EPIDEMIC WARNING!

May 8th, 2012

It strikes when you least expect it!  Unbeknown to its victim, it has a strangling effect and initially a subtle, almost sedative hold.  Most live in denial about it, others become indifferent and  divert to role playing.    It has an ugly grip that few are able to shake themselves loose from.  The once passionately driven God chaser has slowly become a casual spectator of the faith.  Those afflicted become contagious carriers of the most damaging and ugly disease to strike the church. They teach newer, younger, believers bad habits by their mere conduct. What is it?  It is the spiritual disease of complacency.  It is the LUKEWARM EPIDEMIC!

Jesus warns us about it in Revelations 3:15;   “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” What is there about a lukewarm believer that nauseates God?  When a professing believer becomes complacent, indifferent, neutral, a spiritual drifter without spiritual passion and fire…those watching his life observe and subconsciously  think; “he may be more religious than I am, but he is no different than than I am.”  There is no conviction because there is no beating heart or raging passion for the Lord Jesus.  Soon it becomes obvious to others what is the most important and significant activity in this person’s life.    Other things soon become more important.  It is evidenced by the conversations.  One will always talk about the things most important in their life.  It shows up in where we invest our time and resources.  It is most evident by the lack of energy and heart for worship, scripture reading, and prayer.  Soon these things become dead rituals and empty habits that lack life and anointing.  It becomes a dead mans religion and one must revert to hypocrisy and role playing to survive the game.  The tragic consequences not only impacts the lukewarm believer, it sucks the life out of the church and patterns an embarrassing model for those watching on the sidelines.   The Bible gives a stern warning about such a one; “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Tim 3:5)  Why are we to stay away from such people?  Because they are dangerous and because they carry a very contagious spirit.  You can be so easily seduced and influenced.  Before you know it, that nasty killer has its vice grip hold on you.!

No doubt this is the hour of seduction.  We are living in the period that Jesus warned us about.  “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…” (Matthew 24:12)  The Apostle Paul gives us a heads up when he sternly warns; “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first…” (2 Thess 2:3)  Maybe even more so, Jesus forcefully cautions his followers to beware on several occasions.  “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (Matt 25:13)  The Apostle Paul warns us to “Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…” (1 Peter 5:8)

There is a way to inoculate yourself from this deadly and fatal disease.  Stay away from people who are not radical imitators of the faith!  Stay away from activities that drain you of passionate spirituality.  Stay away from those who are carriers of the Lukewarm epidemic!  Stay away from sin and compromise!  Stay away from a life of spiritual mediocrity.  Be a passionate, Spirit-filled, heart raging, devil defying, life changing, holy living, man or woman of God.  Be anything but normal or average!

At the same time “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God” (2 Tim 1:6)  Live in the Word of God.  Feast on the scriptures every opportunity you can.  Fellowship with God in prayer constantly.  Worship and sing to the Lord all through the day.  Fast on a regular basis.  Freely talk and share about Jesus!  Walk in the power and the demonstration of the Holy Spirit!  If you do this, your spiritual immune system will prevent the enemy from ever being able to penetrate your heart and chill it with the Lukewarm Epidemic!

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Wanted: To Be On Hell’s Top Ten Most Wanted List

March 2nd, 2011

Some people enjoy conflict!  Most of us do not.  But either way, one thing I have discovered is that the Christian life is a journey filled with spiritual challenges and ongoing conflict.  That’s because we are part of a different Kingdom, with a entirely different set of values, that run counter cultural to this society.  But, more than that, a real live Devil is out to disrupt, discourage and to devour you!  Why? Because, hopefully, you are a threat to Satan’s Kingdom.

Does your life pose a problem for the Devil?  I mean, are you giving hell a nightmare?  For many the Devil could care a less that you are a Christian in name.  Sure, go to church, read your bible, pray once in a while…but as long as you are not a threat to His Kingdom, this dark leader could really care a less.  But, you start treading on his territory, mess around with some of his followers or demons, and watch out, hell will be out to get you.  Are you alright with that?  Acts 19:11-16 conveys  a stunning account.
Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul,  so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.  Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

I want to ask you a question.  Are you known in Hell?  Is your Church known in Hell?  How is it that itinerant, Jewish Priest’s, specialist in the religious field, were disregarded and unknown in Hell?  The demon’s asked them, “Who are You?”  “We’ve not heard of you.’  They even used the formulas and the mighty name of Jesus.  They were disregarded!   But, Paul, they were terrified of!  Why?

