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God of the Open Door

Psalm 25:4-5(NKJV) - Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.

Options... options... options... life is full of so many options. What career should I choose? Where should I go to school? Where should I work? Who should I marry? Should I even get married? What church should I join? Where should I live? What should I do with my free time? What should I do with my life? What should I do with my talents? What should I do with my money? Those are some of the biggest questions we need answers for. Yet, on top of those big life questions with existential significance, there are many more smaller questions we have to answer everyday of our lives. Why? It's because life is about choices and the choices we make define the lives we live. How do you know which option is God's choice for you?

The easy answer is to say that the option you should choose is the one that lines up with God's Word. That's a great answer but it works best if the choice is between doing what is clearly morally right and doing what is wrong. God's Word will always tell you to do what is morally right. Yet, moral or ethical choices aren't the only ones we have to make. What do you do when you have to choose between two options that are morally right or morally neutral? Which scripture is going to give you the answer? This option also works if you can find an example in The Bible which either closely matches your situation or can be related to it. However, what do you do when your circumstances are not easy to match with specific scriptures?

Isaiah 30:21(NKJV) - Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.

The next easy answer is to say that God will tell you which option to choose. I like that answer because it is the right one. However, how does God speak to you? What did He tell you this morning? How did He say it? For the last five confusing situations where you needed to make important choices between options that were morally neutral or good, how did God tell you what to do? Are you sure it was Him? Do you still wonder if you made the right choice? Hindsight is 20-20, so you should know by now if at least some of your older decisions were right or wrong.

I'll be honest with you. God talks to me all the time. I'm thankful He does but that's not the whole story. Sometimes, I can hear what He's saying with total clarity but other times I can't and that's a problem. It's not good enough for God to speak. I have to hear what He's saying too. It's especially difficult to hear His Voice when people around me who also hear from God provide conflicting perspectives on the same situation. It's not good enough to be religious about it and act like you always know what God is thinking. Let's get real. Yes, God has all of the answers. We just don't always know what they are. Hence, we need a consistent and reliable way of getting answers from God even when we're struggling to hear His Voice. Hence, the subject of today's blog; "God of the Open Door".

Revelation 3:7-8(NKJV) - “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

For over two decades, God has shown me what to do in the simplest of ways. He opens the door to the path He wants me to take and closes the door to the path He doesn't want me to take. When faced with some of the most difficult choices in my life, my prayers have remained largely consistent. "Lord, open the door you want me to walk through and close the doors you don't." Even though life presents us all with choices, I like narrowing mine down by the process of elimination. I know it works because I can look back over my life at a track record of good decisions that were only possible because I chose the doors God opened for me and gave up on the ones He closed. It's a remarkably simple approach but it's worth a try.

In the Old Testament, the names of God were directly related to revelations of God's character. When God provided a lamb for Abraham in place of his son, Isaac, The Bible says in Genesis 22:14(KJV); "And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen." When the Angel of The Lord visited Gideon and commissioned him as the savior of Israel in the midst of their oppression by the Midianites, The Bible says in Judges 6:22-24(KJV); "And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face. And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die. Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites." So when God showed me how to make good decisions in the midst of confusion by noticing the open door, He revealed Himself as "God of the Open Door".

Psalm 37:23-24(NKJV) - The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

If God orders our steps, He won't order us to keep butting our heads against doors He has purposefully closed. He would order us through the doors He has purposefully opened. My engineering career is a perfect example. Since the day I graduated with my BS an MS degrees from Morehouse College and Georgia Tech it's been an interesting journey. When I was in graduate school God opened the door for me to get my first job then after 12 years the door started closing. Since I'm a creature of habit, I watched the door closing and the walls closing in around me but did nothing about it. Then after months of inaction, God did the following to me.

Job 33:14-16(NLT) - For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds. He whispers in their ears and terrifies them with warnings.

When I wouldn't notice the God of the Open Door, He transformed into the God of the Terrifying Dream and got my immediate attention. Since then, my career has been on autopilot. Each step I take now is away from closing doors and through open doors. God hasn't terrified me with dreams about my career lately so it looks like He's satisfied that I'm getting the point. I've stopped trying to force things to work that just aren't working anymore. Things that are past their season have become the closing doors in my life. When the door is closing, it takes tremendous human effort just for it to stay open because I'm on my own. Yet, the more I do to prop the door open, the more the door closes. Eventually, I have to accept that it's not what God wants and He's the one closing the door. Fortunately, God never closes a door without opening another so if a door is closing, it's time to look around for the door that He's opening.

All of us don't have the special ability to hear God's Voice in every situation. However, all of us can see if a door is closing and another one is opening. God has guided me this way for two decades and for the last few days He's been stirring my heart to share our special arrangement with you. Now is the time to ask yourself the tough questions. Have you been trying to keep a door open that door is closing? Have you been ignoring the only open door because you don't want to walk through it for whatever reason? Your success or failure in life is based on the choices you make. A life that's defined by forcing open closed doors is always going to be hard. It's not worth it trying to swim against the current when God is in the current. As my father says; "The worst place to be is where God was." When the cloud moves, even if you're comfortable where you are, pick up your tent and move with it.

