Oct 15 2020

Your life is not your own

 

There’s this paradox in the Christian life, one that many followers of Jesus have never fully grasped, that when we say yes to Jesus, we give up every one of our rights, and at the same time retain free will.

 

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” – 1 Cor. 6:19-20

We were bought with a price! Jesus owns us! He paid for us! When we give our life to Jesus, it ceases to be our life, it ceases to belong to us. This is why there are so many scriptures that talk about having the mind of Christ, living by the spirit, not thinking from a natural (worldly) perspective, and being a slave to Jesus (Phil. 2:5, Gal. 5:25, 1 Cor. 2:14, 7:22). Your life is not your own. At the end of the day, Jesus’ opinion is the only one that really matters. Think about that for a moment. If your life is fully committed to him, his opinion is the only one that counts.

That’s a perspective that goes against human logic, but it is in the place of total surrender that we begin to realize how great he really is, and how worthy he is to receive ALL glory, honor, praise, and obedience. What do the living creatures around the throne of God who continuously cry out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty” understand that we do not? They understand how worthy he really is to receive our total surrender and adoration. We have to set aside that human nature, stare into the eyes of Jesus, and ask him for his perspective on all things. We have to be willing to set aside every idea we have ever had, regardless of how important we think it is, and replace it with his idea.

Many times, his ideas don’t immediately make any sense to us. It seemed senseless to have the Israelites march around Jericho for a week. It seemed senseless for the worship team to be on the front line of Israeli military battles. It seemed senseless for William Seymour to wear a box on his head while he waited for revelation from the Lord. And the list goes on. But in every situation where humans have been obedient to God, his purpose was fulfilled in that situation. We follow his lead in all things, that’s the primary role of anyone who follows Jesus.    

I encourage you to take some time today and lay everything you are holding onto at his feet. Every perspective—church perspectives, political perspectives, family perspectives, social perspectives, educational perspectives—lay every perspective at his feet and trade them in for his perspective. It’s not an easy thing to do, but when the one who knows everything replaces your thought with his thoughts, it’s the best place to be.


Jun 12 2020

New Structure

During this past month, I have been having an ongoing conversation with the Lord about what is happening in this season, about what he is doing behind the scenes, and about the change that he is going to bring about within the body of Christ. A few days ago, the Lord took me in a dream, to an old cathedral in Europe and began to show me that there is something missing within the structure of the body of Christ—something that has been missing for a long time, and that he is about to fill that gap. Within the dream, I saw an old stone wall that had been split open and the gap between the two pieces was filled with a new material that could provide greater structure. I was able to move back and forth through time to see the before and after of this change and was amazed that the structure did not collapse during the process.

The following morning the Lord told me that he is adding a missing element into the belief system of the body. This is not about individual congregations or denominations. This is about a change to the entire body of Christ. Something new is coming, something we have been missing, something that we need in this season that will give the Kingdom of God a greater influence in the earth. Our job in this is to stay focused on what our King is doing, to shift our perspectives so that they line up with what he is releasing, and to be willing to make a change anywhere in our lives, ministries, etc. so that we are in perfect sync with him. I am always excited to see the Lord do something new, and even more excited by the idea that he is restoring something that was lost hundreds of years ago. This journey is never boring. Stay focused on him and watch the amazing things he starts to do through you!

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May 14 2020

Spiritual Spoon Feeding

In the midst of this season, a lot of people have moved to attending online church services, which I think is great, except for this underlying idea that so many of those transitions have been made with the notion that believers will go unfed if they cannot attend a weekend service. That’s a bit intense, I know, but stick with me here for a minute. Followers of Jesus cannot survive off a 1-hour service each week. We need to be trained to receive directly from the source—Jesus! In John 15, Jesus teaches us that we can do nothing without him. He does not say we can do nothing without the church, he says we can do nothing without him. That is an important distinction. He is our source. He is the one we go to for our spiritual feeding. Unfortunately, too many believers have fallen into a trap of believing that they go to a church service as the primary place to be fed. And if we are completely honest with ourselves, pastors carry part of the blame for allowing members of the body to continue in this mindset. Jesus is the vine that we need to stay connected to, and our spiritual nourishment should flow directly from him. The body of Christ certainly has a role, but it may not be the role that you think it is.

