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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Jun 2 2017

Heaven’s Attraction

I heard a great phrase this week from Brian Guerin, it’s something I have experienced plenty of times but I never had a term to apply to the experience. He said that heaven is attracted to itself. He continued to share some stories but I was stuck on that phrase and pondered its meaning for several more hours. I have found that when we share testimony stories, more miracles tend to happen. I have seen others healed just from watching a video testimony of someone else being healed! It seems to be the manifestation of Rev. 19:10, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” When we testify about what Jesus has done, it can become prophetic in the life of the person or people that we share the story with. Heaven is attracted to itself. Jesus is attracted to the Father. The Father is attracted to Holy Spirit. When you talk about Jesus, he shows up. It’s like he’s saying, yeah I did that, and I’ll do it again for you too! There’s something about testimonies that draws the presence of God, angels, and supernatural events. I met a man this week who said he had bad knees and I told him, “knees are my specialty.” We see knees healed so regularly that I have a high degree of faith and expectation and I often tell the person who needs a healing about the knee miracles we have already seen. And then, Jesus shows up and heals another knee. Listen, Jesus loves to heal people, and he loves it when we tell others what he is up to. The more we talk about Jesus, the more famous he becomes in the earth, and the more his kingdom takes hold on this planet. So, when you meet someone who needs a miracle, tell them a story of a miracle Jesus has done before, then watch Jesus show up again!

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May 26 2017

Hope from Hopelessness

I’m not entirely sure why, but Jesus seems to love showing up in the midst of the poorest members of society. I am constantly amazed at what Jesus will do when we take the risk of ministering to people in some of the worst possible situations. We had the opportunity this week to minister at a location that provides food, clothing, and other services to those experiencing homelessness. We were excited to take God’s love into a place we hadn’t been before, but you never really know what is going to happen until you are in the midst of the moment. So, we went, with an expectation that God would do something amazing. And he did! We prayed for a few people without seeing any immediate results, but after about 30 minutes, the presence of God filled the room and miracles started to manifest one after the other. One person was healed of multiple injuries. Then, the first person we prayed for when we walked in, came back to tell us that he was also healed. Then another, and another, and another. This continued for the rest of the time we were there as each person we prayed for received something from Jesus. It seems that hope abounds where there is hopelessness. I love seeing God show up wherever we minister but there is something special about these moments. Honestly, I prefer ministering in these environments so much more than on the inside of a church. There I something about an environment of extreme need that attracts the presence and power of God in an amazing way. I was listening to a song this morning by Johnathan David Helser that spoke about being thankful for Jesus showing up and changing lives even though he doesn’t have to show up at all. He doesn’t have to show up, but he always does. And I love watching him work.

We uploaded a few new testimonies from this night to our YouTube channel, check them out here:
YouTube – Wounded No More

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May 12 2017

Faith

Faith is an interesting thing, it’s necessary for us to walk out our lives as believers but, at the same time, it is confusing to understand. Learning to live by faith has been an interesting journey for me because it required a lot of risk to step away from “normal” full time employment so that I could pursue what I felt like God was calling me to do. With a PhD in computer science, I could walk into a high paying job pretty easily and there have been times in the last few years that I entertained the idea of looking for a normal job while I continue to see how things unfolded in the ministry side of things. Just before I left the Air Force, God told me that I didn’t want a normal 40 hour/week job. At the time, my plan was to step into a high paying job, pay off some debts, save up some money, and then transition to full time ministry. Well, God had other plans and we had to take some pretty big steps of faith with an expectation that God would provide anything we needed. Lauren also left her job about a year later which was an even bigger step of faith to give up the only full time salary we had left. But, you know what, God has worked it all out and somehow, several years later, we are still here and still walking by faith every day. I sometimes think about how Abraham gave up everything when God called him to head in a new direction. It was a big step, but in the end, Abraham ultimately made a major impact on the earth and his decision is still impacting the world today. That’s really amazing! When we put our faith in God’s plan for our lives, we can be assured that, at some point, we will have an impact on the earth. A life of faith is an amazing adventure, you get to wake up to a new surprise every day. It’s not always easy to take that first step, especially when you can’t see what is in front of you, but be encouraged, God will take care of everything else if you are willing to trust in him.