Acts 26:14(AMP) - And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice in the Hebrew dialect (Jewish Aramaic) saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick [repeatedly] against the goads [offering pointless resistance].’

I won't challenge Floyd Mayweather to a boxing match, Usain Bolt to a 100m dash nor Michael Phelps to a swimming race of any length. Why? I'll lose! It's pointless. Then why would I, in my right mind, think it makes any sense to resist God? If He opens the door and says go right, why would I go left and try to force open a closed door? Because he offered pointless resistance, Saul ended up being knocked off of his high horse by Jesus (pun intended). Jacob would not stop wrestling with God so he ended up with a disjointed hip in Genesis 32:24-25. Jonah tried to go to Tarshish instead of Nineveh so he ended up at the brink of death in Jonah 2. What will be your story?

I invite you to get to know Jesus as the God of the Open Door. Unlike many of us, He is very decisive according to 1 Samuel 15:29. He knows exactly what He wants to do and He knows what's best for you. Even if He's promised you things that you are not seeing right now in your life, He can be trusted. Focus your energy on the opportunities He has placed before you. Don't waste energy stressing about the opportunities you did not get. Set your sights on the doors He has opened. Don't be distracted by the doors He has closed. In this season of your life, He closed them for a reason. Now is not the time for that. It's the time for something else. Something He wants you to have. Something He's placed before your eyes. Something on the other side of the open door... something good. Get up and take it. It's yours.

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Ask Donnell: Is All Secular Music Bad?

We received the following question from Nahom;

"Hello to the reader of this email. I am a teenage boy that has a question about secular music and I would preferably want Donnell Duncan to answer this email. Donnell, I recently viewed one of your Ask Donnell videos, the one about secular music. To be specific, you were answering the question, "Will I go to hell for listening to secular music?". Your answer was that secular music feeds the flesh, and that there is a war between the flesh and the spirit, the one who gets fed more wins. To be clear I did not ask the question that you answered in the video, I'm here to ask you a question based on your answer. Donnell, aren't you aware not all secular music is bad? Secular music is any music that is not used for worship. There is much secular music that is sinful and feeds the flesh, but there is also much that glorifies God. Music is an art. Are you saying that any art that doesn't mention God or Jesus is sinful or feeds the flesh. For example, "See You Again" is a widely known song that was a huge hit in 2013. It has over 2 billion views on Youtube! It is secular. It is about an actor (Paul Walker) and his death that left many close to him sad, including co-star Vin Diesel. The song is about remembering the beautiful friendship between Vin and Paul, and how Vin can't wait to see him again in the Pearly Gates. However, again, it is not gospel, it is secular. But this song certainly does not feed the flesh! Or does it? Please respond if possible, thank you!"

Nahom, thanks for your question. I posted the video above so that the people reading will know what you're referring to. I just took the time to watch it again to remind myself of exactly what I said. Now that we're on the same page, I'll get straight to the point. I know I didn't get into much detail in the video which is probably why you still have questions so I'll take the opportunity now to give you a little more information. First, let's be brutally honest.

Some Christians want to do whatever they feel like and if they can justify their choices it makes it so much easier. People who are called to preach The Word of God have a choice. We can tell people what they want to hear and not disappoint them or we can tell people the truth and not disappoint God. Sometimes, the truth and what people want to hear happen to be the same thing and we love those occasions. However, sometimes, the truth is not what people want to hear and those are some of the most difficult times for ministers of the gospel.

1 Corinthians 6:12(NLT) - You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.

Here's the good news. Like I said in the video, your choice in music does not determine your eternal destiny. Your acceptance or rejection of salvation by grace through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross determines your eternal destiny (Romans 10:9,10). Therefore, there is a whole lot of freedom in Christianity. I know Christians who enjoy drinking alcohol, listening to secular music, hitting the clubs, etc. and that's their decision. None of those activities are specifically forbidden in the scriptures. Yet, The Apostle Paul made a great point in 1 Corinthians 6:12 when he said that yes, you may be allowed to do those things but are they good for you? If you say they are. How exactly are they good for you?

If you hear a secular song you like and bob your head to it you're not going to hell but because you like it, does that mean it's good for you? In 2017 when Christian music comes in every genre at the highest level, listening to secular music is a choice and it's one we don't really have to make. There is nothing we lack when it comes to music in the Kingdom of God that forces us to have to look elsewhere for something good to listen to. Nevertheless, it's similar to eating junk food. You know it's not good for you but you eat it because you like it. One cheeseburger and a side of fries with a large coke won't kill you but eat it every day for one year and see what happens.

John 8:31-32(NLT) - Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 17:15-19(NLT) - I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the word secular means "worldly or temporal" and secular music is music that is not overtly spiritual or religious. Is secular music good for you as a Christian? Does listening to it promote holiness unto God or separation from the evil in the world? Let's use your example. I agree with you that Wiz Khalifa's song "See You Again" is quite inspirational. You mentioned that in it, there is an assumption that they will see Paul Walker again at the pearly gates. My honest question is which pearly gates?

My assumption is that the writers of the song believe that they will meet in heaven one day especially since almost everyone believes that they are going to heaven. That's so beautiful and believe me, I love the way that sounds especially after Paul's untimely and tragic death. I wish I can meet everyone I've ever seen on earth in heaven. However, let's be brutally honest. Is that the truth? You know the answer.

