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It is Time for Southern California

In March of 2014 while ministering in San Diego, at Foothills Christian Church, I received a vision of Jesus standing opposite Southern California. I shared the vision with the church to encourage them in their ongoing emphasis of prayer and reaching out to the younger generation of East San Diego County. I did not, however, sense the freedom to release it beyond, as I believe it was a word that would be fulfilled in the near future but not quite yet. Now is the time I sense the Lord would have me share it. While most of you reading this live far from S. California I would encourage you to pray into it. Historically God has released many things in S. California that have gone to the nations such as the Azusa Street Revival and the Jesus Movement.

Jesus, Himself, was standing some 50 miles offshore in the Pacific Ocean. He appeared to be hundreds or even thousands of feet tall and the waters were about waist high. He was facing the coast. He then dipped His right hand into the water in front of Himself and drew His hand backwards in the water. As He did so the tide dramatically went out. He then reversed His hand motion and Tsunami type waves went over the coast and basically covered all of Southern California. From north of Los Angeles south to the Mexico border, and from the coast all the way to the mountain ranges everyplace was covered with water.

Then the water went back out again but there were a number of pools and reservoirs of the Holy Spirit that had not been there before- at least to that degree. I understood that those pools and reservoirs were churches and ministries that had ‘made themselves low’ prior to the waves coming in. Through an emphasis on prayer they had been crying to God to do something to them and through them that they were not capable of in and of themselves. In effect, they had been creating a resting place for God’s Spirit.

This is what I understand, so far, about this vision.

1. The five fingers of Jesus’ hand in the water represented five distinct areas of Kingdom activity that were going to increase.
a. There would be an increase of evangelism
b. There would be a grace for restoration of estranged family members (Malachi 4.6)
c. There will be a revelation to many in the Body of Christ as to the Holiness of God. This would bring about a ‘grace based’ emphasis on “presenting your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship”. There will be a fresh heart desire to live conformed to the image of Christ free of sin and bondage.
d. There would be an increase in healings and miracles, signs and wonders (Acts 4.30)
e. And lastly a strong desire of many to gather together for corporate prayer meetings. In fact, I sensed that many churches that had never placed much of an emphasis on prayer meetings were going to have an overwhelming sense from God that they now had to do so.
2. Those churches and ministries that were ‘filled up fresh’ with the Holy Spirit who continued in a place of prayer and humility before the Lord and one another would grow and grow in fruitfulness. Those ministries that lost sight of their dependence on God and being led by His Spirit would continue on to a degree with what they received but would not grow past a certain level of fruitfulness.
3. While all the pools and reservoirs were filled with the Holy Spirit the actual containers were the churches themselves. Just as each of us uniquely reflects the person of Christ so each of these pools would be unique in how they responded and ministered out of the increase. There was not a religious emphasis on conformity. There was actually a great diversity of culture in how many of these churches and ministries extended the Kingdom.
4. While I do believe this is more of a sovereign word rather than conditional one I also believe that the Lord would have many respond to this word in prayer and possibly even some sort of fasting rather than simply waiting to see what happens. As with most prophecy it is an invitation to respond to the person of God and His purposes.
Marc A. Dupont
Mantle of Praise Ministries, Inc.
La Mesa, California

2016: What Is Your Vision?

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As we enter into the New Year many it would seem are leaning into frustration, pessimism, and, even a sense of hopelessness in regards to the future. I’m not referring to atheists, agnostics, and those in false religions- I’m referring to Christians who claim Christ to be their Lord and Savior and who claim to fully believe in the Bible. Some how, many Christians have allowed the almost endless bad news and crises of the last several years to eclipse their perspectives of the promises of God and even God Himself.

For sure there does seem to be a drastic increase of bad headlines. We can play over in our minds the jihadist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. We can look at the lingering effects the economic fall of 2008 has had on many. We can focus on the hot points of strife and war in several middle-eastern nations. We wonder what will be the outcome of the flooding of migrants and refugees into many western world nations. We can stress about the frustration in many large cities due to distrust of local police and authority. We can stew over the corruption many politicians seem to fall prey to. We can fret over the climate changes currently taking place. Or, we can keep the eyes of our heart focused on the triumphant King of kings, and Lord of lords- Jesus.

Am I suggesting we pay no attention to real problems surrounding us- absolutely not! We are called by God to reflect and release His grace, mercy, and love to the hurting and lost after all. My point is that for those who truly follow Christ we are never to derive our peace, or lack there of, from the temporal. We are to derive our peace from the timeless Prince of peace. Only God truly knows what exactly 2016 holds for the nations. The good news, however, is that not only does He know your and my future, but He is more than capable of intervening in the midst of history (both ours and the big picture) and bring about His Kingdom purposes of redemption.

Jesus- the Triumphant Prince of Peace!

The Bible makes no promises of a life without strife. Quite the contrary, Jesus warned that there would be tribulation in our lives. Along with that warning He also gave us a wholesale promise. He told us that He would give us a peace not based on the changing events around us but the peace of His eternal Kingdom. His peace is a peace that supersedes any temporal peace. For this reason Isaiah prophetically named Him the “Prince of Peace”! In fact, Isaiah, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, promised us that God would keep in perfect peace the one who stays focused on Him! (Isaiah 26.3)

The People of the Triumphant Prince of Peace!

There is a secondary focus, as well, that is vitally important to keep in focus- the triumphant eternal church! I know that many who will read the word ‘triumphant’ in describing the church will roll their eyes in disbelief. There are, unfortunately, a huge amount of people who have suffered betrayal of commitment and love from individuals who claim to be disciples of Christ. If that has happened to you be of good courage- you happen to be in very good company. Jesus, Himself, was betrayed by a follower of His- a friend with whom He ‘broke bread with’.

I am not writing of the church as it appears at any given moment, however. Rather, I am speaking of the eternal gathering of the redeemed that both sometimes does now, and will permanently, stand as living reflections of Christ’s character and attributes. This is the eternal Bride of Christ purchased by the Blood of the Lamb and sanctified by the ongoing work of God’s very own Spirit. Like the Kingdom of God on earth today the people of God are part of both the now and the not yet when it comes to the finished work of God in beautifying and healing us for His own prize. This timeless triumph of God’s people ought to be kept at all times in our peripheral vision. Otherwise we are tempted to think that everyone and everything is prey to the deceits and weaknesses of our age.

Recently a good friend who has been a prophetic voice for many years in Australia met with a few leading pastors. He had just written a very Biblical treatise regarding the issue of same sex marriage. His purpose in meeting with the pastors was to encourage them to stand on Biblical truths and principals rather than simply going with the flow of contemporary culture. Two of the pastors basically responded by stating that ‘this was a fight the church had already lost and it was time to move on’. Their response was tragic for several reasons but I would like to simply point one key reason- the eternal timeless church simply cannot lose anything of God. We may at times forget who we are and lose sight of our birthrights in Christ. Nonetheless, God’s Word and Kingdom are always true and nothing can ever be lost even as God can never be diminished or defeated.

Allow me to share one simple example. Years ago I was invited by a missions training base in Scandinavia to come and teach on the Holy Spirit at work in the Church and world today. While some of the leaders believed that God still moved in healing and miracles today most of the ministry team did not. While ministering to them I had a choice. I could either focus on the unbelief in the current ‘face’ of the church that was staring me in the face or I could focus on the timeless church of the redeemed that had moved so powerfully in miracles throughout church history. I chose the latter. One of the good things that happened was woman who was part of the ministry team experienced a significant healing in her hips that allowed her to keep on with her mission vision rather than giving up on her calling. That particular ‘sign and wonder’ was used by God to download faith to the group that not only did He still do healings but also that He even used everyday saints!

Be Thou My Vision- by Day and by Night!

As we enter into a year that could, possibly, be even more catastrophic than 2015 let’s be committed to keeping our eyes focused on three truths; One, the truth Himself, Jesus, secondly, the eternal promises of God found in the Bible, and third, let’s view the Body of Christ as the redeemed saints of God. Even though we don’t always see the victory of Christ in each other moment by moment at this stage let’s take the long view. Let’s perceive ourselves, our congregations, and the church at large, as the chosen and favored ones. Let’s have faith that even with our current growing pains God has chosen to partner with us in order to display and release His divine love, grace, and mercy. If contemporary events are sowing any doubt in your heart just remember- God knows the plans He has for you, plans to give you a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29.11) AND, He is more than capable, no matter what the world throws at you, to complete those good plans!

May you know, experience, and extend the amazing love of God in 2016 in an ever increasing way. May the prayers and dreams you have trusted God with be realized in tangible ways. May you experience God’s goodness so much that you can’t keep from giving it away in this New Year. To Him be the glory who can do far more than you can think, or ask!

Marc and Kim Dupont
Mantle of Praise Ministries, Inc.

2014 Pioneer Challenge, Pt. 2; God’s Challenging Ways

Wounds, Rejection, & Betrayal; Setbacks, or Opportunities?

 

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” Jesus prayed, on the cross. Was that crux moment possibly the ultimate picture of the core of God’s great heart? We are somewhat familiar with the ordeal of the passion- at least head knowledge wise. The beating, the crown of thorns piercing His scalp, the whipping that cut through both skin and muscle, carrying the weight of the cross, and, finally, the pegs put through His wrists and feet we relate to- at least in theory.

The great Lamb/Lion heart of Jesus looked beyond that present suffering, however. In that moment of unimaginable physical torment Jesus went beyond the conceivable. He, who innocently suffered as a willing victim on our behalf, made known His radical incomparable heart of mercy. This unrivaled picture of mercy in the midst of innocent suffering proves that in all things Christ always conquered. Sin (ours) and death (the wages of our sin) did not triumph over Him. He was never a victim, but always a champion.

 All of which leads us to a second question; do we need to grow to the point where when we personally experience wounds, rejection, and/or betrayal we see those moments of pain from the standpoint of a victim, or as that of a champion. Specifically, when friends, loved ones, or co-workers in Christ turn against us do we perceive these occasions as opportunities for extending love, or merely fall into the mindset of a hapless victim?

 In the overall sense the word “church” refers to the eternal collection of the majestic and redeemed ones God refers to as His children. Tozer referred to the eternal church as a “grand army of fragrant saints”. Experientially, however, life among the saints often proves to be quite a painful ordeal rather than a continuous experience of joy. For some the good news of the gospel becomes the bad news of a toxic church life. The problem lies in the fact that “hurting people hurt people”.

 Metaphorically church life is a collective journey along the highway of healing, wholeness, and sanctification. Despite best intentions, however, we sometimes experience a bit of jostling and bumping on that road. Even worse sometimes we are even deliberately elbowed and shouldered out of someone’s way that fears we may be a hindrance to his or her progress. What’s immeasurably worse, however, is when we find we are on the one doing the pushing and shoving!

 

To Bless, or to Curse? 

 

The fact that the Body of Christ overall is rift with church splits, division, and abuse is more than obvious. Recently while speaking at a conference I spent time fellowshipping with a pastor who somehow has survived eight different church splits. He reckons it to be miraculous that he’s still in ministry without any apparent bitterness, or anger, weighing heavy on his heart. A pastor I was with two weeks later on the other side of the continent has recently experienced his best friend in ministry inadvertently causing his church to fracture and severing the years of friendship. As well, I would hazard a guess that, to at least to a degree, the sudden growth of some new churches is more due to relational discontent among existing churches than due to a fresh work of evangelism. Yet when Christ experienced personal betrayal by one whom He had shared His bread with His heart expression was one of mercy and reconciliation rather than rejection and anger.

It is one thing to love and bless those around us when they live up to our expectations. What about when they fail us miserably to the point of betrayal, wounding, and/or rejection?

Hurt, obviously, is painful- be it physical or emotional. The question before us, however, is do we allow whatever present pain of rejection, or betrayal, we may face to dominate our thinking and responses, or do we allow the unconditional security and significance the Father heart of God grants us to inspire us? When we look to the model of Jesus then we must take into account that He, “the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despied the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”. (Hebrews 12.2)

 Jesus instructed (not encouraged) us to “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you”. (Luke 6.28) Likewise Paul instructed the saints in Rome to “bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse”. His encouragement flowed from a posture of devotion to one another due to the essential truth that we are all part of the family of God, if, indeed, we are in Christ Jesus. I believe Paul both experienced, but also foresaw, that often times persecution would come not only from without but at times from within the gathering of the redeemed. 

Essentially, to bless means to speak words of life while in prayer, or otherwise, to another. To curse means to speak words of destruction and death. Whether those words are verbalized, or only spoken in the heart, in one, sense makes little difference.

 

Forgiveness & Forgetting; 2 Very Different Things

 

It can be both naïve and dangerous to assume that forgiving someone for hurtful behavior is to pretend as if nothing bad has happened. All of us are imperfect and from time to time we speak careless words that offend, whether we meant it, or not. One, however, who practices giving offense and/or hurt demands that to some degree, depending on the severity of their toxicity, that boundaries be established. If their hurtful words and/or actions are consistently serious then most likely a separation will become necessary.

On one occasion the Lord spoke to me regarding a former associate in ministry who proved to be quite toxic. God’s words to me were “Love him as if he had never sinned against you”. The Lord was not calling me to “offer my cheek” forever as a target for his abuse. Rather, God was instructing me to forgive, bless, and where I had opportunities within safe boundaries to extend love. Please note, however; God was not calling me to bless his toxic behavior, but to pray for him for healing and God’s grace and mercy as I would want if I were caught in up in the same strongholds. As well, the Lord was strongly directing me not to seat myself in the seat of judgment, which belongs to Christ alone! “Do not judge, lest you be judged”. (Matt.71) A mercy we don’t give is a mercy we don’t get!

 

Wounds, Rejection, & Betrayal; dead ends, or doors of promotion?

 

The first generation of Hebrews out of Egypt spent some forty years journeying through the wilderness due to unbelief that God could effectively deal with the dangers within their promised land. In the same way I believe many Christians today have come out of slavery (dominions of darkness) and into freedom (the Kingdom of God) yet fail to enter into the promises, destiny, and calling God has for them. It is all to easy to stay focused on the giants of pain, rejection, and betrayal rather than the person and promises of God almighty.

I would even go further to say that often, as the Father did with His beloved Son, God allows us to walk through seasons of wounding, rejection, and betrayal. He might not Himself cause it but He, who can work all things out for the good of those who love Him, might just allow it. 

