Aug 18 2017

Culture Changers

Three people were killed this week in the neighborhood where we minister in Washington D.C.; all within a few blocks of where we spend our time every week. It’s heartbreaking to hear these stories, but it is also a reminder that we have a lot of work to do. These were lives that had the potential to change the world. These were lives that could have led Southeast D.C. into a new era, and now they are gone. It’s easy to get upset when watching a news story of something horrible happening somewhere far away from home, and then ranting about it on Facebook. It’s something entirely different to actually step into the situation and do something about it. As followers of Jesus, we have the ability to change the culture around us. Jesus wouldn’t have taught us to pray, “on earth as it is in heaven” if it wasn’t possible. We carry the ability to shift atmospheres, change mindsets, restore identities, and literally make earth look like heaven. I wish it would all happen overnight. I wish we would see immediate transformation throughout the city. We see God do amazing things every week; one life is changed, and then another, and another. It’s amazing to watch the incredible transformations occur in front of our eyes. We thank God for every life he changes and we continue to ask him to do even more, because we know there is always more. Think about what you can do in your neighborhoods, cities, churches, and spheres of influence. Think about how you can help to make earth look like heaven by partnering with what God wants to do through you. On earth as it is in heaven, that’s our mission, no let’s go change the world.

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Aug 11 2017

Love and Honor

A few weeks ago, I met a pastor who is in the early stages of leading his congregation into a supernatural lifestyle. As we talked, I sensed he had a little bit of trepidation on how to maintain a safe environment while training others, and how to keep it from becoming weird. It’s easy for someone to learn something new about the supernatural ways of God and then inadvertently cause some problems if they are not practicing in a safe environment. It’s also easy to get pulled into other supernatural areas that are not of God if you have not yet grown in discernment. So, I understood his concerns. And I shared with him this simple concept that he should teach his congregation to love and honor every person that stands in front of them. If they can do that, the likelihood of their practice hurting someone will be very low. I thought this was a simple concept, but I was surprised when he responded that it was very profound to him. We know from 1 Corinthians 13 that, if we don’t have love, all the spiritual gifts in the world become meaningless. And I like to think that if we really love someone, we will honor them. If we can love and honor every person that stands in front of us, regardless of who they are or the state they are currently in, miracles can happen in the heart as well as in their body, soul, and spirit. It can be tough to love someone who seems to be unlovable, but if we see them the way God does, it becomes easy. And it can be tough to honor someone who is living out a dishonoring lifestyle, but it becomes easy when we see them through God’s eyes. Sometimes people just need to be heard, so we listen. Sometimes they need to know that we care without having a prayer forced upon them. Love and honor everyone before you try to pray for them. It’s not just about seeing a miracle, it’s about impacting a life.

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Aug 4 2017

Why does God care?

“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” The Psalmist asks an intriguing question in Psalm 8:4 that I have also pondered, and that you have probably wondered about at some point in your life as well. Why does God care about us? Why would he bother with a species that, for thousands of years, has routinely ignored him and his statutes. It’s an interesting question, for sure. I watched a documentary this week about Scientology and I was intrigued to learn about how much brainwashing goes into a religion that, on the surface, is portrayed as one designed to make the participant and the world better. But when you dig deeper you find an organization based on fear and manipulation so intense that it causes people to never question the leadership. Fear drives the success of the organization. There is no one at the top that actually cares about the followers. In a way, it is the exact opposite of Christianity. Although this film wasn’t created to compare anything to Christianity, I found a glaring comparison between the two as the Lord reminded me of this verse in the Psalms.

Why does God care about us? In a word, love. In the midst of a world with dictators, terrorists, and cultish religions operating on fear, God offers love. In a society that demands immediate satisfaction, God offers love. His offer is always the same and it is the reason why he is mindful of us. It’s why he stands by our side even after we make mistakes. It’s why he offers us opportunities to partner with him. It’s why he puts his Spirit inside of us. His love is quite overwhelming and it is something no other belief system can ever rival. There are plenty of counterfeits out there, but this is the real deal. God really is love, and his love is why he cares so much for each one of us.

