May 28, 2015
We begin again today with the amplified version of Jesus' declaration of blessing for those who are persecuted:
Matthew 5:10-12: “Blessed and highly favored by the King [of Kings] are those who are harassed, molested, mistreated, or pursued after with hostile intent simply because they have been justified [by faith (in Jesus Christ and His anointing)]; royalty, and Kingdom rule shall be theirs.
Blessed and highly favored by the King [of Kings] whenever men or women will seek to defame you, to rail at you or taunt you, harassing and pursuing you with malice, saying in public or writing false and hurtful accusations about you to others, seeking to ruin your reputation because of your relationship with me [on account of Who I AM — and who you are in me].
Rejoice — exult, sing, dance, enjoy yourself — because each time you are mistreated for my sake, your reward and place at the Seat of Order in things eternal is enhanced and magnified.
Consider yourself in the same company of the prophets before you who likewise were harassed, molested, mistreated, defamed, and falsely accused because of My Word in and through them.” (RAC Translation and Amplification)
We've talked thus far about the division that the Enemy wants to bring among families, and I've shared with you a bit of history in our family heritage. I'd like to wrap up this area of sharing with a few more examples taken from personal experience within what we would normally refer to as "the Family of God." Because of the threat the Family of God represents to Satan, nowhere is the attempt to divide and conquer and persecute more evident, and nowhere is the blessing and favor of the Lord more evident for those who suffer persecution. At the same time, the fruit that comes from standing in the midst of the persecution is some of the best seen in the Kingdom of God.
During a transition period in 1978 while getting ready for a return to Barrow, Alaska, I fellowshipped with a Charismatic church group in Anchorage and came to know all of the people involved in its ministry locally as well as throughout the state, and even some in missions in other countries. Because of our family legacy in missions and ministry throughout Alaska, I was given ready access to the pulpit from time to time as well as the ministry of praise and worship with their musicians.
1978 was still very much at the height of ministry activity for me in the realm of deliverance from evil spirits. [That's not to suggest that it has stopped, but rather that the focus has shifted in the way we minister deliverance.] Many of the fellow-ministers I shared with were from traditional Pentecostal backgrounds where the concept of a believer being afflicted by evil spirits was totally contrary to their doctrines.
I was invited to come and minister in one of the satellite churches on the Kenai Peninsula one weekend, and -- wouldn't you know it -- Holy Spirit sets things up to minister to folks who were being afflicted by evil spirits! Following both the morning and evening services, the time of personal ministry -- along with quite visible manifestations as the spirits departed -- easily lasted for a couple of hours AFTER the time of teaching.
Returning to Anchorage the following day I was met by a very grim delegation from the Charismatic church who had heard what had taken place. They made it clear that I was to meet with their entire ministerial board later that week at a luncheon to explain why I would minister that way knowing that they were opposed to such ministry.
There were perhaps 12 senior leaders, pastors, evangelists, prophets and teachers who sat around the lunch table to grill me on "my doctrine." That luncheon turned into an inquisition of sorts as they tried to refute the scriptural basis for the ministry of deliverance among Christians. There came a point in the discussion when they -- to a man -- conceded that I was on sound scriptural grounds for the ministry; and then their senior prophet said directly to me, "we cannot afford for you to continue this ministry in our fellowship. It contradicts everything we have taught, and we will not have division among the people over this. People will think that we're just lying to them, and they'll leave!"
The Holy Spirit rose up in me at that and I stood to my feet at the end of the table as the following prophetic message from Jeremiah 8 literally poured from my mouth: "How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made He it; the pen of the scribes is in vain. The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom is in them?Therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields to them that shall inherit them: for everyone from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the LORD." (Jeremiah 8:8-12)
I continued on: "How can you tell these people that they are free when they are suffering, in torment from evil spirits, and fighting with sicknesses and diseases? How dare you tell people that they cannot be suffering with evil spirits, and you say to them that once they're saved, they are automatically set free? As a practical matter, they have no power to fight against evil spirits until they've been baptized in the Holy Spirit! Mark 16:17 makes clear that one of the very first evidences of being filled with the Spirit is the ability to cast out demons! You have the gall to say to folks, "Peace, Peace," when they have no peace!"