“Why”, we our souls cry out in confusion. “Why would our loving Father allow us to suffer”? God’s goal for us is that, like Joseph, when we end up in places of influence and authority we will temper that authority and influence with the mercy and grace of the Lamb and the Lion.

It just could be that the very ordeal you are going through right now could be the doorway of promotion to a place of greater Kingdom effectiveness than you’ve ever experienced before. Don’t allow the present suffering to become one more dead end which forces us back into yesterday’s battles. Always remember to give glory to the one who “is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us”!

 Equally important is to strive to remember that the underserved mercies, blessings, and grace you extend to those who offend you may just be the very key they personally need to emerge from their own cave of wounds, rejection, and betrayal. After all is said and done because God is love those who desire to live a Spirit filled lifestyle must, sooner or later, begin to model and champion the ways of the Lamb and the Lion- the champion of Heaven!

 One final aspect of hurt and betrayal needs to be recognized- the ensuing confusion! When those we have trusted and put our hope in not only fail us but hurt us, as well, confusion is almost always sure to follow. “How could this happen? What could we have done differently? Whose to blame”? In those moments of sensing the wilderness of the soul we must remember to “lean not to our own understanding, but to trust the Lord with all of our heart”.  He absolutely can and will complete the good work that He has begun within us!

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13.35

The 2014 Pioneer Challenge

The 2014 Pioneer Challenge

It’s God’s heart for each of us that we always allow our dreams, visions, and hopes to be governed and inspired by His will for us that so we grow into new levels of success and prosperity. By success I mean being fruitful in extending God’s love, grace and Kingdom. By prosperity I mean abounding in God’s peace, joy, healing, provision, and wisdom, to the point that we can enable others to experience the same.

Part of the route God ordains for our lives is, from time to time, walking with Him into new territories (arenas) and challenges. This can be daunting due to the fact that since the fall our fallen nature craves being in control of our lives and situations. To pioneer means, essentially, that one is intentionally moving into realms where were aware that we have neither the experience nor foreknowledge to feel in control.

The first generation of Hebrews came out of slavery into freedom but failed to enter into the promises of God for their lives. “The word (promises of God) they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard” (Hebrews 4.2). The power of Christ and the cross grants us a freedom to come out of spiritual death and into life in the Spirit. We now have the freedom to walk with God into the promises He has for our lives. Do we consciously and intentionally choose to unite faith (obedience) with the words and dreams God gives us? Are we even posturing our hearts to be in a place where ‘the young men and women prophesy, and the older one’s dream dreams’? Or, does our faith merely consist of believing God to maintain the past victories and breakthroughs?

The danger is that as God offers us new talents and opportunities we fall into the trap of the steward who out of fear buried his talent and so lost  it. (Matthew 25.24-29) In life the subtle choice is to change, or to be changed. What we don’ use we can easily lose! Either we’re moving forward into greater fruitfulness, or were falling back into stagnation. In the depth of our relationship with God He is continually calling to ‘listen to His son’ rather than make monuments to yesterday. A focus on yesterday’s success can render them into maggoty, moldy manna of today.

On the first day of this New Year I would like to challenge the friends of Marc Dupont Ministries to intentionally believe and pray that this year God has more for you ‘than eye has seen, ear has heard, or more than you can imagine’. Let’s begin this year by giving glory to the One who can do far more that we can think, or ask! This will mean being aware that God may lead us into situations and arenas where we feel totally inept due to either past failures or a current lack of experience.

Keep front and center as you pray for the New Year these two truths; 1) It is God’s heart that you bear much fruit and so prove to be disciples of Christ (John 15.8), and 2) It is God’s heart for you, as you walk with Him, that you journey from strength to strength, and from glory to glory. This does not mean that we don’t encounter difficulties, setbacks, and adversity. It does mean, however, that we lean not to our own understanding. Rather, we trust God to be God Almighty (El Shaddai) who can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves as we walk in obedience with Him.

Twelve months from now I believe many of are going to look back and have a fresh sense of wonder and awe regarding the goodness of God in our lives and through our lives to others. As John Eldredge so aptly put it: ‘Life is not an ordeal to be survived, but an adventure to be lived’.

 ‘He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”’ 2 Corinthians 12.9

Marc A. Dupont

 

Sowing & Reaping and the Gift of Dying (to self)

I have been considering the subject of death recently. No, not due to any macabre reasons but, rather due to seeking more insight regarding the powerful principal of sowing and reaping which effects nearly all of life. Much has been taught and preached concerning sowing and reaping.  It is a principal, or law, that many third world people seem to understand far more than many so called ‘educated’ people in the western world. This is primarily due to the fact that much of the third world is still agrarian based while many western world based people perceive many events in life as random, or chance. Personally, I don’t believe the word “coincidence” exists in the lexicon of heaven.

The prophet Hosea stated, on behalf of God, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”. (Hos.4.6) Moses was pro active when He asked God to teach him His ways so that He might know Him. In a society that seems gripped by consumerism- constantly fixated on what we don’t have, God would have us be thankful and even celebrating what He has already given us. Our problem is, due to lack of knowledge, we don’t always perceive God’s ways of stewardship with what He has entrusted us with. That can result in a lack of divine multiplication in our lives! Part of our problem is that so much of Biblical kingdom living appears to be counter intuitive to our natural (earthly) mindsets. Especially, sacrificial giving and serving can seem so counter productive when it comes to seeking fulfillment in life.

In considering much material and teaching on sowing and reaping that emphasizes a Biblical basis I have found that as encouraging and helpful as some of it is much of it neglects this crucial aspect of sowing and reaping- death, and dying to self.

Times of Demotion often precede Times of Promotion

Early last month my mother, aged 86 years, passed on to the Lord. As is often quoted at memorial services I stated her passing on was ‘bitter sweet’. Bitter because she was one of the most generous and selfless persons I have ever known and I will greatly miss her.  Sweet because she is now free from the last 4 years of very difficult health and short-term memory problems. More importantly, we can now celebrate that she is gazing on the wonder of Christ Jesus and enjoying perfect health every which way. That journey of promotion could not have taken place, however, without partaking of the cup of death. 

Even Christ Jesus, who never sinned and never deserved any judgment whatsoever, experienced death in order to come into the promotion the Father intended for Him. His offering of His life on the cross was the fulfillment of His teaching that “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” The question I would like to pose is “As God has created and structured life do we realize that quite often death precedes an increase of life?” Or to put it another way- ‘times of demotion often are preparation for times of promotion’. We all want to walk in resurrection life but how many of us are willing to embrace a “pick up your cross” lifestyle!

The principal of sowing and reaping, as Paul championed it in the New Testament, goes all the way back to the very beginning of man. Shortly after God created the garden, humanity, and all that exists, He stated to man  “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you”.

The key, which God has given to humanity for sustenance and even abundance, unto sharing and caring, is sowing and reaping. And what He has given us to sow are seeds- some literal and some metaphorical! The previous statement is both quite elementary but also quite profound. Elementary because everyone to some degree understands that trees, fruit, vegetables, animal life, and even humans, begin with a small seed of some sort. Profound because when you hold a plant or tree seed in your hand it appears as a quite insignificant small piece of dead wood.

In a nutshell (no pun intended) this powerful truth of the great and grand coming out of the small and insignificant is powerfully illustrated by Christ, Himself. He who seemingly had no stately form or majesty offered Himself up on that despised piece of wood that symbolized death and shame. The fruit of His sacrifice is millions, and someday possibly billions, who will come out of spiritual death into eternal sonship in Him! Our key, which God continually gives us, is choosing to surrender- laying our lives down like that grain of wheat in the earth.

Never despise small beginnings!

The apostle Paul stated “I die daily”! For Paul His ethos was to daily strive, by God’s grace, to emulate the selfless ways and will of Christ rather than selfish ambition and carnal desire. As we, in turn seek to imitate Paul who sought to imitate Christ it is essential that we thoroughly understand this God created principal of sowing and reaping. Daily, as we practice kindness- both one off opportunities with strangers and regularly with those we know, we will reap what we sow. As well, from time to time, as God leads us, we are to give of time, energy, and finances in sacrificial ways. No matter how great the sacrifice His promise is we will also absolutely reap what we sow in amazing ways.

A huge part of the battle, however, is not despising what we have to give no matter how small and insignificant it may seem to be. You and I may not be giants of faith and intellect, or rich in practical resources. As we take what we have in hand, however small and lifeless it appears, and place it in the hands of God with faith (thanksgiving) not only will we reap, but also so will others. The disciples surrendered to Christ the meager meal they had for themselves of five loaves of bread and two fish and by God’s divine principal of multiplication out of sowing and reaping they not only fed thousands and thousands of people but they ended up with one full basket each.

In the day of the prophet Zechariah, God had called Zerubbabel; the governor over the province Jerusalem was in, to the seemingly impossible task of rebuilding the destroyed Temple. Both the resources and the heart of the people seemed to be severely lacking. But the prophetic word, despite all odds, was: “Do not despise the day of small beginnings”. The rest, as they say is history! The miracle of the rebuilding of the Temple was a big picture reflection of the miracle of a tiny seed becoming a life giving fruit tree!

God will not be mocked. Kingdom living is in the giving!

As God gives opportunity and especially at the leading of His Spirit let’s be a people who live and give sacrificially out of the prophetic abundance of small acts and gifts- no matter how unlikely, or insignificant those metaphorical seeds may seem. And remember the death process of sacrificial giving may be incredibly inconvenient at an incredibly inconvenient time. It very well may result in your “soul becoming troubled”!  It may be God is calling you to die to your reputation even as Christ “made Himself of no reputation”.

What may appear to be a tomb of death may very well prove to be God’s miracle doorway for you. What may appear to be a worthless sacrifice can all too often turn out to be God’s key to abundant life. After all, kingdom living is in the giving (dying to self). It is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, much better to give than it is to receive!

Marc A. Dupont

Mantle of Praise Ministries, Inc.

ONTARIO 2013 Advanced Prophetic Training School

2013 Ontario Advanced Prophetic Training School

Learning to Make Known ‘the word of the Lord’

There are a multitude of voices screaming out today- all of which claim to have the recipe of success. Even within the contemporary Church there are many competing messages all claiming to know  God’s hidden plans for our times & seasons. How do we learn to discern both God’s specific focus for our lives and to help others do the same? How do we grow into those children of God who are truly led by the Spirit, rather than manipulated by the swirl of events and situations around us?

The OAPT School (Ontario Advanced Prophetic Training School) will not only help more fully develop each believer’s priesthood in Christ, but it will help train & discern in knowing the ways of Biblically representing God’s wisdom. Despite the  growing pessimism and fear in both the world and the church concerning the future God calls us to both believe in Him and know His ways & voice so we might prosper in serving Christ even during a  time of famine.

The role of a prophetic ministry is to make known both the Person of God and the voice of the Lord in a way as to encourage those within our sphere of influence to be fruitful in all areas,  by God’s grace. In short, the goal of the OAPT School is to greatly multiply your fruitfulness in prophetically representing God.

>>> CLICK HERE<<< to download the upcoming 2013 OAPT School brochure.

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

Introduction

Dear co-laborer and leader in the Kingdom of God,

During the summer months of last year the Lord spoke a very similar ‘burden’ independently to both myself, and John Paul Jackson, of Streams Ministries. The message had, and has, to do with some problematic issues which have surfaced in the overall situation of current prophetic ministry. Neither John Paul, nor myself, feel any sense of having “arrived” at a place of prophetic ministry where we believe we have the right to police, or judge. We both find ourselves in an unenviable position of carrying a prophetic burden for the overall situation while being very aware of our own shortcomings. However, in order to be obedient to the Lord we teamed up to put together what would amount to a six-page document entitled “Prophetic Ministry Principles-and-Protocols”.

In early December we presented a rough copy to a larger team including Jim Goll, Loren Sandford, John Sandford, and Bobby Connors. Together the six of us spent time both editing and adding to the article. Later, that we week, we presented the article in detail to a gathering of some 35 international prophetic ministries. For the most part the feedback was positive with encouragement to let the document go mainstream. We have spent the last four months going over the document again and again for the sake of both readability and conforming to what we believe the Lord was indicating were His concerns. Finally, we believe we have the document ready for release.

I would like to ask you to read it and consider two possible follow up steps:
1) Most likely, the article is going to be published in several international Christian magazines. As well, it will be put out to the church at large via the internet. Would you consider “signing on” as in endorsing the document. If so, please respond to appropriately back to me.


2) Additionally, if you are in general agreement with the articles would you prayerfully consider how this can be used within your own spheres of influence as you interact with prophetic ministries. Please keep in mind that while most, if not all, of these points may be some what applicable to ‘in house” prophetic voices we have primarily written it for trans-local prophets and prophetic ministries which minister to the church at large.

Additionally, any feedback you may want to give me, or John Paul, would be very appreciated.

Yours in Christ,

Marc A. Dupont
April 9, 2012

Preamble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Principles and Protocol

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

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

I. Concerning Beliefs and Practices
1. The Bible, as the perfect revelation of Jesus and the infallible word of God, is the absolute standard for weighing and assessing all revelation (2Timothy 3:16, Col 2:18-19, John 1:14).
A. While I treasure spiritual experiences from the Holy Spirit, I will not place subjective experiences and discernment above the Bible (Rev 19:10; Col 2:18-19).
B. I will not allow my emotions or pride to rob me of utilizing the Bible as my standard for weighing a revelation and any interpretation I may attach to a revelation.
C. I will always speak a Bible-centric message.
D. I will seek to draw all who hear me toward a greater relationship with the Father through Jesus, and to make the name of Jesus known in a biblical way.

2. God values His Word as the expression of His name and nature (Psalms 138:2). Therefore, we hold truth as a necessity in prophecy.
A. I will always try not only to speak truth, but to speak prophetic words in a way that reflects the loving heart of God.
B. I will determine to always lovingly speak prophetic correction in such a way as to avoid condemnation toward those who receive the prophetic word.
C. I will intend to always communicate hope for change through the transforming power of Jesus.
D. I commit to reflect the nature of my God by loving people more than my gift.
E. Prophecy is a word from God. I will try to speak it with both humility and confidence.
F. While fearing God, I will not fear man. Whenever God directs me to release revelation I will not hold back through fear of man, fear of offending those with whom I am in relationship, or fear of losing popularity and/or opportunities to minister (Galatians 1:10, Proverbs 29:5).
G. I commit to God’s call on my life to proclaim the ways and will of God ahead of the “success” of my ministry in the eyes of man or the church.

