Sunday, July 24, 2016

Patience - July 24, 2016

I Corinthians 13:4a - Love is patient, ...

One can not be impatient when learning to run barefoot. It takes months, even years to perfect in order to run long distances injury-free. I can sometimes detect the feeling of impatience when others write or talk to me when learning. I can tell they are trying to pick my brain to see if there is not an "easier" way to accomplish what I have done. They usually want to know if it gets easier, if they will quit blistering, if they will be able to one day run as fast as they could with shoes. These are all relative questions for each individual to find out for themselves. People progress through various stages of learning to run barefoot in very different ways. Most, I have found, do not have the diligence and patience to reach the "holy grail" of barefoot running which I regard as marathon distance or beyond. There is just too much to give up to a previous shod runner such as their acquired speed and ease of running in trainers. They usually don't have the patience to re-learn how to run at a slower more deliberate pace. Many start this journey, but few finish.

When someone wants to become a long distance barefoot runner, It is difficult to explain to them what is required. One really does not know until starting and progressing for some time on the journey. Here in the Midwest, barefoot running is complicated by the changing seasons. It takes a robust soul to persevere through hot, humid summers and wet, cold winters. I always tell the aspiring barefooter, it will get easier and better if you just hang in there and have patience. In other words (as the scripture implies at the beginning of this devotional) one must understand that without a love and a passion for what they are doing they will never have the patience to continue. It is not something to be worked up -- it is either there or it's not. A lack of patience in this regard equates to a lack of love.

I John 4:8 states that God is love. This is the defining nature of God, it is not simply a characteristic. By God's very nature, His very being cannot do anything that is not love-based. One of those love-based characteristics is patience. It is not a feeling or a decision, but it is a characteristic of the very nature of God. One could just as easily state that "patience is love" just as "love is patient" for they are synonymous outflows of the divine nature. It is quite easy to say "Well, I love that person and they are the desire of my affection, but sometimes they wear on my patience". For instance, if a parent states that they love their children and yet are continually losing patience with them and becoming unduly angry, then I would question their love. Of course, no one will be 100% patient of the time with those we love, yet if we truly love the object of our affection, to the most part we will be generous with our patience and long-suffering toward that individual.

True patience is not a learned characteristic of God, but it is one of His "fruits" (Galatians 5:22-23). It is the natural outflow of a life that is connected to His love and is remonstrated by the spontaneous appearance of His attributes in situations that would baffle the world. Speaking of parents once again, I have seen mothers and fathers that have truly been gifted with the ability to patiently nurture their children with no other goal than to selflessly give themselves in order that their child will be all that they can be. Conversely, I have seen parents that have been so caught up in themselves that they have lost all vision of what God desires to rear their offspring. Consequentially, these parents display their detachment by obtuse impatience and growing anger toward their children as the little ones seem to further inconvenience the parent's selfish lives.

No matter if it is barefoot running, parenting, or any number of "passions" in our lives, the Lord desires to perfect His patience through His love in our lives. The marvelous thing about understanding whether we are truly in love with our personal ambitions is how much patience we have that is characterized in our daily dealings toward our pursuits. Only He can give us the passion to begin and the patience to finish.

Lord, As we give to You our life's pursuits, please take them and perfect your love and ultimately your patience in all our endeavors. Make us shining examples to the world how one can be passionate to pursue those things which you desire and the patience to perfect their completion. In Jesus Christ' precious name. Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

Sunday, July 17, 2016

He Knocks - July 17, 2016


Revelation 3:20 - 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.'

What does it really mean to have Jesus knocking at the door of one's heart? We are all familiar with the picture in this week's devotional of Jesus standing outside the door, looking patient and loving as he waits for the door to swing open. The context of this verse is far different than the hallowed painting of the meek and mild Jesus. The Laodicean church took the strongest rebuke of any of the seven churches in the first three chapters of the book of Revelation. If we go back to verse 17, the Lord rebukes them with the following words: 'Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, ... Jesus goes on to tell them that they should buy for themselves gold as refined by fire (His Holiness), white garments that they might clothe themselves (His Righteousness), and eye salve that they might see (His Wisdom). In the context of these verses, how do you now see the Lord as pictured in verse 20 ... angry, sad, mournful? Possibly all of these. However, I am quite certain that the Lord is in a forgiving frame of heart and mind. He states that He has the greatest intention of coming into the hearts of these believers and dining with them and they with Him. This is a grand picture of communion and fellowship of the greatest degree. All has been forgiven at this point as the Lord dines with the forgiven.

