The True Foundation: Christlikeness

By Francis Frangipane

Christ Himself is the eternal blueprint for our lives.  Only in studying Him, in measuring ourselves by Him, do we grow securely upon the foundation of God. 

Beloved, we were created to become like Christ.  Yet, some would lead us to a lesser destiny.  They teach that a stumbling, disobedient people can somehow also be the same "overcomers" spoken of in the Sacred book.  Yet, God's plan has not faded out or become obsolete!  Even as Christ has not changed, so neither has the plan of God for the church.  Our transformation will burn in God's heart "until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ" (Eph 4:13).

You see, the focus of both leadership and congregations should be upon attaining Christlike transformation.  This has been the Father's purpose from the beginning of time and it remains His unchanging goal at the end of the age (See Gen 1:26-27 and Rom 8:28-29)

At the same time, just as an individual can have a unique calling, so congregations can be called to fulfill a variety of subordinate, yet important, priorities.  A congregation may have a strong outreach program to the poor or they may possess a special grace to release spiritual gifts.  A church may have a unique skill to reach youth or a wisdom in strengthening marriages.   There are many legitimate tasks assigned by God to individual congregations. 

The problem is that, too often, we define ourselves by what we do for God rather than what we become to Him. What pleases the Father most is not what proceeds from our hands but what rises from our hearts. He is seeking the revelation of His Son in us.

Thus, over the years, I have learned that there is nothing on earth that so pleases the Father's heart as when Jesus Christ is revealed in us.  It is this singular goal: the focused pursuit of Christlikeness, that is our quest at In Christ's Image Training (ICIT). 

That I May Know Him
Our mission statement at ICIT is to bring as many people to heaven as we can, in as Christlike condition as possible.  When we refer to becoming Christlike, we mean becoming people who think, pray and act out of love; Christians who are humble and committed to true spiritual unity with other churches; disciples who are known for their love for one another. 

This is why we focus on revealing Christ Himself instead of being caught up perfecting peripheral or subordinate doctrines.   Other aspects of Christianity develop correctly only as they are built upon the foundation of Christlikeness.  No aspect of our spirituality was created to exist apart from Christ. 

In pursuing Christlikeness we find true balance and spiritual assurance that we are not being led astray.  Indeed, Paul said that the result of seeking the full stature of Christ, is that "we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming" (Eph 4:14).

Paul warned that people can be "carried about by every wind of doctrine."   Yes, false doctrines are dangerous, but Paul wasn"t limiting his warning only to false teachings. For even a true doctrine can have a false emphasis and lead us astray.  The pursuit of Christlikeness aligns us with the Father's highest priority for our lives. It secures us upon the path to truth.

Paul also wrote that intimacy with Jesus Christ was the deepest cry of his heart.  He wrote, "that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death" (Phil 3:10).  Yet, he was not speaking of some esoteric knowledge of Christ, but an intimacy that lead to conformity.  Do you see this? He wrote, "that I may know Him...being conformed."  Knowing Christ and being conformed to Him is of the same essence.

Our quest at ICIT is to see hundreds of thousands of Christlike Christians planted in every nation of the world.  If radical Muslims will lay their lives down in murder and hatred of their enemies, how much more must we, as followers of the Lamb, lay our lives down in love to secure salvation for our enemies.

A Time of Training
Are you one whom God has chosen to reveal Jesus? Is your passion to reveal the Son of God?  Do you have an inner desire to deepen your spirituality?  Then consider registering for In Christ's Image Online Training.  The first level lasts six months and provides intense, focused attention on conformity to Christ that will deepen your spiritual walk with God.

Visit www.icitc.org for more information on the In Christ's Image Training program.

The Grinch That Stole Christians

By Francis Frangipane

Can we have a little family talk?  For most of you, this won't apply, but the devil has some of us bound, where we are focused on issues that are not the real issue.  What do I mean?  A few Christians have been taught that, according to Jeremiah 10:4, God is against the use of Christmas trees.  The text reads, "They decorate it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers so that it will not totter."  Superimpose the image of our silver and gold Christmas decorations and we have a "revelation" that God hates Christmas (or at least Christmas trees). 

However, if you read the entire chapter, it isn't talking about Christmas, but idols and people who worship them.  So, if you are sitting at home reading this and it's prior to December 25th, you can get a Christmas tree.  It's okay as long as you don't worship it.  In fact, if you're reading this and it's past December 25th, that might even be better -- Christmas trees and decorations are very inexpensive after Christmas.   

Been There . . .
Please don't misunderstand me or think that I'm condemning anyone for their faith about this.  I'm writing as one who, for ten years, didn't allow my family to celebrate Christmas. I, too, had been taught this interpretation of Jeremiah 10:4.  I thought I was suffering persecution for my faith when relatives or friends criticized our colorless, joyless, loveless viewpoint about Christmas.  Their criticisms actually hardened my heart and made my "faith stand" more firm.

Avoiding Christmas wasn't easy.  We had five children and a foster child.  Each December the children had to listen as I explained theologically why the Christmas tree was evil and not celebrating Jesus' birthday was good.  Finally, with childlike innocense and purity, my oldest daughter, who was nine at the time, asked why gift giving was evil if we were also honoring Jesus. 

Suddenly, my heart melted.  I saw how religiously unloving this doctrine had made me.  We weren't being persecuted for our faith, but for my stubbornness and lack of love.  I deserved to be criticized.  So, I asked my family to forgive me and we decided to have our first Christmas.

We were quite poor at the time and couldn't afford a tree.  However, there was an evergreen growing in the ditch along the road by our farmhouse that I cut down and dragged into the living room. It was an ugly tree with the kind of needles that fall quickly.  But we had love and we celebrated the Incarnation of Jesus as a family. 

Saturnalia
Perhaps the worse thing about not celebrating Christmas is the isolation; it cuts us off from a multitude of people whom we could reach during this season.  People, in general, are more open to Christ.  If I go into a mall for any reason in December, I love listening to songs about Christ's birth.  Yes, I know "Frosty the Snowman" and "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" will probably be playing also.  So what?  It won't stop me from rejoicing when I hear, "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!" or "Joy to the World."  In my spirit, I agree with the songs. 

Sometimes I actually sing along out loud.  They are awesome songs.  Other times I quietly pray for the Holy Spirit to fall on people as they listen to music that was inspired by people who sought the heart of God.  Why be upset with that?  Why not praise God?  Why be so focused on what's wrong that we fail to celebrate what's right?  We can be miserable, complaining, joyless, critical, loveless people sometimes, and then we wonder why God doesn't lead people to us. 

Christ's Great Commission commanded us to "Go!" to where people are, not wait until they come to us.  Paul said, "To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it" (1 Cor 9:20-23).

You see, the law or principle we follow is the law of love.  Jesus said, "But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you" (Lk 11:41).   Love sanctifies and redeems what it touches.  Because of love, Paul was able to "become all things to all men."  I have no doubt Paul would be at every Christmas gathering he was invited to, using it as an opportunity to win people to Christ.

And before you wonder how deep I was into this anti-Christmas mentality, yes, I knew the history of Saturnalia, and how in the third century the early church combined the celebration of the winter solstice (a pagan holiday time) with the celebration of Jesus' birth.  Yet, I also know that the winter solstice happens to be that time of the year when daylight begins to increase, so it is not inappropriate to celebrate Christ's birth at this time. 

I also understand that some may teach Jesus was probably born in October or April, depending on which basis of research one relies upon.  But what difference does it really make?  Hundreds of millions of people believe the Jesus was born on December 25th, and multitudes reflect on the mystery of the Incarnation at some time during this season.  So why be uptight about the date, especially when arguing about it alienates you from the very people Christ calls you to love?  Why get hung up on when the Incarnation occurred when we can experience the reality of the Incarnation right now and bring Him into people's hearts?  

Finally
We, the Frangipane family, celebrate Christmas.  We have a tree and ornaments.  We are pretty low key about its size.  Some years we buy a smaller, living evergreen and then replant it in the yard in the spring.  But, we are not focused on peripheral issues; we are focused on Christ and celebrating Him with others during this time. 

One more thing:  The best way to win people to Christ is to simply enjoy them.  Picture Jesus laughing, telling stories, enjoying people as He reached to them.  Let's reveal Him, not the Grinch, this holiday season.  

Prophet, Priest and King

By Francis Frangipane

The Anointing
We refer to our Lord as Jesus Christ, but His name, simply, was Jesus (or Yeshua in Hebrew).  The term Christ comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew word for "Messiah," which meant "the Anointed One."  Thus, it would be perfectly accurate to call our Savior, "Jesus, the Anointed One."