The Psychological Power of Music

Have you ever gone somewhere and there was music playing in the background, then left the place and the music you heard kept playing in your mind? Do you know why as children we are taught to memorize things using music? Think about how you learned the alphabet. A...B...C..D...E...F..Geeee... Do you remember the tune? Growing up in church we learned the books of The Bible in a song. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Acts and Epistle of the Romaaaans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians.... Do you know why? Some scholars posit that music has the power to take a message past your conscious mind directly into your subconscious. In other words, music helps me to get information deep into my brain without having to try as hard.

Have you ever heard a song and it instantly took your mind back to a different place or perhaps it brought back the memory of a past relationship, stirring up old emotions and replaying old experiences? That's the power of music. One song can change the trajectory of your entire day. Here's a quote from a report on NPR based on the book, "The Power of Music" from researcher Elena Mannes; "She also says scientists have found that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function. That's why she sees so much potential in music's power to change the brain and affect the way it works."

Simply put, music changes your brain. That's why experts have said that the smartest kids listen to classical music. Have you ever seen the printed score for classical music? It's very complex so from a young age, children who listen to classical music gain an advantage in their mental development. When you're angry, acoustic instrumental music can soothe your nerves. When you want to get hype for a sporting event, loud rap or rock music can get you excited. When you're sad, you can curl up on the couch with some ice cream and some sad R&B or country music and feed your depression.

Some people listen to music and it makes them violent while other types of music stir up sexual desires. Music is the soundtrack of life so whatever your life experience, there's music to match it. If you want to get a message to your brain, music is the easiest way to deliver it. That explains why it's so much easier to remember a song than it is to remember a written paragraph from a book. It could be the same number of words but you can only repeat the words of the song without trying to memorize it. On the other hand, you will easily forget the paragraph even if you just finished reading it.

The Spiritual Power of Music

1 Samuel 16:23(NLT) - And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul, David would play the harp. Then Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit would go away.

Do you know that every religion, cult, form of witchcraft or spiritual practice includes some form of music? Very few people truly understand the power of music. Do you know that the power of God can be released through music? The anointing of God that was on David flowed through his music and brought deliverance to Saul from demonic torment. When a man or woman of God under the influence of The Holy Spirit sits down to write a song that's based in the truth of God's Word and then delivers that song through music the power of God is released. You can simply listen to certain songs and instantly feel the presence of God. You can sit under the ministry of a true minister of music and instantly sense the rumbling of the Holy Spirit in your heart. Like it did for Saul, God can use music to set you free.

Proverbs 4:23(NLT) - Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

If you know that music has the power to change your brain and affect your spirit would you put that power in the hands of people who are not submitted to God? Do you trust Wiz Khalifa with your brain or your spirit? Maybe he's a great guy but do you believe that he cares enough about you that he would ensure that he only delivers the truth through his music? I can agree that not all secular music is bad if there was a clear definition of good or bad. What defines good or bad secular music? We know that God is not in it or else it would not be secular music, so we can leave God out. What exactly are we left with if God's not in something?

Is secular music good if there are no lies, cussing or sexual references in it? Is a good song good because it talks about love? Even if it talks about love, is it the true love we know from the scriptures or do they have their own definition of love? Is it good because it talks about current issues? Maybe if Tupac didn't cuss, his music would be good because he talked about issues in the streets? Is music neither good or bad because there are no words? What about instrumentals? It's easy to judge words but if you remove the words, does it matter anymore? Is there such thing as a secular instrumental song or instrumental Christian music? What makes it Christian or secular, if it has no words? Now let's go deeper. If we remove all the words from a song, does it matter where the music came from?

Titus 1:15(NLT) - Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted.

Matthew 7:17-18(NLT) - A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.

The music we listen to comes from the heart of the person who created or delivered it. If the person's heart is pure the music is pure. If the person's heart is corrupt, the music is corrupt. We cannot get good fruit from a bad tree or bad fruit from a good tree. Hence, not only are the words important, the music is also important because it's an expression of the person who created it. When a person creates music, something leaves them that comes from within them and when we listen to their music what left them enters us. Hence, it's important to know what we're allowing to leave another person's heart and enter our own.

Here's another excerpt from the book, "The Power of Music" from Elenna Mannes; "Daniel Bernard Roumain, a young cross-genre violinist who is known as DBR, thinks one reason music is so powerful is that sound actually penetrates our bodies: "You know when someone says that a piece of music 'touched me' or 'moved me,' it's very literal. The sound of my voice enters your ear canal and it's moving your eardrum. That's a very intimate act. I am very literally touching you, and when you speak to me, you are literally touching me. And then we extend that principle to the sound of a violin.""

Do you know that the music which brought deliverance to Saul had no words in it? So, even though words are powerful, there's also power in the music itself. The power in the music comes from the person who created it and the person delivering it. When a Christian with a heart that's pure before God produces music, the music itself is pure and you can feel it. That's why certain Christian artists always minister to our souls. That doesn't mean they'll go platinum or become popular but we know that whatever music they deliver has God all over it. The same level of influence can also come from secular music.

