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This is a repost from a 2015 article I wrote at at one of my other blogs, now dormant.

Every gold rush winds down sooner or later. That day has come for the poverty profiteers who bilk millions from South Dakota’s poor and elderly through high-interest predatory lending.

It’s called the poverty industry; payday and title loan shops, casinos, pawn shops and the subprime credit card industry. It’s the backside of our Great Faces and Great Places. Those who grew up here may not see it, but the rest certainly do. As Augustana economics professor Reynold Nesiba says; there are far better ways to help the poor than to give them the financial equivalent of rotten meat.

Small dollar high interest predatory lenders only thrive because they make misleading claims about how their products are designed. They offer an intentionally defective financial product intended to be a debt trap and market it to the financially unsophisticated barely surviving on the margins of our economy. They fool the rest of us to tolerate them by saying they offer a needed one-time fix for ordinary people in a financial crunch. However, if all they were offering were a one-time fix, no one would take issue with them.

Their business model only thrives because they quickly lock people into multiple successive loans on the same money borrowed. $1000 turns into $2600 in a matter of a few months. Lutheran Social Services Consumer Credit Counseling in South Dakota reports people coming in with ten different loans. Responsible lending is based on what people are able to pay back.

Their own annual reports and CEO’s state their profitability kicks in on these successive loans. An annual report to investors of one of the largest payday lenders, Advance America, shows the company made eight loans a year on average to their customers. The average payday loan is flipped eight times.

ACE Cash Express, a South Dakota lender, was brazen enough to put a graphic in their employee training manual explaining how to keep distressed borrowers in a debt cycle. The Department of Defense determined payday loans “undermine military readiness.” As such Congress unanimously enacted and President G.W. Bush signed into law a 36% rate cap on loans to active duty soldiers and their families. A 36% rate cap has been deemed the percentage rate a person can dig out of on their own.  If high-interest loans aren’t good for our service women and men, they certainly aren’t good for our state’s poor and elderly.

Predatory Lenders point out their rates only seem high because we require them to disclose them as an annual percentage rate, seemingly unfair for a two-week loan. They say an overdraft fee at the bank is more costly. Again, what they aren’t telling us is the model isn’t based on one short-term loan that is quickly paid off.

Payday industry executives admitted last year South Dakota is the wild west when it comes to high-interest lending. In the early 1980’s, Governor Janklow repealed our interest rate cap to bring in 400 Citibank jobs. He later said he was after 400 jobs and certainly not 20% interest rates, which he called unhealthy.

Today interest rates of 300%-600+% are common here. The average payday loan interest rate in South Dakota is 574%.  Last year the Sioux Falls Business Journal reported 56 payday/title loan shops in our city. If these places were helping the poor as they assert, why are half the students in our school still on free and reduced lunch? Truth is, predatory lenders leave people worse off than before and the taxpayers clean up the mess. Time to get the poverty profiteers out of the middle.

In the legislature I’ve drafted reasonable regulations and the industry resists every one. Our Republican-dominated legislature has a free-market approach to this industry. Somehow it’s free-market for our state government to be quick to financially help businesses come into our state but it’s dubbed anti-free-market for us to discourage some to stay out. It’s an irony.

Montana recently voted for a 36% rate cap and the sky didn’t fall. There was no discernable uptick in internet lending– it’s growing in every state requiring a Federal fix. You may hear the poor will have nowhere to turn. They managed somehow twenty years ago before we had loan sharks and today there are various creative alternatives. It’s not the case that payday loans help build your credit. These loans aren’t reported to the credit bureau.

A coalition has formed called South Dakotans for Responsible Lending. The partners include major groups in our state and cross party lines. Find us on Facebook. Shortly we will announce a signature drive to put a 36% rate cap on the November 2016 ballot.

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One hundred and twenty men at Church at the Gate have committed to a year long process we are calling Tailgate Jesus!!  More on all that here, and here.  You can follow it here on Facebook, and Twitter.

