Nov 8 2019

Inheritance

I tend to put followers of Jesus into two categories. One is the everyday Christian who lives a good life, goes to church, and volunteers in different capacities, but never fully realizes who they are in Christ. The other is the Christian who does all of these things, but also goes after everything that God has for their life and refuses to settle for mediocrity because they recognize the only thing that can transform the world is the power of God working through believers. Have you ever thought about the inheritance available to you as a follower of Jesus? Ephesians 1:11 tells us that we have obtained an inheritance; some people think that is just talking about heaven, but let me tell you, it is so much more that what you receive after you die. Romans 8:17 tells us that we are co-heirs with Christ. Heirs receive something after someone dies. When Christ died, something amazing became available to all who chose (or will choose) to follow him. Salvation is the major component of what we receive, but there is so much more. We become ambassadors of Christ. We step into the role of representing our King to everyone we meet. When Jesus told us in John 14 that those of us who believe in him would do greater works than he had done, he was talking about us! Our inheritance is more than heaven. Our inheritance is a new identity that only God can give to us. It is an identity that, if we fully grab hold of it, positions us to heal the sick, raise the dead, free people held in captivity by demons, release the goodness of God, and the list goes on. There is no such thing as a mediocre Christian life in the mind of God. We were created and destined for so much more. Many viewpoints have stifled the work of God through believers in the name of good theology. Well, some theology is actually bad and should be thrown away. Especially the pieces that lie to believers about their true identity in Christ. The body of Christ has the answer the world needs. We need to stop allowing the systems of the world to influence us, and instead, take the systems of the Kingdom of God into the world to influence and transform everyone else’s way of thinking. The Kingdom of God will not stop advancing. We can choose to play an active role or passively sit on the sidelines. I choose to be active. Come join me. Let’s change the world together.  

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Oct 18 2019

Discipleship, identity, and accountability

There are 3 primary issues within the church today that need to be transformed if we want to see greater moves of God in our cities and around the world: discipleship, identity, and accountability. And if we can fix discipleship, the other two will no longer be issues. You see, good discipleship teaches us how to follow Jesus in every area of our lives and how to avoid traps that get us off track. Without it, we are in danger of not knowing our true identity in Christ. Now, some people may cringe at the idea of accountability because it sounds a little like judgement. So, let’s deal with that right up front. The Bible is very clear on the responsibility of believers to hold each other accountable. We see this in Galatians 6:1, Luke 17:3, and Matt 18:15, and we need to recognize that it is important because it puts us in a place to protect each other’s souls and keep each other moving in the right direction. The prophets had the responsibility of holding believers accountable in the Old Testament, because they were the ones the Spirit of God rested upon. But in the New Testament, that role expanded to all believers because the Spirit of God is inside of all of us. If I am headed in the wrong direction, I want someone to tell me so that I don’t end up in deception and veer off into territory that is ungodly. But I also realize that good discipleship can eliminate many of the accountability issues because believers can more easily parry the enemy’s tactics when they are grounded in the truth.

That brings us back to discipleship, and the major problem I see is that there is not a lot of real discipleship in churches today. Unfortunately, the fear of offending someone has crept into the church and caused many of the week to week teachings to be surface level teachings that are not equipping believers to fulfill their purpose, which Ephesians 4 tells us is the primary role of pastors, teachers, etc. I was in a gathering with other pastors a few days ago and several prominent long-time pastors in our region mentioned that we need to do a better job at discipleship. They were encouraging the other pastors in the room to be more proactive at discipling others. I was so happy to hear this because it is something the Lord put on my heart more than a year ago, and something we are very focused on doing every day. I believe that if we properly disciple people, the church will line up with the model our King gave to us, believers will come into a realization of their true identity, be actively equipped to change the world, be postured to partner with God in supernatural ways, and be will accept the need to remain accountable to fellow believers. Good discipleship can fix the other two issues and put the church back in a place of impacting society instead of the other way around.

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Sep 20 2019

Perspectives

Have you ever wondered if you are missing some important piece of Christianity? Have you ever thought about why following Jesus today doesn’t quite look like what we see in the book of Acts? Why don’t we see more followers of Jesus doing the things he did? Is it for a select few? Or is it simply that we don’t understand who we are? Do you know that Jesus resides inside of every one of his followers? 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us very clearly that Christ is inside of us, and Galatians 2:20 takes it even further to state that we are not even alive anymore; the only thing that gives this body life is Christ within us!

