The Christ-Pattern

By Francis Frangipane

We have often taught that the ultimate test of any church is if, over the months and years, the likeness of Christ is being replicated in the people.  Such is the goal of God, and such must be the goal of the church.

Yet, how exactly is a congregation transformed? What stimulates a church to move from merely being outwardly religious to actually becoming inwardly Christlike? In many cases, the exodus from religion to Christlikeness begins as the vision of becoming Christlike grips the heart of a pastor. 

Let me explain. In our competitive world, a pastor must excel in many areas.  He or she must be a good speaker, rightly educated, and also be sensitive to the needs of the lost.  He must be a person of vision, yet realistically practical.  He will often be required to sacrifice time spent with the family for time given to people in the church.  And, he must not complain about working conditions or modest pay.

Of course, most of these pastoral job descriptions are not requirements from God, but they do represent the expectations of man.  The reality is, no individual can satisfy the great variety of preferences that church people typically require of their pastor.  Indeed, the minister who seeks to increase growth in his or her church by striving to please people will soon exhaust himself of energy. 

It has been my experience that, for every pastor who develops a church growth plan, there are scores of ministers who are struggling to stay alive spiritually.  To compound this problem, if a leader is repeatedly the object of people's disapproval, his soul grows increasingly demoralized.   Discouragement will cause vision to fade.  His sense of destiny will quietly degrade from a high calling to showing up at a mostly joyless job. 

Personal Revival
Remember, as pastors, God defines our success by how genuinely Christ is revealed in the lives of our congregations.  This is Christ's stated goal to all who serve as leaders (see Matt. 28:19-20).  Indeed, each leader shall one day give an account to God for how he carried out the Great Commission (Heb. 13:17).

Therefore, pastors, let us proceed with the fear of the Lord.  Yet also let us walk with wisdom: If our pursuit is to lead our congregation into Christ's likeness, let us take care to start with ourselves.  Let us walk in meekness, yet without being ensnared by the fear of man.  For the fear of man manifests like a curse upon our efforts.  There is only one path that unfolds into true blessedness, and that is to set one's heart toward attaining the likeness of Christ. 

When a leader positions himself to lay hold of Christ, it is without question that conflicts will rise against him.  For how shall one become Christlike without the Lord testing the genuineness of one's character.  Yet, as the pastor becomes a person of prayer, as love of God grows pure and humility deepens into peace, those who love Jesus will behold Him in their pastor.  The conflicts, as hard as they may have been, will be but staging for the glory of Christ within him.  People since ancient times have desired "to see Jesus" (John 12:21).  When they behold Him in the character of their pastor, they are beholding God's vision for their church.

A Christlike Church
I am not saying individuals in the church must have fully transformed pastors before they can pursue Christlikeness.  No. The path to Christlikeness can be walked at any time or in any church. But for a congregation to genuinely move toward its highest destiny, at some point the pastor must become a Christ-pattern for the sheep to follow.

If you are an intercessor, pray for your pastor.  Lift up the church leadership and pray that the vision of Christlikeness becomes the fire which compels your leaders.  Pray with grace, not judgment; stand in mercy, not fear.  Be visionary, yet patient.  God will answer your prayers.

The truth is, pastoring is simply a call to become like Jesus, to set an example for the sheep to follow.  Without this quest, a pastorate can actually become a prison of un fulfillment, a job without life. 

Yet, if we continue in our pursuit of Christ's likeness, even persevering through trials, a time will come when the presence of the Son of God will increasingly be revealed in our lives.  If Christ is lifted up in our lives, the living presence of the Lord will draw men to Himself.  And the pastor's quest will become the Christ-pattern that others follow.

The Two Wings

By Francis Frangipane

As American elections close, many Christians have felt discouragement with the outcome.  Yet, let me remind you that, even in what seems like loss, God continues to work all things for good.  Yes, we've been praying for our nation, desiring to see the country return to a moral, God-fearing culture.  Yet, I hope we all know that the kingdom of God is not limited to a political party!

What encourages me is that among those Democrats who won Republican seats, most were either moderate or very conservative in their moral outlook; they were not liberals.  In other words, the Democratic party, which for years seemed to resist any advance toward traditional moral values,  picked conservative Democrats to run against Republican conservatives.  Indeed, in a number of contests, pro-life Democrats ran against pro-life Republicans. 

I personally interpret this as a good sign. The reality is, both political parties realize America has a strong percentage of God-fearing people whose views and convictions cannot be ignored. Today, both parties recognize the increasing influence people of faith have to determine our nation's future.

America in the Bible
"The two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent" (Revelation 12:14).

For many years this verse has served to help define my vision for America. I wouldn't call my view an unbendable doctrine, but more a faith-text: a revelatory adaptation that adds to my already God-inspired motive to pray for the USA. 

In the above text, two symbols need explaining: The woman and the eagle.  Who is the woman? According to verse 17, she "and her children" hold "the testimony of Jesus."  Thus, her confession of Jesus reveals that the woman is a symbol of the church.  But what does the eagle represent?  It is quite possible that this text points to the eternal destiny of God for the USA, whose national symbol is, in fact, the "great eagle."   

Consider also that at the core of America's self-identity is its role as a place of refuge for persecuted peoples.  We have not always lived up to our standards here in the States, but our ideal remains true.  In many ways, America was actually founded by people fleeing persecution.  Thus, it is not unreasonable that America will again offer protection to persecuted Christians and peoples in the last hours of this age.

Would such action be inconsistent with the historic vision of America?  Not in the least.  Consider the Stature of Liberty and its famous poem, The New Collossus, written by Emma Lazarus (a Jewish American poet/author). 

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"


The Statue of Liberty, here called the "Mother of Exiles," welcomed the world's persecuted.  This is not a political issue, but something deeply embedded into the DNA of the American psyche. John says "the two wings of the great eagle" were given to the woman: the right wing (Republicans) and the left wing (Democrats)

Thus, I welcome the increase of godly leaders into the left wing of the great eagle. May the Spirit of God increasingly be represented in every level of government!  I am also thankful that thirty Jewish politicians were elected (an all-time high).

Yes, some things might have gone better in certain elections and trends, but we must never doubt God's plan nor His ability to work all things for good.  Let us keep the vision of a holy nation, cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. Let us believe our nation can be made pure by the fires of revival, fanned by the presence of a holy God.

Regardless of which side of the political divide you fall, let us pray that both wings of the great eagle shall be lifted to the service of God.

Authority Over the Nations

By Francis Frangipane       

Mediation:
"Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot, and they went out to meet Jehu and found him in the property of Naboth the Jezreelite. When Joram saw Jehu, he said, 'Is it peace, Jehu?' And he answered, 'What peace, so long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?'" (2 Kings 9:21-22).

There is a war going on. It involves the future of our nation.  In this war, even Christian leaders are occasionally isolated, deceived, and then trapped by the enemy in sin.  I know some may be weary of hearing about the spirit of Jezebel; they just want peace.  But what peace can there be in our land so long as the harlotries of Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?

When I warn of Jezebel, I am not saying beware of the rebellious women at church (rebellion is a gender inclusive sin!).  No, I am speaking of a spirit whose influence is far more expansive and its power far greater.  Whether its access to our culture is through the entertainment industry, the Internet or is manifested more subtly through subconscious modification of our cultural mores and standards, its influence is pervasive.

For those who desire to walk godly, the Jezebel attack comes on two main fronts, sexual and witchcraft.  These powers work together to increase vulnerability and ultimate defeat.  I know too many men and women who yielded just a little only to increasingly find themselves captured in the worst of sins.

"With her many persuasions she entices . . . with her flattering lips she seduces . . . her feet go down to death, her steps take hold of Sheol" (Proverbs 7:21, 5:5).

How can we have peace when Jezebel is legally protected in our nation? 

"She is now in the streets, now in the squares, and lurks by every corner" (Proverbs 7:12). 

Our public schools have become like the very gates of hell.  We need a national revival of righteousness!  And, as we fight the good fight, we must never drop the cross Christ calls us to daily carry, denying self the momentary pleasures of sin.   

Solomon discerned this spirit. He exposed its methodologies and wrote warnings that actually became Scripture!  Yet, just having a doctrine about Jezebel isn't enough.  Indeed, Solomon, while knowing the truth, still fell to the seductions of this spirit.  What drives a man to have "seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines."  These were ungodly women who "turned away his heart [from God]" (1 Kings 11:3).  Seven hundred wives! Solomon was so totally overwhelmed by the unquenchable seductions of Jezebel.  His life was given to "acts of immorality."  They brought him into a relationship with false gods, where he bowed "to idols" - the very evidences Jesus ascribes to the spirit of Jezebel (Revelation 2:20)!   

Beloved, it is not enough to know about this spirit; we must war against it.

The Real Issue:
Yet, the goal of Jezebel is not merely to manipulate our flesh nor swamp the human soul with shame.  The ultimate aim of Jezebel is to disarm the church of its spiritual authority.  It uses lust and condemnation to reduce the voice of Christ's disciples to a whimper when it should be a war cry. Remember, Jesus gave His disciples authority "over all the power of the enemy" (Luke 10:19).  Therefore, to defeat Jezebel we not only need to repent, we must submit to Christ and use His authority in our prayer life. 

