September’s Most Popular Search Terms

To be quite honest, I don’t pay much attention at all to our Web stats. Occasionally I check to see where folks are linking to our site from, and even more infrequently I actually pay attention to the search terms that drive traffic here. Just in case you were curious, here’s a short list of the most popular terms (besides “Values-Driven” and “Values-Driven Family”) that led people to visit

If you’re interested in Growing to be Like Jesus, feel free to use the code BLOGSPECIAL to get it at 40% off. I’ll leave the code active for one week!)

There you have it…what brings YOU to our site? 🙂

Marching Orders

As discussed earlier, humanity is caught in the middle of the epic struggle between God and His doomed foe, Satan. Our allegiance and affections are sought to glorify one or the other.
In a prior chapter, I likened our dilemma to a custody battle. Satan rebelled against (divorced) God and was kicked out of the house (heaven). Now Satan, to satisfy his own ego wants the children. He does not love the kids, but just wants them to get to God. So he works to win our allegiance and affections. Now the wayward parent always attracts the children with worldly things: riches, pleasures, and freedom to do as they please. And they tell lies about the good parent, designed to keep their allegiance.
Now the good parent is very different. Because they love the children and know what is best for them, they make them eat their lima beans, go to bed on time, and restrict their unhealthy appetites. So the foolish children chase immediate satisfaction at the expense of long term well being in the care of the wicked parent while the wise children seek the protection of the righteous parent.
Now I am confident that if you have read through this far in this short book, you have decided who will receive your allegiance and affection. And any of us who walked the path of wickedness knows full well that the devil’s allures, as attractive as they once were, lead to pain and heartache. So we have a very unique perspective. So many of our siblings are being deceived by the lies and give their allegiance to Satan.
So what are we to do about it? We need to tell them the truth. We need to go out there and show them where the lies end. We need to tell them that they are pawns in an epic battle for their allegiance and affection. We need to tell them that true freedom and fulfillment only comes through submitting unconditionally to our Heavenly Father.
Making disciples is simply taking people through the healing process of becoming free from the devil’s lies, and surrendering to a loving Father. Then, we help them get closer to their righteous and holy Father, and nurture a zeal to take others on the journey of truth and freedom.
Friends, Jesus tells us to love our enemies because they are not our enemies; they are simply deceived children used as pawns to steal God’s glory. So let’s go out there and steal our wayward siblings from the clutches of their deceiving father, the devil.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a, NASB)
Now go out there and spark an unquenchable fire of Kingdom expansion!
Lord God Almighty. I pray that your glory will cover the whole earth. I pray that the enemy would cringe at the advancement of your glory. I pray that your laborers would storm the gates of hell, and initiate an unstoppable movement of radically transformed lives. Lord, empower your people. Be glorified. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Kingdom Expansion Summary

Now I know that even though this is a very brief book, the amount of potentially new information can seem overwhelming. In this section, I want to just make it clear how all of the discrete pieces fit together into a seamless pattern. It’s quite simple, once internalized, and will become very natural once applied.
Pray and fast in a disciple. It all starts with casting the vision. The mentor must instill in the disciple an insatiable desire to glorify God. This is done through surrendering total allegiance to God, living a radically transformed life, and engaging on the mission.
Then the disciple needs to fully understand their standing before God. The 1 John and related passages will convict anyone. This can result in genuine repentance and the signing of the blank piece of paper. Once they commit, they can be baptized and you can proceed working with them by meeting with them several hours per week.
Then comes the spiritual inventory. Here sins and strongholds are identified, and deeper repentance occurs. Here is where the slate is cleaned: the enemy is rebuked and everything is given to God.
Next pray for empowerment. Pray for your disciple to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Now they should be praying and fasting for a disciple of their own. By now they are put on a reading plan, and also taught to listen to God’s voice.
Engage in ministry (service or otherwise) with your disciple to see if the next generation candidate emerges. Once identified, support your disciple from behind the scenes as they continue the next cycle.
Can it get any simpler than this? This is a simple, practical, biblical, comprehensive, and effective pattern for launching an unstoppable disciple-making movement. Now do not simply be hearers, but be doers.
Lord Almighty, your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Discipleship Tips and Tools

