Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Power of Dreams




I was walking through St Joseph’s hospital in Tacoma. It was packed with patients today. It was standing room only. Something strange was going on. None of the people I saw were being treated for medical problems. As I walked the hallways I kept seeing more patients everywhere I looked. I saw people I hadn’t seen in years. They were sitting in hallways and lobbies socializing. Some were in wheelchairs, some sat on the floor and others were standing as they talked in small groups. The noise of people talking and laughing created an atmosphere that was more like a wedding reception. I could tell they were all excited about the same thing. There was a joy I’d never seen in a hospital before. These patients weren’t here to be treated. They were here for check ups. Somehow they all knew that miraculous healings were about to take place. They wanted to have their conditions documented by their doctors before they were healed so there would be no question about how it happened. That’s when I woke up.

I was one of the coolest dreams I’ve ever had. I was excited for weeks afterward and I was willing to pray for anyone who was sick. I believe this dream was more than just wishful thinking. I can’t recall having any dreams in the last 25 years. I’m having them regularly now and many of them are like this one. If you stick around, I’ll explain why I believe it was a taste of things to come. I’d like to take you on an exploration of dreams; why we have them, where they come from, what they mean and how they shape our future.

World-Views
I took psychology classes in college because the human mind fascinates me. I learned a lot but I was a little disappointed. I learned about the different theories proposed by Freud, Jung, Skinner and others. But one thing bothered me; the different theories of psychology don’t form a cohesive, unified explanation of how the mind works. Instead, every theory proposed disagreed with the others. We were asked to review all the different theoretical models then pick the one we liked. There wasn’t much scientific research supporting any of them. Some experts have theories for dream interpretation. I didn't find any compelling methods among the ones I studied.

Another thing was missing from the field of psychology; they claimed to know nothing of the spiritual dimension. Some disciplines like behaviorism deny the possibility of the spirit. Even as an atheist, (during the 1980's) this bothered me. They relegate spiritual matters to experts in religion, or deny it altogether. We fall short in our attempt to study human behavior if we fail to account for all the components of our existence. If the spirit-world is real and dreams are connected to it, we should investigate that possibility.

I heard Chuck Missler report on an interesting discovery. Experts found that in attempting to divide particles of matter into smaller and smaller parts, at a point in the process the particles lose their location. You cannot infinitely divide the matter of our world.

What relevance does this have?

This forced experts to conclude that our universe is not analog, but digital. That has startling implications. It means that we live in a universe that's similar to a computer game. Our universe is really a replication or simulation created by another universe. The parent universe is analog and its a lot more real than ours.

We live in a world like the one portrayed in the movie “The Matrix”, that eerie world in which everything that seems real is only a cleverly devised simulation. There’s an invisible world we can’t see with our natural eyes it’s the real deal in every way that matters. Most of us are oblivious to it our entire lives, unless someone tells us about it. That eternal world is accessible every night when you go to bed as the physical world is put on hold and your spirit takes over. Just close your eyes and enter the eternal universe.

While you’re here you should take notes, your physical body doesn’t understand or want to participate in the spiritual universe. As soon as you wake up, the body will try to force the spirit back in its box and your memories of the eternal dimension will vanish. This is why we seldom remember dreams in detail. The apostle Paul said, “The spirit wars against the flesh and the flesh against the spirit because these two are contrary to one another.” (Gal 5:17) When he taught on the reality of the invisible universe he said, “We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2:Cor 4:18) And how do we see the unseen? With the eyes of our spirit, which Paul mentioned in his prayer for his friends in Ephesus, “that the eyes of your understanding would be enlightened.” (Eph 1:18)

The Foundation For Dreams
I’d like to establish a biblical foundation on which to build an understanding of dreams. Some scholars believe the book of Job to be the oldest book of the Old Testament. Although the events of Genesis pre-date Job, it is believed that Job lived before Moses. Some experts believe it's one of the oldest texts in the world. Even a few thousand years ago, men had a keen understanding of how God worked. Job’s friend Elihu reminds him of the diverse ways in which God speaks to us. Because we often fail to perceive God’s voice, He reveals secrets to us while we sleep:

For God may speak in one way, or in another,Yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, When deep sleep falls upon men, While slumbering on their beds, Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction.I n order to turn man from his deed, And conceal pride from man, He keeps back his soul from the Pit, And his life from perishing by the sword. (Job 33:14-18)

There are many different types of dreams. We'll look at a few examples of the different kinds of things God does through dreams:

Warning / Correction
In Genesis 31, Jacob had a dream in which an angel told him that God knew how his father-in-law, Laban had cheated him over the years. The angel told him to leave Laban’s land secretly. Laban was also warned by God in a dream not to speak harshly to Jacob about it.

Abimelech was warned in a dream not to sleep with the wife of Abraham or he would die. (Gen 20:3).

Joseph’s cell mates had divine dreams, one was promised freedom; the other was warned of his impending death. (Gen. 40:5).

Pharaoh was warned in a dream about a coming famine lasting 7 years. (Gen. 41)

When Joseph learned that his wife Mary was pregnant, he considered leaving her, but an angel came to him in a dream and revealed that her pregnancy was a divine miracle and that he was to fulfill his marriage commitment. He was also warned in a dream of Herod’s plan to kill Jesus and to flee to Egypt. The accounts are from Matthew chapters 1 & 2.

Divine Provision and Protection
In Genesis 28, Jacob falls asleep by a river. God comes to him in a dream and gives him several covenant promises; to bless him all of his days, to make a great family for him, to give him the land promised to Isaac and Abraham, and a promise that all the nations of the world would be blessed through him. It is interesting to note that Jacob did not have a dream about God, but that God manifested his actual presence to Jacob while his body slept.