But where does the phrase "Anointed One" come from and how does it apply to the Lord?  While anyone could anoint and refresh their head with oil (or anoint the dying for burial), only a special blend of spices and oils was used as "holy anointing oil," and then only in sacred ceremonies (see Ex 30:22-31).  It was copiously poured upon the consecrated individual, perhaps a liter or more flowing down upon his head, beard and garments (Ps. 133).  It was an obvious outpouring of oil, not merely a dab on the forehead as might accompany our use of anointing oil today.  It was done with solemn prayer and reverence, for it was through this ritual of anointing that Israel's prophets, priests and kings were identified and then dedicated to God.  

The act of anointing a chosen leader with oil was a ritual pregnant with the hope of divine fulfillment.  Indeed, it was a foreshadowing of the ultimate prophet, priest and king to be unveiled in the ministry of the Messiah.  His anointing would not be with oil, but with the reality the oil symbolized:  the "Holy Spirit and . . . power" (Acts 10:38; see Luke 4). 

The Priest and Prophet
Throughout the Old Testament, only prophets, priests and kings received the rite of holy anointing.  Likewise, for all the diversity we see in Jesus' ministry, everything He accomplished was rooted in the soil of His prophetic, priestly and kingly roles. 

Now, it is vital we understand the anointing upon God's Son, for in seeing Him we peer into the destiny of the church. For the ascendant ministry of Jesus, the Anointed One, continues, even as the Holy Spirit transfers the fullness of Christ, as He is in heaven, into His people on earth.  In other words, all that the Messiah was as prophet, priest and king is still alive and is still being released into our world through His true church.  "For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace" (Jn 1:16).  This means God desires that His church - the body of the Anointed One -  would manifest in the earth in three distinct, yet interconnected, ministries: that of Christ the prophet, priest and king. 

The priestly ministry of the Lord is one of intercession and redemptive sacrifice.  The Messiah, as our great "High Priest" (Heb 3:1), rendered Himself as our "guilt offering" (Isa 53:10); He is the "Lamb standing, as if slain" before the throne of God (Rev 5:6). Yet, because we are created in His image, we also carry His priestly role of intercession.  We become His living house, which is "a house of prayer."  He calls us to be a "kingdom [of] priests" and a "royal priesthood" (Rev 1:6; I Pet 2:9). 

As priests, we offer the sacrifice of His Son's death, both for our sins and also for the world around us.  The Messiah is our great High Priest living in heaven; the church reveals the intercessions of the Anointed One on earth.  It is the same anointing.  The ministry of the priest has been fulfilled by Jesus, and embraced and followed by us. 

Jesus was also God's prophet, and more: He was the Word of God made flesh (Jn 1:14).  The Messiah understood God's word, not merely in its skeletal form of doctrines, but as the union of the Father's living consciousness with Jesus" own thought-life.  Thus, the Messiah viewed life on earth as God would perceive it.  Jesus" prophetic perception x-rayed into the secrets of men's hearts. At the same time, He saw into, and understood, the deep mysteries of God's heart. 

His prophetic nature enabled Him to stand beyond the boundaries of time and pierce the enigma of ages past as well as herald the wonders of times still to come.  Yet, as His priestly ministry is extended to His church, so His prophetic ministry is imparted to us as well.  As it is written, He gave "some as prophets" who, though imperfect, also burn with the flaming sword of God's word (Eph. 4:11; Lk 11:49;1 Cor. 14; Rev 11).    

But Kings?
The church is learning, in varying degrees, how to serve Christ"s priestly and prophetic ministry.  Yet His "kingly" or governmental authority, outside of church proper, has not been accepted by many Christians.  The idea of being granted such authority - of seeking to serve God in positions of political influence - has been deferred either to the Millennium or it has been outright scorned as heretical, 'kingdom now' theology.  Yet, we have never suggested that "the world must be conquered by Christians before Jesus can return," which is "kingdom now" theology.  Nor are we trying to reduce the spiritual reality of the church to a political entity.  Our quest is not to see the church become political, but the political become spiritual, where the integrity, wisdom and justice of Christ Himself manifest in secular leadership. 

For those of us who say Christ's kingly anointing is reserved only for the age to come, let me remind you Christ is king right now and our call is to grow up 'in all aspects' unto Him who is  our head (Eph. 4:15).  Right now, Jesus is seated as king on God's throne; He has received 'all authority . . . in heaven and on earth" (Matt 28:18).  We are specifically told: "As He is, so also are we in this world" (1 John 4:17; see also Eph 1:18-23, Rev 17:14).  These are "present tense" promises, not only Millennial.  We must, therefore, measure the stature of the church by the dimensions of Christ: Is Jesus prophet, priest and king right now in heaven?  Absolutely!  Then it is God's will that He should be revealed as prophet, priest and king on earth through the church.  This is the very thing we ask each time we pray: "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven!" 

All that Christ is in heaven will, in varying measures, be manifested in the true church before Jesus returns.  Will there be a greater fulfillment in the age to come? Of course.  But, dear one, even as He has emerged in the church as priest and prophet, so there must also be some fulfillment of governmental authority in this present age as well. 

You see, what our Father desires to reveal through the church is not about us; it is about the manifest destiny of Jesus His Son.  Just as some of us are called to reveal Christ the intercessor and others are sent by God to manifest the life of Christ the prophet, so the unveiling of Christ's governmental authority shall come forth in chosen leaders at the end of the age.   

Our Goal: National Transformation

People argue, "If God is going to bring revival, He will do it through the church."  Of course He will, but who says that the church cannot raise up men and women of integrity, honor and wisdom and support them in their call to serve God in secular leadership?  Indeed, if Christians are in government, and we live in a nation where the priestly and prophetic role of the church is unfolding, we must recognize the potential for God to use imperfect people to reveal the threefold anointing of Christ.  Where we see Christian political leaders, even those who have made mistakes, let us come alongside them in intercessory prayer and the voice of the prophetic and take faith for God to use them still.

Imagine the heavenly potential that is possible when, instead of dividing because of differences, the church honors the intercessory, prophetic and kingly nature of Christ.  Imagine when these three streams of anointing converge and, in unity, serve God to bring justice, mercy and healing to their cultures! 

We think of revival as something where people flop or hop, cry or run or dance as they experience an ecstatic, emotional release - and all that is fine.  But personal revival is only the first step toward transforming a nation.  We need godly people to serve in elected office.  Indeed, there never was a revival in the Old Testament that did not come through the authority of the secular leader, the king!  

Thus, we must have long-term plans, especially in democracies where officials are elected.  We must recognize and cultivate the "kingly anointing," even when these future leaders are yet children.  Again, when I speak of the kingly anointing, I am speaking of the principle of godly rule.  Elected leaders must know how to govern with justice and pass laws with integrity.  A president or governor cannot think of themself as a king, but he or she must rule with the humility, character and wisdom of Christ (see Lk 22:25-26).

Each of us carries, in a certain measure, the Messiah's anointing as prophet, priest and king within us.  As we mature and deepen in our conformity to Christ, all three unveilings will be manifest through us in varying levels.  But for most, there is a primary call that identifies our main strength. The naturalness we find in intercessory prayer indicates God is using us in the priestly role. The ease in unearthing revelatory truths from the Scriptures and the sense of clarity in discernment are evidences that your call is prophetic.  The passion for justice, for divine order and righteous government indicates emerging in you is the anointing of Christ the king. 

Next week we will continue this theme. For now, let us identify those Christians who are currently serving in government or running for government, and let us pray for the unveiling of Christ in their lives.  They do not need to be perfect, only yielded.  They will make mistakes, but will make fewer errors as the other aspects of the Messiah's anointing come alongside in both prayer and prophetic guidance.

Would you recognize true Christianity? It is identified by one reality: people becoming Christlike in prayer, the prophetic word and in governmental authority (see Eph. 4:15).  Where the true church is growing in maturity, it will be united in the priestly, prophetic and kingly anointing of Christ.

Lord, we pray for all who are in public offices, especially those who call upon Your name. Lord, help us to see the union of the prophetic, priestly and kingly anointings as key to transforming our nations. Rule, O Lord, in the midst of Your enemies. In Jesus' name! Amen.

Overcoming Discouragement

By Francis Frangipane

The Jews had been defeated by Nebuchadnezzar and, because of their long and extended rebellion to God, the Lord allowed them to be exiled to Babylon.  Yet, now their appointed time of judgment had passed; it was time for the Lord's promise to be fulfilled.  Indeed, He had assured them, "After seventy years...I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place" (Jer. 29:10 KJV). 