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Jul 28 2017

The simplicity of the gospel

The gospel is so simple. We make it difficult, but really, it is so simple. There’s no need to make it difficult. Jesus made it simple so that it would be easy for us to continue spreading the gospel throughout the world. But over time, we have allowed it to become difficult. We have added so many theological viewpoints that it has made the idea of the gospel much more difficult to understand. We study these viewpoints and through that process end up becoming more religious, and less relational. Let me explain. The focus of every believer should be the same focus Jesus had. Listen to what the Father is saying, watch what the Father is doing, and then say and do the same. That’s a simple concept, as long as we stay in relationship. Jesus tells us in John 15 that we can do nothing without him, we have to remain in relationship with our King if we want to see the world radically changed. What I have witnessed is that, when people dig too deeply into theological viewpoints, their focus shifts towards theology and away from Jesus. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t study theology, but it has to be secondary to the relationship. It becomes dangerous when it changes our focus. I have several great theology books on my bookshelf, and they all have great information in them, but they also have information that challenge Jesus’ simple assertions, probably because the authors have not yet had the supernatural encounters with God that show them how simple it really is. Simple is praying for the sick and seeing an instant healing. Simple is hearing God’s voice and delivering a message to someone else. Simple is releasing joy into the atmosphere in a chaotic place. It all comes from the place of intimate relationship with our King. Keeping it simple makes it so much easier to believe that the Kingdom of God will actually show up when you pray and it makes it easier to see an immediate impact in people’s lives when you do pray. It’s not difficult, it doesn’t need to be difficult, so let’s keep it simple.

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Jul 21 2017

Relationship vs. Religion

Religion is a poor substitute for relationship. Religion puts God in a box and only opens the box when it is convenient. And even when it is convenient, the box is never fully opened because religion likes to maintain control. Religion controls people instead of setting them free. If we look at the religions of the world, we see almost the exact opposite of what Jesus teaches, where people follow religious observances without any real understanding of why they do what they do. Sometimes, this is just as true in the Christian faith because it’s easy to fall into the trap of going through the motions. We were never designed to be religious, we were designed to be in relationship with our creator. It may seem strange to think about, but God doesn’t just wait inside the four walls of a church for someone to come to him. He is actively pursuing every one of us because his desire is to be in relationship with the ones he created in his image. It’s a relationship like no other on the earth and, when we pursue it, it transforms the way we think, act, and feel about everything. Following Jesus is more than just a list of observances. It’s a risk-taking life that requires a complete shift in the way we think so that God’s kingdom can be firmly planted on the earth. It’s a lifestyle of encounters with the creator of the universe that are profoundly impacting and, often times, completely unexplainable. It’s about partnering with the King of the universe to fulfill his plans for every person on the earth. When we are willing to put everything on the line so that others can have an encounter with him, the kingdom of God will show up in the most unlikely of places. Nothing is off limits. Wherever we go in life, if we walk with an expectation that God is going to show up, he will. Restaurants, festivals, job fairs, and parking lots are all great places to give people an encounter with God. Is it risky? Yes, but great risk brings great reward. We walk with an expectation of God showing up everywhere we go because we walk with an understanding that he wants to show up so much more than we want him to. It was his desire long before it was ours. But religion doesn’t bring these encounters. Only through relationship can we expect to see God use us in supernatural ways that bring about the impact the world needs. Pursue relationship, don’t pursue religion.

