As you all are aware, we who have been called to follow our Beloved Messiah and been joined to the FMM family are in process of our corporate and individual Boot Camps… submitted to our Lord and Master as He refines us as silver which will allow us to accurately and adequately reflect Him to those around us.
A number of months ago, our brother John Marquez shared a personal account of his Boot Camp experiences and what he learned from them. The time has come for the rest of us Last Days disciples to learn these lessons as well. I offer the following from John and pray that we all can take to heart this mandate of being ever ready for whatever, and whenever, and whoever and however our Master may call us into the battlefield. May our hearts be as soft and moldable as John’s has been, so that when all is said and done, Yeshua will have been glorified to the fullest extent possible in and through our lives.
In His Love and for His Glory,
Your sister, Nancy
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for (My) Power is perfected in (your) weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the Power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak (in myself), then (in Him) I am strong!” (Amplification and emphasis added.)
Beloved friends… let me share some very personal and somewhat embarrassing thoughts with you about the ‘boot camp’ training I keep mentioning in the FMM material. The first thing I want to tell you about is how drastically my focus and mindset have changed in recent years. For me, that was shocking and totally unexpected! In all my years leading up to this FMM era, I never suspected that I’d be so mentally fixed and focused on ‘The Last Days’, and on how desperately the Lord’s disciples need to receive adequate, specialized training from God so they can be primed and ready for action in the days just prior to the Lord’s Return… But that’s what happened.
Now I can hardly focus on anything else. What was so prominent to me in the 80’s and 90’s and the first part of this new century has faded and become dim. And this new direction began to emerge in the year 2003. That was the year my heart’s focus started to change and fix itself on Israel, and His chosen people, and when I suddenly began to feel like I didn’t belong where I was. I began to feel out of place in my home congregation and in what I had been doing since my Teen Challenge days. And within the next year, the Lord provided me with a trip to Israel, and He moved me into the Adat Messianic congregation that is now my spiritual worship family and FMM’s home base.
It was also during that year 2003-2004, that I began to think continually about what it would take to train and develop disciples into full-fledged, mature, combat-ready warriors that would be equipped to face and overcome the powers of Darkness amid the approaching times of tribulation, global conflict and local chaos, prophesied in the Scriptures. And now that the Follow Me Ministry has been operating (at this writing) for five and a half years, when I consider the mass of material I’ve written since we began, I find it hard to believe that I’m the same person. I don’t recognize myself anymore! As I take inventory of what is going on inside of me, everything is different and nothing seems to be what it once was!
I didn’t desire, or plan, or try to make any of this happen. It just happened. And it has totally taken me by surprise. It occurs to me that the same kind of thing must have happened to Saul of Tarsus. Do you remember what he was like before the Lord confronted him on the road to Damascus? What an awesome ‘before and after’ transformation he underwent! Imagine what it must have been like for him after he had become a full-fledged New Covenant apostle! In former days, he had despised Yeshua and all He stood for! And he was a scourge to the Lord’s followers, a fire-snorting enemy and hit man that hounded and persecuted any fellow Jews who believed and served Him as their Messiah! Formerly he was a bullet headed fanatical proponent of the Mosaic Covenant and man-made traditions of Judaism, a ‘Pharisee of Pharisees’… a despiser of those that were ‘different’ and ‘unclean’. But consider the enormous difference in him years later, after he had transformed into ‘the apostle to the Gentiles’! Wow, that must have shocked him even more than it did the people that had known him in the old days!
A Turning Point
Nevertheless it was true. He could look back at a specific point in time and recognize it as his personal ‘turning point’… the time when something ‘apprehended’ him, and completely reversed the navigational headings of the rest of his days on Earth! From that point forward, he was doing, saying and teaching things that before that turning point arrived, would have been utter heresy and impossible for him even to consider! Now he was, ‘the apostle to the Gentiles’, teaching and doing things that would have been entirely out of the realm of possibility in his earlier years! That’s how much he had changed, and I’m sure he must have wondered: “How did I get here? What happened to me? How did all that I am now, manage to sneak up on me so suddenly?”
That’s what it’s like for me. And, as I look back at my most recent turning point… the year 2003, I can hardly believe what I see. I remember that in January of that year I began to have some very vivid dreams that made it very clear that I no longer belonged in the congregation where my family was currently worshipping. And in those dreams the Lord also made it clear that I no longer had any place in the world of official organized Church ministry, according to the common understanding. There was no place for me in the status quo world of organized religion. Suddenly I knew I was a misfit. But at that time, I had no clue as to what would come next. And soon after I had those vivid dreams, I heard a voice. It was in early March of that year, and it distinctly whispered in my inner mind: “You have seven years to build the army.” Of course I had no idea what that could mean. But I heard it very clearly.
And as the weeks turned into summer, I began to get a nagging set of premonitions in my gut concerning the Last Days. They were premonitions of things I really did not want to consider or think about… glimpses of bad, disastrous, chaotic things, like natural disasters and economic meltdowns and political strife and warfare and religious persecution and civil disintegration all over the world. So in July of that year, I wrote out what I was sensing in an article that I entitled, ‘The Big surprise’.
