Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Nicodemus; What Does it Mean for Us To Follow Jesus?

But no one had the courage to speak favorably about Jesus in public, 
for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.  
John 7:13 NLT

Today, is a long blog.  The more I wrote, the more I knew something BIG was on God heart.  The restoration of His leaders.  

Before you start this journey with me in pondering Nicodemus ... get a cup of coffee and let's think about what we can learn from Nicodemus' inner struggle .... to follow Jesus.

When persecution comes around the life of someone we know fear tends to take over .... and so does our need to self preserve.  

I am talking about persecution within the church family or community.

The tendency in our flesh is to do everything we can to keep ourselves safe, to put ourselves first - before others.  

We do so, for many reasons. Most of all - because we want to preserve our role and our position.  Our flesh, apart from God, tends to pursue our own selfish ambitions rather than to truly seek the will of God in a given situation. 

I've been reflecting on this passage above since my friend Mark Godshall spoke at Bayside Church on Good Friday.  

His message was on Nicodemus .... and Nicodemus' view on Holy Week and the inner struggle in himself  ... to follow Jesus.  

Not just in secret ... but in public.  

The monologue in the church service .... illuminated Nicodemus' inner struggle.  It was so powerful.  I could relate to the inner dialogue on so many levels.

I am hoping to get a video copy of it so I can post it here! 

I mean - it was REALLY powerful.  

What would it have meant for Nicodemus to follow Jesus -  100%? 

To do what was right in God's eyes - despite the religious leaders murderous thoughts and actions towards Jesus.

Yes, to follow Jesus, would put him at risk with the religious leaders.  

But no one had the courage to speak favorably about Jesus in public, 
for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.  
John 7:13 NLT

What would it mean for us to follow Jesus today ... with our religious leaders? 

For Nicodemus, this risk meant everything to him.  It was his livelihood. It was his community.  It was his spiritual family.  

Everything he knew in life ... for his whole life .... would be lost if he made his growing faith public.

He would be cast out of his community.  

He would be disowned.  

He would be shamed.  

He would lose his title and position and all his years of hard work and the study that was required for a religious leader.  

His whole spiritual identity would be taken away ... in one moment of standing up to follow Jesus.

In one moment of saying, I am going to do what is right and stand up and live by my convictions.

For the Jews, being a religious leader was their identity.  

Their spiritual life was everything.  

However, the Truth is -  they couldn't become children of Father God apart from Jesus ... because Scripture is clear when Jesus says .... 

"You can only intimately come to know God as Father through me!"  John 6:44.

The whole concept of being born again and God being "Father" was rocking Nicodemus' world and his theology. 

Nicodemus might even be put to death, for believing in a heretic like Jesus.  

One who would dare call the Sovereign God, Abba?  Daddy.  

The Pharisee's couldn't comprehend intimacy with their Creator.  

Yes, Nicodemus might also, be beaten, mocked, spit on and tortured.  

All the flogging - well, that might be for him too! 

Was he willing to be persecuted by doing what he knew was right in his heart?

The more Nicodemus went away and talked to Jesus, the more his faith began to grow.   The lesson here - if you need your Faith to grow or are struggling to know Truth - spend time with Jesus in God's Word

Slowly, Nicodemus' convictions were getting stronger.

Although the fear of being cast out of his community lingered, hovering over him like a dark cloud.

What would he choose?

The inner struggle in Nicodemus was possibly tormenting.  

I know for me, it has been.  

Especially when I am not obeying something God is asking me to do.  

When I know I am not living 100% - for Jesus. 

Fear always brings torment ... until we walk in obedience to God ... empowered by faith ... and we chose to step through that veil of fear to do what He is asking us to do.

For Nicodemus, Truth kept nudging him towards Jesus.  

Truth kept calling him.  

Nicodemus, in his heart - wanted to know the Truth.

I am sure - if Nicodemus chose to follow Jesus - he would be labeled as rebellious ... as a heretic ... as one who is not in unity with belief system of the Pharisees.  

For Nicodemus, because of fear and this inner struggle - he would come to visit Jesus at night.  

In secret.  

When no one else would know or see. 

Struggle.  We all have it.  

What is the struggle we are in today?

Can we hear the voice of Truth?  

Can we do what God is asking us to do?

Will we be unmovable in our convictions?

Will we speak when God asks us to?

Will we step into someone's persecution and mark them with more condemnation .... or with grace?  

How will we show up and how will we live Christ in our relationships within the church?

As I have pondered Nicodemus all month and I have reflected back through my 17+ years in ministry - on people I have seen in the church .... who for some reason or another - have been a target of persecution.  Some of the most loving and powerful leaders - mistreated and discarded by the church.  Some forced to move out of state in order to avoid the pain and to start fresh with God again. 

