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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Apr 19 2019

The Best Guide

I had a chance to spend time with my Great Uncle this past week and had another opportunity to see what a life sold out for Jesus looks like. He is 94 years old and still on fire for God! He told me some new stories I haven’t heard before, about many of the revivals he led, different churches he planted, and even about a time where the power of God hit him so hard that someone else had to preach for him—and he laid on the platform during the entire service! One thing he reminded me about was the importance of following Holy Spirit. Jesus taught about the importance of Holy Spirit, about how he would will lead us into all truth, and even show us the future (John 16:13). When we follow closely after Holy Spirit, we are sure to run into truths we have not yet discovered and catch glimpses of what God has planned for us a little further down the road. Our society today has advanced to the point where we can find a lot of the answers we need, or we think we need, by reading a book, taking a test, or putting some type of process in place. Some of these methods work, but they are often substitutes for what Holy Spirit can teach us, if we are simply willing to listen to him. We often teach on the importance of developing such a deep intimacy with our creator, that we are able to hear his voice in any situation and follow the path of his footsteps wherever he leads us. It’s not always a quick fix. Sometimes it’s a journey that leads us to a place that we could have never reached using any other method. It’s not always easy, and sometimes we look a little foolish, especially when those around us don’t understand this simple principle. But one thing I have learned is that there is no one better to follow. Even if I don’t understand where he is leading me, or how long it will take to get there, I will follow him anywhere. That’s the life we are all called to live. There really is no better guide who can not only get us through life, but can do it in a way that enables us to fulfill every purpose and destiny for which we were created. If you are trying to figure out your next steps, if you are going through a season of difficulty, or even if you are in a great place right now, ask Holy Spirit to guide you, and get ready for the greatest adventure of your life!

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Mar 29 2019

Simple Instructions

We started a reading plan this year with the goal of reading through the entire Bible in chronological order in 90 days. You tend to notice the thread of God’s grace a lot easier when you read at this pace, and you tend to recognize one common theme throughout the Old and New Testaments which is pretty simple and straightforward: do what God tells you to do and everything will be OK. Actually, better than OK, God promises that we will be blessed when we are obedient. It’s amazing what God will do in our lives if we simply choose to live according to his word, and not allow anything apart from his word to have an influence in our lives. It almost seems too simple. But the reality is that the gospel of Jesus is very simple. We tend to complicate it, but it really just comes down to following our King wherever he leads us, and that can be through the written word of God, through the Holy Spirit’s leading, through messages delivered by angels, or even through hearing God’s audible voice. I have found that when we give his word precedence in our lives, he speaks to us in amazing ways. The problem, of course, is that there are so many other competing voices that want to have influence in our lives. We all tend to look for the quick fix or the quick answer, especially in this fast food age where everything we need is at our fingertips all the time. But Jesus wants us to do something different. He wants us to sit at his feet. He wants to keep it simple. He wants us to focus on the guidance and direction that he gives. And a great place to start is by reading and studying the written word of God, and applying each of his principles to our lives. A verse in Galatians 6:14 jumped out at me a few days ago; “The world is crucified to me, and I to the world.” I have come to the point that I really don’t care what the world has to offer. It used to interest me, but not anymore. I just want more of Jesus, so I can have an even greater impact in the lives of people I encounter every day. I remember someone telling me a long time ago about how the Bible could be thought of as this acronym: Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. Simple instructions, but a powerful message. And when we apply it to our lives, we are able to live in a way that honors the sacrifice of Jesus. By the way, if you are interested in our Bible reading plan, you can find it on our resources page here.