Guess I was a bit astonished at my spontaneous reaction to them. I shook my head and sat back down. The group quickly got to their feet, made it clear that I was no longer welcome to be in any of their churches, and that was that! The following Sunday evening, one of their senior pastors stood behind the pulpit and said to the church, "I wouldn't touch Regner Capener with a ten-foot pole!"
Once again, you can see the picture of Jesus' statement, "Men and women in a covenant relationship with Me will find [even] their non-covenanting [spiritual] family members to be their hostile adversaries (who will fight and oppose them)."
Doesn't look like much of a blessing at the moment, does it? Ahhh, but there's more to this story!
In the months that followed, Jeremiah's prophecy came to fulfillment among them as several of their families broke up in divorce, at least three of the wives wound up marrying other men, one of their prophets went to prison on a sex charge, the other prophet died a year or so later from a painful disease and the church split down the middle. Sounds even less like a blessing, doesn't it?
Over the decade that followed, the same pastor who had made the statement that he wouldn't touch me with a ten-foot pole reversed his stance and began encouraging the ministry of deliverance in his church. He was leading the breakaway church which, by this time, was larger than the original church fellowship he had left. The new church was flourishing, the Kingdom of God was growing by leaps and bounds and serious repairs and reconciliation were underway where breaches had taken place. By this time I had returned to Anchorage after a decade of ministry in Barrow and Fairbanks.
It soon became apparent that two other evangelist/pastors who had been at the table with that group of 12 had reversed their stance on the ministry of deliverance. On at least one occasion that I can remember, one of them even called me for counsel in dealing with a specific issue.
One day I received a call from the son of the original senior leader of the old Charismatic fellowship. His dad had retired and he had become the new senior pastor. He had, however, been a part of that group of ministers on that fateful luncheon day. "Would you meet me for lunch today?" he said. "Absolutely!" I looked forward to it.
Sitting down at the lunch table he broke the silence by saying softly, "I marvel that you can be sitting across a table from me, after all the water that has gone under the bridge." Reaching across the table to take his hand, I said, "Brother, I hold you no ill will whatever! Whatever God has done out of all that transpired has worked for the good of the whole Body. When we parted that day, I knew that it wasn't up to me to bring the kind of revelation needed. Holy Spirit was going to have to do that. I've never felt badly towards you or anyone else in the church."
There was real fellowship together at the table that day. God had done a rather spectacular thing in healing the perceived breach. As we got up to leave, this pastor said to me, "From me to you, you are always welcome in our church!"
One of the issues that we face in the Body of Christ today is that we have a bad habit of viewing events from a "now" perspective. If we see division take place, our immediate reaction is that it is bad. We don't see the long-term picture. If we don't see instant vindication of either the individual or the truth that was spoken or represented, we tend to believe the negative about the individual who is under attack, or at the very least, that which he or she represents. Consider what Paul wrote to the Ekklesia in Corinth when he was talking about the Table of the Lord.
I Corinthians 11:18-19: For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
The word used in the KJV -- heresies -- comes from the Greek word, hairesis, which literally means: disunion (from choices). Thayer defines it like this: dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims, choosing, choice, that which is chosen.
Paul's point is that these dissensions and disunity arises so that (and they) which God specifically approves can be made known -- and here is the crux of it -- so that the truth can be manifested for all to see, and people can then correct their wrong choices. Persecution and opposition produces this kind of dynamic!
Jesus wasn't kidding when He said, “Blessed and highly favored by the King [of Kings] whenever men or women will seek to defame you, to rail at you or taunt you, harassing and pursuing you with malice, saying in public or writing false and hurtful accusations about you to others, seeking to ruin your reputation because of your relationship with me [on account of Who I AM — and who you are in me].
Not only are we the recipients of that blessing, the Body as a whole is blessed. The Body of Christ grows, it multiplies, it expands, understanding and maturity take place, there is a Kingdom prosperity that comes (and I point out -- in the long term!) of the show that God puts on as a result of the harassment, the false accusations and the malicious defamation that comes by standing in His Truth!