One might argue, "I don't have authority to pray against this spirit."  Who convinced you of this lie?  What good is your position in Christ ("far above all principality and power" Ephesians 2:21 NKJV) if you do not use the authority of your positioning?  You see, for Jezebel to function she must gain access to this realm by canceling the effect of authority.  Remember, Jezebel was married to king Ahab, a man who had kingly position, but lost his authority to Jezebel.  Remember also Christ's warning to the church in Thyatira.  Instead of dealing directly with the Jezebel influence in church, they had come to "tolerate the woman Jezebel" (Revelation 2:20).   

Christ has given us "authority over all the power of the enemy," but we must use His authority. He assures us "nothing shall injury you" (Luke 10:19), but we must not yield to fear.  We are new covenant people who have been sent by Jesus with His authority.  

Be assured, many have overcome Jezebel's influence, and the promise to them is significant: "authority over the nations" (Revelation 2:26).  You say, "This promise will occur after Jesus returns."  Yes, but many of God's promises have a partial fulfillment in this age.  Many godly individuals, in times past, were truly able to exercise authority over their nation.  Luther influenced Germany. Wesley moved England toward God.  We can walk in the "powers of the age to come" now (Hebrews 6:5).

Therefore, let us confront and renounce the influence of Jezebel.  Submit to God in the specific areas of personal purity.  Make yourself accountable to others concerning the Internet, movies and relationships with others of the opposite gender.  Finally, when you pray for America, ask God to forgive this land of the influence of Jezebel and her "many harlotries and witchcrafts." We each can walk in purity and holiness, even in the 21st century. 

Use your authority to overcome Jezebel and God will give you authority over the nations.

Prayer:
Lord, I submit my heart to You.  I ask that You cleanse me of tolerance, of compromise and fear.  You have given me authority over all the power of the enemy. You said no weapon formed against me will prosper.  You said he who overcomes shall inherit Your promises.  Lord, make me as Jehu of old.  Empower me to overcome the spirit of Jezebel. 

For All in Authority

By Francis Frangipane

"First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

There are many obvious reasons to pray for people in positions of authority. At the core of authority is the ability to influence. Anyone with influence has authority and anyone with authority has influence. Governmental authority can influence entire cultures, and beyond. The Old Testament reveals that when a king turned to the Lord, the entire nation was influenced toward God. This was true with all of the godly kings in Judah, and it was true in Nineveh when its king led in national repentance. In fact, Judah never experienced a national revival without that revival being stimulated by the heart of the king.

He Can Do It Again!

By Francis Frangipane

As I write this, a huge naval exercise by the US military and its allies is bringing a massive concentration of American naval, air and marine might to the Persian Gulf. American officials said the exercise, which will occur in late October, will practice interdicting ships carrying weapons of mass destruction and missiles. Facing these units in the Persian Gulf are the naval, air and marine units of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, together with the Iranian armed forces, all of which are on full war preparedness.

US naval, air and marine forces, as well as other NATO warships and troops, are also massing in the eastern Mediterranean opposite Lebanon and Syria. The stage appears to be set for what could erupt into serious conflict. (Preceding information has been adapted from various news sources, including the Debkafile).

In addition, North Korea continues to demonstrate an almost suicidal belligerence in resisting efforts to defuse its nuclear ambitions. Realistically, the situation in both North Korea and Iran could easily escalate into a widespread and catastrophic war, and it could conceivably spread throughout the entire Muslim world.

Or, by the mercies of God, there could be divinely empowered breakthroughs, advances in the spirit-realm that will release the exact opposite reality. Yes, war seems almost inevitable, yet let us not forget the fall of the former Soviet Union. The largest empire in the history of the world collapsed virtually overnight. It collapsed without armies, threats or bloodshed. Amazingly, Soviet Communism, an atheistic empire set on world domination, officially closed its doors and declared itself dead on the very day Christians worldwide celebrate the birth of Christ. (See Gorbachev Speech Dissolving the Soviet Union (USSR): Christmas 1991).

Today, mankind stands before two doors, each leading into utterly different worlds. The first door opens to a reality saturated with inconceivable human carnage and death; the second door leads into a world of international breakthroughs and the spread of the Gospel. The key that unlocks the door to redemption and breakthroughs is prayer.

Remember, friends, the vision of Facedown40 is Engaging Heaven, Changing Earth. Let us not forget the stirring command of God to Jesus, His Son: "Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession" (Psalms 2:8).

At the command of God, and in the name of Jesus Christ, let us come to God boldly on behalf of the nations. Even while we hear the clamor of war, let us not be overwhelmed with doubt. Rather, with faith, with fasting, with fearless focus let us undergird our perseverance with the memory of what God did with the USSR. He can do again today.

O prayer warrior, in service to our Redeemer King, let us indeed engage heaven to change the earth.

A Symphony to God's Heart

By Francis Frangipane

During seasons of prayer, when congregations unite for intercession or groups meet in homes to appeal to God, it is important we stay united in Spirit, supportive and passionate with the goal of touching the heart of God. Even though we pray differently or come together with different styles or burdens, our unity plays an important dynamic in obtaining spiritual success.

For instance, when my wife and I pray together, I like to pack all the meaning I can into a couple sentences. I might pray a simple prayer, "Lord bless and fill my kids," What I mean, is Lord touch them, forgive them, provide for them, guide them, use them and protect them. My prayer is like a "zip file." It's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It appears small, but when God opens it up, there's a lot of meaning in my prayer.

My wife's prayers are longer than mine. She tells the Lord everything He needs to know about the kids, as though He were just meeting them for the first time. She explains what they need in life and offers suggestions to the Lord on how to get them into their future. She touches God's heart because she is so compassionate about her children.

The main thing is, we agree with each other when we pray. We don't judge each other. We listen and appreciate our different approaches and styles. Usually, when we are finished praying together, she will continue interceding alone. I can hear her in the background: "Lord, remind the boys to wash their bed sheets and help them to get enough sleep, and don't let them eat junk food." It's okay, as their mother, she's consumed by her love for them.

When we get together in a group at church, the same principles apply: we all agree with each other. It doesn't matter if one person prays longer or with more detail than another. We pray for our nation along with other nations and their leaders. Some pray for the governmental leaders of nations; another might pray for gang leaders, while someone else will pray for business leaders. We'll stand in repentance for the sins of our nation, asking God to forgive our national sins of pride, injustice and murder (especially concerning the unborn); we ask for mercy concerning our greed and national arrogance, and we ask for forgiveness for the immoral nature of much of our entertainment industry. We each may have a different burden or focus, but with passion we agree with one another's prayer.

Jesus promised that whatever we agreed upon in prayer, it would be done for us by our heavenly Father (Matthew 18:19). Our agreement is as important as our prayer. It's okay that we have different styles: I pace. A dear friend of mine rocks back and forth. Another karate chops the air. Yet, even though our styles are different, our hearts burn together in strong agreement.

Interestingly, the word agree as used in the Gospels was the Greek word sumphoneo. From it we get the English word symphony. In other words, God hears our prayers of agreement not so much as a tolerance of one another's quirks, but as a symphony of passionate voices - each voice as a unique instrument, yet all participating in the same glorious song.

Beloved, let us stay in agreement when we pray. Avoid strife at all costs. Whether our expression is one of weeping or rejoicing, warring or worship, our prayer of agreement can be symphonic to the listening heart of God.

Manifested in Our Mortal Flesh

By Francis Frangipane

What did Jesus have in mind for His followers when His ministry began? What was His holy objective? I am absolutely convinced that Christ came to replicate Himself in us. True Christianity is nothing less than the living manifestation of Christ in and through us (Ephesians 4:11-13). Indeed, our destiny does not find sure footing until the actual life of Christ emerges in redemption through us.

When I speak of Christ, I mean His meekness, His love and redemptive motive. I am speaking of His power and His deep surrender to the Father's will, which produced His expansive authority over all things. And, when I speak of Christ in us, I am not merely referring to the right assemblage of doctrines, as though salvation was purely a cerebral exam. Our doctrines are important to the degree they unfold into the character and power of Christ flowing through us.

This inner, Christlike transformation of the church was the utmost concern for Paul. He wrote, "My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you" (Galatians 4:19). Christianity is nothing less than Christ Himself entering our lives, conforming us to His likeness, and empowering us with His redemptive purpose. He said, "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you" (John 20:21).

Consider also Paul's words to the Corinthians. He wrote, "For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh" (2 Corinthians 4:11).

Beloved, do we see this truth? Christianity is the "life of Jesus" manifested in our mortal flesh!" What does this mean? It means that the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the lover and redeemer of mankind, reveals Himself through us. This unveiling of Christ in us is the only thing that satisfies our quest to know the substance of God. Anything less than Christ in us is mere religion.

It is not enough for us to expose the sin in the world; our motive must be to redeem it. This world, with all its vices and evil, is the very reality God has chosen to perfect our conformity to Christ. To discern what is wrong in the world requires little spiritual growth; the transformation of our communities may take a lifetime.