3. I believe that prophetic accuracy is essential. I believe that the method and manner of delivery (the heart) of a prophecy is also important.
A. I understand that voicing words from God is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. I aspire to have 100% accuracy in all I say.
B. I will admit when I am wrong and take steps to acknowledge, repent and make restitution for my error in a prophecy or its delivery, in a manner appropriate to correct the error and the reason for the error.
C. Repentance and restitution must also be appropriate to my sphere of influence and the scope of the prophetic word (Psalms 138:2).

4. If I do give an errant prophecy, I commit to full repentance. This will include:
A. An apology. If I gave the prophecy to a private party, my apology must be to that party. If the prophecy was given to a group such as a church or the public, the apology must be given to that group.
B. Biblical repentance does not mean saying, “I’m sorry” only to God, but also to those I have hurt. Most importantly, I must communicate that I am deeply concerned about the harm I have done or the hurt I have inflicted, and I will do whatever else is needed to help heal the wounds I have caused.
C. With the help of wise counsel, I will seek to find if there is anything in my heart that caused this error, and deal with it through confession, repentance and action.
D. I commit to continuing in accountability to a safe and loving authority whom I believe will support me and help me walk in integrity. I will not remove myself from this process even if painful to me and/or it seems that those to whom I am accountable are not treating me fairly.
E. I believe there are consequences to all actions. If my error is particularly serious or repeated, I will be willing to take time off from prophetic ministry until I and those in authority over me have discerned that I am ready to resume ministry.

5. Concerning supernatural manifestations, I will not substitute the seeking of angels, angelic activity, or other supernatural manifestations, over the seeking of God, His presence, and the truths contained in Scripture. The source of all truth is the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 11:14; Col 2:18-19).
A. I believe that the character of Christ in me is more important to the Kingdom than my gift. It is the application and manifestation of God’s Word in my life.
B. I will not fall prey to idolatry by seeking to generate, initiate or exaggerate supernatural manifestations, no matter what may be expected by the church culture in which I speak.
C. Likewise, I endeavor to allow the Holy Spirit to initiate how and when He releases supernatural manifestations and/or ministry through me.
D. If God does speak to me through angels, or causes certain manifestations, or gives particular types of revelation, I will communicate what I hear and see only as God directs. I will do so without elevating myself, my experience or revelation in any way that might detract from the Person of God Himself.

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

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

8. Ephesians 4 ministries are to equip the Body of Christ to receive, develop and mature, rather than to cultivate an audience of spectators for our gifting. Thus, we hold in high regard the priesthood of each believer in Christ (1 Peter 2:5; Romans 8:14; Isaiah 61:6).
A. I commit to preaching sound doctrine rather than dividing the Body of Christ through non-scriptural doctrines designed to amaze my audience and develop a following (2Tim 4:3-4).
B. I will not use the gift God has given me in a reckless manner that might cause others to stumble or misunderstand God and His ways (Jer. 23:32).
C. I commit to help Christian leaders and trainers discern between the operation of God-given spiritual gifts and human psychic abilities (Daniel 2:27-28; 4:8-9).
D. I commit to help train the Body of Christ to discern between true, Holy Spirit-inspired revelation and mere human intuition, New Age pseudo-spirituality or psychic abilities (1John 4:1).
E. I will intentionally try to communicate revelation and the interpretation of revelation in ways that encourage, strengthen, and comfort the recipient(s) of the word (1 Corinthians 14:3).
F. I will seek to avoid prophesying anything that controls or manipulates the lives of others.
G. When giving a prophetic word, I will seek to always encourage hearers to biblically and prayerfully weigh it rather than to take it without consideration. (1 Corinthians 14.29)


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

10. I commit to refusing to prostitute the revelatory gifting God has given me by attaching a fee to a prophetic word* (Micah 3:11).
A. I will not use a prophetic word or prophetic ministry to manipulate people to give financially to me or the ministry I lead (2 Peter 2:15).
B. I will not lead people to believe that the prophetic word will be triggered or influenced by a gift.
*Accepting honorariums, gifts or travel remuneration is acceptable. This is different than prophesying for an agreed amount of money, and is equivalent to a pastor receiving a salary.

 

Ethics

II. Concerning My Life in Representing Christ Jesus Prophetically

1. I commit to living, modeling and championing the character of Christ. I believe Christ-like character to be more important than operating out of gifting (2 Cor. 7:1).
A. I choose to consistently promote and model the ways of Christ more than simply communicate revelation.
B. When it comes to representing Christ Jesus, I believe that I not only have a message, but that I am the message.

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

3. I commit to having an accountability group in place to whom I will hold my lifestyle, marriage and ministry accountable.
A. I commit to living a life free of substance abuse, love of money, extra-marital sex, pornography, pride and unforgiveness/bitterness.
B. I commit to living out God’s high value of love and covenant emotionally, spiritually and physically with the “spouse of my youth,” to the best of my ability.
C. I will guard my heart and make a covenant with my eyes not to look upon another in a lustful manner.

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

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

6. I commit to honor the Lord by honoring and strengthening His delegated authority in the Body of Christ.
A. I will honor and strengthen local pastors and church leaders as God’s-appointed shepherds and gatekeepers for their local congregations.
B. I will not usurp the authority of the local leadership in the Body where I am called to speak.

7. I commit to perceiving myself as a servant to both the church at large and the local church as God gives me opportunity.
A. I will not view congregations and other ministries as mere platforms, or tools to facilitate my vision and calling.
B. I will not steal another leader’s people or leadership in order to build my ministry.

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

 

The Nature of Prophetic Ministry

III. The Nature of Authentic Prophetic Ministry

• Bible-centric —Bear/bare witness, expose, declare and establish the truth of Scripture.
• Salvation-centric – Declare, teach and demonstrate the gospel of the Kingdom of God with signs and wonders following (Mark 16:20).
• Jesus-centric – Edify, comfort, encourage and exhort believers and the church in the way to Jesus as well as the way of Jesus.
• God-centric – Demonstrate in word, deed and manner the character of the Father: love, righteousness, justice, compassion, mercy, majesty and holiness.
• Sovereignty-centric – Bring glory to God alone. His name, His acts, and His Glory are inseparable. He exercises His will through His Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Immutability and Eternality, as He chooses.

Toxic Churches: Restoration from Spiritual Abuse

Book - Toxic Churches: Restoration from Spiritual AbuseToxic Churches explores all aspects of spiritual abuse in the church. With care and tenderness, Dupont offers help and hope to those caught in abusive situations, and provides a healing balm to those with residual pain from past abuse. Dupont also gives leaders engaged in abusive behavior ways to make it right.










Pursuing Open Heavens: Seeking God For Our Generations

Book - Pursuing Open Heavens: Seeking God For Our Generations“This is a very timely prophetic word to all those who are desperate not just for revival but, more importantly, for the Reviver – Jesus. This book is a wonderful example of the marriage of the Word and the Spirit. I am delighted to recommend it.”

– Dr. Mark Stibbe, Vicar of St Andrews Chorleywood, United Kingdom














Healing Today: When the Blind See and the Lame Walk

Book - Healing Today: When the Blind See and the Lame WalkMark Stibbe and Marc A. Dupont confront the commonly held belief that spiritual gifts like healing ceased at the close of the apostolic era at the end of the first century. They believe that God still heals the sick today as we pray for them in the name of Jesus, and they share from what they have discovered about how healing functions as just one expression of the love of God.














Becoming the Friend of God

Book - Becoming the Friend of GodIn the Gospel of John, Jesus called His disciples to know Him as a friend, not merely as a master!

“Becoming the Friend of God” is a study of four key aspects of Abraham, “the friend of God,” and how we too can develop true friendship with God!














Knowing the Voice of God

Knowing the Voice of GodThis teaching will help you develop intimacy with God and inspire you to hear Him speak to you daily, and as a fruit of this, walk with Him as manifest sons and daughters of the Most High God. (Contains 6 CDs).





Living by Supernatural Faith!

CD series - Living by Supernatural Faith“Living by Supernatural Faith’ will help you understand and move into true Biblical faith.

Biblical faith is a powerful combination of three things: 1) operating in the gift of faith God gives to move mountains, 2) Seeking first the Kingdom of God, and 3) being led by the Holy Spirit.

This teaching will help you realize the battle really does belong to the Lord and our job is to walk with Him, not striving to accomplish what He desires to do – to you and through you.

Breakthrough in Times of Breakdown

CD series - Breakthrough in a Time of BreakdownThis is Marc’s new series focused on living out of God’s provision, power, and economy rather than the world’s. God’s desire for each of us is to know Him as the one who meets our every need to the point that we can freely seek first His Kingdom with freedom from the growing anxiety in the world today.

This 3 part CD set contains: “Yours for the Asking,” “Knowing the Prince of Peace,” & “Breakthrough in a Time of Breakdown.”








Biblical Grace Under Assault – Part 2: The Ugly Face of Narcissism

The Ugly Face of Narcissism

Last year I wrote the first article focused on the growing misunderstanding and misapplication of God’s grace. In short, the first one dealt with the growing issue of many within the contemporary church of incorrectly perceiving grace as a license for doing what ever one desired to without any sense of consequences. It is false spirituality to claim to be a disciple of Christ with little regard for God’s desire that our lifestyle be conformed to that of Christ Jesus. The overall point in exploring the growing problem was summarized by the statement “God’s grace does not give us the freedom to do what we like and get away with it. Rather, it releases the power of God’s Word and Spirit to become individuals conformed to Christ.”

A year on I would like to help identify the core issue to the problem and the singular and simple cure.

Identifying Original Sin

The deception of Eve in the Garden, which resulted in her and Adam’s disobedience, was on several levels. The first lie was an attempt by satan to dissuade her from believing that God had really spoken to her. “Did God really say to you?” was the opening salvo. So it is today. One of satan’s biggest weapons utilized against those that know God is to sow seeds of doubt pertaining to the reality of one’s relationship with God. If the devil cannot keep one from Christ, he will do everything he can to minimize our priesthood in Christ. The second lie was the intimation that God was deliberately keeping His best from them. The manifestation of the orphan spirit provoked Eve to grab, rather than trust the fathering of God in her life.

While each of these two basic temptations are helpful to put into perspective they are not, in and of themselves, the core problem. The central issue is that which is pictured in the book of Ezekiel, chapter 28. The prophet gives us a glimpse of satan prior to his fall from God. Being perfect in wisdom and beauty, and adorned with all sorts of precious gems and gold, his chief job was to reflect the glory of God. Due to his gifting he may very well have been chief of the worshiping angels. (Isaiah 14.11) Essentially his fall (being cast away from God’s immediate Presence) was due to being more enamored with himself than God. (Ezekiel 28.17) He was more obsessed with his own image than he was in reflecting the image of God. We can correctly label his core sin pride, which resulted in him becoming the first narcissist!

Narcissism is essentially, a preoccupation with self due to being overly impressed with oneself. The majority of a narcissist’s thoughts, if not actions, are about oneself, one’s personal desires, feelings, and image. In the case of one with power and abilities narcissism will also manifest in striving to have others worship oneself. A true narcissist always wants others to center their lives on him, or herself.

To one who does not really know God the question will often arise “will isn’t that what God is all about- Narcissism, when He calls us to worship and obey Him?” It would be if it were not for the nature and core being of God. He is love and His whole reason for calling us to worship and obey Him is that we might be caught up in His goodness towards us to the point that we then reflect that love and selflessness to everyone we meet. In contrast to the empty vanity of preoccupation with oneself God is focused on blessing us more than we can even begin to think, or ask.

The spirit of Lawlessness

The apostle Paul wrote to the church of Thessalonica regarding the “mystery of lawlessness”. When one’s heart is governed by narcissism one’s lifestyle, thoughts, words, and actions will be governed by one’s own desires as much as one feels it is safe to do so. Today’s western world society is more and more resembling Paul’s prophetic words of 2 Thessalonians: “God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.” (2 Thess.2.11-12).

In today’s culture it is now relatively safe to do and say what was unthinkable just a few years ago. For example in the recent “Occupy” protests which are, or were, taking place in many US cities things are being done and said which would be shocking if it were not for the numbing and dumbing down taking place due to an onslaught of continually shocking lawless behavior. For example, the crude behavior of some (not all) of the protesters in New York and some other locations has been to urinate and defecate in the doorways of nearby business’s and apartment buildings. While that is somewhat shocking it does not compare to the even more shocking defense of such animalistic behavior. One spokesperson while recently addressing the problem said, “We have the right to go to the bathroom”. Well, yes, and no. They do have the right but not on another’s property. Their spirit of lawlessness demands the freedom to do what they desire to do with complete disregard and contempt for the landlords, business owners, and tenants who legally possess and occupy those properties.

This last summer saw parts of London, England fall prey to mob violence and looting.  There were some individuals apprehended by the police even from well to do families who had committed both vandalism and thievery. Why? Simply because they wanted to and thought they could get away with it.  Regard for both the law and common civility is increasingly being thrown under the bus in today’s society. Why? Simply because of the rise of lawlessness. In short, many are so preoccupied with themselves narcissism trumps the rights and regards for all others.

What of the church, however? God states that judgment starts first with the household of God!

I was recently asked a question concerning the message I sometimes speak on of God’s heart for sexual purity. The question was whether I also communicate the message to non-Christians. My answer was “no”. I’m quite appreciative of those who go into schools and other secular venues and teach the value of sexual abstinence outside of marriage. Sex saved for the context of marriage helps foster healthy marriages and families regardless of whether one is a Christian, or not. However, when it comes to Christians preaching sexual purity to the world, purely from a Biblical perspective, we must first be willing to deal with the spirit of lawlessness we have begun to tolerate among ourselves.

The sheer number of moral failings among church leaders over the last ten years is truly staggering. What’s really indicative of the extensiveness of the issue is that all too often those fallen leaders are all too soon reinstated quickly back into their ministries. The common justification for short changing the restoration process is the claim that the church needs their gifting. Unfortunately, if we would take the time to discern true motivation we might see beyond the gifting into the heart. We might just see the spirit of lawlessness dominating some despite their gifting and calling.