The basic idea is that we are called to follow him and many guys today are having trouble following him closely – we let many things get between us. It’s not too late to jump on board, we start book one now. The next segment starts mid-July and that is another on-ramp for men wanting to join in. Every 5-6 weeks we will open the door to additional guys.

I’ve been in Greece these last three weeks and was bummed to have missed the Tailgate Jesus kickoff last Saturday. However, I did a little eleven minute video message for the guys back home. Here it is:

This is my seventh post on the Florida Healing Outpouring and frankly I had no intentions of doing any posts beyond the first one. But, due to popular demand (and subsequent questions) more have come. Initially I had a burden to throw some caution out there to those tempted to occupy the seat of scoffers and so I wrote a couple posts on being careful what we speak against. Some may wonder why I’m now tackling the more controversial points – the Angel Emma, Third Heaven Experiences, is this Kundalini, Violence and the Kingdom of God. It would be easier to say nothing, there is even some potential in my own circles that I’m inviting an unnecessary controversy by even bringing these matters up.

I’m writing on these points to ready us for a move of God. No doubt, as we’ve seen in revival history, when God visits things break out beyond the sinners prayer of the traditional fruitful evangelistic meeting. People weep and wail, there are waves of joy, extravagant giving, shaking, falling out, trances, tongues, healing – the blind see, deaf hear, signs and wonders, dreams and visions, lights, angelic encounters and sightings and more. We want it to be on earth as it is in heaven don’t we? Do we really think it’ll all look like earth does now when heaven graces the earth?

As I’ve indicated, even within our own fellowship, much of this is uncharted waters for, I’d think, half our people. But I’m called to ready the rest – to prepare the way – for God to visit. This venue (the blog) has proved to be a great way to interact on a regular basis with hundreds in our church and thousands more who are seeking God right now and need understanding. So here now I aim to demystify myticism a bit. I’m trying to model how to seek God fully and openly without “passing judgment on disputable matters.” (Romans 14:1) I’m watching people throw labels on stuff that do not fit and are not fair and they do so because it’s human to label things we can’t really grasp so we can get a better hold on them. We try to box up and categorize stuff – that’s “Word of Faith”, that’s “Health & Wealth gospel”, that’s “New Age,” that’s “mysticism,” etc. I remember thinking on my last Africa trip that so many back home would think “that’s not Christian” as the African believers went “happy” during a much extended offering. The “church” is far bigger than our version of it – and God is far bigger yet.

I’ll put myself here in a vulnerable position and share a mystic experience that happened to me. Read the rest of this entry »

While not wanting to fuel any debate with those in the seat of scoffers, I’m devoting a few additional posts on the Florida Healing Outpouring to explain why I’m not thwarted in my belief that “this is mostly God” even by reports of things like angel appearances and other Christian mystic experiences (post on this to follow) and even the matter of Todd Bentley’s violent methods. What follows is an transcription from my final point in my message Sunday where I spoke from Matthew 11:12. You can check out my earlier posts on the revival here and here. I appreciated Peter Kirk’s post yesterday on this topic of violence and the Kingdom of God so you’ll want to check that out. Peter is from Essex, UK. I especially appreciate him drawing in this quote from C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian.

Aslan pounced. Have you ever seen a very young kitten being carried in the mother cat’s mouth? It was like that. The Dwarf, hunched up in a little, miserable ball, hung from Aslan’s mouth. The Lion gave him one shake and all his armour rattled like a tinker’s pack and then – hey-presto – the Dwarf flew up in the air. He was as safe as if he had been in bed, though he did not feel so. As he came down the huge velvety paws caught him as gently as a mother’s arms and set him (right way up, too) on the ground.


Expect the new wine to come forcefully.
This will really stretch your old wineskin… Matthew 11:12 brings us to key point of controversy regarding Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Outpouring. “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” 99% of the church has no understanding of this verse. We gravitate toward the nice verses at the end of the chapter… come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest. But verse 12 is every bit inspired as verse 28 and verse 12 says the Kingdom of heaven is forcefully advancing and forceful men lay hold of it. A literal rendering read “the violent take it by force.”