We can certainly personalize this picture in our own lives. There was that point where those of us who believe invited Jesus in and the fellowship and the communion was grand! Then, one day we excused ourselves and pushed Jesus out the door because we had more "pressing" matters. Once we desired His fellowship again, we might have opened the door to no avail, because the Lord was not standing there waiting, but He was grieved and had departed. There came a time, once again, when we heard the familiar knock and we opened to Him once again. Did we treat Him the same way? Did we tire of His company and excuse ourselves for more "important duties". This time, we told Him that we were busy doing the Lord's work and that He should excuse us because we had so much to do "in His name". What we didn't realize is that He wanted to be involved in His work along side of us. He didn't want us to sacrifice His fellowship and communion while serving Him -- He wanted us to live and love while walking in His sweet light.

Just as Jesus stands at the doors of our hearts and knocks, He is setting an example for us to follow. The Lord told his disciples in Luke 11:9-10 to ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, and knock and it will be opened for you. The implication in the original Greek text is to keep on asking, keep on seeking, and to keep on knocking. Even as we have allowed the Lord to stand outside the doors of our hearts and to "keep on knocking", so He desires us to do likewise when knocking on the "door of heaven" in prayer. We must be as persistent and as resolute to bring down heaven on our situations as Jesus is when awakening our hearts to His love. Are we ready and willing to allow the Lord to come and dine with us? Are we equally as ready to join with the Lord in prayer to bring down the blessings of the Lord on our circumstances, our friends, our family, our world? Let Him in, dine with Him, fellowship with Him and then join Him in His work. It will be a mighty union that will make the gates of hell shake!

Lord, here we are and we open the door once again and invite you in to fellowship with us and to build us up on your most holy love. Join with us as we beseech the Father for blessings to pour out on those here on earth -- changing minds and hearts forever. For His kingdom's sake and for Jesus' glory. Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Spiritual Cathedrals - July 10, 2016

Ezekiel 10:4 - Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub to the threshold of the temple, and the temple was filled with the cloud and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the LORD.

Traveling abroad, one of our favorite places to visit are old cathedrals. The grandeur of these centuries-old places of worship are certainly awe-inspiring. Once a person steps through the doors, the majestic columns, high vaulted ceilings, and gorgeous stained-glass are breathtaking expressions of the architect's intent to bring the beholder closer to his or her Maker! It is quite easy to understand how the common people would find inspiration when attending worship. The ordinary person in the middle ages lived in squalid conditions to say the least. It was probably a breath of fresh air to enter these places of devotion and to be immersed in such beauty, both in sight and sound. The soaring vocals of the choirs must have sounded like bands of angels to both kings and peasants.

During a trip to Europe in 2008, we had the privilege to attend three Evensongs at three different cathedrals. The music and the vocals were captivating as we allowed our hearts to be taken up in the Spirit to the Most High! While it is not necessary to be in a place of extraordinary beauty and phenomenal acoustics to experience God's presence, things of this nature can definitely help us draw near to the Lord. Sitting in the services, I would reflect how undoubtedly countless others had sat where I sat centuries before and were encouraged and transformed by the worship. One might be critical today and say, "Why were such grand, opulent, and apparent wasteful spending undertaken for these majestic structures when the poor were dying in the streets?" However, one must also consider the living in those times, and what hope these structures obviously brought to so many.

I have experienced the joy of European cathedrals and the majestic sense of God within. I have equally experienced "mountain cathedrals" where I was on top of a Colorado mountain and the vaulted roof was the blue sky above and my song of praise echoed to the valley below. God's beauty is truly to be experienced wherever we worship. Both the rapturous beauty of a man-made cathedral and one manifested in God's nature are not the end, but merely the means by which we may come to God's purpose in worship. Spiritual cathedrals don't necessarily have to have outward beauty. We have the power to transform our surroundings into a place of worship. Paul experienced his own "spiritual cathedral" in the depths of a Philippian prison with his cohort Silas as they sang and gave glory to God in their praise and worship (Acts 16:25). It didn't matter that they were in the deepest, darkest pit of human depravity. They had found a "spiritual cathedral" within their own souls -- the very temple of the Most High that is part of every believer's heritage. For truly, as Paul and Silas knew, this was the most extraordinary, beautiful place to dwell -- in the very presence of God!