God is after people who make a lifetime commitment to redemption. Right now, we can look at the scandals of our times and condemn the guilty; we can become experts in the failures and sins of our society. Exposing sin is, indeed, part of our calling. Yet, we must go beyond the condemning of sin to the laying down of our lives for sinners. We must learn how to persevere in prayer, embrace fasting and become committed to love until what was evil is not just identified, but transformed.

In my view, Facedown40 is the voice of a society of redeemers - a generation that is following their Redeemer King. We are those whom God has called to stand in the gap, who have a vision of what could be, who see in the day of small beginnings huge outpourings of grace and redemption.

Yes, we see evil in our world, but we also are fully aware: this world is the perfect place for Christ to be manifested in our mortal flesh.

To Be Like Our Teacher!

By Francis Frangipane

"There are two types of Christians, the trained and the untrained," remarked a pastor I recently met. I couldn't agree more. The fact is, too many of us view our salvation experience as though it were an arrival - and on one level it certainly is. Yet, our "arrival" is actually the beginning of a journey toward Christlikeness. Being "born again" is a step out of darkness into a destiny that will involve perseverance, faith and spiritual training.

So let us accept the fact that the Lord's goal is not just our rescue, but also our training. To be spiritually trained will cost us. We must make life choices, spend time in spiritual development, and give ourselves in unfolding surrender to learning the glorious ways of God. The result is our transformation. As Jesus put it:

The Latter Rain

By Francis Frangipane

The phrase "latter rain" can mean different things to different people. To its critics, it is a movement that promotes doctrinal heresy. To many others, however, the phrase "latter rain," though slightly antiquated, is a term used by the King James Bible to describe the final, worldwide outpouring of the Holy Spirit before Christ returns.

Although I do not personally use the term "latter rain," I do believe in this last great move of God. In fact, I have held this vision since 1970. Admittedly, my faith was tested during the 1970s, when many church leaders were predicting the end of the world. Frankly, not many actively believed there would be a great harvest during the seventies and eighties. However, in 1990, with the stunning collapse of Soviet communism, an accelerated era of worldwide evangelism truly began. Since then, the Holy Spirit has brought hundreds of millions into the kingdom of God.

Thus, in spite of wars and other difficulties, my focus remains fixed on the great work of the Holy Spirit in these last days. The last great outpouring will not end until the Spirit of God has been poured out "upon all mankind" (Acts 2:17). "All" means all. It means God is serious about reaching Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and other religions. Indeed, the Lord is so passionate about the lost that He says He will "grant" undeniable "wonders in the sky above" and incontrovertible "signs on the earth" (see Acts 2:19-20). I wholeheartedly believe that, during this last great move, we will see the true church united, many believers raised to Christlike maturity and a great harvest.

So, you decide: Is the doctrine of worldwide evangelism a heresy? Or is Christ-centered unity among believers a false doctrine? Is reaching for Christlike purity and power a deception?

Remember, I am not saying life will get easy. The truth is, many already are dying for their faith. Yet, "those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting" (see Psalm 126). Jesus said the harvest was plentiful (Luke 10:2). And, I agree with those who warn of the spread of the apostate church; there is, indeed, deep darkness upon the earth. But it is in these very conditions that the Lord commands us to arise and be radiant with His glory. His promise is that nations shall come to our light and kings to the brightness of His rising (see Isaiah 60:1-3). The end of the age is a time of both darkness and light (see 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5). We must see both.

The Bible and the Latter Rain
Still, the issue is not what I say about the latter rain or what the critics say, but what does the Bible teach? The phrase "latter rain" comes from several places in the Scriptures; the most prominent perhaps is from the book of James. Speaking of the Lord's return, the apostle writes:
"Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand" (James 5:7-8 NKJV).

James is talking specifically about "the coming of the Lord." Many first century Christians expected the Lord to return in their lifetimes. They experienced the initial outpouring of the Spirit; they saw miracles, growth and multiplication. Yet, still the Lord did not come. Thus, James encourages the church to "be patient," saying there is something yet to come for which God is waiting. In this verse, the apostle frames all of church history metaphorically between two seasons of spiritual outpouring, which he calls the "early and latter rain." Agriculturally, it was understood that the early rains awakened the newly planted seeds and initiated the process of growth. Then, after several dry months, the latter rains came that revitalized the harvest and brought it to maturity (see also Deuteronomy 11:14; Joel 2:23; Zechariah 10:1, all King James version).

You see, God had much more on His heart than the early Christians anticipated. The church saw a limited outpouring that fell upon a smaller world. The truth was that both the world and the final outpouring is proving to be much larger.

Bible Scholars and the Latter Rain
It is important to note that a number of Bible scholars also support the idea of a second outpouring. John Wesley interpreted James 5:7, saying, "The husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit - Which will recompense his labour and patience. Till he receives the former rain - Immediately after sowing. And the latter - Before the harvest." Wesley wrote, "the latter" rain came "before the harvest" (or the end of the age).

Go to Crosswalk.com, click on "study helps" and research this yourself. Look at Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's commentary on James 5:7. They explained: "The early rain fell at sowing time, about November or December; the latter rain, about March or April, to mature the grain for harvest. The latter rain that shall precede the coming spiritual harvest, will probably be another Pentecost-like effusion of the Holy Ghost" (Crosswalk.com).

This isn't Charismatic chaos! It New Testament theology, and Jamieson, Fausset and Brown are distinguished, time-tested scholars who wrote their Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible in 1871.

Plainly, we are to expect a special outpouring. This is not "manifest sons" doctrine nor "kingdom now" theology. This doesn't mean there aren't churches in all forms of apostasy; nations will still be judged at the end of the age. We are simply stating, according to the word of God, that between now and when Jesus Christ returns, there will be another great outpouring, and that we are in the beginning of that outpouring now.

Do Not Be Afraid
My friends, the enemy has put a blockade of false warnings, fear and accusation around one of the most powerful end time realities: the final work of the Holy Spirit to bring the gospel worldwide! I am not saying we should be naive or blind to all that is wrong in the church, but neither should we be blind to what God is doing

To have faith for this outpouring is not heretical, even if it seems like heresy to those in unbelief. Therefore, do not fear being labeled a "heretic" when you speak of your vision. Pray for your nation with confidence, without intimidation, knowing that the reality of the latter rain is occurring even as we speak. Remember, hundreds of millions have come into the kingdom of God over these last years - revival can occur in your nation as well! Consider the growth of the church in China, from ten million in 1974 to over 100 million today. We are in the time of outpouring, beloved, whether critics agree with it or not!

The world only sees the headlines from hell, yet the gospel of the kingdom is advancing. God will not stop until "all nations" hear the gospel.

In truth, a time is coming when, as suddenly as the Soviet Union collapsed, so the stronghold of Islam will crumble as well. God has determined to reach to the Muslim world, and once again, "wise men from the east" will come looking for Him who was born King of the Jews. Yes, even radicalized Muslims will look upon the Son of God and, in their new found freedom, they will love Christ most fervently. Indeed, the Lord shall even reveal Himself to key Islamic rulers, individuals whose influence will draw multitudes closer to Jesus Christ.

"Thus He will sprinkle many nations, kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; for what had not been told them they will see, and what they had not heard they will understand" (Isaiah 52:15).

Whether the breakthrough occurs in the immediate years, or tarries beyond a decade or more, an awakening is destined for the Muslim world. Just as the Lord has promised, He will pour out His Spirit upon all mankind (see Acts 2:17). Thus, the last, great outpouring shall reach all cultures of the world, and "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:21).

Truth is a Person

By Francis Frangipane

Over the years we have received many encouraging emails and letters from people who appreciate our call and passion for Christlikeness. We are both thankful and humbled by those who have taken the time to write. On occasion, however, we hear from Christians who have been troubled by criticisms they've read about us (and others) on "attack websites." These sites often exude an air of legitimacy since they focus upon false religions, new age teachers and openly heretical doctrines. Yet, many of these sites also aggressively misrepresent and attack true Christians as well.

Who are their targets? The fact is, if you open an Internet search engine (such as Yahoo, Ask or Google), type in the name of a well-known Christian leader, and then add the words "false teacher" next to his or her name, as fast as you say, "Oh no!" you will likely find a number of sites that openly, and often viciously, attack that leader. Frankly, having had my life and teaching repeatedly misrepresented by these attack sites, I would not trust their opinion about any ministry.

As for us, when we hear from a disquieted believer, we usually direct them to our "Statement of Faith" page. Our beliefs square with the Association of Evangelical's statement of faith. (Since the Lausanne Covenant clearly communicates our doctrines, we actually use it to define our spiritual positions: Statement of Faith). We also adhere to the truths stated in the Apostles' Creed.

This is not to say we've never made a mistake or that all our peripheral doctrines are infallible; each of us in this ministry is still growing and learning. Yet when an attack site fails to list even one good thing about a ministry, you cannot help but believe their goal is not to discern, but to destroy.

Biblical Test of Faith
Yes, there are false teachers in the modern church. But let us remember that throughout history, true Christians have always been accused of heresy. Jesus Himself warned, "Beware when all men speak well of you" (see Luke 6:26). He also taught us to examine the fruit of a prophet. In other words, what kind of life does a ministry inspire in those who ascribe to its teaching?

