Minggu, 29 September 2013

Jesus Facepalm

Jesus Facepalm

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I saw this “Jesus facepalm” over at Greg Boyd’s blog and thought it was funny…. enjoy!
Jesus facepalm
I also agree with what Greg said on his blog… Jesus doesn’t do this, but sometimes it would be understandable. The way we mess up over and over, and walk straight into sin fully knowing what we are doing…
So thank Jesus for His unconditional and infinite forgiveness today!

A Word to the Women of God

 The Ministries of Francis Frangipane
A Word to the Women of God
(En Español)
Before I begin this message, let me provide a short disclaimer: although I do encourage women to move freely within the order provided by God in their local churches, my goal is to exalt and celebrate a primary grace that God has placed specifically within women, which the Lord Himself has used in past times to release revival.
The Genesis Distinctions
When the Lord created humankind, He placed unique graces in man and separate but equally unique graces in woman. He told Adam to name the species of life on earth "and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name" (Gen. 2:19). This "naming" was much more than calling the dog "Spot." Adam was created with an organizational, administrative capacity that enabled him to identify and define the world around him. By naming the living things, Adam not only brought them into his consciousness, but he introduced order and structure to the human experience. Adam did not create the world, of course, but by defining the things God brought to him, he helped establish reality.

Within the genetics of this original man, there also existed the powerful, but dormant, qualities of the woman. While Adam slept the Spirit took from the man a rib. Fashioning it into a woman, the Lord created for Adam a companion. Not only was she suitable for him, but she powerfully expanded man's creative capacities. Indeed, the woman brought many new graces into Adam's world that did not formerly exist -- the foremost of which was the power to conceive and give birth.

It is important to remember: God created male and female in His image, according to His likeness (Gen 1:26). Of course, in certain ways, both Adam and Eve as individuals possessed reflections of the divine nature. They each could think, speak, dream and create. However, it was in the union of Adam and Eve, in their mutual respect of one another's strengths and graces, that mankind would possess a more perfect expression of the fuller nature of God.
As Adam beheld this first female, he said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man" (Gen 2:23). The term woman was a delineation used by Adam, identifying her as a unique variation in the species of man. My wife says, "Think of her as the upgrade." In some ways, she is right, for the nature of the woman was twice refined. Adam was created of earth; the woman emerged not from the earth but from the man. She is both more complex and emotionally sophisticated.
Soon Adam began to understand the greatest power of his counterpart: her ability to conceive and bring life into the world. Recognizing this quality, Adam named her Eve, which meant "life." Eve would play an integral part in the unfolding of life's new beginnings. "She was the mother of all the living" (Gen. 3:20).
The Power of a Woman's Prayer
The Lord gave Adam a primary ability to name and establish reality; He gave to woman the unique capacity to conceive and then birth reality. The primary strength of each gender is that man establishes, woman births. Remember, these qualities are not merely "human": they are reflections of the divine. Man's ability to bring order to one's world, to take what was random and give it definition and structure, is a divine facility. Woman's ability to conceive and incubate life, and then deliver life through birth, is also an aspect of the divine nature.

Note also that Adam named the woman Eve (or "Life") before they had children. God gave the woman an ability not just to have babies but to release life in a variety of its expressions. In fact, one translation says that Eve means to "enliven." Alone, Adam had been downcast; it was not good that Adam was alone. Eve enlivened Adam in ways no other creature on earth could. Adam could build a house; Eve made it a home. When Adam named Eve "Life," he was not only speaking prophetically of the first mother, but he was speaking out of his own experience: Eve brought life into the structure of Adam's world.
We are speaking in generalities here, but when we observe the spiritual realm, we see this same divine encoding replicated in the ministries of men and women. Jesus laid the foundation of the church with twelve men whom He called to be apostles. This didn't mean there would never be women in leadership, but that one of the better skills given man from God was the ability to bring order and structure. By the same token, prior to Christ's birth we find Anna, a prophetess, engaged in much prayer and fasting. In my opinion, it is quite possible that this woman was not alone in her intercession, but the leader of a prophetic prayer ministry that lived in anticipation of her times. Women excel in intercession, in spiritual sensitivity and the release of new beginnings. Note: this does not excuse men from prayer! Actually, some of the Bible's best examples of intercessors are men! We are speaking in generalities in reference to the spiritual tendencies of both genders. Neither distinction is more important than the other. Both are absolutely vital for the unfolding of God's will upon the earth.
Today we are fighting the advance of Satan in many arenas. Whether the topic is wars and terrorist attacks or the ever-increasing expansion of iniquity in our world, we need revival. To possess a national awakening, the "birthing" power God has placed in women must be released. All the efforts of man to establish laws and govern righteously will not truly transform our culture. We need something greater; we need the presence of God poured out. I believe the Holy Spirit is raising up a prayer army of women who are rising in power on behalf of their families and nations.
My Mother's Prayers
I personally know the power of a woman's prayer: my mother’s. In the late sixties, I was a very lost young man living in sin and rebellion. Judging from my appearance, I looked hopeless. Yet in spite of my outward condition, my dear Catholic mother stood before God for me. Resist as I did, divine power, uniquely escorted to Earth through her prayers, began to hunt me down. Her cries were relentless and unceasing; often she would pray through the night for me. She was pregnant with prayer for her son. In 1970 God finally answered, and during the Jesus Movement revival, I came to Christ.