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May 5 2017

Church History

“If you don’t know history, you’re are doomed to repeat it.” I remember hearing this quote from George Santayana many years ago and it makes me think about how we all tend make choices based on what we have learned from our past. There’s something really valuable about knowing where you have come from. From a national perspective, we might teach students about the Revolutionary War, the Constitution, and the reasons why our country is uniquely designed. These are important topics for a U.S. Citizen to understand because it forms the foundation of our society. But what I really like to study is church history because I have found that many of the movements and denominations over the centuries have made the same basic mistakes and, as a result, I don’t think they ever achieved everything God had planned for them. Sadly, we see the same mistakes pop up throughout the centuries and the most common ones I have seen are an attempt to control what Holy Spirit is trying to do, having pride in being God’s “chosen vessel”, and not equipping others to carry the movement forward. These are all mistakes that we could easily avoid with one simple shift of our focus away from ourselves and onto what God wants to do. I don’t think anyone intentionally tries to control God or seeks to make pride part of their lifestyle but it’s easy to let our eyes drift onto the mission we have been given and off of the one who gave us the mission; even the slightest drift can have disastrous effects. Just take a look at the life of William Branham, who had a powerful gift of healing and words of knowledge, but let his desire to teach change his focus and ultimately resulted in creating a lot of confusion. There are plenty of other examples that we can study so that we don’t fall into the same traps. I have come to love church history and I keep a lot of books on the shelf that help me to see where we have been and where we are headed. I hope that these signs help me to keep my focus where it needs to be so that I can accomplish everything I was created to do. Don’t be doomed to repeat history, study up on the past and you will be prepared to successfully navigate the challenges ahead.

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Apr 28 2017

Now What?

One common question we receive while introducing believers to Holy Spirit is “what do we do now?” It’s so important to learn about the gifts of the Spirit and be trained on how to hear and recognize God’s voice. We love to teach on these topics. We love to watch someone who has never seen a miracle, pray, and see a miracle occur in front of their eyes. We love to see the reaction of someone who recognizes God’s voice for the first time. But once they leave the safety of a training environment, they need a way to continue practicing what they have learned. The problem we run into is that so few churches are actively pursuing and utilizing the gifts of the Spirit so, while it’s easy to train someone, it’s not so easy to keep them in a place of continual spiritual growth. There has to be another way, and there is. Here’s the deal, this is more than just a weekend training. It has to be a lifestyle of walking out our true identity. Do you want to know why movies like Star Wars, Harry Potter, or Twilight are so popular? Because we were made for a supernatural lifestyle. Supernatural stories speak to us so loudly because it is part of who we are! The difference, of course, lies in who we serve and where the power comes from. God created us to represent him on the earth and he released supernatural gifts to us so that we can give others the encounter they need; an encounter that will shift them into their destiny. We can’t be successful without the gifts of the Spirit but the gifts also can’t be relegated to the inside of a building. We have to take it outside, into the places where people are hurting, and bring them the healing and restoration that they crave. So, when I hear someone say, “what do we do now?” My answer is simple. Freely you have received, freely give (Matt. 10:8). Go, give away what Jesus have given to you. You may be looked at as foolish or crazy by some people. Don’t worry about that, just honor and love everyone you meet, and when the opportunity is there, introduce them to Jesus through signs and miracles. It really is that easy. Now, let’s go change the world.

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Apr 14 2017

The time is now

We have an antique German clock that we picked up when we lived in Germany about 15 years ago. It’s the style that requires manually winding to keep it running and a manual swinging of the pendulum when it is first wound to get the clock ticking. We don’t really use this clock. It sits in the dining room and is more of a display item than something we use to keep track of time. In fact, it is actually surrounded by fruit and snack baskets and I’m not even sure the last time I saw it because there is so much sitting around it. An interesting thing happened on Palm Sunday. The clock started ticking all by itself. It hasn’t been wound since the last time it was moved which was probably about 2 years ago but, we suddenly started hearing the ticking sound that morning. An unwound clock doesn’t start ticking on its own nor does the pendulum start swinging on its own. Someone had to get it started again. It doesn’t take much discernment to realize that there was some significance to this. I pulled out the winding key to see if it was ticking without being wound and found that all three of the winding points were fully wound. So, we looked at the time on the clock. I was curious if it had been set to the current time and we found that it was set to 6:38, which was not the current time.
Something we started doing a few years ago when we regularly notice the same time on the clock is to look up bible verses that correspond with that time. There’s a website, http://apps1.sterling.net/bible/BibleBooks.cfm, that someone designed for this so I went out there and plugged in 638. It came back with a handful of verses, a few of which made sense to us. I felt like the Lord was saying that now is the time. So many people have in a waiting pattern while things and people were aligned to move into what God has prepared for this next season. We have been in this place where we are laying foundations for what we know is coming next and feel like this is a sign that the time is now and that the seasons are shifting. Grab hold of this; the time is now!