Yet, beyond our statement of faith, the Bible itself provides a number of fundamental tests to authenticate the soundness of one's doctrines (see the book of 1 John, especially the verses that contain the phrase "by this"). Another important test comes from the apostle Paul. He writes,

"Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Paul takes all of Christianity and boils it down to one irreplaceable reality: "Jesus Christ is in you." You might be wrong about the timing of the rapture or off concerning spiritual gifts, but you still are a true Christian because you have accepted the living reality of Christ in you!

Do you see this? You are a Christian, not because you said a prayer at an altar, but because when you prayed the Spirit of Jesus Christ actually entered your life! When He promises, "I will never leave you nor forsake you," He means He is with you forever. The devil knows you are a Christian not because you carry a Bible, but because he actually sees Christ's presence burning within you.

It is Christ dwelling in us that produces fruit, works deliverance and manifests power through us. Our living union with Him makes us His temple; our connectedness to Him enlivens us as His body. In the swirl of religious deception in our world, Jesus reduces all we truly need to know about truth and error by focusing us upon Himself. He said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). "Truth," Paul tells us, "is in Jesus" (see Ephesians 4). And when Jesus is in us, He transforms us.

Listen carefully my friends: many of these attack sites do not believe that Christ actually dwells within His people! Of those who accept Christ as dwelling within them, an additional number do not believe we can actually hear from the Lord Jesus! They will accuse you of heresy if you believe you can have a relationship with Jesus Christ! This is in spite of the fact that Jesus affirmed: "My sheep hear My voice" (John 10:27).

Consider also Paul's quest. His magnificent obsession was to know Christ, being conformed to His life and death (Philippians 3:10). Consider also the profound words Paul wrote to the Galatians:

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20).

Paul wrote, "Christ lives in me." The Son of God is not a mere doctrine, He is Emmanuel, "God with us." Eternal life comes from knowing God, and Jesus Christ whom God has sent (John 17:3).

So, when a number of these attack websites posture themselves as "keepers of the true faith," then reject the reality that Jesus Christ lives within His church, they reveal that it is they, in fact, who are walking in deception.

Truth
So, in an era of great confusion, we must see truth as a person: Jesus Christ. Everything we need to know about God, heaven, hell, salvation, sin and redemption is centered in Him. We must also apply our hearts in humility and focused faith to become like Him, even as John taught: "The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked" (1 John 2:6).

Eternal life does not come from having a religion about Christ, but from actually knowing Him (see John 17:3). He has purchased our forgiveness, our healing and our well-being. As our Redeemer, He works all things for our good. As our King, He grants us His authority and sends us as His ambassadors. He calls us His body, not just His people, underscoring His oneness with us, and also extending to us His sanctification and righteousness. We are His bride, wooed by His love to His side.

If anyone tries to convince you that Christ does not dwell within His people, remind them of His word: "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him" (John 14:23).

Beloved, truth springs from our oneness with Jesus Christ. The vision of those walking in truth is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 2:27). Warn those who deny the indwelling of Jesus Christ that the test of true faith is the reality that "Jesus Christ is in you" (2 Corinthians 13:5). Yes, remind them truth is a person, not merely a doctrine.

The Harvest is Plentiful

By Francis Frangipane

It is amazing how Jesus stayed riveted upon His life's goals. We never read of Jesus being distracted by the turbulent conditions of the world around Him. Indeed, reaching and saving the lost was always the vivid center of His focus.

I think some of us imagine life in first century Israel was considerably more serene than conditions in our world. In some respects, the times may have been simpler, yet the world of the Messiah was anything but calm. Israel, you'll remember, was an occupied territory. Nationalistic Jews, known as Zealots, were continually either plotting, stirring or launching insurrections against Rome. Israel was, in fact, a brutal and fearful place and violence always simmered beneath the surface.

In addition to the societal upheaval caused by the Zealots, most of Israel's religious leaders were proud, self-satisfied people who had "seated themselves in the chair of Moses" (Matthew 23:2). Under the pretext of "defending the faith," they twisted Christ's doctrine and slandered His character. Christ's ministry was constantly being undermined by their malicious lies.

Thus, the ministry of Jesus Christ emerged in a world made turbulent by fierce, nationalistic zeal and false religious priorities. Political needs were urgent, yet Jesus did not become a politician (John 6:15). Jewish, nationalistic fervor was uncompromising, yet Jesus mustered no militia (John 18:36). Injustice was rampant, however Jesus refused to settle earthly disputes (Luke 12:13-14). Instead, He treated these major needs of His times as though they were incidental issues. He focused on one thing: loving the lost.

Looking past the conflicts, issues and horrors of His times, Jesus directed His disciples to fix their eyes upon the most important issue. He said, "Lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest" (John 4:35).

A disciple of Christ must forever look beyond the urgent need of one's times in order to stay focused on the greatest priority: winning the lost. Beloved, let us look steadfastly into the heart of God, for His heart is ablaze for the lost. As disciples, we must "lift up [our] eyes" beyond the fears and sideshows of life and see what God is looking at: "the fields . . . are white for harvest."

Balance and Focus
If you know me, you know I passionately believe we need to elect godly politicians; we need righteous judges in our land. I believe we need Christians in government - in all places of leadership, really. I am fighting for the rule and influence of God to infiltrate our national leaders. Yet, my primary vision is to attain Christlikeness - and nothing so embodies the nature of Jesus than His quest to redeem the lost.

So, while I encourage men and women to run for office, it is not merely a political move, it is evangelistic: God desires to model in them Christlike leadership, that through them souls might be rescued! Even as we fight and pray on behalf of the unborn and children, I am ever mindful that the greatest weapon I have is to convert the opposition. You see, transformed hearts transform laws. I am after the heart of Christ, and He is after the salvation of man.

The goal is souls, and our weapon is Christ's desire to save and transform sinners.


Jesus said the harvest was not only plentiful, it was ripe. A number of people who were outwardly avowed enemies of God are, even now, inwardly being invaded by grace. My wife recently read a book by Anne Rice called Christ the Lord, Out of Egypt. Previous books by Rice were mainly demonic ventures about vampires and witches. They reeked of darkness. Yet someone was praying for Anne Rice. As a result, irresistible grace began to undermine her arguments against God. Her testimony, which she presents at the back of Out of Egypt, reveals her personal exodus from darkness to behold the glory of God in Christ.

With God, not only are all things possible, but no one is impossible.

So, Jesus said that, in spite of the wars and persecution of His times, the harvest would be massive. Let us ask ourselves, Are we looking at the conflicts of our times or have we heard Christ and lifted our eyes to see the harvest? Indeed, the very best thing we can actually do in light of worldwide conflict is for each of us to win our neighbors to Christ.

Beloved, in spite of the apparent darkness of our world, the times are always right to reach the lost. True, "one sows while another reaps" (John 4:37). Our role may be prayer, not evangelism. But let us be faithful, then, in prayer. For no one is saved who was not first lifted to God in prayer.

How to Pray
In a world rattled by distractions, Jesus gave a succinct focus in prayer. He said,

"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest" (Luke 10:2).

God has already raised up people in businesses, in government, in neighborhoods, in every nation and subculture on earth who are "laborers" in His harvest. If God has raised up a laborer, it is because He has a harvest in that area. However, because the laborers are few, they tend to be overwhelmed and hesitant. "Therefore," Jesus says, "beseech the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers."

There is a power that comes from God, that is released uniquely from prayer, which activates the "send" signal in God's laborers. Thus, we are commanded: "beseech the Lord of the harvest." As we pray, the appointments of God begin to take place, laborers receive supernatural opportunities, and the harvest takes on divine dimensions.

Most of us look at the news and see conflicts, catastrophes and chaos in our world. We are like "deer in the headlines." Let us, even in these times of terrors and wars, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send forth His anointed and powerful laborers! Let them be sent into the Muslim world; let them serve the state of Israel and sit as judges in supreme courts of earth. Let us pray for laborers to walk the hospitals and gather souls in the great byways of life.

When I discuss the great vision of becoming Christlike, at some point that vision must become functional within us. The more we become Christlike, the greater we will be compelled by God for the lost. Let us not lose sight that, even in our world and in these turbulent times, the harvest is still plentiful.

Into a Place of Abundance

By Francis Frangipane

I read recently of a fast, totally electric sports car which is being tested right now in California. The same magazine reported that researchers were testing new drugs and therapies that might cure cancers. A few pages later I also noticed a large software company had released a new "beta" version of its popular product ("beta" means it was still being tested, although it is released on a limited scale).

What do all these various enterprises have in common? Before each product was released to the general public, it had to be repeatedly tested for effectiveness and functionality. Did it do what they projected it to do? Before manufacturers spend a fortune in promotion, they need to know if their product will work outside the lab. So they test it under stressed conditions. Once it passes the tests, then it is released.

