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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Jun 30 2017

Healing Models

If you spend any time around me, you know that I am passionate about God’s supernatural healing power and about seeing people supernaturally healed of any kind of physical, mental, or emotional illnesses. The level of impact this has on a person’s life is almost always unmeasurable, especially if they have had an illness for a long time or are unable to pay for medical care. And it’s exciting to watch someone healed in just a few seconds; it has become almost second nature to pray for healing anywhere I go. Nobody really knows how this works other than to say that Jesus told us people would be healed when we pray. But, over the years, different people have created methods or models to help guide others in how to pray. Most of these models are good but we have to remember that they are just models. The power isn’t in the model we use, the power is in the authority Jesus has given to us. When I first started to pray for people to be supernaturally healed, I used one of these models and learned that it was very effective. But as I grew in faith I began to realize that I could skip some of the steps and still see people healed. It was then that I began to realize the authority we carry allows us to command the body to be healed and command sickness and disease to leave regardless of how we do it.

I didn’t have words to put to this idea until I heard someone teaching one night and he said that we can administer our gift in any way we want to. There isn’t a specific prayer we have to pray or a specific order we have to pray in. We don’t even have to pray! We can simply declare and expect it to happen. I saw a man with a bad knee one day and I told him that he would be healed after walking about 20 feet to a building and then back to where I was standing. We didn’t need to pray, I simply put faith into action and he was healed by the time he got back to me.

Often times, when we are ministering on the streets, we don’t have time to go through a list of steps because someone passing by may not be interested in what we have to give. So, we just have to cut right to the point of healing before they walk away. Jesus modeled a variety of ways to bring healing. Sometimes he just told someone they were healed, other times he verbally rebuked the sickness, and my personal favorite is when he made mud out of his spit and some dirt and then rubbed it on a blind man’s eyes. It seems like he always did it differently and maybe that was because he wanted us to see that it is up to us to administer the gift as we see fit. Smith Wigglesworth used to punch people and they would be healed! I’m not sure that is a method that would go over so well today so don’t try that one. But, find what works naturally for you and watch God do amazing things when you step out in faith. You just might be surprised how easy this really is.

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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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