There are four reason’s Paul was known in hell and caused demon’s to tremble.  If you want to be known in hell…you need these four traits.  I think it is time for the Church of Jesus Christ to raise hell with the devil!

First of all, Paul was POSSESSED…with Jesus!  Paul had a true conversion experience.  He was so radically converted and transformed by Christ.  His heart was the habitation of Christ.  He was the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Everywhere Jesus went in His earthly ministry He was causing havoc in Satan’s Kingdom.  No demon could stand before Him…they could not even speak without permission.  Now consider that this same Christ, so possessed the Apostle Paul, that everywhere he went, he carried the Person of Christ.  The Resurrected, Conquering, Reigning, King was living on the inside of this man.  Every critic could tell that this man ‘had been with Jesus!”  People today talk so much about demon possession; but what about Jesus possession.  If demon possession can cause such a disturbance in people’s lives, consider what would happen if each of us were truly, fully, possessed with Jesus?

Paul had POWER! Paul was dreaded and known in hell because a supernatural force ignited him.  Jesus told his disciples “you shall receive POWER after that the Holy Spirit has come upon you”.   Paul had hands laid upon him and he received the Holy Spirit.  It transformed him.  It was not a trickle…it was a flood of power.  The same power available to each and every one of us.  So much power was channeled though this simple man that the scriptures tell us that handkerchiefs and aprons were taken from his body, and when applied to the bodies of others,  the sick were made well…demons fled.  That’s real power!  Paul was known in hell!  Everywhere Paul went he changed and charged the atmosphere.  No wonder the demons shuttered and said, “Jesus we know and Paul we know…”.

Paul had PASSION! The Apostle Paul had no other love or affection.  He was madly in love with Jesus.  Driven with a raging, radical, passion of such intensity that his worst critic called him mad!  What’s your passion?  It doesn’t take long to figure that out in a person’s life.  In just a few moments of a conversation our words quickly give us away.  If you have viewed the dramatic presentation of the crucifixion of Christ in Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion of Christ”, there is one continual theme.  What was the Passion of Christ?  The amazing love of Christ for mankind!  Jesus was driven with a passion to obey His heavenly Father and to rescue us from eternal hell.  That passion ran all through the short earthly life of Jesus.  If a movie were to be created about you at your death; what will it reflect about your passion?  So many struggle to tolerate a one hour worship service at church.  Gazing at the clock and fidgeting away, running to the bathroom a couple of times during the service, many struggle to endure that one hour slot for Jesus.  Yet those same people will rush home, turn on their televisions and station themselves behind an NFL game that will go on for three hours and think nothing of it.  What is the difference?  Passion!   Where is your heart?  Are you known in hell?

Finally, Paul had PURITY! Nobody owned Paul but Jesus.  He was not a slave to sin!  He had no other Master but Christ.  The devil could not intimidate him with vain accusations.  The Power of the blood of Christ is the most remarkable thing.  It doesn’t just have power to cancel the debt of sins committed; No, its power enables a man to resist temptation and walk in absolute freedom today.  The most amazing thing about the grace of God is that our Lord can take an unholy man out of an unholy world and completely free him and purify him, and then place that holy man  back into an unholy world and keep him holy.  Satan hates this!!!  You are an embarrassment to Satan’s Kingdom!  He wants so much to bring you down, sap your power, diminish your passion, soil your purity and invade your life.  He comes to steal, kill and destroy.  Jesus is coming soon!  Remember He is coming back for a church “without spot or wrinkle”.  He is coming back for a pure bride.  He’s not coming back for a bag lady!  He’s coming back for a triumphant Church…a church possessed, empowered, passionate, and pure.

I don’t want to be just saved. Some people want to just go to heaven. I desire to do serious damage to Satan’s Kingdom.  I want to be such a threat to the works of darkness that I am listed on hell’s top ten list of most wanted.  I want to be known in hell as one who is dead serious about his faith.  A man, madly in love with my Jesus.  I want to walk in real Holy Ghost Power that causes demons to flee.  I want the aroma of Jesus on me.  I desire to decrease so that He can increase.   I want to both change and charge the atmosphere.  I want hell to throw a party to celebrate when I die and leave this world.  I desire my life to count for something.  How about you?  Are you known in hell?  Is your church known in hell?  Think about it.