Initiated by the fasting and prayer of the prophet Daniel, Israel had entered a season of divine visitation: men with both integrity and vision were raised up and financial provisions came.  The display of divine grace had created an atmosphere of awe and excitement among the people of God - He was "causing [them] to return" to Israel!  Yet, how He brought them back was just as miraculous: Israel's God revealed Himself to King Cyrus of Persia, a gentile king, and actually "Appointed [him] to build [the Lord] a house in Jerusalem" (2 Chron. 36:23).  In fact, Cyrus encouraged a national offering for Israel's journey; he restored the treasures taken by Nebuchadnezzar from Israel, and he issued a royal edict, legally authorizing the return of the Jews to Israel. 

It was a time of great miracles, supernatural provision and fulfilled prophecy. Yet even as the exiles resettled in Jerusalem and engaged in the work of restoration, we read:

"Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah, and frightened them from building, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their counsel all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia" (Ezra 4:4-5).

Incredibly, in spite of the miracles, signs and provisions, simple discouragement neutralized their progress. Unbelievably, scholars say that their work stalled for nearly 20 years! Beloved, discouragement is an enemy that is both subtle in its attack and powerful in its ability to stop us.  We must discern it when it comes and refuse to accommodate its influence when it speaks. 

How Discouragement Enters
Every person with a vision from God will have serious opportunities to become discouraged as they reach for the fulfillment of their vision.  Indeed, just as Israel was given a promise from God and provisions to help their return, so the Almighty has given promises and provisions to us. Your vision may be for your personal transformation, or it may be a God-inspired desire to see your family or church brought into spiritual renewal.  You may even possess a citywide vision or a holy passion to see your nation turned toward God.  Yet, like the Jews, we can be just as vulnerable to discouragement and its effects. 

How does discouragement gain access to our souls?  The answer is simple: We start evaluating our lives based upon information compiled by our senses instead of assessing our position based upon the promise and help of God.  However, I don't mean we are unaware of the difficulties of our faith assignment, but that God is good and He is not hindered by our present limitations.

Consider: when God promised Abraham a child in his old age, the Bible says he "contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb."  Abraham didn't deny the facts of life; without growing weak in faith, he "contemplated" his situation.  "Yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God."  He was "fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform" (see Rom. 4:19-21).  Discouragement comes when we only look at our circumstances without looking to the faithfulness and integrity of what God has promised.

Still, discouragement has infiltrated the minds of many.  Knowing mankind's vulnerability to discouragement, Jesus taught His disciples a parable that, "at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart" (Lk 18:1).  The parable concerned a widow desperately seeking legal protection from an adversary, but she received no immediate help from her judge (see Lk 18).  In spite of his resistance, however, she refuses to be discouraged from her quest; she persists until she gains her breakthrough. 

The goal of Christ's teaching was to immunize His followers from discouragement; to "lose heart" is to become discouraged.  Jesus assures us that God will hear us as we turn to Him in persistent prayer.  

True Faith Takes Courage
We also need to know Christ is not just our Savior, but He also is the "author and perfecter" of our faith (Heb 12:2).  In order for faith to mature, it needs situations where faith alone can sustain us. "Faith" is not merely a proper understanding of doctrinal issues; faith is the spiritual "substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen" (Heb 11:1 KJV).  We must not only possess accurate doctrines about faith; we must live by faith as well. 

Indeed, there are times when, for faith to develop, we must trust God in spite of how things appear.  Jesus often told people to take courage, for their faith had saved them (see Mt 9:2; 9:22; etc.).  There will always be times when, against the glaring face of a negative reality, true faith arises, appropriates courage and locks into the integrity of God's promise.  We must let faith arise in the context of resistence.  This is the faith that touches God's heart.  

The enemy comes to dis-courage or remove the courage from our hearts, and thus causes us to withdraw into unbelief.  To win our fight of faith, we must not surrender to discouragement.  Yes, times will come when we will ask God for greater wisdom; certainly, we will adjust our attitudes and become both flexible and wiser as we process the faith assignment destiny has set before us.  But we must not give up: "For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him" (Heb 10:37-38).

Hall of Faith
The above scripture is part of an introduction to Hebrews, chapter 11, which chronicles the heroic stories of those who pleased God with their faith.  All of them had to endure the test of time; often the delays seemed so permanent and the odds against them insurmountable, yet none of these men and women allowed discouragement to dim the brightness of their faith. The persevering quality of their hearts - the fact that they stood in the storms of doubt and circumstances and refused to shrink away from God's promise - filled God's heart with pleasure, and He answered their faith.  

Part of the testimony of those with overcoming faith is that they Aconquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight" (Heb 11:33-34).

I absolutely love this scripture: "they conquered kingdoms...put foreign armies to flight." Beloved, a foreign army with weapons named "perversion," "immorality" and "corruption" has invaded our nation and sought to occupy our culture.  It has eroded the conscience of our society, and it seeks to carry off our sons and daughters into captivity.  We must fight. 

You say, "But Francis, I'm weary."

Yes, there are times when we all get weary.  But we have the help of God with us.  Consider His promise:

Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations...He will not be disheartened or crushed..." (Isaiah 42:1-4).

Christ will be not "disheartened or crushed."  Why?  The Spirit of God "upholds" Him, and the Spirit of God upholds Christ in us as well.  Are you God's servant?  Then turn to Him and find new strength.  You may be wounded or struck, but as we abide in Christ, we too will be neither "disheartened or crushed."

You say, "I live in Florida (or the Southeastern USA or the Caribbean).  I've been discouraged by the destruction from these many storms."  Yet, even in the most difficult times, God is there with you.  Have you noticed the names and sequence of the hurricanes that roared through Florida:  Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne?  The meaning of these names reveals a message: Charley- man, Frances - free, Ivan- God is good, Jeanne - gracious and merciful.  Together, they say, "Man (is) free; God is good, gracious and merciful."  If we look, we will see that, in the midst of these storms, God was good, gracious and merciful to many.  Those who see God standing with them in the storms are free indeed.

A number from the USA were discouraged by the first debate between the presidential candidates. I heard folks lamenting that their candidate "did poorly. He could hardly speak in sentences."  Remember, dear friend, the Lord has used people who were slow of speech in the past (see Ex 3).  The issue is not how clever we are with words, but whether God will back up our stammering with His power. Let us pray for our President, and where he has made mistakes, whether in speech or even in administration of the nation, let us intercede that God will work good out even from mistakes.    

Dear one, there is a spiritual war raging, whether it is over the future of our world or the future of our souls, we cannot shrink back into unbelief.  Let us be strong and of good courage.  Let us seek God and find new strength in prayer. And let us never give in to the voice of discouragement.
____________________

SPECIAL THANKS
Thank you to Marge Schinke and Colleen Dinino for their insights in this message.

From Little Children to Sons

By Francis Frangipane

It is time to stand and pray again.  Another hurricane, Jeanne, is heading toward Florida, which means it may also strike the Bahamas en route. Haiti was devastated by this same hurricane, suffering the loss of over a thousand people with many more still missing.  Now Jeanne has looped back toward Florida with increasing intensity.  And Ivan, which apparently had broken up, has now reemerged as a tropical storm causing flooding in Louisiana and Texas. Meanwhile,  off the West African coast, other hurricanes are developing.

Some of these storms are simply natural weather phenomena.  Yet, I am convinced there is a demonic influence as well.  As one who formerly was a ruling archangel before his fall, Satan obviously has power to manipulate weather patterns.  Paul refers to Satan as the "prince of the power of the air" (Eph 2:2).  And in his attack on Job, he caused "a great wind" to come "across the wilderness" and kill Job's children (Job 1:19). We have biblical evidence that the devil can stir up a storm or at least direct it and destructively use it against God's people.

At the same time, for those who are indwelt by Christ, nothing happens that God does not redeem and use. Thus, all Christians, not only those attending our In Christ's Image Training school, should consider this season as "test time."  The Holy Spirit is requiring God's sons and daughters to stand in Christlike prayer, maturity and authority for Florida, the surrounding states and the Caribbean islands.  God is using these challenges to perfect the faith of His elect.

Remember: at all times and in all conflicts, God's will for the elect is always conformity to Christ.   Even as Satan is serious about destroying people's lives, so God is serious about creating mature, Christlike sons and daughters - individuals who are unintimidated by life's storms - who stand in worship, faith and spiritual authority and overcome them.  I believe this maturing of the church, especially in Florida and the surrounding area, is at the core of what God is doing in the midst of this particular battle.  What we learn during this time will be essential in overcoming the greater conflicts that are drawing near. 

