Oct 20 2017

Dead to me

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You’re dead to me”? One of my pet peeves with Christians is when I hear a believer refer to themselves as a sinner. It drives me nuts because that is not the true identity of a believer. In Romans 6-8, we have this discussion about sin in the lives of a believer and it slowly builds to a crescendo of the reality that we have died to sin and now live victorious lives as a result of the work on the cross. Here’s a newsflash for you: if you have given your life to Jesus, you are no longer a sinner. This same passage in Romans tells us that our flesh has a sin nature, so we are born with a natural propensity to sin. But when we surrender our lives to Jesus, something changes. Instead of being a slave to sin, we become a slave to righteousness. So there exists this conflict in every one of us. Our physical body has a sin nature that wants to pull us in one direction, and our spirit has a righteousness nature that wants to pull us in another direction. Our bodies are dead as a result of sin, but our spirits are alive for righteousness. This is why we are encouraged to live our lives from the perspective of the spirit and not from the flesh. When we turn back to our sinful flesh, it’s like we are trying to resurrect it from the dead. Your sinful flesh is dead to you! We don’t have to listen to those desires anymore and we don’t have to follow back down that old path that we gave up when we turned to Jesus. Sin no longer has any control over us because it is dead to us. My encouragement to you this week is to view sin as something that died a long time ago and is never coming back. Live from the spirit, listen to what Jesus is speaking, and ignore all the other voices in the world that would try to convince you to resurrect that old sinful nature.

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Oct 13 2017

Simple Faith

How much faith do you have? Is it enough to believe for miracles? Is it enough to see someone raised from the dead? These questions may seem a little intimidating if you don’t think you have this level of faith, but if you understood the fullness of what Jesus did, you would realize that you, and every other believer, already has enough faith to do everything that Jesus did, and more. Jesus’ death on the cross to provide the world with salvation is the greatest of all miracles. Nothing compares to it. If we never saw anything else supernatural happen during his walk on earth, or during our own lives, this one supernatural salvation event would still be the greatest thing to ever happen in the universe. But before Jesus died on the cross, he endured an excruciating beating at the hands of the Roman soldiers. Isaiah 53:5 says, “…by his stripes we are healed.” The death on the cross paid for salvation, but the stripes, the beating of Jesus, is what paid for healing. And that payment was made before Jesus was ever hung on the cross. So, if salvation is the greatest miracle, that makes healing a lesser miracle. Now pay attention, here’s where the faith part comes in. I’ll ask again, how much faith do you have? Do you have enough faith to believe for salvation? If you are a follower of Jesus, the answer is definitely yes! You have already exercised enough faith to believe that Jesus died for you and receive the salvation he offers. And since you have faith for the greatest miracle of all time, that means that you also have more than enough faith for any lesser miracle. If you have enough faith to be saved, you have enough faith to see the sick healed, the dead raised, and any other supernatural event God wants to do through you, because they are all lesser miracles. This is why Jesus could compare our level of faith with a mustard seed, because it takes very little to believe for amazing things to happen. The gospel really is that simple. Now, what are you waiting for? Go exercise a little faith and watch how quickly God shows up!

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Oct 6 2017

Unity

I have been thinking about unity a lot lately. The body of Christ is so large and there is so much we need to accomplish, but it often seems like we are disjointed and not working together as well as we could be. I was excited to hear that Christian organizations were doing more for the victims of hurricanes than the federal government, it was encouraging to me because it was a glimpse of what we could pull off, if we were willing to cross denominational lines and work together on solutions to the world’s problems. We have been given the mind of Christ, every solution to every problem is available to us. And since each member of the body plays a different role, we have to come together to fully represent the answers that the world needs. It is almost like God has given us different pieces to a puzzle and we all have to come together to see the puzzle fully put together. I believe the walls between the denominations are coming down and the believers are starting to work together in ways that will show the world how to solve the major problems we face. We are seeing more churches and leaders meeting with each other, movements shifting from large congregations to small house churches with a focus on actively changing culture, and ministry networks being formed to encourage forming a bond of unity. These are the types of actions that will allow us to more effectively change the culture and beliefs of those outside of the church. And I believe that, if the church would lead the way, the rest of the world will follow.