Meet with your disciple at least a few hours per week. Go through the foundation using the patterns presented in this guide. And as crazy as it sounds, try to avoid your discipleship activities in a “church” setting for the first several weeks. Am I asking you to tell your disciple not to attend church for a while?—EXACTLY! Let me explain.
Much of what I have presented here is NOT part of the institutional church DNA. If the disciple is taught one thing (centrality of God’s glory, total obedience, being a “doer” and not a “hearer” only, engaging on the mission immediately, everyone a soldier, wartime mindset, listening to God, holy living, Christianity as a way of life, complete freedom from sin, and so on) and sees another, they will quickly be predisposed to adopt the lesser of the two. They must be sufficiently indoctrinated with the Kingdom truth before they should be exposed to cultural Christian practices. Otherwise, you may lose them to the “church” rather than engrossing them in Kingdom life.
Be sure to develop a strategic plan with your disciple. Have them (and help them) put together a prayer team to support their growth and discipleship efforts. Set goals and provide accountability. A reasonable goal is to get to the next generation in two months. By two weeks, they should start praying for their own disciple. By two months, they should be discipling someone of their very own.
Now you will certainly still be supporting them from behind the scenes, going through all the same things in the cycle pattern set forth in this resource. And in months, their disciple will get their own disciple. When you hit the fourth generation, you have started a disciple-making movement—and not until then. It becomes a movement when the DNA and vision carry on without your involvement—it is in God’s hands, and not yours. At that point it is unstoppable.
Engage in the mission with your disciple. Show them what it means to be a disciple by doing life together. Do not attempt to disciple them through a series of meetings and teachings. Serve together in compassion ministries, street evangelism, and community service. Telling people to do these things is a poor substitute for doing them. And don’t get trapped into plugging them into a series of “church” programs. They have to learn to see the Christian experience as the Kingdom lifestyle, and not simply a part of their life. A great acronym to remember for training is MAWL: Model, Assist, Watch, and Let go. This will equip them to carry the Kingdom life to the next generation.
When you fellowship with your disciple, be strategic. Discuss sin struggles and thought life. Expect repentance and pray with them for deliverance. Ask them about their prayer life and time in the Word. Ask them what the Lord is speaking to them.
For disciples caught in destructive lifestyles, teach them the difference between friends and acquaintances, and encourage them to temporarily disassociate with acquaintances that would inhibit severing from the temptations. However, guide them not to burn bridges, because you certainly do not want them to diminish their pool of potential disciples when their time comes to minister to others.
Pastors, gifted leaders, and those born and bred in the institutional environment, don’t try to control or suppress the move of the Spirit. Be open to these folks meeting in different ways, not necessarily connected to your church. I know it may be hard, but you have to let it go and focus on the vision, God’s glory, and the mission, making disciples. Train yourself to think Kingdom expansion rather than local church growth. These folks may or may not attend your church. They may meet organically, or form house churches. One thing that is a possibility, is that even if they meet with your church, they could form a sub-culture within the body if there is a severe disparity between the Kingdom and institutional DNA. Don’t let this scare you. God is glorified and the mission proliferates multi-generationally.
Now, about what to teach: there is far too much to include in this short text. The reading plan presented is a great start for allowing the Spirit to guide. Then address needs as they arise. Some great resources are available at and, many free. For character development, I recommend a great book by yours truly called The Values Driven Life, by far the most comprehensive resource out there. Standing Firm through the Great Apostasy by Steve Gallagher and Megashift by James Rutz are foundational to understanding the times we live in. Shepherd’s Storybook by Thiessen, Thiessen, and Patterson is a simple, yet comprehensive, discipleship tool to consider ( in print for a few bucks or as a free download at Of course, there are tons of great resources out there. But there is no substitute for God’s Word. Everything else must be measured against that standard.


Now I will teach on a subject that has, unfortunately, become somewhat controversial. However, I would be remiss to not teach this material, since the purpose of this series is to mobilize the reserves to the battle field. And the last thing I want to do is send them to the front lines unarmed—and worse yet, with guns in their hands, but no ammunition.
Before we look at our personal empowerment, let us first look at the example set forth in Scripture concerning Jesus Himself. Most of us presume that because of Jesus’ divinity, He simply operated in, by, and through His own innate power. However, I think the Scriptures impart a different perspective. Philippians 2:5-8, the single best discourse concerning the mystery of the incarnation, indicates that He voluntarily emptied Himself of His divinity and took on the form of a man. If this is indeed true, where did He get His power from?
The Scriptures are relatively silent concerning Jesus’ early life. Our best understanding is that He was a small town man who lived quietly as a carpenter. Luke 3:23 tells us that his public ministry did not begin until He was about 30 years old. Note that in verses 21-22, before He began His public ministry, He had an encounter with the Holy Spirit. Then we read in verses Luke 4:1, 4:14, and 4:18 that Jesus “full of the Holy Spirit,” “led by the Spirit,” “in the power of the Holy Spirit” and “the Spirit of the Lord was upon [Him].” Now we all know that following these events Jesus went around teaching with authority with many demonstrations of power. Coincidence? Hmmm?
When Peter spoke to the Gentiles in Caesarea, he described Jesus to them in this way:

“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. (Acts 10:38 emphasis added, NASB)

Now let us slowly shift gears to the saints. The account of John the Baptist speaking of Jesus coming after him is recorded in all four Gospels with slight variation (John 1:33, Luke 3:16, Matthew 3:11, and Mark 1:8). Here is the shortest version: “I baptized you with water; but He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8, NASB). I know the term “baptism of the Holy Spirit” immediately raises red flags—which half tempts me to use another term. However, this is the term John the Baptist, Peter, Jesus Himself, and the writers of five books of the Bible used. I can’t justify calling it anything else.
Now we read in John 14:12, right after He tells them to believe in Him because of the miracles He has performed:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. (John 14:12, NASB)

Why would His going to the Father possibly lead to those believing in Him doing greater works than He performed? He answers that question in verse 16. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;” (John 14:16, NASB). Because He promised He would send the Holy Spirit.
Here is Jesus’ last instructions for His disciples before His ascension (the “going to the Father”). “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Both Acts 1:5 and Acts 11:16 make it clear that Jesus told them that they would receive the “baptism of the Holy Spirit,” in fact, using that terminology. In Acts 11:15, Peter clearly references the experience at Pentecost as being “baptized with the Holy Spirit,” the promise from Jesus. He compares it to the event that happened to Cornelius and his acquaintances, saying they had received the same gift as they did, at the beginning. Hmmm, Pentecost marking the beginning of their ministry—see a pattern here?
I know many believe that these manifestations of the power of God have ceased. However, the Biblical basis for this argument is suspect. The 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 evidence is a bit wanting. First of all, if perfection is here, that suggests the war is over—the Kingdom is established and the enemy is subdued. Just watch the evening news, and you’ll see that this is not the case. Then there is the itemization of the “ceased” gifts. It is easy to target the power manifestations, but is anyone trying to say knowledge has ceased as well? Really? Then there is the argument that the manifestations of power were only for the Apostles. However, we see in Acts that folks beyond the 12 (plus Paul) operated in power (Acts 9:17-18). Mark 16:17-18 is clearly addressed to all saints, and itemizes several “power” gifts that can only manifest by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself said the same thing in John 14:12. 1 Corinthians Chapters 12-14 were addressed to all the saints. In them, Paul told them to eagerly seek the greater gifts (prophesy specifically), and not to forbid the speaking in tongues, practices forbidden by many today in spite of Paul’s admonition.
Now matters of the Spirit are a bit mysterious. We know that the Spirit is imparted at some level to convict of sin prior to regeneration. We also know for certainty that we are given the Spirit as a seal of redemption at rebirth. Yet, we also see a clear pattern in Scripture that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit (called the baptism of the Holy Spirit), after regeneration, sometimes even before water baptism (Paul and the Gentiles with Cornelius). Then we see some being “filled” with the Holy Spirit after the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Peter filled three times after Pentecost). Mysterious? Yes. True? Absolutely!
Scripture suggests that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a gift specifically for empowerment for ministry. We saw this pattern in Jesus’ ministry and in the ministry of the Apostles. For Jesus said:

“but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NASB)

Now there is equally sufficient evidence to conclude that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not required for salvation. It is simply a gift for empowerment. A talented teacher named Apollos taught accurately concerning Jesus and powerfully demonstrated He was the Christ. The disciples told others to welcome him. Yet Priscilla, Aquila, and Paul all noticed something lacking (See Acts 18:24-28 and 19:1-7). Paul asked him if he received the Holy Spirit. He said he received “the baptism of repentance” only. Paul laid hands on him and his acquaintances and they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Were they saved before this encounter? Clearly.
Now I urge you to seriously consider the patterns set forth in Scripture. These patterns are still followed throughout the world today, yet some of you contest their authenticity. I pray that you will open you mind and heart to these truths. Sincerely, without the power of the Holy Spirit manifesting itself in and through us, we tremendously limit our ministry. His power is one of the (if not THE) most important keys for Kingdom expansion.
Now I urge you to pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit if you are not already baptized. Pray through Luke 11:13 below (ask, seek, knock). Likewise, I suggest you find some Spirit-filled folks to lay hands on you and pray for you—this is a clear pattern throughout Scripture. And do the same for your disciples. Give them the weaponry and ammunition they need to fight on the frontlines of Kingdom expansion.