Jesus said to the woman at the well that there was a day coming when those who would worship God would not worship him in Jerusalem or in Samaria, but that they would worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:21-24). For truly when a man or a woman is a true worshipper of God, then their spiritual tabernacle or cathedral is always with them and their situation is not determinate on their surroundings, but on their heart's disposition toward their Lord. However, the Lord will sometimes give us eyes to see and ears to hear, and to be captivated by the beauty around us. A person with such a disposition of continual worship is keenly sensitive when they enter into this special place of beauty that highlights their worship to an even higher degree. May we all find our way to the "spiritual cathedrals" that will both edify and lift our spirits to the Father of Life!

Lord, we are restless until we rest in you. May we find our own "spiritual cathedral" that will be a place of unending worship and praise to you. In Jesus' holy name, Amen.


"I've sung in mountain cathedrals

With steeples rising high
And altars made of evergreen -
Windows made of sky
And windows made of sky"

From the song "Mountain Cathedrals" by Bob Bennett


Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Our Sanctification - July 3, 2016

1 Thessalonians 4:3a - For this is the will of God, your sanctification; ...

Ever struggled with understanding God's will for your life? This week's verse states in just two words what His will is for us -- our sanctification! Without sanctification, it is impossible to live the Christian life as Christ intended. How is it that a man or a woman could truly "love the Lord your God with all their heart, soul, and mind" without the sanctification of the Lord? In simplest terms, sanctification means "to be set apart" -- to live a life of love-obedience to the One who gave His life for us all. To truly understand what sanctification is and to be moving downward and upward in both humility and growth, respectively, is the essence of the sanctified life. To know Christ and to understand that He has done so much for those who can return so little, and to respond in humility and obedience is to accept the life of sanctification.

What puts us on the path (and keeps us there) to sanctification? Obedience! True Godly obedience can only come by an understanding of what Christ has done for us on Calvary's tree. God is not so much concerned about what we think are the end goals of obedience, rather He is concerned how we get there through obeying Him. We can never expect to grow as Christians if we continually deliberate with God on what we know He is telling us to do. The accomplishment of the "doing" is not what God is looking for as an end-product, but He is looking for the continual "turning" toward Him or the process of obedience. For only when we learn to turn toward Him in all things, then we are truly learning what it is to live a sanctified life.

Undoubtedly, sanctified living is keeping the external law, such as the Ten Commandments. However, it is so much more! As a believer allows Him entry, God will perfect obedience to the Law of Liberty that He puts within the heart of every man and woman. For instance, God may speak to a person to give up something in their lives. Let's use caffeine as an example. Is there anything inherently evil or bad about caffeine? Certainly not! However, if someone had acquired an unhealthy dependence on this stimulant, then the Lord might want to test their desire to follow the Lord absolutely. This would not be a command for anyone else but to whom the Lord had GIVEN the command. (Unfortunately, that's how sects and cults are created, when those "enlightened" by the own personal direction impose these "revelations" on others.) What may seem like a restrictive command in the beginning, turns into a liberating aspect to the one who would follow the Lord's individual direction. This "law" becomes "liberty", not so much because the person quits this or that, or started doing this or that according to the voice of the Lord. However, it becomes "life" within the believer because he or she has obeyed and continues to obey. Therefore, the end result is not really what God is after, but the obedience along the way that will perfect the saint into Jesus' likeness. For Jesus said, "I am come to do the will of the Father". This does not necessarily mean to win so-and-so many souls to the Father or to create a church here or there. Obedience is the natural outflow of the believer's life -- the very asphalt that paves the road of sanctification and true usefulness to the Lord.

Many believers may feel their proverbial roads of sanctification have "crumbled", that their ways are strewn with "potholes" of sin and disobedience keeping them from their focus on loving the Lord and obeying him. Souls that have become trapped and snared in ways they know are not pleasing to Him need to cry out to God, confessing their tolerance of disobedience in their lives, asking that He would grant them the spirit of repentance to move onward and upward from their pit of despair. Then, they must accept the Grace of the Lord regardless whether they "feel" they have received it or not, but they must start obeying what they know the Lord is speaking. In time, they will once again experience the smooth way of the Lord. Will there still be difficulties in life? Certainly, but they will grow fainter and less consequential. Of utmost importance, there will be in the soul of that believer a growing peace and resolution to not offend their Lord with the slightest deviation of what they know to be the law of liberty in their own lives. This truly is the will of the Lord to be delighted in -- sanctification's journey that will only be complete as we pass from this life to the next!