A New Creation
God has an idea, a product, in mind for us. He desires to reveal a new species of man, a new creation. At the center of this new man is a Christlike heart. This new man also comes with a heavenly mind and spirit. Even though this new human outwardly looks like the old version of man, yet spiritually its inner mechanisms are entirely different. Yet, the process of releasing the new man to greater authority, require levels of testing. The more tests we pass, the greater God releases us to the general public.

Right now, I would say that most Christians are in the "beta" stage: they are released to a limited group for testing. God desires to see how well what He has created in us works outside of church (the "lab"). These small test groups may consist of co-workers, one's neighborhood or even one's family. But during this time of "limited release" you will go through various tests before being released to the larger, general public.

It is also important to note that when God tests us, He does not descend into our thought-life with a loud public announcement, warning, "This is a test, this is only a test." A true test examines what we are under stress and in real life conditions; it appears in our lives without forewarning that a test is coming. You see, God isn't testing how well we can outwardly look "Christian," He is examining the quality of what we actually are. Even more than possessing right answers, He desires we possess right attitudes and responses. He wants to know if we can function under adverse conditions, spiritual warfare and stress.

Consider Job
Let us underscore this truth about God: He will test the quality of His work in us. Remember the Lord's conversation with Satan? God asked, "Have you considered My servant Job?" The Lord described Job as being unique in all the earth: "a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil" (Job 1:8).

The implication in that question, "have you considered . . . Job," is that God had worked some deep things in his servant and now it was time for this inner transformation to be tested.

Let us also note that Satan had "considered" Job. He had a dossier on him filled with information. When Satan sought to attack Job, the devil couldn't get near him. God had placed "a hedge about [Job] and his house and all that he has, on every side." Probably for many years Satan had examined Job, but couldn't touch him because of the impenetrable protection Job and his family enjoyed. For all the devil tried to do to stop it, God had "blessed the work of [Job's] hands, and his possessions have increased in the land" (vs 10).

Yes, Satan had "considered" Job. We too would do well to consider the story of Job and the revelation it provides us concerning our tests and their outcome.

  • If we walk with God in integrity and intercession, as did Job, we can trust that the normal status of our lives will be completely protected and hedged "on every side."
  • The second thing we should recognize is that, if we do come under severe spiritual attack, it is because God is testing the quality of His work in us. He knows the capacity to overcome is within us, otherwise He would not have allowed the enemy access to us.
  • The third thing to note is that, while tests in the world are usually accomplished in labs or controlled environments, God's tests come in the real world. Thus, we might not realize that what we are going through is a "test," for the test will be a real life experience.
  • The test often comes just before we are released into a "double portion," which is what happened to Job.
  • We probably won't know what the test is about until much later. Job's test was not whether he would "rejoice always" or maintain his good works; nor was he made vulnerable because of fear or unbelief, as some think. The great test in Job's life was whether or not he would curse God. For all he went through, Job passed his test.
The Outcome is Greater Than We can Imagine
God took Job, a righteous man of great influence in his culture, and brought him through a terrible test. One might say the costs of Job's test outweighed his reward, even though Job did receive a double portion. Yes, Job's wealth and influence increased greatly, but that was not the end of the story: God has since used the life of Job as an example for billions of people. Before the test, Job's range of influence touched his culture; afterward, Job's integrity has inspired nations throughout the epochs of time.

Likewise, the Lord tested Joseph, Moses and David; He tested Israel in the wilderness. Jesus Himself endured many tests, not the least of which was His time in the desert.

Let us understand, if we want to advance spiritually, God will lead us through fiery ordeals which test us, yet bring us out to a greater place. Some of us are in "beta,' being tested in limited small groups; others have gone through significant battles recently, but God is about to bring them into a double portion.

For us who are followers of Christ and whose goal is conformity to Him, God gives us one answer to every test we experience: become like Jesus in the test. When the devil realizes what he is using to destroy you is actually being used by God to perfect you, Satan will withdraw his attack.

"For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins. You made men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water, yet You brought us out into a place of abundance" (Psalm 66:10-12).

The test is the door to abundance.

The Mission Statement of Heaven

By Francis Frangipane

All major companies have a vision or mission statement. A mission statement defines the primary purpose and direction of a corporation, what services or products it provides and who would likely be interested in their organization. Likewise, when Jesus began His ministry, He issued a sort of "mission statement" that explained the nature of His Father's business. He said,

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18-19).

Liberating the human heart from oppression and spiritual incarceration is the mission statement of the Son of God. When Jesus declared He "must be about [His] Father's business," that specific business is to provide redemption of the lost and freedom to the imprisoned.

You say, "I want to serve God, but I am in bondage to sin. I am a captive of guilt, shame and condemnation." Good. You qualify. You are the type of person heaven is looking for. Even when we are enchained and trapped in our failures, held prisoners to demons too strong for us, Christ does not reject us. He does not come to condemn or punish, but to set us free.

You may be one who has never known God. Today, you find yourself trapped in addictions and fears beyond your ability to resist. Yet, according to the mission statement of heaven, you are exactly the type of person Christ came to find.

Or, you might be a pastor, knowledgeable of the Scriptures, serving in professional ministry for over 50 years, but do not love yourself. You can quote the Bible, but inwardly you are tormented by your personal short-comings. You desperately want to regain your spiritual health, but you don't know where to start, for you feel dead inside.

If you feel imprisoned inwardly, remember, Jesus Christ came to set captives free. This message is in your hands and you are reading it because Christ loves you and has come to rescue you! You may not sense it, but God's angels have been fighting a war with the devil for your soul. Indeed, Christ Himself has defeated the enemy on your behalf!

"Can the prey be taken from the mighty man, or the captives of a tyrant be rescued?" Surely, thus says the LORD, "Even the captives of the mighty man will be taken away, and the prey of the tyrant will be rescued; for I will contend with the one who contends with you, and I will save your sons" (Isaiah 49:24).

God desires wholeness and healing for our souls, even promising to "contend with the one who contends" with us. Our enemies may too strong for us, but they are not too strong for God. The Almighty is on our side; He will continue to fight our oppressors until we are free from the grip of hell upon our lives. Yes, the Holy Spirit corrects and disciplines us along the way, but He does so to transform our hearts and remove our vulnerability to Satan's attacks. Our rescue is at the center of God's heart.

The Desperate Find Help
Within the variety of ways God reveals Himself through Christ, remember this one truth: "The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). The war is not between you and God, but between God and the devil.

In verse after verse, Jesus makes it plain that He came to heal and redeem the wreckage wrought by Satan upon humanity. Remember, Jesus said of Himself that He came "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10); He assures us, "I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world" (John 12:47). Indeed, He says His primary mission field was not the "[self-] righteous, but sinners" (Matthew 9:13).

It is an amazing truth: the Son of God is seeking to save the very people most Christians seek to avoid.

Those highest on God's agenda are usually those lowest in society - people in bondage to sin and its consequences. In truth, He seeks the desperate, regardless of their outward status in life. The mission statement of heaven is to find these people, deliver them from sin and fear, and then pour into them the very heart of the Savior Himself. The mission statement of heaven is to seek and to find the lost.

Firewalk

By Francis Frangipane

Jesus' walk was neither painless nor effortless, and yours will not be either. Perhaps our minds cannot envision the Son of God facing any 'real problems,' such as we face. We know He calmed the sea, but we are also told He "learned obedience through the things which He suffered" (Hebrews 5:8). Yes, power surged from Him causing those who came to arrest Him to fall back (John 18:6), but He also had times He was wearied (John 4:6). He indeed promised us peace, but He too had times when He was distressed (Luke 12:49-50), angered (Mark 3:5) and troubled (John 12:27). The same beautiful feet that proclaimed the glad tidings, that walked on water, walked the Via Dolorosa, the way of suffering.

When we consider the Son of God, we should not isolate Him from the extreme spiritual warfare He faced on many occasions, even to the point of sweating blood. We are assured that Christ never failed, but neither was He aloof from temptations. Rather, the Bible tells us that Jesus was "tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). Remember also, Jesus faced and conquered His battles as a man; He had to pray for strength, and trust His Father for justice on the cross, even when He felt forsaken by all.

I am utterly positive the highest percentage of Jesus' life was filled with joy and peace; why else would multitudes be drawn to Him? But it is interesting that some of these very people, when questioned, thought He might be a return of "Elijah or Jeremiah," both of whom were more known as intensely passionate than compassionate (Matthew 16:13-14). And don't forget, the same hands that touched and healed the untouchables, twice fashioned a scourge and drove money changers out of the temple.

I am trying to balance our image of Christ. For if we imagine that Jesus was without temptation or that He never had inner conflicts, such thinking blinds us from seeing the reality of what we all must go through at times. We think God is failing us when, in fact, He is actually conforming us to the real Jesus. Yes, in the crucible of conflict, Jesus chose to do God's will. "Deeply grieved, to the point of death" (Matthew 26:38), He prayed the prayer of surrender: "not My will, but Thine be done" (Luke 22:42).

Dear friends, there will be times when to obey God's will we must fight our very instincts for survival. Plan on it; there will be seasons when you will hurt terribly or be deeply troubled inside, perhaps even facing severe depression, yet to fulfill God's will you cannot excuse yourself because of heartsickness. In utter defiance of your own feelings, you will have to say "Yes" to God. It is at this juncture, beloved, that true spiritual progress is being made.

