Imprisoned by the C.I.A.

If you allow unforgiveness to remain in your life, you will be imprisoned by one of these three traps: Condemnation, Intimidation, and Accusation. An easy way to remember these is the acronym C.I.A.

THE FIRST TRAP: CONDEMNATION

Condemnation means, “To pronounce judgment against or to declare unfit for use.” Occasionally in ministry we run into people who feel as if what they have done is so bad that even God will not forgive them. They feel that whatever punishment comes they deserve. Or, in some cases, when they are forgiven they cannot forgive the people who hurt them. Some feel like the woman caught in the act of adultery in John.

“Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and Pharisees brought a woman they had caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. ‘Teacher,’ they said to Jesus, ‘this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?’ They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, ‘All right, stone her. But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones!’ Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.” (John 8: 1-11, NLT)

Obviously, she was being used by the Pharisees to bait Jesus. And, she knew her behavior violated the Law of Moses and just as surely she knew that the penalty of adultery was death. Her accusers were condemning her and they were correct and justified in their condemnation. What do you think she was feeling while standing there? Afraid? Degraded? Guilty? Ashamed? Probably she was experiencing all of these and more. But then after Jesus dealt with her accusers and they left, He turned His attention to her. “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:10-11, NLT)

What has just happened to her? Suddenly she is forgiven, free from condemnation. She is no longer facing death. She has been declared not guilty! Just as the Pharisees had a choice when Jesus challenged them, she is faced with a choice:

First, there is the reality of accepting this forgiveness. She may have gone away from there not really able to accept that she was forgiven. She may have been so ashamed and guilty, knowing full well she deserved the punishment of death, that she allowed the enemy to keep her trapped under condemnation even though she had been clearly forgiven by Jesus. If it were totally beyond her that she could be forgiven, Satan would find her an easy target. He whispers things like, “You really haven’t been forgiven. Look at what you did! Do you think God could forgive you and love you after what you’ve done?” Satan loves to trap us in this condemnation.

Her second choice was in how she would handle giving that same forgiveness to her accusers. She needed to release them from what they had just done to her or carry her anger, resentment and bitterness toward them around with her. It could destroy her. It would be easy for her to be bitter. She had been spied on, and then dragged out in front of everybody and embarrassed and degraded. Now the whole village knew about her affair. That bitterness and anger could be easily turned around to keep her under condemnation. The unforgiveness brings the condemnation, because it is sin.

This condemnation can be in the form of words spoken to us by people who are very significant in our lives. Words such as, “You’ll never amount to anything; you’ll always be a loser.” These words are like daggers stuck into our hearts and can be the very words that condemn us to becoming losers and failures. Numerous times we have prayed with people who heard these words from their fathers, mothers or other significant people in their lives and these words have brought condemnation because they believed them and lived as if they were true. They felt “unfit for use.”
This is a trap you can work your way out of by understanding who you are in Christ and that you are free from condemnation! “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) Satan knows that if he can keep you from understanding the truth of your forgiveness and who you are in Christ, he can keep you trapped by condemnation.

THE SECOND TRAP: INTIMIDATION

To intimidate means to fill with fear, to coerce, inhibit or discourage by threats. This often happens after you make a commitment. If the enemy can intimidate you he has won a great victory. He will use any means he can, but most often he will use those people around you who are your friends or associates.

A number of years ago when Wholeness Ministries began there was significant opposition to it. This ministry was birthed with great pain. At that time I was in a traditional Baptist church and the area of physical healing was just beginning to be explored. There wasn’t much problem with physical healing but when we began to move into areas of inner healing and deliverance there were problems. During this time I was trying to learn everything I could about healing. I was attending seminars, reading books, and hanging out with people in the healing ministry. We were beginning to see some significant results as we prayed for people. However, it wasn’t long before some people in the church began to raise questions about what we were doing. We were accused of manipulating people, of being unscriptural, of being “New Age.” This was because of some of the books we were reading and the ways in which the Holy Spirit was manifesting during church services.

