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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