Monthly Archives: September 2009

Swimming Upstream: “Want To Be A Peacemaker?”

divisionThroughout my Christian journey, I have failed often and made numerous mistakes. Some of my errors have been catastrophic in size.

But usually, after my failures,  I have met people who felt led by the Lord to pray for me during my struggles.

I refer to these intercessors as peacemakers. It was their prayers, along with the grace of God, who prayed me through stormy seas into peaceful, calm waters on the other side of my problems. Without them, I have no doubts I would have ended upon the shoals and rocks, bloodied and destroyed.

Now, America is sailing through stormy waters which could easily scuttle our nation onto the trash heap of forgotten powers, such as Greece, the Roman Empire and the British Empire. To think otherwise and view our political situation as just “politics as usual” is naive and shortsighted.

When George Bush was President, the favor of God was upon him. Yes, he was hated by many; yes, he was victimized by the media; and yes, the church let him down with her faithless praying. But God’s favor bridges over what the enemy dishes out and where saints fail.

Our nation has had no terrorists attacks since September 11, 2001.  Period. Enough said, okay?

Now, we have President Barack Obama who has thirty to forty percent of the nation idolizing him and the media bowing down before him. But unlike President Bush, Obama does not have the favor of God upon him.

And what good is man’s favor upon our elected leader when our nation is facing enemies who are backed by demonic powers? Zero! None! Nada! Zilch!

We Christians need to lay our ideological opinions down and begin praying with fervent love and passion for President Obama just as if he were our son. We need to shut our mouths and pray!

It’s a new day in America. And we can no longer depend on a few Houses of Prayer and individual intercessors to carry what is supposed to be a corporate burden for our nation’s welfare. To continue relying on just a few doing the work for all the rest of us will invariably result in dead bodies covering the streets of our cities.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9)

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian journeys.

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Book Review: Permission Granted

bookFor me, Permission Granted is a book that I could only read a few pages at a time. Then, I had to digest what I had read, especially the chapters which Graham Cooke wrote.

For the most part, Gary Goodell shares his experiences about developing new ways of doing church. He is a fan of the simple church format and endorses holding meetings in businesses, coffee shops, parks and so forth. You can quickly read his chapters and understand the basic gist of it.

But I found Graham Cooke’s writing to be enlightening, profound and deep. I underlined specific parts, reread his sections many times and I can still open the book at random and be blessed by finding new revelations.

Here’s some examples:

In order to be alive to God in this way, we must surrender to Him and to everything He brings. He allows in His wisdom what He could easily prevent by His power… page 24.

When the system is more important than the individual, then we become a Pharisee and are guilty of the sin of expedience; the individual should suffer for the whole (see John 11:50)… page 43.

A society that values the individual will always rise to the highest place of its power because this value enshrines integrity, decency and honor. But when we cease to honor the weakest member, we are diminished as a company of called-out people… page 43.

We cannot indulge in the laws of reason and logic and expect to fight off the demonic. We cannot hear words concerning the future without willingly changing our practices in the present… page 158.

We must make sure that our relationships are strong enough to attract the presence of God as well as endure the warfare that our corporate anointing will provoke… page 205.

In distress, as a church, we will discover who is really joined to us in heart and who is joined to the euphoria of what was happening in the meetings…page 208.

I highly recommend Permission Granted if you searching for some meaty revelations about change, transitions, warfare and new ways of doing church.

Paperback. 280 pages. Published by Destiny Image. List Price: $14.99 and can be purchased here and here.

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Swimming Upstream: “What About Change Do We Christians Like?”

Climate ChangeIf you asked my wife to describe me, she would probably say something like this:  “Larry is an easy-going guy who never gets upset or worries much about anything. But he is stubborn and resists change.”

Just this morning, she wanted me to dye my mustache and hair so that I might possibly look a few years younger. My answer: “NO! It ain’t me Babe!”

You see, I don’t like change. Period.

And I especially don’t like having my Christian doctrines blown apart so that I have to relearn them in light of new revelations from heaven. It’s like graduating from high school and being promoted backwards to first grade.

But this is where I have been journeying for the last fifteen years. Change. Change. Change. And more change.