War On Many Fronts
Hurricanes are not our only tests.  The election campaigns in the USA and elsewhere represent a deep clash of cultures.  On the right hand are millions of American Christians standing against the sins of abortion, immorality and homosexuality; in opposition are millions of mostly non-Christians who are pro-abortion, who defend gay marriage and who mock Christian morality.  Short of physical violence, culturally, this conflict in America could not be more intense.

Yet, this is not all we face.  There is the looming possibility of a terror attack in the USA.  A recent article states, and I quote:

Senior officials said they "absolutely believe" someone will attempt a terror attack inside the United States within the next four to six weeks. One official described this time "as a very, very serious period."

"I have not seen people in our intelligence communities this nervous since 9/11," one official said, referring to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States that killed almost 3,000 people.

Officials said they believe they "disrupted" at least one major plot by some recent arrests, but fear they may not have "derailed" this plot and possibly two others.

"We will need some luck and the grace of God to prevent this one," one official said, explaining that again they have no specifics as to the exact time and place or clear method. [end quote].
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,133281,00.html

Other reports warn that Islamic terrorists are seeking a level of destruction that exceeds 9/11.  The war in Iraq, whether you believe we should or shouldn't be there, still must be won.  Iraq has become a terrorist magnet.  If we lose Iraq, terrorism will spread out and overtake the world.

The Evil Day
Storms, culture wars, and the threat of terrorism have positioned us with enemies on our right hand and left.  The Bible calls this season "the evil day."  It is time to "take up the full armor of God" and, "having done everything, to stand firm" (Eph 6:13).

Do not fear: our weapons are "divinely powerful" (2 Cor 10:3-4).  Indeed, the Almighty has put His living and powerful word in our mouths, the actual "sword of the [Holy] Spirit" (Eph 6:17).  We have been granted the most powerful reality in the universe: the Spirit-empowered, living word of God. 

It is significant that, synchronized with the timing of these battles, is a forty day season of fasting, prayer and national repentance (http://www.40daysusa.org/home.html).  Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Christians are engaged in seeking God.

Thus, let us pray with confidence and with mountain moving faith. Let us heed the command of our King who saw these days before there was one of them. Seeing the darkness of our world, He has a command for His overcoming church: "Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you" (see Isaiah 60:1-3). 

Let me repeat the word the Holy Spirit gave us in January about this year:  The constrictions experienced at the end of this age are not death throes, but birth pangs; they are not part of what restricts us, but releases us.

We have been spiritual babies too long.  It is time for little children to become sons

Amazing Arab Editorial

Dear Friends,

Recently, we published a message called "The War Mode." In our teaching, we voiced our support for President George W. Bush and his leadership in the war against terrorism. In spite of the raging and distortion of the President's critics, a growing number of people are finally realizing America and its allies are not occupiers, but liberators. We are fighting a just war.

Here is a most amazing and courageous article written by Ahmed Al-Jarallah, the editor-in-chief of the Arab Times in Kuwait. I personally found this article very inspiring.

May God bless and protect Mr. Al-Jarallah for fearlessly speaking the truth.

Francis Frangipane
_______________________________

Man of History
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

WE are with President Bush who has said, "I am the man who makes history." Who, other than President Bush, can launch a war against terrorism? Who else will come to the rescue of people suppressed by dictators? Who else was there to build and develop nations? and above all who made democracy the new international system for all the people in this world?

None of the Middle Eastern countries could face terrorism alone. Some of them went to the extent of making compromises and allying with terrorist organisations. These countries were afraid to kick out terrorists until the United States arrived on the scene, heading a coalition of the willing to root out terrorism. Some people may be sceptical about what the US has achieved. But we know it has not only liberated Afghanistan from Taleban and its ally Osama Bin Laden but also created a modern democratic country with its own police, army and other civil institutions. The United States has also liberated the Iraqi people and created a modern country from the ruins of the former regime. There are some people who still call the war to liberate Iraq as "baseless," citing the failure of Americans to find any weapons of mass destruction (WMD). What they forget is the Americans did find many mass graves where millions had been buried alive. This alone is enough to prove Saddam's regime was more lethal than any WMD man has known.

Quite recently the US forces have cleansed the holy places in Najaf of the remnants of the former regime and other infiltrators. When we consider all these there is no doubt Bush is a man who creates history. Western countries, which were against Bush in his war on terrorism, are now feeling the painful stings of terrorism. France has two of its citizens kidnapped in Iraq. The kidnappers have threatened to behead the French hostages if France fails to reconsider its law, which bans Muslim women from wearing hijab in schools. Terrorism can be tackled only through war and only the United States, backed by a President who creates history, is capable of handling such a war. We must remember Islam has nothing to do with terrorism. Terrorists exploit the religion to achieve their objective, which is to destroy civilisation, kill people, start wars and plunge the world into darkness. We saw how these terrorists kidnapped and killed innocent people under the cloak of religion only to forget all about their cause in exchange for a fistful of dollars.

The entire world is aware of the cause and effect of terrorism. The killing and beheading of some innocent people won't prevent the United States or its allies from confronting terrorism. Americans are convinced of the need to fight this menace and no country is better equipped to do this job except the United States, which has the mightiest armed forces history has ever known. President Bush has the right to say "I am the man who makes history" because he is fighting aggression against modern civilisation. He is creating countries which enjoy democracy, peace, stability and security. These countries are now able to be a part of the international community sharing their traditions and culture with the rest of the humanity. Bush is the President of not only the United States but the whole world for he is making history on this small planet.

The Love Motivated War Mode

By Francis Frangipane

If we will succeed in these difficult days, it will be, in part, because we have renounced the seductive limitations that accompany a peace-time mentality.  Indeed, we must embrace an aspect of spirituality that is unfamiliar to many Christians - one that is both militant and vigilant toward evil.  We must appropriate "the war mode" aspect of the mind of Christ.

Over the last few months the Holy Spirit has been calling the church to rise in intercessory prayer and in the exercise of spiritual authority.  With holy urgency in my heart, I say we do not have time to languish in self-pity about life's injustices.  In a time of war, we must not be distracted by little inconveniences.  We must possess a war mentality.

The good news is that hell would not be in such a frenzy if heaven was not advancing. God is working to bring revival and spiritual awakening to our nations.  Thus, while I am concerned about the advance of evil, I am encouraged that evil is being met with resistance by many among the people of God.  The enemies' multifaceted attack will be repulsed, and even reversed, provided we stand and fight.  

My immediate appeal is for us to war in prayer with passion and confidence.  Remember, as the church of Jesus Christ, we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and the world rulers of darkness (see Eph. 6).  These ruling spirits hold influence over every nation and culture on earth; on a worldwide scale, we must all be involved.  Yet, whatever efforts we make in the natural realm, our focus and victory originate from the spiritual realm: things visible come from things invisible (see Heb 11:3).  So we must war in prayer using the word of God as our primary weapon and the blood of Christ as our primary defense. 

A True Peacemaker
The argument arises, "I am a peacemaker like Jesus.  The Lord hasn't called me to war."   I, too,  am a peacemaker.  At the core of my quest for Christlikeness is the ministry of reconciliation and peacemaking.  Indeed, "the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (Jam 3:18).  Thus, toward people, we must never forget that our message is the Gospel of Peace.  At the same time, it is the "God of peace" who has chosen to crush Satan beneath our feet (Rom. 16:20).  There is a militant side of true peace, where our peace comes because we have confronted, battled and overcome our spiritual enemies. 

The problem is too many Christians have confused peace with passivity. They have a hollow "peace," for their lives are prayerless and they live in perpetual compromise with heaven's enemies.  This is not peace; it is bondage.  Jesus was the quintessential peacemaker, yet He boldly confronted the advance of evil, and He did so with unbending righteousness and unsheathed spiritual authority.  Christ terrified the demonic realm.  At His approach, evil spirits howled in trembling dread: "Have You come to torment us before the time?"  Jesus was operating in the war mode and they knew it. 

The Lord confronted the demonic realm and commissioned His disciples to do the same (see Matt 10:1; Mk 3:14-15; 6:13; Mk 16:17;Lk 9:1; 10:17-19).  The disciples were trained to function in the war mode: they learned discernment, understood authority and usually engaged in the fight of deliverance with perseverance.  Not only did Jesus exercise authority over every demonic hierarchal strata up to Satan himself, but He told the disciples that the works He did, including those of spiritual warfare, they would also do (Jn 14:12).  He specifically gave His disciples authority "over all the power of the enemy."  He then assured them that "nothing [would] injure" them (see Luke 10:19).  Of course, He trained them to walk in purity and built into their souls certain fundamental safeguards.  Yet, after preparing and commissioning them with His authority, He ministered faith, not fear to His disciples. 