Calling/Gifting
God also manifested His presence to Solomon while he slept. Solomon had a conversation with God in a dream. God told him to ask for anything he wanted. Solomon asked for wisdom to rule over God’s people. In the dream God gave him wisdom greater than anyone who ever lived. He also received great honor, riches and a promise of long life if he would be obedient, because he didn’t ask for any of these things. Then Solomon woke up and realized all these things happened while he was sleeping. (1 Kings 3:5-15)

Strategies for Victory
Gideon was told to spy on his enemies. As he listened in he learned that one of them had been given a dream of a loaf of bread rolling down a hill and smashing their tents. The enemies interpreted it as a sure sign of defeat. Gideon went back to his camp and confidently led his troops to victory. (Judges 7:13-15)

Encouragement
King Nebuchadnezzar was given a dream concerning his own kingdom and all the world kingdoms to follow. It was revealed that his kingdom was the greatest of the kingdoms of man. He was greatly encouraged by this dream. (Dan. 2:36-45)

Direction in Ministry
Both the apostles Peter and Paul were given assignments from God in visions. (Dreams and visions are very similar. The main difference being that visions occur while we are a wake) In his vision, Paul saw a man from Macedonia praying. God told Paul and his friends to go there. Peter had a series of visions in which God showed him (symbolically) that the ‘unclean’ Gentiles he disliked were the ones God wanted him to reach next. (Acts 10:9-15 and 16:10)

The Prophet
God spoke to Aaron and Miriam about the way in which he would communicate to His prophets. “If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream, not so, with my servant Moses, who is faithful in all my house, with him I speak face to face, even plainly, not in dark sayings.” (Num. 12:6-8)

When the prophet Samuel anointed Saul as the first king of Israel, he knew in advance all the details of the encounter. He knew where Saul would go after he left and all the people he'd meet. It's likely that God revealed some this information to Samuel through dreams or visions. (see 1 Sam. 9-10)

Both Daniel and the apostle John saw events that would take place thousands of years in the future; much of it was revealed in dreams and visions. God is able to transport us in the spirit to the future and show us things to come.

I've heard some wonderful testimonies about healing that people have received while they slept. Particularly in the area of inner healing for emotional trauma during childhood. Is it strange to believe that God is able to heal us regardless of whether we're awake or sleeping?

There are many other purposes for dreams that I haven't mentioned. Here are few examples of what God has done through dreams and visions in modern times:

Charles Spurgeon, the famous 19th century preacher was given an entire sermon in a dream. His wife wrote it down and he preached it to the congregation the following Sunday.

The city of Spokane, Washington was once called the healthiest city in the world, due to the healing ministry of John G. Lake. He was a millionaire who held an influential seat on the Chicago Board of Trade. While in prayer one night he had a vision from God that lasted 4 hours. In the vision he was given all the details of the next season of his life. Later he moved to Indianapolis, then to South Africa, where he had an incredible ministry in healing and church- planting. Later he moved to Spokane and started the healing rooms there. Records show that over 100,000 people were healed there in a span of 5 years. All of these things were revealed to him in the vision.

Dream Basics
Most of us spend a third of our life asleep. While our physical bodies require rest, our spirit doesn’t need it. It's always able to interact with the realm of the spirit. It’s when the body is asleep and there are fewer distractions that God can speak to us and perhaps get through. Even so, there’s a rebellious soul to deal with, and that’s why dreams are often symbolic. As much as we think we’d obey God if he just told us things plainly, the truth is our soul is rather stubborn and independent. God uses symbolic language to get our soul to cooperate. If we become curious about the messages in a dream, the soul will engage in a journey of discovery. Peter had to be shown his vision 3 times and argued with God about it repeatedly. I’ve done the same thing myself on more than one occasion.

I’ve learned that the major obstacle (for me) in hearing God’s voice is getting rid of all the distractions. Once my soul is quiet, I see and hear God much more clearly. But when our physical body is completely at rest, there are almost no distractions and revelation flows more freely. God is a Father who wants to share His secrets with us. That requires us taking time to listen without distractions.

Dreams come from different sources; from our own soul, from God or from his enemies. I’ve had all 3 kinds. Dreams from the enemy are often dark, with sickly colors. There are feelings usually associated with these dreams like fear, guilt, shame, or unhappiness. The subject matter often involves something evil. I’ve heard creepy, demonic voices in this kind of dream. At times it may be hard to discern the origin of a dream. I've had some that I wasn't certain about. God will tell you what you need to know, so ask.

Dreams from the soul are those odd dreams that often seem pointless. There may not be a particular “feel” to some of them. They aren’t very symbolic or inspiring. But some dreams from God can be dismissed as ones from our soul. I've mistakenly thought some of my dreams weren't from God, but after asking the Holy Spirit, about them a profound truth came forth. Always ask God about your dreams.

Divine dreams are usually different from soul dreams. I can sometimes feel the presence of God in them. The feelings we have in a dream may contradict the feelings we would normally have about what's happening. How you feel in a dream is one key to it's interpretation.

I had a dream in which I killed an older man who lived down the street from me. (Hang on- let me explain!) In the dream we were friends and we did a lot of things together. I never met him in real life (in the natural) but in the dream I knew he had to die so I poisoned him and left him to die. I had a slight sadness about it, which turned into a sense of peace. The emotions I felt were nothing like I would have felt in reality. As God gave me the interpretation, I understood the lack of remorse I felt. In describing our call to walk in a new type of conduct, Paul says we should get rid of the old man in our life and consider him to be dead. The ‘old man’ represents our former way of living. Killing the ‘old man’ was symbolic of getting rid my old ways and submitting to God’s plan. That’s why I wasn’t full of guilt or remorse. (See Rom 6:6, Eph.4:22, Col.3:9)

Divine dreams can also follow you around through the day in your thoughts. This is especially true if you write them down. It transfers them from the spirit world to the natural making them permanent. As they come to mind, and as you meditate on them you’ll gain insight into their meaning. You’ll also notice more divine appointments. You’ll have a dream about someone you haven’t talked to in a long time, then a day or so later you''ll ‘mysteriously’ run into them. Your dream may describe something that happened to them. I had a dream with 2 scenes in which I was in a shop helping a friend fix a car. We were removing the drive shaft which is necessary before you work on the transmission. In the second scene, I was helping him put a roof on one of his buildings. I saw him 3 days later and told him about the dreams. He said that 3 days ago he was in his shop putting a transmission in his son’s car and told me the roof collapsed on his shop earlier that day.