When we encounter hopelessness, we need to know that the Hope of the world is inside of us.

When we encounter chaos, we need to know that the Prince of Peace is inside of us.

When we encounter sickness, we need to know that the Great Physician is inside of us.

When we encounter despair, we need to know that the One surrounded by joy is inside of us.

And the list goes on.

It doesn’t matter what we encounter or where it comes from. Jesus is truth. Anything that disagrees with him is automatically a lie and cannot stand before him. It’s all about perspective. We don’t need more of Jesus, we need to have a greater revelation of who Jesus is and that he is already inside of us! We are called to change the world. We are ambassadors for Christ sent to represent him and his kingdom. But we cannot properly represent him if we don’t fully understand that he is living inside of us.

And it starts with love. The more we fall in love with Jesus, the less we care about the things of the world. The more we look into his eyes, the less we look into the eyes of any storm. The more we focus on loving our King, all the things that disagree with him no longer stand a chance to influence us. The third chapter of Ephesians ends with a prayer for believers to “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” When we know his love, the revelation of who is living inside of us will start to burst out into our everyday lives.

So, my challenge to you is this: study the scriptures about the attributes of Jesus and ask him to give you a greater revelation of who he is, so that you can represent him in even greater ways.

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Aug 30 2019

Is Jesus Enough?

We have a tendency in today’s fast food culture to want the solution to any of our problems, or the answer any of our questions instantaneously. It’s tough to wait for something when almost everything we need is right at our fingertips. But God’s process of bringing us what we need, or getting us to the place we need to be, rarely looks like the world’s process. God’s greatest desire is for us to be in relationship with him, and that relationship is the vehicle he uses to provide for us in every need. The challenge in today’s culture is that we want everything now. I have found this to be true both within and outside of Christian circles. We don’t want to wait, and when God doesn’t show up on our timeline, we look to other people or things to provide what we need (or what we think we need).

I sometimes think about what it was like for Abraham, Moses, or other patriarchs of our faith. They didn’t have newspapers to read about the latest world issues, they didn’t have books about how to attain deeper relationships, and they didn’t have self-help guides to teach them their identity. What they did have was a personal relationship with their creator. A relationship that included face to face conversations! What more do you need? I would much rather have a face to face conversation with God than anything else, and I am sure that is true of anyone else who follows Jesus. If that relationship was enough for Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and so many other heroes of the faith that countless stories and messages point back to, it should be enough for us.

There are many different ways we can try to fulfill our needs, but they are not all equal, and some sources are actually unhealthy for believers to pursue. Many times in scripture (John 17, 1 John 2, James 4 are a few examples), we are warned away from pursuing ideals that are part of the systems of the world. We need to guard ourselves against anything that is rooted in worldly perspectives. One example is reading. I love to read, and we have a lot of books in our house, but we carefully select the topics we read to make sure we are not absorbing ideas that are rooted in the systems of the world. This could sound a little bit legalistic, but it is important to remember that legalism says we need to follow rules in order to attain salvation. This is not about salvation, this is about obedience to the King who has already saved us. Jesus tells us in John 14:15 that carefully adhering to God’s word, as part of our relationship with him, shows that we love him. So, this isn’t about being legalistic, it’s about living in proper relationship with Jesus.

The great news is that God has designed the body of Christ with different roles that help to equip people to fulfill their role in God’s Kingdom, and with different gifts that help to complement those roles. It’s important that we all have wise and spiritually gifted leaders in our lives who can point out our blind spots and help us to make the correct choices. It’s easy to get derailed by the latest fad, and these types of relationships can keep us from wandering down a dangerous path. So, I think there are three key questions we need to ask ourselves as a way to analyze if we need to avoid something or stop involvement with something:

  • Am I replacing Jesus with something or someone else?
  • Am I mixing a system of the world into my relationship with Jesus?
  • What do my spiritual leaders think about this?

Our job is always to point people back to Jesus, because we cannot be Jesus for anyone. Jesus is more than enough!

