Sunday, April 29, 2012

Are you a journalist?

I have been thinking about spiritual warfare lately—what else is new!

When we are not seeing the answers we want or when the answers are slow in coming many times we allow our knees to buckle. If you think about it that is a great battle technique. The enemy turns our focus from stopping him in what he is doing to “laying our stuff on the throne” and then taking it back and asking God all over  again “who, what, why, when and sometimes where”.

Our battle should not be keeping our own faith intact. It should not be a journalistic approach (Get the pun? Who, what why when and where? Ok, never mind, bad joke).

No matter what your maturity level in the spirit BE there and be growing. Do not go back and forth, making excuses for why you are where you are. Don’t act like you don’t know as much as you do so you will not have to be responsible for what you know. Don’t act like you know more than you do—crashing hurts you and the Lord when you fall. You are where you are. You do not expect a 3 year old to act 30.  But you do not expect a 30 year old to act 3 either. Be who and where you are. Do not long for someone else’s life—you have no idea how they got to where they are. Often times people say to me that they want to pray like I pray or be bold like I am or something along those lines. The fact is you do not want the first 25 or 30 years of my walk. Come to think of it, you probably don’t want my today either. You want your walk and you want to overcome the circumstances and the obstacles in your life because you want to be exactly who God called you to be. Right? And even if you do not recognize it right now you are FABULOUS just like you are. He made you in His image right? He is pretty fabulous—think about it.

So, the delays and obstacles you have in life are usually fairly easy to recognize and go after. Is it sin opening doors? Then stop it. Is it circumstances? Something you can change? If yes, do it and if not learn to be content—start praising God no matter what and the view of your circumstances will change even if the circumstances do not change right away. Is it just life? Then who cares? When you get to heaven God is not going to say, “Wow Sally, on Tuesday, June 25, 1976 you let 2 pounds of hamburger spoil in your fridge and I had to supply more meat for your family—sorry you cannot get into heaven.” Crazy huh? So are some of our thought patterns!

But, if little foxes are spoiling the vine then it is time to take care of them, all of them, not just one or two until you get some relief. Little foxes only come when we are the most productive.
Song of Solomon 2:25
Catch for us the foxes,
      the little foxes
that ruin the vineyard
     our vineyards that are in bloom.

Are you blooming? Are you at a place where you feel you are being the best you have ever been and then the little foxes start? You know the scenario. First you just pray each little thing off—or worse, ignore it. Then it starts to be over whelming so you pay attention and there are several things wrong. Now you are going to actually break down and pray. Then more and more happens so you resort to that first paragraph that started all this—the journalistic approach. Why God? Who God? When God? How God? Where God?

Often when someone calls me to pray they are desperate. They need a lot of prayer just to get to -0-. This is not an indictment or a criticism just an informational statement. After praying about how to pray, it often turns out to be a very intense warfare that is formidable. There is a spirit called “formidable foe”. Let’s look at how accurate his name is:
1.      Causing fear, dread or apprehension
2.      Having qualities that discourage approach or attack
3.      Tending to inspire awe or wonder

So here we have a spirit whose very name is to cause dread, fear or apprehension. (Remember the whole part about people being desperate when they come for prayer? Most have been so in fear, dread or apprehension that they gave up fighting the enemy and are curled up in a spiritual fetal position wondering what is happening. Look at the second definition, qualities that discourage approach or attack. Interesting isn’t it? Ever feel like that? Afraid to even find out what is going on or afraid to attack?  How about that third one? “Wow this attack is really big. I don’t even know how God can do this.”

The thing is EVERYONE has thought these things and been through this!

Formidable foe is just what his name implies—a mask of fear, dread and discouragement to keep you from approaching him. He is like a brick wall in the natural, built of many bricks and hard to climb. The thing is, after you recognize him bricks are easy to break—a sledge hammer (the word) does it.
Do not look at the whole wall (all the oppositions) and think it is too much; it is too hard, it is impossible. Do not go into the journalistic approach: How will I do this? When is it going to happen? Etc.