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Sep 22 2017

A place for Jesus

As we walk out our daily life, I find it incredibly important to make sure no person, no thing, and no activity ever takes the place of Jesus. It’s easy to let life get so busy that we forget about being intentional with, what should be, the most important relationship in our lives. And it’s easy to let other people or stuff fall into the slot that Jesus should be occupying. I recently heard someone share a story about how they discerned a young lady was emotionally distressed after a bad breakup with her boyfriend. He looked her in the eyes and told her that the reason it hit her so hard is because her boyfriend took the place of Jesus in her life. And now that space was empty again. We can’t afford to let anything else take that place. When we do, it can throw everything else off balance. Whether that space is filled by other people, activities, work, etc., if it isn’t Jesus, we will never find true fulfillment. Everything we do in life has to flow from a place of intimacy with Jesus. When we keep him first, we hear from him more clearly, and are able to minister more effectively in everyday life. So, I intentionally make sure I have time set aside every day for just me and Jesus. Usually that takes place early in the morning, and then again at several points throughout the day. By keeping him first, I will always be ready to represent him in any situation or environment. There is a proper place for everything, let’s keep Jesus in the number one slot.

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Sep 15 2017

Impartation vs. Intimacy

I love the idea of impartation. I love the idea that I can receive something from God through the prayer of someone who carries what I need. We see this idea pop up in a few different places in the Bible. In 1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6, Paul references the gifts Timothy had as a result of being prayed for by Paul and the elders. In Romans 1:11, he tells the believers in Rome that he longs to come to them to impart a spiritual gift. And if we jump back to the Old Testament we see a similar concept in the life of Moses. In Numbers 11, we see that Moses was overwhelmed with the task of leading the Israelites, so the Lord had him gather 70 leaders from among the group to help him. And God told Moses that he would put on those leaders the same spirit that he had put on Moses. In verse 17 it says that God took from the Spirit that was on Moses and put it on these leaders. These leaders received what Moses had through impartation, and Timothy received what Paul had through impartation. I have prayed a prayer of impartation over people and watched the sick get healed through their hands just a few minutes later. Impartation is a powerful way to release people into something new. But impartation will only get you so far. I like to think of impartation as the lighting of a fire in someone’s life that gives them a taste of their true identity and starts them down a path of greater intimacy with God. The impartation gives you a quick shot in the arm, but the intimacy keeps the fire going and causes it to grow into a blazing bon fire that can’t be extinguished. We need impartation, but we need intimacy even more. I have ben prayed for by some of the great leaders of our faith and I have definitely received an impartation of what they carry. And it made me hungrier for more of God. It made me realize even more that I can do nothing without Him. And so, I go back to that place of intimacy and spend more time laying before his throne, pursuing his presence, and pouring out my heart to the one who has given everything for me. It’s in this place of intimacy where we receive even greater measures of what the world needs. And it’s from this place of intimacy that the world is changed. Impartation will get you started, but intimacy will get you to the finish line.

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Sep 1 2017

The greatest sacrifice

We had the privilege this past weekend of spending 3 days with a group comprised of people who escaped from North Korea, South Korean’s who have a heart for North Korea, and a revolutionary missionary who is called to minister to those who have escaped from North Korea. Their stories were captivating, challenging, and heart wrenching as we learned about their experiences. During one of the services, the speaker made this statement, “The greatest thing we can do is die for Jesus.” After hearing this, the room was mostly silent with very few amens or verbal agreement. That phrase shook the theology of those present because it is not something we think about in American Christian culture. We live in a society that doesn’t have to take life or death risks with our faith. The worst we really experience is someone calling us names on social media. Seventeen former members of this team have been captured in China, sent back to North Korea, and executed. When your life is literally on the line every day that you minister, it quickly changes your perspective. Philippians 1:21 says “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” The greatest sacrifice we can ever make for our faith is to give our lives for the cause of Christ. I once heard Will Hart tell a story about facing death when he was in the Congo, he told the soldiers who were pointing guns at him, “you can’t kill me, I’m already dead!” It’s this level of faith in Jesus that laughs at the possibility of death because we know our lives have already been given fully into His hands. Take a minute to pray for North Korea today, and for this team that is so passionate about bringing freedom to others, that they will give their lives for the cause.

We have posted their ministry video on our Facebook page that shares the story of their work and the challenges they have encountered. Go here now to watch it.

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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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