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Mar 31 2017

The impact of wisdom

Lauren and I are a little unique in the ministry world. A typical pastor or missionary has a degree from a bible college and the majority of their experience revolves around the activities, services, and administration of church. Our backgrounds are quite different. Our degrees are not in theological fields; computer science, hacking, social services, public administration, and military service are not common on pastoral resumes. I have actually struggled from time to time with how to merge ministry with our varied backgrounds and experiences. I love the ministry aspect of what we do but I also know that we have the ability to release the wisdom of God into other non-church arenas. The Lord reminded me about Solomon a few days ago, and highlighted the fact that Solomon did not limit the sharing of his wisdom to Israel, he shared it with anyone who came to him. 1 Kings 10 starts off with the story of the Queen of Sheba paying Solomon a visit and being greatly impressed with his wisdom. Later in the chapter we see that everyone in the known world at that time (my NASB version says “all the earth”) was seeking an opportunity to be in Solomon’s presence. What I love about this is that Solomon’s wisdom was not limited to the subject of how to be a good king. He had wisdom for any situation, subject, or topic. And he was willing to share it with anyone who wanted to listen. I think, within the church, we sometimes focus too much of our attention on “how to do church” and very little attention on the other arenas that we could be impacting. God’s wisdom is not limited to any one arena. Whatever field you work in, ask God to give you the wisdom to create new solutions, inventions, or whatever else is needed to make that field of work more effective. There is no limit to what the Kingdom of God encompasses and there is no reason why we can’t hear from heaven and release something new that has profound impacts on the world. I have been guilty of setting some of my skills and abilities on the shelf so I can focus solely on ministry objectives but I have realized merging it all together, instead of compartmentalizing it, will have a greater impact. And I tend to think that the “Your kingdom come” piece of the model prayer Jesus gave to us encompasses every area our lives touch. I think focusing in this way is one more piece to the puzzle of getting Jesus everything he paid for. And, by the way, if you are interested, I recently wrote an article on encryption for a hacking magazine and I am working on another article that will encourage hackers around the world to use their skills in the fight against human trafficking. You can read the first one in the Spring edition of 2600 magazine.

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Mar 24 2017

Excuses

I read a few things this past week that got me a little fired up about believers who don’t understand the current move of God and so they make excuses about why they aren’t seeing God move powerfully in their circles or they try to bash what God is doing in other churches/movements. It really breaks my heart that we have believers who, legitimately love Jesus, but are so focused on denominational theology and control that they are missing out on what God is doing. I love that Martin Luther shook things up a few hundred years ago and started the Protestant reformation. I believe his actions laid part of the foundation for where God wants to take us but there is still some more shaking up that needs to be done. I love the current move of God. I love that portions of the church are starting to realize the importance of equipping the believers to go out and do the work of Jesus as we see mentioned in Ephesians 4. I love that we are moving away from the model of only a few people being anointed to be used in miraculous ways and toward the reality that all believers can be used powerfully by God. I just wish we could get more people on this train and do it in a faster way. I love that churches, like Bethel, are taking it a step further to make sure their cities are safe by providing resources to the city that will fund a portion of police officer salaries; I have never heard of a church or denomination doing anything like this before. We are called to impact the world in a positive way. We are called to continue the work of Jesus, to do the things that he did, and even greater things! I am tired of seeing believers beat up on other believers just because they don’t get it. Jesus taught us to pray for the kingdom of God to come to earth. Why would anyone be upset about believers actually believing and praying for what Jesus taught us to do? Come on, Church, rise up! You have the tools to see poverty destroyed, sickness eliminated, and nations transformed. The old model of sitting on the pew and letting someone else do the work isn’t going to cut it anymore. It’s time for all believers to get in the game. Let’s stop making excuses, work together, and change the world.

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