[The following is an adaption to a rebuttal (what we call, “I Object”) that we issued on Facebook in response to the image shown above.]
It’s true Paul did say that. But the apostle actually had many more positive things to say about himself and believers, than negative. I once took the time to add them up and found it to be about a 5 to 1 ratio in favor of the positive. Here’s a few examples:
1. He said he was not conscious of ANY wrong in himself (1Cor 4:4 BBE).
2. He said he was holy, righteous, and blameless among other believers (1Thess 2:10).
3. He said he was made free from the law of sin and death (Rom 8:2).
4. He said he was not in debt to the flesh to fulfill its desires (Rom 8:12).
5. He said he had died to sin (Rom 6:2).
6. He said he had been made righteous by faith and had peace with God (Rom 5:1).
But here’s something important that I don’t think gets mentioned often enough: Paul also warned against allowing ourselves to be cheated through taking delight in having a lowly opinion of ourselves (Col 2:18, GK). So there’s a danger to be avoided, here, and I’m not sure too many Christians are aware of it.
As far as the quotes from Osteen (assuming he actually said them,) here are some Scriptures which may help shed light on the angle he was coming from:
1. I AM PROSPEROUS: “Whatever he does shall prosper.” Psalm 1:1-3
2. I AM SUCCESSFUL: “I can do all things through Christ.” Philippians 4:13.
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.” 1John 5:4
3. I AM TALENTED: “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, [let us use them:] . . .” Romans 12:6.
4. I AM HEALTHY: “By His stripes you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24
“Who (God) forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,” Psalm 103:3
5. I AM POSITIVE: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things [are] noble, whatever things [are] just, whatever things [are] pure, whatever things [are] lovely, whatever things [are] of good report, if [there is] any virtue and if [there is] anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8
6. I AM BEAUTIFUL: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:15
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:10 NLT
(Below, we will be evaluating one thing, and one thing only. And that is, the recent Kenneth Copeland video clip in which he appears to be telling his audience to speak to their bald spots, and command them to grow hair. To ensure the integrity of the evaluation process, I will not be conflating this with anything prior that Mr. Copeland has said or done.)
I understand there is going to be a level of culture shock to seeing this video clip. But that doesn’t tell us whether it’s valid or not.
So, knee-jerk reactions aren’t going to help, here.
We have to think harder and clearer.
Ask questions like, “if something seems odd, does that make it bad or untrue?”
Of course not.
In fact, it will help with perspective to remember that, as Christians, we believe in all kinds of things that—-and there are no two ways about it——will seem odd, fantastical, and downright ridiculous to the average person. Whether it’s talking snakes, floating hammers, she-bears mauling kids, or cursed fig trees—-there’s a lot to choose from that the natural man will laugh at us for.
So the level of bizarre isn’t going to tell us if something is legitimate or illegitimate.
The Bible is our standard for that. And as far as I’m aware, the Bible doesn’t tell us that commanding a bald head to grow hair, is wrong. Nor does it tell us it’s right. So it isn’t verifiable, one way or the other. It isn’t falsifiable. Now, we could draw a conclusion from silence and say that it’s okay because it isn’t spoken against in the Bible. But we could just as easily draw the opposite conclusion and say it isn’t okay because it isn’t promoted in the Bible. People who make arguments from silence are free to do so, but these claims are also not verifiable in Scripture. The Bible does not tell us anywhere what should be implied from its silence on any given topic.
So, since we can’t arrive at a conclusion of legitimacy based on how weird it seems, nor based on what the Bible says, that leaves us with the category of, “personal conviction.” You just gotta use wisdom and stay open to hearing whatever the Spirit of God leads you into.
[The following is an adaption to a rebuttal (what we call, “I Object”) that we issued on Facebook in response to Dustin Benge’s tweet as shown above.]
First, if you saw our video on falsifiability, (see below) this is a great example of that. There is no observation that can be made in Philippians 4 that could prove Mr. Benge’s claim as being true or false. It’s simply an authoritative statement without a means of testing.
That’s the long and short of it.
Now, obviously many are going to cite context as support for Dustin’s claim.
So let’s unpack this a little bit because I keep seeing people invoke this concept, and frankly, there are some seriously questionable practices being associated with it.
Let me be crystal clear, here: context is invaluable.
That being said, oftentimes Christians use the term as sort of this all-purpose trump card to justify any conclusion needed in the moment. I’ve found it’s usually just a fancy way of saying, “I make certain assumptions about the text.”
I’ll demonstrate using Benge’s comment:
In Philippians 4, many will point out that Paul had been discussing multiple challenges he was facing. Therefore, by the time he reached verse 13, he had endurance in the midst of suffering on his mind and thus, this was the sum total of what is being referred to.
The first assumption, here, is believing that whatever Paul had in mind during the inception of his letter, is the same thing the Spirit had in mind for all who would read it afterward. While it may be likely the apostle was thinking about his own circumstances, God knew that countless generations to come would be reading these words and finding comfort and inspiration for all kinds of situations they would find themselves in.