When I read the scriptures, it is plain to me that Jesus was always operating in a mode of spiritual aggression toward the powers of hell.  He was perfectly God-focused, but His radar was continually sensing the enemies advance into His world.  When Peter sought to dissuade Jesus from accepting the cross, Jesus discerned in Peter's words the voice of Satan.  Speaking directly to the spirit manipulating Peter, Jesus rebuked the prince of devils, driving him from the thought-life of the apostle.  When Jesus sent out the seventy disciples, they went forth in a war mode.  When they returned from their mission, they marveled that even demons were subject to them in Christ's name (Lk 10:17-20). Jesus commanded His disciples follow Him into heaven's battles.

I know we picture Jesus eternally kind and unfathomably gentle, and such He was with the victims of life's injustices.  (His compassion was also an act of war against evil).  Yet, the one who wrote that God is love and whose ear listened to Christ's very heartbeat, also said the Son of God came "that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1 Jn 3:8). 

Do we see this about Christ?   Jesus not only came to restore and redeem, He also came to "destroy the works of the devil."  As a follower of Christ, have you destroyed anything evil lately?  Have you toppled any demonic strongholds this week?  Have you rescued anyone imprisoned in sin or fear or demonic captivity recently? Evil can be destroyed in a hundred different ways, not merely in a "deliverance" session.  The sad truth is, historically, too many of us have neither a plan nor a prayer to truly see evil destroyed. 

You see, we need an "attitude" toward evil.  Imagine if, in addition to fulfilling our other spiritual disciplines and virtues, every Christian began to truly pray with the authority of Jesus Christ.  Without exaggerating the role of the devil, consider the heavenly impact praying Christians would have if we all renounced passivity, unbelief and fear.  Remember, Paul said the weapons of our warfare were mighty.  Imagine if we actually used them! 

Love Motivated Warfare
Jesus knew this world was a realm under satanic siege.  Planet Earth was not a place of peace, but a realm at war.  From the casting out of Lucifer and his angels from heaven, to the temptation in the Garden of Eden, to Babylon and the multiplication of nations under satanic influence, planet Earth has been an embattled world.  The idea that somehow our era is less threatened by evil is the height of deception.  We must fight if we will follow Christ into victory.   

No matter how beautiful the world around us seems, remember there was a serpent lurking in Paradise itself.   If Adam and Eve had possessed a war mode mentality, they never would have casually accepted the lies of Lucifer.  Likewise today, we need to be wise and walk carefully for "the days are evil" (Eph 5:16).  You see, Jesus was always aware that He lived in a war zone.  No matter what He was doing - whether He was laughing with sinners or driving out demons, whether He was healing the sick or training followers - beneath the surface of His outer activities, the "war mode switch" in Jesus" mind was always "on."

Perhaps a few women among us might argue, "This warfare stuff is a macho thing. I'm just a housewife, a mom. I don't have a war mode."  If your child was seriously sick, wouldn't you fight that illness with everything at your disposal? You would fast and pray, and do so from your war mode.  If your marriage was under spiritual attack, wouldn't you get before God and war with fervency?  The fact is, you know how to fight.  Ask your husband if he thinks you have a war mode. You just need something to wake it up, because once you begin to shift into the war gear, in the Holy Spirit you are dangerous!

You see, the war mode is in us all. It may be attached to our instinct for survival, but it is more directly connected with our love for people.  I love my nation so I am warring in prayer on its behalf.  Because of love for my family, I war in prayer on their behalf.  I love my church, my city and, yes, even my own soul, so I war to protect what I love. 

If there is a natural fight instinct, there is a spiritual fight mode as well.  It just needs to be awakened, submitted to Christ, and then unleashed against the enemy.  If you have a love mode, you also have a war mode.  God has created the war mode so we can protect the people we love.

The Bronze Bow

By Francis Frangipane

A number of years ago, during a time of spiritual weariness and uphill battle, the Holy Spirit gave me a unique anointing to wage warfare.  This special endowment of grace came through a dream, which began with me lying down in a house, resting.  Suddenly, members of our church entered the home and told me that our enemies were returning and I was needed to engage this demonic horde in battle.  I remember lamenting, "Why am I always picked to do battle?"  Tired and weary, I stepped outside.  On top of a distant ridge, sitting on horses, I could see rows of enemy warriors.  Someone near handed me a bow and arrows, but my aim wavered and, due to the distance, my arrows all fell short.  The depression upon me deepened as I could hear the mockery of the enemy warriors, scorning my attempt to hurt them.

Then, suddenly, the heavens opened and an outstretched arm handed me a shining, gold colored bow.  Immediately, as I grasped it, the word of the Lord, as it might have come to David himself, rose within me and I proclaimed, "By my God I can bend a bow of bronze!" (Psalms 18:34 NAS).  Instantly, divine energy flooded my arms, while confidence and courage filled my spirit.  I was as radiant and strong as my weapon. I nocked an arrow onto the bowstring, aimed and fired toward the enemy.  This time my arrows had distance, penetration and accuracy, and the enemy was routed.

That was the dream.  But the Holy Spirit was set on confirming His word to me.  Early the next morning, Saturday, I drove to the church to do some work.  At that time, our mail came to a post office box and we rarely received personal letters at the church building.  However, a letter was waiting in the mailbox.  It was sent by a visitor who, after attending our evening service the previous week, felt compelled to send a prophetic witness.  After a few words of greetings and encouragement, she wrote that the Lord gave her the following Scripture for me: 

"For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God, the God who girds me with strength, and makes my way blameless?  He makes my feet like hinds' feet, and sets me upon my high places. He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze" (Ps 18:31-34).

Again, but this time fully awake, I felt the anointing of God's strength pour, like oil, upon my head and down through my body.  There were other confirming witnesses as well, such as the preacher who visited our church that night. Quoting Elisha's word to King Joash, he spoke on "the Lord's arrow of victory" (2 Ki 13:17).

It was one of those God weekends that launched a new level of spiritual warfare.  From that time on, the Holy Spirit began to reveal the works of the Jezebel spirit and the accuser of the brethren. I could discern many other spirits as well, as the Holy Spirit gave me grace.  I don't mean to say that I never failed again.  No, I had failings.  However, I gained an anointing in revelation discernment. I also found a new confidence in spiritual authority over the demonic realm.  But the key was, the Holy Spirit anointed me for battle.  He "trained my hands" and gave me supernatural weapons with which to wage war.  Beforehand, I could give you a fairly accurate theological explanation to define spiritual warfare; afterward, I had an anointing to wage warfare. 

Within the next 24 months I wrote my second book, The Three Battlegrounds, which was a compilation of truths the Lord revealed about warfare and discernment. 

He Trains Our Hands  
In the above verse from Psalm 18, David reveals stages of spiritual development concerning war.  We must fight in the strength of the Lord; we must also allow God to make our way blameless.  We must not  run ahead of God; rather, as the rear feet of the deer step into the exact place of the front feet, so we must learn to place our feet in the exact steps of the Lord, especially when He sets us "upon . . . high places."  In that context, the Lord trains our hands for battle and gives us supernatural weapons against the enemy. 

Indeed, one of the main sources of weariness in the church is that people do not know how to discern and then defeat their enemies.  Instead of praying for victory, we settle for temporary relief.  We pray that God will make the devil leave us alone, when the Lord is telling us to pursue our enemies and scatter them like dust.  I fully believe in prayer and that we should be devoted to prayer, but there are other times when God commands us to turn and, in the name of Jesus Christ, take authority over the devil.

God calls us to be prayer warriors, not prayer worriers.  One of the main reasons we began our online school, In Christ's Image Training (ICIT), is to impart this very anointing for warfare to others.  Just as the Spirit of God trains, then anoints with power and appropriate spiritual gifts, so ICIT has been raised up, in part, to train the church and empower God's people to stand in the day of battle.   Exercising spiritual authority over the enemy (and sickness as well) is part of the arsenal given us by the Almighty.  The devil would like to take this world and spin it completely out of orbit, thrusting it into terrible darkness and chaos; we must resist him and use our authority to bind and cancel the demonic advances of the enemy into our world.  

The Holy Spirit is our bow and our prayers are God's arrows.  But we must pray with vision, courage and confidence, and with equal confidence take authority when the Lord calls us to stand against the enemy. The sad fact is, many Christians have been so conditioned by defeat they are fearful to exercise spiritual authority.   They look at people moving in anointed spiritual authority over the devil as though there were something sinful or doctrinally wrong with Christians moving in Christ's authority.  

Having confidence is not a sin.
Exercising your faith is not presumption.
Standing on God's promise when others flee is not foolish.


