Music & Prayer

Prayer is something that is sacred, never to be taken for granted. It is the way we communicate with the infinite God and a way we can impact the entire planet from our closet/meeting place. One issue that may negatively impact the direction of a prayer meeting (alone or 2+) is the use of (recorded) music.

I’ve found that music can often be like crutches for a drowning man. 

When we pray, we have the opportunity for GOD to lead us and direct us to affect the supernatural realm in a way that directly affects the world around us. Sometimes He wants us to meditate. Sometimes He wants us to war in the SPIRIT against demonic influence over our communities, or maybe He just wants our adoration and affection. The point is, prayer meetings are a vehicle for God to do what HE wants through HIS people.

Sometimes when we pray, there is an apparent need to have music in the background to accompany us. I hope whoever reads this doesn’t stop here. But using music in this manner, can very easily hinder the effectiveness of your prayer. Some qualifiers that I will elaborate on later:
1. God will surely lead a person to sing or to play, laying a song on their heart in order to direct the focus of a prayer meeting.
2. I believe GOD will honor all ambition to seek His face.
That being said, there’s often a better way. At times, we play music to create an atmosphere of prayer – did you already see the possible issue? “Create an atmosphere of prayer…” is indicative of trying to manufacture something by way of our own ability. Kind of like when the Philistines found a more convenient way to carry the ark of the covenant around (on wheels). Yeah, it’s working. But is it accurate? Is it authentic? The only thing we need to “get” into the presence of the LORD is thanksgiving and praise. From experience, I can say that simply thanking Him for any and all things you can think of, will surely connect your mind and your heart to His mind and heart; but that’s another story altogether.

I love gospel music. I love that someone out there was so focused on the Word of God and in prayer that they were impressed to write a song to commemorate what they were experiencing in that moment. But that’s just the thing. The song is commemorating a very specific experience and is coming from a very specific place of prayer/thought. The musical component of each song is going to accompany that place of prayer/thought in a way that invokes our emotions toward the Lord. It’s something we can’t escape. It’s how music works. Certain modes, tempos, and dialogues affect what kind of emotions will be invoked when we listen. On an objective level, I can’t see anything wrong with that, honestly. I love that my heart can connect with God by the provoking of a tune. However, this becomes an issue when we are ready to go DEEP into the Spirit and God is prepared to do something specific through us. 

These specific avenues of prayer require a certain level of emotion with them. He made us to have emotions and they are a way we can relate with what HE is doing as WE pray. If He is trying to move in a certain direction of prayer but our music is aggressively pulling our emotions in a different direction, we aren’t exactly in sin but we are missing out on effective prayers. I’ll stick to this single example to avoid planting paranoia in your mind:

Let’s say a group has been praying for a while and everyone has repented and are praying in the Spirit and God decides He wants to do some aggressive warfare against the prince of a certain place. That type of prayer is usually exerted through an aggression in our emotions. A certain intensity in our person. If there’s a slow song about the love and grace of God playing even moderately loud in the background, we risk the chance of distracting people and their emotions as they gravitate toward thanking the Lord for His mercy.

Anything wrong with thanking the Lord for His mercy? No way. But they may have missed out on something mighty in the Spirit. Something effective. A man in the Bible prayed a prayer that stopped the sun from moving (Joshua 10). Men and women in the bible have prayed prayers that literally brought walls down to rubble. Did they try to create any kind of atmosphere to do this? Not so. They knew what God wanted to do and acted accordingly. Very simple. These are the experiences we could be missing out on when we rely on music to guide our prayer as opposed to the guidance of the Lord.

