Reap the Whirlwind

Let me share with you the Scripture that is at the front of my
heart as I’m stepping into 2018. It’s Hosea 8:7, “They sow the wind,
and reap the whirlwind.”

God was confronting idolatry through Hosea. By following false
gods, the people were sowing to the wind. False gods were as
wind—they were nothing. By sowing to the empty winds of idolatry,
the people would reap a whirlwind of judgment. As it turned out, that
whirlwind of judgment came in the form of military invasion by enemy

If the negative is true, is the positive also true? That is, if we
sow to empty winds and reap a negative whirlwind, is it also true that
if we’ll sow to positive winds that we’ll reap a positive whirlwind from
God? I think the answer could be yes. I believe the positive principle
in the verse is this: If we will sow to the winds of the Spirit, we will
reap a whirlwind of divine visitation from the Holy Spirit.
This principle is supported by Paul, who wrote, “He who sows
to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Gal 6:8). There are
ways to sow to the Spirit that produce blessing in our lives.

For me, the lives of three men in the Bible represent the
principle of Hosea 8:7. Job, Ezekiel, and John sowed to the winds of
the Spirit and eventually reaped the whirlwind of God’s visitation.

Job. How did Job sow to the winds of the Spirit in his trial? By
enduring in faith. He continued expectantly in prayer, in this midst of
his great suffering, keeping his eyes on the Lord. In chapter 38, he
told how God visited him in the whirlwind. When God came to Job in
the whirlwind, everything changed. That whirlwind signaled that God
was now intervening on Job’s behalf and fighting for him. Job actually
saw God with his eyes. What an awesome whirlwind to reap!

Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a priest, and at age 30 he should have
been officially inducted and commissioned as a fully functional priest
in the temple. Instead, the temple had been burned by the
Babylonians and Ezekiel was an exiled captive in a foreign land.
Turning 30 was a reminder of the divine calling he would never fulfill.
His 30th birthday could have been cause for him to be despondent
and depressed. Instead, Ezekiel got in the Spirit. He gave himself to
prayer and to the Holy Spirit. And even though he was a captive, the
whirlwind of God invaded his life and changed everything. “Then I
looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north” (Ezek

That whirlwind was Jesus Himself coming to him, riding in a
chariot consisting of four cherubim. The cherubim were Jesus’
chariot, Jesus’ car. This invasion of God, via the whirlwind, marked
the launch of a powerful prophetic ministry through Ezekiel. Seeing
God changed Ezekiel forever.

John. Like Ezekiel, John was also a captive. He was a prisoner
of the Roman penal system on a prison island called Patmos. And he
was in his 90s. He had reason, in the natural, to bemoan his living
conditions. Especially on the Lord’s Day, which was a celebration of
Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus was resurrected and alive but none of that
resurrection life was touching John. All John felt in his body was
death, loneliness, and deprivation. But instead of getting depressed,
he got in the Spirit. Here’s how he described the launch of his
visitation: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind
me a loud voice, as of a trumpet” Rev 1:10. Jesus Himself had come
to him and was talking to him. John sowed to the winds of the Spirit
by getting in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and he reaped the whirlwind
of a history-changing encounter with the resurrected Christ.
Therefore, take this cue from Hosea 8:7: Sow to the Spirit. Sow
to the winds of the Spirit.  And watch for the whirlwind of God.

This is the scriptural thought at the front of my heart as I step into 2018.

May you have grace from above to sow to the winds of the Spirit in 2018,
and may you reap the whirlwind of God.


Vignette Editor:

Loyalty is a glorious, godly quality which is rightly to be celebrated. That’s why I’m glad it has taken a more prominent place in the minds of Americans today. Misconceptions about its true nature abound, however. Loyalty that is coerced or required is not loyalty but servitude. I’d like to use this brief post to identify the three things upon which loyalty must be built.