You might argue, "God hasn't called me to face principalities and powers."  Fine, but I'm not talking about challenging world rulers of darkness.  How about confronting that little demon of lust that keeps you shamed and condemned?  Let's not start attacking the devil himself, just that spirit of fear that keeps whispering unbelieving thoughts into your mind. You see, for God's kingdom to advance, we must not only pray, but move in the authority of the King.   

"Your arrows are sharp; the peoples fall under you; your arrows are in the heart of the King's enemies" (Ps 45:5).

God has given us sharp arrows that, under the Spirit's anointing, plunge deep into the heart of the Lord's spiritual enemies.  You say, "But I have failed. I've suffered some very serious setbacks."  So you lost a round or two.  Is the whole fight over?  Is that a white flag I see in your hand? Have you conceded? 

Another responds, "I don"t feel comfortable confronting evil. I just want to hide in God as His worshiper."   No one is saying don't hide.  No one is urging you to run into the night and throw hatchets at the moon.  But if you are being harassed even after you tried to hide in God, maybe the Lord Himself is bumping you out of the nest to turn and face your spiritual foes. 

Sure the Lord can squish the devil, and can do so in a heartbeat.  But perhaps it pleases Him more to "crush Satan under your feet" (Rom. 16:20).

I'm not saying, let's all focus on the devil, but let's focus on the anointing God has given us to stand against the schemes of the wicked one.  Let's reintegrate divine authority into our prayer and spiritual warfare, taking up the "full armor of God," which includes the most power weapon in the universe: "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6).  You see, the weapons of our warfare are mighty to the tearing down of Satan's strongholds!

If you are in need of a fresh anointing, let me present two important coming events.   First, our In Christ's Image Training online school begins soon. If you have been considering this, stop procrastinating and get onboard.  The foundations we present are unique spiritual realities, each of which the Lord has provided us before we can persevere against the enemy.  (Remember: before David picked up his bow of bronze, he secured himself in the Lord.  God became his stronghold, his refuge and high tower.)   The 44 teaching text messages we present in Level I (plus 39 audio messages) are those principle truths that have enabled me to stand against the demonic storms of life, and even advance and take ground from the enemy.  All I can say is the things we present are effective and have come from an anointing from God to help equip His people.  At the core of Level I training are four foundational values:  pursuit of Christlikeness, humility, prayer and unity. 

The second upcoming event is our on-site training which takes place in July at River of Life in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  This three-day seminar is restricted to our students.  If you are a student of In Christ's Image Training, I am compelled to tell you that the Lord is planning to release a significant level of anointing during these days.  These will be significant times of training and release, and I urge you to do all that is within your power to attend or at least purchase the audio series afterward. 

No one will be refused registration to either event due to lack of funds.  This is not about making money, but equipping God's people to stand in the day of battle.

Let's pray:
Lord, You have not only called us to war for ourselves and our loved ones, but You have given us weapons that are mighty.  Father, for everyone who has become spiritually timid or actually intimidated by the enemy, I bring them before You right now.  I ask that You stir them from their fears and anoint them for this day of battle.  Grant us all grace, blessed King, to bend a bow of bronze.  In Jesus' name. Amen.

Please Note:  If you are in need of financial assistance for either our Level I training or our July on-site seminar, please contact our school administrator at training@inchristsimage.org.

Visit our website for more information about In Christ's Image Training:  www.icitc.org.

Seeing Him Who is Unseen

 By Francis Frangipane

The Lord asked Elijah, "What are you doing here?"

And he said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, torn down Thine altars and killed Thy prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away." 1 Kings 19:10

It can be a crushing experience to give your very best and still fall short. Elijah had been discouraged with God's people. Thinking he had failed, he fled Jezebel and begged God to take his life.

The Scripture tells us that "hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Prov. 13:12). Elijah desperately wanted to see the nation awakened in repentance, but he did not understand the role God would have him play. Perhaps Elijah's main mistake was that he was personally shouldering the burden of Israel's revival. Not knowing his own place, he assumed the place of God.

When the heart becomes sick with disappointment and discouragement, it is easy to lose perspective. We must remember, apart from the cooperating work of the Holy Spirit, no man can truly change another person's heart. Much of Elijah's discouragement came from the false expectations he had placed upon himself.

In his dejection, alone and hurting, Elijah withdrew into a cave on Horeb. For us, self-pity can also become a spiritual cave. It can trap us in a dark hole of loneliness and pain. In this place of isolation we fail to hear the encouragement of God; all we really hear is the echo of our own voice magnifying and distorting our problems.

Calling Elijah out of the cave, the Lord told him, "Go forth, and stand on the mountain before the Lord" (v. 11). As Elijah stepped out of the cave's darkness, an awesome event occurred.

The Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.  1 Kings 19:11-12

A New Revelation of God

There are times when the Lord must expand our understanding of His will, actually liberating us from the container of our previous experiences. The Lord was passing by, but He was not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire, all of which were familiar symbols to Elijah. The Lord who caused these mighty manifestations was not in them.

For Elijah, mighty manifestations had been signs of God's approval. But something new was at hand that required a fresh submission to the living God. A new anointing - a "double portion" - was coming! This new work of God would eventually end the reign of Jezebel and destroy Baal worship. The distinguishing characteristic of this new anointing would not only be seen in supernatural manifestations but in greater wisdom and compassion.

As the last of the signs ended, we read, "After the fire a sound of a gentle blowing" (v. 12). This sound was not the voice of God; it was the prelude to God's Presence. Elijah recognized the holy silence and "wrapped his face in his mantle" (v. 13), lest he look upon God.

Perhaps it was near this very site that Moses, 500 years earlier, hid when the Lord passed by. Now it was Elijah's turn. Entering this eternal stillness was the Person of God.

Seeing Him Who is Unseen
Earthquakes, fires and storms - the signs which accompanied Elijah - are the signs of our times as well. But to enter this new level, we must recognize God's nearness when there are no "earthquakes" or "storms" to capture our attention. He demands we enter a more refined relationship with Him - one that is based on His love and whisper of His word, not merely the issues of our times.

Thus, we must learn to hear the voice of Him who rarely speaks audibly and observe the actions of Him who is otherwise invisible. Elijah would gain the courage to endure Jezebel's wrath the same way Moses faced the rage of Pharaoh: "He endured, as seeing Him who is unseen" (Heb. 11:27).

We also endure by seeing Him who is invisible. But, before we can truly discern the Presence of God, we must recognize the gentle blowing that precedes His Presence. What is this spiritual phenomenon? It is the Holy Spirit subduing the activities of earth in preparation for the Lord's approach.

If we are to attain the power needed at the end of this age, we must learn to detect, without great signs, the still small voice of God. He will not fight for our attention; He must be sought. He will not startle us; He must be perceived. It took no special skill to "discern" the earthquake, the fire or the great storm. But to sense the gentle blowing of God, our other activities must cease. In our world of great pressures and continual distractions, the attention of our hearts must rise to the invisible world of God's Spirit. We must learn to "see" Him who is unseen.

A New Beginning
In the quieting of Elijah's heart, the Lord appeared. Again the Almighty asked, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19:13) Elijah repeated his former answer: "I have been very zealous for the Lord . . . and I alone am left; and they seek my life" (v. 14). Restoring Elijah's perspective, the Lord assured him there were 7,000 Israelites who had not bowed to Baal.

A new commission was about to come. The Lord told Elijah to anoint Hazael as king over Syria and Jehu as king over Israel. He also was to train Elisha, who would be his successor (1 Kings 19:15-16). At Horeb, God released a "double portion" of spiritual power. Although God gave the anointing to Elijah, it would be Elisha who would walk in it.

Indeed, under this powerful new anointing, Elijah's successor, Elisha, would do twice as many miracles (2 Kings 2:9-14). More than a prophet of judgment, Elisha's works would actually resemble Christ's. Elisha multiplied bread (2 Kings 4:42-44); he captured an enemy's army with kindness; he established peace between Israel and the bands of Aram (2 Kings 6:14-23); he healed Naaman, a Syrian general (2 Kings 5:1-14); and anointed Jehu to destroy Jezebel and Baal worship in Israel (2 Kings 9-10). He also presided over the closest thing to revival the northern ten tribes would ever experience (2 Kings 10:28, 30).

Elijah did not personally bring national restoration. Yet, he did receive a greater understanding of his place in God. His call was to "go before" and prepare the way for greater things to come. Many of us are destroying ourselves trying to bring revival. Perhaps our call is more to prepare the ground for that which is coming after us.

Elijah was so successful at "preparing the way," his spiritual anointing was apportioned to John the Baptist as a herald to both Christ's first and His second coming (Mal. 4:5-6; Matt. 17:11). Ultimately, God brought Elijah to heaven in a flaming chariot and a whirlwind, which were familiar manifestations to Elijah's heart.