Jesus stated there will be those cast outside the kingdom who will offer in their defense “‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me those of you who practice lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7.23 &amp; 24) What is not in contention is their ministry to man. It is the stronghold of lawlessness that Jesus will find unacceptable.

Spiritual Homosexuality: Recreating God in our Image

The root causes of homosexuality, as noted by many who take a Biblical view that homosexuality is, indeed, sin, are varied. Often the background of a domineering mother alongside a father of little influence is cited. As well, there appears to be a certain percentage of homosexuals who were sexually abused by a male during their formative years. Whatever the root cause(s) may be homosexuality is the desiring of one’s likeness. It is not that dissimilar from the story of Narcissus staring into the pool at his own reflection. Again, the roots go all the way back to the mountain of the Lord where Satan began to be more focused on his own image than God.

The false notion that because God is love He is accommodating of all people despite their life style smacks of desiring a God who we can mold to our image, with our desires and perspectives. (And no, I am not jumping into the controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s recent book concerning whether anyone is, or isn’t, going to hell) God’s word quite clearly points out huge essential distinctions between God and each of us. For one, His ways are higher than our ways because He, Himself, is beyond our perspective and comprehension. This is why it is essential that the church be Bible based, as well as the Spirit led.  We must allow the “I AM” to define Himself and lean not to our own understanding otherwise we are falling into the trap of attempting to recreate God in our image. William Cowper put it well,  in one of his famous poems, “God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain”.

We can truly say, “God is good” and “God is love”. But when we preach, sing, and pray into God’s goodness and love we must do so with the Biblical perspective that His goodness goes way beyond our understanding of goodness. In the goodness of His Lordship, then, it stands to reason there may be many things He allows and disallows that we might not be able to fully grasp the reasons why at the time. For example why did God take Ananias and Sapphira before their time simply because they lied regarding the sale of their property? Why did God forbid Moses to enter the Promised Land simply because he hit the rock instead of merely speaking to it? (Numbers 20.8-12) There are clear reasons we can surmise today due to Biblically based hindsight. For the people at that time it most likely would have seemed harsh beyond measure for the God of compassion and grace to do what He did.

When God took Ananias &amp; Sapphira the immediate fruit was the rise of a reverential fear of the Lord. We read nothing of the apostles offering a humanistic based false comfort along the lines of “There, there, it will be okay. God loves you just the way you are”. Somehow the feel good best seller of the ‘60s “I’m Okay, Your Okay” has become the unspoken mantra among many churches today. Certainly God does love us just the way we are, but He also loves us way too much to leave us the way we are! His kind intentions for us are nothing less than to mold us into living, breathing reflections of Christ. That does demand our willing and complete participation, however!

Today, as discussed in the first installment of “Biblical Grace Under Assault”, there is a serious problem with unsanctified compassion. To insist that a fallen leader take a couple of years, or more, out of ministry until equity is restored in their own souls, their marriage, with their family, and within the church, is often seen as heartless and punishing. Yet, the real danger lies not in merely tolerating lawlessness.  We may be in real danger of facilitating a cancerous state of the heart with in the church by tacitly agreeing with lawlessness. All because we cannot perceive of a God Almighty whose ways may be quite different from ours. God is rich in mercy to forgive but He is also powerful in grace to empower change if we choose to usurp the monstrous demands of narcissism. As the psalmist prayed, in Psalm 119.133: “do not let any iniquity have dominion over me”!

First Things First

The patterns God has displayed in both the Old and New Testament are vital to understand. God is quite particular in not only how He does things, but the order in which He does things.

The predominant message of the Gospels is the message of the nearness of the Kingdom of God. The Greek word “basileia”, which translates as “kingdom” is used some 109 times in the Gospels, but only 31 times in the following Apostolic letters and the Book of Acts. The word “ecclesia”, which translates as “church” is only mentioned 3 times in the Gospel of Matthew and not at all in the other 3 gospel accounts. However, it is used some 108 times in the Book of Acts and the remaining books of the New Testament. In believing that God is intentional in the order of what He does and says we can safely say there is a pattern here that must not be lost in the contemporary church.

That pattern has to do with the necessity of first things first. Before the church can correctly be built up the foundation of the kingship (Lordship) of God must be reckoned with. Before healthy church life (Christ centered relationships) can be realized the message of Christ’s lordship must be realized on a personal basis.

So, if God’s firsts must come first in our lives then what is the essential foundational message of the kingdom? It was (and is) as John, the forerunner proclaimed, and then as Jesus, Himself, preached: “Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand”. (Matthew 3.2 &amp; 4.17 respectively) The word “repent” means to change one’s ways of thinking. We use the word penthouse to identify a high up place. In other words, to repent means to perceive things from a higher perspective. Our lifestyles should be changed simply because we view God, life, and ourselves differently than the rest of humanity. It should also go without saying that as our understanding of God and His ways continues to grow our lifestyles continue to change. As the Apostle Paul put it: “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect”. (Romans 12.2)

Because first things come first and act as a foundation for that which is to come I believe we can make a simple, yet important, deduction.  that is that the full potential of church (family) life will not be realized without first embracing change in thinking about life and the ways of life. In short, it will be impossible for us to “prove the will of God” to ourselves and the world without losing the constant focus on the unholy, narcissistic, trinity of “me, myself, and I” and learn to honor and obey the true trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”.

The essential Kingdom message has not changed. It is to pick up my cross and die to self. It is to die daily and seek with all of one’s heart God’s ways and will. Even the structure of how Jesus taught us to pray places personal needs last. It begins with the worship of God and the prayer for His kingdom (Lordship) to come prior to supplication for our needs. If true fellowship with one another is going to be established and prove fruitful then the setting aside of personal demands and desires must be realized. There is no room for narcissism in either the Kingdom, or the church (the people of the Kingdom).

Real Living is in the Reality of Giving

A friend recently pointed out something in the Gospels that I had never really taken note of before; There is absolutely not one time in the four gospel accounts where Jesus ever said “I love you”. What He did say, though,  was “I have loved you”. Jesus did not equate love with mere words, but with real action. How did He love the disciples and the multitudes? He loved them by what He did! He fed the hungry. He healed the sick. He befriended the outcasts. His love was never a mere vibe, emotion, or even a statement. God’s love is action, serving, and giving.

He stated in John 13.34: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another”. In other words, He calls us to take our eyes off our selves and do two things: obey Him and to prefer others. He stated in John 14.15 that if we truly loved Him we would then obey Him. 1 John 3.18 reads: “let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth”. Kingdom love is always measured by action, never by mere theology, or sentiment.

As stated earlier, the essential Kingdom message has not changed. It is still better to give than to receive”. Why? Because it’s in the dying to self that true Christian love manifests. A lifestyle not embedded in the ethos of preferring others as much as one self essentially is lawlessness. Life practiced as less than the golden rule of loving others, as you would like to be loved, will prove toxic. A church filled with people practicing lawlessness will always fail to realize Kingdom fruitfulness to it’s full potential. This is true simply because without the ways of the King being lived out the fruit of the kingdom cannot be produced.

There will be some who, no doubt, will read this and say, “Aha, you’re calling us back into the legalism of performance”. No, that would be religion, which is always the counterfeit to true grace-based relationship. When one’s mind is renewed to think the thoughts of Christ and one is filled with God’s Spirit the joy of Christ like obedience and service becomes it’s own reward. We dare not forget that because God so loved, He then both gave and forgave. If a lifestyle of sacrificial giving is not, at least somewhat, in evidence then one must wonder if the heart has truly been born again as a child of God. If love is truly a verb and not merely a noun then the church must model Christ “by our love for one another”.

True fulfillment is being lost in God’s love. That is to say it is losing narcissistic sight of self and realizing fulfillment in Kingdom relationships and purpose. And while charitable giving via a check, or credit card can be helpful to others it is really in the ‘hands on’ relationships where a consistent preferring and giving can be lived. Narcissus’s all encompassing self-love proved to be his undoing. He was lured by an enemy into looking into a pool of water that reflected his beauty back to him. Like satan’s original sin, Narcissus’ own reflection proved to be fatal.

We need times of personal devotion to God. As well, we need times gathered as a church family worshiping God. The act of taking the eyes of our hearts off of oneself is to usurp the narcissist within. We need the ongoing practice of the “one another’s” of the sermon of the mount. We need to allow preachers of God’s Word to continually encourage and challenge us with the foundational message of the way of the cross. Without a consistent “higher place” perspective challenging us the age-old spirit of lawlessness will rear it’s ugly head. Unless our lives are shaped by the selfless love of God, practiced within the context of relationship, we will continually be bound by the all-consuming smallness of tyranny to self.

Marc A. Dupont
Mantle of Praise Ministries, Inc.
November 2011

How Do We Face the Future by Don Atkin

Preface by Marc Dupont

Allow me to introduce you to the wisdom of Don Atkin, for those of you unfamiliar with him. Don has been functioning as an apostle to the body of Christ for decades now. Over the last 3 years I have begun to have a a growing friendship with Don,  and an appreciation for the wisdom and encouragement he imparts to the Body of Christ. He and his wife, Barbara, are based in Matthews, North Carolina. His website is found at: http://donatkin.com/

Some ten years ago I wrote an article entitled ‘True Prophecy builds Faith, not Fear”.  I wrote this in the aftermath of all the false prophetic words that had been given regarding ‘Y2K’ and the world wide economic collapse that was going to follow as a result. The real problem was not that false words were given, but rather that the basis of them was off. They promoted fear, rather than faith in God and His redemptive purposes in allowing catastrophe. On the heels of the current shaking, which is quite Biblical (see Haggai 2 & Matthew 24), that has taken place this year once again a lot of so called ‘prophetic words’ are coming forth. Like some 13 years ago, again,  many of them are lacking essential Biblical standards for prophecy. I suspect some of the authors operate out of the same ethos of the news media- bad news sells! My point is not whether bad things will happen, but rather understanding that in the middle of any crisis God is still God.  As I was contemplating redoing the article I received this article from Don which is right to the point.

Remember:  when the going gets tough the righteous get bold and take action!    Marc A. Dupont

 

How Do We Face the Future by Don Atkin

Seismic activity and earthquake prognosticators predict quakes that are inevitable for the West coast of the USA, and likely to spawn a killer tsunami. They are absolute, but unable to predict a timetable.  Hurricane activity along the Atlantic coast is predicted to be well above average this year.  Forty-three people perished in the USA this week, victims of tornados.  Japan’s recent earthquake and subsequent tsunami has resulted in unimaginable loss of life and property, and also dangerous radiation issues at their damaged nuclear power plants.

We may all be facing a global financial meltdown that could come in one giant tsunami wave. While this may indeed be prophetic, it is also simple “cause and effect.”  When our outgo exceeds our income, our upkeep becomes our downfall.

Global media coverage instantly beams catastrophic events into our homes. The Internet is rampant with prophecies, sometimes contradicting one another.  Respected prophets, Bob Jones and David Wilkerson both predicted these particular catastrophic events many years ago.

Nevertheless, confusion and fear are rampant.  Is there not a more sure word of prophecy?  Is there not a safe voice for the people of God?  I believe that there is.

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.[1]

He spoke in time past by the prophets.  He now speaks to us by His Son.  So many precious believers seek the prophets when we should be seeking Him.

This is My beloved Son.  Hear Him![2]

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.[3]

Old Testament Scriptures are loaded with references to and words of prophets. Even the gospel recording of Jesus’ life and ministry includes many references to Old Covenant prophets and prophecies.  However, the New Covenant testimony and instruction, Acts and the Epistles, have very few references to the prophetic.  Perhaps this is because Jesus has made a way for all of His people to hear Him through the Holy Spirit.

God, who is no respecter of persons and not willing that any should perish, has made Himself present in Christ, through the Holy Spirit.  He does not dwell in temples made by human hands.  Neither does He any longer merely inhabit the praises of His people.  He now inhabits His people, perpetually, all the time, and everywhere.  Unbelief summons His presence; faith acknowledges His presence.

 

APOSTLES, PROPHETS AND INFRASTRUCTURE

That He can and does still speak through His infrastructure is evident.  For example, He dictated letters to John for the messengers of the seven churches in Asia.  He also spoke through Agabus, part of a group of prophets who went from Jerusalem to Antioch.

We need to learn to hear from Him for ourselves, through one another, and also through His master builders and foundational ministries, so that we may corporately embrace and function together in His Spirit.  Do not despise prophecies.[4]

Those who claim to be apostles or prophets, and have not been properly built into God’s organic infrastructure are unreliable voices.  Apostles and prophets operating after Old Covenant models or independently often carry the leaven of legalism or licentiousness.  Both are intended to function within the body, rightly relating to master builders, and functioning with them as foundation stones for what Jesus is building in the earth.

 

PREPARING FOR HARD TIMES

Being in Christ is our preparation for the future, regardless of what the future holds.  To hear His voice and obey Him moment-by-moment is how we should live.  “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own troubles.[5]

The presence of fear is the absence of faith.  We are to be built up in our most holy faith.  That is where we find today’s bread and provision.  That is where we will find tomorrow’s bread and provision.

Lest you think this to be an oversimplification, let me add that the presence and power of Christ in us inevitably leads us to be prepared for any eventuality.  It is better to heed His alert than the world’s alarm.

Wise master builders only build what can be sustained regardless of circumstances, even in the worst-case scenarios.  We can live by faith and in peace now, in ways that cannot be affected by the storms of life.  We are equipped to face life as it comes.

A truly prepared saint is ready to die, loving the one who is taking his life.

Prudence—the characteristic of exercising sound judgment in practical affairs—is a virtue, a part of the way that Christ lived, and the way He lives in us today.

When the prophets speak, we should:

  • Discern whether or not they are carrying the voice and message of the Lord to us.
  • Examine the message along with the others with whom we are joined.
  • Evaluate the relative urgency of their message.
  • Inquire of the Lord as to specific changes or adjustments that may be in order.
  • Expect Him to operate within us within the framework of His prudent character.
  • Make certain that any conclusion or direction is consistent with His life within us.
  • Come to conclusions within the context of body life.
  • Do not choose to do anything that would violate His higher thoughts and ways.
  • Fear not.  Have faith in God.

 

The witness of the Spirit of Christ within is our most valuable asset in determining our direction.  The corresponding witness of the brethren provides additional confirmation and/or correction.  Alignment with one another is a huge part of God’s provision for our direction and our fruitfulness in Him.


