Victory Or Success


                               By Phil Scovell



               Seated in a  man's office, we  began to pray.   I was  there
          because I was having  anxiety and panic attacks, hearing  voices,
          and  was so dizzy most of  the time, I was  often disoriented.  I
          even fainted once, due to lack of  sleep and food, and falling on
          a  concrete  porch,  cracked  my  head pretty  hard.    Even  the
          prescriptions  recommended by our  family doctor weren't  doing a
          whole lot of good.

               Sleep  had become  something  to  fear.    Voices  literally
          awakened me at times  even when I was able to  finally drift into
          sleep.  Yes,  I knew exactly who,  and what, the voices  were but
          try telling your doctor or pastor or close Christian friends that
          and  see what  they think.    Furthermore, terrifying  nightmares
          invaded  what little sleep I was  able to achieve.  To complicate
          matters, I  began to  jerk with muscular  spasms when  falling to
          sleep at night or any other time I tried to  sleep.  This happens
          to everybody occasionally but  for me, it happen  even if I  were
          falling asleep sitting up in a chair.  My muscular spasms were so
          violent at times, I literally knocked things over on my bookshelf
          at the head of the bed.  One night, my leg jerked so violently, I
          kicked  one of our  small pet dogs  right off the bed.   Have you
          ever been so frightened  that you were too afraid to  go to sleep
          and you were too afraid to stay awake?  I have.

               My mind  and thoughts  felt cloudy and  foggy every  day and
          just  trying  to focus  on  anything  for  very long  was  nearly
          impossible.  My attention span  diminished to seconds and I could
          not  concentrate on  anything long enough  to accomplish  much of
          anything.   I felt as if  I were whirling around  and around at a
          rapid rate of speed in side of a huge funnel; dropping closer and
          closer to the  opening at  the bottom.   My fear  was what  might
          happen when I dropped out the bottom; I knew I would die and that
          would be my  final failure.  To  complicate my confused  state of
          mind,  I  was  afraid that  what  God  was asking  me  to  do was
          something I was  incapable of doing and I didn't want to fail God
          again.  this  was a lie of the  enemy but at the time,  I did not
          recognize  it.  The bottom line?  I  was, at this stage, about 95
          percent dysfunctional.   Most  people, at  this  point, would  be
          hospitalized.

          Sadness  became so  tangible at  times,  it was  like a  physical
          weight pressing against my skin.  Crying became common in my life
          and came from so  deep within me,  I felt at times  as if my  own
          life was  literally slowly  ebbing away.   I also had  no control
          over the  tears and they came at all hours  of the day and night.
          Although they tried, no one in my family could say or do anything
          to comfort me and believe me, they tried.  A friend would jump in
          his truck,  drive rapidly over to my house whenever I called him,
          and try and read Scriptures to  me.  He stayed up nights  with me
          because of my fear.   He called me from work in  order to pray me
          through the day.   Yet nothing was  working.  The levels  of fear
          became more and more acute.

               During this emotionally critical time  of my life, I lost my
          job.   3500 dollars a month  suddenly disappeared.  I  don't know
          about  you,  but  losing that  much  over  night  was financially
          devastating  and put  tremendous stress  on my  family.   To make
          matters worse, my wife had to work overtime just so we could keep
          our  nose above  water.   I had  failed at  preaching, pastoring,
          providing  for my family,  raising my children,  serving the Lord
          and everything else was  a failure in my life.  I truly wanted to
          die and begged God to kill  me hundreds of different times in  my
          prayers.  The voices in my thoughts encouraged me to take  my own
          life but I never would do that because of guilt; I simply did not
          want to  cause my  family even more  suffering.  Again,  have you
          ever been  too frighten  to live and  too frightened  to die?   I
          have.

               When most of this began, I had just turned 50 years  of age.
          as I sat in my own office one day, I realized I couldn't point to
          a  single  thing  in my  life  where  I  could  say  I  had  been
          successful.   In fact,  I had,  in my  mind, literally  failed at
          everything.  Later, as the Lord began to  heal the woundedness in
          my life, I realized I was being deceived and that these were lies
          used by the enemy  to keep me from  doing the will of God  for my
          life which was now very near at hand.  I knew there were things I
          could point to in my life which  were pleasing to the Lord but my
          deepest desire was to simply serve the Lord in ministry.   That I
          wasn't  doing so why bother  to live?   Who wants to  live if you
          can't serve the Lord?  Not me!  Yes, I now understand the origins
          of this thinking but at  the time, I was completely  confused and
          that was the purpose of the enemy's attack in the first place.

               Oddly  enough, before  all of  this began,  I felt  the Lord
          telling me two things.  He told me I would be working with people
          on a one-to-one bases.  Later,  within weeks, He told me I  would
          be  involved in  teaching others  how to  be intercessors.   This
          wasn't too surprising  because I have  been an intercessor  since
          1985 but somehow I knew in my heart that this intercessory prayer
          was a focused form of prayer with which I was totally unfamiliar.
          None of  this information  helped and I  seemed to  be even  more
          spiritually  frustrated because  of it.   In fact,  things turned
          worse.

