Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Characteristics of an Apostle



By Gene Edwards
from The Early Church

One of the biggest problems of our day, among a multitude of big problems, is the fact that no one is really qualified to be serving the Lord. The servants of God in this age universally lack experience in really deep encounter with the living Christ. They lack complete abandonment to Him. Even beyond these deficiencies and dozens more, the Christians of this age haven’t the vaguest idea of what God’s central burden is! They do not have a vision of the centrality of His church. The preparation modern ministers receive before entering the ministry is almost 100 percent ineffective, if not useless, in light of God’s purpose.

I have chosen to list here the characteristics of a true Apostle. The portrait is based on the lives of Apostles of the first century, but you can also expect, if God is merciful enough to restore this office, to see men who bear these same marks in their lives today.

When you have finished reading this list you will have, not only a good idea of what to expect in an apostle’s life, but also a idea why this breed of man vanished from the pages of history so long ago.

The standard set by those first Apostles is, at the very least, ruggedly high.

Please be clear, this is not a list of “qualifications for you to meet to become an Apostle.” You could acquire all these attributes and still not be an Apostle. But it would be very hard indeed to find an Apostle who did not exhibit all of these characteristics.

If this list serves no other purpose, dear reader, perhaps it will serve to humble your heart and to stir up a seeking spirit within you.

1. An Apostle will not be young.

He will be in his late thirties or early forties before commissionship to Apostleship is even given to him! Most of his adult life until then will have been spent in preparation.

Young men ought not to serve the Lord in this capacity. Young men ought to sit, watch, experience Christ, and enjoy the church.

2. He will have spent years in the church, having fully experienced church life.

He will have been a simple brother in the church, living a normal life; he will have had a good long period of being a nobody; he will have lived under authority in the church and learned submission … just like everyone else.

3. He will not fit anybody’s preconceived image of what an Apostle should look like.

Apostles have a disconcerting way of not looking like Apostles.

4. He will be a man totally outside of the religious system.

This is imperative.

There could be no Apostleship inside that system. The two are mutually exclusive.

Why? The reasons are endless. But here is one.

Apostleship takes nothing if it does not take courage. If a man has not found the courage to step utterly, totally and completely outside the religious system, to leave it and its ways, then he hasn’t even taken step one toward a deep knowledge and experience of Christ and the church. Along with this:

5. He will not lead some organization.

He will not be the head of some organization.

He will be utterly outside of that kind of thing. No, he will not sit behind a glass-top desk, nor head any movement.

6. He will be beyond reproach in language and conduct.

7. He will have an almost inexhaustible ability to suffer and to bear the cross.

8. He will be hated.

He will hate no one. He will be widely criticized. He will criticize no one.

And he will live constantly in the skillet of this treatment. Having been abused and betrayed throughout his whole life, he will come to the end of his life still without bitterness, criticism or hurt, filled with compassion, patience, understanding and even optimism!

9. He will know the Scripture as few men in all church history have ever known it. He will be master of that Book.

At the same time, he will not “teach the Scripture” nor tell people things like “You’ve got to know the Bible to be a victorious Christian.” It is not the scripture which will characterize his ministry. You will sense that though he uses the Scripture, it is in no way the cutting-edge of his message. Oh, you may learn the Scripture from him, like you never dreamed it could be known, but he won’t be teaching you the Scripture; if you learn the Scripture; if you learn the Scripture under him it will be a byproduct, a secondary result of the fact he is showing you Christ! Christ alone will hold pre-eminence in all he says and all that he calls men to.

10. He will know Christ.

He will know Christ well, and he will know Him supremely.

11. He will minister Christ.

When he speaks, he will minister not doctrine, not creeds, not chains of interwoven verses to prove some teaching. He will speak Christ. He will tell men, show men how to know Jesus Christ. Christ will be his sole occupation, his only topic.

12. He will pray.

13. He will raise up churches.

He won’t be coming up with visions of church substitutes. No. The church will be his only obsession. He will live only to raise up the church (locatable, visible, attainable, observable; not that ectoplastic, ethereal, universal, out in the wild blue yonder goo) and to strengthen the church. He will suffer for, live for, and probably die for her and for her alone!