Qualifier: Maintaining the visual, crutches are not a bad thing. We don’t scold folks who break their foot and then use crutches. We scold that kid in grade school who broke their foot but uses crutches even after it completely healed, because they got comfortable with the convenience and attention. There was a moment in Scripture where GOD was giving David his huge debut/open door following his anointing. Once Saul was “bothered” by an evil spirit from the Lord, his servants called for David. When he played on his harp (lyre), the evil spirit departed from Saul (1 Samuel 16). I believe there’s a legitimate principle on the use of music here. The playing of the lyre was in response to a spiritual disturbance. There will be bad days. Sometimes those bad days involve wicked influences (anxiety, lust, anger, vengeance just to name a few). This is a great time to bump Jesus music! Those modes, tempos and dialogues will provoke you unto the love of GOD when your heart has been inclined toward your emotions of negativity. For me, that works every time. The Word of GOD tells us to make captive the thoughts to the obedience of Christ just after describing the need to casting down imaginations. So it’s clear that taking captive the thoughts to the obedience of Christ is the weapon in which we cast down imaginations (2 Cor 10). I’ve found that Jesus music will do just that. All you have to do is press play.

I hope this is insightful or helpful and is a blessing!

Love, Fear & Vulnerability

If I would ask an individual what the opposite of love is, it’s likely they would say “hate”. Although, I would contend that hate is only a fruit of love’s antonym and not the root. The Scriptures state that “there is no fear in love; but [complete] love casts out fear; because fear has [punishment with it]. He that fears is not made [complete] in love” (1 John 4:18, Strong’s G2849/G2851/G5046).

While love does not room with fear, complete love confronts and casts out fear, wherever it is. It appears that it is possible to have God’s love operating in our lives, but not possess maturity in God’s love, causing us to not confront and cast out fear. Hence, a mature flow of God’s love in and through our hearts causes a third party to become involved. For the sake of this writing, I will be using “complete”, “wholesome”, and “mature” interchangeably. Here’s an example of what I mean: let’s say Alan possesses love that is given by God – two parties. Since Alan is not operating in mature love, he does not confront and cast out fear. On the other hand, let us meet Alan operating in COMPLETE love. He is compelled by God’s complete love to confront and cast out fear, which was not resident with Alan since the beginning. Alan must be drawn to Brian (3rd party), in order for God’s complete love to become evident and impact Brian and his challenge with fear. God’s complete, mature love is only achieved when a third party is involved. I believe this is why John said that if a man does not love a fellow believer whom he has seen, how can he love God, whom he has not seen (1 John 4:20). John sets the foundation in verse 12 stating that “if we love one another, God [actively] dwells in us, and His love is [continuously MADE COMPLETE] in us”. So in order for us to grow from God’s love to God’s complete love, we ought to simply exercise the initial love of God we receive, as a seed sown into the lives of others – because the process of giving, is the process of maturation in God’s love.

Now why bring vulnerability into all of this? I believe vulnerability is the human experience that acts as the middle pivot point which holds the seesaw of love and fear. How we handle our vulnerability is what can cause us to go further in God’s love or further into fear. Consider the moments where you have felt vulnerable. Why did you hesitate? Why did you feel the call to insecurity? Why did you begin to open the invitation to hide? Why did you feel fractured? And seek to become disengaged?

I believe it was because you began to feel the spirit of fear begin to beat its drum on the side of fear and not allow the Word and Spirit of God resound the beautiful tempest of truth on the side of love. I would not be afraid to say, that God’s love is terrifyingly beautiful. The terrifying portion being a product of the fact that God’s love meets us at the degree of our EXPOSURE – whether mental, spiritual, emotional, or even physical. God’s love is first manifested as a response to our exposure. This is a reason why the Scripture states that God demonstrated His love towards us, that while we were yet sinners, Jesus Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Jesus shows us His love at the highest degree of human exposure: the point where a human corrodes in their sin. Now let me quickly and simply define sin: “missing the mark” (Strong’s G266). I sin whenever I miss the mark. It could be a simple request from God, but me still miss doing it how He asked, by His means, not my own.

I define sin because even when dealing with our weaknesses and vulnerabilities, we can sin by insisting on hiding from God. God is the epitome of patience. Yet, if we refuse to come before God with our vulnerabilities, we sin in His sight; for it is a good thing to come before God with our weaknesses (James 4:17, 2 Corinthians 12:9).