Through Fire and Water
"But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, not will the flame burn you" (Isaiah 43:1-2).

Fire? Rivers? What about heaven? Yes, you are going to heaven. In fact, if you are a true Christian, you are in heaven right now only you don't know it. But, there are times when life, like a river, is over your head and you feel like you are drowning. Yet, the water from these very rivers wash away your filth. What the water does not remove, the fire purifies.

It is one thing to repent of sin; another, to be placed in life's furnace and be forced beyond yourself to trust God. In the first case, God works through our willingness to engage and submit; He deals with what we have done. In the second situation, He goes much deeper and deals with what we actually are. When He deals only with our sin, He requires we humble ourselves; when we are in the fire, He kills what we were, and then humbles our enemies.

Yes, you will pass through rivers, but the Lord promises that the waters will not overflow us! He leads us into fire, but then appears in the blaze with us, as He did with the three Hebrews (Daniel 3). When our ordeal is over, only the bonds that once enslaved us are consumed; we are unscathed.

The Holy Spirit and Fire
As Christians, we are fascinated by the Holy Spirit. He teaches, guides, gives gifts, brings forth fruit and comforts us on our journey. However, one aspect that is rarely discussed is the baptism of fire. John said that Christ would "baptize . . . with the Holy Spirit and fire"(Matthew 3:11).

Peter tells us we should not be "surprised at the fiery ordeal . . . which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you" (1 Peter 4:12). Jesus said, "Everyone will be salted with fire" (Mark 9:49).

The church in America for too long has followed Casper, the friendly ghost instead of seeking the fire of the Holy Ghost. We have turned limp at the thought of our own cross; we faint when we think of suffering or sacrifice. Beloved, it is time to embrace the fire of God's presence. It is the fire that purifies our sacrifice.

Ahead of us are days both great and terrible. Understandably, many Christians are looking to the rapture of the church. Yet, to escape God's judgment is not to escape His fire. Consider: Paul wrote that the "day" of the Lord "is to be revealed with fire." He said that "the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work"(1 Corinthians 3:13).

Yet, let us stay encouraged, for our God is a consuming fire. He is coming to baptize His church again in fire, but in the fire is the place of intimacy, of power and of deliverance. Even as the prophet Isaiah wrote:

"When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy. And there will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain" (Isaiah 4:4-6).

Yes, our God is a consuming fire and our walk with Him is a firewalk.

Lord, I repent for wanting Your blessings without desiring Your fire. I ask for the fire that purifies, that burns away my old nature. I ask You to fill me with the fire of Your holiness. Make me one with You in the fire of Your passions. Amen.

Great Commission or Great Omission?

By Francis Frangipane

Jesus warned that there would be great deception in the end times. Humility, therefore, tells us that we should not presume our personal expression of Christianity is aligned perfectly with God's heart. How can we examine ourselves? We can measure the focus of our lives with the last great command of the Lord, called by Bible scholars the "Great Commission."

What is the Great Commission? These were the "marching orders" Jesus gave His apostles just before He ascended. In other words, this is what He desired His church to be focused on until He returned. He said,

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you"(Matthew 28:19-20).

In essence Jesus wants us focused on two things: He wants us to "Go" with a view of bringing the lost into His kingdom. But He also wants the church at large to become Christlike: "teaching them to observe all that I commanded you." For some, however, the Great Commission has become more like a great omission, as many Christians are neither concerned about the lost nor are they reaching for Christlikeness.

Salvation is the first step in the journey toward Christlikeness. Christ's vision is for His people to grow "in all aspects" unto Him (Ephesians 4:15). Those who obey all that Jesus taught, ultimately through the Holy Spirit, possess the same life as Christ Himself. His teaching conforms us to His heart, making us redemptive in motive and, like Him, unoffendable as we seek the transformation of our nations.

So, the Great Commission gloriously begins with evangelism and conversion, but unfolds into Christlikeness as revealed in Christ's words.

As The Father Sent Me
Christ calls us to be His followers. He said, "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you" (John 20:21). Just as He was sent into the world to bring redemption, so He sends His disciples. Indeed, the goal of discipleship is that we become "fully trained," so that we are functioning exactly "like [our] teacher," Jesus Christ (Luke 6:40).

You see, many believe in Jesus; few are they who mature spiritually to where they actually believe like Him. Those who believe like Him have faith that tells them all things are possible. They are confident that redemption can occur, even in the darkest regions. Thus, the goal of the Great Commission is to see these kind of Christians planted in every nation, for in their spirit is the redemptive future of each culture.

Yes, Christianity can be many things to many people: a place of friendships, healing and new beginnings; but at its core, it must be a training ground where the saved are empowered to journey toward Christlikeness.

Christ's goal was the replication of Himself in His disciples and, through them, replication of His life throughout the world. This issue, therefore, of teaching His word, of using His word to shape us from the inside out, is the goal of discipleship.

For me, the Lord sat me down and for three years I didn't pastor at all. All I did was read and study the Gospels. It was this focused refining that became the substructure in everything the Lord has me doing today. God reduced me from being a professional minister to a disciple of Jesus Christ, a true follower of Jesus as He is revealed in the Gospel in word and deed.

But this training in the words of Christ is exactly what has been omitted from so many of our churches and seminaries. We make our converts more into the image of our denomination, rather than conformed to the image of Christ.

The Chief Cornerstone: Often Rejected

Jesus said, "The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone" (Luke 20:17). Beloved friend, we cannot separate what Jesus says from who Jesus is. Christ and His word are one. To the degree that we fail to teach what Jesus taught, we are actually rejecting Him as Lord.

Listen to how the Lord associates Himself with His teachings. He said, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day" (John 12:48). He warned, "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory..." (Luke 9:26). He exposes our hypocrisy, saying, "Why do you call Me `Lord, Lord," and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46) Christ and His word are inseparable. Jesus was not a man who became the Word, but the Eternal Word who became a man. His very nature is the Word of God. And to reject or ignore what He says is to reject or ignore who He is.

Thus, it seems to me that if we are not offering focused training on becoming Christlike, we are missing the heart of the Great Commission. Of course, this training may unfold in a variety of ways; it may not even use the word "Christlike" in its vocabulary. However, salvation of the lost leading to conformity to Christ and His teaching is the expressed goal of the Great Commission.

Therefore, pastors, regardless of your denominational or cultural history, we must possess two things: love for the lost and a vision of attaining Christlikeness! Create your own curriculum or use training already provided, but do not omit the Chief Cornerstone as you build His church. Intercessors, stand unoffendably committed to seeing genuine, Christlike disciples established in your church. Do not give up, even if it should take years to see the transformation occur.

Let us, dear friends, make sure we are fulfilling the Great Commission, not the great omission.

Becoming a Revelation of Jesus

By Francis Frangipane

"For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1:11-12).

The Bible is not merely a "how-to" book. It is not only a history book, nor a religious crystal ball or a philosophy book. At its core, the Bible is a revelation of Jesus Christ. Indeed, we will learn many things reading the Bible, truths that are historical, practical and academic; yet the core truth emanating throughout the Scriptures is the revelation of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament accounts, whether of kings or priests, were all written in anticipation of Him; the prophets encountered the Spirit of Christ and wrote of things to come as they ultimately pertained to Him (1 Peter 1:10-11).

The biblical word revelation means "to unveil" or "to uncover." When the Holy Spirit directs us in the Scriptures, His goal is not only to give us religious knowledge, but to actually, in some life-changing way, unveil Jesus Christ to us. Do we see Christ in Genesis as the ultimate fulfillment of God's purpose and promises to Abraham?

Indeed, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, who had assumed the place of "experts" in scriptural interpretations, saying, "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me" (John 5:39). Eternal life is not in the Scriptures, but in Christ. The Scriptures "bear witness" of Him, but we must come to faith in Jesus to actually find life.

You see, the Son of God revealed Himself to men, who in turn wrote of Him, passing to others both the revelation of Christ and His word. Thus, the Bible is unlike any book upon the face of the earth, for it is the unveiling of Jesus Christ to man.

The Book of Christ's Unveiling
Many books deal with interpretations of end-time events. All of them, invariably, include the author's opinions concerning the last book in the Bible, the Revelation to John. But the Revelation is not merely a forecast of end-time events. Its primary purpose is stated in the first verse: this book is the "Revelation of Jesus Christ." Without seeing Christ as the triumphant Lord, manifested through end-time events, this book becomes a book of speculation rather than revelation. In every warning there are those who possess the revelation of Jesus Christ, and through Christ, they triumph over "the beast," "the false prophet" and "the dragon."

As for the opening of the seals and the events that followed, each judgment heralds Christ's triumphant return to the world! Revelation's final chapters then speak of the age to come and the New Jerusalem, where the unveiled glory of the Lord replaces every other form of light. You see, just as John wrote, this book is "the Revelation of Jesus Christ"!

The Purpose Of The Church
Yet, not only is the Bible a revelation of Jesus Christ, but so also is the church. Indeed, the church is called the "body of Christ." The purpose of a physical body is to reveal the thoughts and intentions of its head. Thus, Christ's body is to be the revelation of Christ, the head. When people see us, the presence of the Lord Jesus should be clearly discerned in our attitudes, words and actions; the world should behold Christ living within us.