14. He will not hinder another man’s work.

He will in no way interfere in the life of a church raised up by other men in another city. He will not engage in conflict with other servants of God. He will leave alone the works of all other men, and he will, for the most part, steer clear of churches not raised up by his hand.

15. He will not build on another man’s work.

Apostle’s pioneer.

16. He will eventually release every church he raises up.

He will not hold the church in his hand nor use it for himself. He will eventually set it utterly free, free to Christ. How? He will leave. The people will be left utterly on their own.

17. He will not turn the churches he raises into some kind of a closely knit movement.

He will not father, or oversee, a movement.

18. He will be humble, hidden, gentle, and submissive to others.

He will not rule or dictate. He will not call for men to submit to him.

19. He will have been sent by the Holy Spirit.

20. Lastly, there will be but one proof of his Apostleship. He will raise up churches, and those churches will remain and they will flourish.

The church will stand … free of rules, regulations, organizations, or structure. There will be no specially trained men left behind who have to make sure she survives.

The church will survive, but only because she is the living Bride of Christ.

And the hallmark of those churches will be their love for one another! Such will be the general tenor of the life of an Apostle, for this is the way it was when such a species walked the earth before.

May God hasten the day when the world has to contend once more with such men. Not far behind that day will be another day, the day of the restoration of true church life on this earth.



