Dec 1 2016

Supernatural?

I have this rule. I don’t question any action or word from my sovereign King. If he wants to do something, and I know it is him, I don’t try to stop it and I don’t get in his way. He is the King of the universe, after all. He has the right to do whatever he wants to do. But, sometimes we don’t recognize his actions because we expect him to move in a very defined way. We create this theological viewpoint that says God can’t do anything outside the framework of what we are used to, what we have previously experienced, or what we read about in the Bible. That may seem theologically sound on the surface, but it is actually a flawed viewpoint because it assumes that the fullness of God has already been revealed and that he won’t ever do anything new or different. I look at this differently. I view God as a supernatural being who has complete authority over the earth and whose actions, personality, and sovereignty can never be fully captured in one book, or even in a library full of books. Even John, when speaking about the miracles of Jesus in John 21:25 tells us that all the books in the world could not contain all the things Jesus did in his few short years of ministry. So why would we expect a supernatural God to never do anything different than what we have already read about or seen for ourselves?

I lived in Japan for several years and I watched as people would walk up to idols made of wood and stone; they would pray to these idols, light incense, and leave offerings. It confused me. I knew these idols had no power to help them and I knew that the demons hanging around behind these idols also had no desire to help them. And yet, they would come in religious fashion to pray to something that couldn’t offer them any help. I don’t want to serve a God like that. I don’t want to serve a helpless God or one limited to the same actions a human being can take. I want a God who is supernatural. One who is almighty, all powerful, and can move heaven and earth if that is what is required to help me. Who, in all of the universe, when given a choice between a powerless idol and a powerful God would willingly choose the former? So, when I think about God encountering the people he created, I expect those encounters to be supernatural. I expect things to happen that seem a little weird to us. This is why stories of feathers falling out of thin air, gold dust appearing on people’s hands, faces, or clothing, and spontaneous laughter don’t phase me.

I get it, this can be theologically and spiritually disastrous if we just allow anything to happen in a church service. But it is equally disastrous to shut down everything that we don’t understand. This is where the gift of discernment (1 Cor. 12:10) comes in. We have to be able to discern between what God is doing, what the enemy is doing, and what some random person is doing. But we also have to recognize that we serve a supernatural God. We should expect him to act in a supernatural way. And, more importantly, we should invite him to come and do whatever he wants to do.

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Nov 18 2016

Wikipedia Loves Charismatic Christianity

Several months ago, I stumbled across something interesting on Wikipedia that I didn’t know existed. Most people know that Wikipedia contains an article on pretty much every major topic you can think of and that a simple Google search tends to return a Wikipedia link as one of the first few websites to visit. But, what I discovered, is that there is an entire section of Wikipedia articles about charismatic Christianity; almost 1,500 of them! And, more surprisingly to me, no one was actively editing any of these articles. So, there are all these articles that come up as a top result when someone searches on Google but many of them are incomplete, inaccurate, or greatly slanted with a negative viewpoint. I thought to myself, if someone searches for a Christian topic, and one of the first results is a Wikipedia article, then that Wikipedia article needs to be accurate. In case you didn’t know, Wikipedia is mostly managed by volunteers and anyone can edit the content of an article if they adhere to a few basic rules. So, I created an account, familiarized myself with the Wikipedia crowd, and dove right into updating the charismatic Christianity project page. I chose the article on the Toronto Blessing as a starting point since that was the movement that spurred so many other movements and ministries into existence and when this one is finished I will branch out to some of the other already created articles to ensure they are accurate as well. But it’s something I can’t do by myself. I usually have a little bit of time each week that I can dedicate to this work and would love for some others to jump in with me. We can use a website with worldwide notoriety to spread amazing stories about what God is doing throughout the world! Come join me; you can create an account here.

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Nov 11 2016

SHIFT

Well, it’s been an interesting week of people and things shifting into place. There’s a lot happening in the spiritual realm right now. Angels are being realigned and released as God breathes freshly across this nation in the same way he breathed life into Adam. Half of the nation seems to be in fear at the result of this election but there is no reason for us to fear. God is doing something new and we should stand with excitement and watch as he unfolds his plan and invites all of us to participate with him. I, for one, am excited because I can feel the anticipation in the spiritual realm and have felt an increase in spiritual activity over the past few months. I feel like we are entering a season like the world has never seen before, or at least hasn’t seen for a long time. So how do we posture ourselves for this? It’s easy, keep your ears open to the Holy Spirit, be willing to make adjustments as he directs, and follow the wave wherever it takes you. I keep hearing people saying that we are living in the most exciting time and it is so true! These next few months and into the New Year are going to bring some exciting changes from heaven and I even feel like God is releasing surprise gifts to his children that will be exactly what we have been praying for. Stay hungry, keep your focus on Him, and enjoy the ride.