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Jul 26 2019

Ministry Success

The truest sign of success in any church or ministry is based on whether or not we are making disciples. One of Jesus’ last commands before leaving the earth is found in Matt 28:19 where he instructs us to go make disciples. That’s really the core mission of the church. I want everyone I meet to have an encounter with God. I want them to feel loved. I want them to feel accepted. I want them to be set free of anything that is holding them back from fulfilling their destiny. I want them to be healed of any sickness or disease that is in their body. But more than all of that, I want them to become a disciple of Jesus; that has to be the ultimate goal. I recognize that someone can be supernaturally healed and still spend eternity in hell because they never accepted Jesus. I want to introduce as many people as I can to this amazing Jesus that I know! We can create great programs, have incredible worship teams, and very polished services, but if people are not giving their lives to Jesus, we are missing the big picture. When I look at the work we are doing, I try to frame it with two simple questions. Are we making disciples? Are we training disciples to make new disciples? If we can answer yes to both of these questions, we’re probably moving in the right direction. Of course, the other variable here is that all of this discipleship needs to happen within the construct of a healthy community of believers who are pursuing deeper relationship with Jesus and who can keep each other accountable. The community piece is one that we have tried to tackle within the church for decades, but I don’t think any of us have found a way to build real community around one or two meetings each week. This is a conversation I am having with the Lord right now about effective strategies to disciple large groups of people within community. The Lord has shown us the numbers of people in Washington D.C. that will give their lives to him, and that number is so large that we are going to need a strategy from heaven. How do you disciple 100,000 people? 200,000 people? Even more people? We have to think on a larger scale so that we can win for the Lamb the reward of his suffering. We all have a role to play in the body of Christ to get Jesus everything that he paid for, so ask him today for the strategies that you need to fulfill your piece of the puzzle, then go make some disciples!

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Jul 12 2019

Shifting Atmospheres

When you turn the light on in a dark room the darkness in the room doesn’t get to decide whether or not it wants to leave. It cannot exist in the same space where light exists. As soon as the light turns on, the darkness disappears. In Matt. 5, Jesus refers to us as the light of the world, so when you, who Jesus called the light of the world, walk into a room full of spiritual darkness, that darkness has to leave. It doesn’t have a choice. Darkness should run from you because you carry a great big light inside of you. But the problem is that most followers of Jesus are not walking the identity or authority that they have been given. I don’t think this is a result of a lack of belief, I think it’s a failure of the church to properly disciple believers, which leads to a lack of understanding of our true identity in Christ. Honestly, I think we add complication to the Bible when we create a lot of theological viewpoints. It makes more sense to just read what Jesus said and then replicate that everywhere we go. We literally have the ability to shift the atmosphere of every house, school, business, government office, church, park, street…you get the point, when we show up everything should change for the better. Creation is longing for us to fully step into the role for which we have been created. Shifting atmospheres should be an everyday part of life for anyone who follows Christ. Sadly, not having this understanding firmly rooted within us keep us from doing what the world needs most—the light of Jesus! Fortunately, the concept is simple enough. Jesus said, we just need to believe it. Take hold of that reality, start shifting atmospheres, change the world, and go get Jesus everything he paid for!

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Jun 14 2019

Supernatural Anniversary

This week is the seven-year anniversary of when we had our first major encounter with the power of God that launched us into the supernatural lifestyle we are living today. It was the first of many encounters that have marked us for something none of us ever deserve to be a part of—partnering with God to change the world. We track our encounters with God, just as many of the patriarchs did in the Old Testament. They are points of remembrance, and reminders of what God will do in our lives as we continue to pursue him above everything else. The past seven years haven’t looked like what we expected, but they have been a wild and exciting ride through the mysterious ways of God that brought so much healing and restoration to our own lives and to the lives of so many others. Allow me to encourage all of you that there are always seasons of life that we need to go through in order to be in the right place at the right time for God’s purposes to be fulfilled. Sometimes that right place is a state of mind, sometimes it’s a physical location, and sometimes it’s a place of receiving freedom. Whatever, or wherever it is, it’s important that we trust the process our King takes us through, because being properly prepared is the only way that we can be successful in our next season. It may not happen on our desired timeline, or in the way we expected, but that doesn’t mean God is unfaithful or unable to do what he said he would do. He always does what he promises! Your journey may not look like ours, but I promise you, you are one encounter away from moving even closer to what God has planned for your life!