Get out the word and so you can begin breaking each brick in the spirit realm and scattering the pieces. Are you fighting on your finances? What does the word say? He desires that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers. Are you having health issues? By His stripes you are healed. Just 2 basic examples.

 Put formidable foe on notice. Let him know you are coming after him so he better back off. You will be shocked at how afraid of YOU he is!  Analyze the different issues. One at a time. Write them down—no matter how small they are. Dig in the word. Find your answers and write them down by the problem. When your list is finished (the problems will probably be gone by then, he really IS afraid of you but he may wait to see if you mean it) formulate your plan. Do you need to fast to get yourself ready? Do it. Need agreement? Get an intercessor** to pray with you. Got your scriptures written out or memorized—or both? So you have your weapons and your plan. Wash yourself in the word. Make sure you have a clean heart before Him. Ready?

Go worship. Praise the one who adores you. Dance before His throne in abandon. Tell him how much you love him, bask in that love relationship. Sit at His knee and feel his hand on your hair. Sing in tongues. Act like you just fell in love all over again. Remind yourself of all the things He has done for you. Thank him for them. When you cannot do anything else go take a nap. Crazy huh? You should be exhausted by now and you do not want to fight a war exhausted!

Ready? Praise some more, gets the atmosphere ready. Get your list out. Is formidable foe still around? I doubt it but if he is, take your list out and one brick at a time take him down. Declare the word in the he power of the Holy Spirit. He cannot resist the word. He cannot resist you—you are armored and powerful and moving in the authority of Christ himself. Doesn’t matter how long it takes. You are the one in charge. Decimate the wall. Don’t stop when you feel like a little relief is in sight. Make him sorry he ever messed with you. Make him afraid to do it again. Got every brick?

Wash off with the word again and get back into that throne room. He is waiting to hear from you. He wants to share in your victory. His love for you is waiting to overwhelm you. We don’t rejoice that we have authority over demons but that our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. But, we do rejoice in His love and provisions for us. We do rejoice in victory. We rejoice in the love of a God who has done so much we cannot even begin to comprehend it.

See any bricks in the future—don’t let them become a wall. Destroy them….

**The reason I say get an intercessor is that so many times we go to someone for agreement prayer and it ends up being a gab session. Lots of commiseration. Lots of talk. Lots of philosophy. Lots of talking about the problems. Skip all that and get to the war so you can get out of the mess.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Years ago (like 15+) I had a step son who was making fun of me because I was “old”. I challenged him to a contest of doing the splits. After he got done laughing he tried and could not. I split to the ground. NO warm up. NO stretching. NOTHING! Just dropped to the ground in perfect splits, got up and asked him, “WHO IS LAUGHING NOW, BIG BOY?” Then I went into the bedroom and fell on the bed in total pain—I had torn my ham string. I hurt—PRIDE hurts you.

The first day we were in Guam I tripped over nothing and hurt my foot. I shook it off.

The next day I tripped in a parking lot. The concrete was uneven plus there was a low pole there. I tripped over the concrete, caught my foot on the pole and twisted my leg badly. Mike caught me (praise God or I would be all skinned up too!). I tore my ham string again and pulled a groin muscle plus broke a blood vessel in my calf and got a bruise on my shin. Lest you forget that I do things BIG when I do them I will tell you that the shin bruise is the size of a dollar bill and the calf thing is bigger than my hand. Attractive.

I just about had it prayed off and could walk uprightly without flinching when, yes, I slipped in some water and pulled it all again, worse this time.

I did not know I could hurt this badly. It hurt to sit, stand, walk, lay, swim—in other words there was no relief. I slept on the couch one night so I could support my leg and not keep Mike awake moaning in my sleep when I moved.

Then I saw this cartoon on Facebook. I cracked up. I thought that considering what I had just been through in 3 days it was warranted.

“No one ever said I wasn’t talented or skilled. I was just hoping for different skills.”

The whole thing cracked me up.

Then I got a private message from one of my dear friends, Rebecca Archer (Arrow International Ministry**). We have been friends for longer than either of us wants to count. She and her husband Tony are two of the ost Godly, anointed and real Christians I have ever had the honor of knowing. I totally respect her (both really but this is about her message) and know she hears from God so if she is talking, I am listening. Sure enough, in her very sweet, gentle, anointed way—and privately, so I would not be embarrassed, she totally rebuked me!