When God begins to speak to us in dreams, He establishes a set of issues relevant to us, and a common language. If you’re struggling with some form of rebellion against God, it’ll show up in dreams, often in repeated themes with different settings and people. When you deal with that issue and put it behind you the subject of your dreams will change. God is always trying to get us into the best relationship possible. As He shows us one problem, we begin fixing our end of the relationship.

We each have a unique dream language. It’s an environment and set of symbols that represent a world familiar to us. I have a lot of dreams that take place in hospitals and ambulances. My daughter is a swimmer. Most of her divine dreams have a pool as the backdrop. My wife is a graphic designer. Her dreams often involve computers. Your dream setting and language will be familiar to you. I can’t possibly do justice to the intricate work of interpreting dreams in this message. But I’ll pass along some things I’ve learned and mistakes I've made. Hopefully you'll find a few pearls of wisdom:
  • If you aren’t having dreams from God – Ask! He is always speaking to us. He never quits. David said in the 40th psalm that God’s thoughts toward you are as numerous as the sands of the seashore. Wouldn’t you like at least a handful or two of that sand? Aren’t you curious to know his plans for you? Ask and you will receive.
  • A few dreams are easy to interpret and can be taken literally. But most are not. I’ve had a number of “message’ dreams in which I’ve heard an audible voice speaking to me. These dreams are rare and need no interpretation. I’ve had dreams in which I see myself praying for someone to be healed or something similar. These dreams also don’t require a lot of interpretation.
  • Most, but not all divine dreams are symbolic in some way. Some have symbolism that is easy to unravel; some have complexity that is impossible to figure out without God’s help. There are some books on dream interpretation and symbols. The book of Daniel is probably the best book to start with. The book of Revelation is helpful with symbols. As you plow through the bible trying to decode your dreams, you’ll find God saying even more. For other books, stick with an author who is prophetically gifted. They tend to be a lot more insightful. James Goll and Ira Milligan both have good books on dream interpretation.
  • Joseph and Daniel both had skill in dream interpretation. Because of it they were promoted to the position of highest power under the rulers in their respective lands. They both said dream interpretations came from God. If it worked for them it should work for us. (see Gen 40:8 and Dan 2:28) In every case where the meaning of a dream is not absolutely plain, ask God.
  • Names are significant. Look up the origin and meaning of the names of people in a dream. Sometimes the name is the key to the interpretation. Sometimes it's the ministry they are in that God is speaking about. if you have a prophetic calling you can expect to have dreams in which prophets are present. The same goes for evangelism and other callings.
  • Symbolic dreams are like a puzzle. Work on one piece at a time. Decode each person’s name or place or color and think of each as a separate idea. Then bring the ideas together to make a complete picture.
I had a dream in which I was on a computer registering for a prophetic conference in Corpus Christi, Texas….yup, I spent the next week looking online for the conference and didn’t find one. Then one day I asked God what the dream was about. And He told me. ‘Corpus Christi’ is Latin for the body of Christ. I wasn’t supposed to go to Texas. God was informing me I had a prophetic gift to be used for the body of Christ.

The bible says “It’s the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search a matter out.” (Prov. 25:2) God conceals his plans in symbolic language to draw you into a closer relationship with Him so you come to him daily and ask, Hey – what are we doing today?
  • Always look up names, colors, places, objects, directions, numbers etc, in the bible – most things have a symbolic meaning and it’s the best place to start. I use a computer program with a Strong’s concordance number linked to each word and a searchable text. It makes the job a lot easier.
  • If you suddenly wake up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason, especially at the same time each night, look at your clock (I prefer digital). Everyone I know who takes dreams seriously gets bible verses from their clock. The numbers usually represent the chapter and verse, you just need to ask God which book.
My wife received a prophetic word that she was in a season of rest. She was having a hard time believing it. She'd been dealing with health problems in this so-called season of rest. She was waking up at 4:10 every morning for no reason. She finally asked God what He was trying to tell her. He told her to look in the book of Hebrews. Wanna guess what Hebrews 4:10 says? "For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His."
  • ALWAYS write down your dreams as soon as you wake from them. Middle of the night dreams are usually forgotten. Some people use a voice recorder or a word processing program on a laptop by the bed. I have note cards and a small flashlight on the nightstand. I copy the note cards to a daily spiritual journal. If you don’t write down your dreams, most of what God is trying to tell you will vanish with the dawn, as for me I want everything He can give me in those 8 hours while I’m sleeping. I hate it when I have a great dream and tell myself I'll remember it or I'll write it down later, then wake in the morning and it's gone forever. God rewards faithfulness. If we faithfully steward the things He has given us, we will receive more.
  • Record the interpretations as you get them. Some will come immediately, some in a week or two and some in 20 years. Extremely symbolic dreams are sometimes ‘locked’ with a time key. God doesn’t intend for you to solve the riddle until the exact time approaches. Work on these dreams over time and little by little the interpretation will start to appear.
  • Revelation from God is like a river – its going some place and hopefully taking you with it. Review your flow of revelation regularly. Find out where it’s going. I review my dreams about every 3 months. I’m surprised how many dreams I forget. When I take a look at the big picture, I always see a pattern developing that I wasn’t aware of.
  • Dreams will warn you of things to come and changes in the seasons of your life. Financial blessings or hardship, relationship problems, travel problems, and hassles at work are all fair game. God cares about every part of your life. You don’t have to be taken by life’s little surprises if you pay close attention to your dreams.
  • You may have ‘visions’ as well as dreams. There isn’t much difference between them. I classify something as a vision if I’m awake and a dream if I’m sleeping. I have a surprising number of visions. They're a lot like daydreams except for the content which usually involves your calling by God. Rules for visions are the same as dreams. And yes, all these things are valid for the times we live in. On the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit empowered those present, Peter recognized it as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel. “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.” (Act 2:17) I heard a report that thousands of Muslims are becoming Christians in the Middle East during this season. Most of them aren’t in contact with anyone who is a Christian. They’re having encounters with Jesus through dreams.
  • Most of the dreams you have pertain to you, not others. Seeing and interacting with people in your dreams doesn’t always require you to knock on their door the next day or fly to New York to see them. Relax…most interaction with people in dreams is symbolic, not literal.
I had a dream in which Luis Palau was present. I spent a few weeks trying to find out when he was coming to my area so I could see him. Eventually, God showed me it just represented an evangelistic calling on my life. If God wants you to travel or meet with someone, He’ll tell you – just ask.
  • Most people have a lot of dreams involving vehicles. Bicycles, cars, trucks, boats, airplanes, and spaceships you name it. They’re modes of transportation and they represent your spiritual mode of travel at the present. They can also represent your ministry. Anything powered by your own strength is symbolic of working in the power of the flesh. God wants us to work in the power of the spirit. Vehicles with more power indicate greater spiritual power.
  • Buildings represent our life, typically seen as a house. The kind of house and its environment describe the present or future conditions of your life from God’s perspective. I had a friend who told me of a dream in which he was shown a glass house that was beautifully decorated. The usual piano was prominently on display (he’s a piano player). We concluded that the glass house represented transparency before God and man. God was calling him to a life where he didn’t feel the need to hide anything.
  • Angels - At the risk of sounding weird, I should mention the subject of angels. The Greek word most commonly used in scripture angelos can be defined as 'messenger'. The bible is full references to them and they are usually seen delivering a message to someone who's scared half to death at their appearance. They often deliver messages in dreams as noted above. I've had a lot of dreams in which I hear an audible voice speaking a simple message. My wife also has them. On a couple of occasions we received almost identical messages a few days apart from an audible voice. We haven't seen the messengers, but the bible would support the idea that we've had a lot of angels hanging out at our place speaking to us at night. My theory is that these messages are important enough to God's strategy that He doesn't want to risk an incorrect interpretation. To make sure we get the right message, God sends an angel to deliver the exact words.
  • God’s revelation to us involves a series of dreams in which He reveals both a big picture and smaller details. We may have dreams in which we interact with an evangelist we know, a pastor, or a worship leader. These people represent our calling in the ministry they operate in. We may not function at the same level of authority or in the same amount of gifting, but we are given the same type of calling. God will likely reveal your spiritual gifts and your particular calling, how you will operate in that gift, the geographic location in which you'll operate, your level of authority, sphere of influence, measure of gifting, the impact your service will have, people who’ll support you, opposition you’ll encounter, your eventual successes, and the rewards waiting for you. Some people get a 'big picture' dream or vision in a single encounter. Mine came over a span of about 3 months. My entire scope of ministry, people I'd work with, places I'd travel to, problems I'd encounter and many other details were all revealed in my dreams. God wants us to know the plan in advance. We need to receive it and walk it out.
My Dreams
Joseph suffered a lot of hatred and envy from his brothers when He told them about his dreams. Please consider this as a word of encouragement for you. I’m not trying to boast about the things God has shown me. I’m nobody special, just another dreamer like you. I'll describe some good things God has shown me. He's also shown me my faults.