And some of it has been pretty nasty.  I've sat with people in horrific pain ... driving for hours on end ... listening to them as they processed their loss and as they try to sort out the chaos and the confusion.

And the pain they experienced ... was never due to what happened .... but how unloving and how unChristlike .... it was all handled.  

The pain was always in the loss.  The loss of everything they knew and all the relationships they had formed.  

I've been asking God this month - where in all those moments I have witnessed  .....  have I been faithful to follow you Jesus into that mess in order to do what was right and honoring on behalf of the one being hurt .....  

..... and where was I simply too fearful to stand up and to speak the truth in love? To hold people to being true to Biblical love?  To stop ungodly chatter and to stop the mocking of others leaders?

Where have I been too fearful to cross through the veil of fear of persecution in order to bring the power of God's grace to others?

Where did I fail to remove the stain of blood off the shepherds staff and to heal the wounds of the beaten up sheep ... when God had asked me to be available to Him to do so?

To confront ungodliness and to call leaders to repentance ... of course, when led by God's Spirit, controlled by His love.

Whether that persecution has been one of slander, gossip, hatred, jealousy or murderous envy ... or whether it is seeing people being fired or let go from serving within their church community.   

Sometimes the letting go of people was due to sin .... and sometimes it was simply because the leaders didn't like the person ... and they honestly wanted something new and different.

I have heard leaders say, "we will hire people only if we like them and then we will find a position for them" rather than truly seeking the will of God and calling forth those anointed for a specific task - called by God to do it.  

Even if that person might slightly rub us the wrong way.  

I've also had been in meetings with leaders who have said that they only want to hire people with a "world wide name" so that they can take their ministry to the next level.  

Again, while never seeking the will of God and who God has called into ministry.  

I think at times we get things a bit backwards in how we approach ministry and spiritual leadership.

Either way - the issue was never about what needs to be done - it is all about what is the will of God in what we are doing.   Truly seeking God in the decisions that we make and asking God how do we show up and represent His name well in our interactions with people.

What does God want us to do and how does God want us to love people well in the midst of all the decisions that we have to make as spiritual leaders?

And, are we going to be like Nicodemus and follow Jesus.

I've seen people fired for issues of sin .... and no one - ever went after those lost sheep to help in their restoration process.  

These are God's lost leaders - people who have a calling on their life - in the fight against the Kingdom of Darkness!

They need to be restored to their calling.  They need to be pursued.  They need to be marked by grace.  

They need their spiritual weapons back ... in order to defeat the powers of darkness that are trying to destroy people ... and to keep people from knowing Jesus Christ and knowing the power of His healing and restoration!

We need to help find the lost leaders and to build them back up to Christ and to ground them in God's love, and to mark them with grace!  To empower them once again and to bring them back onto "Team God" and our battle for people's souls! 

Believe it or not - God's love is not just for the lost and broken!  

It is for God's leaders too!  It's for those leaders who have gone astray - who have been taken by the wolves and isolated from the flock! 

Those who have fallen or those who have been cast aside.  

Either way - if they are in the mouth of a wolf - what are we doing to save them?

Restoring God's church is not about buildings.  It is about lives!  It is about getting God's church (people) flowing again - meaning, the Holy Spirit flowing in people again, in the way God created them to flow!  

All people.  All leaders.  

Yes, everyone was created by God to good works! 

There is an army of leaders - God is wanting to find and restore.  

There is an army of leaders who have been hurt by the misuse of our leadership staffs.  

A whole army of scattered sheep leaders! 

What are we doing - to restore one lost leader sheep?  

Do we even care about that one lost leader?  God does! 

This is where the quote ... "the blood of the sheep is on the shepherd's staff" comes into play.  

What are we doing as God's leaders to make sure our leadership staffs are free from the blood of the sheep?  

Are we willing to take a season to look at our staff, to humble ourselves and to ask God to purify our leadership?

I seriously believe that phrase is on the heart of God in this season!  

I believe this is so important to God in making sure His church is pure and spotless and prepared for His second coming!  

God wants a pure and spotless bride and it always begins with us as God's leaders.  

Who we are and how we show up - will reveal a God of love or not.

A flock will only be as healthy as it's shepherd.

This has been God's message to ME - I am just sharing with you all - my recent conversations with Him.

To follow Jesus .... means ....

Do we have the courage to speak up in any environment to say - we are beating a sheep with our ungodly words or actions  - and there is blood on our staff  and "we must stop what we are doing?".    

Can we risk our positions in order to restore people to their calling?

The question rolling around my heart - is as God's people and leaders - how do we respond and follow Jesus .... in the midst of persecution WITHIN the church? 

I am not trying to answer this question in this blog.  I am merely posing the question for God to answer for us.  

As we personally seek Him on this topic.