By temperament and personality, I was not predisposed or willing to want to dwell on anything like that. If at all possible, I would always try to bypass such things and avoid seeing or even thinking of them. But now, all of a sudden, I could not escape or forget about them… and the sense of urgency they always made me feel… that the Lord’s disciples desperately need to receive adequate preparation so they can be ready to face and deal with the horrendous things that are coming, simply would not go away.
Seven Years to Build an Army
Then in September of that year, the Holy Spirit began to rub my nose in the issue of the sad state of the relationship between Israel, the Jewish people and the terribly divided non-Jewish Church, such as it is. I never thought about that before, but suddenly it really began to bug me! So I couldn’t get away from that either. I had to begin to learn to live with those things and wait on the Lord to show me what He was doing and what he wanted to do with me.
The voice I heard in March of 2003 told me I had seven years to build the army. And sure enough, seven years later, my whole world turned completely upside down! In 2010, I finally had to admit that I no longer belonged in my current position with the Christ-Life Ministry. I began to sense that the Lord was easing me out of my official staff and governing board position, but I had no other plans or desires. I felt content and comfortable where I was. I had come to assume that I would die at that post and never considered moving to any other place or position. Nothing else was drawing me in another direction. But suddenly I just knew that I was about to be ejected. So, of course I began to beg the Lord to show me, clearly and specifically, what He was doing and where He wanted me to go. But at that time, this was all He said:
“I’m taking you out of where you are now. You’re finished building the Ultimate Journey army. That ministry is in very capable hands and it is doing very well. So you’re not needed there anymore. Now I’m going to stop you from doing what you’re doing and set you aside for a while. Then I will show you what we’re going to be doing next.”
That’s all I knew until December of 2010. In the middle of that month, suddenly I knew for sure that the time for me to move had come. And at that time, the Lord gave me the name of the new venture: ‘Follow Me Ministries’. At the time, that is all that I knew, but it was clear to me that the Lord was telling me to submit my official resignation from my position. So I sent my letter of resignation stating that in two weeks, effective January of 2011, I was stepping down and moving out. Of course I discussed this first with my family and the leaders of my congregation. They indicated it was okay with them. So I had the green light… and suddenly I was admitted to what I have since come to realize was my official entry into‘Last Days Boot Camp Training’!
Follow Me Ministry Begins
In January of 2011, the Follow Me Ministry began. A few dear friends stepped forward to do whatever they could to help me, even though I still had no clear idea of what we were supposed to start doing. One friend created and managed a new website for the new venture. That provided a ‘platform’ from which I could begin to share whatever Father was going to give me to share. Then, after a few days, the ‘downloads’ began to come. And I did my best to understand, process and articulate them. And surprisingly, the focus of those downloads was always somehow connected to matters pertaining to Israel and her God-given task of serving as priestly mediator between God and the rest of the human race, and the historically disastrous relationship that has existed between Israel and the Church from the earliest days to the present. And underlying all of that was the haunting sense of urgency I had developed concerning the Lord’s disciples… having to be prepared to do their jobs… during the troubles of the Last Days! And soon after I began to write and post files on the website, a dear brother and his congregation stumbled onto it and read what was there, and contacted me. And that’s how our connection with our precious African brothers and sisters (who now operate a vast distribution system that translates, prints and distributes our material to many countries of the world) was first formed.
And then, as many of you know, on January 1 of 2013, my wife Mary’s ordeal of serious illness and major surgeries began. At that point, my personal ‘boot camp’ training kicked into high gear. I knew that this would happen sooner or later, because the Lord had made it very clear that the material He was going to give me to share would have to be authentic and ‘laboratory tested’. Such vitally important and specialized training material has to be as real as the future dangers we will all have to face and overcome. So the Lord made it clear that it would not be enough for me to tell the people what the message is… I was going to have to BECOME the message and demonstrate the reality of it through my own timid and reluctant flesh! In other words, He was not going to permit me to merely ‘tell’ them, I was going to have to show them… that is, demonstrate it for them through my own personal experiences.
To do that, I had to be the first to enter His Follow Me Boot Camp. I would have to know exactly and precisely, from personal experience, what I would be saying to the other Family members in the future. So the typical boot camp types of shocks, unexpected setbacks, disappointments, impossible challenges, overwhelming stresses and frustrating failures began to come at me from all directions, in steady streams. And they continue to this day! And this is precisely what Last Days disciples will have to get used to. And they’ll need to have a clear understanding of what the enormous spiritual stakes will be at that time – between God and His people and the powers of Darkness!
Dying to Live
So now, thanks to my new lifestyle of stamping out endless unexpected ‘brush fires’ and experiencing sudden crises and emergencies and setbacks and seemingly impossible challenges… boot camp preparation is all I can think about these days! Ever since I had to take Mary to the emergency room on that New Year’s Day in 2013, my whole life has been filled with nothing but boot camp-like stress-filled situations, problems, challenges and puzzles! I have been at that level of training ever since this began on that day, and there’s no end in sight! I can honestly say that I am ‘the designated Follow Me guinea pig’. And this boot camp training has been, and continues to be, the most gripping and difficult set of challenges I have ever faced in all my years.