The other assumption appears to be a somewhat bizarre notion that a person who is talking about a present situation, cannot, or will not make any statements that reach beyond that present situation.
This seems to be a, “rule” created in an ad hoc fashion. Meaning, it’s thrown together on the spot just to make a point, with little thought given to its ramifications. The reason I say this is because I don’t know anyone who actually abides by such an idea.
If your child was struggling in school and you said something like, “you can achieve anything you put your mind to” would you mean that getting good grades was the only thing they could do?
. . . That’s it?
It may be true that when we say things like this we don’t literally mean anything. But it’s also very often true that there are a whole host of other things beyond the present topic that can be included.
If we, (normal human beings) use such terminology without limiting its implications to our immediate circumstances, then on what basis can we claim Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writing to the Church, to be read by countless future generations in countless situations, would have had such a limited scope?
Look, I understand the concern.
Things like sports, personal dreams, overcoming obstacles etc, may seem frivolous. And they can be. But they can also arguably be things that are in line with God’s will and calling for certain individuals. Things that give them a platform to preach the Gospel, reach the lost or finance great undertakings for the cause of Christ. So rather than having a knee-jerk reaction to anything that sounds like the evils of, “American Christianity” and coming to weird blanket conclusions in the name of context—it would be better to take a step back, and evaluate each case individually.
We believe clarity and transparency is extremely important when it comes to working through our differences in the Body of Christ. The rules that guide our analysis are often unspoken and because of this, when we experience conflict with one another, it’s hard to pinpoint why.
For this reason, we wanted to share with anyone that is interested, the general guidelines we typically try to operate within in all of our content.
1. We consider any statement within the text of the Bible to be true. We consider anything that denies or contradicts a statement in the text of the Bible to be false.
2. We realize there are some things which do not fit either of these categories—-neither being stated in the Bible, nor denying or contradicting the Bible. Such statements are simply not falsifiable, meaning they’re unable to be observed, and thus, not authoritative based on rule number 1.
3. We consider the Bible, in essentially all of its mainstream versions and translations (including the original languages it was written in) to be God’s infallible Word. This means it accurately and precisely conveys His thoughts via the language used therein.
4. Typically, our goal is to make observations and identify assumptions.
An observation is anything that can be visually or audibly witnessed by an audience——whether that be a statement in the text of the Bible, or an event.
Example #1: “The Bible says Jesus wept.”
This can be visually confirmed in John 11:35 so it qualifies as an observation.
Example # 2: “Donald Trump said he would make America great again.”
This statement can be visually and audibly confirmed so it qualifies as an observation.
An assumption is a claim without an observation.
Example 1#: “Jesus played Yahtzee.”
This is a claim, but cannot be observed.
Example 2#: “Donald Trump said he would destroy America.”
This is a claim that (up to this point) cannot be observed.
Sometimes we will also refer to an assumption as a presupposition, or not falsifiable.
5. We know we are capable of making mistakes and rely on you, the observer, to let us know so we can correct them.
There is one category of claim that, due to it’s personal nature and out of respect for the sovereignty of God, we do not label assumption. These are testimonies and experiences.
Example 1#: “I was born again in 2010 after being strung out on drugs and stumbling into a church service.”
Example 2#: “God saved my marriage.”
Example 3#: “I had a vision.”
As alluded to in rule number 2, something not observed is not the same as something being false. Plenty of things cannot be, or are yet to be observed that are true such as the examples given above.
There is a category of assumption/presupposition that we usually won’t mention. We call these universal assumptions, or obvious truths. These are presupposed ideas that essentially nobody will disagree with.
Example 1: “The apostle Paul died.”
Example 2: “Jesus did not drive a Cadillac.”
Example 3: “Our senses can be trusted”
Example 4: “Language accurately conveys thought.”
The reason we don’t identify these is because:
They’re virtually innumerable.
They’re not in question, therefore are not the cause of disagreement.
Some deal with fundamental ideas about existence and knowledge that would only confuse and derail discussion.
Sometimes people will use these types of presuppositions to justify or goad others into accepting more.
Example: “You say you don’t believe the gifts of the Spirit have ceased because the Bible doesn’t state that they have, yet you believe Paul died even though the Bible doesn’t state that either. Therefore, you’re being inconsistent.”
Making some assumptions (which we all do and are required to think, and function in a physical world) doesn’t mean one must make more. If it did, then it would stand to reason that one should make all assumptions. Which, of course, is fallacious.
Why is the Goal to Make Observations and Identify Assumptions?
Usually, by noting what one person is willing to assume that the other isn’t, we are able to pinpoint the causes of disagreement on an irreducible level.
Also, typically, the fewer assumptions you make, the less your thought process (and things like bias) are involved in influencing the conclusion.
Example scenario: A man is running down the sidewalk.
Person A: “That man is running.”
Person B: “He is running because he has a phobia of dogs and since there are dogs in the area, he is trying to get home where he can lock himself in.”