Lord, we thank you for your voice in all of our lives. We thank you that you are directing us daily to walk closer with you by your life-giving commandments. Help us not to shrink from or ignore your direction, but to embrace your laws of liberty that will ultimately set us free to do Your will. Sanctify us in your holy name, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Miracle of the Mundane - June 26, 2016

Matthew 13:58 - And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.

Reading the Gospels, it is relatively easy to chide the disciples when they seem to have a lapse of faith that Jesus Christ could deliver on His miracles. It always baffled me to read Mark chapter 6 and the feeding of the five-thousand, and then later to read of the disciples lack of faith in Mark chapter 8 in feeding the four-thousand. I mean, after all, hadn't they learned anything by the feeding of the five-thousand? Or, was something otherwise happening that we have overlooked? The same can be said for Lazurus' resurrection from the dead in John the 11th chapter. Martha and Mary seemed unbelieving that Jesus could be speaking of bringing back their brother from the dead. Surely they had heard of Jairus' daughter whom He had raised from the dead, or the widow's son from Nain when he touched the coffin and the boy was given back to his mother alive. Did they have a lapse of memory? Or had they simply become too familiar with the Lord as their friend the healer and had forgotten that he was also the raiser of the dead? As we shall see, what is not said within the scriptures can often times be as powerful as what is.

To read the Gospels, one would think that it was a non-stop road show of signs and wonders -- that the disciples were constantly being brought into an awareness of Jesus' mighty power as He performed miracle after miracle. If that was the case, I believe we would have much different reactions from the disciples rather than disbelief such as Jesus' ability to feed the hungry or raise the dead. Just as important as the days of miracles were the days of the mundane. As I stated, I believe it is just as important what the Gospel writers don't tell us as to what they do. The scripture never mentions the lives of Peter, Andrew, James, and John when they toiled away in their mundane lives as fisherman. Even after they were called by the Lord, there is no mention of the days when it was just hour after hour of walking from city to city. And then, how about the times when the power for Jesus to heal was not readily present? You might say, "Well, Jesus would always heal if there were someone in need!" Don't be so sure. The scripture in Luke 5:17 states that the "the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing." This statement validates what is also not said which is that there were obviously times when the power of the Lord was NOT present to perform healing. My hunch is that it was more often than we are sometimes led to believe by the rapid pace of the Gospel's narratives.

While we may look with disbelief at the disciples unbelief, it is important to realize the juxtaposition of His miracles with the days of the mundane. The days are not mentioned when the disciples told Jesus to send the crowds away to buy food for themselves in the local environs. How else would they have had the the "chutzpah" (guts) to tell Jesus in Mark 6:36 to send the crowds away to buy themselves food? Obviously they had seen the scenario play out time after time where Jesus did not feed them. These were the days of the mundane -- hearing the parables and the teachings of Jesus and then just going their own way. Of utmost importance is that Jesus will not be put into that proverbial box of expected action. He is not a genie or a Santa Claus that can be expected to move and react to the masses whims. He is God Almighty and He operates both out of love and compassion but also out of faith of those around Him as He sees best in His infinite wisdom to move.

It is quite easy and presumptuous of us to believe that God will act on our behalf with miraculous rapidity if we will but only ask. Those of us who have been "sensualized" by the world look for the instant gratification of "non-stop" miraculous Christianity. Many of us who have been delivered from drugs or alcohol had been so conditioned by the instant relief and euphoria they offered. Once free, we had to learn how to go through life without needing the daily intoxication of what these substances could give us. In the same way, God does not want us to take His Son for granted, but to walk with Him whether our love for Him feels mundane or exhilarating. In the midst of Martha and Mary's friendship with Jesus, they forgot that not only was He their friend and healer but that He was also the One who raised the dead. Are we limiting God by not seeing Him as He truly is in the mundane days? Has He become merely a friend that is somewhat boring and "everyday" and we have been surprised when the miracle happens? The Lord wants us all to wait expectantly for Him. For only as we rejoice in the miracle of the mundane, then truly we will not be surprised when the signs and wonders in our respective lives appear.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Fathering On Purpose - June 19, 2016

Colossians 3:21 - Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.