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Thursday, May 17, 2012

1 Corinthians 9 and Salaries for Pastors


I want to begin this discussion by stating what should be obvious. This post represents my own interpretation, although I think it is informed by several other studies. Also, I do not believe that this should be a basis of fellowship. Without hesitation I fellowship with those who disagree with me on this topic.
To begin, let’s place 1 Corinthians 9 in its context within Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth. In 1 Conrinthians 8-10, Paul exhorts the “strong” in Corinth to consider the “weak” when making decisions. He tells the “strong” not to exercise their rights if that would hinder the faith of the “weak”. He concludes chapter 8 by saying that if eating meat would cause his brother to stumble, then Paul would never eat meat again.
This leads to chapter 9, especially verses 1-15. In this chapter, Paul gives an example from his own life. As an apostle, Paul had the right to be supported by the church in Corinth. However, he relinquished that right so that he would not be a hindrance to the spread of the gospel there (1 Cor 9:1215). Paul, as an example of the “strong”, gave up his right to support so that the faith of the “weak” would not be hindered.
(By the way, 2 Corinthians tells us that Paul’s refusal to accept support from the Corinthians caused some of doubt his apostleship. Nevertheless, Paul says that he would still not accept support from the Corinthians while he was in Corinth (2 Cor 11:7-9).)
As part of his argument, Paul assumes that apostles have the right to receive support (“eat and drink” – 1 Cor 9:4 – “refrain from working for a living” – 1 Cor 9:6). To reinforce this right, Paul gives several examples: a soldier does not go to war at his own expense, the one who plants a vineyard eats from the produce of the vineyard, the one who tends a flock receives milk from the flock (1 Cor 9:7), the law says not to muzzle an ox while it is threshing (1 Cor 9:9), and those who serve in the temple receive a part of the sacrificial offerings as food (1 Cor 9:13). Paul concludes his defense of “support” with the following statement: “… [T]he Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:14 ESV)
Few would disagree with my interpretation so far. In fact, most people agree on the meaning of this passage. However, problems come along when we start asking questions about the implications and significance of this passage for today.
Primarily, the disagreements revolve around the extent of the metaphors: who is like the soldier; who is like the farmer; who is like the one who herds the flock; who is like the ox; who is like the temple servants?
Many begin to answer this question with 1 Corinthians 9:14 – “[T]he Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:14 ESV) Some argue that since pastors proclaim the gospel, then they should “get their living by the gospel”, that is, they should be supported by the church. However, we should make a couple of observations about this verse before we associate it with pastors and elders.
The phrase “those who proclaim the gospel” could be associated with anyone who proclaims the good news of Jesus Christ. Or, the phrase could be limited to a certain group of people who proclaim the gospel. If we decide that the phrase references ANYONE who proclaims the gospel, then it certainly includes pastors and elders, assuming that they proclaim the gospel. However, the phrase would also include anyone who proclaims the gospel. Thus, if the phrase “those who proclaim the gospel” actually references “anyone”, then we should be prepared to support anyone who proclaims the gospel. We should not limit our support only to pastors and elders.
However, if we limit the phrase “those who proclaim the gospel” to a certain group of people, then we must explain why we limit the phrase to that group. For me, the only adequate explanation is to limit the phrase to the group discussed within its own context. What group is discussed in 1 Corinthians 9? Apostles and others who travel around. This is indicated in the first few verses of the chapter:
Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. This is my defense to those who would examine me. Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? (1 Corinthians 9:1-6 ESV)
Remember that Paul is discussing his “right” to support, which he is relinquishing for the benefit of the “weak” in Corinth. According to 1 Cor 9:1-6, this “right” is shared by Paul, Barnabas, other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Peter. Notice specifically that “other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas” have the “right to take along a believing wife”. This is not discussing their right to be married, but their right to take their wife with them as they are travelling, and thus the entire family would have the right to be supported. The key here is that “the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas” are TAKING ALONG a believing wife. Paul does NOT say that they have the right to support because they are apostles, brothers of the Lord, or Peter. He says they have the right to support because they are travelling around, and thus TAKING ALONG their wives.
When discussing the ox metaphor (1 Cor 9:9) which Paul took from Deuteronomy 25:4, Richard Hays agrees that the metaphor is used in this passage with specific reference to apostles. He says:
[Deut 25:4] functions as an elegant metaphor for just the point that Paul wants to make: the ox being driven around and around on the threshing floor should not be cruelly restrained from eating the food that his own labor is making available… so, too, with apostles. (First Corinthians, 122)
Furthermore, most commentators agree that Paul takes his statement in 1 Corinthians 9:14 from eitherMatthew 10:10Luke 10:7, or a combination of both. In both of these instances, the Lord is also giving instructions to those who are being sent away from their homes. Thus, the instructions are given to those travelling around in order to proclaim the gospel, not to those who are remaining in the same place to proclaim the gospel.
So, in the context of 1 Corinthians 9, and in the context where Paul found his command from the Lord, the reference is to those who are travelling away from home in order to proclaim the gospel. If we do not think we should give support to ANYONE who proclaims the gospel, then the only limiting group within the context is the group of believers who are travelling away from home (and their own source of income) in order to proclaim the gospel.
It is possible to decide that the phrase “those who proclaim the gospel” in 1 Cor 9:14 reference to a different limited group. However, there is no way to choose a different group from the context of 1 Corinthians 9. There is no other group listed in the context of 1 Corinthians 9. Thus, the choice of any other group (i.e. pastors, elders, teachers) would be arbitrary.
Therefore, in my interpretation, when Paul discusses his right to receive support in 1 Corinthians 9, he’s talking about a right that is possessed by those who travel away from home in order to proclaim the gospel. He is not talking about a right that is possessed by any other group of believers. Since Paul (and Peter) specifically talk of pastors and elders as being those who are chosen or recognized from among the church (in other words, they stay in their home location and do not travel from place to place), pastors and elders would not fall under the context of this passage.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Biblical Principles Concerning Ethics and Protocols Relating to New Testament Prophetic Ministry


Originally compiled by John Paul Jackson and Marc Dupont
Editing team: John Paul Jackson, Marc Dupont, Loren Sandford, John Sandford, James W. Goll and Bobby Connor



The Preamble
Within the contemporary church the term, “prophetic ministry,” can mean a great many things. Therefore we have attempted to outline a brief description of biblically based values and practices for New Testament prophetic ministers and prophets. The following are intended primarily for those called to trans-local ministries to the church at large. However, we also acknowledge many of these principles can be applied to individuals whose prophetic work does not extend beyond their local church.

Some persons labeled as “prophets” may be more accurately categorized as “prophetic ministries.” While they may minister to the church at large, they primarily operate within the occasional “charisma” gift of prophecy. Others are called to bear the ministry of a prophet consistently as a primary calling.