Person A made an observation with no assumptions. Person B made at least four assumptions: 1. The man had a phobia of dogs, 2. there are dogs in the area, 3. the man is running home, 4. the reason he is running home is to lock himself in.
Even if Person A had made one or two of the same assumptions as Person B, they still have less opportunity to insert their bias into their conclusion because they presupposed less than Person B.
Ask any Charismatic if they’ve ever seen or experienced the power of God to heal, and the responses are likely to be nearly 100% affirmative. But ask them to provide some kind of documentation for any of these instances, and you’re just as likely to be met with an overwhelming silence.
Is it possible for such a phenomenon to be happening in abundance and yet go undocumented?
By exploring the following variables, we will demonstrate just how easily this could be the case. We’ll also show that as much as some critics would like to claim they’re taking the side of science or logic, the mysterious nature of these factors will demonstrate that both sides of the debate are, in all actuality, predicated on faith.
In order to best understand the format of what you’re about to see below, I’ll use an allegory. Imagine a race track, obstacles, a runner, and a finish line. In this allegory, an authentic divine healing is represented by the runner, the questions we explore are represented by the obstacles that can potentially derail the runner from reaching the finish line, which represents public knowledge and a thorough documentation. In other words, a real healing would have to make it through all of these variables before it can be known, and considered legitimate by the average skeptic.
Let’s start here . . .
Obstacle 1: No Prediagnosis
How many, among those who experienced a divine healing, were never pre-diagnosed? This may be an especially high number in countries where people are too poor to ever see a qualified doctor. Obviously, without a pre-diagnosis, the prospects of a properly documented healing would be low in most cases.
Obstacle 2: A Misdiagnosis
In cases of healings where there has been a diagnosis, how many could be disputed as a misdiagnosis after the fact? Once again, under these circumstances, a legitimate healing would likely not pass a critic’s evaluation.
Obstacle 3: Other Potential Causes for the Healing
How many, among those whose diagnosis is not disputed, were being treated in some way? Obviously, if they were, and recovered, the healing could be attributed to the treatment, or placebo—thus lowering the number of verifiable healings even more.
Obstacle 4: Possibility of Spontaneous Remission
Spontaneous remission is a medically documented phenomenon that has been known to happen for no observable reason. How many doctors have witnessed a genuine healing miracle and instead of calling their local news or shouting it from the rooftops, simply chalked it up to one of these cases? Under these circumstances, we likely would not hear about it.
Obstacle 5: Medical Silence
In his book*, Dr. Scott J. KolbabaI discusses what it is like to be an MD, and the struggle to keep a scientific mind in the face of the miraculous. For this reason, he argues, oftentimes doctors will not talk about the things they’ve seen. How many are sitting on information for fear of ridicule? Under these circumstances, again, we likely would never hear about the healing.
Obstacle 6: The Romans 1:18 Factor
Of those doctors whohave witnessed a divine healing, how many simply are suppressing the truth due to their spiritual enmity with God? We certainly shouldn’t assume it’s zero. Under these circumstances, even more legitimate healings would go undocumented.
Public Access Issues
Obstacle 7: Media Silence
Even if legitimate divine healing cases somehow made it past 1-6, how many would never make it to the public eye because the news media decided not to cover it due to bias, disinterest, or Romans 1:18?
Obstacle 8: Lost Records
Of the cases the media did report, how many can we be aware of today? There’s Google, and YouTube (but even if we assume search engines are not suppressing or manipulating search results)— not everything stays preserved. For example, one of our videos (see above) mentioned a CNN IMPACT story reported back in the 90’s that admitted to documented healings taking place in Benny Hinn meetings. Yet we were unable to find a video of the segment. Only the transcript. In these cases, knowledge of such documentation would be reduced even further.
Obstacle 9: Unwillingness to Publish
Of those who are healed, how many would give permission for their video, and or personal medical information to be shared with the public? In the past, people may have been more willing to do this. Nowadays, with the internet, “Twitter mobs” are making everyone think twice about what they are willing to go public with. Not only are there plenty of secular groups that will jump at the opportunity to attack every single facet of such a story, but there are also believers who literally do this sort of thing full time (onward, Christian soldier).
Lack of Interest Issues
Obstacle 10: Documentation not Prioritized
The majority of people who claim to heal the sick will tell you they have little interest in trying to prove anything to skeptics. Attacks on those who have attempted to provide documentation that meets all the demands of critics in the past may have convinced them that it’s more hassle than it’s worth. Or worse, that it does more harm than good (accusations of fake videos, paid actors, slandering of persons involved etc).
And can anyone really blame them? Consider the instances in Scripture where people mockingly demanded to see a sign, and either did not see any, or ended up unconvinced by one if they did (Matt 12:38-39, 16:1, 27:42, Mk 8:11-12, Luke 23:8, 4:23-27).
This being the case, it comes as little surprise that quite a few ministers simply don’t make documentation a priority.