Years later I asked the Lord about the Jesus Movement revival. As you may know, it has been part of my assignment to help engender citywide unity and establish prayer, things that precede revival. Yet, to my knowledge, no citywide unity or organized prayer fueled the Jesus Movement. So I asked the Lord how revival could occur without a prayer movement at its source. The Lord quickly corrected me, saying that there was a great prayer movement: He had heard the prayers of a million praying mothers, each crying to Him for their children.
From all denominations, in a "unity of desperation," God heard the cries of believing mothers. His heart was touched, and as a result, multitudes of sinful kids found repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ. This is the army God desires to release again today, but now with more vision, more power from the Holy Spirit, and with the support of men as well!
Women of God, the fact is, Heaven needs you! You have been created by the Almighty to birth breakthroughs on planet Earth! God has uniquely designed you with a latent ability to release life through your intercession. Together with you, we men can build and establish, and we are learning to pray, but you have a special grace to release new spiritual beginnings. Whether your prayer focus is for your husband or church leadership, whether you are interceding for your children, city or nation, you possess in your spirit the seed-realities that, through prayer, can release God's life into the world.
Yes indeed, a battle rages; there still exists "enmity between [the serpent] and the woman" (Gen. 3:15). Satan especially hates you because it was your seed that bruised the serpent's head. It is amazing to me that God chose to bring His Son into the world, not through the heavens nor even through a woman impregnated by man, but through a woman made pregnant by God! God Himself came to earth through the woman's power to give birth!
Today the Lord is giving women a new grace, a new confidence against the powers of hell. Out of their oneness with Christ, these godly women will prayer-birth powerful ministries on earth, both male and female. They will release new beginnings to the body of Christ.
I also want to commend and personally thank the many women's ministries and prayer groups that have stood with me, interceding for my life, my family and my ministry. Many, many times I have suddenly experienced divine protection or unexpected spiritual breakthroughs. When I questioned the Lord, He's said, I'm answering the prayers of [such-and-such] ministry. To each of you, I say a special thank-you. In a unique way, you have been a mother to me. May the Lord multiply His grace toward you and give you the desires of your hearts!
Finally, Revelation 12:1 speaks of a "woman clothed with the sun." This word is not only talking about Israel or the church. It also reveals how the Most High sees spiritual women: They are honored and crowned with distinction -- pure and clothed with the glory of God. With confidence, they tread upon the powers of night. Dear army of praying women, it is your inherent destiny to birth that which shall rule the nations.
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This word was taken from Pastor Frangipane's book, This Day We Fight!, available in our bookstore.

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It is currently part of a three-book offer that includes The Three Battlegrounds and Shelter of the Most High. All three books sold separately are $39.85, but this week only they are available as a package for just $19.85 (plus shipping and handling).

Selasa, 24 September 2013


 The Ministries of Francis Frangipane
Becoming a People of Mercy
(En Español)
Throughout His life, Jesus reached to those rejected by others. He loved the outcasts, those who were despised, scorned, and excluded. Yet His practice of dining with known evildoers offended the Pharisees, and they confronted Jesus' disciples with this question: 'Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?" (Matt. 9:11).
When Jesus heard their question, He answered, 'It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Matt. 9:12-13).

Jesus told the religious Pharisees to go and learn what our heavenly Father meant when He said, 'I desire compassion [mercy], and not sacrifice." So many today are religious without being compassionate. Compassion in the Greek language means a 'yearning in the bowels." It is something that cannot be easily ignored.

You see, a religion without love is an abomination to God. The church needs to learn that God desires love and compassion, not merely an adherence to ritual and sacrifice.

It is right that we should be troubled by the sins of our nation. But we must remember, all nations sin. All cultures have seasons of moral decline and spiritual malaise. Yet these periods can become turning points if, in times of distress, leaders and intercessors cry to the Lord for mercy. Thus, Christlike prayer brings redemption out of disaster.

Mercy Not Wrath
The church was created not to fulfill God's wrath, but to complete His mercy. True prayer is born of love and comes in the midst of sin and need. It comes not to condemn, but to cover.

Jesus said His Father's house would be a 'house of prayer for all the nations" (Mark 11:17). Consider passionately this phrase: 'prayer for." Jesus taught His disciples to 'pray for" those who would persecute or mistreat them (Matt. 5:44). When Job 'prayed for" his friends (Job 42:10), God fully restored him. We are to 'pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Ps. 122:6), and 'pray for" each other so that we may be healed (James 5:16). Paul wrote that God 'desires all men to be saved" (1 Tim. 2:4). Therefore, he urged 'that entreaties and prayers…be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority" (vv. 1-2).

The nature of our calling is to pray for people in difficulty, in sin, in sickness, and in need of God.

Conformed to the Image of God
Consider this: the only being in the entire universe worthy to 'open the book" and release God's wrath on sin is the very One in all the universe least likely to do so. His commitment to man's redemption was a total sacrifice, an offering that abides eternally at God's throne. Yes, He is the lion of the tribe of Judah, but He is also the Lamb slain for men's sins. He is the only One to whom authority is given to open the book of divine wrath (see Rev. 5).

Because Christ paid the highest price for redemption, we can be confident that He will not release divine fury until He fully exhausts divine mercy. Even then, when His judgments finally come, they will continue to be guided by His motive of mercy, giving time for sinners to repent.

God's Word tells us plainly, 'As He is, so also are we in this world" (1 John 4:17). Our pattern is the Lamb. Our goal is not merely the exposure of sin but also the unveiling of the sacrifice for sin. Our great commission is to bring healing and the message of God's mercy to the nations. Until Christ breaks the seals that ultimately will lead to wrath, we must stand in intercession before God as ambassadors of the Lamb.
May the Lord give us a clear vision of this truth: intercession is the essence of Christ's life. Not only is He now at the right hand of the Father interceding for us (Rom. 8:34), but His coming to earth and dying for sins was one extended act of intercession. Jesus beheld the depravity of mankind's sin. He examined it carefully in all of its offensiveness, perversity, and repulsiveness. Yes, He rebuked it when necessary, but the wonder of the Gospel is that, in spite of mankind's sin, God so deeply loved the world that He sent His Son to die for us (John 3:16-17).
We are called to follow this same amazing pattern of mercy.
We are not minimizing sin when we maximize Christ's mercy. There is a difference between whitewashing sin and bloodwashing it. The reality that compels God's heart -- that is an underlying principle of life -- is "mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13). To live a life of mercy corresponds perfectly with God's heart. Mercy precisely fulfills the divine purpose: to transform man into the Redeemer's image.
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Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, The Power of One Christlike Life, available at www.arrowbookstore.com.
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The Power of One Christlike Life
FacebookUpdated and revised, The Power of One Christlike Life carries a cargo of gold from the heart of a man after God's heart. This book by Pastor Frangipane contains the nectar of his walk with God. It is packed with revelation about the nature of God in Christ, and how the key to everything spiritual is found in the pursuit of Christ's likeness. View Francis introducing this book
Book - $7.25 (Retail $13.50)
Ebook - $6.75 (Retail $13.50)

