that did not exist in either realm.

I thought that once I knew the love of God with my mind that I had ascended to the heights of Christianity. I even thought that once I felt the love of God in my heart, I had achieved the emotional height that I saw other faithful Christians reach. However, none of that was enough for me because I still felt a void all the way to that day. I still had to struggle with myself because I was not satisfied.

Spiritual Love

So with my hands raised in the air (physical submission), my mind completely focused on God (mental submission) and a heart of total surrender (emotional submission) I got what I was looking for. I didn't feel a thing physically. I didn't get any words of wisdom that touched my mind. I didn't respond from my heart emotionally to something I saw happen. I just had the spiritual experience that I yearned for all of my life that could change a man like me.

I don't know exactly how it happened and I'm happy about that. All I can say is I started crying and I thanked God for His love. It overwhelmed every facet of my being and for the first time I knew that I had experienced in person, the love that before that day I had to understand, sense or feel.

Ephesians 3:17-19(NKJV) - that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

God's love can manifest naturally but is deeper than our natural experience. It cannot be described with our intelligence because it is not mental. We cannot feel it in our hearts because it is not emotional. We cannot sense it with our five senses because it is not physical. However, it can manifest in every area of our lives.

What we have seen, felt, heard and known all of our lives is the manifestation necessary to assure us that His love was actually there. It's the difference between symptoms and the issue behind the symptoms. You might feel hurt in one part of your body but the problem is somewhere else. So the symptom tells you that a problem is there but you have no idea what it really is.

Romans 5:5(KJV) - And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

I've seen the symptoms of God's love all of my life but I only fully experienced Him in person that day. It took the testimony of a man who got snatched from the jaws of hell for me to finally get there. I thought that signs of God's love were enough but even that couldn't satisfy the empty spot inside of me. I needed a spiritual encounter with the only Spiritual Love that exists. His Love doesn't need to be compared to any other love because when it is experienced on a spiritual level it stands alone.

In sum, you will never be deceived by love as long as you desire the only love that is sourced in the Spirit of God. Every other love is an imitation. They may all look right with your eyes. They may all sound right with your ears. They may all feel right when experienced with your body. They may also taste and smell right. A love that you can understand can be right but may also be wrong. (Ask many people who were once married and were sure they understood what they got themselves into.)

Many types of love can be emotionally experienced. However, only one love is Spiritual and that's the Love of God. You don't need to be a "love expert" to recognize the right type of love and even after you read all the best "love" books you might still get it wrong. People have so many great ideas that they use to evaluate love and almost go crazy when they somehow get deceived. However, to know if you're standing face to face with the Love of God you just need to be in the Spirit. If God is before you, your spirit will recognize Him with relative ease.

I personally know a few people who walk daily in that type of love. Once I stand before them, my spirit recognizes God and if I'm in sin I just want to repent. They don't have to do one thing because God is Love and as the light of God beams through these people, the Love of God pierces my body and removes the stain of guilt from my heart. That's the Spiritual Love we're all looking for. You think you find it when you find the symptoms but your journey is not over until you encounter The Source.

Colossians 1:8(KJV) - Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

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March 20, 2013 Posted by admin in Heart

A New Heart-Set: Returning To Your First Love

A New Heart-Set: Returning To Your First Love

Revelation 2:4-5(NKJV) - Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

Has God ever questioned your devotion to Him? Have you felt His Spirit tugging at your heart asking you to spend more time with Him? Has He told you to spend more time in His Word? Has He challenged you to raise the standard in any area of your life? Do you look back at some season in your life when you were completely sold out to God and wish you could get back there? God has spoken enough and it's time for a response. It's time to return to your first love. It's time for a new heart-set.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines the word, “mind-set” as -

1 a mental attitude or inclination
2 a fixed state of mind

The word “heart-set” is defined as a fixed state of heart. When your desires are fixed, you know what you want deep inside and nothing else will satisfy you until you get it. Today let's meditate on a few scriptures that will help us to set our hearts.

What starts in our hearts is seen in our lives.

Proverbs 4:23(NKJV) - Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

Proverbs 4:23 – Our life flows out of our hearts.

Proverbs 23:7(NKJV) - For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you.

Proverbs 23:7 – Passion and desire comes from our hearts so what we think in our hearts will eventually override what we think in our minds.