[1] Hebrews 1:1

[2] Mark 9:7

[3] 1 Timothy 2:5

[4] 1 Thessalonians 5:20

[5] Matthew 6:34

 

Adventuring with God, by Marc A. Dupont

Adventuring with God

One of the key indicators of cultural perspectives and values permeating contemporary Christianity is the popular view that Biblical success can always be equated with a lack of difficulties. In fact, in many Christian circles any and all problems encountered are assumed to be a result of either sin in one’s life or spiritual warfare. While the latter may always be true in the sense that we live in a fallen planet there is a question that begs to be asked when overwhelming problems are encountered. ‘What if God both allowed and ordained my present situation- including the trials?’

In order to correctly process that question it must first be asked ‘what is God’s will for our lives’. In a word His will is we become conformed to Christ. The question must then be asked ‘how are we to think of Jesus as a role model’.  Should we identify Him as a prophet, a teacher, a healer, or a lover of the lonely? All of those aspects of Christ are good and, actually, important to keep in perspective. Those functions, which Christ operated in, however, are merely functions. He operated in those functions not so much due to primary intention but because of who He was, and is, in His core being. When push came to shove Jesus identified Himself as a son. He was never so much focused on establishing His titles, or empire, as He was to do the will of His heavenly Father.

We see as bookends to Jesus’ 3 years of ministry the Father speaking over the Son. On both occasions, the Father encouraged, strengthened, and comforted Jesus by proclaiming that relationship of Father/Son. (Matt. 3.17 & 17.5) We see Jesus as He approached the worst moments of His life preferring the Father’s will to His own. His prayer, found in Matthew 26.39, was fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” His ethos was always, as a son, to please the Father. Since Jesus knew and considered He to simply be the Son of God then this is the model for thinking of what are life goal(s) ought to be!

 Sonship; Giving & Forgiving

The apostle John stated ‘See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.’ Having dealt with the previous questions, the answers then beg one more question- ‘what does it mean to be a mature son of God?’ There have been countless Bible teachers, preachers, and pastors who have done long, involved, in-depth series concerning what it means to be a mature follower of Christ. Countless volumes have been written on the topic. For the sake of a brief article how then could we condense a Christ like lifestyle without becoming either casual, or shallow?

The answer lies in perhaps one of the most famous Bible verses of all- John 3.16. From this simple, yet radical proclamation of Jesus’ we can deduct two essential characteristics regarding God, the Father. One, God is a giver.  For the cause of love He gave His greatest treasure- His only begotten Son, to us and for us so that we might become sons of God. Two, because of Christ and the cross, God has forgiven us of all of our sins when we surrender our lives to Him. So, in essence, if we say our goal is to be like our heavenly Father than what we are saying is we want to live a lifestyle of two thing’s- giving and forgiving!

One of the greatest areas many of us have difficulty in surrendering to God is the constant need to feel as if we are in control of our lives. When Adam & Eve ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil they vicariously lost something for all of humanity. They lost a childlike trust in God’s wisdom for their (our) lives. The lie they (we) bought into was that if we could simply have enough knowledge we could be ‘as God’- in control of our lives and destiny. For this reason Jesus stated that if we don’t humble our selves ‘as a child’ we will not enter into the kingdom.  In essence, Christ calls us back to the simplicity, but not simple, primary focus of dependence on God. Even the name Jesus, or Yeshua, means ‘the Lord is your salvation’. It speaks of God’s grace, apart from our works and abilities.

The first generation out of Egypt had faith for God to take them out of slavery but not faith to grace them into the Promised Land. The stumbling block was they simply could not understand how God could use them (as grasshoppers in their own perspective) to defeat the giants of the land. That generation could not understand how, or why, God would work His supernatural grace to them and through them. Basically, they stopped short in their journey due to a lack of faith to adventure with God. Although they were no longer slaves legally they were, in fact, slaves to their fears and disbelief. There are many today who although they may be rich in regards to money and possessions are actually living in poverty because they too are ruled by fear. Although they may have everything they are not free to enjoy anything.  While a Christian may have the potential of all thing’s in Christ Jesus fear and unbelief can rob us of freedom to enter into the full promises of God. We actually may be sons of the Kingdom, but our souls resemble beggars outside the walls of the palace.

 Putting Adventure back in the venture of Christianity

By very definition the word ‘adventure’ means to willingly embark in a certain direction that will almost guarantee you are in danger. When I was in my teens and ‘20’s almost all of my close friends lived lifestyles considered dangerous by most. We were into rock and mountain climbing, some were into surfing big waves, motorcycle riding, etc. The best man in my wedding, Bill, was asked by his insurance agent, at one point, if he had a death wish. From the insurance agent’s perspective no one should have been involved with as many dangerous activities as Bill was. Our problem, however, was not that we loved danger, as much as we did adventure- putting our abilities to the test in situations with real life consequences. Even today, in my ‘50s while I no longer climb due to lack of time, I really enjoy pushing my skill levels in riding motorcycles. But far more than that, I love to put my faith in God to the test, as He leads, and see His amazing power and grace do for me (and others) what I can not do for myself when I am in over my head. Whether it’s praying for someone dying of cancer, sharing the gospel with someone far, from Christ, or taking on projects, as He leads that may be way beyond my capabilities and past experience.

When God leads you into a new realm (something you’ve never done before) you will feel like your in way over your head. He will put you into situations  beyond your wisdom and experience. You will, in fact, feel like a youth embarking in adult adventures. When that happens say to yourself ‘I’m in good company’! When God called Jeremiah into his ministry Jeremiah complained that he was simply a youth- inexperienced! God’s response was to encourage Jeremiah to change his mindset by realizing that God almighty would be with him, and in short the battle always belongs to God. The apostle Paul put it this way: If I’m going to boast I’m going to boast in my weakness’ because God told me ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ In other words, if your being led by God’s Spirit you can expect and even celebrate when your in over your head- that’s when the miracles take place.  In fact, when God allows you to be surrounded by impossibilities, He is setting you up for the miraculous!

 How do we live a Kingdom lifestyle?

When God stated ‘ the just shall live by faith’ He was not simply speaking of how we enter the kingdom of God, but also how we ought to live a Kingdom lifestyle. God is still calling His people today to practice risky obedience and follow the Holy Spirit into realms we’ve never experienced before. Aside from faith in God’s leading to step into situations ‘over our head’ the kingdom cannot be advanced. Hence Jesus admonishment- to ‘humble ourselves like a child’ and trust Him. This is radically different than ‘leaning to our own understanding’ in order to feel as if we are in control.

There are demonic giants in the lands today God is calling us to war against giants such as aids, cancer, poverty, strongholds of substance abuse, and perverseness. Essentially, these giants God is calling us to confront rule the societies God is calling us into. We dare not forget the Kingdom of God is not simply when we die and go to heaven, but Jesus said to seek first the Kingdom of God on earth, as it is in heaven.

 More than  conquerors

I believe God desires to transition us for transformation.  2011 is a year of transitioning ourselves to run races that could last the rest of the decade. God wants to speak to many today regarding the difference our lives, churches, and ministries, could possibly make in the life of the culture around us over the next ten years. In order to catch what the Spirit may be saying, however, we might need a change of heart and mind regarding who we are. If we are saved to be conformed to Christ, and be givers and forgivers then in essence we are called to be ‘more than conquerors’! (Romans 8.37 NASB)

What does it mean to be ‘more than a conqueror’? Two things- first it means that by God’s grace you have conquered the major battles of your own life. Secondly, as you have freely received you go on to help others conquer their battles. A ‘more than conqueror’ is no longer gripped by fear that he, or she, will not have enough. So they are free in God’s abundant grace to give generously. Secondly, they celebrate wholeness in Christ to the extent of extending forgiveness rather than holding on to offenses. In essence, they practice the nature of their heavenly Father as they emulate Christ Jesus.

 Comfortable, or Comforted?

Christ like freedom and wholeness render us free to step out into new and strange realms. God’s grace, wisdom, and leading give us a confidence to put adventure back into the venture of Christianity. As a friend of mine puts it: ‘there’s only one place in the universe where you cannot find God- in your own personal comfort zone’! Let’s learn to derive our comfort from the Person of the Holy Comforter.  The consequences of striving to live a comfortable lifestyle are drastic. God loves a good fight- just ask David.

 Marc A. Dupont

Mantle of Praise Ministries, Inc.

 

My Sheep Hear My Voice, by Rebecca Holihan

Rebecca Holihan, is part of the Mantle of Praise Ministry team. She teaches how to cultivate intimacy with God. Specifically, she trains in knowing God’s voice, dream interpretation, and healing the sick. She is also a part of the pastoral team at the Dayton Vineyard Church, in Dayton, Ohio.

My first car was a shiny, red 1965 Mustang. Well, it was my dad’s car, but that is the car I used when learning to drive. All of it seemed so difficult and a bit overwhelming. The thought of learning about a stick shift and clutch seemed impossible. There was so much to understand before I could even get it out on the road. Surprisingly, it didn’t take me long; I had a great instructor. We practiced a lot before we actually took the car out for a spin. Beyond the basic operating instruction, I found parking to be easy too. My teacher had the best method ever for parallel parking. To this day, I can fit in the tightest parking spots and maneuver almost any size vehicle with precision. The secret was simply listening to what he said and following his instruction.

When it came to understanding prayer I had a much more difficult time. I read books, listened to tapes and attended classes, but I was basically self-taught. My vision for prayer was limited, which caused me to quickly lose my way. It was years before I gave up my limited insight into prayer and decided it was time to relearn an old lesson…listen to the instructor. I put aside the books and tapes and began to listen and wait. Being still took some effort. I had to make time to get quiet and just hope my instructor, the Holy Spirit, would say something. I don’t know why I was so amazed when it worked, but it was amazing!

“Whenever this happens, my heart stops— I’m stunned, I can’t catch my breath. Listen! Listen to his thunder, the rolling, rumbling thunder of his voice. He lets loose his lightning from horizon to horizon, lighting up the earth from pole to pole. In their wake, the thunder echoes his voice, powerful and majestic. He lets out all the stops, he holds nothing back. No one can mistake that voice— His word thundering so wondrously, his mighty acts staggering our understanding.” Job 33:4-6 MSB

I never realized how fantastic prayer was until I heard the voice of the Lord. It has changed everything about the way I study, respond to circumstances and make choices for ministry and everyday life issues. I have found these simple instructions quite helpful as I have grown in my ability to hear and respond to His voice.

Believe God talks

Now this may sound simple, but in our western culture where reality is based on empirical understanding, this lesson can be really difficult. Knowing that the Bible is clear about the matter is where we need to start.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:14-16

It is the nature of the Lord to speak to his people. I had to believe that God wanted to say something to me and then trust in what He was saying.

Record what you hear

Once I realized God does speak to me, I needed a way to separate my thoughts from His voice. When it comes to listening and wondering who is talking, it is a good reminder not to trust in your five senses to help you out.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”. Proverbs 3:5-6

I discovered that keeping a journal is an excellent means of keeping track of all I hear with more confidence. When writing, I quit questioning what I was hearing. I can listen with more ease knowing I can go back and review later. I also know that I have peace that when God speaks, He will never contradict the Bible. Journaling helps me connect the dots for the things He may say to me over a period of time as it says in Habakkuk 2:2-3,

“Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”

Obey His instruction

I remember sitting and listening one day to the Lord several years ago. By now I was a pretty good listener. I was waiting for him to say something profound when I heard Him say He wanted me to clean out a closet. Well, that wasn’t a very exciting thing to hear. I didn’t understand the point. Many times we only get a piece of the puzzle when God speaks.

“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.” 1Corinthians 13:9-10

The Lord wants to test our willingness to listen and respond. “Knowing in part” does not imply that we heard incorrectly. It simply means that God will give us the other pieces when He is ready. He wants us to fully trust in Him. Listening and obeying is a step of faith.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

I went ahead and cleaned out that closet. It was an old butler’s pantry stuffed to the roof with things we had been storing. We had plans to make it into a bathroom one day. I had no idea that a week later, my son would be in a serious car accident that would require us getting a downstairs bathroom ready in a hurry. What I heard from the Lord was only a part of the plan, but my obedience allowed Him to carry out the rest of the plan.

Practice Daily

Hearing God’s voice gets easier over time. That still, small voice that whispers to you will become clearer and more distinctive as you practice. Staying in constant communication with the Lord is essential for staying on the right path. It is in intimacy with Him that we find our way, understand his nature and fulfill our purpose in Him.

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2Timothy 1:6-7

Hold onto the word

Over the years I have had so many words from the Lord that I could have easily questioned because of the peculiar nature of the word. My way of thinking and God’s way are not often the same. He speaks in so many ways that if I don’t hold onto the word and stand on the promise, I could drop the thing I am suppose to carry for a time.

“For God does speak—now one way, now another— though no one perceives it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn them from wrongdoing and keep them from pride, to preserve them from the pit, their lives from perishing by the sword.” Job 33:14-18

It is important not to lose sight of the promise God has given. If we stay centered on the things God has said to us, then in time, they will be revealed.

“… so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, 
but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

“Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. 
I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. 
I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ 
 From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. 
What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.” Isaiah 46:8-11

Seek a multitude of counsel

It never hurts to ask the advice of a close and trusted friend when God speaks to you about advising others. This is a really important consideration, especially if the word you receive is directional or correctional. There are times when the Lord has given me a word that was difficult to share. Getting some help from someone a little more seasoned in the prophetic has saved me a lot of awkwardness. In these instances where you have received something from the Lord for someone that requires a bit more than encouragement, timing and loving-kindness go a long way.

“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14

“So Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.” 1 Samuel 3:19

Commit to excellence of character

When it comes to gifting nothing is more important than character. How I handle myself privately will reflect to all those around my reliability for corporate sharing. I must always remember as I share prophetically, that integrity always out weighs my gift. God may give me something that is a secret about the life of an individual, but I don’t have to share that secret. I am not out to prove I have confidential information. If God has entrusted me with a secret, then I will keep that for Him. I can declare the opposite of a dark or troubling word, bringing hope and life into an individual’s situation. Then God can rely on me to help a person in their time of need. In everything I do, whether it is borrowing my dad’s car or speaking into the life of someone, I must establish myself as trustworthy. Seeking to affirm the dignity of others is more important than my prophetic gift.