But even though all of this sounds really, really bad… the opposite is true! There’s a glorious paradox involved… the same kind of paradox that we see throughout the Bible. According to God’s ways, if you want to be absolutely alive, you must first die to what you originally started out to be! In order to be free, you must surrender yourself completely to God’s Living Word, your Messiah, and become His bond slave! In order to be all that God intends for you to be, you must decrease to zero, so that Yeshua may be All in all for you! And in order to achieve the rewards of His Perfect, All-Sufficient Works of Salvation, Redemption and Resurrection Restoration, you must learn to stop thinking and reacting and acting as if what He has already done isn’ t ‘good enough’ and must somehow be improved and completed… by you! We must stop doing that and begin to learn to rest peacefully with God instead… and begin to enjoy the Eternal Perfection of His Son’s Utterly Flawless, All-Sufficient, Finished Works of Creation and Redemption! (See Colossians 3:1-4)
So we must make a huge Exodus transition from our original natural, earthly, ‘my life’… to Yeshua’s Heavenly, Spirit-transmitted, ‘Word of God in me Life’. Thus in order to possess everything God can possibly bestow… we must first give away everything we are and have and hope to achieve on our own! And that’s what happens in this wilderness Boot Camp! The paradox I’m experiencing is this: I have to die to myself. I have to be weaned of the habit of relying on myself. I have to stop trying to strengthen and improve myself. In fact, I have to forget about myself and give away everything that pertains to it! And God causes that to happen through all of my blunders and failures! The more I blow it and the more I’m blindsided and taken off guard and pushed over… the more I fail the tests and trials and surprise challenges that this boot camp keeps shoving in my face… the better, stronger, freer and more confident I am beginning to feel!
That really sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But it’s true: I’m learning that none of what God is after depends on me and on what I can do or how I will manage to do it in the future! All of that has to be taken out of the picture. He’s training me to rely exclusively on the Perfection and All-Sufficiency of what He has already done in the past! His Work is Finished, Perfect and utterly Complete! So my blunders and failures are actually helping to set me free from my former habitual reliance on myself. I, and all of my personal baggage, have been getting in God’s way! So the Lord is delivering me from that deadly humanistic ‘God helps those that help themselves’ delusion that we hear so often in this world. As far as God is concerned, He helps the helpless! He sends His Living Word and Spirit to cover those who know and admit that they are ‘poor, wretched, miserable, blind and naked! (See Revelation 3:15-22.) Now, everything depends on the Perfection and Fullness and Adequacy of what God’s beloved Son has already accomplished… in our name!
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (Emphasis added.)
1 Peter 2:9-10
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
So the more I flub and fail… the more inclined I am to see through myself and get in touch with my utter bankruptcy and living dead state! And that drives me to realize how desperately I need my Master to take over. My failures are helping me to learn to look to, and draw exclusively from, Him! And when I do that, He always pulls through and proves that all of His revelations, claims and promises are absolutely true! So, the more I fail, the more I look to Him. And the more I look to Him, the more everything, down to the tiniest detail, turns out great and in perfect order. And it’s blatantly obvious that I had nothing to do with it!
The obedience of this level of exclusive faith, hope and trust in God’s precious Perfect Living Word, allows God to fulfill and manifest the Truth of His promises to us. Faith and Rest in God’s Word opens a spiritual pathway from Heaven to Earth. And through it, the Holy Spirit is able to keep transmitting to us God’s promised All-Sufficient Grace from the Treasury of the Word’s Finished Works of Creation and Redemption! Father joyfully provides whatever His Wisdom and Foreknowledge have already anticipated and provided for our situational needs and circumstances and challenges. All of that is waiting for us in His Eternal Dimension in Heaven. All of this Fullness is contained in our Messiah, Yeshua! He is the wonderful, mind-boggling ‘Daily Bread’ Provision, Protection and Guidance that He taught His disciples to pray for continually in Matthew 6. If we know our Messiah intimately and personally, thanks to a lifestyle of abiding in and with Him that our ‘Marching Orders’ teach us… we’ll be able to rest in His Perfect All-Sufficient Mastery of every situation. And that will enable us to persevere along our Exodus Journey through time and space here on Earth! As we continue to trust in and rely upon Yeshua’s All-Sufficient Perfection and Provision, step by step and moment by moment, God continues to testify to and validate His beloved Son and He proves to us that all of the revelations, claims and promises He gave through His Living and written Word, are absolutely True!
“When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He *said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
So now I see that, regardless of what I used to try to be and to do in my self-absorbed anxiety and striving… that it was always irrelevant and in the way! God only draws from the Treasury of what His Living Word has already done in our name! So I am being ‘weaned’ from looking to myself… BIG TIME! I am also getting to know, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that the Lord is here with me, and with all of us… all the time! He’s abiding with us… to teach, train, prune, correct, discipline, amputate, drill, grind and crucify everything in us that is still getting in the way of what Father sent Him here to be and to do to us, in us, with us, for us, and through us… so that we can all learn to rest with Father, as one New Man… One… in His Perfect Peace and eternal Satisfaction with HIS WORD… WHO IS OUR PERFECT, ALL-SUFFICIENT COVENANT COVERING AND CHAMPION!