God is looking for people with the right heart-set.

2 Chronicles 16:9(NKJV) - For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.”

2 Chronicles 16:9 – God selects people for favor based on the condition of their hearts.

1 Samuel 16:7(NKJV) - But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7 – God overlooks those who appear to serve Him and isolates those whose hearts are committed.

Acts 13:21-22(NKJV) - And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’

Acts 13:21-22 – The qualification for selection by God is a deep desire to obey everything He asks of you.

A New Heart-Set: Returning To Your First Love

What constitutes the right heart-set?

Psalm 119:30, 112(NKJV) - I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me..... I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes Forever, to the very end.

Psalm 119:30, 112 – We must set our hearts to obey God's instructions.

Job 23:12(NKJV) - I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food.

John 4:34(NKJV) - Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

Job 23:12, John 4:34 – We must yearn for God's Will.

How do we get the right heart-set?

Psalm 51:10(NKJV) - Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10 – We can't change our own hearts so God wants us to ask Him to do it.

Hebrews 4:12(NKJV) - For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

John 6:63(NKJV) - It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

Hebrews 4:12, John 6:63 – Revelation from The Word of God changes your heart forever.

Luke 24:27-32(NKJV) - And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them. Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”

Luke 24:27-32 – The Word of God burns in your heart until something happens.

Hebrews 4:12-13(NKJV) - For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Hebrews 4:12-13 – A true Word from The Lord will cut to your heart and transform it.

1 Corinthians 14:24-26(NKJV) - But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you. How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

1 Corinthians 14:24-26 – Even an unbeliever will be convicted by a Word from The Lord.

Today, why not meditate on these scriptures and resolve to return to your first love. He's waiting to hear from you.

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Ask Donnell - Are IHOP and other 24/7 prayer ministries cults?

Ask Donnell - Are IHOP and other 24/7 prayer ministries cults?

We received the following question from "Simon" (fake name for obvious reasons);

"I have a question, why do people think that IHOP-KC and all other prayer rooms are cults? I live in Atlanta and I go to Atlanta House of Prayer from time to time when I'm not working. I go on my own will, don't know many people there, I just like spending time in God's presence, reading His word and praying. When I go I do end up staying for like 8-11 hours. I don't really notice the time because I get lost in Him. Now my dad and my brother think I'm following a cult because of what they read on the Internet. What's your view point? I respect you as a man of God to kind of help me out on this."

Great question, "Simon". I pray that The Lord's heart is very clear in our response. Today's answer will be structured in such a way that there will be no confusion. We will first establish a few important general points, connect them to this specific situation then come to a definite conclusion. You already know the truth so this is more for the other people who are reading this blog today. I'm taking this opportunity to deal with an issue that is only going to increase as time progresses. Let's get started.

For those who don't know, when we speak of IHOP we are referring to International House of Prayer and IHOP-KC is the headquarters in Kansas City. They are modern pioneers of the prayer movement which is basically built around 24/7 prayer and worship. They operate in shifts and run all day, every day, until Jesus returns. There are other prayer ministries around the world who have adopted a similar model of nonstop prayer and worship. That's some general background information for those who have no idea what "Simon" is referring to. Let's move on.

What's the secular definition of a cult?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in this context a cult is defined as, "a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also: its body of adherents." Another related definition is, "great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad, the object of such devotion or a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion."

These definitions are very subjective yet they probably guide how most people outside of The Body of Christ identify cults. They have no spiritual understanding so if they deem a religion to be outside of the norm, in their eyes it's a cult. For example, when The Church first started they were severely persecuted because they were followers of Jesus. Judaism was the established religious order among the Jews at the time so Christians were outside of the norm. That's why they were first called Christians (little Christs) at Antioch in Acts 11:26. It probably wasn't a compliment.

In the same way, The Protestant Church in England was severely persecuted because they did not fit into the Orthodox Church. That contributed to many of them leaving and establishing the United States of America. Many years later, we celebrate their journey for freedom. Therefore, in the past, people have loosely interpreted the definition of a cult and were completely wrong about it.