Ephesians chapter four teaches us that Jesus gave Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers (commonly called the 5-fold ministry) as gifts to the church “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” The role of the 5-fold ministry is to equip the saints to become mature enough that they are able to feed directly from Jesus. Small children have to be spoon fed, but eventually they learn how to feed themselves, and eventually they learn how to find and prepare their own food. They don’t depend on, or demand, spoon feeding for their entire life. Sadly, this is not common in the body of Christ.

What we see all too often is that followers of Jesus are content to be spiritually spoon fed each week instead of digging into the bible, pursuing deeper intimacy with Jesus, and actually being equipped to fulfill their life’s purpose. Spoon feeding is easy. It requires no effort on the part of the receiver. This is why so many practices that don’t require any effort have become so popular. This is why people search for their identity in a test instead of in Jesus. This is why we have so many spiritually emaciated and powerless Christians. And this is why the world does not see the church as the answer. Some have even become so accustomed to being spoon fed that they will stop attending a church service when they feel like they are not being fed. But I would like to suggest that the spiritual feeding role within the church is primarily for young believers who need to be properly discipled. Once that is accomplished, they can function healthily within the body of Christ. This requires a major shift by the 5-fold ministry away from the current model of feel good sermons. We need to be training, equipping, and releasing believers into the call God has for their life.

The spoon feeding has to stop!!!

My advice for pastors is this: focus on equipping, so the people you pastor can fulfill the purpose and mission given to them by Jesus. This may require a major shift in the way your local church body functions and in the way you minister. But consider that if your model hasn’t been effective in actually advancing the Kingdom of God, it may be time to ask Jesus for a new model.

My advice for all believers is this: focus on being equipped, so you can go out and fulfill the purpose and mission given to you by Jesus. Consume the word of God. Sit at the feet of Jesus and learn to hear his voice. You were made to be in relationship with your creator.

If anything you just read hit a nerve in you, I suggest you pause and listen to what Jesus wants to speak to you right now. Because here’s the reality: unequipped believers will never be able to fulfill the purpose, role, and destiny that God created them to fulfill. The gospel is simple. Let’s not complicate it. Make disciples, train them to make more disciples, and represent the fullness of Jesus to the world.

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Mar 19 2020

Corona Antivirus

Here’s a quick encouragement for you to help you focus on Jesus over the next few weeks:

Hope is the best antivirus in this season!

Feb 13 2020

Anything is Permissible?

Way back in the mid-50’s (not 1950’s) when Paul wrote his first letter to Corinth, there was a common phrase among some followers of Jesus that they used to explain away their sinful activities. They adopted a perspective that “everything is permissible” and would use that as justification for their actions. I compare this perspective to that of a young adult who grew up in a strict home, but then goes wild doing anything they want during their early college years because they are no longer subject to the rules of their parents. Some early believers, who had the revelation that they were free from the law, began to believe that they could do anything they wanted because anything was permissible.

In his first letter to the believers in Corinth, Paul challenges this way of thinking, but even to this day, some believers continue to live from the same perspective of the Corinthians and misinterpret 1 Cor. 6:12 and 1 Cor 10:23 to mean that they have the freedom to do anything that they want. When read by itself, out of context, this verse appears to say that followers of Jesus are permitted to do anything, but that is not what the passage actually means. So, let’s dig a little deeper and get to the truth of what Holy Spirit was revealing through Paul’s letter.

Paul starts out chapter six admonishing the Corinthian believers to stop taking each other to court and to instead lean on the wisdom of other believers to solve their disputes. He continues by providing a list of other sinful activities (idolatry, theft, greed, etc.), which were likely other issues the Corinthian believers were involved in, that will keep a person from inheriting the Kingdom of God, and later hits on the specific topic of sexual immorality. Sandwiched in the middle of this conversation is the phrase in question. Some translations render this verse in a way that makes it appear that Paul is simply making a statement. Other translations more accurately render it in a way to show that Paul is quoting this common Corinthian phrase and then following it up with his own challenge that “everything is not beneficial.”