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Jun 7 2019

The Spirit and Power

I had a conversation with a young man this past week who practices Muslim religious beliefs, and as we talked I realized an even greater truth behind what we read in 1 Cor. 2:4 – “my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” He was convinced, based on a set of teachings, that his way of life was good and that his practices were going to get him to some form of paradise when he dies. The irony is that he was completely high while he was having this conversation with me; something that is very much against the teachings of Islam. He then went on to brag about the time he spent in prison for committing murder, and that he felt like Islam helped to change him into a better person. As followers of Jesus, we have to be so reliant on Holy Spirit that we don’t just preach the gospel, but that we back up the gospel that we preach with power. There is a big difference between the two. Anyone can come up with a good list of how someone should live their life, and there are plenty of religions that claim to offer peace, happiness, or something great in the afterlife—and a lot of people fall for those tricks. But the persuasive words of those belief systems are all based on a lie. What we have is the truth. And when we back up our message with a “demonstration of the Spirit and power” people quickly recognize that it is real. A few days after this conversation, we met another woman who was completely bent over a walker while walking down the street. She didn’t need a conversation about how good Jesus is. She needed an encounter that showed her how good Jesus is. And while several people stood around watching, God showed up and demonstrated his love through the power to heal her back. If you haven’t already seen it, you can watch her testimony here. We cannot accept a watered-down gospel. We cannot accept a gospel without power. Neither of those will change the world. Too many churches are playing it safe with feel good messages every week that don’t fully equip believers to do the work of Jesus. We can’t change the world by playing it safe. We have to be willing to take some risk and expect God to back us up. Our Muslim friend didn’t receive Jesus that day, but we will see him again, and we are confident that he will have an encounter with the power of God that will change his life forever.


May 24 2019

Jesus is worthy of every sacrifice

Five or six years ago, I heard someone say that part of our mission as followers of Jesus is to “get Jesus everything he paid for.” I was thinking about that statement this week and it reminded me of the statement made by the Moravian missionaries who, as they left on a ship headed for an island full of slaves, they shouted out “may the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His sufferings!” What a great perspective. Having a desire to sacrifice everything so that Jesus can receive what he paid for and being willing to do whatever it takes to introduce people to Jesus is the perspective we all need to have. This will look a little different for all of us. Some are called to be part of the five-fold ministry we see in Ephesians 4, while others are called to work in different spheres of society, but we all have a responsibility to share the amazing story of Jesus. Many years ago, I heard a pastor tell the congregation that their job was to get people into the church and his job was to get them saved. That sounded like a nice idea on the surface, but really, it’s not an accurate picture of the mandate Jesus has give us. I think we can sometimes get caught up in the notion that evangelism is too hard or too risky, but when we look at it from the perspective of the Moravians, it should shift our own perspectives to recognize that we have the exciting opportunity to bring people into the Kingdom of God. We don’t need to concern ourselves about what people may think, or how they may react. None of that really matters. What matters is that the direction of an eternal soul can be changed with one simple conversation, and that a person can never fulfill their true potential or purpose on earth without Jesus. The building of His Kingdom is more important to me than anything else, because the simple reality is this: Jesus is worthy of every sacrifice.

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May 10 2019

The devil doesn’t get to win

My heart has been stirring for the past few months around the idea of a greater need for salvation accompanied with deliverance. The chief goal of the gospel of Jesus is for people to give their lives to Jesus, to be saved from their sins, to enter into the greatest relationship that they can ever experience, and to know the incredible love of God. It’s like we have this secret, and if we just share it with them, they can have encounters with God. We encounter people every week who are looking to every other possible pleasure or form of escape to avoid their problems or make themselves feel better in the moment. But we know those pursuits only lead to addiction and spiritual bondage. Our job as believers is to pull them up out of that place; Psalm 40:2 testifies to the power of God pulling us out of a pit of despair, out of sticky mud, and placing us onto solid ground. We all have a roll to play in this process. We get to be the hands and feet of Jesus. It’s not enough to feed the homeless and go home. It’s not even enough to pray for healing and see miracles happen. It’s bigger. We have to bring people an encounter with God so that they can be radically transformed, step into the fullness of their true identity, and fulfill the purpose for which they were created. Someone I know refers to this as robbing hell; I like that description. We can literally rob hell and destroy a piece of the enemy’s kingdom by leading one person to Jesus. But we have experienced situations where people have fallen into such a state of addiction that they can’t even think clearly enough to know that they need Jesus. And on the other side of the coin we have people battling mental illness who tend to have the same problem of not knowing how to receive the freedom and healing that they so desperately need. My prayer this week is that God would show up in such a powerful way in every one of these encounters that there would be instantaneous deliverance like we see in the pages of the Bible! I want to see the Kingdom of God violently dispossess the territory of the enemy and firmly shift the reality of individuals, communities, cities, and nations. I refuse to let the enemy win!

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