My integrity and honesty were attacked. My motives were called into question. I was asked to go before a group in the church and defend what we were doing and answer charges they were making, charges over things I had said or written which were taken completely out of context. Things that were said about us were not true and were deeply wounding to me personally. It was a tough time for my wife and me. We lost some friends that we’d had for years who couldn’t understand what we were doing. I found myself angry and resentful at the people who were doing this and I couldn’t understand why. I remember sitting by a river complaining to God about all the flack I was getting. I remember saying, “God, why is this happening? All I want to do is pray for people. What’s the big deal here? Why can’t we just forget about all this hassle over how we’re doing what we do and just do the stuff? All I want is for people to get healed.”

I found myself becoming angry towards some specific individuals and it was beginning to affect my ministry to people. I even began to question what I was doing. Maybe I was wrong. This intimidated me and I became very careful of what I said and did, because I was afraid of being attacked and having to constantly defend myself. What happened was that these people eventually left the church. As I look back on this entire event I see how easily Satan was using this to manipulate, divide and destroy people. Because of these accusations, before I could move ahead, I had to later work through some unforgiveness issues with people who had hurt me. What I did by granting this forgiveness was pull the ground right out from under Satan. I released to God those very things Satan was accusing me of – anger, bitterness, and resentment. And God forgave me. If I had allowed Satan to keep me in this trap the ministry we were doing could have very well been destroyed.

Another way Satan will intimidate you is through Scripture. He will use people in positions of authority to quote verses to you. They will say to you, “It says right here in Scripture that we have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness, purchased with his blood and forgiven for all of our sins.” Therefore, according to their reasoning, since I have been washed in the blood, all the past is done and I don’t need to think about it anymore! This is deadly! This is a trap of the enemy.

While those Scriptures are certainly true, it doesn’t mean that we will be exempt from the consequences of our sins. This includes both those sins we commit and those sins committed against us. We have churches full of people walking around with anger, hatred, jealousy or bitterness in their lives. And people dealing with addictions and compulsions that keep them from living victorious lives. Most of the hurt that remains in people’s lives is hurt which they have not been able to release.

THE THIRD TRAP: ACCUSATION

Accusation means bringing charges against someone. We know from Scripture that Satan is the accuser. “For the Accuser has been thrown down to earth – the one who accused our brothers and sisters before our God day and night.” (Revelation 12:10 NLT) How many times does Satan try to stop or destroy us with accusation? He accuses us before God and he accuses us to our face. He will say, “Who do you think you are? You are nothing! You are of no value to God. You don’t have any power to overcome that sin. You are such a hypocrite. You call yourself a Christian. How can you be a Christian and do that? How can you feel that way?!”

I was eighteen when my father was killed. I had just graduated from high school. My father was not an alcoholic but on occasion he would go out and come home drunk. One night he went out and didn’t come back, so my mom went out looking for him. She found him outside a bar, brought him home and then took him to a hospital after she determined he was indeed seriously hurt. We learned later that he was beaten outside a local bar in the town where we lived. He died a week later from the blows to his head. When this came up for a legal hearing the entire case against the men who had beaten him was dropped because there was not enough evidence to bring them to trial. I felt betrayed by the judicial system. I was angry at the police, the sheriff and the judge. As a result, I began to distrust and rebel against authority, especially anyone associated with the legal system. I felt anger toward my father. My reasoning was that it was his fault that he had gone out, gotten drunk and gotten into a fight that left me without a dad when I needed one badly. I felt abandoned and lonely without my father.

I was angry with him and angry with God for taking him. I couldn’t let God love me deeply and intimately, nor could I respond back to Him, because I didn’t want to risk getting hurt again. I found it difficult to get very close to other men; thus, most of my friendships were very superficial. I kept a guard on how close I let anyone get to me. It took a number of years before I was able to come to grips with this and let the hurt and pain surface. After I faced it and dealt with it before God, then I could accept God’s love and let others who wanted to be friends become close to me. Only after I did this was I able to get on with my life and move into an intimate relationship with God and others. After this happened God was able to use me as a channel of His love to others.

What makes this so significant is that many of those years when I was so guarded I was in full-time ministry. I was supposed to have an intimate relationship with God, I was supposed to be open and loving, I was supposed to know how to help people move into loving relationships through forgiveness. But I had given the enemy ample opportunity to accuse me, which made me pull back because of the anger I was hiding. Remember this, Satan stands before God at any opportunity to accuse you and he takes every opportunity you give him by holding on to unforgiveness.