So we get to choose what we do with our vulnerabilities. Many people teeter and totter on this seesaw of love and fear, trying to bear some vulnerabilities with the love of God and others with the fear of exposure. When the truth is, vulnerabilities ought to be cast everyday, not carried (1 Peter 5:7). We must cast our vulnerabilities at the feet of Jesus, where we can walk towards the side of His love, to grow unto complete love and cast off fear behind us.

That is love, fear, and vulnerability in the context of Jesus and us. But here’s the additional layer that God uses to challenge us into growing with complete love.

The people closest to us.

These are the individuals that learn what makes us tick and what makes us ticked. And it’s possible that we would have more trouble being seen of others than being seen of God. It is possible we have more trouble being exposed to those closest to us than being exposed to God. There are many reasons why this can occur – whether it is a childhood experience, lack of effective communication, unhealed wounds, conflicting perspectives, and much more. Yet, God uses these relationships to produce COMPLETE love in our lives, because a third party is now involved. This is the valuable characteristic that God wants to produce in us: complete love.

So, on this weekend when many celebrate Valentine’s Day, remember to thank those who, with God’s complete love, have helped you confront fear in your life when you were in a vulnerable place.

Unrecognizable

Ever look into the mirror and think to yourself, “Where did time go?”

“HOW OLD AM I?”

Try going through pictures that go further than your 10-year challenge and look at your parents and siblings, cousins, childhood friends. You’ll notice that some people become more unrecognizable than others; then we have those whose facial lotion is labeled “The Fountain of Youth”.

But what about internally?

There are situations in this life that can and will cause stark character adjustments in our lives. It may even be people that contribute to major change in our lives, whether positive or negative. These conditions can cause us to become unrecognizable, in others’ sight – or even our own.

To quote every human being with an honest, existential thought process, “LIFE IS CRAZY”. Every person is a combination of their experiences and their perceptions of those experiences. Perceptions shaped by inner wirings, parents/guardians, friends, relationships, leadership, nutrition, habits, culture, religion, academic background, you name it. We come across people that we once knew very well, and 5 or 10 years later, are vastly different – yet, strangely the same.

It is much like the difference that comes to our lives when we begin to grow deeper in God, where we release things from our lives that are not representative of Him. Friends that we may have even grown up with, would give us a look of, “You’re different.” But we’re still ourselves.

What is this phenomenon? And how or why does it happen?

First off, ever think about the likelihood of God allowing something grave in our lives to happen, in order for us to become better? It’s funny because sometimes we think we know better than God does, in order for us to become better. Yet seeing that our concept of “better”, is no better than a human’s best, what about God’s concept of “better” and “best”? We may have heard it 1000 times, something like, “We pray for God to change our situation, while God is wanting us to change.” We are reminded by reading “The Blessing of Losing Control”, that God will allow us to lose control in our lives, in order for us to realize that we need Him. This positions us for a powerful process of change that I want to discuss today.

The Scriptures state that we are “transformed by the renewing of [our] mind” (Romans 12). And so God’s first field of work, is our minds; because if God can cause us to think differently, He will get us to behave differently. It does not matter how religiously inclined our thinking and living may be – God is God – we ought to allow Him to work in and through us to form the person He wants us to become. Many people try becoming who God wants them to become, using their own human means. I’ve done this, too. They condemn themselves into praying. They burden themselves into the work of God’s kingdom. They chastise themselves into serving others. These people greatly lack a sense of fulfillment in their lives and are often critical or cynical towards themselves and others. They may even be SINCERE and WELL-MEANING, but their ability to see afar off who God wants them to become, is not complemented with a surrendered way of thinking. These individuals will eventually become weary and possibly lose their faith in God. This lifestyle is very grievous.

On the other hand, what happens when we allow God to do the shaping for us to become who He wants us to become? We are encouraged of Him to pray. We share His burden for His kingdom. We love our way into serving others. We live in fulfillment of our God-given role. But the process that takes us into that role, can really change us.