Before I get to that, though, I want to point to three things that loyalty is not based upon. First, loyalty is not expressed in silent acquiescence. It’s bold enough to disagree with a leader and speak the truth when necessary. It’s not loyalty unless it’s willing to confront. Silent submission isn’t loyalty, it’s foolishness.

Secondly, it’s not romantic unrealism. It doesn’t have an unrealistic view of a leader’s greatness. Loyalty actually sees the weaknesses, quirks, and foibles in a leader, but is willing to stay because of a fundamental conviction about the leader’s integrity, proven effectiveness, and favor under God.

Thirdly, it’s not unqualified allegiance. It doesn’t say, “I’ll follow you no matter what you do.” Loyalty is conditional. Only dogs give unqualified allegiance.

Yes, loyalty is conditional. It has a very concrete, substantial basis which must not be violated. Why, then, would someone be loyal to a leader? For three reasons.

1. Humility. Humility earns our loyalty because it’s realistic and wise. When you see a leader walking in authentic humility before God, you’re safe to give your heart.

2. Truth. Loyalty devotes itself to a cause where truth is valued and preserved. When you find fierce adherence to the truth of God’s word, it’s safe to give your heart in loyalty.

3. Righteousness. When a leader is walking in blamelessness and purity in his or her personal life in moral areas such as sexuality and financial integrity, then join the team and give your heart to the cause.

Leaders who display these three qualities are following in the legacy provided by our Master, of whom it says, “In Your majesty ride prosperously because of truth, humility, and righteousness” (Ps 45:4).

If a leader becomes arrogant, or abandons truth, or compromises his or her righteousness, gather your stuff and move on. The only reason to stay is if that leader repents and returns to these three values.

Leaders, give us three reasons please to be loyal to you. Demonstrate an unbending commitment to truth, humility, and righteousness.

This post is adapted from Bob’s book, LOYALTY: The Reach of the Noble Heart. You can find it at


This book this film is based on celebrates God’s goodness to chasten. It will help you make sense of inexplicable trials, strengthen your resolve to endure, and reveal how chastening can qualify us for a higher entrustment in the kingdom. By the time the story’s written, you’ll be healed and trained for greater service.

Bob’s book on this important topic is available here:

Director, Editor, Sound Designer – Joel Sorge
Teaching – Bob Sorge
Original Music – Caleb Culver
Director of Photography – Chris Commons
Assistant Camera Operator – Lydia Anderson
Vocal Mixing – Zane Callister



The righteous are likened to trees in several Scriptures, and specifically to a palm tree in Psalm 92:12, “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.”

Palm trees grow in tropical climates, under conditions that would be deadly to some types of trees. But that which is deadly to another is life-giving to a palm.  In fact, the hotter it is the more the palm seems to flourish. The righteous flourish in heat—that is, in times of distress, trial, and persecution.

One of my favorite passages that likens believers to trees is Psalm 1. Look at verse one.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.”  The progression of walk, stand, sit points to the manner in which sin can progressively snare the soul.

We are not to walk “in the counsel of the ungodly”—which reflects ungodly values.  You talk about your marriage to somebody at work, and he says, “I wouldn’t put up with that, if I were you!”  The counsel of people in the world will always reflect their ungodly values.

We are not to stand “in the path of sinners”—which is a reference to ungodly morals.  It may be seem relatively harmless, on the surface, to join the men at work for a “guy’s night out,” but it’s dangerous to stand with others who are sinning, even if you are not sinning directly yourself.

And thirdly, we are not to sit “in the seat of the scornful”—this speaks of ungodly attitudes.  If we hang out with people of the world, we’ll begin to talk like them, and even think like them.

The psalmist proceeded to describe the godly man who avoids all that other stuff:  “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (verses 2-3).