An established prophet will not only operate in the gift of prophecy, but will carry seasonal prophetic burdens and messages from God the Father to the wider church, and sometimes even to nations. His or her emphasis may be much more “the word of the Lord,” as opposed to “words from the Lord.” They may, at times, even give a prophetic rebuke or warning to the church, which should always be a message of grace, postured within the Father heart of God.

Our heart in preparing and submitting these values is neither to police, nor to correct any known individuals or situations. Rather, we are simply endeavoring to articulate biblical standards that can help ensure long-term fruitfulness both for prophetic ministries and the recipients of those ministries.

Revelation 19:10 states: “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Therefore, we wholeheartedly believe that the overriding theme, goal and vision of any biblically based New Testament prophetic ministry should be to make known the Person and ways of Christ Jesus. And while a prophetic ministry may often be accompanied by revelatory words, signs and wonders, healings and miracles, a true prophet will always seek to champion the Person of Christ, the gift-giver, more than the gifts. Because God’s will is for each disciple of Christ to be conformed to the image of Christ, we believe, as well, that God calls those who represent His will, voice, and ways to be living testimonies of Christ-like integrity, lived out within the context of healthy relationships that provide accountability.

The goal of our presentation is Christ-like love and service from a pure heart. We do not present these principles and protocols from an assumed posture of authority or elitism. The spirit in which we present them is two-fold; Firstly, we desire to offer this as an appeal for Christ-centered unity of purpose among current prophetic ministries. Secondly, we wholeheartedly desire to see our co­laborers bear witness to who Jesus is in every facet of ministry as they seek to prophetically serve the Body of Christ.


Biblical Principles Concerning Ethics and Protocols
Relating to New Testament Prophetic Ministry
  1. Concerning Beliefs and Practices

    1. The Bible, as the perfect revelation of Jesus and the infallible word of God, is the absolute standard for weighing and assessing all revelation (2Timothy 3:16, Col 2:18-19, John 1:14).

      1. While I treasure spiritual experiences from the Holy Spirit, I will not place subjective experiences and discernment above the Bible (Rev 19:10; Col 2:18-19).

      2. I will not allow my emotions or pride to rob me of utilizing the Bible as my standard for weighing a revelation and any interpretation I may attach to a revelation.

      3. I will always speak a Bible-centric message.

      4. I will seek to draw all who hear me toward a greater relationship with the Father through Jesus, and to make the name of Jesus known in a biblical way.

    2. God values His Word as the expression of His name and nature (Psalms 138:2). Therefore, we hold truth as a necessity in prophecy.

      1. I will always try not only to speak truth, but to speak prophetic words in a way
        that reflects the loving heart of God.

      2. I will determine to always lovingly speak prophetic correction in such a way as to avoid condemnation toward those who receive the prophetic word.

      3. I will intend to always communicate hope for change through the transforming power of Jesus.

      4. I commit to reflect the nature of my God by loving people more than my gift.

      5. Prophecy is a word from God.  I will try to speak it with both humility and
        confidence.

      6. While fearing God, I will not fear man. Whenever God directs me to release revelation I will not hold back through fear of man, fear of offending those with whom I am in relationship, or fear of losing popularity and/or opportunities to minister (Galatians 1:10, Proverbs 29:5).

      7. I commit to God’s call on my life to proclaim the ways and will of God ahead of the “success” of my ministry in the eyes of man or the church.

    3. I believe that prophetic accuracy is essential. I believe that the method and manner of delivery (the heart) of a prophecy is also important.

      1. I understand that voicing words from God is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. I aspire to have 100% accuracy in all I say.

      2. I will admit when I am wrong and take steps to acknowledge, repent and make restitution for my error in a prophecy or its delivery, in a manner appropriate to correct the error and the reason for the error.

      3. Repentance and restitution must also be appropriate to my sphere of influence and the scope of the prophetic word (Psalms 138:2).

    4. If I do give an errant prophecy, I commit to full repentance. This will include:

      1. An apology. If I gave the prophecy to a private party, my apology must be to that party. If the prophecy was given to a group such as a church or the public, the apology must be given to that group.