On the flip side, people did get it right when they identified people like Jim Jones, David Koresh and Charles Manson as cult leaders. The first two led groups of people to commit suicide and the last one led his followers to kill other people. These are easy to identify especially in hindsight which as we should already know is 20-20. I doubt there are many who would disagree with that position, except of course, those followers who swore by their leaders. Now let me lay the truth out before you as it's written in The Bible so you have a measuring stick that can be used by anyone to identify a cult.

How do you identify a cult according to The Bible?

Ask Donnell: Are IHOP and other 24/7 prayer rooms cults?

1) They create their own doctrines.

Proverbs 30:5-6(NKJV) - Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.

Revelation 22:18-19(NKJV) - For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Galatians 1:6-9(NKJV) - I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

The Bible is the source of our doctrine. There is more than enough truth within it to guide our lives. We do not need anyone to create alternative scriptures for our use. Within our lifetimes we will never exhaust the wisdom available in The Bible. Any doctrine that's not already in The Bible is false doctrine. In the extreme case, some religious groups take the liberty to create their own scriptures and exalt them to the same level or higher than The Bible. That's a red flag. If you add to God's words, He will rebuke you and you will be found a liar.

This can also be very subtle. Some religious groups have chosen to remove and add specific scriptures to their versions of "The Bible" as they see fit. That's also a huge red flag. We don't get to add to God's words. Pay special attention to their eschatology (doctrine of the end-times or Bible prophecy). Cults like to make stuff up which explains why they get people to commit suicide or meet on mountain tops waiting for space ships, etc. Therefore, when you're in a group that takes liberty in creating its own doctrine apart from The Bible you should look around for the exit sign and use it. At the very least, pay close attention if you hear someone say, "I know The Bible says ... but I say ..."

2 Peter 2:1(NKJV) - But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

Revelation 2:14-15(NKJV) - But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

Always pay attention to doctrine. Cults have come up with some strange doctrines over the years. Some of them have even slipped into The Church. Be very careful.

2) They misinterpret scripture.

2 Timothy 3:16-17(KJV) - All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

2 Peter 1:19-21(NKJV) - And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 13:1(KJV) - This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

This is usually where it starts. All scripture should fit into one or more of the four following categories; doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. A cult leader takes a scripture completely out of context and creates something dangerous. In the cult, they come up with their own private interpretation and claim to have exclusive access to the mind of God. That can't be right. If you're the only person on earth with a specific interpretation of scripture you're probably wrong. Even if you receive a revelation from God, you will never be the only one.

The same Holy Spirit lives inside of every Christian so someone else somewhere else got the same revelation. This is why I will now introduce to you the "two or three" principle. In the mouth of "two or three" witnesses shall every word be established. It's a very simple test for all doctrine. If you cannot find one or two other distinct scriptures in The Bible to clearly support an interpretation of a scripture it should be put aside. It's either a misinterpretation or not clearly understood enough to be used for teaching. This is also why every church leader should be accountable to someone else. That would provide another witness to establish his teaching.

3) They build a following for themselves and not Christ.

Acts 20:29-31(NLT) - I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following. Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you—my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you.

1 Corinthians 3:1-7(NKJV) - And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

When people start purposefully drawing attention away from Christ and on to themselves you could be looking at the beginning stages of a cult. The Church is about Jesus Christ who is the foundation upon which it is built (1 Corinthians 3:11). Any "church" that portrays itself as Christian but is not about Jesus is not part of "The Church." Therefore, even if it masquerades as part of The Body of Christ, it doesn't fit with the rest of The Body.

Be very careful when all of the focus is placed on a man and his name is not Jesus. Apostle Paul warned The Church in Acts 20 of vicious wolves who would distort the truth for the express purpose of drawing a following. Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1(KJV); "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." If the leader is not clearly and purposefully pointing you to Christ you should never follow that leader.

Ask Donnell - Are IHOP and other 24/7 prayer ministries cults?

4) They operate by a spirit other than The Holy Spirit.

1 John 4:1-3(NLT) - Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.

Romans 8:9-11, 16(KJV) - But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.... The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

This is where you have to dig a little deeper. When you walk into the room what's the prevailing spirit in the room? Is it The Holy Spirit? Does The Spirit bear witness with your spirit? Since The Holy Spirit lives inside of you, He will confirm on the inside whether or not He is in the room. If you've ever spent time in God's presence you would know what it feels like so you would be able to recognize Him anywhere.