The godly man, the verse says, is like a tree.  When I think of a tree, I think of the following qualities:

1. Fruitful in season.  

The man of God goes through seasons.  Just like in the created order, we experience spring, summer, harvest, and winter.  Not all of life is characterized by harvest.  There are also dry seasons, cold seasons, damp seasons.  But the godly man progresses normally through all the seasons of life, and has a consistent history of fruitfulness at the right times.

2. Strong in dry times.

The man of God doesn’t always look good.  In winter, he may lose his leaves.  But mark this:  in the drought of summer his leaves never wither.  Grass nearby is parched and yellow, but the godly man is green and verdant—because his roots go down into the riverbed.  He has tapped into the lifesource of the Holy Spirit, and when others are withering, he is refreshed from a hidden water source.

3. Stands out as a landmark.

Trees are often used as landmarks because they stand tall against their surroundings.  Similarly, the godly man rises in stature and stands tall above the others who surround him.  Among the employees, he is exemplary.  He is an example to his family.  His life is noticeable, compelling, and noteworthy.

4. Unmoved by storms.

Like a tree, the man of God is shaken at times by the winds of life.  Difficulty might leave him really rocking.  But he’s never uprooted and moved.  He has longevity because he’s deeply rooted in the grace of God. Long after others have been moved off by this or that, he continues to stand, strong and stable.  He’s a pillar in his community because he has not succumbed to the popular temptation to pick up and move to another state at the first whiff of adversity.

5. Provides shade for others.

Because of the qualities of Jesus that radiate from the godly, he or she is a source of refreshing and relief to others.  A tree doesn’t have to try to provide shade, it just happens.  In the same way, the godly refresh the hearts of others continually and effortlessly.

6. “Whatever he does shall prosper.”

That is both a promise for the tough times, and a reality that will inevitably manifest.  He is blessed because he has found a place of special affection in the heart of God.  And in the final analysis, that is the ultimate reward of the godly:  the smile of Jesus.


With this blog I’m stepping onto some very tender territory and tackling a gripping question that many have wondered about. We know that masturbation has been with the human race from the beginning, and that it has certainly been on God’s radar. Why, then, did He make no mention  of that word in the Bible? When God identified various kinds of sin in the Bible, why didn’t He include masturbation?

First of all, I don’t think it’s because the word embarrasses Him. When you read the Bible cover to cover, you realize that God isn’t embarrassed by explicit sexual language, nor is He reticent to tackle tough topics head-on.

Secondly, I don’t think it’s because He doesn’t consider it a sin. I agree with many who view it as a sinful behavior before God. The reason I think it’s a sin is because, while the Bible doesn’t name it specifically, it points to it in several places. Masturbation involves lust in the heart, which Jesus addressed in Matthew 5:27-30. The Bible also warns against uncleanness (Eph. 5:3 and youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2:22), which things include masturbation. (I explain this more fully on pages 47-51 in my book, A Covenant With My Eyes.)

So then, why isn’t masturbation mentioned in the Bible as a sin?

I’m going to give you my opinion on this question, and I want to emphasize that what follows is my opinion, not a dogmatic theological position.

To say it succinctly, I don’t think God wanted masturbation cited as a sin in the Bible because of how the devil would use such a verse as a tool for accusation and condemnation. Let me explain what I mean.

Masturbation is a sin that is often accompanied afterwards by feelings of shame and guilt. Something inside tells us it’s wrong, and when we succumb to the temptation, our conscience often accuses us. But it doesn’t stop there. The devil steps in and adds to the accusation. As a result, many believers who struggle with masturbation also struggle with much accusation.

If there was a verse in the Bible proscribing masturbation, the devil would leverage that verse to his advance and increase his accusations against God’s people.

Let me talk about how this sometimes works for us. When we go through puberty, we are curious about the changes in our bodies and emotions. In the process of trying to discover who we’re becoming, masturbation sometimes happens. Often our first experience with masturbation, at least for young men, is in our early teens.