Anyone who has been to Israel to see the holy places has certainly visited Jerusalem. On our trip to the Holy Land in 2011, my wife and I spent a week in in an apartment in Jerusalem, very close to the King David Hotel. Down King David Street where it intersects with Hebron Road was a prayer room named Succat Hallel (Hebrew for Tabernacle of Praise). Since then, it has moved to Ein Rogel Street, but it is still a 24/7 prayer ministry dedicated to raising up prayer intercessors for the restoration of Jerusalem and the salvation of Israel. During my morning run, I would stop and sit in the prayer room as the musicians ministered to the Lord. Through the east-facing windows the walls of Jerusalem would be drenched in the early morning sun. However, the valley between the prayer room and the enormous walls would also be awash in the morning light. This is the valley of Ben-hinnom, or Hinnom as mentioned in the Old Testament---the sight of unspeakable atrocities to children. For whenever Israel backslid into their apostasies, the worship of idols such as Baal, Ashtoreth, and Moloch came to the forefront in Israel's culture. They rejected Yahweh, the Lord God Almighty and made their children "pass through the fire" in the valley of Hinnom. While this began in the days of Solomon, it grew more in acceptability during the time of one Solomon's descendants, King Manasseh.

In II Chronicles chapter 33, we are introduced to Manasseh, son of good King Hezekiah. As good as Hezekiah's reign, his son sought to be diametrically wicked. Among Manasseh's most detestable sins was his worship of Moloch. We read the following where he sacrificed his offspring in the fires of Hinnom, with no apparent pity toward his own: "He made his sons pass through the fire in the valley of Ben-hinnom; and he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger." (II Chronicles 33:6) Through all his wickedness, he never sought the Lord. At least not until he was taken by hooks into captivity by the king of Assyria. (In the Jewish Talmud, one can read a story how the king placed Manasseh in a copper barrel and began roasting him!) We know from scripture that Manasseh cried out to the Lord and was delivered. In II Chronicles 33:12-13 we read: "When he was in distress, he entreated the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God." The verses following these tell about Manasseh's "revival" and how he sought to do right the remaining years of his life.

Both in the prayer room those days we stayed in Jerusalem and on subsequent trips to Israel, I have meditated on Manasseh and others like him in scripture who sacrificed their children in the fires of Hinnom. It seems inconceivable to us in our modern world to do such things to our own prodigy. However, how many of us who are fathers or who father children have sacrificed our children in more subtle ways? In sundry fashion, I failed my children when they were growing up, being often more concerned about my sobriety and staying sober rather than getting them to church and raising them among other believers. Today, they are products of this subtle abuse. If they do know the Lord, they are far from Him as they walk in a way which seems best to them. My neglect of keeping them centered on the things of God has led to their present-day apostasy. However, like Manasseh, we who have failed our children in the past can only look toward the future. While many of us have inadvertently offered our children up to Moloch by our lack of care and concern in their regard, we can now only look to the future concerning their redemption. The Lord spoke to Jeremiah the prophet an important lesson for all of us as fathers to consider: "The LORD said, 'Surely I will set you free for purposes of good ...'" (Jeremiah 15:11). While Jeremiah was set free from a literal prison, how many of us were set free from a spiritual prison? In both instances, the Lord tells us we can no longer serve ourselves, but we must serve "purposes of good." For those of us who are fathers, this means giving ourselves to prayer for our beloved children. And, when possible, devoting the necessary time to them in order to show them they are important. Just as God desires our time, so do our loved ones. It is the one thing, if done consistently, which will show them our love.

I will never forget the emotions I felt the first time I looked over the valley of Ben-hinnom in Jerusalem. I still carry that emotion as I pray for my children, desiring their full redemption to God. However long it takes, it matters not. I am devoted to "pray them through" until they come into a full understanding of God's incredible love for them. Sacrifices to Moloch have not occurred outside of Jerusalem for millennia. However, unless we as fathers commit to the redemption and restoration of our children, we continue to sacrifice their spirits to this evil demon. May we cry out, day and night, for our children's redemption. Only then, will we be fathering on purpose and seeking good for those whom we love most.

Heavenly Father, teach us as fathers to love as You do. Cause us to father on purpose and commit to seeing our children on fire for You and not on fire for another god through our neglect. May You give us wisdom how to pray and act in this regard. Thank You for Your love for both us and our offspring. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Deliverance - June 12, 2016

Matthew 8:29 - And they cried out, saying, " What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?"