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Man, Message, Movement, Mission, Monument, Mausoleum

February 21st, 2011

Until you have tasted something, then lose it, you are not apt to necessarily realize the value of it.  Every day we take for granted the incredible blessings that are heaped upon us.  It is easy to become spoiled and indifferent… soon losing our appreciation and gratefulness for what we have…until it is taken away.   This occurs every day in the spiritual dimension.  When several generations exist without a personal, living, intimate encounter with God…we often revert to form, rituals and redundant formalities.  The result is, third generation Christians who have lost first generation passion.   Often Denominations and Movements begin this way.  God calls a Man.  The Man is given a divine Message.  A Movement is born, others rally around this godly leader who have been impacted by the message. Thousands are transformed by this mighty move.  The leader dies and men attempt to carry on the Mission. Soon the original vision is lost through compromise and carelessness and a Monument is built to eulogize the man and the original dream.  With time…the dream fades and dies until a Mausoleum is erected for the things that once were.  It doesn’t take long before a new generation has no sense of appreciation or remembrance for the former things.

The Shekinah Glory was lifted from Solomon’s Temple in response to the gross compromise and rebellion of the people of God prior to the capturing of Israel by Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar’s rule.  Ezekiel 11:22 speaks of the horrible lifting of the Shekinah Presence;  “So the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was high above them.  And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain, which is on the side  of the city.” The Glory moved from the Cherubim in the Holy of Holies to the threshold of the house.  Later the Glory of the Lord departed from the threshold…and stood over the Cherubim.  Next the Glory of the Lord…stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city, that is the Mount of Olives.  Finally, the glory disappeared.  The reluctant departure of God’s glory from the temple demonstrates that only with great long-suffering and hesitation did God’s Spirit leave His abode.  The fact that the Spirit of God was not present in the temple explains Nebuchadnezzar’s men were later in 586 B.C. able to destroy the temple completely, including the Holy of Holies, without divine judgment.  There had been six hundred years of no prophetic light!  The Shekinah had lifted!  Several generations had come and gone, no one living had ever experienced the Shekinah Glory filling the temple.  It was nothing more than empty, meaningless, dead, rituals.  So here we have Pompey the Great exposing it all.

What a tragic account!  What is even more disheartening is the number of times this scene is repeated time and again across the face of the American Church.  Leonard Ravenhill once said, “when attending many churches, one must first pass through the basketball court, the tennis court, racquetball court, and then when they enter into the center  of where supposedly God dwells…many scream out…”Your God is dead!  You told me God was in this place, but He’s not here!”

What makes the difference in a heightened sense of the Presence of God?  While God is omnipresent, there are times that it appears that he is more “here” than “there”.  What is it that affects or influences that variance?  It is true that you cannot escape the all seeing, all knowing presence of a holy God.  He is as much in the midst of a den of iniquity, as in any of our churches on any given Sunday…yet that presence does not arrest sin or bring deep conviction.  Why?  I believe it has something to do with the Shekinah Glory of God.  While the word “Shekinah” itself is not found in the bible, Shekinah is derived from a Hebrew verb which literally means,  “to settle, inhabit, or dwell”.  The Jewish Rabbis coined this extra biblical expression, “Shekinah”, and it is a form of a Hebrew word that literally means, “He caused to dwell” signifying that it was a divine visitation of “The Presence” or dwelling of YEHOVAH God on this earth.  The Shekinah in the New Testament is commonly equated to the presence or dwelling of the Spirit of the Lord or the Holy Spirit.

When the Manifest Presence of God descends upon a people…you cannot remain the same!  It is the ever intensifying, ever expanding, revealing, Glory of God.   It is here that God told Moses…”no man can see God and live.”  The literal Hebrew meaning for “Glory” means for God to “show up and show off.”  When the Shekinah is once again ushered in…we will fall on our faces, stricken by the awesome attributes of God.  We will be able to say with Isaiah, “I saw the Lord High and lifted up”, and we will be unable to remain unchanged or neutral in our profession.  No…we will either run to or run from this awesome experience of meeting God face to face.

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The Departing Glory Part 2

February 6th, 2011

“I’m sick to death of the so-called Christianity of our day. What’s supernatural about it? When do people come out of the sanctuary awed and can’t speak for an hour because God has been in glory there? Dear God, as soon as they get out, they’re talking football, or sports or something or there’s going to be a big sale downtown or somewhere. We are not caught up into eternity! When did you last tip-toe out of the sanctuary? (When) you couldn’t say a word to anybody (because) you were so overwhelmed (with the glory of God).” (Leonard Ravenhill)