The Lord’s Word and Holy Spirit serve as our utterly trustworthy and capable and expert ‘Drill Instructors’. The Word is very firm, very thorough, and relentless in His obedience to His Father’s instructions regarding each disciple’s growth and development. So we don’t have to worry about whether or not He’s going to do a good job with us. We can take that to the bank! Because He’s infinitely, eternally Perfect, He’s unchangeable. And because He’s unchangeable, the Perfection He manifested yesterday and today, is the Perfection He will manifest tomorrow and forever. So the more I realize how Complete and Perfect our God is, the easier it is to see through all the shabbiness of the false faith and hope I used to put on myself. That gross self-absorption was the source of all my bondage and it kept generating pangs of dread and pressure that would always overwhelm me when things were clearly not going quite right.
But now, the Holy Spirit is here to keep me focused perpetually on my Messiah! He’s forcing all of that delusion and the feelings that flow from it, to be completely drained out of me! So, the heavier my burdens are, the lighter I feel! I feel relief and freedom because I’m not the one laboring under all of that weight! They’re my burdens, but I’m not carrying them! Isn’t that wonderfully crazy? I know that to the world, all of this sounds absolutely insane and doesn’t make a bit of sense. But boot camp is proving to me that the Greatness and Goodness of our God is absolutely true! And now… I’m going to say something else that I know will sound crazy and out of whack to unbelieving people; but here it goes:
This gut wrenching, scary period of being taxed, stretched and pulled to the limits of human endurance… has, to date, been the most wonderful, glorious and precious period of my entire life!
See? I told you it would sound crazy! But I mean it. And this is why I say it: I say it because it is absolutely true that these days, thanks to my personal family situations, I’m able to accomplish less and less. Yet I feel freer and more joyful and content and confident than I’ve ever felt before! I’m also saying these crazy-sounding things so that you may remember them in the future… during times when you too will desperately need to know the same thing. I’m saying this… so that it can be a wonderful encouragement to you in your most desperate times of need and fear and discouragement! Don’t stop pursuing your Exodus Journeys, beloved ones! Don’t heed the deadly lies of the demonic Truth-twisters. Stay focused. Keep going! Persevere! Overcome! You’ll never regret it!
“Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter, the one that remains faithful. The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock. For He has brought low those who dwell on high, the unassailable city; He lays it low, He lays it low to the ground, He casts it to the dust. The foot will trample it, the feet of the afflicted, the steps of the helpless. The way of the righteous is smooth; O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level!”
Since we are all disciples-in-training, we must all receive this level of training to be ready for what’s coming. So know this – you will not be exempt. This is why I’m sharing these declarations and the Scripture texts from which they arise. I want you to know the good news and to expect to experience the glorious and wonderful aspects and side effects and results that your boot camp training will begin to develop within your very makeup and personal experiences. It will be vitally important for all of us to know just how much our precious Lord has us covered and how airtight His faithfulness and credibility and eternal trustworthiness actually are!
His Lovingkindness is Everlasting! He is infinitely, perfectly Faithful and True and Credible and Reliable! He will never leave or forsake or fail us! Therefore… we can afford to give to others from the abundance that is ours… in Him… endlessly! Because He is always standing by us… we can always stand by those around us… when world circumstances begin to take everything away from everyone. And although the world and its systems will falter and fail those who trust in them… the King of the Kingdom of Heaven will always be our Infinite, Ever-Perfect Shepherd, Protector and Supplier!
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!” For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His Faithfulness is a Shield and Bulwark!” (Emphasis added.)
“REJOICE in the Lord ALWAYS; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. THE LORD IS NEAR! BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING, but IN EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God! And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you!” (Emphasis added.)
2 Corinthians 4:6-11
“For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of Darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our (darkened, mortally wounded) hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the (Eternal) Glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this Treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing Greatness of the Power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the Life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh!” (Amplification and emphasis added.)
If you learn your boot camp lessons well, beloved, the Reality of your indwelling Lord’s Perfect Presence will permeate every part of you and His Lovingkindness will ‘bleed’ into everything you’ll experience in the future. This will happen for you, if you’re willing to endure and persevere and follow directions while the Lord runs you through the courses of His awesome ‘Disciple Academy’.
You already know (if you’ve been reading my FMM material) that I keep harping on our ‘Marching Orders’… and on learning to abide in the Perfect Presence of our Lord and to commune and interact with Him, at all times and in all things. I harp on depending on Him for everything… and drawing exclusively from the Eternal Treasury of the Perfect Finished Work of Creation and Redemption that He has already accomplished on our behalf. I keep repeating that what He has already done is more than enough to cover everything in our past, present and future needs, cares and concerns. I’ve known it theologically; I’ve said it in my writings… but now I’m actually experiencing it in my every day circumstances!
His Work is Perfect because HE IS PERFECT! But we are always utterly imperfect. We abide in mortally wounded, spoiled, failure-prone flesh at this point of our journey. Death is still always at work in us. It will not always be this way with us… but for now, it most certainly is. So here is the kicker:
IN THIS LIFE, WE WILL NEVER IMPROVE!
