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The Closet II

In our previous blog we noticed that the closet mentioned in Matthew 6 is a “secret place” where we meet with God. We also saw that we are with the community of believers when we are there in the closet whether we realize it or not. We discovered that it is this closet is the place from which the anointing flows. Our challenge is to learn how to live in that place rather than merely going there occasionally.

I am presently on a quest to discover how to minister from that place consistently. In my 40 years of teaching on college campuses I have had that experience several times. I have many memories of students falling to the floor weeping while I was teaching. I am no longer satisfied with experiencing God’s presence occasionally. I am not looking for the weeping aspect as such; I want the presence of God that is manifest in those times. So I ask myself, “What are the elements present when I am in that place that are not with me when I am only teaching the academic content of the truth?”

Recently I was teaching on prayer in a church and used my personal experience as an example. For many years I would catch myself singing or humming “Amazing Grace” every day. That is not something I decide, it just happens. I suggested that these songs are in my heart, in the closet with Father. I went on to say I have have been singing Because He Lives, for several weeks now. It has not replaced Amazing Grace but this is also something I don’t intentionally do. I just catch myself in the act. The songs just bubble up out of my heart.

As I was teaching I felt led to sing the song for the congregation. That is something I have never done before. Since it was not planned I had to sing a cappella. To my surprise many in the audience began to weep as the truth of the song was sinking into their spirit. I was actually singing from the Secret Place and the Holy Spirit was touching people’s hearts. The atmosphere in the building changed.

This is obviously not a magic formula; one cannot “use” this to get a response from people. It is also not something anyone can do. Each of us needs to discover what “happens” in the secret place and learn to do enter that event in the public arena. I believe it worked for me at least that one time because the song was with me in my private time without my conscious choice. When I began to sing it I immediately found myself in the closet with Father. Perhaps he was singing with me, I don’t know, but it was profound. I was not actually singing to the people; I was singing to the Lord.

This is my preliminary conclusion. I will be experimenting with the concept to discover what is actually happening. If any of you have had similar experiences, share your story for others to read. It may be that we will find the “Secret” together. Please respond with a comment.

On Word Ministries is a contribution based ministry. We have no salary from a church. Any offerings you send will help us continue to do what we do. You may donate online at http://www.onword.org by clicking the “Donate” tab, or you can send your offering to On Word Ministries, 106 Ashford Ct. Myrtle Beach, SC 29588.

Thank you for your consideration,
Fount Shults

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The Closet

The closet Jesus mentioned in Matthew 6 has fascinated me for many years. It is a word used only four times in the New Testament. There are two basic pictures presented by this word. One is a room in a private dwelling where one can go to be alone and meditate. Sometimes the householder would store his valuables in that secret place. The other usage refers to a storage room. In both cases the issue is privacy, treasure and security.

In Matthew 6 it is a place where one meets with the Father who IS in secret and who SEES in secret. And Father has promised to be present there when we come. Recently I realized that when anyone goes into this secret place to meet with Father, he or she is there with the community of God’s people. We may not be aware of their presence, and they may not be aware of their presence there, but since they are also “in Christ” they are also with our Father in his secret place. So my secret place and your secret place is actually the same place.

I suddenly saw that t this is the place of the unity of the Spirit Paul spoke of in Ephesians 4. It is actually the only place we can experience Father’s presence and the unity of the Spirit. It is the place where Jesus dwells in the Father and the Father dwells in him. It is the place where we abide in him and he abides in us. It is the place of the ultimate reconciliation of all things Paul speaks of in Colossians 1:20.

It is also the place through which the anointing of the Holy Spirit flows through us into the community. When the speaker or singer in actually in the Spirit (in the secret place) the gathered community will respond to the call of the Spirit and receive the message. Receiving the message and understanding the teaching are two different things. If you only understand, you only receive the academic side of the truth. If you receive the message by the Spirit, your life will change to reflect the truth. What we really desire is a changed life, not just more understanding.

What a privilege to be invited into that place to commune with him and to make our requests known and to listen for his response. The problem is that our culture does not train us to go there. Most of us don’t even know where that place is or how to get there. Some don’t even know it exists. Our culture is totally focused on the external world of business and pleasure, of weather and sports, of politics and religion. Christianity in this culture is divided because few ever go to the secret place.