               As  the man, in  whose office I sat,  began to pray, somehow
          the Holy Spirit brought me to the notion that I believed I wasn't
          successful at anything.   As we prayed, I clearly  heard the Lord
          in  my thoughts  telling me  something that  suddenly changed  my
          life.  The True Lord Jesus Christ said, "I never asked you  to be
          successful."  It was as if someone had let the  air out of a very
          large balloon.    I felt  the relief.   I  was  startled by  this
          revelation because I  had somehow, although raised  in the church
          all my life, gotten the idea that every man had to be successful.
          If it was  ministry related, well, then, he had  to be successful
          in that,  too.   If he wasn't?   Well, he  wasn't, at  the least,
          spiritual, and at the worst, he was out of God's will.  Seated in
          my own living  room one day,  even my  own pastor told  me I  had
          failed and  I was  out of God's  will.   Try carrying  that heavy
          weight around for awhile and see how heavy it becomes.

               So when the True Lord Jesus Christ said, "I  never asked you
          to be  successful," it  somehow rocked the  foundation of  what I
          thought was  Biblical  theology.    Yet I  realize,  with  sudden
          clarity, it  was true; He never had asked  me, or required me, or
          told  me, or  commanded me,  or demanded  me, or  ordered me,  or
          insisted, or  even suggested  I be  successful.   Quickly digging
          into  my theology,  I suddenly  realize the  only thing  the Lord
          required  is that  I "follow"  Him and  that, fortunately,  I was
          already doing.   Thus, following Jesus equals victory and victory
          equals success.

               Over  the  next  few  months   through  intercessory  prayer
          sessions,  healing came  to dozens  of  places in  my life.   The
          anxiety and  panic attacks went away.  The voices vanished.  More
          peaceful sleep returned and my life slowly returned to stability.
          I began to learn that salvation was maintenance free victory.

               My ministry, the  very one the  Lord called me to,  began to
          slowly surface  and take shape.   I now  work with sexual  abused
          women,  multiple   personality  cases,   demonized  people,   and
          everything else in between.  I use nothing more than intercessory
          prayer on a one-to-one bases and the  True Lord Jesus Christ does
          the rest.  I am also the happiest I have ever been.   Who but God
          could do such  a thing in  the heart and life  of such a  wounded
          person?

               This raises  a lot of  questions for  most.  Isn't  a person
          with anxiety and panic attacks  mentally ill?  don't they have  a
          chemical imbalance  in the brain  and that's why they  have these
          emotional problems?   There really isn't such a  thing as demonic
          voices, is there?  If so, isn't that a clear sign they are indeed
          mentally ill?

               Christians complicate the issue even more by suggesting that
          such problems  can only  be  solved by  the professional  medical
          community because the church  just simply isn't trained for  this
          sort of thing.   Jesus had a different  viewpoint.  He  empowered
          His disciples to  not only cast out demons and to  do what He did
          but He told them  that when He left to go to the Father, He would
          send the Comforter,  the Holy Spirit, whom would  dwell within us
          and cause  us to do even greater works than Jesus did.  (See John
          14:12-20).   I realize  that many, if  not most, believe  this to
          mean that the church collectively, worldwide, would  do more than
          Jesus did when He was upon earth  conducting His own ministry for
          three and a half years  but that isn't what  Jesus said.  We  are
          simply  guilty, therefore, of not following the great Commission,
          which I like to call "The Only Commission," and going out without
          obeying exactly what Jesus commanded His disciples to do.  We are
          either  His disciples  today or  we  are not.   You  can,  if you
          choose, believe that  many such miraculous  things died out  with
          the last  apostle, whoever  he was,  but proving  that philosophy
          from the  bible is impossible.  Why?   Because it simply isn't in
          the Bible no  matter how hard some radio  preachers or megachurch
          pastors or parachurch ministers try and make you believe.

               The truth lies  in the title:   Victory Or Success.   Yes, I
          know what God said in  Joshua 1:8 concerning success so  shall we
          consider  that particular  passage  in  order  to  be  absolutely
          certain we understand what the Lord meant by success?

          Joshua   1:8
          This book of the law shall not  depart out of thy mouth; but thou
          shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to
          do according to all that is  written therein: for then thou shalt
          make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

               Frankly, this verse has been one of my favorites for all  of
          my adult life.  It is a solid rock upon which to stand regardless
          of circumstances.

               Let's consider how  the King James translators  employed the
          word "success" found in this verse.

               The word "success"  in this passage is used some 63 times in
          the Old Testament.  Here is how it breaks down.

          understand 12
          wise 12
          prosper 8
          wisely 6
          understanding 5
          consider 4
          instruct 3
          prudent 2
          skill 2
          teach 2
          Miscellaneous 7

               The King James  renderings gives us a lot  of insight to the
          meaning of "success."  Let's go one step farther and consider the
          actual Hebrew interpretation  and application of the  word to see
          what else can be learned.  This  information can be found in your
          Strong's concordance.