2 Corinthians 2:11(KJV) - Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

It's easy to believe that as long as the words of a secular song sound positive, it's great music for Christians to listen to. Maybe it is, maybe it's not. Who wrote the song? Who wrote the music? Who played the instruments? What spirit was in control of the process? Were there spirituous liquors involved? Was it marijuana? Did they do heroin or snort cocaine before they hit the studio or in some cases, while they were in the studio? My point is that secular artists don't have to answer to God so we are trusting that they would not allow the enemy to influence them while they create music. That's a very risky proposition. Regardless, nobody can stop you from listening to secular music. It's your decision. Just remember the power of music.

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Decatur Community Workshops: Preventing Burnout

This video provides highlights from our recent workshop "Preventing Burnout". This event was a production of Decatur Community Workshops and Singles Point of View. It was hosted at The Body Church, 3009 Rainbow Drive, Suite #142, Decatur, GA 30034.

Our faith-based group hosts monthly workshops in the Decatur area that are free, interactive and open to the surrounding community. Topics include leadership, personal finances, investing, professional networking, career advancement, real estate, grant writing and many more. We are open to suggestions and are always interested in welcoming new people. If you love to learn new things especially for free, this group is for you. For more info, visit www.meetup.com/decaturcommunityworkshops

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Prayer: Why We Pray In The Name of Jesus

Every time we pray, we pray in the name (authority) of Jesus. In other words, we don’t expect God to answer our prayer because of who we are or what we’ve done to deserve the answer. If that was the case, we would pray in our own names. We expect The Father to answer our prayers because of who Jesus is and what He did on the cross. That’s why we only pray in the name of Jesus.

Date - October 2nd, 2016

The Body Church

3015 Rainbow Dr,

Suite #142,

Building #3009,

Decatur, GA 30034

**Located in Building 3009 in South DeKalb Office Park, 3015 Rainbow Drive, Decatur, GA 30034**

1 Corinthians 12:12(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.

Sundays - 9:00 AM

www.TheBodyChurchInc.org

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July 27, 2016 Posted by admin in Prayer

Observer, Commentator or Intercessor?

Observer, Commentator or Intercessor?

Ezekiel 33:1-6(NKJV) - Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’

This is the second of a series of blogs birthed out of a Word from The Lord we received over the weekend when we were given a simple instruction, "Prophesy again!" The first blog was published a few days ago. If you haven't taken the time to read, "Misdirection and Distraction - Effective Tools of Deception in the Last Days" do so now. There are things you will read in there that you probably won't find anywhere else.

Furthermore, something quite unusual happened when we published the blog. Within a short period of time our website disappeared and a strange landing page showed up to replace it. For a moment, we had no idea what was going on. Thank God for putting some great people in our lives. It took the expert help of a great friend and his team to undo whatever was done to hijack the site.

We thank them for getting us back up and running properly by the next day. So again let me put it this way, it's important for you to read that article. There's a reason why we went through so much trouble just so you could have access to it.

Nonetheless, let's get to what really matters. Things are changing in the world around us in many crucial areas. There is considerable angst in the US concerning the upcoming Presidential election in November and with good reason. The rise of terrorist attacks on innocent people around the globe has put considerable fear in people's hearts. The global economy seems to be recovering but in disproportionate ways. We know something's going on that we cannot understand but there's a sense of hopelessness and helplessness when we consider our options.

With that being said, The Lord asked me the following question in the midst of a conversation with my wife; "Will you be an observer, commentator or intercessor?" Observers see what's going on and are completely satisfied with simply seeing it. They pride themselves in being "in the know" and feel good about their awareness. Yet, that's the full extent of their involvement.

Commentators however, take it one step further. They see what's going on and speak up. They post their opinions on the issues to their social media accounts. They talk to their friends and families. When they see something they say something to those around them.

Yet, intercessors are the ultimate respondents. When they are privy to important information they get actively involved in changing the circumstances. They don't want to just be informed. They also have no pleasure in simply talking about situations as they unfold. They don't only want people around them to be impressed by their informed perspective but they do something meaningful about what they know. They get in the middle of the situation with the express intention of seeing change. Here's a perfect example.

Genesis 18:16-33(NLT) - Then the men got up from their meal and looked out toward Sodom. As they left, Abraham went with them to send them on their way. 17 “Should I hide my plan from Abraham?” the Lord asked. 18 “For Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. 19 I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.” 20 So the Lord told Abraham, “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. 21 I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard. If not, I want to know.” 22 The other men turned and headed toward Sodom, but the Lord remained with Abraham. 23 Abraham approached him and said, “Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked? 24 Suppose you find fifty righteous people living there in the city—will you still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes? 25 Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked. Why, you would be treating the righteous and the wicked exactly the same! Surely you wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” 26 And the Lord replied, “If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake.” 27 Then Abraham spoke again. “Since I have begun, let me speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And the Lord said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five righteous people there.” 29 Then Abraham pressed his request further. “Suppose there are only forty?” And the Lord replied, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the forty.” 30 “Please don’t be angry, my Lord,” Abraham pleaded. “Let me speak—suppose only thirty righteous people are found?” And the Lord replied, “I will not destroy it if I find thirty.” 31 Then Abraham said, “Since I have dared to speak to the Lord, let me continue—suppose there are only twenty?” And the Lord replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty.” 32 Finally, Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten are found there?” And the Lord replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.” 33 When the Lord had finished his conversation with Abraham, he went on his way, and Abraham returned to his tent.