People who are leading cults may act overly spiritual in an effort to compensate for their lack of real anointing. In extreme cases they may tap into the power of evil spirits which will completely oppose The Holy Spirit inside of you. You will never be comfortable in that kind of atmosphere. Don't ignore the lack of peace you feel in a situation like that. If The Holy Spirit is satisfied with the situation He will give you peace. As stated in Colossians 3:15 (AMP), let peace act as an umpire to help you settle the questions in your heart. Peace means all is well, no peace means all is not well.

5) Their aim is to control people and put them in bondage often by the use of fear.

Romans 8:15(KJV) - For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Love is the glue that keeps The Body of Christ together (Ephesians 4:16). If fear is being used to keep a group together it could easily be a cult. Scare tactics will keep people in bondage but love will set them free.

Galatians 3:1-3(NLT) - Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?

1 Timothy 4:1-3(NLT) - Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead. They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth.

Demons supply doctrines which put people in bondage instead of setting them free. Take a look at the examples given by Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 4:1-3. These are just a few of the arbitrary rules people make up to put others in bondage. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 3:17; "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." It also says in John 8:36; "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." Wherever, the prevailing spirit creates bondage instead of freedom it's time to get out of there because God is not at the center of those proceedings.

6) They thrive on deception.

Ephesians 4:11-14(NKJV) - And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,

2 John 1:7-11(NLT) - I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward. Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.

Revelation 2:2(NKJV) - “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;

John 1 explains how Jesus is the Word made flesh which also makes Him God. Anyone anywhere who questions that Jesus was fully God and fully man is fueled by the spirit of the antichrist. Deception is an easy identifying marker of a cult. When you're dealing with a liar all lies are progressive. What does that mean? No lie exists as an entity of its own. If you realize that you are being lied to about something you're probably being lied to about something else and can rest assured that you will receive even more lies in the future. At the first sign of a lie, zero in on the exit sign. The first time it's their fault. The second time it's yours.

7) They operate in isolation.

1 Corinthians 12:12-20(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

Ephesians 4:15-16(NLT) - Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

When a group of people separate themselves from the rest of The Body of Christ and try to operate in isolation they are at risk of becoming a cult. The Church is designed to thrive through it's connectivity. The more a group of "Christians" isolate themselves from other Christians the higher the probability that they will end up in deception. If any body part disconnects itself from the rest of the body it will die.

No part of The Church is designed to operate exclusively on its own. Cults thrive in seclusion so watch out for that. They even try to separate people from their friends and family. Any real ministry will be connected to other ministries and will place a high value on relationships both within and outside the ministry. Cults like to be exclusive and sometimes even secretive. They pit people against others instead of promoting the Love of God.

Now we can answer the question clearly. Is International House Of Prayer a cult?

Ask Donnell - Are IHOP and other 24/7 prayer ministries cults?

Let's start with the statement of faith on their website. I just went through it along with their list of Affirmations and Denials. Their explanations are very thorough and bring clarity to what people think they believe. Let me highlight just the top three from their statement of faith and that would help us understand what they believe.

We believe that only the sixty-six books of the Bible are the inspired and, therefore, inerrant Word of God. The Bible is the final authority for all we believe and for how we are to live. (Mt. 5:18; Jn. 10:35; 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16–17; 2 Pet. 1:20–21)

We believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, fully God and fully man; that He was conceived and born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and offered Himself as a penal, substitutionary sacrifice for sinners. By His blood shed at the cross, He obtained for us eternal redemption, the forgiveness of sins, and life everlasting. He was raised bodily on the third day and ascended to the right hand of the Father, there to make intercession for the saints forever. (Mt. 1:18–25; Jn. 1:1–18; Rom. 8:34; 1 Cor. 15:1–28; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:10–14; Eph. 1:7; Phil. 2:6–11; Col. 1:15–23; Heb. 7:25; 9:13–15; 10:19; 1 Pet. 2:21–25; 1 Jn. 2:1–2)

We believe that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. No ordinance, ritual, work, or any other activity on the part of man is required or accepted in order to be saved. This saving grace of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, also sanctifies us by enabling us to do what is pleasing in God’s sight in order that we might be progressively conformed to the image of Christ. (Jn. 1:12–13; 6:37–44; 10:25–30; Acts 16:30–31; Rom. 3:1–4:2; 8:1–17, 31–39; 10:8–10; Eph. 2:8–10; Phil. 2:12–13; Titus 3:3–7; 1 Jn. 1:7, 9)

Source: http://www.ihopkc.org/about/statement-of-faith/

Did you see the first statement? The 66 inspired books of The Bible are their final authority. Love it! That's the antithesis of a cult. They do not create their own doctrine! That eliminates #1 from our list.