When I began having dreams, I was confronted with something I’d never read about or heard a lecture on, let alone imagined in my wildest dreams (which I wasn’t having yet). God was talking to me. And he had a lot to say.

The first dream in which God confronted me was sort of meeting in which He said, ‘I’ll show you some things, and you tell me what you see’. It reminded me of the call of Jeremiah (see Jer.1:11-13) I was able to interact as I wanted in the dream. I saw a series of images that were different organs of the body, like illustrations from an anatomy textbook. There were 2 of each organ, one healthy and one diseased. God happened to give me a test I had studied for. He picked diseases I could identify by sight. I saw cirrhosis of the liver, a brain tumor, esophageal varicies etc. I told Him what I saw each time. When the test was over He said, “I’m going to show you the medical conditions of some of your patients and if you pray for them, I will heal them.”

I can’t tell you how many dreams I’ve had since then in which I was in a hospital or my ambulance praying for people to be healed; not just patients either. I’ve had dreams in which I’m praying for co-workers, hospital staff, church members, family members and total strangers. In some dreams I’m reading books about people who had healing ministries years ago. In others I’m alone trying to hear the voice of God and discern what he wants to do. The ‘flow’ of my river is in the direction of prayer, healing and prophetic ministry. These dreams represent my sphere of influence and my calling. As I've been obedient to the revelation God gave me, I've seen an explosion of healing miracles over the last two years. You should expect a similar pattern of dreams to develop, in the area you are called to.

I have a lot of Facebook dreams. Some are words of knowledge for healing. Some are God's confirmation of whom He wants me to build relationships with. Some contain revelation about the Kingdom, which I turn into notes or post on blogs. I also receive burdens to pray for government leaders or groups of people through dreams. Many people learn about healing through books or videos. Most of what I know about healing has been taught to me through dreams.

Today I’m doing the things I saw in the dreams I had a few months ago. God is making my dreams come true. Through them I finally found out what my calling is and discovered my purpose for being on the planet. God has brought me through every experience of my life so that He could use me to heal people and demonstrate His love for them. I can’t tell you how comforting it is to finally know that. I’m waiting patiently for the day to come when I walk into the hospital and everyone there expects to be healed by God. Here’s the cool thing; I’m not a special case. God is willing to tell anyone their calling and purpose and show them their future just like He did me. And that means He’ll give you all the tools and information you need to do the things He’s planned for you long before you were born. Are you ready to have God make your dreams come true?

This was originally published as a Facebook note.


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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Your Anointing Will Grow - God Totally Loves His Job

Your Anointing Will Grow - God Totally Loves His Job

- Catherine Brown

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.—1 Corinthians 3:10-11

Catherine BrownThe Most Amazing Vision

During a recent time of prayer I had a revelatory encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. In a vision I saw that Jesus had dug a large hole, and once a deep enough foundation had been created, the Lord planted a big pillar with the word "ESTABLISH" etched on its exterior. The Lord then began to expand my understanding of the vision in relation to the "establishing" role of apostolic ministry. The vision has some personal applications, but it also has a relevant and timely corporate application for the Church, especially leaders, at this time.

God has graciously endowed me with a building anointing, and I believe we are living in days of acceleration and multiplication. However, before we can advance, we must ensure that our foundations are in place. A building or building work must have sure and strong foundations or the work built upon it will perish. Before we can advance as a people of God, we have to embrace the establishing aspect of apostolic ministry, which will labour to ensure strong and godly foundations are laid—upon which ministries can flourish and the Kingdom of God advance with miracles, signs and wonders to the glory of His name. Establishing is part of building.