Minggu, 15 September 2013

Beware of the Stronghold of Cold Love

 The Ministries of Francis Frangipane
Beware of the Stronghold of Cold Love
(En Español)
Is your love growing softer, brighter and more visible? Or is it becoming more discriminating, more calculating, less vulnerable and less available? This is a very important issue, for your Christianity is only as real as your love. A measurable decrease in your ability to love is evidence that a stronghold of cold love is developing within you.
Jesus warned of our era. He said, "Many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold" (Matt. 24:10-12). So, let us honestly ask the Lord to examine us: Is our love hot or cold? Another's thoughtlessness may have wounded us deeply, but instead of forgiving the wound or going to them and discussing it according to Matthew 18, we go to others with our complaint. The wound then begins to germinate into a root of bitterness, and many are being defiled (Heb. 12:15). What is growing in us is not love but bitterness, which is unfulfilled revenge.
Again, Jesus warned "that stumbling blocks [would] come" (Matt. 18:7). There will be times when even good people have bad days; there will never be a time when "stumbling blocks" cease to be found upon your path. Remember also, people do not stumble over boulders but over stones -- little things. When you have stumbled over something, you've stopped walking.
Have you stumbled over someone's weakness or sin lately? Have you gotten back up and continued loving as you did before, or has that fall caused you to withdraw from walking in love? To preserve the quality of your love, you must forgive those who have caused you to stumble. Depending on the issue itself, it may be that you legitimately cannot trust them, but you do not have a reason to stop loving.
Every time you refuse to forgive or fail to overlook a weakness in another, your heart not only hardens toward them, it hardens toward God. You may still think you are open to God, but the Scriptures are clear: "The one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen" (1 John 4:20). You may not like what someone has done, but you do not have an option to stop loving them.
What do I mean by love? First, I do not merely mean "tough love." I mean gentle, affectionate, sensitive, open, persistent love. God will be tough when He needs to be, and we will be firm when He tells us to be, but beneath our firmness must be an underground river of love waiting to spring into action. When I have love for someone, I have predetermined that I am going to stand with them, regardless of what they are going through. I am committed.
We each need people who love us, who are committed to us in spite of our imperfections. The fullness of Christ will not come without Christians standing with each other in love. We are not talking about salvation but growing in salvation until we care for each other, even as Christ has committed Himself to us.
The goal of pulling down the stronghold of cold love is to see our hearts restored to the heart of Christ. You will be challenged in this, but if you persist, you will discover the height and depth and breadth of Christ's love. You will become "a body filled and flooded with God Himself" (Eph. 3:19 Amp).
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Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, The Three Battlegrounds, on sale this week - Visit our Special's page to order.

Book - $6.75 (Retail $11.75)
Ebook - $5.75 (Retail $11.75)
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Pulling Down Strongholds - Audio Series
CD series $24.00 (Retail $32.00)
MP3 series $12.00 (Retail $16.00)
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The Three Battlegrounds - book
Pulling Down Strongholds
- CD series
Package $28.75 (Retail $43.75)

If I REALLY followed Jesus

If I REALLY followed Jesus

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Glenn HagerThis is a guest post from Glenn Hager.
Glenn encourages free-spirited people of faith through his writing, speaking, consulting, and one-on-one relationships. He lives in the Chicago area with his amazingly patient wife, Patty, a spoiled beagle, and a crazed cat. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grandkids, bicycling, traveling, reading, writing, playing guitar, trying new restaurants, and chatting with friends.
Glenn writes at GlennHager.com and you may connect with Glenn on Facebook or Twitter.
If you would like to write a Guest Post for the Till He Comes Blog, begin by reading the Guest Blogger Guidelines.
What if I really followed Jesus? If I think about it in daily life, nitty-gritty terms, it would look something like this for me.

If I really followed Jesus…

if I really followed JesusI would stop worrying about the church and would not confuse it with Jesus or his kingdom. I would realize that following Jesus is a personal matter and it is my responsibility to live in his ways as I go about my regular daily life. Community is important, but how I follow Jesus is up to me.
I wouldn’t be afraid to “speak truth to power,” whether the “power” is the church the government, the corporate world, or politically correct ideologies. I, also, wouldn’t be surprised if it makes some people really mad.
I would make it a point to seek out those who need a little help, a little love, and be their friend. It would be an intentional daily focus, as I become more aware of the people that I meet in the normal course of life.
I would become an all-out people-person who is highly interested in individuals and their stories. I would become a better conversationalist, a great listener, a good asker of questions, and I would be honest about my own failures.
I would become a big time partyer and attend and host lots of parties and gatherings. I would know how to have a good time and how to help people have a good time.
I would figuratively and literally embrace people.
I would help make their day a little brighter and I would be with them in their darkest moments.
I would become a better storyteller because of the sheer power of a good story.
I would heavily invest in the most important people in my life.
I would look for chances to surprise people with grace.
I would look for new opportunities to connect with people who take me outside of my comfort zone.
I would believe that Jesus is who he said he was and not try to earn his favor, but would bask in his love and grace.
I would devote my life to learning to love people like he did.
(Note: The previous post is an excerpt from Glenn’s soon-to-be-published book, An Irreligious Faith: How to Starve Religion and Feed Life)
What areas in your life might look different if you really focused on following Jesus? Let us know in the comments below!