Those who know about the secret place often think it is only a place to go occasionally to pray or relax. One can certainly relax and pray in that place, but there is so much more to it. It is also the place from which we speak and act in response to what Father is saying to us while we are there. This is where we are seated with him in heavenly places, the place from which we reign with him in victory over principalities and powers. When we speak from this place we call it anointing or charisma.

Jesus lived his life in this secret place. It was the place where he saw what Father was doing and heard what Father wanted to say. He often went to a private area to be alone, and sometimes took his disciples with him. But his time in this secret place was not limited to these times apart from the crowd. Even in his busy activity with people he was in that place with his Father and was able to receive from him in behalf of others. Our goal is to learn to live consciously in the secret place, not just occasionally visit. We are in Christ at all times. We only need to become more aware of our presence with him as we go about our day. Our lie will change radically if we spend more time there.

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Also understand that I do not have a salaried position with any church or organization. My income is totally from offerings to On Word Ministries. If what we do on the

Facebook Morning Meditations and on these blogs are of value, please consider a onetime offering or a monthly offering. It is your contributions that make it possible for us to continue doing what we do. Go to http://onword.org/donate.htm to give online or make checks payable to On Word Ministries, 106 Ashford Ct, Myrtle Beach, SC 29588. Thank you for your consideration.

Fount Shults
President, On Word Ministries, http://www.onword.org

My Vision Revisied

05/28/2015 2 comments

I was meditating on my financial situation and felt I need to share publically what I heard.

First, I will give a background so you will understand my heart. For many years I have refused to promote myself and my ministry. I thought that would be self-serving. I firmly believe that when Father guides, he provides. That has proven to be the case for me through my whole life. For example, Father prompted me to finish the Dissertation for the PhD and not to seek employment until it was done. It took me about 18 months to finish. Even though I started with only about two hundred dollars, all my financial needs were taken care of without my asking anyone for help. We had our fourth child during that period. The Doctor was paid in the fifth month and the Hospital bill was paid before we went. People didn’t even know I was unemployed.

Various leaders in my life have told me I need to promote myself if I want others to support me. My response is always the same, “I can’t do that.” The reason is not that I am unable; I cannot bring myself to self-promotion without losing my sense of integrity. Others may have permission form Father to do that; I do not. As a result, I have lived ‘hand-to-mouth’ as long as I remember. I am ok with that, but I have a vision beyond what is presently coming in to On Word Ministries. I firmly believe the vision is from God.

My Father has provided for every ministry trip I have made to train leaders in developing nations. Sometimes that provision came from others; sometimes I had enough to do it on my own. That is evidence that the vision is from God as far as I can see. I have hesitated to ask for funds for my personal livelihood as a missionary based in the States. I know that all of you have your own needs. So I have not asked even though the leaders who are close to me have encouraged me to ask. “You have not because you ask not,” they say. I know that is biblical, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Why?

This is what brought me to the meditation I mentioned above. “If the vision is from God,” I ask myself, “then why are finances so tight? Father has provided for my needs without my asking even when I was unemployed. What is different here and now?” As I was in the presence of Father with these questions, the following came to me:

“People don’t give to needs, they give to vision.” I remembered this statement which I have heard from leaders who are very successful in raising funds, and I believe it’s true. But I sensed there was something else. So I waited. “This is not about what I need; it’s not even about what I do in training leaders in other countries. It’s about vision.” However, I have made my vision very clear on Facebook and on my blog. Working with Nation 2 Nation Christian University and with Harvest Preparation International gives me an opportunity to do what I’m called, commissioned and sent to do. So what’s missing?

This is what I heard, “People give to what they believe in. They give to what they feel is worthwhile.” There are two things here: the belief system and the feelings. The belief system is in the head, the feelings are in the heart. People will say they believe in the vision, but if they don’t feel connected, they don’t give. If what I believe resonates with what others believe, their heart will feel what my heart feels. This brought me to a personal challenge: “What do I really believe? What do I really feel?”

I believe that the living and active Word of God will change the social and political atmosphere when it is spoken by the Spirit. I have over 50 years’ experience speaking the Word and changing the lives of young people on college campuses. I believe this world-changing Word which the Father has given me will begin to do for nations what it has done for students. I believe this Word will continue to influence nations through the video recordings long after I have passed over to the other side of reality.