Though I grit my teeth, bite my tongue and firmly plant my feet in the middle of the road, I always end up eventually replying to the Lord much like Mary did when she said, “Behold the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to Your word.” (Luke 1:38)

So, what’s your thoughts on change, especially spiritual changes? Do you embrace changes? Or are you like me?

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian journeys.

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Ding Dong! Ding Dong!

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I’m upstairs, sitting at the computer, wondering what my next sentence will be, when my concentration is interrupted by a sound. “Ding dong! Ding Dong!”

I trot downstairs and open the door.  There standing on the front porch are two clean-cut men, wearing white shirts, ties and black slacks, with black name cards over their hearts. They smile, showing their white teeth.

Before they are able to speak, I say, “Where have you been, I’ve been waiting for you, come on in.”

Both of them blink their eyes and look at each other, but they do not budge an inch. “What?” they exclaim in unison.

I smile and nod. “Aren’t you missionaries?” I say, pointing at their name cards. “So, I assume you want to talk about Jesus and pray for me, right? I sure could use some good prayers. Who knows? Maybe, you’re the answer to my prayers.”

“You need prayer?” one of them finally says.

“Yes, come in, and sit down,” I say, pointing toward the sofa. They finally decide to come in and sit next to each other on the sofa. I sit across from them on the loveseat.

Introductions are made all around. One of them, Elder John, gives a quick sales pitch on the Church of the Latter Day Saints. The other, Elder James, nods in agreement as the first speaks.

As soon as there is a break in the conversation, I interrupt. “Hey, tell me your testimonies, okay? I love hearing about the how, when, where and why people decide to give their lives to Jesus and serve their churches.”

This is the Super Bowl and World Series wrapped into one perfect package for them. They eagerly relate their stories. I listen and ask questions because I truly care about them.

Both were born and raised in the Mormon church. Each was a freshman in college and decided to take a two year missionary tour before continuing on with their college education.

When they finish, I ask, “Do you want to hear my testimony?”

And of course, they politely  say, “Yes.”

I tell them my testimony. They, too, listen and ask questions.

As our time together nears an end, I say, “Okay, I need your prayers. So, pray for me.”

We hold hands and each offers a general prayer for me. Afterward, I add, “Why don’t I pray for you?” They nod their heads.

Then, I open my mouth, believing the Holy Spirit will fill it with His words. Sometimes, I have powerful words of knowledge for each of them. Sometimes, I have prophecies for them. But no matter what the Holy Spirit gives me, it always encourages them.

And every time, a missionary twosome – whether they are Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses – leaves my home, they invite me to attend their churches. Usually, they say something like this: “You’d fit into our  church; everyone will be happy to meet you.”

…I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. (1 Corinthians 9:22)

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Swimming Upstream: “What’s Stopping Us … our ‘If Onlys’?”

DSCF1674On this eighth anniversary of 911, it’s a good time to seriously ask ourselves: what’s stopping us from serving the Lord with our whole hearts? Is it our if onlys?

If ever a person had justifiable excuses not to serve God, it was Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844 – 1924).

Maria knew as a young girl that she was called to preach the gospel, but she also knew the problems with being a woman preacher. Woman preachers were not accepted at all in the middle 1800’s. Pulpits were for men.

Maria felt her only hope was to marry a missionary, and thus she prepared herself  to attend college. But her father died and hopes for a college education for herself had to be set aside.

During the Civil War, she met an injured soldier and was married after a whirlwind courtship. They soon set up farming, but their hard work and labor only produced failures and debt.

Sadly, her husband never cared about ministry for himself or ever wanted his wife to preach. Plus, they had six children, of which five died from a horrible disease. The last child’s dying words were, “Moma, you have to serve God.”

During her whole life, Maria had felt the persistent call of God on her life. So, she tried explaining to the Lord what she couldn’t do, her list of if onlys.

If only, I knew what to say,” she told the Lord. His reply, “I’ll fill your mouth with words.”

If only, I knew the Bible better,” she told Him. He showed her an illuminated Bible on the wall in front of her.

If only, I had been born a man and not a woman,” she said. As she searched the Scriptures, the names – Hannah, Hulda, Miriam, Phoebe, Narcissus, Tryphens, Persis, Julia, the Marys and Priscilla – jumped off the pages to her.