How “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” Should Have Ended

How “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” Should Have Ended

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the lion, the witch, and the wardrobeI am sure you have either read or watched the movie of C. S. Lewis’ classic children’s novel, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
It is a great story, and if you haven’t read the book, you really need to. If you feel silly reading it as an adult, read it to your kids (or grand kids). You will like it more than they do. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie (though I’m not sure how that’s possible), I am about to ruin the ending…. so be warned.
Something has often bothered me about the ending of the book: It has the wrong conclusion.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The story is exactly right in its depiction of Aslan as the righteous King, who sacrifices Himself to meet the demands for justice by Queen Jadis. This is what Jesus did on the cross to defeat our archenemy, Satan. In fact, this novel by Lewis does a masterful job of explaining and defending the Christus Victor view of the atonement, which I think is the correct view.
Check out this video from Greg Boyd to see what I mean:
So C. S. Lewis does a masterful job showing how Aslan went to the stone table as a willing substitute for the sins of Edmund, and how Jadis gleefully killed Aslan, thinking that by doing so, she had finally defeated Him and won her right to rule over all Narnia as she pleased. But she didn’t know, as Aslan later explained to Susan and Lucy, about the deeper magic, which allowed Aslan to rise from the dead and remove any claim upon Edmund that Jadis might have had.
Wonderful. Beautiful. Right in line with Scripture.
But then the story takes a curious turn….

The Wrong Ending to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

aslan kills jadisFollowing Aslan’s resurrection, C. S. Lewis has Aslan, Susan, and Lucy race off to the castle of the White Witch, where they “thaw” out all the creatures of Narnia who had been turned to stone, and then return with this army of creatures to help Peter, Edmund, and the Narnians defeat the Witch Jadis and her evil army.
Near the conclusion of the battle, Aslan pounces on the White Witch and kills her. Then the four Pevensie children become Kings and Queens of Narnia until they eventually return to London.
The End.
It is a wonderful story. The problem is that the battle part of the story does not fit what actually happens in Scripture.

The RIGHT Ending to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

To be true to the biblical account, C. S. Lewis should have ended the story this way:
After Aslan rises from the dead and explains to Lucy and Susan what happened, He should say something like, “And now Queen Jadis has been defeated. So I am going away for a time, and when I come again, I will take you with me.”
battle in the lion, the witch, and the wardrobeTo this, Lucy says, “Not to disagree, Aslan, but Queen Jadis is still very much alive. In fact, at this very moment, she is slaughtering the Narnians, and our brothers, Peter and Edmund, are in danger of being killed as well. Isn’t there anything you can do?”
“Lucy, Lucy,” Aslan replies. “Jadis is a defeated foe. She hates you because she hated me first. I came to be delivered into the hands of Jadis, but now that she is defeated, I am about to enter into my glory. Your task is to proclaim this message throughout all Narnia, beginning in Cair Paravel.”
“But Aslan!” Susan cried. “Did you not hear what Lucy said? Peter, Edmund, and the rest of the Narnians are fighting for their very lives right this instant! The Queen is going to kill them all and winter will come upon us once again! Aren’t you going to restore and protect your kingdom?”
“Oh, my dear child,” laughs Aslan. “It is not for you to know the times or seasons when the Kingdom will be set up. But you will receive power not many days hence, and by this power, you will proclaim to the ends of all Narnia that I have died, risen from the dead, and defeated Queen Jadis.”
“But that’s the point!” both girls said at once. Lucy continued, “Jadis is still alive and well! She is killing Narnians right over that mountain. Right now. She is not dead. She is not defeated.” But as she spoke, Aslan rose up into the air and floated off into the clouds until He was out of their sight.
The End
Lewis didn’t end his story this way, because it makes a horrible ending. But read Luke 24, John 21, and Acts 1. This is pretty much how the story of Jesus’ first coming concluded.

What Was C. S. Lewis Thinking?

Though we cannot know what C. S. Lewis was thinking, I do have a few theories.
First, it is possible Lewis meant nothing whatsoever by the ending. It is true that Lewis often stated that when he wrote The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, he was not intentionally writing an allegory about Jesus. Of course, whether he intended to do so or not, the story is clearly allegorical. Aslan is obviously Jesus. The four children obviously represent humanity. Jadis obviously represents Satan. The death of Aslan at the hand of Jadis represents the death of Jesus on the cross. The resurrection of Aslan represents the resurrection of Jesus. But maybe that is where the parallels stop, and we shouldn’t try to make all the events in Lewis’ story fit events in the Bible.
If so, then Lewis wasn’t trying to get the story to match the Bible, but was simply writing a good story. He liked ending it with a battle in which the bad people die. Who doesn’t like a story like this? So maybe Lewis finished his story the way he did because it makes a better ending than the one we find in the Bible.
But I am not content with that explanation…
So maybe it could be argued that that battle between Aslan and Jadis at the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is intended to depict the battle that rages in the book of Revelation, but then this does not explain why C. S. Lewis wrote The Last Battle (which is a book I am re-reading right now, and will write a post on at a future date).
Ultimately, it seems that no matter how we look at it, the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe does not fit with Scripture.
After Jesus rises from the dead, the Bible records numerous objections and questions and confusion about what exactly Jesus did (or didn’t do). Then Jesus ascends into heaven, and there is more confusion. Afterwards in Acts 2, the apostles receive power and then they go out to continue the battle against their defeated foe. Many of them suffer and die horrible deaths.
2000 years later, we are still waiting for Aslan’s return. Many are still suffering and dying at the hands of a defeated foe who seems quite undefeated.
So that is exactly the problem. The Bible everywhere says Satan is defeated. But experience says otherwise. The world seems to be getting worse. Evil seems to be increasing. What is the answer? What is the solution? Why did Jesus leave us right when we needed Him most?