Let’s talk about Jimmy, who is a hypothetical 15-year-old. Jimmy loves Jesus and wants to serve Him wholeheartedly. He has gone through puberty, and he is now experiencing strong urges to seek a sexual release. His conscience tells him that masturbation is wrong, but his urges to masturbate are powerful and distracting. Jimmy is still immature and he doesn’t know how to manage these new urges. Even though he loves Jesus dearly and sincerely wants to please Him, sometimes the urges overtake him and masturbation happens.

It’s followed, almost every time, by feelings of guilt and accusation. Jimmy beats up on himself for not resisting temptation, and then the accuser comes to make it even worse. Under the guilty feelings of both his own conscience and the accuser, Jimmy, who is still a young believer in Christ, feels almost like a failure as a Christian. And that’s exactly where Satan wants him to be—buried under a mountain of accusation that makes him feel unacceptable to God.

If Satan had a Bible verse, he’d whip Jimmy with it.

I think it’s young men like Jimmy that God had in His heart when He decided to keep that word out of the Bible. As a Father, His heart is yearning so much for Jimmy. He is Jimmy’s greatest Advocate. He wants Jimmy to overcome in his teen years and come through as a strong adult in the faith. It’s the Father’s zeal and tender care for every Jimmy in the body of Christ that prompted Him to keep that word out of the Bible. Lest His Jimmy’s be over-burdened with accusation and guilt.

When married men masturbate, I think God views that from a different angle. Married men have the opportunity for sexual release with their wife, and to take that into their own hands is viewed differently by God.

But for Jimmy who is still single at 15, with lots of hormones, I think He is tender rather than stern toward him. God wants to guide him in gentleness and without condemnation through his turbulent teen years to an overcoming life in Christ.

That’s my opinion.

How should a young person engage in the battle to resist and overcome the temptation to masturbate? I give my answer in A Covenant With My Eyes. Click here to check it out.

Also available as a quick and easy resource is a video of me preaching this message.  You can watch it by clicking here.

Thanks for listening.



The other day, as I was preparing to speak at a certain Christian event, I began to apologize to the Lord in a manner I had done several times before. I said things like, “I’m sorry, Lord, that I have so little to offer you. I have such a limited message. The bandwidth on what I carry and what I can offer is so narrow, and You really deserve better. I have so many limitations. You deserve to have a servant who provides You with a much broader scope of possibilities. I’m sorry that You have so few options when You’re working with me.”

The Lord’s response seemed to be something like this, “You don’t think of this as I do.”

Then I felt drawn toward these verses:

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness (Rom. 12:6-8).

The Lord seemed to be emphasizing that whatever gift for blessing others I might carry, it came to me as a gift of His grace. Since He gave it, who was I to apologize to Him for His gift?

So I’ve decided to stop apologizing to Him for the grace He has bestowed on me. I need concern myself only with being faithful.


fire post

One day when I was a young child, I was standing by an outdoor bonfire and noticed a potato sack that was burned in the fire. The way it burned, the ashes had maintained the shape of the sack, and the sack appeared still to be intact. Because of my childlike curiosity, I was fascinated that the sack appeared to be unaffected by the fire. Intrigued to learn, I reached out my hand and took hold of the sack in an attempt to understand why it wasn’t touched by the fire. What I didn’t realize was that it had been consumed in the fire and was blazing hot. I was burned instantly and fiercely in a way I have never forgotten.

That experience taught me something: I don’t ever again want to learn first-hand when something is hot. I want to discern the signs and believe what others say, so that I am never again burned like that. When you’re burned once, if you’re smart you’ll never want that to happen again.

I think the same thing is true regarding sin. Once you’ve been burned by sin, you learn from that experience and determine at all costs to avoid that happening again. So when God says, “That’s a sin, that will burn you,” you no longer have to experiment for yourself by touching it. You believe Him. And you leave it alone.