God just couldn't keep Abraham out of the loop because of the depth of their relationship. God thought about it first then chose to reveal to Abraham His intentions to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. If Abraham was just an observer He would have taken the information from The Lord and went back to his tent to continue his personal business. If he was just a commentator he would have taken the information back to his wife and let her know what was going on. They may have discussed it at length and felt sorry for Lot and his family. However, that would have been the extent of their involvement.

However, Abraham was an intercessor and his response remains the blueprint for intercession. He didn't waste any time with the information. As soon as Abraham knew of God's intentions he got to work interceding. In fact, he probably could be credited for the salvation of Lot and his family while the rest of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.

To put it simply, that's the example we all need to follow. When The Lord allows us to be privy to important information, instead of ruminating on it or talking about it, we need to intercede. For example, when you are shown dreams and visions about things that are coming, always pray because that's one big reason why God opened your spiritual eyes in the first place. Also, if you see something in the spirit you don't want to happen in the future, make your request for a different outcome known to The Lord.

Philippians 4:6-7(AMP) - Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].

The Word of The Lord in Philippians 4:6-7 is that our most important response in every circumstance and situation is prayer. It's when we pray that we involve God in our situations and position ourselves for Him to respond with a miracle in our favor. So instead of fear and panic we can have the peace of God which goes beyond our natural ability to understand. In other words, God expects us to pray even when we totally understand the reality of a bad situation and our understanding should result in a natural response of anxiety. If we would just pray specific prayers and thank God for who He is, what He's done and what He will do, He will respond with supernatural peace to replace our natural panic.

Christians are called to be intercessors. When we see the news and don't like what we see we can't simply be passive observers or even commentators. By simply seeing things, we don't change them. By simply talking about things, we don't change them. By simply worrying about things, we don't change them either. Our most effective and primary response has to be prayer. Our human strength is limited so we can't depend on it to make things happen but God's strength is unlimited and when we pray, that's whose strength becomes available to us.

James 5:16-18(NLT) - Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

Are you an observer, commentator or intercessor? Observers look, commentators talk but intercessors pray. It's time to make prayer a priority again. It really works.
5

Misdirection and Distraction - Effective Tools of Deception in the Last Days

Misdirection and Distraction - Effective Tools of Deception

Colossians 2:4(NLT) - I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments.

Have you ever tried to figure out how "magicians" do their tricks? I remember walking through the streets of Manhattan, New York at night over a decade ago with some family and friends. It was late and we were a few blocks from the most active areas so I thought it strange to see a small, lively crowd quickly gathering at what seemed to be an arbitrary street corner.

As we approached the group, I noticed a man in the middle doing what I now know was a typical NY hustle. He had a makeshift table and on it he placed three cups turned upside down. Below one of the cups was a little ball which observers wagered money to locate after he moved the ball around between the cups.

"Follow the ball, follow the ball, follow the ball..." If you keep your eyes on the ball, you'll know exactly where it is. Yet, something so elementary is so much easier said that done. By moving the cups frequently and quickly especially without the actual ball, he was able to deceive his patrons with misdirection.

Eventually, they spent more time looking at the three cups than they did at the one ball which essentially led to them being fooled. Fast forward to 2016 and once again, misdirection and distraction are the tools being used to keep our eyes away from the truth. Many of us are in the middle of a typical New York hustle and we don't even know it.

Welcome to today's blog. I have heard from The Lord and can remain silent no longer. I ate the little scroll and after a minor stomach ache it's time for me to prophesy (See Revelation 10). Like the Apostle Paul said, "I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments."

Daniel 12:4(NLT) - But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase.”

Welcome to the last days. With the advent of the printing press in 1440, thoughts and ideas could be communicated to large groups of people far and wide through books. With the advent of the radio in 1895, the same could be done audibly in real-time. With the birth of television in 1927 the ability to communicate messages through audio-visual imagery in real-time changed the world forever.

From there came 24 hour news cycles with CNN in 1980, the world wide web in 1989, the smartphone by IBM in 1992, the first social media website Six Degrees in 1997, Facebook in 2004, Twitter in 2006, the iPhone in 2007 and the rest is history. We are now at the peak of the information age with immediate access to more information than we even need.

With so much knowledge at our fingertips we should be the smartest generation in the history of mankind. Think about it. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report in the first quarter of 2016, mobile broadband subscriptions topped 3.7 billion while mobile smartphone subscriptions topped 3.4 billion worldwide. That means billions of people can know anything they want at any time by just pulling out their phones and accessing the information. So why is it that so many of us don't seem to understand some of the most basic principles that control the world we live in?

How many of us reading this right now can confidently explain exactly how our economy works and why the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. What about our political system? How are laws made or changed or more importantly what laws have been made or changed lately? What about election? Who really controls what goes on in an election campaign? What about our healthcare system? What are the driving factors behind legislation surrounding healthcare? How about answering the question, "What goes into making the food you buy? Would you still eat it if you found out?" I can go on and on.