      2. Biblical repentance does not mean saying, “I’m sorry” only to God, but also to those I have hurt. Most importantly, I must communicate that I am deeply concerned
        about the harm I have done or the hurt I have inflicted, and I will do whatever else
        is needed to help heal the wounds I have caused.

      3. With the help of wise counsel, I will seek to find if there is anything in my heart
        that caused this error, and deal with it through confession, repentance and action.

      4. I commit to continuing in accountability to a safe and loving authority whom I believe will support me and help me walk in integrity. I will not remove myself from this process even if painful to me and/or it seems that those to whom I am accountable are not treating me fairly.

      5. I believe there are consequences to all actions. If my error is particularly serious or repeated, I will be willing to take time off from prophetic ministry until I and those in authority over me have discerned that I am ready to resume ministry.

    5. Concerning supernatural manifestations, I will not substitute the seeking of angels, angelic activity, or other supernatural manifestations, over the seeking of God, His presence, and the truths contained in Scripture. The source of all truth is the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 11:14; Col 2:18-19).

      1. I believe that the character of Christ in me is more important to the Kingdom than my gift. It is the application and manifestation of God’s Word in my life.

      2. I will not fall prey to idolatry by seeking to generate, initiate or exaggerate supernatural manifestations, no matter what may be expected by the church culture in which I speak.

      3. Likewise, I endeavor to allow the Holy Spirit to initiate how and when He releases supernatural manifestations and/or ministry through me.

      4. If God does speak to me through angels, or causes certain manifestations, or gives particular types of revelation, I will communicate what I hear and see only as God directs. I will do so without elevating myself, my experience or revelation in any way that might detract from the Person of God Himself.

    6. Understanding a prophetic word is vital to its implementation.  Therefore, I commit to being open to discuss, with appropriate leaders within the Body of Christ, the prophetic words I receive and interpretations of those words.  I will endeavor to do so because prophetic gifts are given to serve the people, not to promote the one who prophesies.

    7. Words from God should encourage, train and equip the Body of Christ to conform to the image of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16). I will endeavor to always help the Body of Christ perceive the Person of Christ more clearly and to hunger for Him and His ways (Col. 1: 8-10, Eph. 1:17-18).

    8. Ephesians 4 ministries are to equip the Body of Christ to receive, develop and mature, rather than to cultivate an audience of spectators for our gifting. Thus, we hold in high regard the priesthood of each believer in Christ (1 Peter 2:5; Romans 8:14; Isaiah 61:6).

      1. I commit to preaching sound doctrine rather than dividing the Body of Christ through non-scriptural doctrines designed to amaze my audience and develop a following (2Tim 4:3-4).

      2. I will not use the gift God has given me in a reckless manner that might cause others to stumble or misunderstand God and His ways (Jer. 23:32).

      3. I commit to help Christian leaders and trainers discern between the operation of God-given spiritual gifts and human psychic abilities (Daniel 2:27-28; 4:8-9).

      4. I commit to help train the Body of Christ to discern between true, Holy Spirit-inspired revelation and mere human intuition, New Age pseudo-spirituality or psychic abilities (1John 4:1).

      5. I will intentionally try to communicate revelation and the interpretation of revelation in ways that encourage, strengthen, and comfort the recipient(s) of the word (1 Corinthians 14:3).

      6. I will seek to avoid prophesying anything that controls or manipulates the lives of others.

      7. When giving a prophetic word, I will seek to always encourage hearers to biblically and prayerfully weigh it rather than to take it without consideration (1 Corinthians 14:29).

    9. I commit to help train the Body of Christ to discern between genuine encounters with God and other pseudo-spiritual experiences, as well as to help the Body of Christ understand the various degrees of revelation and their relative levels of importance.

    10. I commit to refusing to prostitute the revelatory gifting God has given me by attaching a fee to a prophetic word* (Micah 3:11).

      1. I will not use a prophetic word or prophetic ministry to manipulate people to give
        financially to me, and or the ministry I lead (2 Peter 2:15).