In other words, Jesus' hands cannot help others if our hands are in our pockets. His love cannot reach others if our love has grown cold or bitter. His victory cannot be manifested if our prayers are silent. We are His body - the actual means He has chosen to express and reveal Himself to the world!

"Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?" (1 Corinthians 6:15).

Because the Spirit of Christ actually dwells in our spirits, the expression of His will through us empowers us to serve as His body. Even as the purpose of the Bible is to reveal Jesus, so the primary purpose of the church is to give Jesus arms and legs, lips and a heart - a functioning body - to make His nature known.

You see, there are two beings living in your body: you and the Spirit of Jesus Christ. As we yield to Christ, we grow in "all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ" (Ephesians 4:15). Spiritual maturity is nothing less than growing up to the "stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:13). Consider Paul's great proclamation: "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me" (Galatians 2:20).

Jesus does not only dwell in heaven; He also dwells in us. As He is in heaven, so also is He in us (1 John 4:17). We embrace the death of our old nature, "always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus" with one goal compelling us: "that the life of Jesus also may be manifest in our body" (2 Corinthians 4:10). We do not embrace self-denial for mere religious reasons, but that "the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh." (2 Corinthians 4:11).

Do we see this? The life of Jesus Himself is to be manifested, revealed and shown forth through our mortal flesh! This is not some deep teaching; this is basic to true Christianity! Nor is this a hope only to be realized in eternity. Those who say they abide in Him ought to walk even as He did walk (1 John 2:6). If the vision of Christ living in you is not a burning truth in your heart, you may have accepted a false version of Christianity.

Consider Paul's warning:

"Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Beloved, just as the Bible is a revelation of Jesus Christ, so also are we. The church is called to be a revelation of Jesus Christ!

That Which is Born of the Spirit

By Francis Frangipane

We wake, crawl out of bed and stumble toward the bathroom; bleary eyed, we squint at our reflection in the mirror. Certainly, we are looking at the image of an utterly earthbound creature. Or so it seems. The truth is, in spite of our fleshly appearance, the moment we received the Holy Spirit into our lives a metamorphosis began within us. We are no longer "mere men" (1 Corinthians 3:4). We have been liberated from the flesh to become spirit-centered beings.

The fact is, among creatures, Christians are a type of hybrid with both fleshly and spiritual dimensions. We are capable of negotiating the dynamics of life on earth through our physical, emotional and intellectual faculties, and we can also soar beyond our natural limitations through spiritual protocols, such as worship or prayer, that connect us to God in heaven.

Covenant Power

By Francis Frangipane

It is right to pray for the Lord to bless and protect our lives. However, praying for the blessing and provision of God is not the same as covenanting with Him. A covenant is an altar upon which the Lord and His covenant partner give themselves fully to each other.

If you have given your life to Christ, you entered into the benefits and power that were released during Jesus' covenant with the Father (see Luke 23). In that covenant between the Father and the Son, we are forgiven, cleansed and made new. Yet, we have not covenanted with God, Jesus did. We receive the consequences of Christ's covenant.

God desires that we enter into covenant with Him. This is not instead of the New Covenant, but it is an expression of our relationship with Him. A covenant relationship with God does not cease once our prayers have been answered. In covenant love we mature from simply being "believers" in prayer to becoming living sacrifices given to God's highest purposes. By so yielding, He creates within us a life that He can use extraordinarily in the process of divine redemption.

Covenant power is greater than that which comes through prayer alone. Indeed, the effects of a covenant reach far beyond simple faith. Prayer and faith are essentials; they are prerequisites, but not substitutes, for covenant power.

Thus, a covenant relationship is a extended pledge between two partners. It is an unbreakable oath which God Himself initiates and then promises to sustain, even giving a unique and enduring grace to His covenant partner. Contained within His promise is His unalterable commitment not only to fulfill His highest plan of redemption, but to also supply grace and faith to His human counterpart along the way. Together, the All-Sufficient God and a believing man accomplish the impossible through their covenant relationship.

Power Released in a Covenant
A covenant with God accomplishes two interconnected goals. It thrusts us beyond "subjective prayer" (prayer made primarily for our personal needs) and brings us into a deeper commitment to God. Out of greater commitment comes greater grace to accomplish God's redemptive work in the world.

An example of covenant power is seen in ancient Israel during the revival that occurred after Athaliah, an idolatrous Judean queen, was dethroned. Jehoiada, the high priest, looked to God in covenant prayer. We read, "Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and the people, that they should be the Lord's people" (2 Kings 11:17).

Did not Israel already have a covenant with God through Moses? Yes, but it was a biblical practice that individuals at various times made special covenants with the Almighty. The result of Jehoiada's covenant was that grace came upon the people and they cleansed the land of idolatry. We read, "So all the people of the land rejoiced and the city was quiet" (v. 20). Jehoiada's covenant brought the nation back to God and ended violence in Jerusalem!

Consider also the power released in Hezekiah's covenant with the Lord. The nation of Judah had been fully corrupted by Ahaz, the preceding king. However, Hezekiah began his reign by seeking God's highest favor. He opened the doors of the temple, cleansed it and reconsecrated the priests.

Yet, the purification of priests and buildings would not have brought about revival had not Hezekiah taken one further step. He said, "Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that His burning anger may turn away from us" (2 Chronicles 29:10). Just eight days after the king made a covenant with the Lord, we read, "Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced over what God had prepared for the people, because the thing came about suddenly" (v. 36).

Often, the difference between a long-term struggle to bring a nation around and a speedy recovery was in the power released when the king covenanted with the Almighty. Keep in mind that Judah was apostate in its religious practices, witchcraft was practiced by the former king, and demonic idols had been placed in the Holy of Holies. Yet, covenant power triggered a national revival that "came about suddenly."

As Americans, it is vital we remember that our spiritual forefathers were a people who knew and exercised principles of covenant sacrifice. When the Puritans came to this country, they knelt on its shores and covenanted with God for this land. They dedicated this "new world" to Christ and His kingdom. They were covenant people who understood the destiny of God for this nation. It is unlikely that the revival of America will come without local and national church leaders covenanting together with God for the redemption of our land.

Covenants With God For Our Times
A personal covenant with God is a serious commitment, worthy of extended prayer and waiting before God. It is not to be taken superficially or without caution. Still, at Christ's bidding, I have covenanted with Him to see the body of Christ delivered of carnal divisions and racism, that Christ's prayer of John, chapter 17, may be answered.

What does this covenant signify to me? It means that my life is not my own. It has been absorbed into something much more powerful: the will of God. It also means that when I pray, there is a power attached to my intercession that works to dismantle strongholds of religious and cultural pride in the church.

I have also united my life and faith with the covenants of our pilgrim forefathers. Together with a number of other brethren, both locally and nationally, we have covenanted with the Almighty to see this land restored according to Second Chronicles 7:14.

There will be a time when this nation, like all nations, becomes the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Revelation 11:15). Until then, whether revival comes quickly or we pass through the fires of divine judgments, our lives belong to Christ - not simply to be blessed or made prosperous, but to see His highest purposes accomplished in our land.

Not everyone will covenant with God for the nation. Some will unite with the Lord for their families. Others will covenant with God to see abortion ended in their cities. Still others will make a covenant with God for the church, to see the Lord's house built in their cities.

Making a covenant with God takes us further into our goal of Christlikeness. It is the highest relationship we can enjoy with God; it is that which brings Him the most pleasure. To those who covenant with God, He says, "Gather My godly ones to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice" (Psalm 50:5).

Lord, open our hearts to the joy and wonder, the sobriety and fear, of a covenant relationship with You. Lead us, O King, out of the superficial and into the supernatural. Lead us into a covenant with You for our times and nation! In Jesus' name. Amen.


Repentance Precedes Revival

By Francis Frangipane

A true revival does not just happen. There are conditions that must reside in the human heart before the Lord visits His people.

We Must Want Deliverance, Not Just Relief
Too often, ministries today seek to deliver people who are unwilling to repent of sins, who have not cried in their heart to God for help. The effect is that those prayed for may receive limited relief, but they soon fall back into sin and oppression. The key to successful deliverance is to discern if an individual is ready and willing to be released before we minister deliverance. Are they repentant? Have they put away their idols? Is their heart truly turning toward God?

God's pattern for us as individuals is also His pattern for the church and the city. Even as the Lord did not deliver us until we cried for help, so the war for our churches and cities will not be won until a significant number of us are crying to God in prayer. Christ's purpose in bringing the citywide church to prayer is to provide the proper heart attitudes to which the Almighty can respond.

I Will Remember Their Sins No More

By Francis Frangipane

Holiness is attained only through an unfolding experience with the grace of God.

Removing the Barriers Caused By Sin
Have you ever had a close friend but talked critically about him to someone else? The next time you were together, did you notice something almost artificial about your relationship? You were not as open nor as honest with him. Because of your sin, there was a small but measurable distance between both of you. Though you may have been ashamed of what you did, if you stayed unrepentant, you actually started to avoid the one you hurt - if not socially, at least with your eyes and heart.