Many church people are rejecting the Florida Outpouring because Todd Bentley is so violent. We’ve all seen him body slam people on stage and knee people in the stomach. And he talks openly about this – he said one time the glory of God wasn’t evident in a meeting and he asked God about it and God said, “It’s because you haven’t kicked that woman in the face.” He said, “What? You want me to kick that 80 year old woman in the face.” God said, “Yes, with your work boot.” And so Todd kicked the woman in the face and just as his boot got to her nose she fell back under the power of God and God’s glory visited that meeting.

You can understand how this kind of thing is causing many to be offended and reject everything about this guy. Surely a loving God wouldn’t tell a guy to kick an 80 year old woman in the face! Are you sure? He told Abraham to sacrifice his son. “Do this Abraham – no wait, don’t… I just wanted to see if you would.” Are we sure the God who shakes nations with earthquakes is always safe and soft?

We all know God doesn’t need us to kick people in the face for them to be healed and Bentley says its not the point – the point is his obedience. Maybe Bentley operates at a great level of power because he is radically obedient. Maybe many in the church are walking in the lowest levels of God’s power in their lives because we won’t even obey a simple prompt from the Holy Spirit to give a bigger offering next week.

The Bible talks about those who have a form of godliness but deny the power. The word power is the word “dunamis” – dynamite, explosive power or force. Those who walk in this power seeing signs and wonders are often forceful, aggressive and walk in a holy violence. Part of the problem is most evangelicals have no knowledge of church history or what is happening in terms of deliverance ministry in the church globally. Nothing Bentley is doing is any different than what is normal many churches in Africa. I’ve been there a couple times… they aren’t driving foul spirits away in Africa by saying “shoo.” African Christians get in the devils face. They are kind/gentle. From what I’ve seen, Bentley is tender with children and it’s indisputable that he’s and his ministry are kind to the poor – he weeps when he talks about intimacy with Jesus. But facing a sickness or a devil, at times he comes out swinging – mostly though with strong words.

Seventy-five years ago Smith Wigglesworth was having mass revival meetings here and all over the world. Wigglesworth is one of the American revival heroes. He considered every type of sickness a work of the enemy – sometimes when he’d identify the part of the body that was hurting he’s punch the person in that part of the body. He’d grab the tongue of a stutterer and some people got upset that he was hitting the sick. He’d reply, “I don’t hit people, I hit the devil and people just get in the way.” Through his ministry people regained their hearing and sight, new limbs were created, cancerous growths disappeared and demons fled. Twenty-three people were raised from the dead at the hands of Smith Wigglesworth.

He once took a corpse out of the coffin and threw it up against the wall. The people were shocked until they saw that the deceased had sprung back to life. I’m not saying you need to rubber stamp this kind of violence, I’m saying we need to be careful to pounce on things like this so quickly as not being from God. I’m saying “the kingdom of God comes by force and forceful men lay hold of it.” The Kingdom of God is not the kingdom of the cushioned pew.

My own testimony is that I was healed when a minister hit me. I was healed of debilitating migraines in 2001 when a guy from Texas came to Church at the Gate for a prayer conference. He hit me on the forehead with the heel of his hand and said, “spirit of infirmity, be gone!” My hair would hurt when I’d have a migraine, and my wife will tell you, touching me was a no-no. So this guy hit me in the head and I haven’t had a migraine since. I don’t recommend that methodology to our prayer team people, but folks, God is God and he does what he wants.

The context of this verse in Matthew 11 on the violence of the Kingdom of God is Jesus talking with John the Baptist’s followers about John. Jesus asked them, “who did you go out in the desert to see, a man in soft clothing?” Is anyone else tired of the soft-clothing preachers who have words but don’t have any works to offer – who have “words” but the sick aren’t healed and the demons aren’t cast out? They ought to put signs out front – DUNAMIS-FREE ZONE, IT’S SAFE HERE – DEMONS WELCOME.