The Ending Reconsidered

Part of the answer, I think, is found in another movie, but this time, in “Star Wars:  A New Hope.” The part where Obi-Wan Kenobi dies and as a result, both Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader think that the Empire has won. Little do they know that Obi-Wan Kenobi has now become more powerful than ever.
This isn’t exactly what happened with Jesus, but He did say in John 16:7. He said that it was to our advantage for Him to go away, because only then could He send the Holy Spirit. Jesus could only be in one place at one time, but the Spirit of God is in all places, with all people, at the same time. Frankly, I am not sure why we couldn’t have both, but that is another question for another time.
In the end, we have to trust Jesus that He knows what He is doing, and that Satan really is defeated, and that our job, our responsibility, our task on this earth is to continue the battle that Jesus has already won: the struggle against principalities and powers, against rulers of darkness in this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness (Ephesians 6:12).
In a very literal sense, we could argue from Scripture that Jesus has returned, in and through each one of us in the church. As the Body of Christ, we are the incarnation of Jesus in this age. So WE are the ones to unthaw those who have been held captive by sin. WE are the ones to go forth against evil. WE are the ones to batter down the gates of hell. Maybe, just maybe, this is what C. S. Lewis meant when he wrote about the return of Aslan in the battle against Queen Jadis. If so, this is why Susan and Lucy rode with Him. For now, when Jesus rides out battle, He does not ride alone, but rides with all who bear the name of Christ.
Hmmm. I think I am going to read the ending of  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe this way from now on. I guess C. S. Lewis wasn’t wrong after all… Maybe the problem is not that Lewis’ story disagreed with Scripture, but that we have misunderstood Scripture. Maybe the ending to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe actually does fit with Scripture, and we have been misreading Scripture all along. Maybe that battle in the book is the battle we are currently waging right now, and Aslan is not just Jesus, but is all who belong to the Body of Christ on earth.
It is our job, it is our task, to go forward and wage war against those spiritual forces that have enslaved others. We cannot sit back and say, “Oh, it’s such an evil world. I am just going to sit here on my padded bench at the bus station waiting for the heavenly bus from heaven to come pick me up and take me away to eternal bliss.”
NO! Jesus is risen from the dead, and in the church, He is riding forward in power, glory, and righteousness to set the captives free, to proclaim sight to the blind, and liberty to those who are oppressed (Luke 4:14-16).
Let me put it this way: Jesus is the Redeemer of the world, but He works in and through His people to bring the reality of that redemption to the world. If we just sit back and wait for the end to come, then what does that mean for the world? It means they lose hope, they suffer, they die.
So in the end, I guess Lewis was right after all. But Aslan is no longer just Aslan. In the end, Aslan rides out with Lucy and Susan on his back, and an army of freed captives in his train (Ephesians 4:8).

Selasa, 10 September 2013

The Three Battlegrounds

The Ministries of Francis Frangipane

The Three Battlegrounds
(En Español)
Among the many things to learn about God's Kingdom, we must also learn principals of spiritual warfare: how to war and how to win. First, though, I have two concerns. The first is our need for wisdom. There is an old European proverb worth heeding. It reads: "Age and treachery will always defeat youth and zeal." Before we engage in spiritual warfare, we should know this about Satan: he is an ancient and extremely treacherous foe. On the other hand, the strength of most Christians lies primarily in idealism and untested fervor. It is not long, usually five to ten years in the ministry, and most zeal has waned. Without warning, the minister's call has deteriorated from a walk of vision to a mere job.

What occurred was that zeal, by itself, challenged the treachery of hell and lost. The brightness of youthful dreams dimmed under the dark cloud of relentless satanic assault. Under the weight of growing frustrations and discouragement, compromise increased, and with it came iniquity and spiritual bondage.
Yet the real villain was not sin but ignorance. We put the devil in a doctrinal box and expected him to stay there. He did not. He undermined relationships, and our love grew cautious. He resisted us in prayer, and our faith turned weak. Disillusionment set in. After spending much time with struggling pastors, I have seen a common trend in most: They failed to discern the assault of the devil. They stood unprotected against an ancient, treacherous foe.
Jesus prepared His disciples for everything, including war. They saw Him casting out demons. In fact, He sent them forth doing the same. But before He sent them out, He charged them to become wise "as serpents" yet innocent and harmless "as doves" (Matt. 10:16). This fusion of divine wisdom and Christlike innocence is the taproot of all spiritual victory. Indeed, we can defeat the enemy, but wisdom must precede warfare and virtue must come before victory.
Consequently, the goal of this book is to train the church in wisdom and call the church to innocence. We will not disregard what we have previously learned; we will still live by faith. But we must learn the ways of God, which means we must think with wisdom. And we must be pure of heart, that we may see God and gain discernment. Indeed, it is this very ignorance that has left us vulnerable to satanic attack.
Of my second concern, let me say that there are no shortcuts to successful warfare, only ways to make it longer and more perilous. One way of peril is to enter battle blinded by presumption. When it comes to waging war effectively, consider carefulness to be the essence of victory.
Whatever lofty spiritual plane you imagine that you are on, remember: Adam was in Paradise when he fell. Before your increased knowledge and religious experiences make you overly self-confident, recall that Solomon wrote three books of Scripture; he actually gazed upon the glory of God, yet he fell. Yes, even in your deepest worship of the Almighty, do not forget in long ages past Lucifer himself was once in Heaven pouring out praise to God.
We all have seen many who have fallen. Jesus warned that the love of many would grow cold. Do not presume it cannot happen to you. Our enemy has been deceiving mankind for thousands of years. Our experience, on the other hand, spans but a brief moment. It is wisdom to recognize that we do not know all there is to know concerning warfare.
Therefore, be bold but never brash or arrogant in your prayer life. Use your spiritual authority administratively and compassionately, but never presumptuously. Multitudes of well-meaning but ignorant Christians have approached the field of spiritual battle with flippant attitudes and have suffered greatly for it. Study several books and seek confirmation from the Lord for your strategies. As it is written, "Prepare plans by consultation, and make war by wise guidance" (Prov. 20:18).
Thus, our purpose here is to help equip you for battle in each of the three primary battlegrounds: the mind, the church, and the heavenly places. There are other fields or subcategories of spiritual warfare; however, these are where most of us will face conflict.
One last note. A few of you will be instrumental in actually turning your cities toward God. Our prayer is that these chapters will help guide and equip you for that goal. The promise of the Spirit speaks thus: "There was a small city with few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it and constructed large siegeworks against it. But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom" (Eccl. 9:14-15).