      2. I will not lead people to believe that the prophetic word will be triggered or
        influenced by a gift.
        *Accepting honorariums, gifts or travel remuneration is acceptable.  This is different than prophesying for an agreed amount of money, and is equivalent to a pastor receiving a salary.

  2. Concerning My Life in Representing Christ Jesus Prophetically

    1. I commit to living, modeling and championing the character of Christ. I believe Christ-like character to be more important than operating out of gifting  (2 Cor. 7:1).

      1. I choose to consistently promote and model the ways of Christ more than simply communicate revelation.

      2. When it comes to representing Christ Jesus, I believe that I not only have a message, but that I am the message.

    2. I believe that wisdom from above is “reasonable and peaceable.” I will place high value on Christ-like humility, and shun prophetic arrogance (James 3:17).

    3. I commit to having an accountability group in place to whom I will hold my lifestyle, marriage and ministry accountable.

      1. I commit to living a life free of substance abuse, love of money, extra-marital sex, pornography, pride and unforgiveness/bitterness.

      2. I commit to living out God’s high value of love and covenant emotionally, spiritually and physically with the “spouse of my youth,” to the best of my ability.

      3. I will guard my heart and make a covenant with my eyes not to look upon another in a lustful manner.

    4. I commit to being free from both the love of money and the love of appearing successful in the eyes of man. I commit to choosing venues to host my ministry, based on the leading of the Holy Spirit as opposed to the size of the crowd or financial remuneration.

    5. I commit to being not only a person of prayer and worship but a continual student of the Bible and the ways of God.

    6. I commit to honor the Lord by honoring and strengthening His delegated authority in the Body of Christ.

      1. I will honor and strengthen local pastors and church leaders as God’s-appointed shepherds and gatekeepers for their local congregations.

      2. I will not usurp the authority of the local leadership in the Body where I am called to speak.

    7. I commit to perceiving myself as a servant to both the church at large and the local church as God gives me opportunity.

      1. I will not view congregations and other ministries as mere platforms, or tools to facilitate my vision and calling.

      2. I will not steal another leader’s people or leadership in order to build my ministry.

    8. I commit to financial, ethical and moral purity, and will not use the Body of Christ to advance my ministry nor build my own empire. My endeavor is to imitate Jesus’ example of servanthood, and only do as I see the Father doing.

  3. The Nature of Authentic Prophetic Ministry
  • Bible-centric —Bear/bare witness, expose, declare and establish the truth of Scripture.

  • Salvation-centric – Declare, teach and demonstrate the gospel of the Kingdom of God with signs and wonders following (Mark 16:20).

  • Jesus-centric – Edify, comfort, encourage and exhort believers and the church in the way to Jesus as well as the way of Jesus.

  • God-centric - Demonstrate in word, deed and manner the character of the Father:  love, righteousness, justice, compassion, mercy, majesty and holiness.

  • Sovereignty-centric - Bring glory to God alone. His name, His acts, and His Glory are inseparable. He exercises His will through His Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Immutability and Eternality, as He chooses.


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Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Peace of His Presence


By Kriston Couchey

HIS PRESENCE, THE DEFINING MARK OF HIS PEOPLE
The defining mark of those who have come to know God as Father is as simple as being filled with, walking in, and releasing to others the peace of God's presence. His abiding presence and life laid down in love for others is a sign that these are possessed by Him. As the days of glory that are unfolding continue, the peace of His presence is growing and deepening among those who have become living sacrifices in which He can fully express His love. As we gather in unity, His peace is removing fear, anger, offense, and the turmoil of an unjust world from our hearts as we have made His presence our home, and He has made His home in us. We in Him and He in us; the unified oneness of love that a bride and groom long for. This is the day of love's consummation.

 HIS PRESENCE, THE DIVIDING LINE AMONG MANKIND
The peace that signifies His presence abides in and among us as a gentle breeze, and rises to a burning fire of passion like a mighty rushing wind. In all of the ways He expresses Himself among us, the hearts of men are laid bare and men must choose to either embrace reality of His presence, or run to their sin and cry for the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the presence of the king.