That’s what I believe and that’s what I feel. I believe it and feel it so strongly that I have been willing to go on several short-term mission trips at my own expense even when that left me short in my personal ‘bottom line.’ I have a passion to see leaders in developing nations receive the training they need but can’t afford. I will continue to do what I do because I believe what I believe and have a passion to see it happen.

Our website is being updated to reflect this passion. It will be up and running as soon as we get it built. Meanwhile, feel free to visit the website and listen to the free teachings available on the ‘listen to Fount’ tab. We are serious about keeping it free.

Looking forward,
Fount Shults
President and Founder: On Word Ministries
http://www.onword.org

The Easter Mystery: Joy and Sorrow Mixed

04/04/2015 2 comments

This is the season of the Pascal Mystery. Palm Sunday through Easter is about life coming out of death. When we focus on the death without resurrection, our life becomes morbid. When we focus on resurrection without death, our life will be full of striving because there is no resurrection before death. Someone asked me, “How can I experience the resurrected life?” My response was simply, “Die.” We must die before we die, then we can enjoy life before death.

Jesus, “for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross.” As we learn to face life in this way, we will find joy and fulfillment even in the process of dying to the old man, to use Paul’s phrase, so the new man can rise to walk in a newness of life. This mixture of joy and sorrow is the mystery of the Passion of Christ.

Recently Lynda and I had time with some new friends from the Leaders Alive group in Indiana. Our time was full of joy and laughter. That reminded me of a quote from Victor Borge: “Laughing is the shortest distance between two people.” Once we have laughed together, it’s as though we have been friends forever. Medical science has discovered that laughter improves our health and strengthens our immune system. Religion without laughter is unhealthy.

There is another way to reduce the distance between two people. It’s a way no one would choose; it’s called sorrow and mourning. When people experience pain together through the loss of a loved one or through some other tragedy, it can bring a lasting relationship that’s even more bonded than that created by laughter. The bonding in hard times can be very strong. We don’t look forward to death and tragedy, but our Father can grow us and mature our relationships through such experiences.

However, in both cases the result is dependent on the persons involved. If the laughter is simply enjoying “yourself,” the experience is self-centered rather than focused on the relationship. If the sorrow is focused on what “I” could’ve done, or should’ve done differently, the sorrow turns to depression and self-flagellation. These responses tend to drive individuals into a shell and isolate them from any meaningful relationships.

This brings our attention to the difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is related to what happens. If things don’t happen the way I want, I will not be happy. But, if we trust our Father to work in difficult situations to bring us into a better place, we can experience joy even when things aren’t going our way. And, if we use our losses to drive us deeper into intimacy with Father, we can even have joy in the midst of sorrow.

A life of striving to be happy will never find true fulfillment. It may have good moments but, as we all know, good moments pass as we move forward in life. No matter how good things are, we always want more of what makes us feel good. When we experience life in this way, we never have lasting joy – only moments of temporary happiness. This seems to me to be the dynamic that drives people into addictions and keeps them bound. They want more good feelings, but are unwilling to face life as it comes.

Let us commit ourselves to carry the mystery of the Easter Season into the rest of this year.

If you enjoy these blogs, feel free to share them with your friends. Our mission is to encourage as many as possible. As you share these teachings, you are partners with us in the mission. We also have free audio teachings available online for you and your friends. You can listen online or download them to an MP3 player. You will find these at http://www.onword.org “Listen to Fount” tab.

Looking forward,
Fount Shults
President, On Word Ministries, http://www.onword.org
Academic Dean, Nation 2 Nation Christian University, http://www.N2NCU.org

See For Yourself

09/27/2014 2 comments

While teaching on the college campus, I often began the semester with an announcement: “I’m not here to teach you what to think; I’m here to teach you how to think.” Many religious leaders want to tell you what to know rather than how to know. They want to tell you what to see when you read Scripture rather than how to look and see for yourself. This way has produced leaders who have borrowed doctrines with no personal experience.

Someone might object, “But what if the students don’t come to the right interpretations? Aren’t you taking a risk here?” That line of questioning comes from the same platform as those who tell you what to think rather than training you how to think. The basic assumption here is that I am right. What if the student sees something I haven’t yet seen? I would be closed to learning anything new myself.

Here are a couple of principles I learned in the process of teaching and relating to students since I began my academic career seriously in 1959. I had been an Art Student in the University of New Mexico in 1955-56, but that was before the Lord encountered me in 1957 while I was in Japan as an airman in the United States Air Force.

First: The most important thing I learned is that love precedes all true knowing.