Do they misinterpret scripture? This is where personal experience comes in. Even though I've never been to IHOP-KC, they put their teachings on The Internet. For a season of my life, a few years ago I subscribed to the podcasts of their weekend services so I kept up to date with what they were teaching on a weekly basis. What I heard was sound Biblical teaching. Also, I've been to IHOP-Atlanta several times. I was a student in their end-times seminar several years ago. I learned so much. I was able to question the instructor and he proved to me the truth through scripture. I was so inspired that I studied The Book of Revelation for myself and wrote Revelation Unplugged soon after.

Do they build a following for a man and not Jesus Christ? I listened to the live stream of their prayer room daily for a season of my life and it was all about Jesus. They prayed, they sang, they prayed, they sang and not once did they even mention anybody's name from their organization. Their eyes were on Jesus. In fact, I probably have never encountered a ministry as "Jesus focused" as IHOP. They call themselves "Forerunners" just like John The Baptist whose express purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. As John said in John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease."

What's the prevailing spirit at IHOP? I can assure you that I always feel The Spirit of God when I tune into the live stream of worship in the IHOP-KC prayer room. However, I've sat before The Lord in the IHOP-Atlanta prayer room and The Holy Spirit was in the place. So much so, that after struggling for months to get an answer from The Lord about the ministry a few years ago I went into the prayer room. Within an hour in that atmosphere I heard God's voice loud and clear.

Do they control people and put them in bondage? Well, I can tell you about IHOP-Atlanta. I personally know someone who moved from another state to IHOP-Atlanta where she sat before The Lord for an entire year as a full-time missionary. She went in there desperate for a breakthrough in her personal life and walked out totally delivered and free. Yes, their standard of holiness and consecration was very high but it helped her. She met God face to face and her life was changed forever. She still testifies today about what The Lord did for her at IHOP.

Do they thrive on deception? When it comes to the truth about Jesus Christ that would be no. As you should see in the statement of faith I quoted earlier they don't play games with that. Do they operate in isolation? Not based on what I've witnessed. I've seen them associate with other ministries before.

So why do people think they are a cult? Many people get their information from random sites on the Internet. Instead of going to the source, they let other people's commentaries skew their perspective. Additionally, just being a 24/7 prayer ministry is not a bad thing. You can never pray or worship God too much so you can't go wrong if that's where your heart really is. We, at The Cracked Door believe in what they're doing at International House Of Prayer and have financially supported missionaries in their Atlanta prayer room and will continue to do so.

In sum, it pays to be objective in situations like these. You don't want to operate based on only feelings. There's no way to feel whether or not you're dealing with a cult. What does The Bible say? How does what you see in the organization line up with what you see in the scripture? The Bible says in 1 Timothy 3:15; "but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." If you're in The Church you should be a pillar and ground of truth. Anyone who places little priority in the truth is not a part of The Church.

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March 18, 2013 Posted by admin in Books

You Are What You See!

You Are What You See!

Today's blog is another sample from my upcoming book.

What shapes your identity?

1. What you see!

"Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. - Matthew 6:22 MSG

Culture is defined as:

a) The characteristic features of everyday existence or a way of life shared by people in a place or time
b) The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization
- The Merriam Webster Dictionary

Culture is not innate to any individual but is perpetuated by observation. In other words, any common behavioral pattern within a group of people is learned from observing others. That is especially true for younger individuals who remain extremely impressionable until they mature enough to think for themselves.

One fundamental need of a human being is a sense of belonging. Each of us was born with the desire to become part of a group of some sort. This can be satisfied by true community within which we share our lives and support one other. Yet, what is more common is the development of pseudo-communities where we align ourselves with people we don't really know on a personal basis.