When read in the context of the entire chapter, we can clearly see that Paul is actually challenging the perspective of the believers who have fallen into the trap of thinking that their freedom in Christ gives them the permission to participate in these types of activities. Paul discusses a few other topics in the following chapters and then brings up this same phrase again in chapter 10, challenging this way of thinking a second time. As it turns out, anything is not actually permissible. If it was, Paul would be contradicting himself since he listed nine things a believer shouldn’t do a few verses earlier.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us while we study the word of God, we will often find revelation for things we did not previously consider. Paul touches on issues that commonly entrapped believers in Corinth, and since the same “do anything you want” mindset still exists in today’s culture, we have to consider what common things believers are being entrapped by, and find ways to eliminate that activity. As followers of Jesus, our first allegiance is to our King. Jesus is truth! Anything that disagrees with his perspective is automatically a lie and needs to be eliminated from our lives. This isn’t legalism, it’s obedience. Legalism says you have to follow a certain set of rules in order to receive salvation. Obedience says you follow the commands of your King because you love Him, just as Jesus stated in John 14:15.

As followers of Jesus, we need to be cognizant of what we participate in, and what we allow into our lives, because certain activities can give the enemy an influence over us that affects our ability to fully live out our purpose on the earth. What we see today is that many believers are getting involved in ungodly activities that come from popular culture and other religious belief systems, and then inaccurately use these same scriptures to justify their actions when someone points out the dangers in what they are doing. We have watched demons flee from people after renouncing these types of activities, and we have seen people continue to live in bondage when they refuse to listen to the truth.

There are commonly two different reactions when I teach on this topic. Some people recognize that they need to change their perspective and others are offended that I would even mention the possibility that a change is needed. Honestly, it’s usually the leaders who are the most offended. I imagine Paul encountered similar responses in Corinth.

Regardless of your reaction, who you are, or the position you hold, my challenge to you today is to ask Holy Spirit if there is anything you need to stop doing and follow his direction.

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Jan 10 2020

The Power of Agreement

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You empower what you agree with”? This phrase may seem like a foreign perspective if you don’t understand what happens in the spiritual realm, but when we learn how powerful agreement can be, we can turn around many of the negative cycles we encounter in life. Life has plenty of difficult situations, and sometimes we get thrown a curve ball that has the potential to knock us off of our feet if we allow ourselves to agree with the negative situation instead of agreeing with God.

The concept is simple: when we agree with a thought, idea, or perspective, we give it power in our lives.

If we agree with fear, fear is given a little bit of control, and we become more and more afraid as we go through life. If we agree with anger, anger is given a little bit of control, and we become more and more angry as we go through life. And the opposite is also true. If we agree with love, love flows out of us to everyone we meet. I could continue with many more examples here, but I’m sure you get the point. The second part to this is that, if we agree with something long enough, we will eventually see it as truth.

What we believe to be true will determine how we respond in any situation.

If we believe that God is good, and we come into a difficult season of life, we can view that season through the lens of the truth that God is good and have hope that he will bring us through it. But if we think that God is out to get us, or that he doesn’t really care about us, difficult seasons will be full of despair instead of hope, and we will have trouble finding our way through to a better place. So how do we empower the reality of who God is and what he says about us instead of empowering perspectives that can keep us from achieving everything God has for us?  

This concept is also simple: we believe that what he says is true. No matter what. OK, maybe that doesn’t sound so simple. So, think about this: God is truth. Everything he says is truth. Everything he does represents his truth. Anything that disagrees with him is automatically a lie! Everything he speaks to us in the bible is truth. If we get that truth inside of us by regularly studying what he said, it will ground us in the truth, and make it SO, SO, SO, much more difficult to get sucked into empowering a lie.

The church has had a tendency in the past to make the gospel seem difficult. It’s actually quite simple. Believe that what God says is true, no matter what, and watch how quickly your faith will soar to new heights.

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Jan 3 2020

Be Resolved

Many people create a New Year’s resolution at the beginning of each year with a desire to start doing something new, change a lifestyle habit, or to refocus their attention in a way that is more beneficial to their lives. There are a lot of great reasons to do this, and I would like to suggest that there is one thing all of us can do better that will benefit every area of our lives. Something I often find among followers of Jesus is a compartmentalization of faith where following Jesus is in a separate category of life instead of allowing our relationship with Jesus to infuse every area of our lives. It’s the idea of private faith vs public faith, and it’s a practice that I think keeps many believers from ever fulfilling their full potential. But there is an easy way to correct this problem.