If we have been trapped by Condemnation, Intimidation or Accusation then we are faced with a question. Am, I going to forgive or not? The answer to this question will either keep you trapped or bring you into freedom.

(This is an excerpt from my book, Before You Get Here: Baggage To Drop On Your Way To Heaven.)

St. Dennis Catholic Church

Dear Friends,

mike-st-dennis-01In early February I was at St. Dennis Catholic Church in Lockport, IL for three days of training and ministry. Derrick Steele accompanied me on this trip. What an incredible time we had at St. Dennis. During the day Derrick and I taught workshops on how to pray for the sick. Then, at the three evening meetings I conducted healing services. During each of these services the teams we had just trained joined us as we prayed for healing. We taught from my book Learning To Do What Jesus Did.

The first time I was at St. Dennis was eight years ago when we introduced them to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The first two evenings this time during the healing service God moved powerfully to heal both physical and emotional pain. During the last service on Saturday night Fr. Jim Curtin and I prayed specifically for an impartation of the Holy Spirit. Everyone stood in a large circle in the sanctuary and Fr. Jim Curtin and I walked around placing our hands on each person. The presence of the Holy Spirit was powerful. For all three services God gave specific words for healing and we saw a number of people healed and free from pain in their bodies. We were also able to guide some into deep level healing as they let go of baggage they have been carrying around for years. It’s such a privilege to be invited to go into this Catholic Church, as Fr. Jim is a priest filled with such love for his people and openness to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

mike-st-dennis-02Every time I have been to this church something unusual happens. This time was no exception. During the second evening the presence of God was so powerful I was having a difficult time speaking. I had prepared my talk for the evening but when I began to speak it was as if God closed my mouth and would not let me say anything. When I was finally able to speak it was a simple word from God. I kept hearing over and over, “Tell them how much I love them.” When I was able to speak it clearly was a message they needed to hear. Later that evening two people came up to me and shared what they saw while I was speaking. The first one said, “I saw Jesus standing next to you while you were up there trying to speak.” Then a short time later a man walked over and said, “While you were speaking I saw a huge angel standing over by the wall just to the right of you.” I have no reason to doubt either of these testimonies as this has happened in the past at other conferences.

WHY NOT WASTE TIME WITH GOD?
I have been teaching a class one night a week at Summit Bible College on the topic of spending time with God. I always challenge the students to take 3-5 minutes a day for seven days and do nothing but sit still and be with God. This is always a great group to teach and I want to share a couple of testimonies with you.

“Have you or do you ever just sit before God and enjoy His presence, not praying, praising Him or listening to music? That’s what we are being asked to do in the class at Summit Bible College called, The Fire of God in You by Mike Evans. He asked us to start with just 3 minutes, just sitting, maybe having a cup of coffee. I have to admit it was challenging to me and the others but after trying it, it may be the most revolutionary, powerful thing I’m experiencing since being filled with His Holy Spirit. Mr. Evans class is such a breath of fresh air just learning to be still and be in the presence of the Almighty God, just to learn to enjoy being in His presence.” Celine

“In my first class of the evening we learned what it means to be child like in Christ. One thing Mike Evans pointed out is that children recognize when they need help and aren’t afraid to ask for help. At the end of the evening I recognized my need for help. I felt the Lord prompt me to humble myself but I told him no. I didn’t want to. I refused to ask for help. Finally after 15 min of stubbornness I asked. Thank you to my classmates who made me feel comfortable in my weakness and thank you God for solidifying my understanding of child likeness. This is a lesson I will not forget. I believe I have a bit more growing to do in this area.” Angela

WOMEN’S RETREAT
Also during early February Danny Ruiz accompanied me as we conducted a women’s retreat in the mountains near Crestline. CA. We taught on developing an intimate relationship with God and then offered to pray for any physical issues they wanted prayer for. This was a group of Catholic ladies from Southern California and I knew that much of this was new to them. As we invited them to come up for prayer they were hesitant at first but as we prayed for them and they witnessed God’s healing power it wasn’t long before we were praying for most of them. It was great fun to watch.

Thank you for your prayers and support of our work.

God bless,
Mike

Our Missionary Family in Romania

Dear Friends,

mike-P1020072-txt-300I wanted to give you an update on Eduard and Ibi Rudolf who work among the Orphans and Gypsies in Cluj and villages in Romania. Wholeness Ministries has been a significant part of financial support for this family for many years and we want to be able to continue that support with your help. It’s exciting to read what they are doing.