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:13, NASB)

Lord, empower your saints and embolden them for your mission. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Seeking, Finding, and Qualifying New Disciples

As soon as you catch the vision, accept the mission, repent, obtain freedom from both the penalty and power of sin in your life, release strongholds, and are empowered by the Holy Spirit, you need to engage in the mission. That means you need to seek and find a disciple upon whom you will cast the vision and continue spreading God’s glory.
So where do you start? Always, start fasting and praying. Solicit intercessors to join as well. Pray 15 minutes a day for a disciple. And I recommend fasting one day per week, specifically for your disciple(s). A good practice is to skip two meals—go dinner to dinner or lunch to lunch. The purpose is to soften the beach before the landing. Changing allegiance from the world to the Kingdom and catching the vision is an act of God, not man. We must tap into His power. This process in not an intellectual exchange. He must be leading the way.
Well the best place to identify disciples is by ministering to needs in the community. Acts of service, helping the poor and oppressed, counseling (marriage, parenting, financial, substance abuse, sexual sin, and so on), prison ministry, soup kitchens, food drives, and so on, are all great opportunities for identifying the person God wants you to personally disciple. The needy are great, because there is tension in their life, and they are looking for a change. Interestingly, people already in a state of transition are always the most receptive candidates. Remember that.
Street evangelism and public preaching is good, but not for everyone. However, be careful not to make converts, but rather be vigilant to follow through with discipleship. Nothing short of a transformed life glorifies God.
The apostolically gifted should seek untapped groups (first convert in a family, community, and so on). The first disciple is the most important one to be sure that they are appointed by God—the “man of peace” (see Luke 10). This person has been prepared by God to reach their sphere of influence. They are typically influential. As a result, their radical transformation gains some attention. These folks are normally seekers, and eagerly digest these things. From there, future generations will target their sphere of influence, or “oikos.” This is the pattern until the future generations of apostolically gifted are raised up and again seek out another “man of peace.”
A healthy cycle for discipleship is to seek a new disciple as soon as two weeks into being discipled (a month at the latest, if they are really struggling to gain freedom and empowerment). Then have a disciple in queue within two to three months, preferably two. The point for the quick turnaround is because the quicker they engage in the mission, the more likely the vision and healthy spiritual DNA will make it to the next generation.
One other consideration in choosing a disciple is the convenience of investing quality time with him/her. Choose folks that live close enough to meet regularly and even just drop in once in a while. If someone lives an hour away, it is far less likely for the regular interaction necessary to disciple someone properly to occur. It would turn into a series of planned meetings, rather than a healthy organic experience.
Now a disciple must also be qualified. You do not want to waste your time on folks who simply don’t want to grow. They will sap your energy, effectively halting a disciple-making movement. These folks do not carry the vision to the next generation (if they did, it would be the wrong DNA). They are sent by the devil to thwart the advance. Simply move on.
A disciple must be fully committed to the vision and mission. They must surrender all to God—demonstrated by the “signing of the blank piece of paper.” Failure on any of these is immediate disqualification.
Your disciple must receive from you. They have to trust you and be open. They will never gain freedom from strongholds without openness. Qualify them with assignments. Satan will work hard to keep them distracted with other affairs. They must hold onto the vision and keep their sites on the mission. Be vigilant in reminding them of this.
Be careful targeting the churched. There is much unlearning to be done if you are trying to instill fresh Kingdom DNA in someone who has a history of “church” DNA. But by all means, for those who have a hunger to go from the reserves to the battlefield, and meet all the other criteria above, go for it! We need all the soldiers we can get.
Lord God Almighty, give your people discernment to identify the disciples you have prepared for them. Prevail, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Communing with God