There’s a great piece of advice in Colossians 3:2 that instructs us to focus on things above (what is happening in the kingdom of heaven) instead of focusing on what is happening around us. When we intentionally and regularly focus on what God is up to, it shifts our perspective to see everything from his perspective. This was the regular practice of Jesus. On at least two different occasions, Jesus shared a revelation that he only did what he saw his Father doing and only spoke what he heard his Father speaking (see John 5:19 & John 12:49). When we have God’s perspective, every other perspective becomes irrelevant.  

I came across an idea several years ago that has helped me tremendously with maintaining a focus on things above and it is a simple practice anyone start right away. Here’s how it works: Set an alarm on your watch, phone, computer, or whatever device you choose to use that will prompt you at regular intervals to pause everything you are doing and spend a few seconds focusing on God. Make this time about praise, thankfulness, and asking God to give you his perspective. You might think this will be a distraction from what you need to accomplish, but it is actually the exact opposite, because you are actively inviting God to spend time with you all day long. I have my alarm set for every 15 minutes and I have found that I am able to consistently focus on the things of God throughout the day which gives the enemy no room to distract me.

Give it a try and let me know how it works out for you!

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Dec 20 2019

Audience of One

Have you noticed that popular culture today is a little too wrapped up in the opinions of others, what other people think, how many likes we get on a social media post, and this weird anxiety about having to participate in the latest online trend. It’s sad to me that our society has ended up in this place where we are constantly striving for someone else’s approval. I get it. We all want to be liked and feel like we belong. But do we really need to focus on comments, likes, and happy faces from people we don’t even know in order to feel liked or accepted? Galatians 1:10 asks us a very pointed question on this topic: are we seeking the approval of people, or the approval of God?

I would like to suggest that our perspectives need to change. When we focus on the ideas of the world, our perspectives become skewed, and we fall into these traps of seeking false approval. What we need to do instead, is focus on what God is focused on, and on his opinions about us. I live for an audience of one. I decided at some point in my life that I really don’t care what other people think. The only opinion that matters to me is the opinion of my Father. Any idea that disagrees with him is an idea that isn’t worth my time. His approval is unequaled by anything or anyone else. The approval of others should never determine our value or self worth. His approval is all that really matters.

Here’s the great thing. When we stop caring about what other people think, we become less susceptible to being offended by people’s actions, being “triggered” by some event, or living in a place of unforgiveness towards others. There is only One whose opinion matters. Focus on His opinions and you’ll find that everything else will become less important. Live for an audience of one!

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Dec 13 2019

Season of Hope

We are in the midst of the season of celebrating hope coming to the world. Actually, it’s a celebration that has continued for followers of Jesus every day for more than two thousand years, and the rest of the world simply joins in on the celebration at this time each year. But there are many people who have not yet experienced what true hope feels like, which can easily make this season feel like a time of hopelessness. It doesn’t have to feel that way. One breath from the King of Kings can cause all hopelessness to disappear.

Hope covers the mistakes of the past.

Hope reveals our true identity.

Hope gives us a future.

Hope destroys the devil’s kingdom.

Jesus is hope.

Jesus is the hope of the world.

When we stare into the eyes of the one who embodies all hope, the hopelessness melts away. It cannot exist around him. The closer we are to Jesus, the more intentional we are about being in his presence, the less all the things of the world can impact us because he becomes the greatest impact in our lives. There is no better hope than that which comes through following the creator of hope. Stare into his eyes for just a few seconds and you will forever be caught up in his hope.

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Nov 29 2019

It’s all for you

Did you know that everything Jesus promised is for you? Did you know that you have access to everything in his kingdom? It’s hard to keep track of every word Jesus has spoken, everything that he has promised and everything that has been made available to us. It’s a really long list! As I ponder what I am most thankful for in this season, the promises of Jesus easily are in a category all by themselves at the top of my list. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • “whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these” – John 14:12
  • “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” – John 14:13
  • “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” – Acts 1:8
  • “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” – Mark 11:24
  • “your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” – Luke 12:32

It’s important for all of us to constantly remember what has been promised to us and to live with the realization that these promises are not just for a few chosen people, but for everyone who chooses to follow Jesus. Everything in his kingdom is available to us right now. You don’t have to wait to get to heaven to have joy. You don’t have to wait until eternity to receive peace.

It’s all for you! It’s all part of your inheritance! You don’t have to wait until heaven to experience all the goodness of God. It’s for now. Right now!

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