The book of Ezra gives us a stunning display of a tragic reality.  After the Babylonians invaded, desecrated, and destroyed the temple, there would be 52 years and no temple; that most sacred, holy, and breath-taking structure was but a pile of ashes.  Fifty years of silence!  Finally the Jews return and they are rebuilding the broken down walls and the demolished temple.  The people watch as the foundation is laid upon the old foundation. There was the sound of great rejoicing and jubilation over this long awaited day.  Yet, something wasn’t right.  There was mingled in the noise and the dance, a strange but obvious contrasting sound of weeping and mourning.  “many of the Priests and Levites and heads of the fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes.  Yet many shouted aloud for joy.” (Ezra 3:12)

For these older Priests and Levites there was something drastically missing.  In their eyes it had nothing to do with an inferior workmanship or a shrunken structure…nor did it faze them that the gold and silver laced walls, articles and beauty was gone.  No, it had to do with the fact that the Ark was gone, the blue illuminating light was gone, but most importantly, the Shekinah Glory had departed and it wasn’t coming back;  at least not to be found in a building ever again.

For each succeeding generation the dieing, remaining, remnant is the only connector to remind people of the way things use to be.  Once those who remembered the former temple in all of its glory had departed, it wouldn’t take long before every evidence of the Shekinah Glory would be snuffed out.  In its place would come a whole new line of rituals, traditions, and forms, to somehow stifle the hungering hearts of those desperate to experience the Presence of God.  It is amazing how hard we try to work things up and create noise that gives a certain similitude of the presence of God.  Think of the many generations who witnessed this dissolving, disintegrating, diminishing, Shekinah Presence.  It doesn’t take long before a new generation surfaces that has never experienced a true manifestation of God.

I often wonder how many of our churches and pastors function under this same pretense.  Amidst all the noise and music and hype, we attempt to conceal the real state of the church…keeping people busy with programs, new methods, and distracting entertainment, but all along a strange, piercing, emptiness persists.   Somewhere far back the Glory lifted and we were left with a shadow of what once was.  Is this possible?

Or could it be that it has nothing to do with an intentional act of deliberately misleading people, but rather more specifically we’ve never known it any other way?  It is possible that this High Priest and the one before him, and the one before him, had never ever witnessed the true Shekinah Presence inhabiting the Temple in the first place.  Is it possible that they never knew anything else but the empty room, dead rituals, and meaningless formalities?  If we have never tasted what once was, how easy it is to assume that what we have is the best that things can be. It is an illusion at best!

What are your thoughts on this?

In Jesus,

Rick Webb

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The Departing Glory

January 31st, 2011

Something is tragically missing in an overwhelming number of our churches.   Never have we had such impressive facilities, plush resources, talented musicians, commanding communicators, and multi media gadgets…but neither have we lacked the display of God’s Manifest Presence as today.

Pompey the Great , military head of the Republic of Rome under Julius Caesar; was on a military excursion around 65BC which landed him in Jerusalem.  Although he had heard about the Hebrew God, he was always mystified by the reports of a God that had no image, or symbol, or representation.  He could not imagine the worship of an unseen god.

Upon arriving he immediately began investigating the many buildings and community centers inquiring of their purposes.  When he pointed in the direction of the Temple and asked of its role, he was told that it was the Temple of the one true God.  Pompey said…”tomorrow we shall go and see it.”  “No!  Cried the horrified onlookers, for that is where God dwells and no unclean (pagan) one shall desecrate this most holy dwelling place.”  “I want to see God” replied Pompey.  What a terrifying thought.  “You see, behind that thick veil which separates the common from the holy is where God lives and if you were to slip that curtain back, a light brighter that the noon day sun would strike you down.  You must not do this ungodly thing,” replied the crowd.  “ah yes, I must see your God.  Tomorrow we shall go to the Temple and I will see God.”

Early the next morning Pompey anxiously arose ready for a special encounter with God.  Passing through the Court of Israel he pressed thru into the Court of the Priest and then he dared to do what had only been done one other time….for a foreigner to enter into the Holy Place and then to recklessly enter before the Holy of Holies.  He stood there before that thick curtain and demanded that it be pulled back.  Again, in a compelling and pleading manner one was heard to say…”please don’t do this!  Behind that veil is the Holy God of Israel.  No man can look and live.  That bright light of the Glory of God will kill you!!!”  Pompey once again demanded compliance and again declared his anxious desire to see this God.  Finally a corner of the curtain was lifted.  In a stunning moment of silence, and a dark stare upon those observing…the awkward moment was interrupted by Pompey demanding that the curtain be pulled all the way back exposing a room which stood blacker than black.  Quickly, Pompey in a rage bellowed back at those standing around and down the streets of Jerusalem, “there is not God!  You mislead me!  You are fools!”