As this age ends, God's promise to us is that, like Elisha, we too shall receive a "double portion" (Isa. 61:7; John 14:12). What can this mean but that the Lord is going to reveal Himself to us in glories we have never known before. But first He must stop our unanointed activities and the striving of our flesh. He must bring us to the end of our strength and the beginning of His. As we cease trying to take God's place, we shall, instead, find our place in Him.

Even though the spirit of Jezebel has been blatantly manifest in our world, its days are numbered. Our task is to be still and know that Christ is God. He shall triumph over all His foes. He will be exalted in all the earth, and to abide in Him is to dwell in the Stronghold of God.

Oh, Master, how easily I fall into dead religious habits and spiritual dullness. Lord, I long to know Your ways, to have eyes that really see and ears that clearly hear. Teach me, Lord Jesus, the intimacies of God. Remove the mystery surrounding Yourself, that I might truly know You.

Forgive me for looking for signs instead of listening for Your voice. Oh, God, how I long to truly know You as Moses did, to abide in Your glory. Restore to Your church the double portion You have promised and guide us into the fullness of Your power. In Jesus' name. Amen.


Adapted from the book by Francis Frangipane. "The Stronghold of God". 

The Converting Power of True Holiness

By Francis Frangipane

One of the most common verses in the New Testament reads, "and great multitudes followed Jesus." The gospel of Matthew alone mentions over twenty distinct instances when vast numbers of people traveled great distances to be with Christ. People saw in Jesus meekness, unlimited power, and perfect love. If we would win souls, people must see in us this same Jesus.

When People Saw Jesus
"And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, 'I feel compassion for the multitude, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat.'" Matthew 15:32

There were two occasions when Jesus fed the multitudes. The first event occurred in a desolate region of the Judean wilderness, and it lasted one day. During the second event, the multitudes had been with Jesus for three days without food on a hillside near the Sea of Galilee.

The impact Christ had upon the local Jewish society was unprecedented! Their entire economy stopped. No one picked over or sold vegetables in the marketplaces, goats were not milked, gardens were left untended, and relatives watching little children did not know when the parents would return! For three days nothing at all was normal.

These local communities left all when they heard Jesus was near. Without forethought, without packing a donkey, without so much as taking extra food or telling those who remained at home when to expect them, four thousand men, plus additional thousands of women and children, spontaneously followed Christ to a "desolate place." Perhaps ten thousand or more people left their villages, but we read of no one complaining that "the service was too long," or "the weather too hot" or "the message was boring." Whatever they lacked in comfort and convenience was overshadowed by the glory of being with Jesus!

How wonderful it must have been to be with Jesus! The first time Christ fed the multitudes, the people were so overwhelmed they conspired together to "take Him by force, to make Him king" (John 6:15).

Such was Jesus. But a problem exists among many of us. People who do not really know God's Son seek to represent Him to others. Instead of testifying of His wonderful works, they testify only of their religion. The unsaved do not see Jesus. They hear about church, they are told sin is wrong, lusts are evil, and drunkenness a terrible shame, but they do not see the wonder of the love of Jesus. Yes, these things are wrong, but people must meet the love of Jesus before they will abandon their love of sin.

Plainly, Jesus called a number of people to silence concerning Himself. There were some whom He told, "See that you tell no one" (Matt. 8:4, also 9:30, 12:16). Others He outright forbade to speak, even though what they spoke was truth (Mark 3:11-12). Still others He warned would be doing great works, yet He neither sent them nor spoke to them, nor did He ever know them (Matt. 7:22-23). Indeed, there were even those of whom He warned whose zeal for converts took them over "sea and land," yet their proselytes became "twice as much a son of hell" as they themselves were (Matt. 23:15).

It is not our goal to discourage any from witnessing, especially when the need is so great in our society. Still, we must realize that what we are routinely - in attitude and deed - is a living testimony that, without our premeditation, is "known and read by all men" (2 Cor. 3:2). A "witness" is not just that which is "said"; it is that which is seen.  If we will draw men to Christ in heaven, they must be eyewitnesses of Christ in us. But, if we have flagrant sin or self-righteousness, our witness is non-effective.

Let Your Light So Shine
Light, in the Scriptures, symbolizes the outraying purity of the Holy God. When our hearts and subsequent actions are pure, the light of God's Presence shines through us into this world. It is with this in mind that Jesus tells us to let our light shine before men in such a way that they see our good works and glorify the Father (Matt. 5:16).

If good works glorify the Father, then bad works bring Him dishonor. Paul tells us that the "name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles" because of the sins of those who fail to represent Him (Rom. 2:24).

King David was a great witness of the Living God to his generation, but when David sinned his witness became a reproach. In the 51st Psalm, David's prayer reveals the right attitudes necessary to truly witness for God. He prayed, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. ...Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will be converted to Thee" (Ps. 51:10-13).

You see, the credibility of our witness is lost when sin rules in our lives. The world has heard too many Christians give testimony to a life they are not living. They cause multitudes of people to think Christianity does not work.

How to Know When to Witness
"But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you...for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence." 1 Peter 3:15

Many Christians are told to witness for Jesus. Again, we would not discourage your witness for Jesus; rather we seek to encourage you to live for Him as well! Let people see Him in you before you testify. There are Christians who publicly sin in the work place: they lose their tempers and do bad work, they are often late or heard complaining about management and job conditions. Yet, they feel compelled to give their testimony. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him (Titus 1:16). A "voice" in their minds compels them to "witness for Jesus." Sometimes that voice is the Holy Spirit, but more often it is not. Undaunted, they are sure it is from heaven, since they feel "guilty" until they witness and feel "good" afterward.

There is one sure way to know if the voice urging you to witness is from God: If the voice speaking to you is the audible voice of someone who has seen your good works and is asking about your way of life, that voice has been inspired by God. When people see Christ in you - in your patience when wronged, your peace in adversity, your forgiveness amidst cruelty - they will ask about your hope.

The Seed of Reproduction is in Your Fruit
If your conversion is genuine, you found a love for Jesus that is, in itself, a witness of His life. Unfortunately, we often seek to lead people into our religion instead of to Christ. How often we seek to convert our family and friends into a particular church structure. People must be led to Jesus, not merely to church.

Let us always remember, Jesus wants to reach people, not drive them away. How does God expect us to do that? First, let us make sure our conversion is real, that we have truly given over our lives to Jesus Christ. Then, determine to bear the spiritual fruit of love and humility in your life.

In the Garden of Eden the Lord placed trees with "seed in the fruit."  Remember, beloved, the seed that has power to reproduce life is in the fruit. If you would like to see the life of Christ reproduced in your loved ones or friends, walk in the fruit of the Spirit. For the power of reproduction is in the seed and the seed is in your fruit. The fruit we must display comes from the Tree of Life, which brings "healing of the nations" (Rev. 22:2). It is not in the tree of knowledge of good and evil - legalistic laws, judging what is wrong in people.

Should you sin or stumble before them, which we all do at times, repent both to God and to those you have sinned against. A sincere repentance to an unsaved person is a sure sign that God is both real and in control of your life!

Parents: do you want your children raised for Christ? Do you want your words to impart eternal life? Walk in the fruit of the Holy Spirit. As your children are nourished by the fruit in your life, the seeds within your fruitfulness will reproduce in your family the same qualities. Would you convert your spouse? Your parents? Your friends? Walk in the fruit of the Spirit, in love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness. Those who know you will find your life very attractive, for through your life they will see the holy life of Jesus.

Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book "Holiness, Truth and the Presence of God".

As Christ's Passion Becomes Ours

By Francis Frangipane
    
What is it about The Passion of the Christ that stirs people so deeply?  After all, it is just a movie, isn't it?  Yet, Mel Gibson's portrait of Christ and His sufferings, for many, has awakened emotions people never knew they had; it resurrects longings many thought were dead.

The power of this movie is that it speaks to the very DNA of our spiritual identity as Christians. It does not matter whether we are Lutherans or Catholics, Baptists or Pentecostals, something fundamental about ourselves is being unearthed from antiquity and restored to our souls.

Let me explain.

There is a reason why societies memorialize those who, through their sacrifice or courage, were instrumental in shaping their cultural identity.  To forget the legacy of one's forefathers is to actually lose some essence of who we are as a unique people. Thus, we honor our founders and heros by creating memorials to them. We erect statues, name airports and cities after them and even have national holidays in remembrance of their sacrifices and accomplishments.

Yet, the power of our memorials goes beyond the tribute they offer to the past; they actually connect us to our heritage.  For what we truly memorialize, we internalize and make a living part of our souls.  Thus, each time a succeeding generation honors a national hero, as they appreciate what made their leaders great, the essence of those values is transferred to them.