It’s not by accident that in both the biblical languages, Hebrew and Greek, the words translated into English as “to know” actually refer to an intimate relationship, like a man knowing his wife. It’s altogether possible to learn facts about a matter without intimacy with the thing itself, but that’s not learning in the biblical sense. Learning facts about your wife will never impregnate her.

This is what Jesus had in mind when he said to the Pharisees, “Go learn what this means; I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” We’ve mentioned this in another blog, but it’s very appropriate here. You may be able to spout off the dictionary definition of the word mercy and quote what theologians have said about it. The only way to know mercy is to extend mercy to another who needs mercy. Then you have the experience of mercy.

Generally speaking, those who’ve never received mercy will not show mercy. The reason they’ve not received mercy is that they actually believe they don’t need mercy. They think being right in their doctrine puts them in a place of superiority. To admit they need mercy they’d have to get off the pedestal they’re perched on. God offers them mercy, but they prefer to make all the right sacrifices (study time, tithing, etc.). Jesus came to those who need healing, not to the healthy.

Second: Words often become substitutes for reality, or a way of avoiding reality.

Proclaiming the reality of the Holy Spirit, for example, becomes a substitute for being led by the Spirit. It’s as though teaching on being led by the Holy Spirit exempts me from being led. How often have you been in a meeting where the message of healing was proclaimed but no one has been healed there for many years? We don’t need more words; we need reality.

To know the word is not to know the thing itself. Words are only pointers, or signs. They indicate which direction to look or what to do to experience the thing they refer to. On another level, words don’t actually mean anything. People use words to mean something. Any particular word can be used to refer to several different things or experiences. Words are tools. A shovel can be used to dig a hole or to fill in a hole; it can even be used to kill someone. Words are like that.

This simply means that, if you really want to know what a text means, you must ask the author. This brings us back to intimacy. I must be intimate with the Author to have the meaning of any biblical text uncovered to me. One reason I don’t expect students to come to any particular understanding of the text is that the text has meanings on several different levels. We must learn to listen to the Author to hear what he is presently saying to us. We must also be open for him to speak something different tomorrow.

“But that leaves us vulnerable to be deceived,” you say. Yes, you’re right. But you’ve probably already believed some things that aren’t true anyway. I’m willing to live with the fact that I’m human and fallible. Being a student of the Word requires this humility.

There are other things I’ve learned, but that’s it for this blog. If you appreciate what we offer, share with your friends.

Looking forward,
Fount Shults, President, On Word Ministries

Learned or Educated?

09/13/2014 1 comment

“You’re a Hebrew scholar,” she said, “perhaps you can tell me where black people come from since Adam was white.”

The question came after a Wednesday evening teaching many years ago. I started to give her the various theories I’d learned in my college days. Since I didn’t feel that’s what she needed, I started to suggest that Adam was black, and the real question is, “where did the white people come from?” That was obviously an inappropriate response. Then I heard the Spirit say to me, “Tell her the truth.” When I asked Father what’s the truth here, he reminded me that I don’t really know; I only know theories.

Her mouth almost dropped to the floor when I said, “I don’t know.” When she gathered herself together she exclaimed, “Oh! If you don’t know, I guess it’s okay for me not to know.” That answer was exactly what she needed to hear.

Often our pride is unwilling to admit we don’t know. We want to look smart in the eyes of others. I wonder how many times people have been cheated by teachers like me who weren’t really listening to the heart of the student. Often we only listen for an invitation to impress others with how much we’ve learned. Another word for this is the fear of man; it’s a snare for the arrogant ego that wants to look good to others and feel good about himself. It’s also a trap for those who want their teachers to think they understand when they don’t.

We must be willing to acknowledge our ignorance, unless we already know everything there is to know about everything. The difference between an educated person and one who is uneducated is that the educated person knows how much he doesn’t know. There are many learned men and women with post-graduate degrees who are not yet educated, at least not by this definition.

Some very educated people don’t even have a high school diploma. Authentic education doesn’t come in the classroom; it comes in life experiences. True learning only comes as we live the truth. This is what Jesus meant when he said to the Pharisees, “Go learn what this means; ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’” When we show mercy, we learn what it means by observing the results of our action. We must live the truth to know the truth.