“The Lord GOD has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak A word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear To hear as the learned.” Isaiah 50:4

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Philippians 2:3

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63

Listening to the voice of the Lord has been the most life-changing experience I have had in my Christian walk. It has taken me out of the driver seat of my own understanding and put me on a straight path of keeping in step with the Spirit. Hearing God’s voice can be challenging. Following these instructions takes time, but they are worth all that it takes to align yourself with His purposes so your vision will always be clear and precise. Soon it will become second nature…like driving your first car.

Rebecca Holihan

February 2011

2011 & Celebrating the Gift(s)

Celebrating the Miracle Gift(s)

My first pastor said something quite brilliant regarding the Christmas celebration. In respect to non Christians, who are into the whole gift thing but have no regard for Christ, he stated: ‘those who are far from Christ who give gifts on Christmas day, even though they don’t realize it, are worshiping God by celebrating His nature on this particular day.”

I’ve hung on to that thought for over 3 decades now for two reasons: One, It’s true! The nature of God is love. This love was manifested by God giving the Gift of all gifts. Second, the setting aside of December 25th even though it, most likely, is not the day Jesus was born is one more indicator of the impact Christ has made on so many around the world, whether Christian or non.

Some two thousand years ago plus, a miracle took place. A young woman who had never been physically involved with a man gave birth to a child. Both the inception and the nature of this child were miraculous. When the mother to be asked “How can this be, since I’ve never been with a man” Gabriel answered “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” Gabriel then went on to speak to Mary about Elizabeth who, as well, was miraculously pregnant! With Elizabeth, however, the miracle was that in her old age, well past child bearing, she had become able to become pregnant. What I would like to zero in on is the nature of the gifts and greatest gift, which God the Father gave and gives. They are all birthed out of our co-operation with the Holy Spirit. In short, they are miraculous due to responding to God.

Mary was well aware that her cousin, Elizabeth, had been barren and was now too old to have children. Gabriel anticipating her question went on to say ““For nothing will be impossible with God.” It’s not only critical to grasp the fact that not only is God in the miracle business, but He is always in the miracle business. Gabriel’s comment regarding the omnipotence of God was echoing the very same thing God had previously said in the very same situation some 2000 years prior. When Sarah, the wife of Abraham, laughed at the prophetic words saying she was to have a child, even though she was decades past her childbearing years, the Lord responded “Is anything too difficult for God?”

At this season of celebrating the miracle of God becoming human I would like to point out four miraculous aspects of that one miracle that continues each and every day in the lives of those who call Him Lord.

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;  And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,” Isaiah 9.6 & 7a

The Wonderful Counselor

Proverbs 3.5 instructs us to not lean to our own understanding, but to trust in God with all of our hearts. In the midst of turmoil in a very confusing world what voice do we trust in our heart of hearts? Jesus promised us, that He would not leave us as orphans but that He would send each of us the amazing gift of His Presence- the Holy Spirit. Of the Holy Spirit, Jesus stated: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (John 16.13)

What an amazing gift- the very counsel of God to lead us into His specific will, care, and provision for our lives. It’s an absolute miracle that we daily have the opportunity to commune with God Almighty. It’s a miracle flowing out of the miraculous Word becoming flesh.

God Almighty

One of the names God gives Himself in the Old Testament is El Shaddai- God Almighty, who is able to do for you what you cannot do for yourself. In life we all find ourselves, from time to time, in impossible situations. In fact, God often deliberately leads us into impossible situations so that His strength might be realized as our weakness’ demand we lean into Him.

What an amazing miracle that, because of Jesus, we have been birthed into God’s Kingdom, which is one of power, not mere words. (1 Cor. 4.20) The miracle of God’s amazing power available to us flows out of the Person of God’s Presence. The Holy Spirit is in our lives and midst due to the only begotten Son being given as the miraculous gift.

Eternal Father

While praying to God the Father, Jesus said “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” The “they” in the equation is you and I. Jesus did not come to merely save humanity from all it’s woes. Rather, He came to restore us to the relationship with the Father, which we lost due to our disobedience.

‘What is the Father like’ we might ask. Jesus answered that by telling His disciples that he who had seen Him had, in effect, seen the Father. There is a very real significance and security in life that can only be realized by experiencing the reality God’s love. It is a sense of significance and a deep life long caring and nurturing that God the Father loves to lavish upon us. In that Jesus came to restore us to the Father and, in that, He and the Father are one, the miraculous gift of all gifts has miraculously become our Eternal Father. And due to this miraculous gift of all gifts we can experience the miracle of the Father’s heart each and every day.

Prince of Peace

The apostle Paul described the peace God gives as one ‘that passes all understanding’. It is not a peace based on our current situation. Neither is it a peace based on our being invincible. It is also a peace that has nothing to do with our understanding of how our problems will be resolved or how our questions will be answered. Rather, it is a peace that flows from God’s Spirit within our hearts. In fact, Romans 14.17 reads ‘the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.’ In the midst of the most traumatic and dramatic difficulties there is a powerful peace that will allow us to relax and realize God is both bigger and wiser than any dilemma we may face.

Beyond all of that, however, is the eternal life of being reconnected with God. That is the ultimate gift that the only begotten Son of God, who became man, came to give us. The peace of knowing that for all of eternity we will dwell with the Prince and author of peace is, indeed, a miraculous gift beyond compare!

2011- A Time of Transition

The absolute miracle power of God, which renders nothing as too difficult, is always there as we walk with, and in, the miracle Gift. And as, Isaiah continued in Isaiah, chapter 9: there need be no end to the increase of His rule of peace in the world, in you, and through you. My prayer for everyone who reads this is that as you step into 2011- a time of great uncertainty, that you realize daily that God’s miraculous counsel, power, fathering, and peace are yours to experience- as you go forth with the miracle gift of all gifts.

You will have, no doubt, realized I have made a serious writing mistake in this letter. I have seriously over utilized the word miracle in many different forms. At the risk of coming off redundant I have done so for a reason. God desires you to experience the miraculous this year more than you ever have before. God will be ‘birthing’ new things, ministries, projects, missions, and miracles through your life this year. 2011 will be a key time of transition preparing you for many years ahead. Many of these things, if not most of them, will first appear as impossible due to your present situation, resources, and past experiences. The Biblical encouragement is, once you move past the momentary laugh of unbelief (like Sara laughed), realize that nothing is too difficult for God. The miracle Gift that we celebrate on December 25, and hopefully everyday, desires to lead you into a lifestyle of the impossible moving to the possible and transcending into reality. And when the Holy Spirit gives birth to outrageous visions within you, never be afraid to pray “Lord, I believe- please help my unbelief”.

Marc A. Dupont

December 25th, 2010

Biblical Grace Under Assault – Part 1

Biblical Grace Under Assault

God’s grace does not give us the freedom to do what we like and get away with it. It releases the power of God’s Word and Spirit to become individuals conformed to Christ.

Over the last few years a number of ministries have embraced a perception of grace that, Biblically speaking, is demonically distorted. True God given grace does not give us the freedom to do what we would like and get away with it. Rather, it releases to us the power of God’s Word and Spirit to become individuals conformed to Christ Jesus. Two passages found in Romans- 8.29 & 12.2 both address the conformity God is after in our lives. Perhaps more directly to the point, however, is Peter’s writing found in 1 Peter 1.14-16, which reads:

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

1) The assault of Old New Age Gnosticism

There are three primary sources feeding the current perversion of grace. First is a resurgence of Gnosticism. This, in essence, as with much of ancient Gnosticism, is a false separation between what is spiritual and what is physical. In ancient Gnosticism there was the teaching that the two were completely unrelated. In effect the belief was that what one believed and nourished in the spiritual realm was unrelated and untouched by one’s actions within the physical realm.

The emerging Gnosticism in the contemporary church is not so much due to a deliberate teaching as it is from a growing ignorance and ignoring of the Word of God. In some church circles where things like prophecy, healing, and impartations of the Holy Spirit are valued there is also, unfortunately, a devaluation of the written word of God. This vacuum of ignorance has sucked many into a spiritual climate with a lack of regard for the holiness of God. That holiness is what we were born again to experientially walk in. To reference Peter a second time, 2nd Peter 2.20-22 warns that those who have come to know Christ Jesus but return to practicing former sins are like ‘dogs who return to their own vomit’.

To some degree the current hunger for spirituality and spiritual experiences devoid of an appetite for the Person and ways of God is witchcraft. This witchcraft manifests in two essential ways: 1) a hunger for spiritual experiences aside from the Lordship of Christ, and 2) a prevailing of anti authority attitudes. Witches love to move in spiritual dimensions but also despise authority, which is in keeping with the demonic realm. As well, as was with Jezebel, there is usually a fascination with perverse sexuality. To sum up modern day Gnostic traits emerging in the church there is a hunger for spirituality while there is a de-emphasizing of the Lordship of Christ governing one’s attitudes and actions. The false application of grace provides the loophole to continue in doing what one feels like doing and still praying the prayer “bless me, Lord”!

What has also, in a huge way, fed into current Gnosticism is a de-emphasizing of the Biblical mandate to make disciples. In many churches today the gospel is reduced to the two things: 1) free fire insurance, to escape the flames of hell, and 2) consistent teaching from the pulpits that God simply wants to give us formulas for success regardless of our lifestyles. Of course, God does want to bless people, but not apart from our embracing God’s principal of dying to self and living for Christ by embracing Christ’s ways. Galatians 6.7 reads: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”

If we sow to carnality that is exactly what we will reap- bondage and death, on many differing levels. The growing mantra today is “it’s okay to do what you like. God will forgive you.” Forgiveness is the result of repentance. Repentance, essentially, means to see things from a higher perspective (God’s vantage point) and to change one’s behavior accordingly. The remedy is church leaders must return to preaching the gospel of ‘the kingdom’ that Jesus preached and seek ‘its righteousness’ not merely its blessings. Otherwise, when a so-called Christian is continually grieving the Holy Spirit it is the spirit of this age that rules them, not the Spirit of the living God!

2) The Assault of Fear

As much as the church growth movement has been a help to many leaders for the last several decades, I believe, it has also proven to be a curse for some. It has mandated the wrong measuring stick. God measures the success of leadership by things like obedience, fruitfulness, and the making of disciples. Strictly using the ‘nickels, noise, and numbers formula’ to qualify/quantify one’s ministry is like trying to assess heaven by earth’s standards. By many church standards today Jesus would have to be labeled as a poor leader due to His message of ‘eating His body, and drinking His blood’. Because of that message He went from the multitudes following Him to barely the twelve. It would be a contemporary pastor’s worst nightmare. Jesus, however, measured success by obedience to the Father, not the accolades of man or the size of the crowd!

Proverbs 25.29 states “the fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.” Due to success being primarily measured purely by numbers there has come about a great fear of offending church attendees by saying the wrong thing from the pulpit. That ‘wrong thing’ too often means anything that might cause that attendee to stop attending. Without necessarily intending to we can inadvertently become pleasers of men rather than of God. We must constantly remind ourselves that the gospel message itself (if Biblically preached) is offensive. It is offensive simply because God calls people to die to themselves and change their behavior. Less than a changed lifestyle is less than Biblical Christianity.

When the incomplete message of ‘it’s okay, God loves you just the way you are’ prevails there will be very little room for the Spirit’s conviction for change. The other half of that message is begging to be preached: “He also loves you too much to leave you the way you are”! Yes, by all means let’s be as welcoming and as friendly as the good news itself to all. But a physician who won’t warn a patient about a growing cancer tumor out of fear of depressing, or offending that patient is a lethal care giver! There is after all a sorrow the Spirit can release that leads one to repentance. (2nd Corinthians 7.10)

We need to learn to discern between religious condemnation and the Holy Spirit’s conviction. The former wraps people up in the legalism of religion, while the latter opens people up to the potential of healing and abundant life in Christ!

The current statistics of 50% percent of all Bible believing, church going Christian men and 20% of the same group of women being addicted to pornography tell us that something is seriously out of order in the church today. As if that is not enough of a problem there is almost the same percentage of divorce in the church as there is among non-church goers. If the ancient boundaries that God has established for healthy living are moved then we have managed to learn to graze in the camp of the enemy without fear of consequences! If the foundations are destroyed, or at least obscured, what can the righteous do?

We can begin by proclaiming and praying for a return to God’s standards of ‘grace based holiness’. If judgment starts first with the household of God, then it is probably a safe bet that judgment will start first with the gatekeepers of the church- leaders. We can either fear man, or fear God, but not both at the same time.

3) The Assault of Unsanctified Compassion

Due to past movements, which practiced a focus on the control of individual Christians, the word ‘accountability’ has almost been thrown out the window. Accountability, Biblically speaking, is not so much a thing of control, but rather of encouragement and strength. The truth is all healthy relationships demand some sort of accountability in order to function well. A relationship where there is a fear, or pride, based resistance to honesty is doomed to fail to reach it’s potential.

Out of fear of treading on people rights, or offending people in one’s church, accountability has become neglected. So when problems arise due to ongoing destructive behavior (sin) there is too often the tendency to issue blessings based on ‘unsanctified compassion’. Many church attendees and members want prayers of blessing and breakthrough despite the fact that the hurtful condition they are in may be due to reaping what they’ve sown. To continually bless some one who will not truly repent (change) from destructive behavior is comparable to giving throat lozenges to some one dying of throat cancer and thinking that because the pain is temporarily gone all is well.

In contrast to unsanctified compassion Paul and Jesus were seemingly harsh. Paul wrote, “if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat” regarding the distribution of charity to poorer church members. There was absolutely no sense of unearned entitlement with Paul! Obviously, he was not speaking of those who simply could not work. When it comes to those who refuse to stop coarse sinning Jesus said to treat them as sinners, not as redeemed members of a congregation. (Matthew 18.17) Jesus also, categorically, without any ambiguity what so ever, stated that a man who leaves his wife to marry another woman is to be treated as an adulterer- a flagrant practicing sinner. (Matthew 19.9) Of course, this is excepting when his wife first committed adultery. Today there is a veritable plague of men and women in church leadership abandoning the ‘wife (or spouse) of their youth’ for a younger version! Truths regarding marriage, such as oneness and covenant, which God emphasizes have been treated as obsolete by many current ministry leaders. God simply sees this as sin on a grand scale. Yet the church has learned to sweep adultery, financial impropriety, substance abuse, and many other sins under a heavy carpet incorrectly labeled ‘grace’.