“Dear Mike, We are looking back to 2014 and we are very grateful, because 2014 was a good year for us. Our whole family was healthy. Esther went to Bible School for 6 months and came home very encouraged. Rachel will go in a few days to the same Bible School as Esther, then she will start college after Bible School.

Daniel and Sarah changed from Music School to a normal High School. It was not easy for them, but they have made a lot of progress. Besides school, both of them are helping us in the Royal Rangers Work!

Ibi has two small groups of women in Cluj and meets with them every week. She is also leading 2-3 small groups of Royal Rangers children! My family is a big help to me in Cluj and in the spring, summer, and winter holidays they help me in Apata and the other villages!

In Cluj we work a lot with Orthodox families, because the kids come to the Royal Ranger meetings. We try to have a good relationship with their parents and families and if possible, we try to evangelize them. We have started a weekly youth gathering and have Sunday Services.

The next step for Cluj is to build an UPPER-ROOM. We have the possibility to build above our house a kind of mansard (which will include an upper-room and a flat for 3-4 orphan boys). The orphan boys have to leave the orphanage after they are 18 or after they have finished school. They don’t have another place to go or live!

rudolph-family-2015-400The Lord has put on my heart the idea of the UPPER-ROOM. It will be good for the orphans. We want to be prayer-warriors in the upper room and expect a big visitation of the Holy Spirit . Our family plus Gyuszi and his family along with the orphans will live here. It will be a strong core community! We have been praying for the project for 2 years and hope to start it in the spring.

In Apata and the surrounding villages we organize on a regularly basis Sunday Services in 5 different places.

What I have written you about Cluj, is also true for the villages: When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Mt.9:36-38

Because this is a very poor region, every thing that we do is a big battle. For example, today we had a Sunday Service in Apata, but we had to go to the surrounding villages and pick up the people, because there is no public transportation in this region and they don’t have cars. We have had for 2-3 weeks extremely cold weather. Many days we don’t have running water, because the pipes are frozen. As you can see every day is a challenge.

We have in every village some small groups and about 200-250 children that come to the Royal Rangers meetings. Because many children have problems in school (gypsy parents can’t help them in matters of school) in 3 villages we help 100-120 children do their home-work 5 days a week, after school.

We also go from house to house in different villages and visit families: we pray for the sick, share the Gospel, invite people to follow Jesus and try to bless them in many ways. We love these people and it is a great joy to minister to them on many levels!

Thank you for your prayers and financial help! It’s a big encouragement for us!

Much love and greetings from Romania, Eduard, Ibi, Esther, Rachel, Daniel and Sarah”

I trust you are as encouraged by this as I am. In next months newsletter I’m going to share with you the work of the other family we help support in Hungary, Adam and Orsi Balogh.

Reports coming about two trips in January
When you receive this newsletter I will have been to a Catholic Retreat Center located in Lake Gregory, CA to speak at a Women’s Retreat. Then near the end of January I will have gone to St. Dennis Catholic Church near Chicago, IL. where I will be both training and conducting healing services.

“OPEN UP” with Don Clark & Bob Prater
I had the opportunity to be a guest on this webcast in February. It gave me an opportunity to talk about the new book Before You Get Here, and the work we do at Wholeness Ministries. You can see the interview on the Wholeness Ministries Facebook page. Check it out, you will be blessed.

Thank you for your continued support of our work.

God bless,
Mike

Why Are You Coming Back!

Many of us are familiar with the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. At some point the son realized that his life was in shambles and that returning to his father was necessary for staying alive. It says in the story that when the son thought about going back to the father his game plan was to throw himself at his father’s feet, beg for his forgiveness and ask to be accepted back as a servant. He did not know exactly how his father would respond but expected that he would want an explanation as to why he was returning. And the son expected that there would be conditions he would have to meet to be accepted back. The son knew he had brought embarrassment and shame on his father and the family, and as a result of his actions he most likely would never be restored to a position of sonship. However, that was okay with him as long as he could just be in the household and no longer separated from his father. He knew it was safe there and his needs would be met.

What is so encouraging about this story is the total, unconditional love demonstrated by the father. He didn’t require anything from the son. There were no questions like, “Why are you coming back?” No demands, no explanations needed just total, unconditional acceptance.