How to Establish Your Personal and Powerful Flow Straight from God Himself

The key to understanding the establishing aspect of apostolic ministry lies in our comprehension that it is God alone who establishes, and solely in Him is found true and incorruptible strength of a magnitude and purity we can only begin to imagine. The grace to move in an "establishing anointing" is released and imparted to us from a posture of worship—we learn to flow in the establishing anointing from a place of holy encounter with God.

An example of this is seen in God's creation of the blueprint for the Temple that Solomon built. As part of those plans, the Lord had mandated that two 16-metre-high pillars would adorn the front of the meeting place between Himself and His people. As the people went up to worship and meet with the living God, they could not help but see the pillars that were placed at the front of the Temple and be reminded of God's omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence.

These magnificent pillars were adorned with pomegranates and ornate chains and were named Jakin, which means He establishes, and Boaz, which means In Him is strength (see 2 Chronicles 3:16-17). Establishing is a labouring anointing and requires strength, stamina and endurance. God wants to ensure that those who are used in the establishing ministry understand that it is not in their own strength they labour but in the mighty power and eternal strength of the God of all Creation.

Be Fully Established as King and Priest – and Don't Look Back

God established His Kingdom on the earth with love, righteousness, mercy (see Isaiah 16:5), and wisdom (see Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15).

In the Old Testament we see the clear precedent of how God established kings on their thrones (see 2 Samuel 5:12), priests in their priestly roles (see Exodus 28:1) and prophets in their office to serve Him (see 1 Samuel 3:20). John the Revelator writes in Revelation 1:6 of how Jesus Christ, through His atoning sacrificial death on the Cross, has made us to be a "Kingdom and priests to serve His God and His Father" forever.

The establishing anointing is both a priestly and kingly anointing that flows from the Chief Cornerstone, Jesus Christ. It is an anointing to serve before the Lord, and at the same time it is an anointing that releases the reign and rule of God on the earth. It is essential that we grasp the centrality of the Cross in establishing us in the purposes and plans of God. Establish means to set firm and/or to put in place—this speaks to us both of foundations and of what is built (i.e. established) upon those foundations.

Established into Your Solid Covenant and Personal Grace

God established His covenant with Israel: "The Lord will establish you as His holy people, as He promised you on oath, if you kept the commands of the LORD your God and walk in His ways" (Deuteronomy 28:9).

Throughout the Bible we see that God establishes covenant with His saints (see Genesis 6:18, 9:9, 11, 17:7, 19, 21; Leviticus 26:9).

The Hebrew word for covenant is: Quwm (koom): a prime root. To rise (in various applications): abide, accomplish, be clearer, confirm, continue, decree, be dim, endure, enemy, enjoin, get up, make good, help hold, (help to) lift up (again), make, but newly, ordain, perform, pitch, raise (up), rear (up), remain, rise (up) (again, against), roué up, set (up), establish, (make to) stand (up), stir up, strengthen, succeed, (as make) sure, (be) up (hold), rising.

That's quite an explanation for the manner in which God establishes us for His glory!

In the New Testament context, we comprehend that our precious Saviour, Christ Jesus, became the Mediator and Establisher of the new covenant of Grace (Hebrews 9:15, 10:9). We are enabled to enter into covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ's atoning sacrifice and by the gift of faith and grace (Ephesians 2:4-9). We are established in this eternal covenant by Jesus' perfect sacrifice by death on the Cross and resurrection from the grave; we are marked and sealed by the Holy Spirit, and the firm foundation of our faith is thus established (Ephesians 1:14). Grace is the ultimate establisher of truth in the hearts of Believers, preventing us from being carried away by all kinds of strange teachings (see Hebrews 13:9).

Established in Faith—New Believers/New Churches

A foundation is the lowest, load-bearing part of a structure, usually hidden. A foundation is laid so that it can be built upon. This principle holds true for our Christian faith; salvation is the foundation upon which the Holy Spirit will conform and transforms us to God's holy nature, His will and His ways. It is imperative that we grasp that new Believers and new churches need to be established in their faith by Gospel truth and Holy Spirit revelation. They need to be encouraged to go on to maturity, which is echoed in Apostle Peter's words in his second letter, to be "established (sterizo) in the present truth" (2 Peter 1:12).

The Greek word sterizo (Strong's #4741) is from a presumed derivative of Strong's #2476 (like #4731): to set fast, i.e. to turn resolutely in a certain direction or to confirm, fix, establish, steadfastly set, strengthen.

Apostles and apostolic leaders are entrusted with the role of encouraging, strengthening and establishing new Believers and churches in their faith (as well as those that are well established). The apostles were described by Paul as "pillars" in the Church, "James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognised the grace given to me..." (Galatians 2:9).

A pillar helps to support a building or building work. In this context, it simply means the apostles were serving in the role of helping to strengthen and set Believers firmly in their faith and helping the Church to grow in maturity and in the knowledge of God. Indeed, we read in Ephesians 4 how God has called all the five-fold ministry leaders (apostle, prophet, teacher, evangelist and pastor) to help bring the saints to full maturity and to prepare God's people for works of service.

The New 2000's Version of the Old "Barnabas"

Barnabas represents an encouraging apostle. He was the apostle who assured the early leaders in Jerusalem about Paul's conversion and ministry (Acts 9:27).

• Barnabas was a leading apostle in the early Church (Acts 14:14, "But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes...")

• His name means "son of encouragement" or "son of prophecy" (some versions of the Bible say "son of consolation").

• Barnabas was sent from Jerusalem to Antioch to encourage/teach the new Believers/young Church (see Acts 11:23).

• He brought Saul from Tarsus and they taught for a whole year, encouraging AND establishing the Church.

• He was a good man and filled with the Holy Spirit.

• He was part of the first apostolic team released from Antioch along with Paul to plant new churches (see Acts 13).

• He later disagreed with Paul over John Mark and separated from him. He and John Mark went to Cyprus, while Paul took Silas and revisited the churches that he and Barnabas had established (see Acts 15:36-40).