While many are predicting the destruction of our nation and the collapse of our cities, they have not considered the power of Christ in you. But remember, "Wisdom is better than strength. . . . Wisdom is better than weapons of war" (Eccl. 9:16, 18).
---Francis Frangipane, July 1989
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Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, The Three Battlegrounds , on sale this week at http://www.arrowbookstore.com/category/Specials.htm
Book - $6.75 (Retail $11.75)
Ebook - $5.75 (Retail $11.75)
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Minggu, 08 September 2013

If you go out to eat after church…TIP!

If you go out to eat after church…TIP!

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My wife and I used to wait tables. Our favorite customers were a certain biker gang. They came in every few weeks. They had long scraggly beards, wore leather, and were covered in tattoos. Following the stereotype, they ate a lot of food and drank a lot of beer, laughed, smiled, joked, and had a good time. But they were always respectful to the staff and servers, and they tipped well. Everybody was jealous when this biker gang got sat in some other server’s section.
Our least favorite customers were Christians. Especially the ones carrying their Bibles and wearing Christians t-shirts. When we saw people wearing a Christian t-shirt or praying over their meal, we servers would often try to give the table to someone else. Why? In general, they were among our worst customers. They were often rude, demeaning, condescending, arrogant, impatient, picky about their food, and to top it off, the worst tippers ever.
Obviously, not all Christians are bad customers or terrible tippers. My wife’s parents, for example, always gave good tips and were great customers. I am sure there were others as well. But in general, the more blatant a person was about their Christianity, the less likely they were to be a good customer.
Quite often, instead of a tip, people who wore Christian t-shirts and asked their servers for “prayer requests” would then leave a gospel tract or one of those fake “$1,000,000″ bills with the gospel on the back instead of any sort of tip. Sometimes they would write a note on their bill saying, “The information on this pamphlet is more important than any amount of money. I hope you read it. I’m praying for you!”
So I smiled sadly the other day when I saw this image:
Christians are bad tippers
Yep, that’s about right… The pastor refuses to leave any sort of tip for the waiter. This pastor is a bad tipper and a bad witness.
Look, if you are going to pray over your meal at a restaurant, wear a Christian t-shirt, carry your Bible, or take up a table for two hours while you have a Bible study during the busiest hours at the restaurant… do Christians everywhere a favor and tip generously. And by generous, I don’t mean 10%. If you are going to do any of these religious things in a restaurant, give at least 20%. Be memorable, not for how little you give, but for how much. Have the servers wanting you to sit in their section, not begging for some other serer to take your table.
And hey, if you don’t want to give 20% (or more), that’s fine! Just don’t wear the t-shirt, carry the Bible, pray over your meal, leave a gospel tract, or do anything else “Christian” at the restaurant. At least then you are not harming the name of Christ by being rude and cheap.

Does God Know What it is Like to Lose a Son?

Does God Know What it is Like to Lose a Son?

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A reader recently sent in the following questions about the death of Jesus as the Son of God and how it affected God the Father. Specifically, they wanted to know if God knew what it was like to lose a son. Here is the question:
I am a believer, but I am troubled by an atheist’s questions. I was talking to an atheist the other day, and he said that God doesn’t know what it’s like to lose a son because he knew all along that Jesus would rise in three days, so he only lost him for the weekend! He also questioned that if God is Jesus, why did he beg to be saved from the cross when he was in the garden? Also, shouldn’t Jesus already have known he would rise again in three days? Why did he ask God, “Why have you forsaken me?” Wouldn’t he know that he’s only going to be dead three days?
I began to answer these questions in my post yesterday by looking at the basic approach I use when answering questions from atheists (or anyone with whom I disagree about anything). Actually answering the questions (or attempting to do so) will require several posts. Here is the order I will answer these questions:
  1. How to Answer Questions of Atheists
  2. 2 Traditional Explanations for How God knows what it is Like to Lose a Son (both of which I reject)
  3. 2 Ways God Knows What it is like to lose a Son
  4. Why did Jesus say, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?”
So in this post, I will look at two traditional explanations for how God knows what it is like to lose a son, and I will also explain why I reject both explanations (which might also be why atheists and other people reject these explanations as well).

Does God Know What it is Like to Lose a Son? (Traditional Answers)

lose a sonSometimes this question is asked this way: “How could God know what it is like to lose a son if He knew Jesus was just going to rise from the dead three days later?” Or “How could the death of Jesus be a sacrifice for God if God knew that Jesus was just going to rise again from the dead?”
These are all very good questions, which are not so easily answered! Nevertheless, there are two popular answers I have heard which attempt to explain how God knows what it is like to lose a son.

1. Christians Know Their Children Will Rise Too

It is sometimes suggested that God knew Jesus would rise from the dead just as all Christian parents know that their dead children will rise from the dead.
This, I believe, is a weak answer.
God knew with absolute certainty that the death of Jesus would end in the resurrection of Jesus; but not all parents have this same certainty. Not even all Christian parents have this certainty.
Furthermore, even when parents know they will be reunited with lost loved ones in the future, Jesus was only in the grave for three days, while parents who lose a son or daughter have to wait the rest of their life.
While nobody wants to lose a son or daughter (or any family member for that matter), the pain of it would be significantly lessened, it seems, if we knew that we would receive our lost loved ones back within three days, and they would be fully healthy and whole and would never suffer or die again.
So when viewed from this perspective, the claim that God knows what it is like to lose a son seems rather hollow, does it not?