A couple verses later is Matthew 11:16-17. These verses are a bit perplexing. Jesus says; “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” In other words, yours is a generation that is immature in the things of God. You are out there in the world thinking like children and this verse is about expectations and particularly how God isn’t doing what they set up for him to do. Is your church a church that dances to God’s tune or a church that tries to get God to dance to ours. I believe this to be the key issue each of us need to sort out– will we dance to God’s song, or wait til it’s over and try to get him to dance to ours?

God is not coming as we expect. He never limits himself to our expectations. He will not conform himself to our likeness, or liking. I heard Mike Bickle say once that “people are very comfortable with the Jesus in white, but not the Jesus in red.” The red is regarding the blood splattered on his garments when he returns to make war against the kings of the earth and violently remove everything that hinders love. As we near the end of the age, we can expect a great increase in the violent clash between the Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of Darkness. Maybe next week I’ll preach the John 2:15 verse which talk about Jesus making a whip… 🙂 Would the Jesus you worship really make a whip?

UPDATED – Thanks to Andrew for commenting on this post and pointing us to this verse… 1 Kings 20:35f “Now a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to another BY THE WORD OF THE LORD, “Please STRIKE me.” But the man refused to strike him. Then he said to him, “Because you have not listened to the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as you have departed from me, a lion will kill you.” And as soon as he had departed from him a lion found him and killed him. Then he found another man and said, “Please strike me.” And the man struck him, wounding him.”

Apparently, God does tell people to hit people.

This past week alone I got sermon feedback from people in Washington DC, Hawaii, California and Iraq. Oh the wonders of the podcast. I’m told in three of these places my “Origins: God’s Green Earth” series is making the rounds and is quite a hit. Of course I appreciate feedback that is positive. Interesting to me, I’m getting triple the feedback I normally get in a message series and we are giving away hundreds of CDs. One lady on Sunday, a visitor, took a handful and plans to send them to her Ph.D microbiologist son with hopes that he’ll make room for God in his life. This morning I was mapping out the remaining messages in the series and had the thought… why quit so soon? There is so much more to say on this theme. I do believe it has end time relevance.

Also I know that those of you who attend CATG each weekend may never be able to run for President unless you disavow the crazy politically-incorrect things I’m saying right now and have said over the years. Actually we do need people in our midst to rise up and govern – that’s the Creation Mandate – rulership, dominion over the created order. Go for it! I promise to not pull a Rev. Wright.

Big thanks to my friend Steven M. Collins for this guest post. As usual, Steve opens the Scriptures in untraditional ways showing things we wonder why we didn’t see all along. Recently Steve gave me a preview of a fascinating paper he was about to post on his website – “Is the earth 6000 years old.” I’ve linked to the full paper here and also at the end of his guest post. After reading his paper a couple of times, I asked him to write a guest post here to sum that up and that is what is spelled out below. Steve lives here in Sioux Falls with his wife and family, has written five books on Israel, and is one of our life group leaders. More on his books and his blog on his website. Pray for Steve’s health – he’s unable to travel and take speaking engagements right now. Lord, touch this brother!


Pastor Steve, I am really enjoying your message series on “Origins: God’s Green Earth.” I agree it is critically-important that we understand the foundations of our beginnings in order to truly understand our Creator and his purpose for our lives. As you have been giving your “Origins” series, which has a strong emphasis on Genesis 1, I have been putting the finishing touches on an article which complements the subject matter of your messages. My article addresses the “Creation vs. Evolution” debate from an entirely new perspective.