 And into whatever house you enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest on it: if not, it shall turn to you again.~Jesus~ There is now great division come even among those who claim the name of Jesus. We are either sons of peace, or we are sons of strife; rooted in works and wisdom of the flesh that seeks to please and serve self. Fear is gripping the hearts of men as trouble overtakes the nations of the earth. The many systems of men are crumbling and weakening as the king Himself is stepping into history to show Himself strong on behalf of His beloved sons. What was once hidden in a world of men satisfied with success and dependency upon the world's systems is coming to light.

The only place of refuge is found in the Secret Place of His rest; The peace of His presence. It is here we find healing, comfort, strength, and wisdom from above to walk as sons of light in a world of darkness and confusion. We cannot overcome the offense, strife, and injustice of a world gone mad without the indwelling and abiding peace that passes understanding. Only the peace of His presence can guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus as we abide in Him and His ability to love the loveless and face opposition and suffering that MUST come to those who walk in His presence (Acts 9:16). His Spirit's presence is a dividing line showing forth what is born of Him, and is of earthly origin.

REGIONS OF THE PEACE OF HIS PRESENCE
The Spirit of God has shown me that there will be entire regions that will embrace and give way to the peace of God's presence. As the kingdom emerges in expression, some regions of the earth will experience the peace and blessing that result from the abiding presence and glory of God. People from other regions will be drawn to the presence of God and even the weather patterns in these places will be blessed by God to prosper His people. Those whose hearts are not willing to walk with Him as king will drift to regions where the lawlessness of men rules. A clear distinction of those blessed by God and those who refuse Him will be seen as there will be regions of unchecked evil and lawlessness, and regions in which the greatest miracles ever will be experienced among those who abide in His presence.

HIS PRESENCE THE UNIFYING FORCE 
"...being diligent to guard the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."~Paul~ Father is today bringing about a unifying in His body of those pursuing His abiding presence. This unity is not around a doctrine, a man, a single church movement, but is among those who know Him and love His presence. These are drawn together in the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The Spirit of God is even now calling and drawing His beloved from across the earth in regions and cities to enter into relationships with brothers and sisters that ignore past boundaries, denominations, titles, authority structures, and systems that man has made. This unity is among those whose hearts are His, and this unity cuts across all barriers of division placed upon His church. Those who are seeking what gratifies themselves will continue to cling to the dead works and wisdom of men and miss God's unifying work. Yet, those hungering for Him and His will find a peace and presence of the King that is beyond understanding in a precious unity with others of like spirit.

In the places where we the children of God will come together and forget the past, Father will manifest His kingdom to us, in us ,and through us. He will establish His peace in our midst that will envelope those who are His, and expose all that is born of men's wisdom and works. He presence will be the dividing line that confronts men with the choice to serve self, or embrace the goodness of God and lay down their lives to come alive in His presence. His overcoming peace will be established in the midst of those who will gather in unity filled with, walking in, and releasing the peace of His Holy presence to others.

 In His Peace.
 Kriston Couchey



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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Persistent Prophetic Warfare



Comment: This is not your typical prophetic word. This is a prophet clarifying the prophetic work to which many of us here in the northwest are called. Understand the warfare that you are a part of, take appropriate action, and do not let anything stop you.

Persistent Prophetic Warfare

From my experience there are two “branches” of Persistent Prophetic Warfare. There is what the Persistent Prophet continually does to wage war against the forces of darkness. And, there is what the forces of darkness continually do to wage war against the Persistent Prophet.

Of course, this is also generally true for ANY Child Of God. All born-again believers WILL have to wage war against the forces of darkness – it is written – and WILL suffer backlash and setbacks from that effort – which is also written. There is NO escape. It is our collective reality – and God has made this struggle plain in His Word. From God’s point of view, we are clearly to expect – by faith –  that there will be victories, and we are also clearly warned that there will be struggle.

It was the same for Jesus Himself. 

But I am writing about that particular subset of the overall battle called “Persistent Prophetic Warfare.” And more importantly, about the enemy’s objective and the tactics meant to bring Persistent Prophetic Warriors down.

The scriptural references that apply are legion, I know you know them, so I will be limited in using them and write more from my heart. 