2. God lives in an Eternal Now

The second way some people try to explain how God knows what it is like to lose a son is through the view that God exists outside of time, that God is timeless. If this is true, rather than experiencing a sequence of events (as we do), God experiences all events as an eternal now. It is argued then, that the crushing, heart-wrenching pain of watching a child die, and the sense of deep loss that lingers afterwards for days, months, and even years in the hearts of parents, is the pain that God experiences for an eternity over the death of His Son.
lose a childThough I was taught in Bible college and Seminary that God is timeless, that He exists outside of time in a constant, eternal now, I don’t believe it. There are numerous reasons why, which I won’t get into here. I believe that God is relational and is capable of reacting to our needs and prayers in a way that would not be possible if He were outside of time.
But even if this view is true, it still doesn’t allow God to experience what it is like to lose a son. For even if He eternally experiences the crushing sorrow of losing a child, He also eternally experiences the joy of being with His Son for eternity, and the even more thrilling experience of His Son rising from the dead. Neither of these eternal experiences can be shared by humans, and so even in this view, God does not know what it is like to lose a son in the same way that humans do.
So where do we go from here?
Well, tomorrow I will look at the two reasons I think God does know what it is like to lose a son, and in so doing, will see that God may actually know better than we what it is like. Interested to hear more? Check back tomorrow.
Until then, what do you think of the two explanations above? Are you aware of any other explanations that Christians sometimes give for whether or not God knows what it is like to lose a son?

Jumat, 06 September 2013

Everyone Who Seeks Finds

The Ministries of Francis Frangipane

Everyone Who Seeks Finds
(En Español)
It is not hard to recognize one who has spent extended time at a newsstand: his conversation overflows with the drama of current affairs. And, it is not hard to discern a person who has come from a sporting event, as their face reveals the outcome of the game. Likewise, people can tell when an individual has spent extended time seeking God. An imperturbable calm guards their heart, and their countenance is radiant with light, as with the morning dew of Heaven.
Beloved, to seek and find God is everything.
The Eternal Imprint
It is to our shame that, in our era, church services do not focus more on actually seeking God. Yes, we do honor God and thank Him for what He has done. We sing and hear a sermon and, perhaps, enjoy a time of fellowship with others. Yet only rarely do we depart a congregational meeting with the fire of eternity reflecting off our faces. Instead, we fill up with information about God without actually drawing near to Him. Most of us are still largely unaware of God's presence.
While we rightly need church programs, fellowship, and times for ministry training, we must not automatically assume that religious indoctrination is the same thing as actually seeking God. And while I am often blessed listening to contemporary Christian music, even godly entertainment is no substitute for my own worship encounter with God.
Therefore, let us ask ourselves: Is there a place and a time set apart in our spiritual lives where we can give ourselves to seeking God? What if the Spirit of God actually desired to manifest Himself during our worship service? Would the Lord have to wait until we finished our scheduled program? I respect and recognize the need for order; we need the scheduled times for announcements and the defined purposes that currently occupy Sunday mornings, but have we made room for God Himself?
"He Knew Not That His Face Shone"
When we first determine to draw near to God, it may seem we have little to show for our efforts. Yet, be assured: even the thought of seeking God is a step toward our transformation. Still, we often do not notice the first signs of our spiritual renewal, for as we grow increasingly more aware of God, we simultaneously grow increasingly less aware of ourselves. Though we may not see that we are changing, others certainly will.
Consider the experience of Moses. The Lord's servant had ascended Mount Sinai, and there stood before the living God. The eyes of Moses were actually filled with God's sun-like glory; his ears actually heard the audible sound of the Lord's voice. Yet when Moses returned to the people, the Bible says he "did not know that the skin of his face shone" (Exod. 34:29). When the Israelites saw the fire of God's glory on the face of Moses, "they were afraid to come near him" (v. 30). They saw he had been with God.
The church needs more people who have, like Moses, climbed closer to the Almighty, people who have stood in the sacred fire of God's presence. Instead, we exhaust ourselves arguing over peripheral doctrines or styles of music in our song services. Perhaps there are benefits to constantly debating the nuances of our doctrines, but are we not more truly thirsting for the reality of God?
The Enemy's Resistance
What happens when we seek God? The Bible says at the very moment we are drawing near to Him, the living presence of God Himself is drawing near to us (James 4:8). Help is coming, redemption for our situation is on its way, strength will soon be arriving and the powers of healing activated.
But, one may argue, what if we seek Him and He does not come near. Fear not, He will. He may not manifest as we supposed, but He will come. However, let us also acknowledge there may be a spiritual battle. We must be persistent.