We will never ‘get the hang of it’. Nor will we ever become more capable or gain more skill in obeying and serving God so that we can begin to ‘go solo’ by and in ourselves! We’ll never increase in expertise and skill to the point where we’ll begin to need our Lord less and less, and be able to depend on ourselves, more and more. That will NEVER happen! So don’t even think of going there! Personally, we will always be inept and bankrupt and stuck in living death. So God’s Living Word will always have to be our one and only Source for everything! We creatures will never originate anything the way our uncreated Creator does! So… apart from Him, we are forever incapable of being and doing anything! Death will always be at work in us; and He must always be the LIFE that will be working in and through us, in our name. This is what we are being trained to learn and practice at this critical time! Our Master is here to burn the Truth and Reality of what He was saying to His Father through these words, into our innermost being:
“The Glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My Glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (Emphasis added. Ponder the whole chapter!)
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am The Vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing!” (Emphasis added.)
So how does this play out in my daily experiences? It goes like this: After five and a half years of boot camp trial and error and incredibly repetitious practice, I see my Exodus Journey as an ongoing series of steps that keep taking me from one point to another. God has given us a destination to move toward, step by step. And throughout each step, we are to be utterly one with Him at all times. But sometimes we forget or rebel and decide to take a step sideways or backwards. So we separate ourselves and change direction and go off on some side ‘bunny trail’ of our own choosing. But the main issue in all of this… is that one unique Messiah-in-me choice that must be at the heart of every step we take from now on. Yeshua must increase to 100%… and we must decrease to Zero! That is the critical inner choice we must master. And we must come to clearly understand that it truly is a Life or Death choice, a Spirit or Flesh choice, a Christ or Me choice. If we’re going to make this Exodus for real, we will always have to learn to make the correct, Messiah-Life choice, before we take each next step, and the step after that, and the one after that, and so on. So here is the choice as I would articulate it for your understanding:
“Who is going to be living and working in me as I take this next step? Will it be my radically independent self, or will it be You, my Lord? Will I allow You to take me along the course of this Exodus, or will I insist on ignoring You and continuing to try to take each succeeding step on my own?”
This is the choice each disciple will have to make… incessantly. The first time we really make this ‘Yeshua choice’ will be the very first authentically real step of our Exodus Journey. Then, after that, our challenge will be to continue to repeat and duplicate that same first step, over and over and over again until we keep doing the same thing… all the way across the Exodus Finish Line that takes us into eternity. That is the only way we can back up our claims of being His disciples and our professions that He truly is our Lord and Master and that He is really the one we are following!
We can continue to choose to operate as we learned to do originally, while we were worldly, humanistic, radically independent agents that knew little or nothing of God, OR… we can forsake (crucify) that ‘dead false self’ and choose to defer to our risen Lord so that He can live in us and move us to draw everything we will be and have and do from Him… throughout each step we will take in the future. He is the one that must take us Home. Only He knows the way because HE IS THE WAY!
I can’t stress this enough! The first true, God-approved step really happens… when we make the right life-exchange choice… when you defer to Your Lord and Master so that He may increase and take you over completely… He must be free to live His Life from within you. He must increase in you until He becomes ALL in all! And you must correspondingly decrease and remain dead and out of His way, completely. That is the proper step. And you must make that step the first time… then you do it again… and again… and again… and again… and again… and again, etc. etc. etc., persistently and consistently, with Blood Covenant level faithfulness, obedience and trust. And finally, when the end of the Journey is just ahead… your resurrected Lord, on that basis, will be free to take you all the way across the Finish Line and into your Heavenly Father’s arms!
So, do you see what that process will do to our flesh at each point along the way? Our flesh will be crucified and removed, at each moment and phase of the process! And the Presence and Reality of our risen Lord will shine brighter and brighter the further we go! This will keep opening the door for God to abide and work and reveal Himself to the world around you… from deep within you!
Fallen Flesh Will Never Improve
I’ve been trying to learn to cooperate with the Lord as He keeps training me to do this. And the massive repetition that boot camp always imposes has gradually begun to change me on the inside. It is training me to be able to take this step automatically, with a knee-jerk reaction level of spontaneous regularity and reliability. And it’s making me more alert to what I’m up against and how weak and inept and flaky and unreliable my fallen flesh really is. And it’s rubbing my nose in the changeless fact that I am desperately needy, empty and bankrupt and in total need of continually depending on, and drawing from, My Lord. The repetition is gradually drilling and conditioning me to draw endlessly from the All-Sufficiency of His Perfect Finished Work, His Infinite Treasury of Grace!
So, I do my best to get the hang of this… I do my best to remember to take the next Messiah-through-me step, properly and correctly. But then suddenly, a grenade comes out of nowhere, or I inadvertently step on a hidden land mine, some sort of hidden explosive device that blows me way off course. Something will happen unexpectedly… and I’ll forget to stay focused. And I’ll come up with the exact wrong knee-jerk response, or make some other kind of idiotic blunder. The unexpected hidden explosive devices that suddenly go off always shock me and catch me off guard and throw me for a loop! They leave me stunned and writhing emotionally in the dust. Every time it happens, it’s so sudden and unexpected and stunning that I even forget where I am or what my name is. And that’s when I forget everything that I’ve been trying to learn. Suddenly I snap back to my old ways, back to what I know best… my old instinctual, automatic, Death-ridden self-life flesh reactions! In the blink of an eye, I ‘lose it’ all… and suddenly I realize that I’ve taken several steps backward, back in the direction of ‘Egypt’! It happens over and over and over again! And then the reality I’ve shared with you hits me in the face again: ‘In this life my fallen flesh will never improve. It is already dead!