The point I'm making is that even though an overabundance of information is a good thing, it could also lead to confusion which takes us back to the NY hustle; "Follow the ball, follow the ball, follow the ball..." The truth is the ball and the cups are the information surrounding the ball. If the hustler moves the cups around quickly and frequently enough, those who are watching the cups will lose sight of the ball.

Therefore, we can become completely obsessed with watching cups when our real focus should be on the ball. What we have playing out before our eyes is a simple case of misdirection. A free press is essential in any successful democracy so any effort to suppress information is "frowned upon in this establishment".

Therefore, instead of suppressing the truth, those who want to control the narrative drown out the truth with useless information. It's a simple approach. Don't suppress an unfavorable headline, create commentary on the headline that questions the authenticity of the information supporting it then highlight or even create a distracting event that legitimately replaces the headline with something different. It works especially when people are gullible enough to believe that the information they are receiving is impartial and if it's not, the inherent bias is easily recognizable.

For instance, many people know that money rules the mass media. Why? Advertisers pay the bills so in the end they control the content. If you don't believe that, try to get your message in the media and see how far it reaches. You will quickly find out that it reaches as far as your money does. So the answer to that dilemma for many smart people is that they don't believe what they see or hear on network television and they only trust the messages on public television and radio.

Yes, that's a step in the right direction but let's not forget who finances public radio and television. In addition to the donations of viewers and listeners like you, many of the same corporations who practically own the content on network and cable television support non-profit foundations which in-turn donate to "you guessed it" public radio and television giving them the platform to influence content.

So some smarter people have figured that out and don't believe what they see on television or hear on the radio. They get their information from The Internet. If they want to find the truth, they google it. The corporations and special interests might control mass media like television and radio but they definitely don't control The Internet.

That might be true but why don't you peruse the most visited news, commentary sites, blogs and social media accounts? What you see running on many of those pages are what we affectionately call ads. Why are there ads?

People advertise on sites that have large followings. Pay even closer attention and you will realize that sooner or later, mixed into the messages being presented even on the most thoughtful blogs is sponsored content. The same way doctors are paid by pharmaceutical companies to prescribe certain drugs to their patients, Internet celebrities are paid to mention certain products or take certain positions on issues. In other words, some free thinkers you trust to tell you how to think may not be as free as you originally thought. Nonetheless, that's not the priority of today's blog. This is...

Amos 8:11-12(AMP) - Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but [a famine] for hearing the words of the Lord. And [the people] shall wander from sea to sea and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord [inquiring for and requiring it as one requires food], but shall not find it.

Whenever there's a major news event in the world we can find no shortage of commentary all over the media. Much of this commentary comes from "experts" in the issues at hand, guided of course, by media personalities whose jobs are to discuss the news and shape public perception. Not just that, with immediate access to the available information, any person can make a comment on their social media accounts or in some cases, directly below the news articles on major news websites.

So that's exactly what many of us do in The Body of Christ. We join the commentary and share our opinions with anyone who would listen. While there's a plethora of Christian commentary everywhere, especially on social media, there's a famine of The Word of Lord. When we give our opinions we essentially regurgitate the perspectives we viewed in the media that shaped our mindsets. Hence, our opinions have no power and the famine continues.

Yes, we appreciate what you think about President Obama and his wife, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton but what is The Lord saying? It's easy to join the movement and say "Black Lives Matter" when we see disproportionate use of lethal force or "Blue Lives Matter" when someone attacks the police or "All Lives Matter" when we don't understand what's going on.

However, what is The Lord saying? People are scrolling through the channels on television, radio stations, Google searches, Twitter feeds, Facebook timelines and anywhere they can find information looking for more than just commentary and personal opinions but a Word from The Lord.

Luke 21:34-36(AMP) - But take heed to yourselves and be on your guard, lest your hearts be overburdened and depressed (weighed down) with the giddiness and headache and nausea of self-indulgence, drunkenness, and worldly worries and cares pertaining to [the business of] this life, and [lest] that day come upon you suddenly like a trap or a noose; For it will come upon all who live upon the face of the entire earth. Keep awake then and watch at all times [be discreet, attentive, and ready], praying that you may have the full strength and ability and be accounted worthy to escape all these things [taken together] that will take place, and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man.

For years, we have been fast asleep with our eyes wide open. In an age when the truth is out there for everyone, less and less seem to find it. While we're busy being entertained by sponsored media content, worrying about what's going on or dealing with the everyday stresses of our lives, important things are drastically changing around the world.

Many of which will directly affect our lives very soon. The Lord revealed that an economic boom is coming followed by the hugest economic bust we have ever seen. The oil price will go back up. The result of the upcoming US Presidential election will shock the world. There's a Muslim connection to The Antichrist that's clearly visible through the countries that support him in Daniel 11 and the way Christians will be persecuted by beheading in Revelation 20:4. Additionally, both Turkey and Russia are on the short list of countries from which The King of The North in Daniel 11 will come.

According to Reuters, Turkey responded to a failed military coup by arresting, detaining or questioning over 60,000 people, many of whom are not in the military and did not participate in the coup at all. Long before any of this took place, The Lord told us to keep our eyes on Turkey because they play a major role in the End Times as a whole and specifically the rise of The Antichrist.