The love of Christ does not negate accountability. Rather, it gives a context for which healthy accountability can function.

There are those who claim that it is incorrect to call Christians into account for sin due to a very lopsided view of the grace of the cross. Please note: I am not speaking of those in the process of coming to Christ, but those who claim to be Christians and desire good standing within a congregation, or a ministry.

The grace of the cross is simply not available aside from truth. The apostle John tells us that not merely mercy was realized through the cross but ‘grace AND truth were realized through Jesus’. (John 1.17) Psalm 85.10 tells us “loving kindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” This is a prophetic picture of the grace of Christ. To claim forgiveness, as in one’s sins being washed away without truth (repentance) renders transformation an impossibility.

Should we have compassion for victims of sexual and substance addiction? Totally! But Biblical compassion is far more than feeling sympathy for the victim. It is to be moved by God in such a way that we lovingly call the victim into a sense of responsibility for their choices and assist them in reaching out to the power of God’s compassion. It must be stated, however, that God will not violate one’s free will. One must make the decision to reach out to God and trust in His power to change. That power through the Word and in the Holy Spirit cannot be experienced aside from repentance. We must take repentance out of the dusty church closet of shame and condemnation and view it as a great gift that God has given us to move towards wholeness & holiness.

Pseudo Restoration

Due to the onslaught of adultery taking place among church leaders today there has arisen a common scenario of what I call ‘pseudo restoration’. Pseudo restoration is a less than a real healing process that in many ways is simply waiting until the dust settles and then reinstating the still fallen leader back into their ministry position. Pseudo restoration has more to do with spinning the message than it does true accountability of the messenger.

Just because an individual takes a short break from ministry does not necessarily mean the root issues have been dealt with! It takes real time to realize God’s convicting truth in one’s innermost being. Merely feeling sorry for being caught and the damage one may have caused by one’s sins is less than knowing truth on a deep, deep level.

Partially the syndrome of quick fix restoration is due to the church not always grasping the importance of Christ like character being the foundation for one’s ministry. But, mainly, it is due to unsanctified compassion. We say ‘look at the high calling’ and ‘well, there under so much stress due to ministry’. Both are an affront to God. How can one claim to be a servant of Jesus and refuse to honor the ways of Jesus? Jesus after all stated that if we truly love Him we will obey His commandments- the Word of God!

True restoration takes time.

As stated it takes time to allow God’s truth to filter past layers of guilt, shame, and bring about deep down change at the root level. It takes time to rebuild equity and trust between a leader and his/her followers and supporters. It takes time to close the doors to condemnation so that the enemy can no longer manipulate one through the memories of sin. It takes time simply to rebuild trust in one’s own self towards one’s own will. When we see patterns over several years of sexual sin, or financial impropriety, or substance abuse some of the blame lies at the church which places greater value on that stumbling leader’s ministry than on the leader as a person in need of true, not false, compassion.

“If the foundations are destroyed what can the righteous do?”

(Psalm 11.3) Edmond Burke is credited to have written “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” I believe that God is calling church leaders today to rise up and begin to champion grace based holiness. Grace based holiness is teaching the truth in love, without condemnation! While the foundation of Christianity can never be destroyed we can quench the Holy Spirit to the degree that we render the church impotent in moving in the fullness of the grace and power He has for us. He is after all ‘the Holy Spirit’. I believe that God is calling the contemporary church to essentially four responses in regards to the plague of misperceived grace, which is afflicting many ministries and congregations.

1) Pray for a revelation of God’s heart and power to walk, model, and champion grace based holiness especially for leaders. Let’s cry out for a revelation that would cause us to echo the cry heard around God’s throne- ‘holy, holy, holy’. Isaiah 6.3 & Revelation 4.8

2) Begin to boldly, yet, with love & humility, educate and encourage the church in what the Bible has to say regarding healthy behavior to the point of hating sin! It is possible to hate sin, and yet love sinners- after all Jesus did it.

3) Become intentional about taking to heart Paul’s admonishment to “not grieve” (offend) the Holy Spirit- the very presence of God in our lives and midst! After all we no longer belong to ourselves. He is the one who is in us to do His will & good pleasure.

4) When serious sins do emerge in the life of a leader, let’s learn to value them as a person, more than their ministry. Let’s take the time to deal with the source of the issues rather than simply putting on the band-aid of ‘time out’.

Marc A. Dupont
Mantle of Praise Ministries, Inc.
November 2010

>> Conclusion: Biblical Grace Under Assault – Part 2

Three Dangerous Phenomena within the current prophetic movement

I have had the opportunity of being involved with prophetic and apostolic ministry and ministries internationally for close to 3 decades. I count myself the richer and wiser for this privilege of rubbing shoulders with many men and women who God has spoken through to the body of Christ in wonderful ways with wonderful messages of encouragement and exhortation.

Unfortunately, over the last decade, or so, I have also seen the current prophetic movement both become more extreme and, more extremely irrelevant to true Biblical Kingdom purposes. I believe there are three specific harmful phenomena that have emerged which are much in evidence today. They are:

1. A Phenomenal focus on self-promotion

2. A Phenomenal lack of self-accountability

3. A Phenomenal emphasis on phenomena, to the cost of de-emphasizing the Lord Jesus

Dangerous Territory

For the sake of not unduly loosing anyone too quickly, allow me to discuss the last point first. I have absolutely no problems with Holy Spirit caused, or induced, manifestations. Whether it is Holy Spirit induced laughter, weeping, shaking, or such things as gold dust appearing, or even gold teeth. My concern is rooted in the hunger for these things as opposed to hungering and thirsting for the person of God and His righteousness. As my friend Loren Sandford has written “In the church today there is a trend toward seeking ways and means to generate these experiences by our own initiative”

The danger of seeking after spiritual phenomena is really two fold: Firstly, it ends up becoming a downward spiral of deemphasizing the Person and lordship of Christ in one’s life and ministry. Secondly, it opens the door for demonic deception in a huge way. The devil can, and will, appear as an angel of light if that’s what you’re hungering for. My fear regarding this current hunger for phenomena is summed up by the apostle Paul’s words found in 2 Corinthians 11.3: “I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

Ministries which continually emphasize extreme phenomena and revelation do so to their own, and others, destruction. There is absolutely nothing more extreme than the love, the compassion, the power, and the majesty of God Himself. The moment we begin to emphasize His gifts, or manifestations, more than He, Himself, we are headed down the same track of those carnally obsessed lost souls Paul spoke of in Romans. They chose to exchange the worship of creation for the worship of the Creator!

Until we have truly grasped and realized the height, the width, the depth, and the breadth of God’s love let’s not settle for focusing on anything less than that. If, as we journey with God, He sovereignly causes phenomena to happen and releases paradigm shaking revelation then let’s grow in our sense of amazement and wonder of His goodness. But to digress from seeking Him and allowing Him to lead us and guide us as He sees fit is a demonic digression.

What’s being built- the Kingdom of God, or the empires of man?

Earlier this year (I won’t say when, or where) I spoke at a conference with two other speakers. One of the speakers took one of the night sessions and spoke 3 hours and mentioned the Lord Jesus twice in passing. The Bible was never once referred to. His whole message, and his whole ministry I suspect, is all about… his ministry. God wants to heal us of all woundedness, but there is such a thing as a Godly brokenness which David sang about in Psalm 51.16 & 17: “You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise”. This ‘godly brokenness of David’s is evident in his prayer in Psalm 27: “One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.”

Jesus’ whole ministry on earth was to restore people to a vital relationship with the Father. (John 17.3). His protein, what nourished Him, was to do the will of the Father. He was so fixated on pleasing the Father He walked away when the crowd wanted to crown Him- it simply wasn’t the Father’s time. Too many ministries today, however, run to any opportunity at all of being crowned before men.

Speaking for myself, I love to tell testimonies of God healing, delivering, and revealing Himself to people. And I thoroughly enjoy the privilege of being able to be part of the process. But there is a huge difference between telling stories in such a way that glorify the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as opposed to glorifying me, myself, and I. Much of the self-promotion being done today on websites, book covers, and presentations is at the very least self aggrandizement and at worst demonic in that it, again, deemphasizes the wonder of Jesus. And what seems to be a bigger problem is the willingness of many Charismatics to chase after ministries that are preoccupied with themselves. After nearly sixty years of the countless moral failings of supposed giants of faith with midget-sized character the Charismatic and Pentecostal church is still hungering for the next hero. This speaks volumes of our lack of discernment due to a lack of experience with the real thing- Jesus. At the very least let’s take hold of Paul’s wisdom regarding reputation; “For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.” (2 Cor. 10.18) Let’s live and breath for the commendation that comes from God. That commendation is often far from the conference crowd.

Does Truth Matter? Two presidencies ago (in the U.S) the president was caught in a very public lie regarding martial infidelity. At one point while being questioned he responded to a particular question with the question: “what does ‘is’ mean?”. Essentially, with one swell swoop, the truthful meaning of words was, to a large degree, thrown out the window. And while politicians have always been politic to the point of saying the right things to the right crowd, in today’s arena of public speaking, whether political, or otherwise, truth is now largely seen as negotiable. In a demonic Machiavellian manner the end justifies whatever means are utilized.

This almost absolute disregard for truth has, in turn, infected some contemporary prophetic ministries. When I say prophetic ministry I am more speaking of the ministry of prophets as opposed to the ministry of prophetically gifted people in the local church. These are two very different ministries with two widely differing spheres of influence.

The first red flags I began to notice were back in 1998 and 1999. At that time it was quite fashionable, albeit, unanoited, to prophetically jump on the Y2K bandwagon. A lot of the ‘whose who’ in the prophetic arena prophesied that global economic destruction was going to take place as we entered the new millennium due to the computers not being able to handle the digital change. While I have certainly made my share of prophetic mistakes I heard the Lord say quite clearly that not only was the Y2K catastrophe not going to happen, but the false prophecies were actually going to derail many churches which were quite focused on prayer and outreach to their communities. To a certain degree this did happen. Many, many churches began to focus on the supposed inspired message to buy generators, store up food, water, and supplies and get ready. Well, the catastrophe never happened. And a lot of the church members who were part of those ‘get ready for the worst’ scenarios ended us very disillusioned with prophetic ministry. I saw first hand how the number of churches in North America, Europe, and the UK who were beginning to grow substantially in intimacy with God and seeking to know His voice began to view prophecy today with real skepticism.

As bad as all of that was, that in and of itself, was not the worst part of the problem. The big problem was the lack of accountability. Very few, indeed, of the big voices who had given the false words ever came back in a public way and said “sorry”. For the most part no one is expecting prophets to be perfectly accurate. The weight of New Covenant priesthood is for the hearer of a word to correctly weigh the word and see if it bears witness with his or her own discernment from the Holy Spirit, as well as ascertain the Biblicality of it.

But to the level that God grants visibility accountability must be in evidence, or else the whole of the ministry comes into disrepute.

A friend of mine who pastors an influential church on the East Coast confronted one of the loudest voices of the Y2K message. When he asked for a mere public acknowledgement of being wrong that prophet responded “oh no, because we prophesied the warning the church prayed and the problem never happened”! The problem with her justification, how ever, was it was simply dead wrong. The prophecy had not been “if My people pray”. It had been “this will absolutely happen and God will use the chaos to birth revival”. Now 10 years down the road many so called prophetic ministries used this sort of ‘open ended’ theology as a loop hole for false prophecies. Any evidence of humility and authentic accountability has been thrown by the wayside. The reality of this can be seen in the 2008 U.S. presidential elections when so many prophetic ministries cooked up wrong predictions as to who would win. And only a few of those I know of who falsely predicted the outcome have publicly acknowledged their mistake.

In order for the body of Christ to take seriously a critically important God given gift there must be accountability within the context of grace. Since many prophetic ministers head up their own ministries the weight is doubly on them to regard accountability as a context for the operation of the gift. Other wise the gift of God speaking will continue to be devalued in the church at large and those ministries will end up kings of ‘anointed entertainment’. There will be a degree of revelation and power but it will not have the true kingdom fruit God desires.

If we are going to represent the truth of Jesus, in truth, then that begins with our hearts and motives being focused and absorbed with the Truth, Himself. Let’s take heed of the prayer from the ‘man who shook the world’: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

Marc A. Dupont September 28, 2010

Pat Caudill Healing

Pat Caudill March 20 at 11:05am

In 2001 on Super Bowl Sunday, I was in Phoenix, AZ on business. We lived in VA at the time. I was returning from a horseback riding trip when a car pulled off of a side road and we collided. I was going about 45mph when they pulled directly in front of me. The collision was unavoidable. I hit the car in a T-Bone fashion pushing it over 120ft, breaking a fire hydrant and totaling both vehicles. I was out of work for the better part of a year. I had not been the same since; I had pain in my back, leg and numbness in my right foot. There was honestly not a time when I was not uncomfortable or in some level of pain.

During a prayer team training session for the Dayton Campus Vineyard, which Marc Dupont was doing he had a word concerning God wanting to heal some one with a bad hip & back. I was prayed for, hands were laid on me and a healing occurred. There are days that I am stiff but NOTHING like it was. As a matter of fact, I dug my garden this year by shovel and by myself. Last time I paid someone to dig it for me because I was not capable.

God’s mercy and grace is not only sufficient, it’s unimaginable. This healing has initiated other healings, emotional healing and thought process healing. I am a full-time student. Today, I don’t have to contend with the negative thoughts planted in a child from a broken home; instead I study and I learn. According to my earthly family I was never supposed to be a good student or be successful, by the love, mercy and extravagance of my heavenly family, I’m on the Dean’s List. There were times that my back was geting sore after my initial healing and I would think, “I have been healed, I don’t need to be sore.”

Sometimes the soreness would go away and sometimes I would take a Motrin. Today for the first time in almost 10 years I do not take narcotics for back pain. No narcotics, no being bed bound, no canceling plans because it’s a “Bad Day”, just living without thinking about my back.

No longer does my physical body determine my spiritual mood. No longer does my back control my mind. So by claiming and owning and even defending the healing in my physical body God has blessed me with emotional and mental healing, all of which have immediate results in my daily life. I thank you Father, for your attention, affection, love, grace, mercy and justice.