At first, when this would happen, it would be maddening and utterly discouraging to me. My natural reaction was: “How could I be so stupid and inept? Why can’t I get hold of this? How long will it be before I’m able to stay on track and be consistent?” And sometimes I would hear demonic voices pouring tons of toxic guilt, shame and condemnation into my inner reservoir:
“You’ve got to be the stupidest idiot on the face of the earth! How could you be so dense and phony? You are such a fake, such a failure, and such a fraudulent scam artist! Look at you! You claim to love and serve God… but the first chance you get… you violate and go against everything you teach and claim and try to palm off on other people! Everything you’ve said all these years is a total lie… You can’t follow Him! You’ll never be faithful to your commitments! You’re as hopeless as anyone could possibly be and you will never do anything but fail… just the way you did right now!”
Speaking Truth to the Treadmill of Hopeless Thinking
But then my precious Drill Instructor, the Holy Spirit, takes over and He begins to whisper God’s Truth into my heart and His Truth cuts through all of that demonic chatter and static and dissipates them:
“You’re way off track! Yes, you just made another wrong choice. But you did it because there was nothing else that you could have done! That is what fallen flesh always does! It can’t do anything else because, at this point, Death is still always at work within you! The enemy wants you to remain trapped on the treadmill of hopeless thinking so that he can make your dead flesh so aroused that it will take over again. He keeps trying to get you to work harder to make your dead flesh come to life and begin to produce good results apart from Yeshua! But your flesh is dead… and what is dead can only produce more Death! So don’t fall for this trap! Stop trusting in yourself… Trust in your risen Lord and Master. He is the only Human in existence that currently has and is able to live the Resurrected Life! So Let Him live it from within you… and if you do… it doesn’t matter what your fallen flesh can or cannot do. That will be irrelevant from now on.
“Now you have a chance to make this Truth sink in even deeper! Now you can practice some more. Practice admitting that you still have that flesh in you. And now you can affirm once more that it is dead and bankrupt and helpless. You can remind yourself that you are not putting any expectations on it ever again. And you can reinforce the Truth that from now on, you are free to admit that you’ll never have what it takes to be able to do anything that is good or right in your own strength! Now you can stop trying to bypass your risen Lord and be free from having to try to do everything yourself! Now you know that when you keep expecting to do it yourself, you are putting your Lord back on the Cross instead of crucifying yourself and allowing Him to continue to preside and serve as your Life, in your name! Each time you look to yourself to do the job, God is no longer free to work in you, both to will and to do according to Father’s good purposes. So don’t fall for that trap. You can choose either way of operating, but you can’t have both. One of you must live; and the other must remain in the Cross! So now you can come back to your right senses and get back on that Cross – NOW!”
This has been happening, over and over and over again… for more than five years! But even though I never get smarter or more adept and skillful, and even though I keep struggling with the same flesh that I always have to drag around, I am gradually getting used to being and remaining hopelessly bankrupt and crucified and out of my Master’s way.
“Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
I’m developing the habit of ignoring myself, and focusing on Him! And you already know how powerful our bad habits are, don’t you? Well, just wait and see what happens when you’ve developed this wonderful new habit… the habit of allowing the Living Word of Almighty God to be YOUR GOD AND YOUR EVERYTHING… all the time! Once you have that habit… the Serpent will be toast!
So, at this point, I am firmly convinced that this is how it will always be with me in this life. What is already dead can never improve or become lively! So I will never get to the point where I will become so good at ‘being good’ or ‘holy’ or ‘spiritual’… that I will begin to do the right thing in the right way, on my own. I will never get to the point where I will, one day, be what My Master is, and get the hang of doing what He does, the way He does it! When I begin to think like that, I’m falsely assuming that I can reach a point when I won’t need Him to be and do everything for me in the future, as much as I need Him now. But that is the biggest lie of all! I will always need Him tomorrow… just as desperately as I do today, regardless of what I may encounter in the days to come! And He will always be right here with me to fulfill His every promise and claim… every step of the way!
Beloved, now I know for sure that my ‘self-enhancement’ is a terrible sham. It will never happen… my flesh will always be trying to take over again; it will always become aroused by this or that unexpected, sudden thing that blindsides me. I will still be caught off guard in the future. And whenever that happens, my flesh will pounce on the opportunity and all sorts of self-centered reactions will explode within me and blow up all my recent efforts to ‘grow up’ one more time. That will happen because my flesh will never change, or improve or become ‘wiser’, or ‘holier’, or more spiritual’ and ‘disciplined’. And I know that the enemy will never stop trying to drag me back into that self-life bondage trap with his malevolent lies and self-centered accusations. But despite all of that, My Redeemer has already overcome him! He has destroyed the power of all his works, as they relate to me. None of this is about me any more. From now on… it’s all about My Master!