What’s my message in this article? We don’t have to touch sin in order to believe that God was right when He said it will burn us. His word on it is enough. We’ve wisened up, and now we stay away.



key of david

Speaking to the apostle John, Jesus said that He “has the key of David” (Rev. 3:7). Other than Isaiah 22:22, this is the only place in the Bible that mentions “the key of David,” and therefore there is much speculation about what that key was and is.

Some readers may consider this article to be speculative, but I think I know what the key of David was. Let me explain.

David served as king in Hebron over the tribe of Judah for seven years. Then all the tribes came together to make him king over the entire land. His coronation as king over all Israel is recorded in 2 Samuel 5:1-5.

At his coronation, the city of Jerusalem finally came under his jurisdiction. His first act as king, therefore, was recorded in the verses immediately following (2 Sam. 5:6-8). David attacked the stronghold of Zion. Why? Because God had revealed to him, probably through Samuel, that he would be king of Israel someday, and that the stronghold of Zion would be his capitol, his “White House.” Zion was appointed by God to be the governmental seat of David’s kingdom.

When Joab ascended the water shaft (2 Sam. 5:6-8), he went over to the gate of the fortress in order to open it from the inside. Once the gate was open, the entire Israelite army would be able to enter the fortress and subdue the stronghold of Zion. (I write about this in my book, OPENED FROM THE INSIDE: The Taking of the Stronghold of Zion.)

Joab’s challenge was to find the key and open Zion’s gate. Back in those days, a fortress like that would have an iron gate, and the gate would be reinforced with bars. The bars would be kept from moving with a bolt, and a lock would prevent the bolt from being removed by an unauthorized person. Anyone with the key could unlock and remove the bolt, move the bars to the disengaged position, and open the gate wide.

The key of David was the key to the gate of the stronghold of Zion. When Joab scaled the water shaft, located the key, unlocked the gate, and then opened the gate of Zion from the inside, he enabled David and his troops to enter and take the stronghold of Zion. David took the key in hand and called Zion, “the city of David.” That fortress became his White House.

The key to Zion represented the key to the governmental authority of the Davidic kingdom. David got the key when Zion was penetrated and conquered.

In the same way that Joab rose up the water shaft and opened the stronghold from the inside, Jesus died, was buried, descended to hell, and then He rose up the shaft of hell and opened the gates of hell from the inside. It was at His resurrection that He got “the keys of Hades and of Death” (Rev. 1:18). At His temptation, Satan offered to give Jesus the keys if He would worship him; instead, Jesus chose to take the keys from Satan.

Now, Jesus has the key of David—that is, the key to the governmental authority of the Davidic kingdom. He is the King who has inherited the throne of His ancestor, David, and He has the right to administrate and rule over all the affairs of this eternal kingdom. That authority is represented by the key of David which He gained at His resurrection.

David got the key to the stronghold of Zion; Jesus got the key to the stronghold of Hades and of Death.

The Man with the keys has said to us, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 16:19). Whenever Jesus gives you a kingdom key, it means He gives you the authority to unlock a specific element within the kingdom of God. With that key comes the authority to bring His sovereign reign to that area in the kingdom.

Are you facing a stronghold, and don’t know how to open its gate? Ask Jesus to give you the kingdom key to that stronghold.

And always remember:  A small key can open a great door.




God never calls you to a mission that is more important than the people on your team. Because no such mission exists. A leader might be tempted to think, “Good riddance, they never did have complete buy-in with our vision.” “They just couldn’t keep up.” “We outgrew them.” “They always resisted everything we ever did.” “They got offended over nothing.” You are not viewing rightly this matter.

To qualify my meaning, I am not speaking of people God sends you for a limited period of time, and whom He calls after a season to the next leg in their assignment. When God calls people in your ranks to move on, release them freely and celebrate them. Allow no control or witchcraft to taint anything in your leadership style.