We ought to remember that Jesus resurrected WITH His scars still visible – present for all of eternity and a representation of the fact that He used to look a different way. The Bible states that His appearance was marred more than any man (Isaiah 52:14). This meaning that Jesus was beaten with such pain and affliction, an unrecognizable experience for His divinity, to become recognizable in His scars for our humanity. It was the scars of Jesus that helped Thomas recognize His Savior (John 20:24-27). It will be the scars that identify Jesus to the Jews at His second coming. His scars are a testimony to the fact that we can be healed and live with the scars of experiences from this life, yet walk in the new one that Jesus provides. Even if we go through an experience in our lives that leaves a deep scar, it demonstrates how deep God’s healing can go – for no scar hurts. So while scars can leave us unrecognizable, so will the glory of God through our lives make us unrecognizable.

When you allow God to operate in this manner, people will praise you for who you will become in Him. But the scars will remain as a teacher, teaching us to give glory only to God.

Romans 8:18-19 NKJV For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

Fleeing or Resisting?

Recently, I’ve discussed with a few people about the four voices we must learn to discern, that of: God, self, the adversary, and godless influences. I heard this taught on several occasions and thought it would be helpful to revisit. I believe if we get any of these mixed up, we can have some major issues in our lives, where blessings become curses, and curses would be registered as blessings. This must not be so with us. In “A Portal Called Prayer”, we read about how God’s blessings come with no pain because we are to be conduits of His blessings, and not containers. How neglecting it would be if we started seeing God’s blessings as something from the devil, and we banished it from our lives, and others! But how tragic it would also be if we saw the blessings of God and thought it was earned by our own strength!

Why do I bring up the concept of the four voices?

Because without spiritual clarity, we can be 100% sincere, yet 100% inaccurate. This is the challenge with being and becoming individuals of passion. It’s that we can become passionate, yet distracted – yielding fruit of frustration and unable to serve in God’s kingdom at the level of effectiveness He designed us to operate in.

Distracted by what, you may say? Well, self, the adversary, and godless influences. We must be mindful that the distractions of the flesh aren’t dealt with in the same manner as distractions of the adversary. The Scripture gives us initiative to “[put to death] the deeds of the [flesh]” (Romans 8:13). In contrast, there is no Scriptural inspiration to “put to death” the adversary. Throughout the New Testament, believers and disciples of Jesus Christ are instructed to SEVERELY deal with the flesh. The flesh and its self-seeking desires are something that must die, be destroyed, be crucified, be enslaved, and be dissatisfied (Romans 8:13, Galatians 5:24, Galatians 2:20, Colossians 3:5, 1 Corinthians 9:27, Galatians 5:16).

Why such harsh dealings?

Because the flesh of mankind – that is, the self-seeking desires – will ALWAYS want to override the plan, will, person, and blessings of God in our lives. (For more on understanding the work of humanity’s flesh against God’s will, read “Humanity’s Problem With Love”, alongside “The Blessing of Losing Control”). On the other hand, when it comes to adversarial conflicts, we are COMMANDED to put up a fight, put on God’s armor, war in the Spirit, be aware, cast down, cast out, and resist (1 Timothy 1:18, Ephesians 6:10-18, 2 Corinthians 2:11, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Matthew 10:8, James 4:7).

I find it necessary to distinguish these two approaches because we can fall into a cycle of sin and defeat by dealing with the adversary how we are supposed to deal with the flesh, and dealing with the flesh how we are supposed to deal with the adversary. With the flesh, we are supposed to sever its influence, while with the adversary we ought to confront and defeat. It’s like a minister once said, “Nobody has yet ever cast out flesh. Devils are easy to cast out. But flesh takes years to train, sometimes”. Might I add, the disciples could cast out devils WITHOUT the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10). While it can be claimed that both battles require vigor, I want you to consider the fact that there is an area of the flesh that we definitely must not deal with, like we do the adversary.

The Scriptures command that we ought to FLEE fornication, idolatry, covetousness, and youthful lusts (1 Corinthians 6:18, 1 Corinthians 10:14, 1 Timothy 6:5-11, 2 Timothy 2:22). Apparently, there are youthful lusts and elderly ones. So what are youthful lusts? The characteristics that define adolescence typically fall under the pursuit of temporary pleasures and fame.