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Jul 14 2017

Testimonies

We often teach about the importance of sharing testimonies of what Jesus has done in someone’s life because I believe that it is incredibly important for everyone to know that God is still working in the earth today. Testimonies highlight the goodness of Jesus. But they also highlight the power and authority he has to heal any sickness, remove any problem, and reverse any situation. When we share these stories, Jesus receives more glory and the faith of others tends to rise which results in even more miraculous activity. Who wouldn’t want to hear stories about miraculous events? Sometimes these testimonies are shared from a stage and sometimes they are shared in a more natural way during regular conversations. We were in our usual spot in Southeast D.C. this past week, and I was talking to a young man named Jerome who I had prayed for a week earlier because he had an injury to his legs that hadn’t completely healed. After one simple prayer last week, he started to run circles through a parking lot in celebration of what God had done while many other people stood watching, and wondering what had happened. While I was getting an update from him this week, another man walked up who we had also previously prayed for and he reported that his back was completely healed. It was fun to watch as the few people standing by began to celebrate what God had done. There’s something about the miraculous that attracts people and we are finding that the more time we spend in this same location, the more stories we hear about God supernaturally working in people’s lives. These stories are spreading through a parking lot and into a community where, one day, we hope that God will do what we see in Acts 9 where all the residents of Lydda and Sharon turned to the Lord because of the miracle Jesus performed through Peter. I encourage you to take some time this week to share what God is doing in you and through you with others, especially those who don’t follow Jesus. It just might be the story that convinces them to believe in Jesus the same way you do.

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Jul 7 2017

Hope

We met a man this past week whose nephew was killed one day earlier in a senseless act of violence. It’s a story we hear all too often in Southeast D.C., usually every few weeks, and it’s one that breaks my heart because I see the potential in the lives of the people we meet, but they have lived in hopelessness for so long that they don’t understand what hope looks like. This hopelessness leads them to a place of desperation where they are willing to take someone’s life while stealing something of little value. Unfortunately, this has become a reality in impoverished neighborhoods across the nation. And since we carry the hope of the world. Since we have the privilege of being the hands and feet of Jesus. We carry hope to them every week. And we watch God perform amazing miracles and great breakthroughs in the lives of people struggling with hopelessness.

What I have learned is that it is actually quite easy to represent Jesus in this way because it is part of his nature. Galatians 2:20 paints an amazing picture of our lives as believers; “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” The nature of Christ is already in us. The nature of hope is already in us. You may not have the opportunity to minister in areas of extreme poverty, but I am sure you encounter hopelessness in at least one person you talk to everyday. You carry the hope that they need and you have the authority to release it into their lives. We can grieve and empathize with others, but we can also restore their hope so that they can move forward in life without falling into a trap of despair.

Be the hope that others need, it’s part of your true identity.

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Jun 30 2017

Healing Models

If you spend any time around me, you know that I am passionate about God’s supernatural healing power and about seeing people supernaturally healed of any kind of physical, mental, or emotional illnesses. The level of impact this has on a person’s life is almost always unmeasurable, especially if they have had an illness for a long time or are unable to pay for medical care. And it’s exciting to watch someone healed in just a few seconds; it has become almost second nature to pray for healing anywhere I go. Nobody really knows how this works other than to say that Jesus told us people would be healed when we pray. But, over the years, different people have created methods or models to help guide others in how to pray. Most of these models are good but we have to remember that they are just models. The power isn’t in the model we use, the power is in the authority Jesus has given to us. When I first started to pray for people to be supernaturally healed, I used one of these models and learned that it was very effective. But as I grew in faith I began to realize that I could skip some of the steps and still see people healed. It was then that I began to realize the authority we carry allows us to command the body to be healed and command sickness and disease to leave regardless of how we do it.

I didn’t have words to put to this idea until I heard someone teaching one night and he said that we can administer our gift in any way we want to. There isn’t a specific prayer we have to pray or a specific order we have to pray in. We don’t even have to pray! We can simply declare and expect it to happen. I saw a man with a bad knee one day and I told him that he would be healed after walking about 20 feet to a building and then back to where I was standing. We didn’t need to pray, I simply put faith into action and he was healed by the time he got back to me.