Here is what she said:

“do NOT take any type of “klutz” title onto yourself! I fight that regularly for myself – but I have seen you dance! It is a lie and you are not ungainly or old.
I also know that at this incredible crossroads in your life, you are under direct attack emotionally and physically (you seem to always be under those attacks, but that is because you are a front line soldier).
Hugs and lots more hugs and get well! Sorry to be so … rough. I love you too much to just leave it lie gently.

My first thought was, “Dear God, let every rebuke I receive be this loving.” I received it—I am not a klutz but have been under attack physically again. I find that FUNNY (but not ha ha) because I was totally healed in Reno and no physical attacks! I also pointed out to her that I dance better than ever!

This was a type of intercession that very few are willing to give: timely, gentle, private, direct, loving truth. I could have reacted in pride and refused it, talked about how it was just a joke (the Bible says not to say something then say it was just a joke) or any amount of other things but I didn’t. I already know pride hurts so why add that to the physical pain I was already in? Why give the enemy any place in my life?

Someone took the time to intercede for me. What an honor. What a blessing. How very like Christ. I repented and quickly. God began healing me immediately—my husband was awake almost that whole night praying for me to be healed. After that double whammy I am just about 100% which is a miracle. Ham string. Groin muscle. Huge hematomas.

Amazing. God is amazing.

Who are you interceding for today? Show a little love, reach out.

Arnold Strand - President Rebecca Archer – Executive Director
605 Cedar Ridge, Fletcher, Oklahoma 73541 – 9402
P.O. Box 6194, Lawton, OK 73505 (send checks to this address)
580.591.3373 or 405.563.1131
AIM for the World!

You can find Rebecca and Tony on Facebook. They also have a website you can sign up for. Their testimony is amazing. I often use the story of how they met when I teach to show what a miraculous God we serve. Beyond that, they have a ministry teaching pastors to teach children. They go all over the world and have provided villages with VBS and Sunday School materials that have made a difference in thousands of lives. Their ministry is bigger than I could ever list here. Check them out.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Seeking Direction

How many times have you heard people wonder what God is doing? Why is God doing it? How is He going to do it? You pray with and for them. Then, often when you reply with confidence what you have heard from God, the doubt comes in—either in your own mind or from their voice. How do you know you hear from God? Etc.

Why not?

We are called His friend. Do you keep secrets from your true friends or do you share your heart? God created man to fellowship with. He wants to communicate with us. He called us kings and priests. Do the kings of nations rule and never know what is happening in their nation? Do priest lead the people without knowing which way they want them to go? That is not to say there have not been kings who ruled in darkness or priests who led people astray but let’s look at this logically. Why would God,  a loving God at that, give titles and positions to the people He created and sent His son to save and then keep them in the dark? Is that the position of a loving God or the lie of a demonic jokester?

Another position God bestowed on His people is heir. Heir to what? How can you be an heir if you do not know your heritage? Have you read the will?
How can two walk along together unless they agree? Do you walk with God? If you do then are you in agreement with Him. Or, do you demand your own way? Do you easily step off the path of agreement because your own thought patterns draw you away from that loving relationship? Does your own pride, disguised in false humility, keep you from knowing His destiny and direction for your life? Have you exalted your intellect above His understanding of who you are and what you need in life?

I was helping a friend move to Durant once. I was coming from Lawton and driving a big truck. She was also coming from Lawton and driving a car. She had an errand to run first and would easily catch up with me since the truck had a governor on it—meaning I could not even drive the speed limit.
I took off heading east. I had no idea where Durant was but did not really care—she would lead the way. I drove for a long time and realized I REALLY had no idea where Durant was. I had the impression it was up by Tulsa but no real proof of that. I reached for my purse. I would stop and get a map. Oops, I left my purse in her back seat. Well, I would stop for a soda and ask directions…empty pockets. So, here I am. No purse. No money. No idea where I am headed and driving a 28 foot truck full of her belongings. I will not go into all the details here but will include them in a chapter in my book later. Let’s suffice it to say I sought God.