Consider this! Why does the Scripture tell us to FLEE these things? If you haven’t guessed it yet, it’s because these are works of the flesh, not of the devil. Galatians 5:19-21 states, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery (characterized by temporary pleasures and a lack of faithfulness), fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings (works with seeking fame), murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God”. I believe many times, we think we are dealing with devils, but we are really dealing with our own flesh. Therefore, we try to CONFRONT and RESIST our own flesh when we should really be FLEEING or HAVING IT DIE. I believe this is so vital to living a victorious life in Jesus Christ. The adversary finds an anchor in our lives via the flesh’s self-seeking desires, because the flesh is the greatest enemy of God’s work in our lives (Romans 8:7). In Galatians, Paul denotes the works of the flesh, but John, in 1 John 3:8, breaks down the works of the devil. And guess what? JESUS HAS TAKEN CARE OF THAT. It is affirmed in Colossians 2:14-15, how Jesus spoiled principalities and powers, humiliating them through the work of His cross. What WE must do is surrender OUR will to God’s Spirit that we may destroy the works of the flesh, also putting to humiliation the works of the devil through OUR own cross.

From these discoveries, I have learned more about how the flesh is a much more present challenge than any devil is; and that people fall into the same sin because they try resisting, when they should be fleeing. Similarly, people don’t have breakthroughs in God’s kingdom because they flee the devil, and not resist him. So what’s the major consequence of living out this revelation? We end up realizing that WE CAN confront and defeat the adversary, bringing him under our feet. WE CAN tread on serpents and scorpions and NOTHING shall by any means hurt us. I challenge you to reevaluate how you process the thoughts and voices you face, because we have a vast liberty to conquer through Jesus Christ. What are you fleeing from, that you ought to be resisting? And what are you resisting, that you ought to be fleeing?

The Believer’s Battle With Abortion

Beloved Fellow Young Minister,

There has been such an uproar of political heat and moral decay in these last days. The adversary and the kingdom of darkness are becoming more manifested in their agenda and sin is more outspoken. The world system is becoming more vocal about calling good evil and evil good. Our generation wrestles with the onslaught of not only the natural battles that occur as a result of these last days, but we wrestle with the spiritual battles, as well. So much of what happens in the natural realm is a product of the spiritual realm acting behind it. Even so, the Bible makes it very clear that the invisible things are understood by the visible things (Romans 1:20). For example, a seed and how it grows into a tree, relates to how the Word of God manifests itself in a person’s life (1 Peter 1:23). Similarly, critters like frogs and parasites give us insight to how devils operate (Revelations 16:13-14).

In confidence and vulnerability, I am trusting you with what I am about to speak of. But I have wrestled with the fact that my hands may be just as bloody. That is, abortion occurs in the Church.

I believe abortion has manifested itself in such an awry manner, because it has already passed a certain threshold in the spiritual realm, where the same sin is committed. What do I mean? I believe abortion is not only a natural sin, but a spiritual sin. I write to you with a heavy heart today, because as easy as it may be to be angry with the uprising of natural abortion, I believe we must be just as angry, if not more, with the sin of spiritual abortion. I am urged in my heart to not only become like Jesus in loving what He loves; but, to also hate what He hates.

Millions of living babies have been aborted, having their lives prematurely taken, for centuries now. For the sake of this heartfelt letter, I will define abortion as that exactly, selfishly taking the life of a baby, for reasons of convenience, while it is in the womb. While this is a sin that is propagated by the spirit of the antichrist and is indicative of the fact that lawlessness shall abound in these last days (Matthew 24:12), I believe it is just as urgent that we ought to make a case for not just natural babies, but spiritual babies, too.

Because, I too, have participated in the sin of abortion. My guilt places me in the same position that many of these mothers and fathers have entered. My heart and soul grieves for them. The Scriptures are very plain that perilous times shall come in the last days; and sins that manifest themselves in the world naturally, can exist in the Church spiritually. So how have I participated in this sin? I trust you to pray for me in this regard, as I will for you, too. I have had times where I deterred the development of spiritual babies, that were yet in the womb, because taking care of them was an inconvenience to me. To be more clear, I have refused to want to nurture an unborn believer, through the love of Jesus, because I did not make time for them or believe in God’s purpose and plan for their life.