My article strongly affirms a literal understanding and application of the scriptures, and I believe that by combining the account in Genesis 1 with creation accounts in other books of the Bible (Job, Isaiah, Ezekiel, etc.), we can actually reconcile the differences between the scientific community and the Christian community regarding the origins of the earth and life itself. We know that God has eternally existed. Have the creative efforts of an ageless Creator (in the physical world) been limited to only the most-recent 6,000 years, as many “young earth” Christians maintain? Read the rest of this entry »

Sorry to disappear from the blogosphere for a few days. I hope you were able to function for a few days without my life-giving insights into whatever I’m interested in. (Blame a hotwire.com $39 a night La Quinta hotel room that promised wireless internet but apparently the wires were missing that would have made it actually work.)

We just got back from Birmingham late last night. Went with 11 CATG peeps to Church of the Highlands for a spectacular church planting conference. Many things are rolling around in my head right now that will soon gel into more vision and passion for what we are doing right here in SD!

It’s always great to travel with friends. Lots of laughs… like yesterday when Pastor Dennis mis-spoke during a conversation about his baldness and talked about his using viagra and how that didn’t help his hair grow (he later tried to assure us he meant to say rogaine.) We flew from Birmingham to Dallas with Brian Houston – that was cool for the star-struck among us. I want to publicly thank Kathy for packing light this time… we knew you could do it!

Here’s some highlights:

– The greatest church planting “tool” is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his followers after three years of equipping… stay here in the upper room until you get what you really need to go out and take territory. Jesus sent people out to plant churches with POWER!

– Great word from Brian Houston on how we often focus on what we don’t have and only take notice of the lack… we miss what is right here in our own house- people, potential. We learned THE Darlene Zschech was once just a lady in his church named Darlene – now her song made America Idols top ten list – shout to the Lord! We often don’t see the “oil” in our own “house” because it doesn’t look like its going to look like when God touches it. We’ve got to raise people in our midst up and release them!

– Regarding prayer… a man on his face never falls from that position. Do we as leaders, at our core, really believe that prayer matters? How we run our ministries reveals whether or not we really believe that is true. The hard days in prayer are more important to God than the easy days.

More later…

The Global School of Supernatural Ministry at Church at the Gate ended tonight with several wonderful waves of healing. Sessions on hearing the voice of God, the five-step model for healing prayer and how to receive Words of Knowledge set the stage for God to move. No hype, not even music, full lighting, yet the atmosphere of God in our midst was tangible. Twenty or so words of knowledge came forth and then the testimonies started popping up. A couple dozen people noted at least 80% improvement. We asked God for more.

My testimony tonight is my right shoulder is pain-free for the first time in months and I have full range of motion. CATG Doc’s have told me I have rotator cuff surgery in my future but that I should wait until its intolerable – Dr. Myles at church has been working on it weekly for a few months.

If you have a testimony to share, click on the comment link under this post heading and share it!

God is good!

The Global School of Supernatural Ministry got underway here at Church at the Gate this afternoon. Things are off to a very strong start. Several had personal prayer appointments with the team prior to the first meetings. The first session covered some of the basics of prophetic ministry and the protocol there. Session two focused on the Kingdom of God in the marketplace – meaning… teams of three or four were equipped and sent out into the community (Mall, Walmart, where-ever God led) to pray for people. I’ve heard some great stories already from that time.

Tonight, worship was powerful which opened a great door for a great word on the life of David. The message was that God took one whose identity was a lowly shepherd boy and gave him a new identity and a new name. And, that God is taking us out of the miry clay and saying we are royalty – appointed and annointed to do Kingdom works. Our identity isn’t sickness, defeat, etc. Satan is trying to kill our identity in God. But, we must walk out into our new identity as stewards of the Kingdom and everything around us is affected by the Kingdom in us. We ended with prophetic ministry and praying for healing.

If you are in the area and can make it to the session tomorrow night (7 P.M.) I promise you’ll be blessed. If you attended today and God spoke to you, challenged you, or touched your life in any way, USE THE COMMENT LINK TO SHARE YOUR TESTIMONY WITH THE REST OF US.