1. I think it’s worth mentioning that there isn’t a single recorded incident in the Gospels or Acts where the person who performed a healing, sought to have a medical authority to authenticate the miracle, for the purpose of using as a witness later. In other words, it doesn’t seem like Jesus or the apostles were that interested in trying to prove their miracles beyond the initial people who were present.
It’s only recently occurred to me that this attitude may not be entirely separate from what’s required in an environment to cultivate a healing in the first place. Is the faith that, “produces” a miracle, conducive to a mindset that seeks to gather evidence for one? If the answer is no, then that would go a long way in explaining the lack of documentation. People who are trying to convince themselves, or their critics, may become side-tracked from operating in faith and the Spirit. It’s difficult to quantify what effect this mentality could have on the atmosphere required for a supernatural manifestation. The end result possibly being more miracles when there is less focus on documenting them.
2. Both Matthew and Mark record an incident where the unbelief of the people in the city had an effect on Jesus (Mt 13, Mk 6). The Bible says He did not do many mighty works because of their unbelief. But it doesn’t stop there. It goes so far as to say He couldn’t do them. There is a consistent theme throughout Scripture that connects unbelief to a failure to experience the miraculous—which makes one wonder: is there more unbelief in the world today than back then? Jesus Himself asked, “when the Son of Man returns, how many will He find on earth who have faith?” (Lk 18:8 NLT)
What kind of impact does the active unbelief of the world and of Christians today have on this phenomenon?
All these unknown variables taken into consideration, some might say it’s a miracle in itself that we have as much documentation* as we do.
When all is said and done, it would seem that the same pattern we see in Scripture we also see today: those who believe either saw and experienced it firsthand, or they believed the testimony of someone else. A second category consisting of former critics whose demands for evidence were fully met, doesn’t really seem to exist.
And who knows . . . Maybe that’s the way God intended it.
*Physicians’ Untold Stories: Miraculous Experiences Doctors Are Hesitant to Share with Their Patients, or Anyone
There is no Scripture in the entire Bible that commands the believer to crucify the flesh. There’s nothing that tells him to die to self. There isn’t even one verse telling the Christian to fight or wrestle against his flesh. In fact, the New Testament says the exact opposite. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood (Eph 6:12).
What I’m about to tell you I have used in multiple areas of my life to curb both unhealthy, and even sinful habits.
If you’ll follow the simple principles you read here—-even halfway—many of you will see notable change. If you follow them completely and consistently, you will experience supernatural freedom.
How can I be so sure? Because it’s God’s Word and God’s Word will work for anyone.
For the greater part of my adult life I was addicted to soda. I don’t mean I really liked it. Or even loved it. I mean I was literally addicted to it.
At some point I began to recognize how big of a problem this had actually become. So I decided it was time to stop. First, I tried limiting soda to only the weekends. But that didn’t work because now, instead of drinking fifteen or twenty a week, I’d drink fifteen or twenty in two days. On top of that, I started adding Friday evenings as part of the weekend. Then I figured if I was adding Friday, may as well throw in Monday. And as you might guess, I was soon back to all week long.
I finally came to my senses and realized I was struggling needlessly. I remembered that the flesh isn’t something we wrestle with or try to put to death, but actually, according to the Word, the flesh has already been crucified, and the body of sin already put to death.
And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
Notice the tense in these passages. It isn’t something that is going to happen at some point in the future—it’s something that has happened. And it happened without any struggle or effort on our part. It’s something that happened as a result of our being in Christ.
I knew the Word of God wouldn’t profit me unless I mixed it with faith (Heb 4:2). So I wrote down these verses and would meditate and confess them out loud multiple times a week to help insure I was exercising my faith in them.
I’d say out loud, “Father I thank you that not only the flesh has been crucified but also the affections and lusts(that’s the part I was having issues with). Therefore I know I don’t have to desire soda anymore.”
This went on for about six weeks with no improvement. I just kept desiring soda and kept drinking it. I’d try not to. I’d set limits just like before but I just couldn’t keep it under control.
As a side note, this is the point where most Christians would just shrug and say, “Well, I tried that and it didn’t work.”—- I don’t believe God put a bunch of useless information in His Word. If something isn’t working, we need to figure out why instead of just rolling over for the world, the devil, or anyone else.
So I went to God and just spoke very frankly about it. “What’s going on, here? I’ve done this in the past with other things and it’s worked. Why isn’t this working?” And He answered very plainly back, “The reason it isn’t working is because you’re not taking my Word seriously. Hebrews 2:1 says to pay the more serious attention otherwise what you’ve heard will slip away.” I looked back over recent weeks and realized He was right. I really hadn’t given it much thought. I sort of just parroted that I believed what the Word said, but really wasn’t being serious.
Then He said something else, “You’ve also allowed yourself to begin believing that this is a mental issue. Like it’s merely the power of positive thought and that you could just will yourself out of the addiction. My Word is not the same as will power.” He was right about that too! I realized I had convinced myself on an unconscious level that I could break bad habits simply by thinking positively. Positive thinking is a good thing, but it certainly has no comparison to the power of God’s Word.