One more personal story for the sake of illustration, and I'll quit.
When I returned to Barrow in 1978, it was not my intention to begin another church fellowship. I was focused on Christian television and bringing the ministry of CBN to the arctic. A young pastor (late twenties or early thirties) had been assigned by the denomination to the church I had helped my Dad build. My hope was to be an encouragement and a help to this young pastor and support him. That, obviously, was not going to happen. As soon as he heard my name and realized who I was, he perceived me as an instant threat to his leadership and authority.
He made it abundantly clear that I was not welcome and that I could forget about any ministry in Barrow. You couldn't help but feel sorry for him because of his ignorance and fear, and I did my best to try to allay those fears. Holy Spirit obviously had other things in mind. An old friend who had helped Dad to get the property on which to build the church and provide the vehicle to haul gravel with in order to create a good foundation was now the presiding elder at the Presbyterian church. He asked if I would serve in an interim capacity as their pastor until the missions board could assign a permanent pastor. That's another story with implications I can't take time to get into today, but the four months I did serve as their interim pastor saw a move of Holy Spirit in their midst that was absolutely wonderful!
In the weeks and months that followed, a number of folks approached me about my continuing to pastor and forming a new fellowship. Although that new fellowship never became very large (it was more of an overgrown home fellowship that expanded beyond the walls of our home) it was perceived by the young pastor as a threat to his domain, and he began to actively speak out against us as heretics, or -- using the picture of the native culture -- someone who dishonored his father and abandoned his father's faith.
Because Christian television was my primary objective, and I needed a way to fund the development of television outlets in the arctic, a door of opportunity opened for me to purchase ASA Television from the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. ASA became Arctic Slope Audio and North Slope Communications -- two distinctly separate businesses with different focuses in retail consumer entertainment and business communications. The profits from these businesses went to purchase equipment and fund the building of tiny little TV stations in remote villages throughout the northland.
I had my hands full, operating two businesses, pastoring a small fellowship, building small TV stations and promoting the growth of Christian television throughout Alaska. Without realizing what was taking place, a target was painted directly on my backside for people with a religious agenda, and they quickly took advantage of it.
It started with threatening phone calls. "We know that God didn't send you here, and we're going to drive you out!" Try this one. "The next time you step out the door, you're going to get a bullet through the face." (That call was repeated more times than I can count.) Then there was the somewhat humorous hate mail in the form of post cards. "Go directly to hell. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go straight to hell."
Then things began to spiral upward. I've already noted in previous Coffee Breaks the two times a sniper tried to take me out. My oldest daughter was shot at six times. My oldest son and second daughter were repeatedly attacked in the dark as they were on their way home from school (we were in the midst of the 66-day perpetual darkness cycle) by men who would pick them up and throw them against the side of a building, and they would come home bruised and bloody. I wound up sending them away from Barrow to be with my parents at Saint Paul Island for their own protection.
These events are only a drop in the bucket of the persecution that unfolded but in the midst of it all, the Lord spoke to me and told me that the day would come when many of these same people would spontaneously fall on their knees in the middle of the streets and cry out in repentance. By late in 1980 it became clear that we were going to have to move our operations center to Fairbanks for CBN's ministry to expand, and we made that move in 1981.
Seven years later, Dwain McKenzie -- my lifetime friend and brother in the Lord -- was back in Barrow pastoring the church Dad had founded. He called me one day to report that people were literally falling on their knees in the streets of Barrow, calling on the Lord.
Was the persecution fun? Not even! Was it necessary to stand in the midst of it and not give up? Absolutely. Was it worth it? The lives that have been changed and transformed by the power of God as a result are clear testimony and proof that persecution yields the blessing of the Lord. The Kingdom of God has expanded!
I remind those of you in need of ministry that our Healing Prayer Call takes place on Mondays at 7:00 PM Eastern (4:00 PM Pacific). Once again, the number to call for healing is (805) 399-1000. Then enter the access code: 124763#.
At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific. That conference number is (559) 726-1300, and the access code is 308640#. We hope to make these gatherings available by Skype or Talk Fusion before long.
Blessings on you!
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