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Mar 1 2019

Spiritual Maturity

If we look back at our childhood and teenage years, from the perspective of an adult, we can quickly recognize how much maturity we gained as we grew older. We can also recognize how the influence of others may have helped or stunted our maturity, or in many cases, how our youthful obstinate attitudes slowed the maturation process. We all seem to mature at different rates, and this is also true with spiritual maturation. Just like physical maturity gives us a greater understanding of how to make healthy choices and behave appropriately in society, spiritual maturity also helps us to do the same when it comes to spiritual choices and interaction within the spiritual realm. If we look back at our spiritual journey, many of us can recognize when we went through seasons of growth that increased our maturity in a way that enabled us to make adjustments to the way that we think, believe, and live. 1 Cor. 13:11 speaks to this reality, that as we mature, we need to put away childish perspectives. As children, we don’t understand why we need to behave in certain ways, but as we mature, we learn more about what appropriate behavior looks like. This is the same thing in the spiritual realm. As we mature, we learn to put away perspectives and practices that are not appropriate for the children of God to allow into our lives.

We meet with people throughout each week, and often receive questions about healthy and unhealthy spiritual practices. Spiritual maturity helps all of us to recognize unhealthy spiritual practices. But those who are not spiritually mature have a difficulty in understanding the wisdom of God, and just as we were as children, we have to grow to a mature state and avoid obstinate behaviors that can slow the spiritual maturation process. We all need to recognize that unhealthy spiritual practices can create ungodly spiritual influences in our lives. As we become more spiritually mature, we become more spiritually aware of the importance of this danger. Sadly, for many believers, it’s not until the later years of life where we begin to figure this out. Part of the reason for this is because, in the past few hundred years, the church has not served us well in teaching about the spiritual realm or the supernatural ways of God. As a result, many believers have pursued supernatural encounters through ungodly processes. Some of those processes are overt, such as fortune tellers, psychics, or Ouija boards. Others are quite covert because they have non-Christian spiritual roots that are not immediately obvious to the spiritually immature. Some examples here are Yoga, Enneagram, Mindfulness, and Reiki; all of which are rooted in Hinduism, Buddhism, and other mystical beliefs that are anti-biblical. These fall into the category of the “childish things” we see mentioned in 1 Cor. 13:11 because they are actions born out of an immature spiritual state. And they are dangerous practices because all non-Christian religious practices are influenced by demonic spirits, who are seeking to create ungodly influences in our lives.

Another question we often receive in this realm is about why some Christian leaders support the notion that these other religious practices are perfectly fine to participate in and even teach that they are helpful for a follower of Jesus. That answer eluded me for a short time until the Lord revealed the reality of spiritual maturity to me through a friend and local minister. I realized that we can be mature in some areas and remain immature in others. I think we can see parallels to this in the physical realm as well. Someone can be mature in some areas of theology, and be immature in others, because they were never properly trained or discipled in those areas. This goes back to my earlier point about the church not doing a great job at teaching about the spiritual realm. We don’t know what we don’t know. Unfortunately, immature spiritual areas of our lives become very susceptible to deception from the enemy. It’s easy to be deceived when you don’t know better. And once you are in deception, you rarely know that it is happening. Spiritual immaturity can also lead to self-righteous attitudes forming in our hearts, that keep us from accepting the possibility that we have been tricked into believing a lie.

For me, all of this comes down to a simple perspective. It’s not about theological positions of judgement vs. grace, legalism, or allowing believers the liberty to form their own doctrinal opinions; it’s about pursuing a lifestyle of holiness. Jesus taught us to “seek first the kingdom of God,” which means pursuing what he has for us above all else, and not looking to anyone or anything else to define our identity or provide us with spiritual experiences. We are called to be set apart, to be in the world but not of the world. We are called to pursue Jesus with everything we have. As we pursue Him, we grow in spiritual maturity. As we grow in spiritual maturity, we more easily recognize the “childish things” we shouldn’t allow into our lives. And as we set aside those things, we continue to reach greater levels of maturity. It’s a journey we are all on together, and we need to have grace for everyone as we grow through the different stages of our spiritual maturation process. Now here’s the secret to accelerate your spiritual growth: let Jesus be everything and every answer for you, and don’t let anything or anyone else ever take his place!

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