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Oct 28 2016

Real Solutions

I recently learned that many of the major social and political reforms throughout the world were started by believers who had become convinced that the ethics and morals of their Christian beliefs required them to take some form of action. They did so, not by stepping into the political arena or pontificating in social media spheres, but in taking real action. William Wilberforce worked tirelessly to abolish slavery and died just a few short days before the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 was passed in England. Elizabeth Fry worked equally as hard to reform the conditions of prisons in the 19th century and was the first woman to testify to a British Parliament. Florence Nightingale was another social reformer who founded modern nursing. Each of these reformers had one thing in common; they were believers in Jesus and they put His teachings to work in their own everyday lives.

When I look at the issues that face the world today and I look at the organizations doing the most work to solve these issues, they are all Christian based. I often wonder why I don’t see other faith groups feeding the poor, working to end abortion, or trying to curb human trafficking. I have often wondered why believers are so inspired to take up these causes and what I have come to realize is that it is Holy Spirit inspiring people to make a difference in the world. God is directly involved in his creation and he is working both providentially and through individuals to ensure his plan for humanity is achieved. We are living in a tumultuous season of political wrangling that is creating so much confusion within our nation. As believers, we fall into this weird category of wanting to speak our mind about the current political atmosphere but also wanting to stay on the sidelines so we don’t get caught up in all the anger and craziness. We don’t have to get involved in the craziness. The issues that all the politicians are campaigning about are issues we can solve. We can look into heaven and get God’s solutions for how to solve the national debt, how to fix the healthcare crises, and how to solve any other dilemma, big or small.

It’s no easy task for us by ourselves, but with Holy Spirit, all things are possible. Now let’s get to work.

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Oct 8 2016

A season for loving

I woke up from a nap yesterday to the sound of worship music and I thought that I must have left something playing on my computer in the other room. I checked a few minutes later and found that there wasn’t any kind of music being played in the house and yet, I very clearly heard the Tim Hughes song, Here I am to Worship, playing in my ear. So the only logical explanation was that I was hearing it come from somewhere else, most likely the spirit realm. Then, as I sat down to write, I kept hearing the opening lyrics to Time of the Season from the 60’s play in my head. I’m not a 60’s child, I missed that era by at least a decade, and I don’t think every line from this song was written with righteous intentions, but this one, “it’s the time of the season for loving” jumped out at me. There are pockets of turmoil happening around the world and in our own country, and it’s easy to get swept up in the anger and frustration of all that is happening but I feel like God is calling us to a deeper place of worshiping him and a focused approach to loving others. It’s a season of loving him and loving those that he created; a season for loving. It’s time to toss out all agenda, tear down walls of separation, and truly begin to walk out the command of Jesus to love our neighbor as ourselves. I also feel like there’s another aspect to this and that the Lord is saying he wants us to have a greater realization of his love for us because, when we learn to live inside of his love, loving others becomes incredibly easy. Take some extra time today to bask in God’s love and find a way to intentionally share his love with someone you would not normally spend any time with; you might be surprised how quickly a wall can come down through an action of love. Love really does conquer all.

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Sep 30 2016

Get ready

Over the past few weeks the Lord has begun to speak to me in a new way and show me things he hasn’t shown me before. It seems that September has brought some shifts and I feel like the Lord is saying many others are going to begin to hear him in a new way. Don’t expect it to be the way you are used to, and if you feel like you have never heard his voice before, get ready to hear it clearly now. This is not for everyone; it is for those who are sincerely pressing in to listen to what is being said. God wants all us to hear his voice, he is not remaining silent. But we often let everything else around us drown out his sound. If you listen, you will hear him. Here’s the great news; we can all press in, we can all hear him speak, there is so much he wants to say to us. Set aside some time, listen closely, and get ready to hear him in a whole new way. I also feel like we are moving into a season of divine encounters and of increased supernatural activity. Keys that are needed to open up new doors are being released and the ones who have been waiting outside of those doors are going to see the doors open very soon and others are being released into the destiny that has been waiting for them for a long time. Get ready for something amazing!

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Sep 23 2016

Act One

One of my favorite prophetic stories in the Old Testament is the story of Elisha taking over for Elijah when the time came for God to take him off of the earth. Most believers know the story about the supernatural events that took Elijah to heaven but it’s not the fiery chariot or falling mantle that strikes me as so interesting; what interests me is how Elisha acted after his promotion. On Elisha’s first day on the job, his very first act as the Prophet of Israel was to part the waters of the Jordan river. Just a few minutes after receiving Elijah’s mantle he immediately performed a miracle. He didn’t wait a few years to grow into his position. He didn’t wait for more training. He didn’t seek out a bunch of great leaders to find out if he should do what Elijah used to do. Somehow, he recognized that his identity included the ability to operate in the supernatural realm and he went right to the water with an expectation that it would divide in front of him.