I am speaking here of people God calls to labor with you in the mission but who end up leaving for unnecessary reasons. It’s not possible to have a mission that is more important than the eternal souls God grants you to help with the mission. As Jesus said of the Twelve, “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled” (John 17:12). While Jesus was busy changing the entire world, He did not lose any of the team members God had given Him (except the son of perdition).

Always be mindful that the people on your team are the very embodiment of the mission to which you’ve been called. Love them to the end.


eyes of the lord

In this post I want to show how gloriously God responds to those who maintain their loyalty to Him. Here’s our text:

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars” (2 Chron. 16:9).

The verse’s context is very important. Asa was king in Jerusalem, and early in his reign he was invaded by a million-man army from Ethiopia. Asa was young, inexperienced, and resource-barren. In desperation, he cried out to God for help and deliverance: “LORD, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O LORD our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!” (2 Chron. 14:11).

And God responded! The Ethiopians were completely overthrown, and Asa returned to Jerusalem with vast amounts of war bounty. God granted a mighty victory! Asa didn’t have another war until his thirty-sixth year as king. He wisely used the decades of peace to strengthen the nation spiritually, economically, and militarily.

Unfortunately, as the nation grew in strength, Asa’s sense of dependence upon God waned. He had become rich.

His heart was tested when war again came to his doorstep. This time, it was the northern kingdom of Israel that invaded. (At the time, Israel was divided into two kingdoms, and Asa was king of the southern kingdom based in Jerusalem.) Baasha, king of Israel, came against Asa with intimidating strength. What was Asa to do?

He decided to dip into his national treasury (which was substantial by now) and hire Ben-Hadad, king of Syria, to break his treaty with Baasha. Ben-Hadad accepted the money, attacked Israel with a mighty blow, and forced Baasha to abandon his military campaign against Asa.

On the surface, Asa’s strategy seemed amazingly successful. Baasha retreated and Jerusalem was relieved. Asa’s national popularity soared. Many in the land were doubtless applauding the king for his brilliant leadership. But God wasn’t.

Hanani the seer expressed to Asa how God felt about his tactics. Hanani rebuked him for relying on the king of Syria for deliverance. He reminded him of God’s previous deliverance. When the Ethiopians invaded, Asa had relied on God and conquered the enemy. Had he already forgotten? Even though he had a history of experiencing God’s delivering power, Asa had fallen (through prosperity) to self-sufficiency and unbelief.

And then Hanani spoke these arresting words:

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars” (2 Chron. 16:9).

Because his heart was not fully loyal to God, Asa would now face ongoing wars during his reign.

The word “loyal” comes from a vivid Hebrew word that has various renderings by English translations: perfect, true, whole, completely His, fully committed, blameless. The meaning is that those who look to God alone for deliverance, in the hour of enemy invasion, are demonstrating a loyal, perfect, true heart toward Him.

God is actively looking for this kind of loyalty. When it says His eyes “run,” it means they are on an aggressive, high-speed search. God has seven eyes (Zech 3:9; Rev 5:6), and all seven scour the earth, looking for those whose gaze is lifted to Him for help. When God finds this kind of heart loyalty, He shows Himself strong on their behalf. He fights for them.

The context of our Scripture is all about deliverance from enemy invasion. When the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, God wants to answer by demonstrating His military strength and awesome delivering power. But He’s looking for singular focus.

The same assurance is repeated in Psalm 33:18-19:

“Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.”

It seems that Asa’s son, Jehoshaphat, learned from his father’s mistakes, because when Jehoshaphat was invaded by a formidable army from Edom and Moab during his own reign, he spoke up and said to the people of Jerusalem, “Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper” (2 Chron 20:20). You should read 2 Chronicles 20 again to see how mightily God delivered Jehoshaphat from the Edomites. It’s an amazing story!

Have you been invaded by a foreign force that is trying to steal, kill, and destroy in your life? Give your heart in perfect loyalty to God, wait on Him, and He will show Himself strong on your behalf—He will fight for you. His eyes are eagerly searching for this kind of devotion!