Once I saw where I was going wrong I changed directions. I began to daily meditate in the Scriptures and take them seriously. I never tried to stop drinking soda. In fact, I drank all the soda I wanted. But one thing I was sure to do was each time I took a drink I’d confess what God’s Word said and I would meditate on the truth of it.
“This is Your Deliverance”
Three or four days later I was driving down the street minding my own business and suddenly I heard an audible voice speaking in another language. For a second I didn’t know where it was coming from. Then I realized it was me! The tongues were coming fast and furious with no effort of my own. It felt like a geyser had gone off on the inside of me. In my mind I said, “Lord, what is this?” And He answered, “This is your deliverance from soda.” (First World problems, I know.) Anyway after He said this I don’t really know how to describe what happened next except that I felt a physical power, or energy descend over me. Then He said, “All you have to do is say, ‘I’ll never drink soda again’ and you’ll be free.” I answered back in my mind, “Well, now wait a second. I didn’t say I never wanted to drink it again, just tone it down a little . . .” He didn’t respond. Silence. Then that power that had come over me, I felt it beginning to lift. I realized how foolish I was being. So I quickly repented and shouted, “Okay, okay! I’ll never drink soda again!”
And that was it. Quit cold turkey.
To show you this was not the power of mind over matter, after going about 5 years without soda I became distracted, lost sight of my priorities, and stopped praying and reading the Word. Around this time I developed a desire for drinking soda again. And, like before, I tried to control it on my own, with no luck. I was back to being addicted.
However, eventually I got back into prayer, back into the Word, and one day I realized that over the span of about a week, my soda intake began to dramatically decrease. This happened on a totally unconscious level. I wasn’t trying to stop. I wasn’t even thinking about it. It was simply a byproduct of the Word.
It Will Work For You
Stop struggling in your own power. Find some passages in God’s Word that deal with your situation. Write them down. Then, be purposeful and serious every day to meditate, believe, and confess them.
You may not have the same exact experience of speaking in tongues and all that jazz that I had. And that’s okay. That only happened just that one time for me. In most of the cases that I’ve used these principles, the desire or frequency of the habit would simply just begin to wane over a short period of time until I was able to easily subdue it.
The first time I ever prophesied I was about 16 years old. I was part of the leadership for a local youth group and I was invited up on stage to pray one night. While I was praying I heard these words well up on the inside, “If you’ll get real with Me, I will get real with you.” Prophesying is downplayed today, just like the Bible warned against (1Thess 5:20). But those words have stuck with me all these years. I know what God meant when He said that. And it’s that most of us, when you get right down to it, are not really dealing in reality when it comes to our relationship with Him. It’s kind of fake. Kind of imaginary. It just has the feel of one-sidedness. Almost as if deep down, we don’t even really know if we believe there is a God, but we carry on somehow convincing ourselves otherwise.
Some may be offended I’m even saying these things out loud. But I don’t think it does anyone any good to avoid talking about it. After seeing a lot of my friends and family fall away, or fade off into oblivion concerning their Christianity, I think it’s finally time that this be addressed head on:
God feels fake for a lot of us because the majority of Christians have never actually benefited from believing in or serving Him. Now, I understand the churchy cliches’ about how we shouldn’t serve God for our own benefit. Or how we should just be happy that we’re not burning in hell (and we should), but the reality is, there’s a lot the Church has downplayed in this area and it’s been to our own detriment.
God is a Pragmatist
From the very beginning when God first spoke to Abraham it was about giving him land and making him rich (Genesis 12:1). Later, it was the same promise for the Israelites. In fact, God creating Covenant was an introduction to a legal partnership with Israel which involved all kinds of material and observable benefits. If you read in Deuteronomy (chapters 27-28) you see that tangible blessings were God’s way of manifesting His end of the Agreement. The Jews had a palpable way of knowing if they were holding up their end of responsibility.
Then we go to Proverbs and find a book packed full of practical wisdom on how to avoid tragedy, how to stay healthy, live long, and be rich (1:33, 3:15-16, 22:4).
In the New Testament, Jesus is going around manifesting signs and wonders in response to faith in Him (Matt 8:9-13, 9:2, Mk 5:34).
In Acts, when the Jews saw the Gentiles filled with the Holy Ghost and speaking in tongues, they knew He was at work (Acts 10:44-47).
Over and over again, we see observable ramifications due to actual encounters with God.
What am I getting at? God has always expected certain actions from man, and in response, He has promised to act.
In a lot of ways, that makes God a pragmatist.
A pragmatist is someone who is concerned with measurable results. They don’t like being tangled up in ideas that don’t produce definitive outcomes.
On the other end of this spectrum are idealists. Most believers really fall into this category. An idealist likes to be occupied with things that might seem right, or feel right, in theory—even if there is no tangible reality or benefit behind them. We pray. But our prayers are generic. So generic that our culture has begun to switch out praying for someone with the words, “our thoughts are with them.” What does that even mean?! Prayer has become so indistinct and ineffective in our minds that the whole concept has been reduced to little more than an abstract thought.