How can I make such a grave statement? Is this really my heart? Are those deeds a true representation of my faith? I pray they aren’t. I know the Scriptures say that “the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). It must be guarded (Proverbs 4:23). I do not want to vehemently speak against natural abortion, turning a blind eye on the sin of spiritual abortion.

I confess that I have had times where I lived in a lack of involvement, urgency, commitment, and burden for the Great Commission of Jesus Christ, wanting babies to come out of a womb, or be “baptized by water and/or Spirit”, to then carry on my own agenda of not having to take care of them – or should I say, not care about their discipleship. I hope you hear my heart. We have been exposed to a time where demonic spirits have tried to tempt the Church to participate in spiritual reproduction, but then introduce to us the option of aborting the babies, so that they never fully develop to what God wants them to become. These spirits appeal to the convenience that our flesh seeks after, telling us that we ought to just be “concerned with our own lives, figure ourselves out, or that we are not equipped to train up a child”. The temptation is consistent, naturally and spiritually. Though it may not be widely published, millions of women bear the shame of having committed natural abortion. Many even do it with sincerity, but their flesh secretly authored it’s own self-preservation. I believe the same can be said of believers who commit spiritual abortion. They may have even lived their own religious lives, with sincerity of heart, but were really authoring the preservation of their own flesh.

What are the consequences? We end up with spiritual babies that may come out of the womb, but never live out their God-ordained destiny – simply because no one committed to that particular baby and exercised what Jesus exercised, MAKING DISCIPLES.

It takes a lot of work to nurture a baby. Sleepless nights. Time. Money. Sacrifice. Much training. Much more repetition. And most of all, vulnerability and learning from mistakes. The spirit of this age is appealing to the self-seeking flesh of men and women in this generation to commit natural abortion, all the while also appealing to the self-seeking flesh that the bride of Christ battles everyday, so that the Church would commit spiritual abortion. Are we as committed to the life of spiritual babies as we are to the life of natural babies? I have repented and continue to find more room to repent, concerning the vigor in which I commit to the Great Commission. I want it to consume my life.

While a natural pregnancy lasts around 40 weeks, Jesus dedicated three and a half years to unborn world-changers.

Unborn? Yes. Unborn.

The disciples did not receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, neither were baptized in Jesus name, until AFTER three and a half years of being nurtured IN THE WOMB. Then, receiving the born-again experience on the Day of Pentecost. Jesus did not give up on them even when they abandoned Him in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus still returned to them after He resurrected and they had stopped preaching the gospel. Jesus did not abort these unborn babies. He did not live in such a manner where He considered Himself too busy to invest in others. Jesus did not consider it an inconvenience to vehemently pray for 3 hours in a garden, while His unborn babies fell asleep on Him. Jesus did not consider it a waste of time to invest in disciples who had not received the Holy Spirit or were not baptized in Jesus’s name. Jesus poured into them, whether or not they believed like He did. Jesus did not abandon these unborn babies because they “didn’t have anything to offer Him”. Instead, He gave His life for them, that the plan of God would be fulfilled in their lives.

My friend, I pray we consider the perilous times and guard our hearts from sins that are committed naturally and spiritually. If I am too busy for unborn babies, I am busier than God intended me to be. Please pray for me, as I will pray for you, too. This is the mission that Jesus trusted us, equipped us, empowered us, and prayed for us to live out. Just like the natural representation, spiritual reproduction is not for entertainment, it is a holy communion between Jesus and His bride. All life is sacred, naturally and spiritually. Take a look at the emphasis the Spirit of God is placing on discipleship to the Church all around the globe. God is positioning His Church to spiritually combat the kingdom of darkness. We must make whatever accommodations are necessary to give birth to the unborn babies that come with end-time harvest. If it means to repent, I will repent. If it means to pray 3 hours, I will pray 3 hours. If it means to bear a cross, I will bear a cross. I believe that if we, as the Church, would humble ourselves and pray, seek God’s face, and turn from OUR wicked ways, then God will hear from heaven, forgive OUR sin, and heal OUR LAND (2 Chronicles 7:14). I realized that if we would truly combat the spirit of this age regarding abortion, we would not just pray and vote, we would disciple.