Recall the experience of the prophet Daniel (Dan. 10:2-13). For three weeks he sought the Lord with fasting and mourning. Then, suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, assuring him that "from the first day that you set your heart … on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard" (v. 12). What took so long? The "prince of the kingdom of Persia," a demonic spiritual ruler, stood against the angel sent to Daniel. There was spiritual warfare.
So strengthen your heart for the likelihood of battle. There may be delays and resistance. Remember, it is those who overcome who inherit the promises of God.
Human Frailty
Beyond the obstacles caused by spiritual warfare, we also have inherent weaknesses that can hinder our quest for God. For example, you begin to seek God, but instead of making progress, you find yourself distracted, thinking of things you need to do. To silence a persistent memory, simply write down the things it tells you. Once they are written down, your memory will quiet and your heart will return to seeking God.
Another hindrance to drawing closer to God may be the emotional burdens we carry. Just as we have cleared our memory issues, so we should take time to cast our burdens upon the Lord (1 Pet. 5:6-7). Ironically, our cares and worries may have helped motivate us heavenward, yet they can also dominate our consciousness and, together with other issues, even "choke the word" (Matt. 13:22), leaving us unfruitful in our pursuit of God.
So, as you seek the Lord, as issues and personal concerns arise, place your burdens upon the Lord's shoulders. If your concern is for a loved one, commit that person into the Lord's keeping; if you are struggling with sin, ask God for forgiveness. If it is unresolved conflict with another person, forgive them as much as you presently can and move closer to God.
If you are troubled by the lack of depth in your forgiveness toward others, remember: the grace to fully release people who have wounded us does not abide with us but in Christ. The closer we draw to Him, the greater power we possess over sin and our reactions to life.
Our goal is to, day by day, draw nearer to God. He has commanded that we come boldly to His throne of grace. To receive the help we need, we must arrive at His throne. Remember also that our confidence comes from Christ Himself. He promised, "Everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened" (Matt. 7:8).
We are seeking a lifetime of increasing devotion, though it may certainly begin in a season of drawing near. In spite of natural and spiritual obstacles, as we persevere, the Lord assures us, "How much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" (Matt. 7:11).
If we do not cease seeking and knocking, we will discover unfolding degrees of intimacy with God. Even now, He's drawing near. The Lord promises, "Everyone who … seeks finds" (Matt. 7:8).
Master, to possess more of You is the heart-focus of my existence. Draw near, blessed Redeemer, fulfill Your desire for me by fulfilling my desire for You.
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Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, And I Will Be Found By You, available at www.arrowbookstore.com.


Free eBook: "Coming Clean," by Luke Gilkerson

Free eBook: "Coming Clean," by Luke Gilkerson A practical guide on overcoming lust through biblical accountability.

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Download and share this eBook with those who are struggling to overcome lust, Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability, by Luke Gilkerson.
From the eBook: "For some Christians, saying they need accountability in order to make changes in their life is equivalent to saying, “Knowing that God is watching isn’t enough to get my act together. Something must be wrong with me.” These Christians see accountability as a crutch they shouldn’t need. But what if accountability is actually one of God’s ordinary means to help us become more like Christ? What if we were meant to treat accountability not as a last resort, but as a lifestyle?"

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Rabu, 04 September 2013

When the Crop Permits

The Ministries of Francis Frangipane

When the Crop Permits
(En Español)
Certainly, the period prior to Christ's return will be both difficult and perilous. Scripture warns that God's voice will shake all things, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. Everything that can be shaken, will be shaken and removed (Heb. 12:27).
Yet there is more on the calendar of God than increasing judgments and the Rapture. There will also be the advance and a significant, though still partial, re-establishing of God's kingdom (Dan.2:44; Matt. 24:14; Matt. 13). A spiritually mature people will serve as the vanguard of His kingdom. Before the Lord is glorified in the earth, He shall be glorified in the church (see Isa. 60:1-3; Eph. 5:27). Indeed, the attainment of Christlike maturity in those who pursue the Lord shall not be a mere sidebar on the scroll of end-time events; it will be the main attraction.
Listen carefully to what Jesus taught. He said,
"The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows -- how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come" (Mark 4:26-29).
Jesus likened the kingdom of God to a farmer waiting for the maturing of His crops. During the harvest season, farmers are concerned about two primary things: the quantity and quality of the harvest. I lived in eastern Iowa. Some corn and soybean fields, which may have started strong, fail or are stunted due to unusually high or low temperatures or lack of rain. As a result, farmers plow under their fields because their crops did not reach maturity. There was no "mature grain in the head."
Just as the farmer will not harvest without the grain becoming mature, so God is seeking a crop of Christ-followers that have reached spiritual maturity. God is after full stature not just full numbers. Take note: Jesus said, "when the crop permits," God puts in the sickle. The return of Christ isn't about a certain "day or hour," for it is the spiritual stature of the harvest that triggers the great unfolding of end-time events. You see, God is not looking at His watch; He's looking at His crop.
What does spiritual maturity look like? Recall Paul's words. He wrote, "We are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete" (2 Cor. 10:6). What does complete obedience look like? It looks like Christians taking "every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). Again, God is looking for Christlikeness to ripen within us as we approach the end of the age. Indeed, our maturing can actually hasten the coming of the day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:12).
"Man...in the image of God" is the seed-idea purposed by the Almighty from before time began (Gen. 1:27). The release of divine wrath is not the Father's highest priority. It does not in any way mean we think we are gods or that we take Christ's place; it means Christ has truly taken our place (Gal. 2:20). This is what the "mature head in the grain" looks like: mature Christlikeness.
For too long we have assumed that only the numeric size of the harvest was the focus of the Father. Certainly, the number of people saved is pivotal: "the fullness of the gentiles" must come into the kingdom (Rom. 11:25). However, the Almighty does not just want numbers; He wants spiritual maturity.
Thus, the Lord is not looking at a calendar thinking, "Oh, it's the year 2013 (or 2020, etc.). I have to destroy the world on that date." No. A farmer does not reap his crops without first walking his fields, holding samples of the grain, and studying the moisture and integrity of the seed head before he begins his harvest. Again, the maturity of the crop determines the day of the harvest.
So many Christians are frozen in spiritual immaturity. They are easily offended, often distracted and without prayer or spiritual discipline. We think God is requiring of us simply to hang on, yet the Lord is looking for more. Paul says the goal of God in the church is that "we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13).
Even now, believers around the world are becoming increasingly more Christlike. They live in India and China, Africa and South America, Europe and North America, and places beyond. Yes, they are comparatively a little flock, yet "with unveiled face," they are "beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord" and "are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory" (2 Cor. 3:18). When this crop permits, the Father shall put in His sickle, for the harvest has come.
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, as You continue looking for spiritual completeness in the harvest, help me to grow to full stature, that I may truly represent a planting which has grown up into Your likeness.
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Adapted from Francis Frangipane's In Christ's Image Training available at www.icitc.org.