Finally, Maria launched out into a preaching ministry which eventually led her all over the United States. Few have ever matched her triumphs and successes in preaching the gospel, especially with signs, wonders and miracles.

So what are our if onlys? And how will our if onlys stack up before Him at the Judgment Seat of Christ?

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian journeys.

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The Rest of The Story

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When I wrote Monday’s post, Swimming Upstream: Do We Christians Need Bifocals, I omitted one important point.

This was not done to avoid transparency or to hide something. But instead,  it is my belief that a blog like mine needs to highlight one, maybe two, important points within a range of 300 to 450 words. Then, readers can read the post in less than ninety seconds and move on to other blogs.

What did I omit, huh?

Well, how was the Holy Spirit able to back me into a corner?

I have always been an active person who has enjoyed outdoor sports like jogging, basketball, baseball, football and whatever. My enthusiasm for sports was passed on to my two children who grew up with baseball gloves on one hand while dribbling basketballs with the other. Sports were an integral part of our family make-up.

But over the last five or six years, my health has deteriorated rapidly. Most of the problems are due to knee surgeries from football related injuries occurring forty-plus years ago. The knee problems were further worsened by construction jobs and walking on concrete surfaces as an auto salesman.

Up until recently, just getting in and out of my pickup truck was a tortuous experience. And guess what? I deliver Papa Johns Pizzas which means I’m in and out of the truck many times per evening.

Now, I have been praying for years, crying out to God for healing. Twice, the Lord has healed my knees for a short period of time. But both times, I had to return to construction or auto sales jobs, and the healings evaporated.

Another time, a women prayed and all of my arthritis disappeared in a wave which felt like warm oil washing over me. That infirmity has not returned.

But the lack of cartilage in my knees continued to cause knee, leg, back and hip problems until one night I was carrying a pizza bag to my truck. Pain struck me in the middle of a street so that I could not move. It was excruciating.

Somehow, I inched my way to the truck and threw myself inside the cab. As I did, I spoke out of my spirit and said, “I command the spirit of infirmity to let go of me.”

The pain instantly lessened.  Duh! A light went on! I was fighting a demon who wanted to put me in a wheelchair!

The next morning I asked the Lord how to fight this spirit of infirmity. That’s when the Holy Spirit showed me that I had ignored my neighbors and I needed to prayer walk our community.

And with my obedience, I would also be fighting the spirit of infirmity in my own life.

There will be those who will say I should have gone to a doctor, and possibly had knee replacements. But five years ago, Carol and I were in tough financial straits, and I felt like the Lord wanted me to give up my health insurance. So, I did. (Carol kept her insurance.)

As Paul Harvey used to say, “Now, you know the rest of the story.”

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Swimming Upstream: “Are You A Fuddy-Duddy About Music?”

kissIf one word can describe the generation divide between parents and children, it is this one: music.

My parents enjoyed hearing Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Ernest Tubbs, Red Foley and Tex Ritter. I liked the Beatles, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, Bobby Dylan,Joan Baez, Buffalo Springfield and the Grass Roots. So, these words were often spoken to me, “Turn that music down. How can you possibly like that clatter?”

What did my son like? Ozzie Osbourne. Kiss. Billy Idol. Queen. And what did he hear from me? “Turn that music down. How can you possibly like that clatter?”

Now, music disagreements are a normal irratation between parents and children as each struggles to relate to the other’s tastes. But what’s interesting is that this is a problem with different Christian generations, too.

Old-time Pentecostals still are turned on by foot-stomping “Power in the Blood” piano music … and turned off by the new-fandangled stuff. Those growing up during the Vineyard Music era believe worship music is the only music to listen to…as in – the only anointed music on earth.

And then, there’s my son who likes Third Day and Need to Breathe.

All of this came about because I sent a Jerry Williams /Harvest CD to my son. I thought this 1993 music would show me as being hip in his eyes. His reply, “Dad, one or two are okay, but they are out of date.”

Out of date, I thought. How can good stuff like that be out of date? What’s wrong with him?