Antioch: The new Believers at Antioch needed to be strengthened and encouraged in their faith—strengthening and encouraging are part of the establishing anointing. Barnabas was commissioned to go to Antioch to assist in establishing the new Believers that had received Christ when the disciples were scattered on the day of persecution and the Gospel was preached to the Greeks. Once Barnabas got there he sent for Saul, and the two men stayed there for more than a year teaching the new Believers and helping them to stand firm in their new faith.

God uses mature Believers to help young Believers to "stand firm." The establishing anointing is a gift from God to enable new Believers to grow in grace and develop and mature as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ (see Acts 11:19-30).

Philippi, Macedonia: The apostles Paul and Silas were used by God to bring encouragement and strength to the Believers who met at Lydia's home. Without too big a stretch of the imagination, it is possible to envisage the new church plant consisted of Lydia, her household, the jailor and his household, along with the young slave girl whom Paul had delivered of a spirit of divination. We read that after Paul and Silas were subsequently released from prison, "they went to Lydia's house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left" (Acts 16:40).

The apostles encouraged the new Believers under Lydia's care. Encouragement releases strength, gives hope and motivates Believers. Apostolic encouragement is a lifestyle that, when modeled in love and humility by leadership, releases great grace upon the Church. It has been my experience that the ministry of establishing and the gift of encouragement often operate side by side to release strength and joy to the Church.

So the churches were strengthened (the King James Version says "established") in the faith and grew daily in numbers.—Acts 16:5 (Notation mine)

Now It's Time to Establish Yourself

In these days of supernatural increase, acceleration and multiplication, I believe the establishing anointing is going to come to the forefront as one of the ways in which apostolic grace is manifested. We will witness a wonderful cooperation between the apostolic and prophetic anointing to release the word of the Lord in season and with authority to establish His will on earth. We will witness missional increase as apostles and evangelists work together in end-time strategic collaboratives.

We will see exponential increase in discipleship maturation as apostles and teachers work in divine alliances to establish and nurture the saints. We will see tremendous growth in the Church and in new Kingdom movements as apostles and pastors co-labour for the glory of God. We will witness powerful prayer strategies outworked in the nations as apostles and prophetic watchman join their hearts in prevailing apostolic prayer to bring reformation to the Church and revival in the nations.

However, in order to advance (meaning go forward, move ahead, proceed, progress and improve) we must learn to embrace the establishing anointing; it is part of our weaponry for the end times. Just as God established a testimony in Jacob (Psalm 78:5), He is also establishing a testimony in us! The book of Job also confirms that as we speak forth in faith, so shall it be established unto us by the grace of God. "Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways" (Job 22:28, KJV).

This is the Bottom Line – It Works!

• Establishing flows from a worshipful encounter with God (without encounter, nothing can be established that will stand on the day of testing).

• We cannot establish if we are not grounded in worship and holy intimacy with God (worship must precede works).

• Establishing happens out of ministry to the Lord and before the Lord (the establishing anointing is both a priestly and kingly anointing).

• Establishing must be carried out in obedience to the blueprint given from Heaven.

• Establishing bridges the generations. (During a time of co-regency, David received the blueprint for the Temple and gathered together materials needed for the Temple building in preparation for Solomon, his son, to later build the Temple, according to the pattern that had been given from Heaven.)

• Establishing can involve receiving a divine blueprint, laying the foundation, planting, building and nurturing (David received the blueprint, Solomon laid the foundation and built upon it. The New Testament echoes this sentiment in Apostle Paul's teaching in relation to the one who plants and the one who waters, i.e. nurtures, stressing it is God alone who causes it to grow. See 1 Corinthians 3:6-7).

• Establishing must be carried out in accordance with the divine mandate; if we build according to God's plans and not our own ideas, He will send His glory. We must build/plant by revelation and inspiration, not through our good ideas and perspiration!

• Establishing is part of apostolic grace ministry.

• Establishing is a necessary part of (1) Laying godly foundations and (2) Building upon those foundations, whether in the context of new Believers or new Church growth.

• Establishing causes the saints to mature and the Church to advance in the purposes and plans of God.

• Establishing is an important aspect of planting, nurturing and building for individuals, churches or movements.

• Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone upon which our lives are established.

• Jesus taught us that our foundation is His Word.

Catherine Brown
Founder/Director, Gatekeepers Global Ministries
Co-Founder, Scottish Apostolic Networking Enterprise
Email: admin@gatekeepers.org.uk

From the ElijahList


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Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Tow Truck



I've had a busy month or two. Seems like I never have time to just sit and think anymore. On Christmas day my car broke down. I spent some time waiting on a tow truck. Two days later I was taking a patient home from a stay in the hospital. When we arrived, we learned that we were at the wrong address; about 15 miles from the right location. Leaving the driveway, our ambulance blew a radiator hose.

We notified dispatch and waited for a tow truck. As my partner talked with the patient in back (I was driving) I couldn't help but see some irony in this story.

Our patient could have been Bob Jones' twin brother. Even had the twangy southern accent. I began to think about ol' Bob as I waited on the tow truck.

Here's how it played out:

A couple of years ago I heard Don Potter describe the phone call he received from Bob.

Bob: "Don, I had a dream about seven white horses riding to Nashville. You understand?"

Don: "Ummm...sure."

Don didn't immediately understand, but shortly afterward he moved to Nashville and hooked up with Wynonna Judd. The rest is music city history. After hearing a few more stories about Bob having dreams from God then calling people up to give them direction from the dreams, I had a conversation with God about that kind of ministry. I told Him I thought it was pretty cool. He said, "Bob is like my state trooper. One of my people gets lost on the way. I give Bob a dream. Bob calls them up and lets them know their next move.

I told Him I'd like to have that kind of ministry one day. He said He could make it happen. Actually what he said was something like: "Don't ever be jealous of the ministry of anyone. I have a ministry picked out that's perfect for you. It will fit your personality and talents perfectly. You'll love the things I'm going to do with you."

A few months ago I received a dream that revealed a problem one of my peers is going through. I knew what God wanted me to do. Send a message telling him about the dream and encourage him with the knowledge that God has it on His radar. I sent him an e-mail. Even though we aren't good friends, he received it with gratitude.