One has to consider the ramifications of this tragic historic event.  What happened to the once Glory filled, saturated, Shekinah Presence that previously occupied the Holy Of Holies?  When did it leave?  Was the High Priest misleading the people?  Every year when the High Priest entered into this most sacred room on the Day of Atonement, he must have known that the darkness permeated, that the blue flame that once flickered between the Cherubim upon the Mercy Seat was extinguished…that something was terribly wrong.  Here he is going though the motions knowing all along that it was empty, dead rituals and vain repetitions.  How did he live with himself?  Maybe he thought of the consequences should the people ever discover that God was no longer among them.  For surely he would be out of a job and no doubt an entire Nation might fall into anarchy.  What would restrain them?  Is it possible the High Priest just kept going through the motions hoping that he could fake it and persuade the people, an entire nation that nothing had changed?

Is it possible, that in all of our clever tactics and ministering maneuverings, we ourselves have reverted to the propping up ministry in our churches.  All the furniture is in place, every note is on key, the preacher can move us to an emotional response…but behind it all…the Glory has lifted?  And everyone knows that something is missing.  Could this be why so many of this generation reject the God we proclaim…to them they see no convincing evidence of the God we declare,  Our God is dead!   The Glory has lifted!

What do you think?  I am anxious to hear.

Rick Webb

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Welcome to Revival’s Heartbeat

January 28th, 2011

America is in desperate need of a mighty spiritual awakening!  We are a Nation that has lost it’s way.  With our conscience seared, our reputation soiled, the heart contaminated, and our future diminished;  what will it take to recapture the spiritual foundation of this Country?  The Bible says, “if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  While it may be tempting to point our fingers at and to blame the deteriorating culture we live in, there is an even greater issue at hand.  It is the sad and pathetic state of the Church!   Could it be that the issues perplexing this society are directly associated with a irresponsible, dead and lifeless Church?

Twelve men filled with the Holy Spirit set the world on fire!  They held no titles, no degrees,  no impressive achievements.  They were paupers, outcasts, hated and despised.  Yet a few fishermen and farmers turned entire communities upside down.  How did they do it?  The critics tried their best to snuff out their message!  They threatened them, scourged and scorned them.  They put them in prison.  They stoned, pierced, and crucified many, and yet…they could not be stopped.  These men were on Hell’s most wanted list.  But, Satan himself could not touch these anointed ones, for they had the mark of God on their forehead.  They had no buildings, no credentials, no training, no finances, no methodology, and no manuals to follow.  But they had one thing that caused demon’s to tremble…they had been with Jesus and a holy fire was blazing on the inside of them.  Fearlessly they pressed forward,  convinced that they processed the Keys to the Kingdom.  Within a few weeks from Pentecost 100,000 converts filled Jerusalem.  By the years end, history tells us that over one million new Christians filled the city.  From there, it spread like a prairie fire to Judea, Samaria, and indeed the uttermost parts of the World.

I am embarrassed when I consider what these great founding fathers did without even one Bible.  They had no Christian periodicals,  No religious broadcasting.  No comfortable and convenient means of transportation.  They had no padded pews or plush carpet with all of our fancy technical gadgets. They had no guaranteed income, tax free status or housing allowances.  No, they had none of the things so often identified as necessary for success in ministry.  But…they had one thing that we do not have.  Passionate Spirituality!!! They were driven by one overwhelming force…an absolute, undeniable, raging, burning, obsession; to know HIM!  All other loves paled in comparison.  No one could offer them any enticement or attraction that would ever pull them away, even for a minute.  Everything else was superficial.  Nothing else was real.  They had been with Jesus, their lives would never be the same.  Now Pentecost solidified it all, and they were compelled to give it all and lay it on the line for Jesus.  Yes, they were radicals, and they were extremist in the eyes of the world, but in the eyes of the Father, they were his chosen Bride.

Until this sleeping giant the church is awakened, and professing Christians capture the first century passion of historic Christianity, we will continue to see the church slip into apostasy.  We have a form, but we deny the power;  we say that we know Him, but the evidence rebukes us.  Our words are so often hollow, and the broken, chattered and powerless life proves once again that we are indeed, third generation Christians who have lost first generation passion. We need a heaven sent Pentecostal shaking!  We need for dry bones to walk again.  We need a revival of biblical proportions that will smack each of us in the heart and cause us to abandon all our other loves, renounce our spiritual adultery, and in brokenness and repentance, fall on our faces before God and wait until we have touched the face of God.

God send a revival and let it start with me!!!

Rick Webb

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