Back in 2008 our family was on "holiday" to London, One day, Rebecca and I were returning to our apartment via the "Tube" (the London Underground Subway). She found a seat and I sat diagonally across from her as we carried on a conversation. Seated diagonally to my left and facing me, there was a young man that I didn't give much notice to -- at first. As my wife and I continued chatting, the bizarre behavior of the young man became more and more apparent. I turned to look at him at one point and he started cursing at me, telling me "Yank, go home!!" I cut off my conversation with Rebecca and turned back in my seat to try to find out what was troubling this soul. I started out by telling him that Jesus Christ could and would help him, if he would but trust in Him. He swore at me some more and started kicking the empty seat next to me, the one he was facing. He was obviously very agitated at the name of Jesus and my promise that I would pray for him. He kept kicking the seat saying, "You have a devil" and "You're a devil". This went on for a bit longer as I continued to tell him that Jesus loved him. He finally ended up getting off at a stop as we continued on to our destination.

In today's world, it is not a popular notion to believe in demons and the Devil. People with anti-social behavior in our modern world are generally diagnosed as sociopaths, to a lower or higher degree of sickness. Those with more apparent madness or insanity are generally diagnosed as schizophrenic or even psychopathic. I do not profess to be a doctor, however I do know behavior that I have witnessed at various times fitting in one or two categories -- mental illness or spiritual sickness. With the former, there are the aforementioned labels. With spiritual sickness, there is the implication that a deeper, more sinister force is at work -- a force that will affect some people's lives in moderate ways while with other it seems as if they are truly "possessed" by another dark personality. For some, it is truly unnerving to believe that there are random spirits of devilish design that seek to control and ultimately destroy their apparent victims. It is much more comfortable in our educated society to believe that such wild, erratic and dark behavior is merely a physiological or psychological malfunction that can be treated by medication, therapy, and rehabilitation. The stark fact is, however, that we know very little about mental illness even with our broad medical knowledge. Yet, Jesus knew exactly the cause and the remedy when He encountered these sort of persons. Probably the most famous scripture regarding Jesus' dealing with the demon-possessed is in Luke 8:26-39. The man was possessed with "Legion", a name spoken by the demons because they were many. Interestingly, they begged Jesus not to send them back to the abyss (or Hades as some translations infer), but to send them into the nearby herd of swine. Jesus does what they ask and the pigs perish, but the man is totally delivered -- a true demonstration of the power of God!

The church has struggled through apparent times of powerlessness the past two-thousand years. Throughout the centuries, Holy Ghost power has ebbed and flowed as societies have either needed it and cried out for it or they have discounted it, turning to the world for its answers. Today, God has moved in powerful ways to set the oppressed free on the Asian, African, and South American continents. He has moved powerfully because there is no equivocation or argument that people are "demonically possessed" and are in need of deliverance. These cultures believe it, and are thereby seeing more people set free from their afflictions than so-called western societies. Are these mislead and superstitious? Should they be relying on western medicines and therapies or practicing what God has said in Mark 16:17?: These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, ... . Remember, Jesus is either who He said He was or He is a liar. Either we believe all that He says to us through His scripture or we discount it all. There is no picking and choosing.

Personally, I believe I came up short in my London encounter. I would have desired to be able to look that young man in the eye and to rebuke the demons out of his life in the name of Jesus, for I truly believe that the man was demon oppressed. Sadly, I am a believer that lacks belief on many days of my Christian walk. My future hope for myself and others is that God would begin to raise up those who would not equivocate with evil when confronted by it, but to stand against it with the power of Jesus Christ. It is good and fine to tell a demoniac about the love of Jesus Christ. It is a far better thing to be able to GIVE them the love of Jesus by breaking the bonds over their heart and life. My friends, are you as struck by your lack of power in the face of evil as I was on that day? Have you poured out your heart to your Savior and asked Him not to leave you any longer as an orphan that's bereft of His life-changing unction toward others? Until we do, it will be status quo. We can rationalize the demonically oppressed as those merely needing mental health and therapy. Jesus was clear and unapologetic about those needing liberation from their devilish oppressors. When we open our eyes and believe that there truly is evil that seeks to bind every human life and separate them from the love of God, then we can draw upon the Grace of the Lord in prayer to become the men and women of God that He desires.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick