It’s A Son, by Michael Posey

Witnessing the birth of my children was truly glorious. On each occasion I marveled at how glory filled the room when a new life entered the earth. An incredible joy came upon me as I watched these miracles take place. I have always felt that if anyone doubted the existence of God, they would have a change of heart if present for the birth of a child — especially their own. The birth of a new life testifies of the reality of God. As a father with a heart bursting with joy, I could not wait to share this great news with loved ones.

The second chapter of the Gospel of Luke describes the events associated with the birth of Jesus. It is interesting to me who God the Father selects as the first to hear the news of the birth of His Son. He sends an angel, His messenger, to a group of shepherds watching their sheep in the fields.

When my children were born, I couldn’t wait to tell my family and close friends. These were people that I knew would rejoice with me and Cathy. They would share in our joy and allow me to be a happy and proud father. Their immediate response was, “We can’t wait to see the baby!” As we were ending our conversation, they were joyfully telling me who they were going to call and share the news with next.

When God’s Son was born, the first people He contacted were not priests or religious leaders. He did not send the angel to the temple, but instead to common shepherds in the field. When the angel appeared with the birth announcement he said, “I bring you good news of great joy! God’s Son, a Savior, has been born in the city of David.”

The news was so good, other angels could not hold their peace, but began singing. The moment in history that all of heaven and earth was looking forward to, had arrived. Whether or not mankind recognized what was happening the rest of creation was aware, and burst into praise.

Evidently, God chose the right people with which to share His great news. The shepherds immediately said, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see.” The record says they came with haste. Once they found this Child, they began to tell everyone. Their joy and excitement must have been contagious, because Luke writes, “All those who heard marveled.”

God, the joyful and proud Father (He would later say, that this was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased), knew who to share the great news of the birth of His Son.

It would have seemed logical for God to send the angel to priests or rabbis or religious leaders who had studied the Scripture and knew the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. But, as I look at Luke’s writing I can see why He chose these shepherds.

First, they responded correctly to their encounter with God’s messenger. They did not ask a lot of questions, nor get into a theological discussion. They simply listened.

Next, they were willing to leave where they were and what they were doing. So often when people get a message or invitation from God, their life is too busy to act on it immediately.

The third thing is they were willing to go to a very unassuming place — a manger. They did not let the surroundings cause them to undervalue the gift of God they encountered.

Finally, they realized an encounter with the messenger was not enough. No matter how glorious the messenger was, they needed an encounter with Jesus. Once they saw Jesus, they now had their own personal story to tell. Once they encountered Jesus, praise began to flow out of their hearts and mouths.

Let us be like these shepherds and let all people hear this good news of great joy. A Savior has been born, who is Jesus Christ the Lord. God has a Son!

Moving Into 2013

According to the infamous Mayan calendar we should be at the end of the world right now. But, I think the Lord God Almighty has something better in mind, like a NEW BEGINNING! As we finish 2012 and move into 2013 let this time be an opportunity for new beginnings in your life.

As we move into the coming year we will have the experience of meeting new people. These new relationships will be positive, and they will release new-found favor on our lives. As we experience the rise of favor it will be up to us to accept it, and walk in it.

There will be no fear in these new relationships. The enemy will come in an attempt to ruin our confidence, but that plan will not succeed. We will hold fast to our confidence, and we will walk by faith. This walk of faith will require that we remain flexible with schedules and with people. Flexibility will be a key to producing everything we can out of these new relationships.

2013 will also be a time of caring for people. There will be plenty of opportunity to care for people who have had a meaningful place in our lives. These people may be relatives or friends or leaders. The point is to exercise plenty of mercy, and truly care for people.

Colliding With The Culture: The Connecticut Shooting

Let’s face it; our nation is ailing with morality breakdowns on every side. We are constantly being faced with the growing public sentiment of favoring the homosexual agenda and same sex marriage. The issue is soon to be heard before the highest court in the land. Two states have now legalized the use of Marijuana. And, we are now being confronted with gun violence once again. Just this year we have witnessed several terrible mass shootings in public places; a movie theater in Colorado; a shopping mall in Oregon; and now an elementary school in Connecticut.

This time six adults, and twenty innocent young children had their lives snuffed out prematurely by a crazed gunman, who was only 20 years old himself. There is a horrific grief that comes with the senseless murder of little children. Even the President of the United States was shedding tears as he talked about this latest tragedy. I walked through the halls of our school this afternoon, just glancing into each classroom. Tears began to well up in my eyes as I considered the value of these young, fragile lives. “What if that had been our school?” whispered the thoughts in my mind. None of us can imagine the horror and deep sense of loss the surviving family members are experiencing.

There must be time for grief. Feelings of anger will also rise in the aftermath of this recent shooting. A sense of resolve will eventually come as family members search for closure. But, in the midst of these painful experiences we also must decide what we are going to do about all of this. What will be our response?

Politicians have already begun to re-ignite the fiery arguments on stricter gun control laws. The media will be pushing their agenda over the next week or so. If history is true, eventually the noisy conversations that have suddenly erupted about this issue will dissipate and disappear.

The people of God have been given an assignment to collide with this culture. Jesus called us the “salt of the earth”. We have penetrating influence here in the natural realm of earth life. Jesus also termed us the “light of the world”. We have penetrating influence in the spiritual realm, exposing what is hidden in darkness, and revealing the purpose of God throughout all creation. When we exercise authority as salt and light our collective significance increases exponentially. We have to get our flavor back, and we have to get our brightness amped up.

II Chronicles 7:14 remains as kind of a “true north” point of reference for any nation experiencing insurmountable turmoil. “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

We realize what it means to be the people of God. We understand that we are called by God’s name. That is our identity. We humble ourselves. That’s a tough one for us. It requires that we admit we are not always right; and we stop trying to be right all the time. We see it is better to keep covenant than to have to be right all the time.

We turn from our wicked ways. That is equally tough for us. There is something deep within the human soul that is twisted like a wicker chair. That twisted place is what stirs a man to kill his own mother, and then shoot and kill 20 children and six other adults. That twisted place is what stirs pride in our hearts that will divide us from God, and from one another.

God tells us to pray, and to seek His face. It seems to me that these terms describe a crucial place of relationship; a place of closeness; a place of intimacy. Desperation and perseverance are involved because we are told to seek. We seek for God; His will; His purpose; His ways.

God will hear us. He will forgive us. He will heal our land. Do we really believe that? If we do believe it we will obey the God-given directives of this verse.

There is obviously much work that will have to be done; and much time will be invested in the efforts of transformation. But, the invested time and effort must be fueled by Spirit-empowered prayer. Do we care enough to do it?

Colliding With the Culture

The theme of our recent Mandate Conference was COLLIDING WITH THE CULTURE. Culture is shaped over time by our values and beliefs that are repeated in practical ways. The Latin term for CULTURE means TO CULTIVATE. Culture is cultivated by plowing and planting consistently over time.

I John 5:19 describes the secular culture we are called to penetrate in our day. John tells us that the whole world is under the sway of the wicked one. This is a SECULAR culture that is pushing God out. This is a HUMANISTIC culture that is setting human beings as their own gods. This is the culture we are assigned to COLLIDE with.

Babylon is a biblical word that describes this culture. It means CONFUSION BY MIXTURE. There is a mixture of belief systems, ideologies, and moral standards that causes great CONFUSION in the minds of many people.

We need to understand that he who controls the minds of a culture controls the land. Alice Bailey – a New Age guru – has played a BIG part in influencing European and American minds. She was born in 1880. She made a pact with a demonic Grand Master. She opened her spirit to guides from the spirit world, including a master from the Tibetan world. She wrote many books, claiming she was dictating what he said. She came up with a plan to set people free from the “restrictions” of Christianity so that they can enjoy the liberty of life. Her principles have been implemented in the Western world as LAW, including her influence in the foundational aspects of the United Nations. Her plan (which is really Satan’s scheme) therefore works.

We need to know that Alice Bailey (who started writing in 1918) focused on Europe. Europe was the focus of Christianity at that time. Her plan was to create a new world order and to introduce anti-Christian values. Bailey said: “Don’t bother with the adults; target the children. If you can change the children little by little, every generation will be more susceptible to THE PLAN than the one before it. Eventually it will become the normal way of thinking.”

1. Push God out of the schools. If the people grow up without reference to God, then they will consider God irrelevant to day to day life. In the last sixty years this has happened. God is irrelevant to most people.
2. Break the Traditional Judeo-Christian Family Concept. Break communication between parents and children so that parents can’t pass on spiritual values to their children. Do this by pushing excessive child rights.
3. Remove restrictions on sex. Sex is the biggest joy and Christianity robs people of this. People must be freed to enjoy it without restrictions. It’s not just for married, it’s for everybody.
4. Since sex is the greatest expression of man’s enjoyment of life, man must be free to express sex in ALL its forms. Homosexuality, orgies, even bestiality are desirable so long as no one is being abused or harmed.
5. People must be free to abort unwanted children. If a man can have sex and then live without the consequences, then the same should be true for a woman too. A woman must have the right to abort an unwanted child.
6. Every person develops soul bonds, so when a soul bond wears out a person must be free to divorce. When one starts to “grow”, one must be free to get together with whoever they want even if they are married.
7. Defuse religious radicalism. Christianity says JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY. Defuse this by a) silencing Christianity and b) promoting other faiths (the creation of interfaith harmony).
8. Use the Media to Influence Mass Opinion. Create mass opinion that is receptive to these values by using TV, film, the press etc.
9. Debase art in all its forms. Corrupt music, painting, poetry and every expression of the heart and make it obscene, immoral and occultic. Debase the arts in every way possible.
10. Get the church to endorse every one of these nine strategies. Get the church to accept these principles and to say they’re OK (then legal ground is given for these values to get a foothold).
Conclusion: Is Alice Bailey succeeding? Are the powers that controlled her mind controlling the minds of people in Europe and America? Have these principles succeeded in weakening Christianity in the Western world? YES! The plan works!

This is the cultural mind set we are assigned to COLLIDE with. One of the effective ways we have of penetrating and influencing the culture is addressing all ten of Alice Bailey’s points by bringing the opposite view, which is the biblical, kingdom view.

Approaching 2013

As 2013 begins we will experience acceleration. Acceleration involves magnitude (size) and direction.

Acceleration is always accompanied by force. As followers of Jesus who are filled with His Spirit, there is a certain magnitude about us. We are being continually enlarged in Christ. We are moving in a certain direction as we are led by the Holy Spirit into destiny. And, we move forward with a certain force that will penetrate, crack, and break the dark hard places of secular culture.

The start of 2013 will also be a zone for redeeming the time. The Amplified Bible version of Ephesians 5:16,17 says, “16 Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.”

As 2013 begins we will be called upon to take advantage of every opportunity for advancement.

The habit of procrastination will be broken, and we will experience the innovative ability of the Holy Spirit flowing in us and through us.

Is It Clear Or Foggy To You?

Our house backs up to a portion of the Cook County Forest Preserve. On clear nights I can look out our bedroom window and view the moon beams filtering through the trees of the forest.

But, a few nights ago we experienced a very thick fog. As I looked out the window that night the fog was so thick I couldn’t even see the outline of the trees. What had been very clear had now disappeared from sight.

We are living in a secular culture that resists and opposes the will of God. The best biblical term for this culture is “Babylon”. The word, Babylon, means confusion by mixture. There is a mixture of ideologies, philosophies, and moral standards that stirs great confusion in the culture. The “ancient landmarks” used to be very clear to most people.

We were clear on right and wrong. We were clear on moral issues.

We were clear on masculinity and femininity. We were clear on economic viability. We were clear on how we should treat our fellow man.

Things that used to be clear have now been obscured by the “fog” of this Babylonian culture.

The “secular” mind set wants to rid our culture of any reference to God. This opens the way for the mind set of “humanism” to enter the culture. If we have eliminated God, we must replace Him. “Humanism” says we become our own gods. When we take the place of God we are required to make God-like decisions. The problem is that we make such decisions from our fallen perspective rather than from God’s transcendent wisdom. Now we choose what is acceptable and unacceptable. We decide what is right and wrong.

We now make all the moral decisions. These decisions come from broken, unrighteous people, usually based on what is convenient and economical. We have returned to the book of Judges; “Every man did what was right in his own eyes.” This is “Babylon”; confusion by mixture.

The Mandate 2012

THE MANDATE LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE, 2012 is coming up November 14-16, with a special YOUTH MANDATE on Saturday, November 17.  You will notice The Mandate is a new and fresh conference this year. COLLIDING WITH THE CULTURE is the theme of this year’s conference. We want you and your leadership team to come and receive.

Conference lay-out

I will begin the conference on Wednesday evening with a message about raising-up kingdom heroes who will collide with the culture. On Thursday morning David Rodgers and Daryl O’Neil will be addressing the culture of ignorance in the church, and the fatherless culture. Thursday afternoon Andrae Ambrose and Phil Tarver will be addressing the culture of worship in our local churches, as well as how worship leaders can function effectively with their senior leader. Michelle McClain will be bringing strong culturally relevant message on Thursday evening. On Friday morning Linda Jernigan will be helping all of us understand how we can confront the homosexual agenda/same sex marriage issue in the culture. Carey Conner will be addressing how we as church leaders must deal with sexual temptation in our own lives and families. Friday afternoon we will be looking at some of the relational issues that hinder us from effectively serving together to impact our cities. On Friday evening we have Atmosphere of Heaven (AOH) coming in to lead us in worship. Timothy Alden will be preaching the final session on Friday evening. This leader is a fiery, passionate speaker that will challenge us to collide with the culture with kingdom authority. You will absolutely love him.

Youth Mandate

On Saturday, November 17 we will present a Youth Mandate. Cornerstone’s Ryan Boren is teaming up with Louis Wimbley of Christian Faith Assembly, and Jamal Miller of All Nations Worship Assembly to pour into the lives of our young generation. Timothy Alden will also be presenting valuable insight and anointing for our sons and daughters. There will be special musical guests involved during the day and evening sessions. Special action activities are also being planned.

Registration fee – something new this year

You will notice there is a minimal registration fee for the very first time this year. Please understand that it is not our desire to place any financial burden on anyone. However, we also want to avoid excessive financial burdens on Sharpening Stone and the Mandate Conference. Up until now we have presented The Mandate Conference with no fees; and we have also been going in the hole every time we present one of these conferences. We continuously receive great reports of how effective and impacting The Mandate Conferences are in the lives of many, many leaders. We believe there is tremendous value in The Mandate Conferences. We believe this is one of the best, most impacting conferences you can experience each year. In order to continue to offer the conference at the level of excellence our participants have come to expect, we have decided to implement a registration fee for our daytime sessions. This fee is only $40 per person before October 31, and $50 after October 31. If you are bringing your leadership team of five or more people, the fee is only $30 per person before October 31, and $40 after October 31. When compared to other conferences, I think you will agree this is a minimal fee, especially considering the quality of presentation and ministry you will receive. We will still provide lunch on Thursday and Friday. And, you will receive a free gift. The evening sessions will remain free and open to everyone.

This Mandate Conference is going to be the best ever. I guarantee you will walk away from these sessions with a high level of understanding and authority for COLLIDING WITH THE CULTURE. Please give this your utmost consideration.

The Atlanta Mandate

We experienced a tremendous time in Atlanta last week, May 3-5, 2012. Every session of The Mandate was very strong. Andrae Ambrose and Phil Tarver led us in worship with a powerful prophetic anointing. Every speaker was strong, anointed, on point, and releasing good revelation. On Friday night John Eckhardt preached a strong message on the power of the Gospel. He encouraged our leaders to return to simplicity. When he finished there was a tangible move of the gift of faith in the room.

Michael Posey reported that this past Sunday The Church of the Harvest had one of, if not the most explosive worship services they have ever had. The healing power of God was released among the people. Faith was high in the room. He attributes at least some of this outbreak to what was released in Atlanta last week during The Mandate. They had great testimonies of healing.

We had leaders present from several different states. We also had some Indonesian representatives with us. On Thursday night we even had the sister of James Brown with us.

On Saturday morning David Rodgers led a mobilization training session. Then we took a group of about 45 people to the streets to witness and minister to people. At the finish we had 86 contact forms ready to give to Bryan Meadows and Embassy International for their follow-up efforts. We trust the Lord of the Harvest to add people to their local church.

All in all it was a very beneficial time in Atlanta. We look forward to what is next!

Lessons From the Demise of Whitney Houston, Greg Howse

Whitney Houston: Innocent beginnings; quick emergence to superstar status; fame and fortune; slow but sure destruction; multiple attempts to recover; tragic pre-mature death.

This story involving music people who arrive at high levels of fame has been repeated way too many times. Whitney Houston is the latest tragedy in a long string of these heartrending human processes of abuse and addiction that lead to pre-mature death.

The concern being presented in this writing is one for the young generation that is now emerging to the forefront. We have many beautiful, talented, gifted, and yes, anointed young people who are currently standing at the beginning of the journey to fame and fortune. Whitney Houston stood in that place many years ago. What are we going to do to prepare these young creative innovators in how to manage the pressure that comes with fame?

Strong and consistent communication is one method of preparation we can develop. We can continuously communicate the privileges that come with celebrity, but also the pitfalls of fame. What is the proper view of fame? Is fame deserved, or is it a privilege? What responsibilities are connected to fame? What is the healthy mind set that will empower a young person to carry the stress of fame without cracking under the pressure? What lessons can be witnessed in the shifting values of a star like Beyonce? How can a young person avoid the pitfalls of a party girl like Lindsey Lohan? Is it possible to track the disastrous journey of Whitney Houston? What caused her to choose Bobby Brown? What caused Rihanna to choose Chris Brown? What caused some of the interesting behavior we witnessed with Michael Jackson? There are obvious privileges and obvious pitfalls. How can we effectively communicate both to the young generation? How do we gently, but aggressively push the conversation when our young people don’t want to listen anymore? We must find a way.

We can improve our presentation of life foundations. Biblical values are the basis for human morality. The Ten Commandments were given by God to provide humanity with a base line on how to live a successful life. Choices are so huge in life. How would Whitney Houston’s life and career have been different if she had chosen relationships? Proverbs 13:20 will tell us if we connect with wise people we will increase in wisdom; but if we connect with fools we will be destroyed. How can we communicate this truth to young people in a way that will be appealing to them? Former President Calvin Coolidge once said, “The right thing to do never requires any subterfuge; it is always simple and direct.” The “right thing” is always the wise thing. Stephen Covey said, “Doing more things faster is no substitute for doing the right things.” The Covey quote addresses one of the issues of fame. Fame seems to push people into doing more things, and doing more things faster, in order to keep the momentum of a career building toward increasing popularity. Biblical values and righteous choices will lead a young emerging star to slow down the process. How can we teach our young people to control the process instead of allowing the process to control them? We must find a way.

We can also improve the life examples we are presenting to the young generation. How can we teach the young ones about making wise moral choices when we are captured in our cycles of immorality? Our marriages must be strong and healthy. Unmarried parents must live in emotional stability and moral purity. We must live our lives in holiness, which can be defined as single-mindedness. Our realization is that everything matters. We cannot afford to behave one way inside the church building, and then another way when we leave the building. We cannot chastise our teenagers about the way they dress, and then intentionally dress as provocatively as possible. We cannot manage our finances in dishonest or “shaky” ways, and then expect our young stars to effectively manage the fortune that could come their way. We cannot continue in our attempts to form identity by performance and pleasing people. That example will lead our children to emotional instability, cycles of rejection, co-dependency, and possible disaster.

The day after Whitney Houston passed away I was watching the video of her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at the 1991 Super Bowl. No one has ever sung the National Anthem like she did that evening. She looked so vibrant, alive, and filled with joy. Her voice was absolutely glorious. She moved an entire nation with that one song, that one appearance. And then came the video of Ms. Houston at the Michael Jackson celebration in 2001. She looked like skin-covered death. We must search for and discover effective ways to prepare our young ones for success so we don’t have to witness that level of destruction again. Will our passion be stirred? Will we initiate an approach to our young ones? Will we have the strength to endure to the finish? We must find a way.

Welcome to 2012, by Greg Howse

Welcome to 2012! Isn’t that amazing? For someone like me, born in 1952, hearing about 2012 just seems a bit weird.

2012 is going to be a great, great year! I believe it. The number 12 is interesting in scripture. 12 is connected with perfection of government; divine authority and appointment; governmental foundation; and rule through government. I believe that 2012 marks the beginning of governance for the body of Christ. Governance is the effective exercise of authority. This is the beginning of the people of God becoming prevalent in a righteous way. We have been a laughing stock to many for far too long. Our influence and significance will be elevated this year, and increasingly so in the years to come. There is an emerging remnant. But, we must emerge with wisdom instead of foolishness. When we come with wisdom we will also have the ability to think and plan strategically; and governmental structure will increase. The way to GOVERNANCE is through WISDOM. The way to WISDOM is through THE FEAR OF THE LORD. The way to THE FEAR OF THE LORD is through COMPLETE SURRENDER & BROKENNESS.

In II Chronicles 1 and I Kings 3 Solomon has an encounter with the Lord. We first see Solomon worshipping and giving in an extravagant fashion (1000 sacrifices). In response to such extravagance of worship (“on that night”) the Lord visits Solomon and says, “Ask for whatever you want.” That is an extravagant response from God. Solomon asked for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Solomon understood he had a governmental deficiency. He knew in order to govern he would need wisdom and an understanding heart. I believe we need to be calling out to God for a strong impartation of divine wisdom. Wisdom is the foundational strength of government (Proverbs 8:15,16).

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