Vision & Destiny Insights & Prayer

The first 9 Vision & Destiny Insights and accompanying prayer:

Every single human being has been created by God to know Him, love Him, and be loved by Him. In God’s extensive and extravagant love are His unique plans for each of us.  When we come to be cognizant of those plans we are experiencing His calling on our lives. When we begin to move into those plans we begin to experience destiny.

The following 9 insights and prayer are intended to be simple, yet powerfully effective, to help each of us journey towards the fulfillment God has for us. Please feel free at any point to pray the prayer. And feel free to pray your own personal version of it often. It is built around several of God’s great promises. As we communicate with Father God, we don’t use scripture as incantations but we do constantly use it as our platform, grid, and wisdom to know (and pray) God’s kind intentions for each of us.

1.    Vision & Destiny Insight #1: One of the greatest lies satan uses to hold people back is “as it has been, so it will be”. This lie can get ingrained into one’s thought patterns to the point where one’s identity and future is always determined by the past disappointments & failures. God has more for those who love Him than can even be imagined. (1 Cor. 2.9)

2.    Vision & Destiny Insight #2: God not only sees you in Christ, He sees you and calls you according to the calling (destiny) He has for you. In John 1 Jesus acknowledged Peter’s current name of Simon, (“reed like” and “shifting sands”). Jesus then said you shall be called “Peter” which means a rock. (Christ like, as Jesus is The Rock). God knows our current issues but always sees us according to His finished work!

3.    Vision & Destiny Insight #2, con’t. God sees you according to His calling(s) on your life. His vision of you, as you move towards His vision, makes room for the mistakes He knows you will make on the journey. Abraham & Peter made mistakes in not fully trusting God between the times they were called and the times of fulfillment. God’s vision for you is situated between His all knowing & His mercy/grace.

4.    Vision & Destiny Insight #3: God’s great plans for your life were established in His sovereign will before even one of your days began. (Psalm 139.16 & Jer. 1.5) Despite what seems like random & even bad circumstances in life He is working past & through all of that to bring you to a banqueting table- even if you are surrounded by enemies. Your job, like Enoch, is simply to walk with God! (Genesis 5.22)

5.    Vision & Destiny Insight #4: Your destiny in God is unique. God is never a paint-by-numbers artist. While He is always the same in whom He is, He rarely does the same thing, the same way twice. His destiny for you is as unique as your fingerprints, vocal chords, and eyes. The spirit of religion, which is fear based, breeds conformity. God, the creator of creativity, releases uniqueness out of love!

6.    Vision & Destiny Insight #5: Walking out your God given destiny is intended to be unique. Due to the mix of your primary motivational gift (Rom.12.6-8), your God given passions, and gifts (natural & supernatural) the odds are there is no one else exactly like you! And that is due to God fearfully & wonderfully creating YOU. Religiosity demands you blend in. God desires you to compliment the whole by you being you!

7.    Vision & Destiny Insight #6: For clarity’s sake, it could be said there is a difference between destiny & calling. Destiny is God’s will for your life. Calling is the recognition that you have experienced the leading/voice of God’s Spirit calling you into His primary will for you in life. The former is already given. The latter you need to experience and respond to. The first is true of every one, the second is only realized by those in Christ!

8.    Vision & Destiny Insight #7: Along the journey (of destiny) God will, from time to time, do miracles in your life. Because God purposely causes His destiny for you to be unreachable without His amazing grace He will, from time to time, allow you to be surrounded by impossibilities. He is merely setting you up for miracles as you learn to place dependence on Him, which in turn releases His miraculous grace

9.    Vision & Destiny Insight #8: As you grow (mature) in Christ you will find God’s destiny goals for you are not merely the ones He initiates. As you delight in Him (adapt your ways & goals to His) He expects you to have faith that He desires to bless your desires. (Psalm 37.3-7) Maturity involves trust, commitment (prayer & obedience), and last, but not least, resting in the truth that He desires to prosper you soul!

10. Vision & Destiny Insight #9: Keys to determining God’s goals for your life: 1) There will be accompanying faith, despite the challenges. 2) You will experience God’s peace. 3) It will call for miracles on God’s part for fulfillment. 4) There will be mature Christians who will help confirm it as time goes on. 5) It will provoke a growing passion within you. 6) You will feel over your head! 7) THERE WILL BE OPPOSITION!!!

Praying into your destiny (don’t forget to personalize it):

Father God, Father of all glory, and the God of my Lord Jesus, (Eph. 1.17) I trust you and thank you today for the amazing promises you have made me. Thank you for fearfully and wonderfully creating me in your image. (Psalm 139.13 & 14)). I ask that as you teach me of yourself and your ways you will lead me and guide me by your Holy Spirit (John 16.13)) into the fullness of your kind intentions for myself and my family. Thank you that your intentions are to give me a hope and a future not plans for destruction. (Jeremiah 29.11) And thank you for the ultimate gift of Jesus- that by His life and love and sacrifice on the cross I can know and live an abundant Holy Spirit filled life. (John 10.10) Thank you that these plans are filled with your amazing creativity. They completely exceed all that I can think, hear, or see. (1 Cor. 2.9) Thank you for your great grace for me to live life as Your Son (or daughter). (1 John 3.1) Thank you Father that as I enter into the destiny you have created for me I can reflect Jesus and your love to all I meet.

In the powerful Name of Jesus,

Amen.

Occasional miracles, or a miraculous Lifestyle?

Occasional miracles, or a miraculous Lifestyle?

Paul asked the rhetorical question of the Christians in Galatia; “does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” Paul’s question was to specifically call the church back to an emphasis on grace and intimacy with God and deemphasize their focus on the law- their performance. For the contemporary church (and contemporary leaders) we need to ask ourselves why Paul’s underlying presumption is not current for most of the church today, in the western world. Where are the miracles, which should be the norm rather than the exception?

I have witnessed first hand over almost 30 years of international ministry how many churches and ministries have grabbed hold of Paul’s teaching in Ephesians regarding the true purpose of the “ascension gifts”. They are not simply for performing ministry, but rather, for training and equipping the body of Christ as a family to move into mature, fruit bearing lives as each seeks to imitate Christ Jesus. This “releasing” of ministry to every day people has, indeed, brought about a wholesale increase of healings and, even, miracles, to many, many, churches. However, we are at a point where, I believe, God wants to take many into the next level of break through. And that is going from experiencing miracles occasionally to experiencing miracles as a lifestyle.

Duel citizenship in the land of the always possible!

Anyone who has truly surrendered his or her life to Christ Jesus while still in this world is no longer of it. They have been born into the Kingdom of God. In effect, we have dual citizenship. We have the legal rights of our home nation and, more importantly, we now have supernatural rights due to our citizenship in heaven.

With the Kingdom of God, the things that are often impossible for man are always possible for God. I like to say when the Kingdom of God is moving on earth ‘the realm of the always possible is invading the realm of the often impossible’. Hence Paul’s rhetorical question to the saints in Galatia.

If you are a follower of Christ, you actually began life with a miracle- you supernaturally entered into both the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus! (Romans 6.3) So as we seek first the Kingdom of God to manifest and spread on earth, as it is in heaven, there should be a consistent manifestation of God’s nature- compassion and grace, expressed supernaturally, i.e. miracles!

When discussing a Kingdom lifestyle, however, we must make sure we are not shortchanging miracles to only those of physical healings. A true miraculous Kingdom lifestyle is one in which we experience God multiplying resources (as Jesus did) and restoring lost relationships (as Jesus did). After all, the Kingdom of God is first and last about relationships- that is the only context in which Biblical love can be fully realized. And the Kingdom of God is about seeking to give, nor merely seeking to get. That is love in action.

To make some simple observations regarding miracles let’s observe a few simple facts regarding the feeding of the multitude, as related in Matthew 14.15-21:

1)     Jesus directed the disciples to miraculously provide for the hungry multitude (well over 5,000 counting women & children) even though they did not even have enough even for themselves.

2)    Jesus (always our model) took what they gave him and thanked the Father for it.

3)     He then instructed the disciples to have the people sit down. In other words to be in a place of rest.

4)     He then instructed the disciples to begin giving.

5)     No one went away hungry. In fact, they had 12 basketfuls left over.

A few simple observations:

1)    Right where you are at, no matter how absurd the need of the moment, there is the possibility of the ‘realm of always possible invading the realm of the often impossible’.

2)    Always give thanks for God’s provision, even (and especially) if it is by faith in what He will do to meet the need.

3)    Striving is the opposite of faith for grace, hence Paul’s rebuke of Galatians 3.5. It is important to live in God’s rest, even when there is turmoil all around you. Isaiah 30.15 reads: “In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.”

4)    A true Kingdom lifestyle is one of seeking to give, not to get. God does not desire to take you from poverty to prosperity, but rather, from poverty to generosity. (2nd Corinthians 9.6-11) *

5)    When you give out of God’s miraculous provision there will always be an incredible return to you.

The Key: What, or Whom, are you focused on?

The first generation out of Egypt certainly experienced miracle, signs and wonders. However, they failed to go from their initial experiences of God’s supernatural grace to a miraculous lifestyle because their eyes were focused on the natural problems, as opposed to their supernatural Father. When the spies came back with the report of the fierce and giant enemies they chose to focus more on the enemy than on the person of God. In contrast, Jesus, when taking the 5 loaves and 2 fish from the disciples then lifted His eyes to the Father and gave thanks rather than focus on the seemingly inadequate resources and the hungry multitude.

God is calling many of us to learn to stop focusing on the giants of famine, recession, and being seemingly underfinanced for the vision He has given called us to. When Peter asked Jesus if he could do what Jesus was doing- walk in the miraculous (walk on water), Jesus said, “Come”. When, and where, Peter got in trouble was when he took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the size of the waves and the increase of the wind. If you are floundering at this point due to stepping out into the miraculous be encouraged. God will get you back into the boat to complete the journey. His heart, as it was towards Peter, is to give you the desires of your heart, as you adapt yourself to Him and His will for your life. Our job is to keep our eyes on Him as He leads us in a way we have never gone before!

A Final note: God is all about relationship

A final encouragement I would like to leave you with concerns trusting in relationship. While God often releases the supernatural directly by His Holy Spirit, much of the time the Holy Spirit utilizes others in Christ (the body of Christ) to release His amazing grace. This is a lesson I have been dramatically relearning the last few months. In facing some of the giants I am being confronted with God has been doing amazing miracles in many different areas. How ever, He has been doing them as I have reached out to others I am in relationship with. Let us remember: Jesus never said wherever two, or more, are gathered I will be “on him, or her” but rather I will be “in their midst”!

Marc A. Dupont

June 30, 2010

* I highly recommend Terry Appel’s excellent book “The Father’s Financial Favor”.

4 Day Take Away

Like a few hundred thousand other travelers my plans last week went up in Icelandic volcanic ash. From early Friday morning April 16 to Sunday early afternoon I was stuck at the airport in Munich, Germany. I then took a 26-hour bus ride to get to Manchester, England, where I should have arrived 4 days earlier.  I’m wondering what are the lessons I can/should take away this? After all, God is a god of redemption.

The easy answer is ‘don’t leave home’. But the reality of life is that life itself is a risk. There are no guarantees that plans will work out the way planned. The rain, and for that matter volcanic ash, falls on the good, as well as the evil. But to never risk, is to never gain. So, like most easy answers, to avoid risk is not real answer!

As I’ve thought about the ordeal for the last week, I have taken away 4 lessons from my 4 days & nights of delayed transit.

    1. You have to get your own insights in life
    2. You have to be persistent
    3. You have to be patient, and
    4) At times you have to relearn how to kneel
  1. You have to get your own insights. We are in the so called information age, where through the internet, podcasts, books, magazines, DVDs etc all information for all things is readily available. The problem, however, is that God rarely does the same thing twice. I found that while waiting hours in lines for over 3 days what both officials and other people in the long lines would tell me would be either outdated, or simply false information.
    The information regarding planes being able to take off, land, the moving of the volcanic ash, the availability of hotel rooms was constantly fluid information. It was all changing almost hour to hour. As an example after standing in 2 different lines for an hour and a half each and being told by each airline representative that there were no hotels available I was finally told by a 3rd representative that not only were there hotels available but that I was being given one curtsey of the airline. This scenario happened two days in a row!
    God, the Father, desires each of us to be like His Son Jesus- led by the Spirit. Life is not a program and neither is the will of God for your life. You cannot read some one else’s 7 steps to the 10 keys of life and experience what they experienced. You are to be a true child of God and be led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8.14). Otherwise you will suffer from false information on what hidden opportunities the Father has for you.
  1. You have to be persistent! I spent the better part of 3 days in row standing in different lines at the airport trying to gain opportunities. I would be told ‘no’ politely, but firmly, time after time. But then on the 3rd or 4th time of standing in line I would get an amazing ‘yes’. God is able to open doors for you where there don’t even appear to be doors. With life in the supernatural, as with life in the natural, we must be prepared to ‘ask, seek, and knock’, until God’s timing has arrived. It is never too late!
  1. You have to be patient. We live in a quick fix, short-term mindset in the postmodern western world. All too often we are quick to give up if what we are praying and/or working towards does not work out quickly. I can’t stand activities that necessitate waiting in lines. However, as I relaxed in the long lines in Munich and had the mindset of waiting to see what God would do I met with real reward.
    Patience – a quiet, persistent, trust in God, is part of the fruit of the Spirit. As we walk with God we must constantly remind our selves that all of the promises of God are ‘yes and amen in Christ Jesus’ because of the cross- despite the outward appearances of things. (2 Cor. 1.20)
  1. Relearning how to kneel: When I finally got to Lancaster, England, 4 days late, I had completely missed the conference I had come to speak at. This was very, very disappointing because it was the grand opening celebration of a church pastured by a very close friend who had just moved into their new church building. However, we ended up doing two nights of special meetings. While many healings begin to kick in hours after receiving prayer there was one instant healing that was very significant for me. A lady who had broken her knee several months before was still suffering. The outstanding problem was a lack of mobility and being unable to kneel down at all. After a few moments of prayer she was completely able to kneel and stand back up.
    Sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively, I find I often need God to help me relearn the humility of kneeling in prayer, worship, and thanksgiving to God. The question is not merely who are we in Christ Jesus, but who is this amazing God who has put His Holy Spirit within us? Let’s come back to a place of acknowledging our day-by-day dependence on Him for all things. After all, it’s in Him that we live and have our very being! (Acts 17.28)
    Marc A. Dupont