Through traditional media like television and written publications visual standards have been traditionally set which shape the standards of society. People see the lifestyles of the rich and famous on television shows or in magazines and mimic what they see. What's even more effective at perpetuating these images is the emergence of new media like online social networks.

This phenomenon has revolutionized our culture. Now, ordinary people have “direct” contact with their favorite celebrities by joining their Twitter following or becoming a Facebook “friend”. Trends and fads can spread even faster because the degree of separation between stars and their followers is greatly diminished.

I've personally seen young men who look exactly like their favorite hip hop artistes and young ladies who are carbon copies of their favorite singers. It's become so extreme that even the most outrageous traits are copied. In his book Tribes, best selling author and marketing genius Seth Godin explains how a proper understanding of this type of behavior can be used to create effective marketing strategies.

Here's something interesting. In the same way that many new products are traditionally tested on animals and scientific researchers use lab animals to test scientific theories here's an example of the power of visual observation. While we are now acutely aware of how images impact our society, this theory was first effectively tested and proven on animal subjects.

Then Jacob took some fresh branches from poplar, almond, and plane trees and peeled off strips of bark, making white streaks on them. Then he placed these peeled branches in the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink, for that was where they mated. And when they mated in front of the white-streaked branches, they gave birth to young that were streaked, speckled, and spotted. Jacob separated those lambs from Laban's flock. And at mating time he turned the flock to face Laban's animals that were streaked or black. This is how he built his own flock instead of increasing Laban's. - Genesis 30:37-40 NLT

In a fascinating display of scientific skill and business savvy, Jacob exploited the power of visual observation. By controlling what the animals saw while they mated he was able to greatly influence what they produced. This experiment provided results that were consistent with our current theory. How was that possible? In the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 6:22; “Your eyes are windows into your body.”

Thus, even without your express intent, anything you habitually observe begins to influence your life. That's a sobering thought because in this information age when you are bombarded with images from every direction it's a major challenge to control what you see. Yet, it's this glut of information that has shaped impressionable minds and turned our generation into a bunch of followers instead of leaders.

Here's how this affects your philosophy of life. As was stated earlier, your philosophy of life is the system of principles which form the framework of your worldview. A principle is defined in the Webster's New World Dictionary as “a fundamental truth, law, etc. upon which others are based.” In other words, principles form the standard of operation for an individual.

Unlike scientific principles which are established natural standards proven by The Scientific Method, philosophical principles are relative. You can choose your own philosophy and form standards in your mind based on what you know to be right. In order for others to impose particular philosophies on your life they have to skew your knowledge base.

This explains why in so many urban communities in the United States the greatest desire of young men of African descent is to become successful in some form of sports or entertainment. So much so that the schools struggle to keep their attention because academic education is considered secondary. This is only possible because the media is dominated by images of “successful” artistes and entertainers.

After being saturated with these images, young African Americans are encouraged to become clones of what they see. When popular hip hop artistes started “sagging” their pants so did the young men. When they started wearing “oversized” jeans the young men followed. Then they tried skinny jeans and “Mohawk” haircuts with the same result.

One perfect example is the spectacular rise in what I would describe as full-body tattoos. Instead of discretely placed tattoos on areas that can be covered up with clothing when necessary any open space on their bodies must be covered with ink. It has grown into the new craze. What was once reserved for street and prison gangs is now a fashion statement.

If the power of visual imagery can control how people look it's only logical to presume that it controls how they think. Like those animals in Jacob's experiment when it's time for an individual to produce after his own kind what comes out will resemble what came in through the windows of his eyes.

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Success God's Way

Success God's Way

Before we get into a new blog series, today we'll share with you an excerpt from my upcoming book.

Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! - Isaiah 5:21KJV

Do you want to be successful? If your answer is yes, that desire is your first step in the right direction. Even so, there is a huge gap between desire and accomplishment. Desires are shaped by mental images which in turn are created by processed information. In other words, your imagination is an extension of information you have received and you can only truly desire what you can imagine.

Even though there are no tangible limits to your imagination there are perceived limits. If your exposure to information is limited, so are the building blocks of your imagination. As a result, the meaning of the word success is relative and differs greatly from person to person. What one person considers success would not work for another.