Often times, when we are ministering on the streets, we don’t have time to go through a list of steps because someone passing by may not be interested in what we have to give. So, we just have to cut right to the point of healing before they walk away. Jesus modeled a variety of ways to bring healing. Sometimes he just told someone they were healed, other times he verbally rebuked the sickness, and my personal favorite is when he made mud out of his spit and some dirt and then rubbed it on a blind man’s eyes. It seems like he always did it differently and maybe that was because he wanted us to see that it is up to us to administer the gift as we see fit. Smith Wigglesworth used to punch people and they would be healed! I’m not sure that is a method that would go over so well today so don’t try that one. But, find what works naturally for you and watch God do amazing things when you step out in faith. You just might be surprised how easy this really is.

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Jun 23 2017

Jewels, gold dust, and weddings

I love seeing supernatural signs but, since they are supernatural, we don’t always have an explanation as to what they mean. We look for examples in the scripture to help explain these occurrences and sometimes we find similarities but other times we don’t have any verses to make a comparison. There has been an occurrence over the past decade (maybe longer) where jewels appear on the floor during a worship service or something like gold dust covers the hands and faces of people in a meeting. Gold and jewels are both mentioned in the bible but never in this context so how can we possibly explain this other than to say that God loves to lavish gifts on his children. And, since he is supernatural, we should expect him to do supernatural stuff that we don’t understand. Well, I saw a post on Facebook this week that made me think there was a better explanation for the supernatural jewels and gold dust and it is rooted in an old Jewish custom.

Jesus was Jewish, so it makes sense that at least some of his parables and teachings would have some connection to the Jewish people that he interacted with every day. In Jewish tradition, when a man and woman became engaged, there would be a time of separation before the official wedding ceremony where the man would go back to his own father’s home and start preparing a place to live after the wedding. Typically, there wasn’t a set time for when the wedding would take place so the bride would continue living with her parents until groom returned. Jesus is often referred to as the bridegroom in the Christian faith so in John 14, when Jesus told the disciples that he was going away to prepare a place for us and mentioned his Father’s house, it was a reference to this same Jewish marriage custom. Just like a groom would go to prepare a place for his bride, Jesus left to prepare a place for us. Another part of this custom was that when the time drew near for the wedding ceremony, the groom would send gifts of jewelry and gold to his bride so she could adorn herself for the wedding.

So, maybe, the jewels and gold dust are a sign that the time for the return of Jesus is drawing closer. We have seen the gold dust quite frequently. The dash of our car was covered in it once after we left a church service and it often appears on our hands when we talk about it. We have also seen jewels drop out of thin air and onto the floor in front of us. It’s an incredible sign that seems to be happening more frequently and I think the best response we can give is to continue to draw closer to Jesus so that we can minister to others from that place of intimacy. There are so many people who don’t know him yet and won’t be ready when he returns. Our job is to make that introduction.

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Jun 9 2017

Changing Culture

“I don’t believe you and I don’t trust you.” Those were the words of a man we met this week while ministering in our favorite spot. It’s not uncommon for us to get a strange look or awkward comment from someone walking by when they see two white people hanging out in an area some consider to be one of the most dangerous places in Washington D.C. But this was the first time someone overtly told us what they were thinking after they gave us the strange looks. At least he was honest. But he did trust us enough to take a few granola bars and a cup of lemonade! It was clear to us that he had not yet encountered God’s love in a way that tears down the walls we often allow to build up in our lives. My heart breaks for those who have not encountered God’s love. I want everyone I meet to have that encounter, but sometimes we have to build trust so that we have a place to speak into a person’s life. He’ll be back, and we’ll have another chance. Unfortunately, rejection can be part of ministry and we have to be able to push past the rejection so we can continue to love, honor, and value everyone. Jesus was rejected (and still is) on a regular basis but he didn’t let it stop him from fulfilling his mission. If we allow rejection, or any other negative reaction, to impact or affect us, it can lessen our ability and effectiveness in bringing the goodness of His kingdom into a situation. We change culture, culture doesn’t change us; that has to be the perspective. Don’t let anything slow you down, push past anything negative that comes your way, be a conduit of God’s love, and watch the culture change around you.

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