As our technology advances, our ability to memorialize has taken modern expressions. For African Americans, the book and movie Roots helped define the uniqueness of the black journey in America.  While the movie touched and taught people in general, for those of African American descent, it went much deeper: for many, it was a summary season that connected them with the genesis of their own souls.  The movie communicated more than information; it brought with it impartation from the generations of Africans who suffered and died in slavery.  It said: Here is the great price our forebears paid. We owe it to them to prosper in this land of our affliction.

Roots was not just a movie; it became a memorial.

The Jewish people also have their unique memorials.  Established in a number of different cities around the world are Holocaust museums, which are memorials to Jewish suffering.  For those of us who are Gentiles, we visit, we are touched and we come away with a better understanding and love for the Jewish people.  Seeing the history of their persecution helps us appreciate the passion Jews have for their homeland, Israel. Yet, the images of mass open graves and ovens, of people standing in lines before gas chambers, penetrate much deeper into the soul of a Jew.  They see the sufferings of the Holocaust generation and it adds something to their soul, a mandate which rises in their hearts: Never again; never forget!

Such is the nature of memorials: they compel us to remember the sacrifice; they command us to never forget.

Yet, strangely, Christians have not had a memorial dedicated to the sufferings of Christ.  Our "Passion plays" and gospel movies are carefully scripted to inspire, but not to offend.  We memorialize His life, but not the passions of His death.  We know theologically of His sufferings, but we have not truly seen them.  In fact, because we know the outcome of the story, even before the scourging and crucifixion scenes are over, our focus shifts ahead to His resurrection. 

But in failing to linger, in refusing to gaze steadfastly upon the sorrow and assimilate its staggering cost, we unconsciously cheapen His sacrifice.  As we detach ourselves from the price, its impact in us is proportionally diminished. 

Just as memorializing the Holocaust continues to serve, even to this day, in defining modern Israel, so The Passion of the Christ brings Christians face-to-face with the cost of our redemption. It cuts us deeply.  We, too, are wounded as we see the degree of His wounding; we also are broken by the depth of His brokenness.  Sobs can be heard in the theater.  Why are we crying? Didn't we know the story? Yes.  We knew the facts, but not the ongoing torture, the abandonment and rejection, the injustice or unspeakable pain. The cost is being transferred to us.

The movie rescues Christ's sacrifice from the realm of cerebral information and secures its power in the holy place of our hearts.  Yes, the movie wounds us, but it also heals us by letting us see the demonstration of Christ's love for us.

Must we have the violent images?  Yes, the unrelenting torture and the merciless cruelty are the backdrop of darkness that contrasts the brightness of Christ's sacrifice for mankind.  To leave them out or minimize the account is to subtract from the totality of His gift. 

The word holocaust, legitimately used by Jews to describe their sufferings in Nazi death camps, means "a sacrificial offering entirely consumed."  It is a biblical term.  Christ's sacrifice was exactly this -- a sacrifice entirely consumed for us.

The critics rage, not merely because they are angry, but because they are afraid. The truth of Christ's love is too powerful to allow back into the mainstream of secular life.  For years a vocal, but small minority has sought to remove all but the memory of God from society, but even the memory of what Christ did for us is powerful enough to transform the world.

For many Christians, The Passion of the Christ is not just another movie; it is a memorial to His suffering for our sins.  In seeing, we remember, and the power of His sacrifice restores our souls.

"Thy Face, Oh Lord, I Shall Seek"

By Francis Frangipane

There are some things in life that cannot be attained cheaply or superficially.  Scores of scriptures call us to something much more consuming and fulfilling than just having a religion about Jesus Christ.  Yet, the challenge is to focus and centralize our efforts to appropriate what Jesus came to give.

He warns, "For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matt 24:37-39).

The biggest battle we each might fight is to stay focused on God long enough to learn how to abide in His presence.   Before we can redeem the world, we must redeem our time.  And we would think that with all the time saving conveniences we have in life, that this would be easy, but it is not.

The real test at the end of the age is: can we live in a place of focused renewal?  Those whom I have known who have fallen into sin, never were taken in suddenly by the enemy. Their failure was always precipitated by an earlier erosion of their focus; their time with God was incrementally replaced with non-spiritual things.  Left without the help of God, Satan's temptation came to a heart vulnerable and without strength to resist. 

"But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into" ( Matt 24:43).

Speaking of the devil, Jesus warned that the "thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy" (Jn 10:10).  Beloved,  the first thing the devil steals is time.  Once we surrender our devotional time with God to non-spiritual things; once this world becomes more important to us than the next, the enemy has easy access to "kill, and destroy" our virtue and spiritual strength.

Again, Jesus taught a parable about a certain man who was having a banquet and "sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, 'Come; for everything is ready now.' But they all alike began to make excuses" (Lk:14:17-18). 

When the Lord calls us to Himself, do we make excuses?  I'm tired.  Hungry. Busy.  Jesus tells us that the reasons for avoiding Him will seem legitimate: "I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused"; "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused"; "I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come" (Lk 14:19-20). 

I know it seems radical, but Jesus' final point is so contrary to the image we have of Him that His next admonition seems almost non-Christian.  Let me also remind you that He wasn't only talking to His apostles or other "higher ups" in His staff; He turned and spoke to the "great  multitudes [which] were going along with Him" (Lk 14:25).

"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple" (LK 14:-26-27).

Here's how His words strike my heart.  To me, He is saying that I must not let any relationship challenge His love and call upon my life.  And, if there is a decision to be made about doing His will, I must always choose Him above everyone else's interests, even my own.  By comparison, every other relationship I have could appear like hate when measured by my love and obedience to Jesus. 

Of course, loving Jesus brings the very best of heaven into all my other relationships; I possess something of Christ's life that brings greater love back to my family and friends, and even my own soul. 

But above all, the choice must be made for Christ.

You say, "This doesn't sound like the Jesus I know; He loves everyone." Yes, but He also knows the battle for our souls will be fierce and that to be successful in our spiritual journey, He must be first.

A Time To Seek God
There are many seasons in life.  Proverbs tells us there is a time for every purpose under heaven.  Beloved, I believe it is time to draw near to God, to prepare our hearts for His presence.  There simply is no substitute for the presence of God.

David was a king. His life was filled with many responsibilities and he was clearly very passionate about many things.  Yet he wrote, "When Thou didst say, 'Seek My face,' my heart said to Thee, 'Thy face, O LORD, I shall seek' " (Ps 27:8).

If the Holy Spirit were to whisper to your heart that He wants more of your time, when the Lord says, "Seek My face," what do you say?  Oh beloved, here is the true battle for your soul.  Your victory is not in getting more counseling, but in your answer to the Lord's call. 

The result of seeking God is that He guides us into an absolutely fearless life (see Psalm 27:1-4).  David says, "For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock" (Ps 27:5).

Today, with so many distractions, what place does the Lord have in your life?  If He called you to deepen your walk, to seek His face, how would you respond?  When He says, "Seek My face," what does your heart say to Him?

Love Never Fails

By Francis Frangipane

Some of you know that I've been away on a semi-sabbatical since late November. It has been an important time.  Admittedly, I initially came focused on getting a book or two written; I had also purposed to finish the structure of our association of churches and ministries.  Both these projects are still "front burner" realities, for which I appreciate your prayers!

However, after we arrived the Lord gave me a simple, yet profound promise.  He said, "But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself" (Ps 4:3).  In the truest sense, the ultimate purpose of this time away is not for me to be dedicated to writing, but to the Lord. I'm understanding a true "Sabbatical" involves a Sabbath unto God.  I am set apart for Him. 

A month ago, after seeking the Lord, He spoke another liberating word.  Just before I fell asleep that night He reminded me that the, "one who fears is not made perfect in love" (1 Jn 4:18). Again, it was a simple word, but it spoke deeply to my heart. 

Ever since I became a Christian, I have desired the perfections of Christ.  While I have had both seasons of advancement and times of just trying to hold my ground, the desire to be fully mature has never left me.  But with this verse, I saw that conformity to Christ cannot be attained merely by applying myself to hours of study and prayer.  There is a dimension of being "made perfect" that cannot be attained apart from fearlessly abandoning myself, weaknesses and all, to the power of God's love. 

He said, "The one who fears is not made perfect in love."  Wherever I see fear, whether it's fear of the future or fear of inadequacy, I am replacing that fear with the knowledge of God's love.  I may not always feel His love, but I am learning to embrace and trust it. 

So, this is a time where the Lord has set me apart for Himself.  Even as I write and work, I am also learning to relax in the embrace of His love.  His promise is that love never fails.