You may have shared a world together beforehand, but now the interpenetration of personalities, the sense of being "at home" in one another's soul, is gone. Unless there is repentance, the distance between you will probably widen until the relationship itself is over. Although neither of you may understand why you drifted apart, the love you possessed died because you sinned and failed to repent.

At An Inconvenient Time

By Francis Frangipane

The Lord has multitudes who believe in Him, but only a minority who truly worship Him. True worshipers find their fulfillment in adoring God. The fragrance of their worship rises, not only during the scheduled times of church services, but also during inconvenient times.

A true worshiper will rise early before work or school; they're up before the household so they can be alone with God. Instead of being frustrated by delays, they transform difficulties and setbacks into opportunities to magnify God. You might see one of these worshipers sitting in the car next to you during a traffic jam, singing along with Christian music in their car.

A true worshiper has learned the secret of worshiping God at inconvenient times.

I, too, find the Lord leading me to worship Him during inconvenient times. I might be alone writing or working on some important project when something awakens in my spirit: I become aware that the presence of the Lord is near. Yet, He isn't commanding me to worship, He's inviting me. The time of worship may be as little as 10 or 15 minutes or it might be much longer. Regardless, I turn from what I was doing, pick up my guitar and begin to worship Him.

Frankly, I am not a good musician; I only know a few chords. Yet as I worship, I know the King of heaven is actually pleased with my offering. He has granted me an audience, and in some mysterious way, He causes me to feel that the sound of my worship is the only thing He hears as I'm singing.

The Invitation
I, for one, desire my worship to become all consuming. Yet, I confess that a primary obstacle I must overcome is the inconvenient timing of His invitation. It seems like He actually waits until I am focused on some important project - something He actually wants me to complete. Or it might be late at night when I am almost asleep when the opportunity to worship draws near.

Yet, the very fact that I have responded, in spite of the "inconvenience," actually refines and sweetens my worship. Indeed, when I worship in our Sunday service, I admit I can be carried by the sound of the music and the participation of others around me. I am in an atmosphere of worship, so my praise may actually be something imparted to me by others and not purely my own. However, when He comes at an inconvenient time, my response reaffirms that my worship is real and that God truly is first in my life

What is also a great pleasure to me is that, given such short notice, He does not expect from me a large production. As wonderful as Sunday worship services are, He is not looking for a professional song service, just something real from my heart.

Another blessing is that, often, my wife will hear me worshiping and, without fail, join me. As I worship, I'll soon notice a voice singing alongside me in the background. She's as absorbed as I am in the presence of God. It doesn't matter what she was doing, she loves to bow before God and that, too, sweetens our worship.

Prayer and Worship
There is a difference between prayer and worship. Prayer is an appeal to God based on our needs and the needs of our world. The world is filled with people, each with heartfelt and urgent requests, that are welcomed by our Father in heaven, and they are each heard in the throne room of light. However, worship is not the articulation of our need; it is the consummation of our love. It is what we offer to God regardless of the status of our needs.

Recall the Gospel account of the ten leprous men who cried to Jesus for healing. After the Lord answered their prayers and healed them, they all went their way. One, however, stopped and turned "back, glorifying God with a loud voice . . . he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him" (Luke 17:11-19). Full of gratitude to Christ, this man returned to bow in worship before God. You see, many people will pray, multitudes will find answers, but few will return to Him in worship.

Beloved, if worship flows genuinely from our hearts, the Lord will repeatedly invite us into His presence. His invitation will approach the doorstep of our souls quietly. It will come disguised as a simple desire to love Him. If we follow this desire, it will lead into the presence of God.

As we worship Him, He will grant us inner strength and peace. As we come with thanksgiving, He will refresh us with His love and joy. Let us delight in the privilege of becoming true worshipers of God, even when the opportunity comes at an inconvenient time.

The Sanctifying Power of Christ

By Francis Frangipane

"For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy" (1 Corinthians 7:14).

In the above verse, we discover an important life principle: the process of sanctification for an unsaved husband or wife actually begins when their partner is born again of the Spirit. The word sanctify means "to consecrate or set apart to God." In this context, however, sanctification does not automatically imply salvation; rather it means that a process leading toward possible salvation has begun in earnest.

From God's view, the influence of Christ's power working in the life of the redeemed has a drawing effect upon the unsaved marital partner. The unbelieving spouse experiences the blessings, benefits and influence of a life in the process of transformation; they are eyewitnesses to Christ's love as He reveals Himself to, and then through, a redeemed spouse. In all these ways, the "unbelieving" soul "is sanctified through" the "believing" spouse, so that even their "children . . . are holy" (1 Corinthians 7:14).

What is true in principle for a marriage is also true on the wider scale of a neighborhood or community. An unbelieving city can be sanctified, or "set apart for God," by the presence of a believing, praying, active church. Even a very evil region, one that is due the penalty of divine wrath, can be set apart unto the Lord because holy people are walking its streets, praying for its sinners and working toward redemption. God sees the influence of the redeemed and, because we are willing to walk in mercy, He is willing to forestall wrath.

This preserving effect of the saved upon the unsaved is exactly what Abraham discovered when he interceded for Sodom. As he stood praying before God, Abraham learned that the influence of ten righteous souls could spare an entire city from divine wrath (see Genesis 18:23-33). This also is exactly the same thing Moses realized about the power of his intercession. The Lord would have destroyed Israel for its flagrant sin, yet He granted mercy instead. Moses "stood in the breach" (Psalm 106.23). The result? "The LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people" (Exodus 32:14).

The positioning of Moses in prayer, even while Israel had not yet repented nor sought God, opened a mercy door in heaven. As long as Moses stood in intercession before God, mercy flowed toward Israel. Amazingly, "the Lord changed His mind." Oh, the power Christlike people have upon the heart of God! Let us never diminish the great privilege God gives us through prayer!

This intercessory positioning before God is what Jesus seeks for us today. As His representatives before God and man, He says a most profound truth concerning our role: "You are the salt of the earth" (Matthew 5:13). Salt, from ancient times, has been used as a preservative. The ancients would take meat and rub it with salt. The salt stopped the process of decay and preserved it. The process was called "curing."

Your praying, fasting, caring commitment to your neighborhood or city sanctifies that community unto God. The influence of a godly church has a curing effect upon that which otherwise will soon decay.

As we stand praying for our cultures, we are mindful of the many predators stalking our world: there are terror threats, bird flu, earthquakes and hurricanes, the bold advances of sin, the effects of global warming and the threat of all out war, plus many other enemies. While we do not deserve divine help, we need God's protection. You ask, "My life is but a single soul. What can I do?" Your life is a seed in which God sees a future harvest. The moment you open your mouth in prayer, a process of redemption is beginning for your region. And as long as you don't give up on your community, God won't give up either.

Prayer:

Lord, I come before You again today, carrying in my heart my people. Oh Master, I pray for mercy. You said "Mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13). I plead for mercy, for revival, for forgiveness to fall upon my nation. You said the blood of Your Son would "sprinkle many nations" (Isaiah 52:15). I offer the blood of Jesus for my country. Forgive us and change us for Jesus' sake. Amen.

Incubating Christians

By Francis Frangipane

I wouldn't call it something as lofty as a vision - it was just a thought with a "video file" attached. In it, I saw Christians sitting in ordered rows, like eggs in incubators, only they were in their churches. They sat and listened, but the pastor's words were barely heard or understood. They had life inside, but they were trapped within religious shells. It wasn't necessarily that their ministers lacked anything in their messages; their sermons were historically and factually true. Yet, for the most part the shell surrounding each Christian seemed impenetrable.

Yet, there were exceptions. Every once in a while, the shell of one of the "eggs" would crack under the pressure of inner hunger; someone would fight through the shell. When one broke free, others nearby followed his example and began to break through their religious shells as well. When a majority had hatched, their church was no longer just an endless incubator, but it became the body of Christ Himself and the people in this group transformed the world around them.

What did it mean to break through the shell? It meant an individual understood that God's plan for their lives was not incubation, but transformation. The church was a place where God empowered people to become Christlike.

Today, heaven is again calling each of us to break free of the shell of "religion" and embrace the liberty and power of a Christlike life. Indeed, we have been created to become like Jesus. There is no lasting spiritual fulfillment apart from walking "from glory to glory" toward this one great purpose!

If you too share the hope of attaining Christlikeness, let me invite you to register for our online school, In Christ's Image Training. We have appropriate plans, whether you join as an individual, as married couples or as a small group. In fact, church leadership teams have taken the training and then brought their whole congregation into the course.

As you study In Christ's Image Training, you'll understand God's purpose for you is Christlikeness; you'll perceive why Jesus said the humble are the greatest in God's kingdom. The Holy Spirit will teach you the power of prayer and impart to you the burden of love. And, by God's grace, you'll possess Christ's unoffendable heart as you unite with other Christians.

The training comes directly to you via weekly emails and audio messages. So, whether you serve God as a housewife, businessman or church leader, your breakthroughs into the liberty of Christ can begin right in your own home.

For more information: www.icitc.org