We really have no idea what is going in that country right now but we are paying very close attention because we heard from The Lord. Istanbul, Turkey was once known as Constantinople, one of the capitals of the Roman Empire and then the Ottoman Empire which helped spread Islam through large portions of the world. Turkey is now a major link between the Muslim community and Europe because it borders both regions. It also has very important ties to Russia.

Among other things, The Lord showed us a secret plan that is currently underway involving Russia within The United States that very few will know about until it is too late. Since The Cold War ended many assume that military conflict between the two countries is possible but highly improbable. However, what may not be accomplished with direct military intervention can be done through subtlety. Let me explain. Airplanes, submarines, ships, missiles and all of these other tools of war are being closely watched by the US military which is the most powerful in the world.

However, while terrorist organizations have found a way to attack from the inside what is impossible to attack from the outside, countries like Russia have paid very close attention. They won't come by air or by sea with an external attack because that will not work. Like the Trojan Horse used to enter Troy they will slowly build their forces then attack from within. If you don't believe it, you will find out soon enough. Based on what The Lord has revealed, the plan is already underway.

2 Timothy 3:1-5(NLT) - You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the last days. While you were sleeping, everything changed.

2 Timothy 3:13(NLT) - But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.

7

Understanding The End Times - The Beginning of Sorrows

You can view the slides from this presentation at the following link; Understanding The End Times - The Beginning of Sorrows

Every 2nd Friday at 7:00 PM, The Body Church hosts the workshop "Understanding The End Times". In this second session, the focus was on The Beginning of Sorrows. Click here for Session One - The Introduction.

Every time there’s a war, earthquake or other natural disaster people keep saying these are signs of the end times. If wars, famine, earthquakes and pestilences are the signs we should be looking for, the data should prove it the same way it did for the disciples.

Every 2nd Friday at 7:00 PM, The Body Church hosts the workshop "Understanding The End Times". In the second session, the focus was on The Beginning of Sorrows.

For more information visit our website at www.thebodychurchinc.org

As long as we deem the content of the material appropriate for public release we will make the videos public. If we start dealing with information that's a bit too controversial to make public at this time we will restrict access to those who have signed up for the workshop. To register for live online access to upcoming workshops, click here.

Understanding The End Times - Workshop

5

Confession of A Young Atlanta Pastor #12: Many Choose Churches For What They Can Get, Not Give

Confession of A Young Atlanta Pastor #12: Many Choose Churches For What They Can Get, Not Give

Two years ago, my wife, Angel and I put our pride, reputation and comfortable lives on the line to answer the call of God to start The Body Church in Atlanta, GA. In this blog series we highlight the top twelve lessons we learned and are still learning along the journey. For the full list of all twelve points, click the following link, "Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor - Top Twelve Lessons Learned".

Today, we highlight the twelfth and final point; " 12) Many people choose a church for what they can get from the church instead of what they can give."

For the previous point click the following link; "Young Pastor Confession #11) Be careful who you trust. You will be shocked at who might be smiling in your face and talking behind your back."

"I'm just not being fed at that church. They just don't have everything that my family needs. Their facilities are sorely lacking. I love it over here. Every week, our praise service is like a huge concert with smoke, lights and special effects. My pastor's a superstar, more people want his autograph than his blessing. My kids get all they could desire at the children's ministry. We get what we want so this must be where God wants us. Church is about what we can get, right? Isn't it? How else can we grow into what God has called us to become?"

Ephesians 4:14-16(NLT) - Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 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.

Growth does not come from simply being a part of The Body of Christ and receiving from it. It comes when each part does its own special work. Every part of The Body of Christ has work to do including you and me. This is how Christ put His church together and this is how The Body of Christ grows into a strong, healthy, supernatural organism overflowing with God's Love. Yet week after week, there are Christians all over the US and the rest of the world who go to church services, enjoy the show and go home. The only thing they don't do is eat popcorn and drink slushies as they watch the amazing production that's put on before their eyes.

Due to their consistent attendance, they sometimes feel empowered to even criticize those who actually serve on a weekly basis. If they like what they see on Sunday morning, they give a round of applause and a good offering but if they don't like it, they grumble about what could be better once they reach the privacy of their cars. They went to church to receive from God so if they didn't receive what they came for, something's wrong with that church assembly and somebody needs to fix it. How do I know? I've been there.

For years I sat in a fabulous church and did nothing but watch what was going on around me. I didn't see a need to participate in any meaningful way. I also didn't see where my gifts and talents were even needed. I was there to receive what The Lord had for me so showing up was what mattered and believe me, I was not alone. I felt proud that I didn't miss a Sunday and I even showed up consistently for the midweek services when the crowds were small. That's right! I wasn't a Sunday morning Christian like the rest of them, I attended church during the rest of the week too and God must be so proud of me. Well, not really.

For some reason, many of us have overemphasized the importance of church attendance and under-emphasized the importance of church participation. I agree with Apostle Paul in Hebrews 10:25 that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as some do but that's just the beginning. If you're in a church assembly and you're not doing your special part to make it grow in spiritual health and love, are you really even there?

The point is that if you choose a church assembly for what you can get out of it, what you do to serve in the church when you get there is of no consequence. If you're there to get blessed and you're not getting blessed, you probably won't see any other reason to be there. That's why it's easy for some people to attend a church and take from the community of believers without every feeling compelled to give.