So what exactly defines success in your life? Your answer to that question is of utmost importance. It's highly unlikely that you will stumble upon success. Granted, people do sometimes find success in places where they are not looking but they're hardly successful by mistake. If you don't know your intended destination even if you stumble upon it you won't know when you get there.

Let's now analyze the definition of success. The Webster's New World Dictionary gives the basic definitions of success as “a favorable result” and successful as “turning out as was hoped for”. From this perspective, success is measured only by the outcome. It does not matter how the results are achieved. The process is not the priority because it is merely a means to an end.

This understanding of success is illustrated by the popular phrase “all's well that ends well”. It has so shaped Western thought that people are celebrated for achieving desired results by any means necessary. Upon this foundation of success we have built a Western society of schemers, opportunists and treasure-hunters where integrity has been shown the door in exchange for Lady Luck.

In fact, The Webster's New World Dictionary gives a second definition of success as “the gaining of wealth, fame, etc.” With that definition, it reveals the identity of probably the most popular “favorable result” in Western society. As was stated earlier, information shapes mental images which in turn shape desires. Thus, the abundant media coverage of the rich and famous has significantly molded Western society.

It's no longer uncommon for people to create false realities. For some, acceptable wealth-building strategies range from lucky pursuits like gambling to elaborate pyramid schemes and other crafty ventures. Even though it's highly improbable for these methods to consistently create wealth they definitely can. Consequently, many have chosen to follow the advice of one popular American rapper who named his wildly successful album; “Get Rich or Die Trying”.

Also, since success can be measured by fame the new secret to success in places like the United States is to be cast in hot new “reality” shows. Many of which are about as “real” as the imagination of the producers who provide elaborate scripts and contracts of non-disclosure to each cast member. What many believe is the pathway to becoming rich and famous sometimes only leads to infamy.

A system built only on achieving favorable results breeds dishonesty and a lack of integrity. People will lie, cheat or steal to get ahead as long as they can get away with it. Fortunately, The Bible teaches success from a different perspective.

Good Success

Success God's Way

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. - Joshua 1:8 KJV

When success is mentioned in The Bible it is done using the term “good success”. According to The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible, the Hebrew word used for good success is “sakal (pronounced saw-kal')” which means “to be circumspect and hence, intelligent”.

In the Young's Literal Translation, this scripture reads as follows;

the book of this law doth not depart out of thy mouth, and thou hast meditated in it by day and by night, so that thou dost observe to do according to all that is written in it, for then thou dost cause thy way to prosper, and then thou dost act wisely. - Joshua 1:8 YLT

The Bible equates success to wisdom. Good success is not assessed by favorable results alone but by the good decisions which cause the results. This key departure from the current norm is critical. It is not based in luck but reflects a true merit based system with clear criteria. It also solves a major problem with the popular result based definition of success and that's longevity.

Whether the word success is characterized as a favorable result or wealth, fame, etc. any success without wisdom is temporary. Hence, the term; “15 minutes of fame”. Over and over, people rise quickly to the top only to fall even faster. Without any consideration for due process, this type of success does not last.

There are countless horror stories of people who won the lottery, earned huge sums of money through sports and entertainment yet lost it all. The same can be said of purported businessmen who operated elaborate Ponzi schemes while projecting legitimacy. As “luck” would have it, they were eventually discovered. One day they were all hot and the next day they were not.

Here's another illustration of The Biblical perspective;

Wealth [not earned but] won in haste or unjustly or from the production of things for vain or detrimental use [such riches] will dwindle away, but he who gathers little by little will increase [his riches]. - Proverbs 13:11 AMP

Good success is another way of saying lasting success. When your climb to the top is done the right way you stay there. There is no room for hastiness, opportunism, misconduct and vanity in good success. It's not about what you can get away with on your way to the top but how much wisdom you demonstrate as you get there.

When The Bible talks about “he who gathers little by little” it refers to the individual who operates within an ordered system. This individual methodically advances toward the desired goal. In the parable of “the tortoise and the hare”, this person is the tortoise who plods along slowly but eventually passes the hare who bursts out the gate but stops exhausted on the side of the road.

This book was written with that in mind. As you read through these pages you will notice a heavy emphasis on wisdom and process. If you don't know what you're doing and you're not systematically advancing even if by chance you achieve success you won't be able to keep it.

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