We witness. But there are no signs or wonders to accompany the message. Instead of the people being filled with fear and awe in the presence of the Living God, they’re filled with dread hoping and wishing that we stop talking so they can get away.
We go to church. But most of us walk away with nothing. When we say, “it was a good service” at best it means it gave us a good feeling. It made us feel nice. At worse, it means we lied and can’t even remember what it was about.
Obviously, there are exceptions to what I’m saying—but by in large, I just described the majority of our experiences. And the truth is, most people are not going to continue down this road forever. People crave substance. They crave real. And you know what? That’s okay because God does too.
What is Normal?
I used to think this was normal until one day someone told me about a guy by the name of, Smith Wigglesworth. I found out that there were multiple reports of people literally being raised from the dead under his ministry.
You know what my response was when I first heard this?
“Was he a witch?!”
Imagine that! Being so programmed to expect so little, that any manifestation of the supernatural, I automatically assumed was from the devil!
Then I began hearing about others. People who essentially just said, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!” And would live as though the book of Acts never had a conclusion.
And that was when God and I had the talk.
I told God one day (and since then, I’ve told Him this multiple times), “I can’t do this. I can’t live normal. What I’ve experienced can’t be all there is to Christianity. If you’re real—-The same God I read about in the Bible—- then I refuse to settle for average things. I’m not going to put up with it anymore. I want what I read about in this Book. And I won’t accept anything less.”
Some people are afraid to talk that way to God. But I was just being 100% honest.
Then things began to happen:
Crazy answers to prayer.
Even supernatural knowledge of events before they took place.
It all starts with what you’re willing to be satisfied with. Don’t be afraid to get painfully—-brutally honest with God. This was all His idea anyway. He is the one who brought up healing. He’s the one that brought up miraculous answers to prayer. He’s the one that told us to expect and believe for the fantastic. It’s time to get real with God.
While political talking heads struggle and scramble to explain the Trump phenomena, there is something all of them (and all of us, for that matter) seemed to have missed. And that is the fact that the universe is governed not only by physical laws, it’s also governed by spiritual laws. One of which Jesus tells us about in Mark 11:23
Whoever should say to this mountain, “be removed and be cast into the sea” and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says.
I’ve been watching Trump (who hasn’t, right?). But not for the same reasons most have. After a while of listening to what he was saying, I noticed the level of confidence he has is almost unprecedented in any other human being I’ve come across. So I told my wife six or seven months ago that I suspected there was more at work here than just a guy running for president.
As many of you may or may not know, as a child, Trump’s pastor was Norman Vincent Peale, author of the famous book, “The Power of Positive Thinking.” Mr. Trump has accredited his worldview, and accomplishments heavily to what he learned from this man.
While watching Donald this campaign season, time after time you have seen confessions of victory in the face of contradicting circumstances.
MEDIA: “Your numbers among hispanics are down, what are you going to do to get them up?”
TRUMP: “Hispanics love me.”
MEDIA:”Your numbers among women have never been lower.”
TRUMP: “No one respects women like I do. And I’m doing great with them. They love me.”
MEDIA: “You have the highest unfavorable ratings of any candidate.”
TRUMP: “I’m gonna win, and I’m gonna win big. And we’re going to make America Great Again.”
No matter the stat, or poll, The Donald has remained unmoved and has stood steadfast in confidence about what he will do. While it’s not uncommon for presidential candidates to say delusional things, there seems to be a difference, here. Trump really believes it, and circumstances over time seem to somehow align with what he has said.
New Age, and Christians Who Don’t Read the Bible
We unfortunately have a lot of Christians who don’t understand this, and never will because they have decided the Bible needs layers of theological commentaries in order to clarify it’s meaning. So when they come across Mark 11:23, they just can’t accept what it actually says. There’s gotta be some hat trick to it that will essentially convert it’s meaning to, “It’s not as incredible as it sounds. Relax, and go back to being normal.”
People can explain it any way they want, but in a nutshell, that is the outcome of both our interpretations of Mark 11:23, and the majority of other spectacular claims made in the Bible.
And when you don’t understand something, human nature is, and always has been, to fear it, and label it as evil. So people say it’s of the devil. It’s New Age. It’s demonic, etc. But regardless of what you think it is, God created the principle, and it still works.
For Those Who Want to Understand It
The context of Jesus’ words about speaking, and having, was the cursing of a fig tree. As many of us are aware, Jesus walked up to a fig tree one day, found that it had no figs, and responded by saying to it, “let no man ever eat from you again.” When the disciples saw that the tree had withered, they were shocked. This is when Jesus said, “If you have faith, not only will you be able to do what was done to the fig tree, but . . . Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, be removed and be cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart but shall believe that the things he says will come to pass he will have whatever he says.”
Many argue that this would never work for Donald Trump because he isn’t a Christian. Firstly, I don’t know if he is a Christian or not. Eric Metaxas, author of the book, Martin Luther said, “Martin Luther makes Trump look like Mike Pence.”—He was alluding to how brash, bold, and rude Martin Luther was. Yet Christians regard him as a great man of God.