Romans 12:4-8(NLT) - In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

1 Peter 4:10-11(NLT) - God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

Everyone of us has at least one gift from God because everyone of us has a purpose. He won't call us to do anything He didn't give us the gift to do and He won't gift us to do anything He didn't call us to do. God's responsibility was to give the gifts. It is actually the responsibility of each individual Christian to serve God in a local church using the gifts God has given. What does that mean? If you're a church attendee like I used to be, stop warming the bench and get in the game.

Also, if you're on the bench because there's no room for you on the team, it's either not your time or you may be on the wrong team. If it's not your time, then be patient and the opportunity for you will come. However, if you're on the wrong team and it's clear that they don't need you it's time to make a move. There's a team with a vacancy that's tailor made for you and your gifts. Not just that, they're probably praying to God every week that He would send you to them. One of my favorite pastors would say that if two people are completely the same, doing the same things, in the same place, one of them is irrelevant. Let that not be said of you.

1 Corinthians 12:12-27(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.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

As we bring this blog series to a close, let us ponder these final thoughts. Do you believe that The Church is really The Body of Christ and each member including you and me are parts of it? If yes, then think about something with me. If any part of your body does not function the way God designed it to function how do you think it would impact the rest of your body? For instance, what if your heart didn't beat properly? What if your lungs didn't extract oxygen from air anymore?

What if your hand lost its ability to grip? Now take it a step further? What if a part of your body did absolutely nothing at all? For instance, what if your ears did not hear or your eyes did not see? Would that be a problem? Of course! Then why is it that people think it is okay to be a part of The Body of Christ and do nothing while receiving nutrients from the rest of The Body? The scripture above says that God puts each part exactly where He wants it.

What does that mean for you? It means that you are shaped, fashioned and created to fit into a specific place in The Body of Christ. Every member of The Body of Christ was designed by God to be placed in a specific part of the body to carry out a specific function. Eyes see, ears hear, kidneys clean and hearts pump blood not because they want to or it's popular. They do so because that's what God created them to do and if they don't do what they do, the entire body suffers. In fact, any part of the human body that appears not to have a vital function (e.g. appendix) is usually amputated if it ever gives problems.

On another note, every part of The Body of Christ doesn't get to choose where they connect with The Body. They have to be where God has placed them. It might be true that they can attach anywhere and receive from The Body. However, until they are attached where they are supposed to be they will never be able to give to The Body what they were created to give. If my hand is attached to my stomach, it's worthless to my body because that's not where I need a hand. So why is it that some Christians will spend twenty years in a church attached to The Body of Christ where they do not fit?

The Body of Christ has parts all over the place doing all kinds of stuff. We have hands trying to take steps like feet. We have ears trying to talk like mouths. We have toes trying to breathe like lungs. Why? Because we're not positioned according to where we can truly function and serve in God's Kingdom. We positioned ourselves where we want to be and the rest of The Body suffers as a result of it. We also position ourselves where we're most comfortable or receive the most benefit.

Now for my final point about being relevant. If my body has two arms attached to the same shoulder, one is irrelevant. What about thirty arms? Twenty nine are irrelevant. In your church, are you arm number thirty attached to one shoulder waiting for the other twenty nine to die or move so you can get your opportunity? Perhaps, there are twenty nine shoulder sockets in your area missing an arm while that one socket you're attached to has thirty.

Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35(NLT) - All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.

What's my point? You're one of the many important parts of the The Body of Christ. Don't attach yourself where it's popular or where you can simply feed off The Body. Attach yourself where you fit and function as you were designed. Covenant membership in The Church is a two-way street. You receive from The Body and you give to it. You are fed by The Body and you feed others in it. That's how God designed His church and that's how it should function. The truth is that if you receive anything from your church it's because someone else is giving it. Again, if you're not in the game, get off the bench and help the team win or join a team that needs your talents.

Acts of the Apostles 20:35(NLT) - And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

3

Understanding The End Times (Session One) - The Introduction

Every 2nd Friday at 7:00 PM, The Body Church hosts the workshop "Understanding The End Times". In this Introductory session, the following three questions were addressed;

How do we know the future?

Why study the end times?

Are we there yet?

For more information visit our website at www.thebodychurchinc.org

As long as we deem the content of the material appropriate for public release we will make the videos public. If we start dealing with information that's a bit too controversial to make public at this time we will restrict access to those who have signed up for the workshop.

Understanding The End Times - Workshop

2

Decatur Community Workshops - Extended Video Highlights from Living Single In Atlanta

This video provides just a few highlights from our recent workshop "Living Single in Atlanta". This event was a production of Decatur Community Workshops and was hosted at The Body Church, 3009 Rainbow Drive, Suite #142, Decatur, GA 30034.

Our faith-based group hosts monthly workshops in the Decatur area that are free, interactive and open to the surrounding community. Topics include leadership, personal finances, investing, professional networking, career advancement, real estate, grant writing and many more. We are open to suggestions and are always interested in welcoming new people. If you love to learn new things especially for free, this group is for you. For more info, visit www.meetup.com/decaturcommunityworkshops

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