Let’s assume that if you are on my email “to” list [where this article was first published] that I consider that you already know you have a Prophetic Call of some kind – whether it is the primary Call on your life – a complimentary or secondary Call – or you have intimate knowledge about or experience with those that do have a Prophetic Call. Let’s also assume that as “experienced” prophets we have already exhibited decades of proven experience – and have had ongoing struggle as we have “walked out our faith.”

We have been Persistent Prophetic Warriors.

The enemy is not stupid. When satan sees that you are being obedient and affective – especially long term – he will do whatever he needs to do to “take you out.” He will also be persistent. He will continue to attack your day job, those to whom you report to – like bosses or supervisors, your finances, family, friends, your prophetic “vision”, your health, etc. ...even your effort to continue on with life itself. Misunderstanding, rejection, weakness, shame, embarrassment, disappointment, doubt, fear, and sickness may be your “familiar reality.” You may even be called in front of legal authorities multiple times and find yourself having to repeatedly defend yourself for things you may or may not have actually done. Your family, friends, Christian friends, and co-workers may question you and turn away from you many times.

At points you may loose your prophetic vision too – as these things repeatedly rise up to overwhelm you – and not just in ones and twos – but multiple avenues of warfare coming against you over and over – and over long periods of time.

Effective Prophets sometimes fight on with few friends understanding what they are doing. Effective Prophets may feel the sting of isolation and wonder why they have so many victories, so little recognition, and so much struggle and discouragement. Prophets will know the Juniper Tree. 

And, if Satan can’t destroy you, he will try to distract you.

He will try to separate you from your First Love – and divert you away from your Calling and mission.

He will try to keep you focused on material things: your money, house, cars, clothes, tools, other worldly possessions, and the struggle to get and maintain them. He will try to make work and your ministry overwhelm you: with diverted time, an appeal to selfishly excel, and constant dissatisfactions with procedures, policies, bosses and co-workers. He will try and disappoint you with your family and friends. At times they will be indifferent toward you, neglect you, and – as in my case – outright reject you. He will try and bring fear into your life through the personal, national and international issues we are all facing. He will attack your health, ability to rest, cause you to be dissatisfied with your own level of fitness – and anything or everything else about you. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Satan will use whatever he can to separate you from the Love of Jesus, the Voice and Power of the Holy Spirit, the Absolute Care of our Heavenly Father, and the CALL He Himself has placed on your life. 

You will have Battle Fatigue. 

You will have battle fatigue. Not much fun, huh?

Hardened combat soldiers – those who continue to wage effective war on the battlefield against the enemy – ARE going to be the enemy’s target.   

Experienced Prophet warriors – those who continue to wage effective war against the forces of darkness and win – ARE going to be satan’s target. 

Both are going to face exhaustion. Both are a great threat to the enemy – and the enemy is going to direct his resources toward the greatest threat. 

There is that element of combat experience where the soldier and Prophet get to the point that life and death, victory and defeat don’t matter.

Continue the Fight.

What matters is continuing the fight. Because continuing the fight is right. 

So, be careful to face up to the fact that you are in this thing – Persistent Prophetic Warfare – for the long haul – and that in a certain sense (understand this with godly wisdom) “you” don’t matter.

What matters is far greater than ourselves or any earthly kingdom. What matters is Jesus and the Kingdomof God – and that in the heat of battle you continue to recognize the enemy, continue keep your weapons aimed at him, and continue pulling the trigger.

If victory comes, which it most surely will, there will come a time when your Reward is made known.

Jesus Himself will not forget you – either in the fight or afterward.

The Holy Spirit will continue to empower you and be your Advocate – both in the fight and afterward.

And, our Father will both dry your tears – and bring ultimate judgment.

As it is written: “God is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” 

He Himself said that He would “neither leave us nor forsake us.

Be persistent. 

Keep pulling the trigger.

Unlike combat soldiers, Prophetic Warriors have an unlimited supply of weapons and ammunition – and our Leadership does not fail.

Regards, Scott
Scott Wiley Arnold
Missouri USA
September 18, 2009

Via Northwest Prophetic

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