I’ve pointed out many times how fluid our standards for, “fruit inspecting” are, so I won’t get into that here. But even if we assume Trump isn’t a believer, this principle is not just for Christians. Jesus did not say “Whichever Christian should say . . .” He said, “whoever.” —-That’s anybody.
It works for saved and unsaved, alike. Short, tall, skinny, fat. Arrogant. Bad hair. It’s whosoever.
Now, ready to be shocked?
Jesus never said faith in God was required for this to work.
He actually tells you what you have to believe in in order for it to work. And what he said was, “believe that those things which he says shall come to pass.” Belief that it will actually work. That what you say will really happen. This is the requirement Jesus put on this principle, and it is unfortunately why so many Christians can’t understand it. Because they want to turn everything into a generic faith in God. “Just trust God.” But Jesus corrected this type of thinking and told us we need a specific belief for a specific outcome. People don’t like that because it puts responsibility on them, but that’s what it says.
It can also work for good, or it can work for bad. See, we have over-spiritualized many of these things. We understand, for instance, that God created and gave us our hands. And that our hands can be used for working, for loving, for helping, or for hurting. We live in a world of God-given gifts and principles that we operate in every day. Sometimes we use them for good, sometimes for bad, but they’re all gifts from God. In Mark 11:23 Jesus tells us another gift God has given to us, and He tells us how to use it. Christians get confused and think because it’s abstract that it must be some weird isolated concept from the rest of the physical world we live in. But why?
I’ve used this principle all my life and I know hundreds of people who have as well. I’m not perfect, of course, so there have been times I tried to use it and failed. But I could tell you story after story of miraculous outcomes from operating in Mark 11:23.
Will Trump Be President?
My guess is that he will.
He has spent his life practicing and developing the concepts of Mark 11:23 much like a musician does on an instrument. The end result is an uncommon level of success–and yeah, probably of pride too.
Even with all the odds against him, he has consistently risen above them.
Many are concerned that if he gets elected, he will ruin the country.
He has said all along that he will make America Great Again, and I think that he truly believes it.
I often like to think of my positions in terms of science. In science, something qualifies as a theory if it can, among other things, make accurate predictions, or foresee outcomes to scenarios.
This is how I happened upon my understanding of Leftism in the first place. I began to see patterns in behaviors. Before long I realized I had stumbled upon an ideological dynasty that runs deep in this country, and apparently all over the world.
Before starting, it cannot be emphasized enough that a person can be a Democrat, or even Liberal in their political views and have little to nothing to do with what I’m talking about, here. One is a political view another is a worldview or, a religion. We will talk more about this below.
One other thing that should be noted about Leftism is that it seems to be the natural default of all of us. We all seem to tend that direction. In other words, unless you make a purposeful effort to avoid these characteristics, you will end up exhibiting them. For this reason, you will notice that many of these attributes are seen in people from all walks of life. No one group has a monopoly on them.
That being said, just like any religion shares some qualities with others, it’s those who embrace, and consistently practice the values that are considered disciples of them.
What is Leftism?
Well, Leftism is what I call it. Or, you could say, the Religion of Leftism.
I use this term because it seems to be a magnified and extreme version of many views traditionally associated with the political Left. The use of the word, “religion” is the level of zeal among it’s followers which really has no other comparison.
Like any religion, Leftism has some basic tenets that most of it’s followers adhere to. Here they are.
1. Humans are basically good.
That is, they believe that by nature, we are born mostly good. That if we were not influenced by outside forces, every human being would grow up to be a moral, productive member of society.
This, of course, is at odds with other worldviews (particularly Judeo Christian) that essentially teach that it is self that is the greatest enemy. The biggest obstacle to goodness, success, and true happiness is you. But instead, Leftism tends to say, “No, it’s not you. It’s someone, or something else. There is some outside force that causes you to be in the position you’re in.”
Which leads to another tenet . . .
2. Deflection of Personal Responsibility
If you do not believe that the greatest hurdle to success and achievement is self, then it would follow that when you fail, the blame would be placed on something, or someone else:
It’s an oppressive government.
It’s white people.
It’s your childhood.
It’s racist police.
And on and on and on.
Now, it should be noted, many of these things are legit concerns. There is racism. There is sexism. There is homophobia. But it all depends on where you put the emphasis. Leftism spends most of it’s time focusing on these things as the primary reason for personal failure. Magnifying them as some sort of justification for the lack of responsibility. Where common sense would say, “Yeah, those things are bad and should change, but you just gotta rise above it” Leftism essentially says, “It’s too big a mountain. It’s too complex a problem. I don’t need to change. I’ve done all I can do. People need to change. The government needs to change. Society needs to change. And until it does, I’m stuck where I am.”
3. Feelings Above Fact
This one is a bit hard to explain because, to be honest, I still can’t wrap my head around the level of irrationality that it involves but . . .
When it comes to the religion of Leftism, feelings rule above all else.
“If I feel like I am a man, then I am a man, regardless of my genitalia.”