Then, he sent me a Third Day CD and a link to Need to Breathe’s Myspace site. And oh boy! Their music was different than my classical music tastes. As in ear shattering, brain shaking different.

Thus, I had a dilemma. I liked a certain style of music, but I wanted to relate to my son and his generation’s music. What could I do?

I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit, “Give me a love for my son’s music.”

Then, I sent an email to my son explaining that I was not an old fuddy-duddy when it came to music. His email reply:

I agree that you’re not a fuddy-duddy. You have a fair bit of fuddy in you…but you’re several years away from full-blown fuddy-duddy.

So, what about you? Are you a fuddy or a full-blown fuddy-duddy when it comes to Christian music? Can you adapt to the new sounds from heaven for the different generations of believers?

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian journeys.

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Swimming Upstream: “Do We Christians Need Bifocals?”

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This week, the Holy Spirit backed me into a corner. He showed me I was guilty of looking at the needs of people far away while overlooking those of nearby neighbors.

I was guilty. Thus, I repented.

Now, I’m prayer walking through the streets of my community which consists of about thirteen hundred homes, condos and apartments.

As you can see from the above picture, I rent a home in a beautiful Temecula community. There’s a large lake. A Olympic- sized pool. Spa. Walking trails. Playgrounds. Baseball diamonds. Picnic areas. Community house. It’s an elite area with mainly professionals living in it.

Most inhabitants work out,  staying in tip-top shape. Mothers push strollers while jogging and listening to their iPods. Dads belong to LA Fitness. Children wear GAP clothing. All seem to drive an Acura, BMW or Mercedes.

Why do they need prayer, right?

As I walk past homes, I pray in the spirit. Then, the Holy Spirit shows me how to pray for each area. And guess what?

My neighbors have the same problems that other people are struggling with. Finances. Marital problems. Children problems. Drugs. Drinking. Afflictions. Sin. And like me, they all need a greater revelation of Jesus.

I believe that I’m planting prayer seeds, and others will then come along and water these prayer seeds. But all in all, it will be God who gives the increase who will receive the glory. (1 Corinthians 3:6-9)

So, what about you? Do you need bifocals, too? Are you overlooking the prayer needs of your neighbors?

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian journeys.

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Skippidity Do Da Day

Does God know how to use humor to encourage us?

My wife, Honey, has worked as a designer and furniture sales person in a local store for the last eight years. In that time, she has been one of the top sales people in the nation. Her shelves are lined with trophies, and she has won trips to wonderful places.

But the good times ended three years ago when the housing market hit the skids in Southern California. Since then, it has been a down hill plunge for furniture sales.

This morning, Honey’s store begins liquidation sales that will run for sixty days or so. And if you know anything about furniture store liquidation sales, it’s not what you would call a designer’s paradise. It’s more of shark feeding frenzy.

Honey was hoping to skip out on the liquidation sale, but she felt the Lord wanted her to stay. The hours will be long. The customers will be pushy. And sales people will be fighting over customers. Yuck! Yuck! Double yuck!

So, for the last three days, Honey has been moping about with the old “woe is me, goodbye cruel world, but I have to obey God” attitude written all over his face.

However, this morning the Lord gave me a short prophetic dream of the following song for Honey:

To say the least, Honey was touched by the promises offered her in the song. As the psalmist wrote:

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13

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Swimming Upstream: “What Was God Thinking About When He Brought Forth The Word of Faith Movement?”

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Was God having a bad day when He brought forth the Word of Faith movement?

After all, couldn’t He foresee the leaders would end up unleashing ridiculous prosperity teachings, “seed faith” phony baloney and “name it and claim it” professions which would smack sound biblical doctrine in the face?

And what about the TV and radio Word of Faith evangelists? Couldn’t God foresee these slick-talking hype mongers would end up wearing Rolexes, driving Mercedes, dressing in Armani suits and living in mansions? Why didn’t He squash them before they even arrived on the scene?

Without a doubt, the Word of Faith is the most criticized and most maligned movement by other Christians and the media over the last half century. Even now, the senate is checking over many of the ministries’ books,  looking for misappropriated funds.

What was God thinking about when He brought forth the Word of Faith movement?

So, what do you think? What’s your thoughts on this?

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian journeys.

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