I am confident in my hearing of God’s voice. It is the voice of my best friend, the love of my life, the one who changed my circumstances when I was in sin, the one who has healed me whenever I was ill, the one who has set me free from so many bondages, the one who knows my heart, the one who gives me direction, the one who shows me how to pray, the one who delights me like no other, the one who reveals Himself to me more every day---let’s go back to the “one who gives me direction”.

I am so totally, non-spiritual. I never fit into the “religion box”. I never pray normally. “Ok God where am I?”


“Uh, God, you busy?” (Isn’t it crazy that we make God so small that we forget he knows every hair on our heads and he has them numbered! He knows every bird for goodness sake!)


“You led the rebellious Israelites through the wilderness. I am not being rebellious and I need some help here. Where am I headed?”

“Durant” was the response. Clear as a bell.

“I need a little more God. Where is it? Can you get me there?”

His response made me laugh. “Do you trust me?” “Of course, what is not to trust?”

As I said when I started this piece, God is a loving God. He has our best interest at heart He WANTS to communicate with us. I kept laughing and said, “Ok, I will drive and you tell me when to turn.”

Nothing, but I knew he agreed.

We began to talk about Moses, his faith, his temperament. God showed me where mine is much the same (and not the pretty, faith-filled part). He told me to get the knee-jerk responses under control. No more anger. He had been talking to me a long time about this and every time I thought I was better He would bring it up again. That is one of the things I love about God. He does things in small doses. He doesn’t give us the big PICTURE and then sit back while we struggle to get to the goal He presented. He gives us what we can handle at the time, gives us all the direction we need, cheers us on and salutes our victories. Does that make everything He asks us to do easy—no. We just decide to do it and we win. That is why, when He brings something up a second, third or hundredth time it doesn’t mean we failed or we that we are failing. It means we are taking another step to total victory. Lots of my friends think God puts these huge tasks out there for us to work at like a test to see “if we can do it”. Maybe I am just simple but I do not believe God tests me.  He guides me to be like Christ. I have a 3 fold cord on my side, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit—how can I fail?

As we talked about Moses I thought about how hard his life was. He did not have the Holy Spirit to guide him like we do but he still followed God in a way that is jaw-dropping. About that time God told me to turn off the freeway. This was a huge step of faith since this was away from Tulsa.

“Are you sure you know where Durant is?”

“Yes, do you?”

‘Nuff said. This was an adventure so say the least. We talked. I praised. I had a great time of intercession for several people. I told him how very much I loved him in the peace and quiet of a truck while following the voice of God.
Occasionally I would hear, “Turn left at the next corner.” Or, “Go straight through the light”.  I was on back roads of Oklahoma and it was uneventful and yet a milestone in my walk with the Lord.  I became more confident in His voice and when he says “turn here” I do. This has caused anguish, consternation and rebuke many times over. But, I know His voice and the voice of a stranger I will not follow. (And for all of you skeptics, yes I have missed it, but usually only by listening to others telling me I missed God—remember Job’s friends? We all have ‘em.)

Then I stopped praising and praying. I did not realize it at the time but I was starting to question if I was really hearing God. You know those voices—you hear them in your own head if not in the voices of others. “Who are you to hear from God?” “Are you nuts? Why would God reduce himself to talking to you like a friend?  Why would God give you directions? Don’t you think He has more important things to do? Boy, are you full of yourself.” Need I go on? You have heard these same words in one form or another.

So I resorted to asking God for a sign—I admit that sometimes we need them but eventually we need to hear from God and stop the immaturity. At the next intersection there was a hand-painted sign with drips down the cardboard that said in big block letters DURANT à . I cracked up. It was nailed to a telephone pole. I knew an angel had just hung it up. I thought about getting out and seeing if the paint was still wet! God is hilarious and playful and I love that about him.

Obviously, I made my turn. I got to Durant. I will tell you I waivered again and He rescued me again but the point is this: He gives us direction and we can follow his voice. 