          Hebrew Definition of Success.
          1  To be prudent, be circumspect, wisely understand, prosper.
               1a  To be prudent, be circumspect.
                    1b1  To look at or upon, have insight.
                    1b2    To  give  attention  to,  consider,  ponder,  be
          prudent.
                    1b3  To have insight, have comprehension.
                         1b3a  Insight, comprehension.
                    1b4  To cause to consider, give insight, teach.
                         1b4a  The teachers, the wise.
                    1b5  To act circumspectly, act prudently, act wisely.
                    1b6  To prosper, have success.
                    1b7  To cause to prosper.
          2  To lay crosswise, to cross hands.

               Without a doubt,  it can be implied that  the word "Success"
          in Joshua  1:8 does  mean success  in a traditional  sense.   The
          Hebrew interpretation, however,  is so much deeper than  the idea
          of just being successful in life, that  it cannot be ignored.  It
          really  boils down to  one word, and that  is, understanding.  As
          you can  easily see  from the  definitions given,  understanding,
          coupled with  wisdom, is real  success.  Thus, if  you understand
          the Lord and His Word, you  will be successful at applying it  to
          every situation and circumstance you face.  Being ignorant of His
          will and His  ways, concerning His Word, makes  it impossible for
          you to be prosperous nor successful in any sense of the word.

               I pose this  question.   If it  really was the  Lord whom  I
          heard in  my  prayer time  who said,  "I never  asked  you to  be
          successful,"  was He  violating His  own Word  in Joshua  1:8 and
          dozens of other passages which say He does, in fact, desire us to
          be successful?   The only  way that could  be true is  that Jesus
          doesn't  know the meaning of  the word "success"  and I am pretty
          certain that isn't  the case.  So  then, what is success  for the
          Christian?

               My definition  of grace is  when the Lord does  more for you
          than you  do for  Him.   Victory, in  my opinion,  is walking  in
          grace.  So, in short, we need to allow the Lord to do everything.
          If we do exactly that and nothing more, we will be successful.  I
          am not  dismissing the physical implications of Joshua 1:8; quite
          the contrary.   I am suggesting, on the  other hand, we have been
          doing all  the work  instead  of allowing  Him to  build His  own
          church  within us.  How is this accomplished?  Through prayer and
          submission  and accountability  to other  Believers.   Isn't  the
          church  already doing  this?   You can  answer that  question for
          yourself.   As for me and my house, as Joshua said, we will serve
          the  Lord.   That  is  successful  Christian  living.   Add  your
          Christian works to that and you won't  be walking in the grace of
          god.   You will  also discover more  and more  spiritual conflict
          occurring in your own life.  When you come to that point, give me
          a call and we will pray together about it in order that the  Lord
          may heal you of the spiritual confusion which has been generated.

               Finally,  the Hebrew definition  of "success" in  Joshua 1:8
          means (to lay  crosswise).  What does  that mean?  Those  who are
          "successful"  in the  things of  the Lord  will throw  their life
          across the path  to block anything that attempts  to come against
          their relationship with  god.  It is putting up a block or shield
          or wall saying, "Come this far but no further."  It  is literally
          death to self.   Unfortunately, by the  time you have made  a few
          hundred mistakes  and listen to  a few hundred sermons  and Bible
          lessons which have taught you a lot of  wrong thinking about God,
          His  Word,  and His  nature,  this  makes  little sense  to  you.
          Sacrifice  and  suffering, however,  to  the  one who  has  lived
          through it knows what it means.  They will not allow  anything to
          come  between them  and their  relationship with  God.   It isn't
          pride or  arrogance or  perseverance and  spiritual growth,  it's
          called love.   Do you love god today?   "Oh, sure," someone says,
          "I love God more than anything in this world."  Will you lay your
          life  down for  Him?   How  about  your cable  TV  or broad  band
          internet or  your video games or your movies  or your car or your
          house?  How about your children or your grandchildren?  How about
          your wife or  husband or fiance?   Here's one I bet  you've never
          considered.   Would you lay aside your  sexuality for the Lord if
          He  has   called  you  to  ministry  which   precludes  a  sexual
          relationship in marriage with someone you love?

               Let's turn  this around  and stop being  so negative.   What
          would you lay down for the Lord?  Now, that list gets pretty  big
          pretty  fast but it isn't  what the Lord wants.   He wants you to
          prosper  and be  successful by giving  yourself to Him.   What is
          self?   It is who you are.  "But I'm not a very nice person right
          now.  I have things to get settled in my life.  I'm already doing
          the best  I can do."   God doesn't want  the best you can  do; He
          wants the best He  can do for you, in you, and through you.  That
          means He will have to do the work and you get none of the credit.
          Now your flesh rises up and says what Jim Bakker said on national
          television  one night.   He said,  "I built  PTL with my  own two
          hands."  No,  Jim, you didn't build  anything and that's why  you
          lost it  all.   If you  are unable  to take yourself  out of  the
          Biblical  equation for  success, you  will not  prosper.   If you
          don't die to self, you cannot obey the command to renew your mind
          in Christ as a Christian.  As I  said, if you need help, call me.
          The rest is  up to the Lord and  you have nothing to  do with it.
          I'm sorry if that bruises your ego but God isn't after  your ego;
          He's after you.

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