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 King James Version (KJV)
4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Anointed or Talented?

Fellow Young Minister,

I desire to be effective in God’s kingdom. I want to grow in Him, too. But, I have noticed that certain people and ministries receive a lot of attention because of something called talent.

Now, I know that Jesus said we would receive talents and be wise to invest in them (Matthew 25:14-30). We will bare record to the Lord about our occupation with His kingdom. Although, with microphone-based ministries, like singer or preacher, the talented receive quite some press. If we were honest, we would hopefully say the talented need no repentance to be talented; for the gifts and callings of God are without repentance (Romans 11:29). But why the press? The cheer and jeer? I mean, it’s not a sin to be excited about talent, I get it. But I get this feeling sometimes that the talented are misrepresented as the anointed. I have heard that talented folks have gone shipwreck because they became entitled with their gifting, confusing man’s attention for God’s approval. It taught me that while some have the attention, it does not mean they have the anointing.

Paul made it very clear that preaching isn’t a flow of ministry made effective by intellectualism, philosophies, and jargon (1 Corinthians 2:4, Colossians 2:8). Yet, it was made effective through God’s power, demonstration, and kingdom. I would imagine that singing would function similarly. People would experience God’s righteousness, peace, and joy through song and lyric, not so much via vocal roller coaster (Romans 14:17). Yet, it perpetuates as a legitimate temptation for many involved in microphone-involved ministries. I would contend it’s because of a culture of celebrity-ism that can creep into our circles.

It can be frustrating. But, it has allowed me to gather a greater sense of appreciation for the anointing of God and anointed people. You know what it’s like. One person is projecting these wild illustrations and colorful displays of intellect, while the other preaches a glory cloud upon the soul. Or, one singer belts their runs and turns as smooth as cursive calligraphy, while the other invokes a path to liberty at the feet of Jesus. It is a crucial thing to be able to identify between talent and the anointing. God help us.

But, I have found this to be a double edged sword. While it is quite evident that the talented can fall short of pleasing God, so can the anointed. I am reminded that Saul, the anointed of God, also displeased our Lord (1 Samuel 24-27). David, too. Likewise, I too, being anointed, have displeased the Lord before. John said the people of God have the anointing (1 John 2:20, 27). But we can get this big head, you know? Still, I have erred on the side of fear of failure and pride because of it – this is not the will of God. One day, the Lord gave me this thought to consider, “A submitted person with a spiritual revelation is dangerous to the kingdom of darkness. But how much more dangerous is an unsubmitted person with much spiritual revelation, to himself?” It struck me that growing in anointing, still, was not the complete path to pleasing God.

I remember your words today. You said in 2019, you were focusing on becoming the COMPLETE man, where the supernatural was just something that was normal in everyday life, but the pique of your existence was your relationship with Jesus Christ. That really impacted me. The Lord put this in me in addition, “Anointed or talented? Neither are enough. But to be Christ-like, is worth it all.”

We could gain the whole world, by talent or even anointing, and still lose our soul. Seeing that we also, could never gain Christ and gain the whole world, we strive to just win Christ (Philippians 3:8). Truly, our prize is not heaven. Our prize is Jesus Christ. We are His bride and He is our groom. What more of a win, than the winsome King who robed Himself in a humble servant, and died for us on a cross? To be resurrected so that we could experience the same.

I will pursue Him in 2019. I will walk with Him in 2019. I must say it that way, because my wants fluctuate because of my frail frame. He is mine and I am His. I cannot even say I am indebted to Him, because He plainly and biblically owns me (1 Corinthians 6:20). What Scripture does show me, is that I am indebted to OTHERS, in showing them whom I belong to (Romans 1:14).

So, talented or anointed? Neither are enough. But to be like Jesus, is worth it all.

Happy New Year, my friend. Let us be complete in Him.