When we enter into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we are oftentimes quickly given a Bible and told that it is the rule-book for life. Granted, this is a partial truth, but I believe this portrayal of God’s Word seriously diminishes its true intent—which is to point us to Him.
The Bible is not the end: it is a means to the end. The end is glorifying God through our restored allegiance to Him, that allegiance resulting in a radically transformed life. The Word is there to provide us insight, examples, and direct communication with our Creator and Redeemer, through the Holy Spirit. We are invited to hear from God, if we would just open our hearts to what He is saying.
Now the “trained” will want to hurl as they read this. But the truth is, we do not even need the written Word. We were told in no uncertain terms that the Spirit is sufficient to instruct us (see 1 John 2:27 and John 16:13-15), and the Word simply serves to open our ears to His voice. This actually plays out in the persecuted Church throughout the world, where many believers live radically transformed lives, with just bits and pieces of the complete canon (much like the NT church). Sometimes I think the way the Word is used hinders our relationship with Him rather than encourages it.
We all believe Hebrews 4:12 that says:

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, NASB)

Yet in practice, we oftentimes treat it as a history book and a rule book—not the LIVING and ACTIVE, multi-dimensional, Word of God. Here in the west, we have the complete Bible, and many, many more resources telling us what it all means—making us far knowledgeable beyond our ability to obey. In fact, this knowledge-centric practice subjects us all to judgment (see James 4:17, Matthew 7:24-27, and James 1:22).
I suggest we take three steps back, to the very basics, and start practicing listening to God’s voice obeying what we learn. That is the foundation for healthy spiritual growth.
Here is some real practical counsel to instill healthy practices in your new disciples. For starters, I recommend a simple reading plan: one chapter in Psalms, one in Proverbs, one Gospel, one Acts, one Epistle, and one Revelation, daily. This takes about 20-30 minutes and will give your disciple a healthy sampling of the essence and working of God. But reading is NOT enough. I likewise suggest a simple method to ensure hearing the Spirit and becoming a “doer” of the Word. Set up three columns in a journal: the verses read, what God is speaking to you personally through the passage (not simply facts), and what He wants you to do with what you learned (personally). This pattern allows the new disciple to seek God’s voice and conditions them to look at God’s Word as a means of hearing from Him. It also encourages obedience and action. Inaction and disobedience is sin. And we should strongly discourage the practice of acquiring knowledge in the absence of obedience. This pattern of behavior is rampant in modern Christendom, and a tough habit to break. If adopted, it will be difficult to propagate a healthy discipleship chain.
Likewise, teach your disciple how to pray. We have already briefly covered hearing from God. Well, prayer is two-way communication. Teach your disciples to ask, yes, but also to listen for a response. Likewise, teach them to just glorify God—praise Him for who He is and what He has done. Do not simply come to Him with a wish list. How does that bring Him glory? Also, teach them to intercede for the saints. Have them pray for their own discipleship candidates for 15 minutes a day. Have them pray for the community, their family, and other needs. This will establish a good pattern of considering other’s needs, rather than having a prayer time that focuses on their personal needs only. Teach them to pray without ceasing—a perpetual thought-life of communicating with God.
Teach them and encourage them to fast right away. Fasting suppresses the flesh allowing more clarity in hearing the Spirit. Fast a day per week right away, encouraging them to pray in their discipleship candidates. As they hear God move and see how fasting intensifies their intimacy with God, they will learn how to incorporate fasting as an integral part of their spiritual life.
If these habits are established early with your disciple, you just about guarantee that the Lord will personally speak to, nurture and guide this disciple going forward. They will not be hindered by external drivers. They will be predisposed to constantly seek His counsel and obey what they learn. These are great patterns and habits to establish right away with your disciple to initiate and ultimately propagate a healthy spiritual DNA multi-generationally.
I will discuss further tips to avoid acquiring and propagating bad DNA in a future chapter.
Lord, I pray that your people would learn to hear your voice, and eagerly desire to commune with you. I pray that you quiet the distractions in life to allow them to cherish their time with you—to gain understanding, guidance, and obedience. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Right Spiritual DNA: Freedom we can Experience

Now the last post was certain to have created some heartburn. Because, most of us have come to believe that struggling with sin is the normal Christian experience, and anyone stating otherwise must be off the deep end. However, I want you to know that we have all been given opportunity for complete and total freedom from sin’s power, yet we fail to accept it. As stated earlier, we cling to the chains, all the while assuming the shackles are still on.

The phenomenon reminds me of how elephants are trained. They are attached to an immovable object for a time—they pull and pull and never break free. So after a while, they never pull again. They can be held with a tent spike from that day forward, because they are convinced their pulling will be futile. I think that is the bondage many believers face. This deceptive training concept also applies to northern pike captive in fish tanks. To prevent the large fish from eating their natural prey within the tank, a plexiglas divider is placed to prevent the pike from reaching the prey. A short time of running into the glass trains the pike to never try again. Even with the protective glass removed, the small fish live in safety, because the pike assumes they can never get the prey.

We oftentimes walk around in bondage as a result of similar training. We have tried for so long to escape some sin patterns, we become convinced we can’t and just stop trying. We have been deceived into thinking that the struggles we face are beyond our ability to overcome. The enemy keeps us clinging to the chains, when all the while, we have been granted freedom.

Now I do not want to belittle the enemy’s influence. In this post, I want to shed light on his methods and the root of his power in our lives. The big picture is this: we are in the center of a custody battle. There is a battle raging on between God and His foe, Satan, for the glory of men. We are in the middle of the battle, but are not the focal point. It’s all about them. As stated earlier, glory that rightfully belongs to God has been directed toward the devil and his works via out sin. God, through Jesus Christ, has restored glory to its rightful recipient by turning our allegiance to Him and transforming our lives. Anything less than full allegiance and radical transformation falls short of glorifying God—He is still mocked.

We see this dynamic in the book of Job. Job apparently gave his allegiance to God: he “signed the blank piece of paper.” God reveled in his glory, even boasting to Satan. Satan tested whether or not Job indeed “signed” by going after one line item on the sheet at a time. In the end, Job proved out that he surrendered full allegiance to God and glory was given to God, not the devil. Job was actually not the center of the story—God and the devil were. Nor are we the center of the epic battle for the glory due God.

Now before we give allegiance to God, all areas of our life are under the authority of the devil. Our sin invites him to operate freely within our lives. Let me illustrate this dynamic. Picture our life as a house. The door is wide open for him to roam freely within the home. Our sinful life grants him full dominion. We have sins in every room: unforgiveness, anger, sexual sins, idolatry in many forms, addiction, worldliness, and much more. These permeate our being and give him permission to have his way with us.

When we surrender to God, our repentance cleans the house through Christ. In fact, the house is outright purchased by God, and we are no longer even the rightful owners. The deed is in His name. In actuality, there is no permission for sin to enter that house. We actually don’t have authority to sin; yes, we still possess the ability to do so, but it is a violation of the house rules.

Now, what happens when we do not fully surrender? If there are items in a closet that we do not give to God, the devil still has our permission to operate in that area. Now legally it is God’s house, and illegally we have granted permission for an intruder to take from what rightly belongs to Him. Let me explain. What if there was lots of jewelry in the back closet in God’s house. Who in all creation has the power and authority to steal from God? That’s right, no one. But we, being tenants in the house can still open the door and let folks in and allow them to take things—even though they are rightfully the property of the owner, and not us the tenant. The closet can indeed be cleaned and the door locked, but we allow the devil entrance. That’s because the door can’t be locked until the house is clean, because Satan is still permitted to access those dark corners. By his so doing, he gets his grubby footprints in every room. That is why light needs to shed in all the dark closets, and those areas must be taken from the devil and given to God.

So what does this look like, practically speaking. A mentor must take a disciple through a spiritual inventory. Through much introspection and prayer, literally write down recurrent sins, past strongholds, areas of victimization, and so on. The disciple must repent to allow cleansing. Then, out loud (Satan can’t read minds), rebuke the enemy—take these from him by exposing light to them, command Satan to get out, and submit these things to God. State plainly that he no longer has permission or authority to operate in these areas. Then ask God for strength and protection—lock the door so Satan can’t get in. Then burn the list.

Now here is a tip. Teach the disciple to live moment to moment, not day to day. If someone struggles with smoking—they may light up and fail—but they can mid-drag rebuke the enemy, remind the devil that he has no authority over that stronghold, and put it out and throw away the pack. There is victory moment by moment. If day by day, we justify our sin saying “I’ll quit when this pack is gone.” Glory goes to Satan rather than God.

Now take the disciple through the same exercise next week. Some rooms really don’t get clean with one pass—carpet stains always come back a few times. The list will get shorter and freedom is the end—total freedom. God will be glorified in that life.

Now I wish I had unlimited space to deal with this subject, because it is so important for freedom from sin’s power. A radically transformed life can only occur when sin’s power is defeated entirely. However, I trust the Holy Spirit to finish where I have left off.

Lord, grant your people freedom from the enemy’s clutch. I rebuke the enemy and command him by the authority of Jesus Christ to stay away from your people. Free them from sin’s power and restore your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Marc Carrier

Freedom from Sin’s Power

Freedom from sin’s power is a goal for all of us. However, for many of us it is elusive. I think a lot of that stems from our understanding of the process. We tend to “work” on ourselves for an extended period of time, slowly (and not so surely) improving ourselves. Evangelicals leverage secular philosophies that we try to Christianize (dubbed “Christian psychology.”) Oftentimes spiritual maturity is confused with sanctification. One would have to conclude that the Holy Spirit is insufficient to transform a life by the methods we utilize to restore a person to wholeness. Again, we believe in God’s power for salvation, but not for transformation.

One Christian teacher once shared a great analogy concerning the mystery of sanctification that has always stuck with me. I have always liked it because of its simplicity—not what you would find in all the classic Christian life resources! This little word picture has allowed me to live in and empower others into freedom from sin’s power with great success. The teacher compared our transformation to restoring a car. We work one part of the car at a time: undercarriage, engine compartment, body panels—all the while continuing to use it as a daily driver. Yes, parts are restored. However, continued use results in new dings, new scratches, wear and tear on the drive train, newly discovered rust spots, and so on. So even though we work it one part at a time, with sweat on our brow, we never get it done. The vehicle always has something that needs sanctification (sound like anyone you know).

He indicated the process should look more like this. We surrender to God, He takes the car, puts it in the crusher and makes a 2-foot cube of steel out of it and sends it to the scrap pile. Then Jesus pulls up in a stretched limo, opens the door and says, “hop in, from now on, you’re riding with me.”

Let’s read Romans Chapter 6 in light of this analogy.

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6, NASB)

We are dead to sin, having partaken in Christ’s death and resurrection. We are entirely freed—our old self is DEAD. We now have freedom from sin’s penalty and power over our life. We are no longer slaves to sin, but rather slaves to righteousness. We now walk in newness of life. Our freedom from sin’s power, results in sanctification, that leads to eternal life (verse 22, notice the consistency with my prior messages: no sanctification means no eternal life). Let no one deceive you otherwise. We are free indeed, and must receive that freedom.

Now there is one missing caveat. We are only free if we surrender everything. If we are kicking and screaming and clinging onto the old car as Christ tries to take it to the crusher, we will not gain our freedom. If we hold onto our chains even though the shackles have been released, it is a self-imposed bondage. The result, Satan can even convince us the shackles are latched even though it is simply our holding onto the chains (very common). What a grand deception. This robs God of His glory!

This subject of strongholds will be discussed in the next message.

Lord God Almighty, show us our freedom and empower us to lead others to freedom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Marc Carrier

The Big Picture for Kingdom Expansion

The Big Picture of Kingdom Expansion

Now I have been presenting a pattern for Kingdom expansion—specifically, launching a disciple-making movement. Now here is the big picture. I know that this is not the order I have presented the content in, but for good reason. I am presenting the materials to Christian leaders, not brand new Christians. Under normal circumstances, the pattern below would be followed. I presented the vision and mission first, and now present the content that you will in turn utilize to establish good spiritual DNA with new disciples. I hope this sheds some light on the method for my madness.

1. Catch the vision
2. Know your condition
3. Surrender all to God
4. Repent
5. Receive freedom from strongholds
6. Commit to the mission
7. Empowerment
8. Commune with God
9. Engage on the mission
10. Cast the vision

These methods are only marginally effective with the churched and religious. That is because much unlearning must occur. Our Christian culture has so watered down the vision and mission, and honestly the Gospel truth, re-establishing good spiritual DNA is challenging (but not impossible). However, a thorough teaching on 1 John and related passages really challenges folks towards authentic repentance. The “signing the blank paper” exercise also challenges folks to squarely face up to their true allegiance: the world or the Kingdom. Everyone claims Jesus as Savior, but most realize through that exercise whether or not they make Him Lord. I contend that until they do, they are not actually saved (that exercise is better than a “magic prayer” any day). In future posts, I will provide practical tips on how to identify good discipleship candidates in future posts. So just bear with me as I continue to lay the foundation.


Marc Carrier