I Am Already Dead
So I, in this natural, Adamic state in which we all still live, will have to be ready to allow the Holy Spirit to do what good Drill Instructors always do. He will speak into my ear, loudly and forcefully and make sure I realize that my flesh got in the way and goofed everything up once again. And He’ll immediately get me back on track, and I’ll remember to put that dead thing back on the Cross, where it belongs. God doesn’t have to kill me in the future; nor does He expect me to commit suicide. That’s not what the Gospel is saying. The Truth is this: the New Covenant has made me one with my Messiah. And thanks to that awesome bond that the Covenant creates between God’s Word and me, God considers His Word, and me, to be one working unit! So, because we’re forever one… when my Lord was crucified… I was crucified with Him! It has already happened, and once is enough!
This is how my death has already been taken care of. So, as far as the Kingdom of Heaven is concerned, I am already dead! My flesh has already been dealt with in God’s sight. So, even though I still have to live in this body of flesh, and it keeps ‘twitching’ and ‘contorting’ and trying to wiggle away from the nails, I have to keep reminding myself that it is finished. I am already legally and essentially DEAD! But my Perfect Resurrected, Spirit-imparting Covenant Representative LIVES… in me, through me, and as me!
So, in this sense, I can stop being shocked and disappointed over what that flesh residue in me always keeps trying to get me to do. Since it’s already dead, then… when it twitches a little, I must remind myself that it is dead and put it back in its place on the Cross, where it belongs, and forget about it. I will have to remind myself to do that daily, many times over… because flesh keep ‘twitching’ and it never learns anything new nor can it ever change. It will be up to the Holy Spirit in me, to keep things straight and continue to remind and empower me to keep making that correct Messiah-through-me choice. It is the choice to defer to and to worship and elevate my Lord and Master so that He, and His Perfect Righteousness and Purity can remain preeminently active within me. And God’s beloved Son will always be infinitely acceptable to our Heavenly Father. So, in this way, God’s Living Word will be able to preside within me, and He will be recognizable and obviously present and active within me… in Father’s sight. In this way, Yeshua will be for me what I could never be for or in myself. He is here to do, in my name, what I will never be able to do on my own, in this life. So, for us to really and truly live… is Messiah Yeshua! And God is eternally pleased and satisfied with that! (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:21)
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the Truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for,(because we are one with each other)He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”
“He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus *said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
I’m sharing my boot camp experiences with you so that you’ll know what to expect as you go through the same training. To learn to defer to your risen Lord at all times will be the primary and essential gut wrenching lesson we will all have to learn during our disciple boot camp training days. Imagine what it will mean to you in the future… when you’re faced with impossible situations and overwhelming problems and opposition… to know for sure that your risen Lord and Master, the Infinitely Perfect One… the Lord of all Creation… is abiding in the midst of all that with you… ready to prove to you that He can be trusted and relied upon in all things and at all times! What will that absolute certain knowledge mean to you then?
As long as I remain in this life… as long as I’m still en route on this Exodus Journey, My flesh condemns me to perpetual ineptitude and failure. I will never be able to ‘get better’. I will never ‘improve’! I’m never going to be able to ‘get the hang’ of this. And beloved one, you are in the same boat! Therefore, all of us will always be stuck at the zero point that is common to all who have Death still at work within them. In that sense, we will always be dead to ourselves, that is, we won’t be able to look to or draw from anything that originates with us. We will always be bankrupt. So we will always remain 100% in need of, and dependent upon Almighty God, our one and only Source! Our Heavenly Father’s Grace, Mercy, Compassion, Forbearance and Spirit-empowered Intervention will be the only Provision and Protection available for us, regardless of what may be happening or not happening on this fallen earth. This is what He sent His Living Word and Holy Spirit to Earth to teach us. This is what Yeshua was demonstrating to His disciples during their boot camp training!
When our Master walked the Earth in human flesh, He had the Holy Spirit in all His Fullness. And He was perfectly Sin-less. But that cannot be said of us. We have the Holy Spirit too… but not the way He did! He and the Father and the Holy Spirit are always ONE in nature. God is totally Transcendent, and we will always be completely different in nature from our Creator. And in this life, we fallen children of Adam still remain trapped in our original state of living death. We won’t be that way when we finish the Journey and enter eternity. But we will be in that state as long as we remain on Earth in this dimension of space and time. This is why God must give us the Gift of His Holy Spirit. This is how He can fill our regenerated spirits with the Eternal Life that is in His own Word’s Resurrected Humanity!
Experiencing God’s Peace
As I already said: Yeshua is the only Human that has Resurrection Life at this point. We’re on our way to having what He now has, but we still have more ground to cover before we get there. So while we’re still en route, the Holy Spirit will have to continually prune our fleshly control compulsion urges away from us. He will always have to be with us, to correct and discipline and keep that dead twitching flesh in check.
So we are being trained to cooperate with Him, gladly, willingly, gratefully, humbly and continually. But… even though we must still inhabit ‘the body of this death’ in this life… thanks be to God! We can be delivered from its tyranny, step by step, moment by moment, and choice by choice… by remembering that we died in and with our Messiah. Then we can remember to defer continually… to the abiding indwelling Life of our risen Lord.