“If I feel like I’m a woman, then I am a woman regardless of my genitalia.”
“If I believe the thing growing inside of me is a human being, then I will give birth to it. If I decide it isn’t, then it becomes garbage and can be disposed of. If I change my mind about this five times in a day, the thing in my womb will also change . . . Garbage, to human, to garbage, and back again. And nobody can take that right from me.”
No regard to science. No regard to biology. No regard to facts. In the world of Leftism, emotions decide reality.
This is also why people who subscribe to Leftism have no problem with a plurality of religions.Just as long as you don’t claim to have the correct one. Because for them, it does not matter whether the religion is true or not. It does not matter whether the belief is true or not. All that matters is how it makes you feel. If it makes you feel good, then this trumps reality.
You also see this in their approach to morality. The famous saying, “If it feels good, do it” is nearly a spiritual mandate in their minds. The moral compass is not decided by a higher power, or even common sense. It’s feeling.
4. A Child-like Intolerance Toward Those They Disagree With
As mentioned, we are not dealing with logic or reason, here. Therefore, in an argument, regardless of whether what is being said is true or not, the reaction will essentially be, “that hurts my feelings.” Or, the more sophisticated term, “that offends me.” Because feelings play such a big role in Leftism, it only makes sense that the way they deal with conflict, and disagreements would mimic the behavior of a child who has not yet developed the ability to curb their emotions.
So if you can imagine how a four or five year old would react to hearing something they don’t like, you can pretty much understand how those who subscribe to this worldview react to conflict:
“Racist”, “bigot”, “homophobic”, “sexist”, “xenophobic” etc.
The use of these terms in response to an argument is usually for one purpose: Terminate any productive dialogue.
In other words, if I can label you something terrible, it justifies me in ending the discussion. Because, “why should I even talk to a racist?” “Why even try to communicate with a bigot?” “What’s the point in trying to change the mind of a homophobe?”
So the end result is you don’t have to worry about having your ideas challenged.
Raising your voice, screaming, crying, displaying weird or erratic behavior, physical intimidation and sometimes even violence. You especially see this on college campuses.
Run away crying.
Basically, this is a conscious decision to ignore, or close yourself off to anyone who says something you don’t like. Those steeped in Leftism often refuse to have any dialogue with a person they disagree with. They’re living in an intellectual vacuum, consisting of only people who will affirm their beliefs. The goal is to create a reality around you that will never threaten, but instead reinforce. Remember, truth doesn’t matter, here. If it did, they would seek out other points of views and challenge their own. But it’s all about how it makes you feel. “Conflict and confrontation makes me feel uncomfortable. Therefore, I avoid it.”
5. Categorizing by Race, Gender, and Sexuality
There’s an obsession in Leftism. All the world is viewed through the lens of race, gender, and sexuality.
“You do what you do because you’re white.”
“You say what you say because you’re black.”
“This happened because that guy is gay.”
“That happened because she’s a woman.”
“You think that way because you’re a Mexican.”
There was a time where society judged the character of a person based on their actions. But in Leftism, who you are, and your value, are all found in your feelings, race, gender, and sexuality.
In regard to sexuality and transgender people, it’s seen as the ultimate claim to identity. “This iswho I am. I’m out of the closet and I accept myself.”
When it comes to gender and race, I cannot tell you how many times I have been told by people, “What do you know? You have no right to say anything. You’re a privileged white male.” In other words, depending on which of these categories you belong to, you are either morally superior, or inferior and should be treated as such.
Discrimination, racism, and sexism, are all big parts of the religion of the Left. The irony, of course, is they don’t see it. For instance, they don’t see any problem with a university, or company, accepting someone because they’re black, instead of someone better qualified who happens to be white.
It just doesn’t register for them.
In their minds, there seems to be some sort of Time Transcending, Universal Arm of Justice that essentially says, “Because you’re white, and your ancestors did some bad things (although I don’t even know that for sure. But I’ll just assume it based on the fact that you’re white), you will now be punished for it. And even though it’s racist, it’s okay . . . . because you’re white.”
6. Government is God
Just like any religion has a god or gods—- a near almighty being, so does Leftism. Of course, there are some differences. Such as the fact that they don’t literally worship government, but there are also many similarities.
Government is seen as never being too big. It can never have too much power. The bigger, the better.
Government seen as the ultimate provider for everything. Cell phones, health care, insurance, college tuition, cars, loans, food, utilities etc etc.
Government seen as the ultimate force for good and justice. This is why the average person who is refused business somewhere would simply say, “Okay, I’ll give my business to someone else” Leftism says, “Government must get involved and solve this injustice.” So you have a high frequency of lawsuits about the most absurd things. In their minds, all of the aforementioned tenets, are not enough to live by. It’s not enough just to believe these things. They want the Government to force everyone else to embrace and believe them.
Similar to Christianity’s belief that one day God will make every knee bow, and every tongue confess the Lordship of Christ, so their belief is Almighty Government will make every knee bow to this worldview.