A week later I received another dream similar to the first one, for a different person. But this dream presented a problem. I was on somewhat good terms with the first man. But the second man is somewhat hostile toward me. We both have growing healing ministries, but we have some deep theological differences. I didn't think he'd receive a word from me based on this dream. So I sat on it for several months. Sitting in my broken down ambulance pondering the ministry of Bob Jones, I realized I was being disobedient. God gave me a dream revealing his mercy toward someone going through a difficult time.

I wrote an e-mail with the details of the dream and sent to him, with some apprehension. A few minutes later I read his grateful reply. He verified the accuracy of the situation and asked me to pray for him.

I remember the advice my pastor gave the first time I delivered a word in front of a congregation: "You're a messenger. You deliver the mail. Give the message then sit down. Don't explain it and don't worry about how it's received. All you do is deliver the mail."

It was good advice. But sometimes were more like tow trucks.

Everyone gets stuck in the mud once in a while. When a brother or sister is stuck, God sends one of us in our tow truck to pull them out. We need to respond in a timely manner. The operation of the kingdom depends on each of us doing our part. The quicker we obey, the sooner we all arrive at our destination.



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Saturday, January 8, 2011

What is an Apostle?

One of my favorite things to do on a fine, sunny afternoon is sit with a friend at the edge of a meadow and watch the clouds. I always see interesting shapes in the clouds (Look! There’s a puppy!), but my favorite friend (who still wears a ring I gave her some decades ago) generally sees different things than what I see (No, that’s a flower!). And as we watch, the cloud shifts slightly, and it’s no longer what I saw or what she saw; it’s something else entirely, except that what she sees now is still not the same as what I see. And a couple of minutes later, it shifts again, and again, and again.
I’ve been asked by a friend about “What is an apostle?” I’ve decided that it reminds me of watching those clouds with my sweetheart: it’s hard to see; it changes fluidly and consistently, what you see depends on your viewpoint and expectations, and it doesn’t really matter what you think you see: it doesn’t change what it is. The clouds are really water vapor, not a puppy, floating across the sky, no matter how loudly I declare that it's a puppy!

Because of some unusual circumstances in my life, I know a couple of dozen apostles personally, and a couple dozen more at a distance. And I’ve worked on that exact question for a few years, long before my friend asked it. All the apostles I know are completely different from one another. What is it about them that defines them as an apostle?

Fair warning: this document is not intended to be a treatise on apostles; it’s thoughts about apostles, and it’s written from the perspective of “very early in an apostolic age.”

I have studied this topic intently for a while, and I’ve been gathering input for a decade or two, so some parts will come from memory; many others will come from observations. Some fresher portions comes from watching and interacting with apostles.

Keep in mind also: while I know some mature apostles, I ain’t one, so I’m writing about other people.

What Does Not Make an Apostle?
First, here are some things that I have rejected as signs (or even requirements) of an apostle:
  • Church planter. Most church planters I know (I know several dozen) are pastors, teachers, or pastor-teachers.
  • Pioneer. Often, apostles pioneer new works, yes, but not always.
  • Head of a network, ideally an “apostolic network.” Bah, Humbug. Many heads of networks are ambitious, not apostles.
  • Famous. Most apostles I know are not famous. A few are. Most shy away from it.
  • Strong willed. Hmm. Often. Not always. I think.
  • Leaders of mega-churches. Most leaders of mega-churches are successful businessmen, excellent administrators, or, in those that are in the Calvary Chapel movement, gifted bible teachers. I have known only a couple of real apostles who led large churches, and for them, their large church was an accident.
  • Miracle workers. Some argue that miracles accompany a true apostle. I won’t argue, but that doesn’t make them specialists in miracles, nor does it make them famous for miracles. People who do miracles and draw attention to the miracles are often either evangelists, or they’re self-seeking. Apostles don’t seem to seek the spotlight, unless they’re also working under an evangelist’s anointing (some do). Some apostles use miracles regularly; many don’t. I will say this: I don’t know a single apostle who shies away from miracles or refuses to start something just because it would take a miracle to complete it!
  • Experienced. Nope. Nobody’s mature when they start something, and we’re just beginning the Apostolic Age. There are a lot of rookie apostles out there. A lot of them don’t even know the calling on their lives. Some do, and run screaming. A few embrace the calling and want to know why they aren’t suddenly experienced.
  • Have clear or powerful vision. Often. Not always. Most with strong vision are merely ambitious. Paul – the prototypical apostle – had only the vision of “preach where no-one has preached before.” Other than that, he pretty much stumbled into his ministry trips.
  • In the Marketplace. For a long time, almost every successful Christian Businessman in his 50s was considered a “Marketplace Apostle.” Most of them weren’t apostles. Some knew it. Paul was a successful businessman. Peter, James & John left their business behind to pursue Christ.
  • Missionaries (cross cultural). A few are. Most are not. Evangelism is a more useful tool to most missionaries.
  • Male. Yeah, the mindset of “only men can be apostles” still exists in some circles. Heidi Baker ought to be enough to kill that little heresy, all by her little lonesome.
“Apostle” in Ancient Culture
Studying the original language for “apostle” is an interesting exercise. It was a word that was well used before it was ever used in the Bible, so the best tools for understanding the concept are often secular tools. It was never used for religious purposes before Jesus co-opted it for the twelve.

In fact, the word is so unique, that we haven’t even translated it into English. The Greek word is “Apostolos.” All we did was spell it with Roman letters.

The concept of an apostle was something that was invented by the Phoenician empire and used heavily by the Romans. When the Roman army conquered a new nation, a new culture (something they did with remarkable regularity!), the Emperor would send an “apostolos.” It was the name given to the lead ship in a fleet of ships sent from Rome to the new land, and especially for the man – one man – who led that fleet. The fleet – and that man – were carrying the embodiment of Rome with them to the new territory.

The apostle’s job description in Roman culture is functionally the foundation for the apostle’s job in the Church: to bring the home civilization to the new territory. In Rome’s day, the apostle brought Rome’s legal system, education system, language, government, financial systems, entertainment, culture. His job was to make the new culture fit into the Roman empire, to become Roman, to the degree that when Caesar arrived, he’d feel at home in the new territory.