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COMING to CHURCH AT THE GATE – – APRIL 7, 8, 9
There is a lot more to the Kingdom of God than what we have experienced to this point. That will be the central message when Church at the Gate hosts a team from the Global School of Supernatural Ministry of Mechanicsburg, PA. These teams have traveled nationally and internationally teaching people to pray for healing and hear from God. We are asking God for powerful miracles next week – if you are local, invite people who need a touch from God to come. Randy Clark, international speaker and author with 30 years of pastoral experience is the President of GSSM. Unless otherwise noted, the meetings will take place at Church at the Gate (6820 W. 26th St.) in Sioux Falls.

Here’s the schedule for next week:

Monday April 7
1-4 PM “Prophetic Protocal & Marketplace Ministry workshop” at the Holiday Inn Express (“The Barns” meeting room) 2502 S. Shirely Ave.
7 PM Worship, Training and Healing Prayer

Tuesday April 8
1-4 PM “Deliverance training workshop” for the Cleansing Stream Ministry Team. The Tuesday afternoon session will be held at Staybridge Suites, 2505 S Carolyn Ave.
7 PM Worship, Training and Healing Prayer

Wednesday April 9
7 PM Worship, Training and Healing Prayer

Topics covered will be a five-step prayer model for the sick, how to receive and operate in words of knowledge, and how to hear from God. You can attend one session or all. There is no admission fee. A love offering will be taken in the evening services. The GSSM ministry training manual will be available for purchase ($20). Prayer is available by appointment Monday and Tuesday morning or Wednesday afternoon for those unable to attend the evening sessions. Please call the church office at 357- 8136 to schedule.

I’m quite excited about this and expect great things as we go after more of God together! Join me in praying God will visit us mightily during this time and that many people will be touched and released into greater Kingdom works!

This past weekend during one of our worship services I noticed some of the lyrics we were singing were basically visionary prayers. As I reflected on this, I felt led to say a few things about “Praying Forward.” Within a day or so a couple emails came in saying it was quite helpful and important. Kristen suggested I develop the thought a bit and submit it as a guest post on her prayer blog. So, I did just that and you can read more of what I’m thinking about Praying Forward here.

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This June, we are planning to partner with hundreds of other churches to do a series together called One Prayer. The series will begin on the weekend of June 7-8 and run for a total of four weeks. The premise of the series is: “If God would answer ‘one prayer’ for the church at large, what would you pray?

This series serves several purposes. Specifically, we believe it will… 1) Promote unity in the body of Christ for the larger work of God in his church. 2) Cross-pollinate our church with other key ARC churches. (Hundreds of other churches are participating but we will connect with others in our network) 3) Infuse spiritual passion into a typically challenging month. 4) Raise money for a mission project as participating churches pool offerings. 5) Simultaneously link our hearts with many others fasting, praying and seeking God.

The general concept is this: I’ll start off the series off, then in the following weeks I’ll pass the baton to other key ARC pastors who will speak at CATG weekend services via video cast. Some of the other ARC pastors who are participating are Craig Groeschel, Rick Bezet, Chris Hodges, Dino Rizzo, Greg Surratt, and Stovall Weems.

A couple thoughts on how God is using technology. It used to be we’d have to spend big bucks to fly-in special guests to benefit from the anointing flowing in other sectors of the Body of Christ. Today, we can stay where we are and still be right in the midst of what God is doing elsewhere.

Having already launched a video campus, video messages are nothing new to CATG’rs. However, it is still new to many and on occasion I hear how it’s “second best.” My main reply to this is that we are so spoiled. In other parts of the world, Christians huddle in fields around appointed rocks to listen to a crackling transistor radio of a Bible teaching coming in over the airways. We need to be thankful that we are in a place where we can have a full-size, full color, front row seat to the key things the Spirit is saying to the church today. Technology is a gift from God and he’s increasingly using it to his glory here in the End Times. Stay tuned for updates.

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