The learned Jewish scholars knew the meaning of the word mercy and could’ve quoted verses from Scripture to defend their definition. They could’ve even quoted other scholars who had different views. Their learning was all in their heads. They had a doctrine of mercy, but they had no mercy. If they’d been willing to show mercy to those who were less brilliant than them, they would’ve been more open to see who Jesus really was, Emmanuel, God with us.

Through the years I’ve known many church leaders who have a very strong doctrine of the grace of God. They teach well, but their relationship with their staff and family clearly shows they have no grace. A doctrine of grace without the experience never produces a gracious personality. They’re not yet educated in the matter of grace.

When one experiences the grace of God in the depths of his heart, he will be gracious to others. Those who’ve experienced the embrace of Father God naturally embrace others. It has often been said, “Wounded people wound people. Healed people heal people.”

When we measure our maturity by the freedom of those around us, we begin to get an idea of how far we have to grow. In living it we learn it, and we grow as we learn. It’s only as we know the truth in this way that the truth makes us free, free to experience the presence of the Lord. We experience God’s presence in the process of living out the truth we know in our head.

Looking forward,
Fount Shults, President, On Word Ministries http://www.onword.org

PS. If you enjoy reading what we share here and on our Facebook page, you may help us keep these insights coming by contributing. Go to http://onword.org/donate.htm or make checks payable to On Word Ministries, 106 Ashford Ct. Myrtle Beach, SC 29588.

Purpose in Meltdown

08/23/2014 2 comments

We need to be okay with having a meltdown occasionally. Find out what Father wants to be for you there on the floor in a puddle of tears. Jesus had a melt-down in the garden; his tears were like drops of blood coming from his brow. A meltdown may be an indication that Father is about to do something radically different from what he has been doing in your life. It’s normal to cry out, “let this cup pass.” But then it’s time to listen for his will in the middle of the puddle.

We must work hard at seeking God’s will, but then we must rest in silence to receive the call that comes from beyond our garden. His intention is to glorify himself in the middle of your muddle. A meltdown is an invitation to seek the path in the sea. Paths in the sea? Yes. God’s way is always a mystery. It can’t be known through reason and logic. It can only be known by listening to the still small voice.

Sometimes his will is discerned while reading Scripture; sometimes it’s discerned while reading or listening to a teaching. Many people only read authors within their denominational backyard. They’re afraid to read someone who disagrees with them. If you never read anything you disagree with, you will only be exposed to what you already know. You’ll only find new ways to say what you were taught in the confines of your church school. You may be in the muddle because of some false perception of reality.

When I was about five years old, a new gas line had been placed under our yard. The trench was filled up and there were some small rocks on the surface. I remember picking up a rock that had little “sparkly” grains in it. I ran into the house to show Mom. “Mom, look at the sparkly rock,” I exclaimed. She pretended to be impressed, as most moms do. That was in the planes of New Mexico, far from the mountains.

My concept of an impressive rock changed when we went to the mountains for vacation. I was about nine years old at that time. My brother and I went exploring and found some petrified wood and petrified seashells. (Yes, petrified seashells on top of the mountains in New Mexico!) That’s when my curiosity began to move beyond my backyard.

So how do we get out of the mentality of the yard we grew up in? How do we come into the larger perspective of the kingdom of God? Visit another yard!

The first step out of a crisis is something that’s seldom experienced by those who only play theology in their denominational backyard: Humility. We begin our journey out of the puddle by acknowledging we don’t yet know everything, and that we could be wrong in what we think we already know. I’ve personally experienced several meltdowns. In the middle of the predicaments I learned to rest in “crunch time,” to sleep with Jesus in the bow of the boat in the middle of the storm, if you will. After the storm my understanding of life in the Spirit had been adjusted each time.

Writing what I’m struggling with in a journal has helped me discover what life is all about. As I read through what I’ve written, it’s easier to see the good than it was while I was in the middle of stuff. Several trips through the valley taught me to be as relaxed in the difficult times as I am in the good times. Life begins to take on an even keel when you learn to simply be with the one who promised to be with you at all times.

He is with us even when we feel like he is far, far away. As St. Augustine said, “he is closer to us than we are to ourselves.”

Fount Shults, President
On Word Ministries http://www.onword.org

PS. If you enjoy reading what we share here and on our Facebook page, you may help us keep these insights coming by helping financially. Go to http://onword.org/listen_to_fount.htm or make checks payable to On Word Ministries, 106 Ashford Ct. Myrtle Beach, SC 29588.