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A Humble Warning to the Spiritually Proud Preacher

The first and worst cause of error that prevails in our day is spiritual pride.

So said Jonathan Edwards, a preacher, theologian and missionary to Native Americans who lived in the 1700s. Edwards went on to say that spiritual pride is the main door by which the devil comes into the hearts of those who are zealous for the advancement of Christ—the chief inlet of smoke from the bottomless pit to darken the mind and mislead the judgment, and the main handle by which Satan takes hold of Christians to hinder a work of God. Powerful words!

If that was true in Edwards’ day—and it was—then how much more is it true in our day?

Think about it for a minute. In Edwards’ era, there were no megachurches, no Facebook pages where charismatic preachers could woo millions of “fans,” no global satellites to broadcast prosperity messages to the masses, and no Hollywood Christianity with all its trappings. In Edwards’ era, rather, Europeans were fleeing to North America, in part, to gain freedom from oppressive religious systems. read more

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Are You Reasoning Yourself Out of Prophetic Wisdom?

God has given us the ability to reason—but too much mental reasoning blocks spiritual discernment and breeds plenty of confusion.

With that in mind, is it possible that you are reasoning yourself out of prophetic wisdom that could be blocking your spiritual growth, your blessings, and even the full manifestation of your destiny?

I’ll admit it. I am analytical. I tend to reason through every possibility before making a decision. But I also pray after my thoughtful analysis and ultimately submit my plans to the written Word and the Spirit’s leading (which always agree). Of course, I’m not perfect. But my purpose is to lean not on my own understanding—even when my own understanding seems plentiful in my own eyes (Prov. 3:5-6).

Because the human heart is deceitful above all things there is an ever-present danger of flowing in pride instead of flowing in the Spirit (Jer. 17:9). This is especially true when we consider ourselves well-versed, experts even, in any area. Knowledge puffeth up (1 Cor. 8:1), after all, and pride comes before the fall (Prov. 16:18).

If we rely solely on our own reasoning—our own understanding—we could find ourselves shipwrecked. But if we rely on the Spirit’s wisdom—on His reasoning—we may find ourselves with a haul of blessings so big we can’t contain them. Indeed, we can see this very principle in Scripture. read more

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Breaking the Power of Vicious Circles and Demonic Cycles

Have you ever felt like you are living in a vicious circle? Even now you may be trying your best to solve a problem only to discover that every step you take is making the problem worse—or even creating new problems.

If that’s you, stop and ask yourself—is this a vicious circle or a demonic cycle? In other words, is one trouble in your life leading to another because of the classic law of cause and effect, a law that can easily snowball for better or worse? Or are you wrestling against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places? (Eph. 6:12)

Before we go on, let me state emphatically that every obstacle or setback we face in life is not rooted in demonic activity. Becoming super-skilled in spiritual warfare isn’t going to solve all of your problems because all of your problems aren’t originating demons. Getting hyper focused on identifying demons and tearing down strongholds can actually perpetuate the vicious cycle. What we magnify tends to manifest. Magnify the devil and he seems bigger in your eyes. Magnify Jesus and His glory inspires you to overcome by His grace. read more

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Discerning the Call to Prophetic Intercession

There’s plenty of talk about prayer, prophetic intercession, standing in the gap, making up the hedge, prayer burdens, and, of course, spiritual warfare. But how do we discern the call to prayer? How do we recognize a proverbial prayer burden?

These questions may seem simple, but far too many saints have come to me carrying burdens they thought were their own when in reality they were feeling the weight of oppression over a person or a city. I know how they feel. It took me some years to learn to accurately divide soul and spirit.

The turning point for me was during a mission trip to Nicaragua. I woke up feeling severely depressed for no apparent reason. I felt down and out, like giving up, throwing in the towel, calling it quits and running home to pull the covers over my head. It felt like my best friend had just died. I sat there for about 20 minutes trying to figure out what was wrong with me and crying out to God to help me escape these oppressive feelings.

As I persisted, I heard that still small voice in my spirit saying, “Despondent. This is how the people of this nation feel. Pray.” Despondence is a feeling of extreme discouragement, dejection or depression. Once the Lord gave me that insight, I joined with others in a circle to pray against the oppression with the weapons of our warfare, which are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4). read more

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Spiritual Abuse, Christian Cults and Controlling Ministries

It’s irresponsible to loosely toss around emotionally charged accusations. Phrases like “spiritual abuse,” “Christian cults” and “controlling ministries” can be very harmful. I wouldn’t want to stand before Jesus and give account for misspoken words that carry the potential to tear down what He is building.

On the other hand, it’s also irresponsible to turn a blind eye to spiritual abuse, Christian cults and controlling ministries. I wouldn’t want to stand before Jesus and give account for supporting ministries that are tearing down what He is building.

When spiritual leaders are caught in sex abuse scandals, the secular and Christian media alike pen stories that offer the detestable details and dogged denials. But spiritual abuse, cultish churches and controlling ministries are less often exposed than pastors who coerce teenaged boys and unsuspecting church secretaries to have sexual relations.

That’s because victims of abusive church authority structures may not even realize what they are enduring until they escape its grip. Spiritual abuse is often subtle. Christian cult leaders don’t always operate like Jim Jones. Controlling ministries tend to hide behind the guise of spiritual coverings. And far too many outsiders are not willing to even question the messages and practices of such churches. It takes lovers of truth with spiritual discernment to recognize the sometimes-subtle signs of abusive churches. And it takes courage to confront it. read more

Waging Spiritual Warfare on Carnal Lusts

You know all too well that you are in a spiritual war against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places. But have you ever considered that you are also in a spiritual war against your own carnal lusts?

When Paul said we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12), he did not mean that we don’t wrestle against fleshly temptations. Indeed, we know that carnal lusts war against our soul (1 Peter 2:11). We have to engage in this battle in order to walk out the victory we already have in Christ. We have to declare war on carnal lusts or we may wind up buffeting the air in the name of Jesus while the enemy has his wicked way in our lives.

Before you dismiss this article because you aren’t living in immorality, consider that carnal lusts include more than sexual sin. Vine’s Dictionary defines lust as a “strong desire” of any kind. Although the Bible uses lust in a positive context three times, the Word of God most often describes it as a root of sin. Lust is associated with pride, greed and other strong desires that lead us out of God’s will. read more

Opening Your Eyes to Spiritual Deception

Medical doctors call it Usher syndrome. It’s a disorder that causes deafness and gradual loss of sight.

You may have heard about it in the news in recent years. Jacob, the 9-year-old son of star horse jockey Kent Desormeaux, is suffering from the disease. Jacob is progressively going blind, and more quickly than anticipated. Doctors say one day he may not be able to see at all.

As a parent, this tears at my heart. I can’t even imagine this father’s pain, watching as his son slowly but surely loses his senses of sight and hearing; realizing his son will soon be unable to hear his voice or see his smiling face. But this natural example also awakened my spirit to the Father’s pain in watching some of His own children slowly but surely lose their senses of sight and hearing—through spiritual deception.

Like Usher syndrome, deception is progressive. I don’t believe people move from worshipping God to worshipping angels overnight, for example. Nor do I believe one leaps from the practical study of biblical types and shadows to practicing occultism quickly. It starts with a little erroneous fox. Just as the Word of God warns us how one sin can lead to another sin (read: David and Bathsheba) it is also true that one error can lead us into another error. One wrong belief can cause us to believe many wrong things. read more

How to Get Revenge on Your Enemies

Throughout history, people have quipped about revenge. Filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock liked to say, “Revenge is sweet and not fattening.” Edward Gibbon believed, “Revenge is profitable, gratitude is expensive.” And you’ve probably heard it said, “I’m back with a vengeance.”·

I have to admit it. I’ve been tempted to take vengeance on those who have wronged me. I could take justified legal action to collect 12 years of unpaid child support and have enough money to go on an extravagant European vacation. I could justifiably file suit against the brother in Christ who ran off on Christmas Eve with $10,000 of my cash, never finishing the job he was paid for and leaving me with one toilet, no shower and no kitchen. I could expose those who have spread malicious lies about me and bring them to public shame.

Yes, I’ve been tempted to take revenge. But the Lord makes it emphatically clear that vengeance belongs to Him—and He will repay (Romans 12:19). Despite the emotions that rose up when I was wronged, I ultimately believe God’s vengeance will work out better for me than any forceful yet feeble attempt I could make to even the score. God sees everything. That’s why I reject the quips of Hitchcock and Gibbon in favor of the idea that Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius offered, “The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.” read more

Unlock Increase in Your Life With the Key of Finishing

Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Notice that Jesus is the Finisher. He always finishes what He starts—and He wants us to finish the God-inspired initiatives we start, too.

To be sure, one of the keys of the kingdom is the “key of finishing.” It unlocks the blessing of increase and is a clear manifestation of kingship.

Jesus is our example. Jesus was always concerned about finishing the work His Father sent Him to do. He saw the blessing on the other side of finishing. He had His eyes on the prize—the blessing—that came after He finished. read more

Dealing With Demons From Your Past

Don’t look back—unless you need to deal with demons from your past that continue to pull you out of God’s will and into sin.

Some of us have dramatic testimonies of how God delivered us from dark places into which even your typical sinner doesn’t venture. But if we aren’t truly free from the demonic influences that held us in bondage, we could fall back into the snare of the enemy once again. We are forgiven from our past sins, but sometimes we must deal with our past demons.

I’m a big advocate of not looking back. Unless I’m sharing my testimony to help another, I don’t talk much about the past. After all, I’m a new creature in Christ. The old Jennifer has passed away. I was crucified with Christ and I am no longer living for myself. I am letting Christ live His life through me. My position in Christ is clearly spelled out in the Word of God, but that doesn’t mean when I got saved I was immediately delivered from demons of the past that plagued my soul. I’m not talking about character flaws or immaturity. I’m talking about demonic strongholds like drug use that, left unchecked, would have ultimately destroyed me. read more

When People You Love Become Stumbling Blocks

Stumbling blocks. You don’t want to be one. And you don’t want them in your life, either. But what do you do when the stumbling block comes from someone you love dearly, or from someone with whom you know you are called to labor in God’s Kingdom?

In order to avoid stumbling blocks, we need to recognize them when they arise along the narrow path. At the most basic level, a stumbling block is an obstacle to our progress in the Lord; it’s something that gets in between us and God’s perfect plan for our lives; it is anything that leads us into temptation. It’s a snare. Strong’s Concordance defines a stumbling block as “any person or thing by which one is (entrapped) drawn into error or sin.”

The phrase “stumbling block” is used 14 times in various translations of the Bible. I am going to focus on just one in this exhortation—one that came straight from the lips of the Anointed One to my spirit. It’s an example that shows how even those closest to us—even those called to walk with us and do great things for the Lord alongside us—can at times present a stumbling block in our path. How to we deal with loved ones who present stumbling blocks in a spirit grace, mercy and love without falling into the trap? read more

Looking Into the Supernatural Mirror for Prophetic Revelation of Christ

Did you know that about 17 percent of Americans believe the Bible is full of man-written fables and fairy tales? Only 30 percent believe the Word of God is the literal Word of God. So says a recent Gallup poll.

Although fairy tale writers draw inspiration from the Bible, I’m here to tell you that the Bible can in no way be compared to Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland or Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, where a wicked queen peered into a mirror, mirror on the wall to get assurance that she was the fairest of them all.

However, there is a supernatural mirror, if you will, that we can look into to get assurance that we are the most cherished of them all. This mirror transforms us from glory to glory. It’s called the Bible, the Word of God, the Holy Scripture. And its authors, inspired by the Holy Ghost, compared it to a mirror on three occasions. By exploring the Bible as a mirror, we gain a clearer understanding of how to become more like the holiest of all. read more

Can You Really Buy a Spiritual Breakthrough?

A newspaper reporter called me the other day to solicit my opinion on an elderly woman’s so-called “divinely inspired concoctions.” Her little shop of mystic wonderments peddles oils, herbs, sprays and candles that claim to bring love into your life, and even get others to obey your every command.

As the reporter described the woman’s mixtures, supposedly potent enough to solve any problem known to man, I couldn’t help but see mental images of the Apostle Paul wrestling the beast at Ephesus. But I digress …

The elderly woman has 10 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and a divination sanctum littered with statues and images of various saints. A necklace adorned with charms of the tools each saint works with dangles from her neck, according to the reporter’s observations. read more

Three Wise Words From A Prophetic Granny That Saved My Life

Some say you can smell the spirit of death. I wasn’t born again when my great-grandmother was on her death bed—discerning of spirits wasn’t in operation—but I somehow still knew it was the last time I would see her.

And she had something important she wanted to tell me.

I want to share those same words with you; words with eternal implications. But I first want you to understand the spirit from which they came.

My great-grandmother was born in the 1800s and lived to be nearly 100 years old. During her lifetime seven states joined the Union. She lived through the women’s suffrage and several world-shaking wars. She also lived through the Azusa Street Revival, witnessed the rise of a young Billy Graham and witnessed the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Mama Norris, as she was affectionately known by hundreds, was also a pillar of the church. She helped plant a handful of churches in the small Florida town she called home. (I still have her Bible in my room and relish to read all of the Scriptures that she underlined; Scriptures that touched her heart.) read more

Beware: A Prophetic Warning for the End-Time Church

Beware. It’s prophetic word of warning to be on your guard; a verbal alert that danger lies ahead. But are modern-day Christians bearing in mind the Scriptural admonishment to “beware” in these last days?

Current news headlines warn us to beware of the stock market; to beware of partisan politicians; to beware of Muslim extremists and so on, and so on, and so on. To be sure, society offers us so many ominous cautions that it’s easy to see how men’s hearts could fail them for fear as a sinful world waxes worse and worse (Luke 21:26).

Although godless fear mongers often issue notices to “beware” that are motivated by greed and power, there is wisdom in warnings that originate from a pure and godly source. And the New Testament is full of such red alerts. Beloved, there are flashing sirens throughout the Word of God to warn us of danger all around—but the first place we need to look is within our own hearts.

Listen, much is written about the Beatitudes, as well it should be. (The Beatitudes are the foundation of kingdom living.) But the Bible also warns us to "walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16). Walking circumspectly means to consider all circumstances and possible consequences. So when the Bible says to “beware,” we should abandon our pride and receive the word. read more

Jennifer LeClaire

No Female Preachers? No Tongues? No Denominational Stereotypes!

Addressing a congregation with long-held beliefs that it’s shameful for a woman to speak in church isn’t the most comfortable assignment.

That's especially true when it’s in a church that’s more than 120 years old and where most in the audience are near-Centenarians. But that was my task last Saturday afternoon.

I wouldn’t have accepted the invitation to speak in a historic denominational setting that doesn’t approve of women with short hair who wear pants to church and pray in tongues—all three of those characteristics describe me well—but it was my grandfather’s memorial service.

To be sure, if my mother hadn’t asked me to speak after an old gospel hymn and in between two mature male pastors, this big city girl would have never invaded that small country town with the gospel of Christ. I expected weeping, but I hoped against gnashing of teeth as I waited for the hymns to end. In other words, I wasn’t expecting the best. (Read: lion’s den.) I decided to trust God. And the righteous are as bold as a lion. I stood behind that old pulpit and preached to those old pews. And I am glad I did. read more

Iron Versus Iron: Staying Sharp in the Midst of the Battle

Living the Christian life is a journey toward maturity in Christ. That’s why Jesus gave His Church a handful of equipping gifts. But the practical aspect of being trained as a skilled servant that moves in rhythm with Christian brothers and sisters, (and husbands, wives, daughters and sons) is not always a textbook experience.

Let’s get real for a moment. Silly putty doesn’t sharpen iron. Plastic doesn’t sharpen iron. Not even sandpaper sharpens iron, although at times you may feel like a fellow believer is aggressively rubbing your soul with sandpaper. No, Solomon in his wisdom tells us that it takes iron to sharpen iron. “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17 NASB). That implies pressure, abrasion, pressure, abrasion, pressure, abrasion, and so on until the knife is sharp.

You may be saying, “I don’t need to be the sharpest knife in the drawer.” Consider the alternative. Any five-star chef, or even a first-year fry cook, will testify to the fact that a knife is useless if it is not sharp. A sharp knife can cut a vine ripe tomato into thin slices suitable for gourmet salads. A dull knife, on the other hand, will simply crush the tomato and ruin your recipe. read more

A Prophetic Call to the Valley of Shechem

If you are reading these words, then you’ve probably already chosen this day whom you will serve. But could it be possible that there are yet things you need to put away in order to truly worship the Lord in spirit and in truth and love Him with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind? I submit to you that it is possible, and for many of us even probable.

Today, the Lord is calling you to the Valley of Shechem.

Until recently, I hadn’t spent much time studying the rich biblical history of the Valley of Shechem, the place where Abraham first built an altar to the Lord on his migration out of an idolatrous land. I had never done an intense analysis of this valley between mounts Ebal and Gerizim, where Jacob built his well and Jesus would later tell a woman there everything she ever did (John 4).

No, I didn’t know too much about this significant valley. But it only took three words from the Lord to pique my curiosity. He said to me, “Valley of Shechem.” Those three words set me off on a prophetic investigation for what the Lord is saying to the church in this hour. I studied the geographical and historical significance of Shechem, but it is the spiritual significance on which the Lord shined a bright light. read more

A Word of Knowledge: Don’t Look Back

Don’t look back: Three words that together make up what I believe is a timely prophetic utterance for the Body of Christ in this hour. Let me write them again: Don’t look back.

Many are carrying hurts and wounds from the past. We don’t shake them off and come up higher because we keep looking back to the people and circumstances that crushed our hearts. Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to use the injustice to propel us to places of greater authority in the kingdom like Joseph did, we rehearse our past in our own minds like a scratched CD. Out of the abundance of the bitterness and resentment in our hearts, our mouth speaks poison that defiles us. And we remain less-than-effective in proclaiming the kingdom of God because we won’t bury the dead and say farewell to the past. The good news is, Jesus is our past, present and future healer. read more

Maintaining a Pure Prophetic Flow With Prayer

Are you building walls of religion or towers of prayer? Your answer could denote the difference between a woe-filled fate and a fulfilled destiny.

Prophets obsessed by the fear of man or unholy desires will not fulfill God’s ultimate plan. We must be careful, then, not to prophesy according to the party line in order to establish and preserve popularity in ministry circuits. If we fall into this trap we find ourselves in danger of perverting the gift of God by building walls of religion.

True prophets are not always the most popular five-fold ministry gift on the block because they are bold enough to release a word of the Lord that deals with sin or that warns the local church of potentially unpleasant circumstances coming down the proverbial pike. In order to properly carry this mantle, genuine prophets must build towers of prayer. read more

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