This is the attitude we need to have today. It’s so easy to think that we need to grow into our giftings or wait for God to show up in some powerful way before we can actually go out and have an impact on the world around us. Jesus said “these signs will follow those who believe…” so the very instant that someone gives their life to Jesus they take on a new identity and every promise of Jesus is instantly available to them. A brand new Christian can go right out into a group of sick people and expect miracles to happen. Moving in the supernatural becomes our birthright the minute we are born again. Do we need training? Of course! There is much we need to learn but at some point we also have to step out in faith; part of the learning process in using the gifts of the Spirit is to actually use them. Elisha stepped right into his position and I think that’s a good model for us to follow today as well.

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Sep 16 2016

Shift-tember

A few weeks ago I heard the Lord say that this month is Shift-tember. He renamed the month to represent the finalization of the shiftings that have been happening in many of our lives and ministries. I feel like we have finally entered into a season where all the shifting and transitions that have been occurring for several years are starting to come to an end and that we are going to start to see the plans of the Lord solidify in our lives. Many of us have been waiting for major breakthroughs in different areas like finances, health, or restored relationships, and I feel like we are entering into a season where the things we have contended for in prayer are starting to break through and manifest in our lives. Hold strong! Don’t give up or give in! There is nothing the enemy can do to stop the promises of God. If you have been holding on to promises for a long time, as we have, know that the time is here for some and will be here very soon for others. God’s timeline can be very confusing; we often find ourselves wondering why things are taking so long or why God hasn’t just instantly decreed something to happen in our lives. But there are so many pieces to his plans that we cannot see and we have to trust that he has everything in control. Many times, God is aligning other people to come alongside of us but we have to wait until they are prepared before those connections happen. Your patience will pay off! Your persistence will pay off! Your pursuit of what God has called you to will pay off! The payoff will come in ways you don’t expect it so keep pursuing and keep pressing in. It’s easy to lose hope, but stay focused on what God is doing and you will see his hand move you into the place you need to be. Shift-tember is here.

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Sep 9 2016

Find your own Calcutta

Mother Teresa was canonized this past weekend by the Catholic church for her life’s work in helping the poorest of the poor. One of the rules in Catholicism for declaring someone a saint is that the person must have performed at least two verifiable miracles. One of those miracles involved a woman who was healed from a stomach tumor and another was a man who was healed from multiple brain tumors. And as amazing as each miracle is, her focus was not on the miraculous, but on loving the people society had rejected. Isn’t it interesting that a young woman can go to the poorest of the poor to share God’s love in a tangible way and when she did, God showed up in ways she probably didn’t even expect. She was often asked by others what they could do to have the same types of impacts that she was having and her response evokes the same sentiment I often have. “Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right there where you are, in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society, completely forgotten, completely left alone.”

We can go to the other side of the world to help the poor, or we can drive to that spot in our own city where the forgotten members of society live, and show them how valuable they really are, how much they are loved, and how great an impact they can have on the world. It doesn’t take much, just a willing heart and unconditional love. The forgotten part of every city in America needs what God has placed inside of us. And how cool would it be if revival broke out in a parking lot in the poorest part of town instead of in a church building? The Azusa Street revivals started in an impoverished part of the city, wouldn’t it be great if it happened that way again? If you’re looking for me, you’ll most likely find me in these types of neighborhoods. They are my favorite places to minister. And they can be your favorite too, give it a try, you just might find out that Jesus loves to show up and show off amongst the people who have lost all hope.

Go find your Calcutta.

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Sep 2 2016

Celebrate

I’ve been to a lot of churches during my life. Some have been quiet, some have been loud, some have included flags waving through the air, and others have included people running laps around the building when they got excited. I think I can safely say that I have seen a wide variety of activities within churches and, oddly enough, I have learned to be comfortable in a lot of different church settings. But one thing I have trouble understanding is why some churches try to control the activities within the church to the point where no one is able to freely express their worship and thankfulness to God.

Some people think flagging is weird, others think laughter in the altar should never happen, and some don’t like it if you shout when you get excited. And yet, if I go to a football game, I’m sure all of these same people will be quick to scream their approval for their teams, proudly wave the teams logo through the air on flags and towels, jump out of their seats when a great play is made, then shout and celebrate throughout the game. Why are we so comfortable celebrating at a sporting event and so uncomfortable celebrating God? Shouldn’t the God who has welcomed us into an amazing relationship receive at least the same level of excitement we show for a group of people running up and down a field?

Don’t get mad at me, I get it, I know that some people prefer quiet reverence to excited worship. And I think there is a time to sit quietly before the Lord to reflect on what he has done for us and to listen to what he has to say. But there should also be a time for celebration; God actually established feasts and festivals for the Jews as times to celebrate, David commissioned 24-hour worship after the ark of the covenant returned to Jerusalem, and the elders around God’s throne are in a constant state of overt worship and praise. Maybe we could take those examples and apply them to our own lives because we seem to lose track of something when we trade in celebration for quiet reflection. God has done amazing and great things, let’s celebrate it!

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