I’ve been going through this specialized Last Days boot camp training for five plus solid years now. And I’ve proven to be hopelessly inept. Now I know, from bitter experience, that I will never personally improve. Dead men do not get better! So, although my fallen flesh continues to cause me to stumble, waver, trip and sometimes ‘blow up’, nevertheless, the precious Holy Spirit keeps bringing me back… back to making the right choice, back to the ‘I defer to You, dear Lord, so you can live Your Life in me’ choice… even amid my flagrant failures, and maddening forgetful lapses and weaknesses.
Yes, I blow up repeatedly, and fail and stumble just as much as ever; but, even though I never improve or become more skilled at being good or holy in myself… the more I fail, the more I am able to remember just how desperately I need my Master! And that incessant failure is the very thing that is helping me to remember to make the right choice with greater frequency and consistency! And the more I make that right choice… the more consistently I feel and sense and experience God’s awesome Peace, Rest, Joy and everlasting Wellbeing! Now, I’m so busy focusing on how much I need my Lord, that I’m repeatedly prompted to make that right choice, over and over and over… it’s becoming an automatic, knee-jerk reaction habit pattern within me. It isn’t that I’m improving in myself, it’s that I’m developing a new good response habit pattern that opens the door for the Lord to remain in charge. I KNOW where the True Life is and I know where it isn’t. It’s in Him. And He is in me! And because I know He’s Perfect, and even though at this point, I know I’m still grossly unfit and unfinished, I also know that by the end of this Journey, what He has been doing in me and in all of us will turn out to be absolutely PERFECT! And that Perfection will finally become mine as well.
“For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.”
Another delightful result is this: The Lord is letting me know experientially that He is here with me, teaching, training, correcting and filling me, more and more, deeper and deeper. He’s giving me this message: “Yes, this is what I want you to learn. This is the Truth! This is what FMM is all about and why Father created it in the first place! I am seeing to it that you come to know Me as I really and truly AM!”
He’s letting me know that God is endorsing this in a variety of ways… through miraculous changes that suddenly take place in terrible situations, as I’m trying to remember to make the right choice… and He lets me know through some things that other people notice and mention that have a direct bearing on this, in ways they could never know… and through obvious signs of God’s intervening favor and grace and protection. I can actually ‘feel’ His Presence and see its tangible results, as soon as I admit my bankruptcy and turn to Him once again. As soon as that happens, He responds and things begin to change, miraculously! I can literally see and hear the evidence that lets me know that His Presence is here… in me, and all around me… and all of us… in ways that, even though I’m not always aware of them, are unmistakable in their fruitful reality and observable, measurable authenticity. And that gives me incredible ‘jolts’ of encouragement. The Lord is letting me know that this really is the Truth – that we’re getting hold of what He’s been trying to tell us and that we’re on the right track!
So I’m becoming more and more confident that if and when we really develop a deep habit of ‘making that right ‘Messiah-in-me’ choice, we’ll become increasingly prepared, trained and equipped to overcome any and all demonic evils with the Infinite GOOD that comes when the Perfect Presence of Almighty God is emanating from our spirits, souls and bodies… and permeating every circumstance, situation, issue, and every perspective, imagination, thought, decision, action, reaction and interaction that He makes it possible for us to have.
So in the midst of all the boot camp flack and tension and challenges and testing, that seem to never end, I sense nevertheless that I’m in the eye of a hurricane, abiding there with Father… and I’m perpetually being enfolded by His Shalom. And because of His nearness, I am able to remember to keep saying to my risen Lord:
“As long as You’re with me and I’m with You, dear Lord… I know everything is covered and I know everything is going to turn out first class and just right! So I will abide with You and I will continuously rest upon You and draw everything I will need in the days ahead, from Your eternally Faithful Covenant Loyalty and Perfect Lovingkindness. I defer to You to live in me every step of the way… to the very end of our Journey! Thank You for always being here with me. Thank You for setting me free from my former slavery to earthly circumstances and feelings. And thank You for allowing me to see that, just as You promised that it would be between us… so can I see that it is actually coming to pass!”
Beloved friends, this training is gut-wrenchingly hard! But it is well worth the effort to endure and persevere in it. What the Lord intends to reveal to us and instill within us, is not some spiritual ‘bag of gifts’. It is much more precious and powerful than that. The Lord is here to give HIMSELF… to you, to me and to all the rest of us! And, I am finding out like I never dreamed could be possible in the past, that to have Him is to know Him… and to know Him is to possess… EVERYTHING!
It’s not about how much we know or how many tricks we have up our sleeve. It’s about whether or not we’re yielded enough to know Him as He really is. We’ll never pass Judgment by trying to improve and cultivate ourselves, or by relying on our little created fallen faculties. The one God is the sole Source of everything, whether we realize it or can figure it out, or not! It is His Glory and Responsibility to be Almighty God, not ours. All of the results depend on His Perfect Nature and airtight Lovingkindness! So our responsibility is to focus on Him and to sing His praises and rest in His Perfection. We are to be His reflectors, His image and likeness, but never do we have to concern ourselves with trying to become His competitors or replacements.
“But whatever things were gain to me (in my former radically independent, hyper-religious days), those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may (when I reach the destination of my step-by-step Exodus Journey) attain to the resurrection from the dead.
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God IN CHRIST JESUS. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” (Amplification and emphasis added.)
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me Gold refined by Fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My Throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His Throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches!’”
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us! For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!“ (Emphasis added.)