 Isaiah 45 says:
For this is what the Lord says—
He who created the heavens,
   He is God;
He who fashioned and made the earth,
     He founded it,
He did not create it to be empty,
     But formed it to be inhabited-- (that is you!!! *)
He says,
I am the Lord
     And there is no other.
I have not spoken in secret,
     From somewhere in a land of darkness;
I have not said to Jacob’s descendants,
     ‘Seek me in vain.’
I, the Lord speak the truth.
     I declare what is right.

*Italics mine of course!!

Isn’t this intercession? One leading and guiding the other directly to where God wants them to be? In this case it was Durant and the Holy Spirit told me each step. When we intercede for someone it is exactly the same. The Holy Spirit guides in each step. (May I point out here that we have to be willing to listen and obey in what we hear? Durant, it turns out, was in the southeastern corner of Oklahoma not the northeast corner like I thought. Good thing I listened or I would still be driving....)

When we intercede for someone we need to have several things in play:
1.       Know who He is
2.       Trust that He has our best interest at the forefront of His focus
3.       Be willing to ask
4.       Be willing to hear
5.       Be obedient
6.       Enjoy the trip
7.       Stay the course until you reach your destination

This is a lot easier when praying for someone else but you cannot love your neighbor more than you love yourself. If you cannot hear for yourself and hear accurately how can you possible hear for others and get them to the throne so they arrive at their destination with all their belongings.

Asked for directions lately? Don’t you think it is time to start?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Intercession is love in action

Our act of love

  • As lovers of Him, our act of love should be intercession. Intercession is love in action.
  • As we come to minister to him, that is, to wait on Him, we realize our love for His bride is demonstrated in our intercession for her.
  • Our intercession is an extension of His love and desire for His bride—the church.
  • The favor we have with Him, like Moses and Abraham had, is for we may intercede for His bride the church. That was God’s intention for speaking to Abraham regarding Lot and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. God was looking for an intercessor.
Genesis 18:16-33 (NIV)
Abraham Pleads for Sodom
16 When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”
20 Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
26 The LORD said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
27 Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”
“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”
29 Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”
He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”
30 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”
He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
31 Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”
He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”
32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”
He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”
33 When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.

The military—intercession is vital
  •       Each infantry soldier covers one another in ground fire so that they can advance. They can’t talk ground without the proper fire covering—cover fire for prayer buddy.
  •       Jesus can identify with our sufferings and our struggles.
  •       Our Lord stands in the gap for our behalf. 
  •       His intercession paves the way for us to overcome.  
  •       We too need to intercede for others, so that they can overcome.
  •       His desire is not that we, or anyone else should fall under His judgment. 
  •       He is for His Bride. His desire is for reconciliation and restoration. 
  •       We need to have the same heart for His Church. 
  •       We need to intercede for her.

18    Corinthians 5:18 (NIV)

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:

·   Intercession fulfills the two greatest commandments in the Law.

Matthew 22:37 (NIV)

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

·   The greatest enemy and determent to our intercession for His Bride is our selfishness. Accusation is an enemy; it is the tool of demons!

Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

  • Our desire should be to advance the Kingdom of God here on earth, rather than to pray for God to bless our project.
Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV)
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
  • The few Christians who pray usually spend their time on prayers on their own behalf. Read:

James 3:14-18 (NIV)

14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

and remember:

James 4:1-3 (NIV)

1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
·         Servanthood is the opposite of selfishness.
Matthew 20:26 (NIV)
26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant

  •  Jesus was our example,

Philippians 2:1-8 (NIV)

1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

  • Is our model for being a successful disciple.

Matthew 25:21 (NIV)

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

·       Humankind steals true humiliation.
·       Intercession will cause you to grow in the Lord. It opens the door for you to grow in the Lord. It opens the door for you to move into the power of God and you begin to hear His voice. It gives you favor with God and it gets your eyes off yourself long enough to see God.

As we begin to move into intimacy and favor with the Lord, we should demonstrate our love for Him and towards His Bride. We demonstrate the perfect act of love through intercession. Intercession fulfills the two greatest commandments we have as friends of God. Pease remember that the greatest deterrent to intercession is selfishness on our part. And finally, without an adequate prayer covering we cannot expect someone to come into revelation. We need to stand in the gap for His Bride.