I am certain the father’s response stunned this young man. I am just as certain that many of us in some ways are like this prodigal. We may have strayed away from God and are not sure He will accept us back to the position we had before we left. Even if He does we think He will want to know why we are returning. In his book, The Road To Daybreak, Henri Nouwen wrote, “God does not require a pure heart before embracing us. Even if we return only because following our desires has failed to bring happiness, God will take us back. Even if we return because being a Christian brings us more peace than being a pagan, God will receive us. Even if we return because our sins did not offer as much satisfaction as we had hoped, God will take us back. Even if we return because we could not make it on our own, God will receive us. God’s love does not require any explanations about why we are returning. God is glad to see us home and wants to give us all we desire, just for being home.”

What an incredible statement! God does not care why we are back. He’s just excited to have us back. Our heart does not have to be pure; our reasons for coming back do not even have to be clearly defined.

Maybe you have not totally left but a part of you is in the “far country” and you have discovered it has not brought you the pleasure you thought it would. If you feel somewhat like the prodigal and know you need to return but hesitate to out of fear, rest assured He’s waiting for you to come home.

He is not standing there, with a raised eyebrow, a skeptical look on his face, waiting to ask you, “What do you want and why are you here?” Your Father God is so completely in love with you He does not want to know nor does He care why you came back. He is simply happy to have you back. Do not let the fear of having to explain yourself keep you from coming back to the Father. Do not feel as if you are going to have to justify yourself. The question He will ask is not “why are you coming back” but “when are you coming back?”

He Is So Proud of You!

It’s difficult for us to grasp that God is proud of us. Like a father is proud of his son or daughter so our Father God is proud of us. We might rightly respond, “What is there to be proud of? I’ve never done anything significant. I’m not famous; I’ve never written a book or composed a song. I do not paint or write poetry. I do not know how to build anything with my hands, fix the car or grow a garden. All the houseplants my friends give me soon die, though not for lack of trying. What’s to be proud of?”

In his book The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning writes, “Has it crossed your mind that I am proud you accepted the gift of faith I offered you? Proud that you freely chose me, after I had chosen you, as your friend and Lord? Proud that with all your warts and wrinkles you haven’t given up? Proud that you believe in me enough to try again and again.”

Wow, can you get a hold of this? He’s looking at you through the eyes of a father looking at his child and saying, “I’m so proud of you, you have accepted what I have offered and you do not give up but keep trying again and again. That is so great! Do you know how proud it makes me feel that you want me? Do you know how much it means to me to see the hours you spend trying to learn more about me – your singing, praying, sitting quietly just to be with me. Do you know how proud it makes me feel that you want to be with me? All the things you could be doing and you chose freely to spend time with me. I know you have sins and struggles. I know that you are not where you feel that you need to be for me to love and accept you. But I still love you. And I am proud of you!”

We may not know how to handle the love and pride of a father for whom we do not have to do anything. If you were fortunate enough to grow up in a home with loving parents, then you know that from the time you were born, they were proud of you. Proud of your first steps. Proud of those crayon squiggles on paper that were taped up on the walls like Rembrandt paintings. Proud of you when you came running into the room to show them your latest Play-Dough masterpiece. You knew they accepted you even when you failed again and again. You did not have to prove anything to them. You knew that there was nothing that would keep them from loving you no matter how often you ran from them and hid in your shame and embarrassment. And our Lord loves us even more than our parents.

I remember a time when one of our sons was in the midst of serious rebellion. As his parents we could not stop him from doing those things that we knew could potentially destroy him. But we could love him. During one of those moments he screamed at us in frustration, “The problem is you love me too much! Why can’t you be like my friends’ parents who don’t care what they do?” He was actually frustrated because no matter what he did we never stopped loving him. That love was causing him guilt and frustration because it would have been much easier for him to rebel if we had simply rejected him. But we could not do that, and that love eventually paid off.

Your Father God is proud of you because you are His and He quite simply loves you. He understands all of your humanness. Take it into your heart and your soul – Father God is proud of you! Don’t try to analyze, understand or “live up” to anything you think will make Him proud because it is not what you do but, rather, what you are. You are His. Believe it, accept it and live in the glorious freedom of it!