In our day, a Christian apostle is probably the spearhead of God’s answer to the prayer that he taught us to pray: “on earth as it is in heaven.” The apostle’s job is to see heaven, to understand what he sees enough to cause it to be done on earth: to manifest heaven on earth, to the degree that Jesus will feel at home in the territory.

How’s that for vague? Pretty good, eh? Now let’s try to make some application from that. This is where it gets really interesting!

Apostolic Ministry
So the apostle observes what’s going on in heaven, draws on heaven’s resources, and works with heaven’s strength and strategy to accomplish change on earth. In my experience, the biggest changes are needed in the ways we think, so an apostle’s job often involves a new, heaven-based worldview, one that emphasizes the spiritual realm and de-emphasizes the natural realm. So apostles often teach, but they teach from revelation as often as they teach from straightforward study. I think.

The teaching includes foundation-building: this is what the Kingdom of God is like. But the teaching of a true apostle will often involve strategies: this is what God is emphasizing right now, and that changes. Bill Hamon teaches – and the Bible illustrates – that occasionally, and under limited circumstances, apostles may find themselves teaching new doctrines from revelation rather than from scripture. No, they won’t teach doctrine that isn’t supported by the written Word of God. To be honest, this one scares me, but I recognize the validity of the principle.

Seeing spiritual realities, apostles often confront strongholds, though that may be a casual confrontation, or it may be “collateral damage” when they’re going after something else. Since apostles are fixated on Heaven (and with Him who sits on Heaven’s throne), their idea of warfare is often God-focused; since they’re in touch with God’s plan for people, they may also be mercy-driven, and American Church culture doesn’t know what to do when spiritual warfare is driven by mercy.

The power of God is present to support the work of an apostle, though it may not manifest dramatically. I know one woman who hated harsh language, but couldn’t rid herself of it. She said, “Oh crap!” around a young apostle. He replied, “No thanks. Already did,” and she was delivered from her “addiction” to swearing. Accidentally, really. Was that power? Yes. But it didn’t fit in the “normal” way we expect to see miracles.

The apostle Paul always travelled with a team, and the apostles in Jerusalem were a team. I want to say that apostles generally work well with a team, but I don’t think that’s true of all the apostles; Apollos doesn’t seem to have travelled with a team. It may be God’s intent, and they’re not connecting with his means. Or it may be completely fantasy.

I’ve had some really frustrating interactions with people who have called themselves apostles; some are frustrated religious businessmen and others are fresh bible-school grads. It’s probably superfluous to say, but it still needs to be said: not everybody who calls themselves an apostle is a true apostle. As an apostle friend of mine has said, “It takes more than a business card to make an apostle.”

Since there are both bad prophets (inaccurate ones) and false prophets, it is likely that there are both bad apostles and false apostles: the first are unsuccessful at building the things of heaven (or successful at building things of flesh); the latter are building things from the realm of darkness; I believe they’re rare.

Apostolic Relationships
I’ve been frustrated by apostles’ difficulty relating to other folks sometimes, but again, that’s not consistent. Some don’t relate well to anyone; others relate best to other apostles, or other 5-fold people. I’ve never known an apostle that fit into a crowd well: they pretty-much all have been kind of other-worldly a little, not completely at ease with social skills like an evangelist or a pastor is.

Since they see things from heaven’s perspective, sometimes apostles see better where individuals fit in the strategic plan of things: they can see, “Oh, you’re a prophet,” or “Your gifts would fit better here,” or “You and you should think about working together.” Again, not a focus of their ministry, and not exclusive to apostles (prophets do this too), but sometimes.

Apostles and prophets work pretty well together. But again, it’s not consistent. I know some apostles who are themselves prophets (I think of Harold Eberle), and others are paired with prophets (I think of Bill Johnson with Kris Vallotton, Dutch Sheets with Chuck Pierce).

Apostolic Function
The work of an apostle has already been outlined by Paul in Ephesians 4:11-12: “And He Himself [that would be Jesus] 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…” So the work of apostles, like the work of prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, is to equip the People of God.

What does that look like? Well, like the clouds, it’s always different, and it often changes. It might look like a pastor who spends more time raising people into their calling and sending them to the nations than gathering a flock. It might look like a businessman whose work in the marketplace brings the presence and provision for the kingdom of God. It might look like a woman leading an orphanage and a church, who teaches on the kingdom, heals the sick, and raises the dead, and who sends out hundreds of pastors and evangelists and apostles who also teach the kingdom, heal the sick, raise the dead and plant thousands of churches. It might look like a young man who teaches the Kingdom in churches, home groups, and on the streets, who heals the sick and teaches others how, and in his spare time, he and a squad of intercessors break demonic strongholds off of regions.

The Apostle Paul said an odd thing in Romans 11:13: “For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles.” I suggest that no one is an apostle without a people to minister to: Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles. Peter was an apostle to the Jews. It’s important to know who you’re called to. I know a man who is “only” an auto parts salesman when he’s in the US, but when he’s in India, he’s holding crusades, training pastors and leaders, and starting training schools: he’s an apostle to India, but not to the US. I would maintain that there is no such thing as an “apostle at large” or “apostle without a people” (though I have known some people who think they are).

The principle is broader than just apostles, by the way: I may be trained as a pastor (or a prophet or whatever), but until I’m a pastor to a group of people, I am not walking in the ministry of a pastor. This is an extension of the principle that “Ministry flows out of relationship.” If there’s no relationship, then there’s no real ministry.

There are clearly young apostles being raised up today. But it’s probably worth mentioning that this is not the only way that God forms an apostle. Many of the apostles I know have encountered success in another area – in pastoring, in business, as a prophet – before God released them to apostolic ministry. And while apostles are always called by Jesus (see Eph 4:11) into the role, they are very often forged for the work as well: most apostles I know have been through incredible failure, have been crushed, and have learned, first hand, to say, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Finally, probably the best way to tell an apostle (or a prophet): wait until those already in the office recognize it in you before you attempt to walk in it. Believe it or not, one doesn’t become an apostle by getting Apostle business cards. More significantly, when a bunch of people in your church’s pews start calling you an apostle, ignore it: they don’t actually know what makes an apostle. But when apostles recognize the apostolic calling on you, it means it's coming out, moving from "potential" to "actual.

by Nor'west Prophetic



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