It is a question for us to take to God personally.  To turn to Scripture and ask Him to show us how He wants to mold us and grow us into His image by how we relate to people on our ministry teams and to those we are called to lead. 

How are we going to show up and what does it mean to follow Jesus?

Are we willing to die to self ...and to lay aside everything for the sake of someone else? 

Are we going to keep our minds and hearts pure and Godly when thinking of others?  

Are we going to see people through the eyes and heart of God, through Jesus' finished work on the cross?  

Are we going to hold every thought captive to Christ - when thinking of our brothers and sisters in Christ? 

It is much easier to run into the mess of life ... with people outside of the walls of the church ... 

..... but what can we do better in order to run into the mess inside of the church to bring about true Biblical reconciliation, to be messengers of hope, and to mark people with the love and grace of Jesus Christ?

To see who is being slandered and persecuted and then, instead of isolating them - we run into relationship with them?  

What can we do to reveal the loving-kindness of God to people on our leadership teams?  

How can we build intimacy and Biblical love into our ministry teams?

What are we going to do to purify our conversations about people while in bed with our spouses?

Jesus hears all and He sees all.  Nothing we do or say is hidden from him.

I am not sharing this with a heart of condemnation at all.  I am sharing this with a heart of conviction.  These are questions God has been posing to me all month - and really asking me some firm questions about my heart, my fears, my insecurities and my lack of courage.

Sometimes, God talks to us as a loving and firm Father.  As One who needs to have those difficult conversations with us - in order to lead us back to being life-giving pencils in his hand.  

Pencils that write LIFE over people's lives rather than stabbing people to death with the power of our words or our actions.

What can we do to purify our hearts in how we relate to the people who are serving in the ministry trenches with us?

What can we do to see those people as sacred onto God?  

As holy children of the Father?  

As brothers and sisters in Christ?

As ones who are all on One team - fighting the Kingdom of Darkness?

True unity is heart issue.  

True unity is about seeing that our bothers and sisters in Christ are part of one family, working to build God's kingdom while working as one to destroy Satan and his desire to destroy the lives of people.

Can we - when we see evil emails being written to us about people - can we stop and confront the evil words being spoken from other leaders and pastors?  Even when we use the pastor card - "well, we need to know these things about people"?  

Really, do we?  Or do we need to pray and seek God's Word for his perspective of the broken sheep?  To truly see the broken or bloody sheep and to seek God' will in how to restore it.  Do we illuminate the darkness or do we bring the sheep into the light and into grace and into love?

To seek God's wisdom through His Word on how to deal with a tough issue? 

Can we - when sitting in meetings and listening to people or leaders being mocked ... even jokingly - can we speak up and confront the ungodly chatter?  Do we know how to do this in love?  

Can we - when we know that a real ungodly injustice us being done - can we speak up and bring truth to the circumstances - even if that means - we might be persecuted?  

Can we speak into the fear and the control and the intimidation that is on our midst? 

Even if things might get twisted around and it looks like we are the trouble maker because we are merely trying to bring light to something that is dark? 

This is the nature of spiritual abuse - it doesn't want to be seen so it will destroy others before it is ever exposed - read the book listed below if you want to understand the nature of spiritual abuse better.

Just what does it mean to follow Jesus?

I've been meditating on Mark's message all month - because it was a powerful one on Nicodemus. 

And I am reading the book again called "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse" because it really illuminates the nature of the Pharisees and their misuse of spiritual power and authority.  It really helps to show more of Nicodemus' inner struggle with it (even though the book does not talk specifically about Nicodemus - you can see how he would struggle to follow Jesus).

The interesting thing about spiritual abuse - is none of us are immune from it.  

It we lead anything, in any role - even as parents - we will have the temptation to abuse the power that has been given to us by God.  

The temptations of control, manipulation and power will hit us all - and as God's leaders - if we don't understand the nature of spiritual abuse ... and know how to guard our hearts from it and walk in strong accountability with others and talk openly about it on our teams - this sin that is crouching at our door - will have it's way in us and through us - to hurt others. 

We will begin to think we are above accountability and we will not listen to the voice of those that we lead for Truth.  We will seek truth within ourselves and our own understanding rather than seeking God and wisdom through His Word and through the counsel of others.

Do we understand the nature of spiritual abuse?  I mean, really.  

Do we know how it seeks to flow through us to hurt others?  

I know for me, due to the prophetic nature of my gifting - the enemy always seeks to use my mouth and my emotions as a means to hurt people.  

I've had to learn and mature into knowing that I have to process my heart fully with the Lord before I respond to something.  I want to be sure I am in the Spirit and not in the flesh before I respond.  To me, this is the nature of self-control.  We don't respond until we know God and His love have control of us.  

Do I do this perfectly?  Heck no!  But I know - where I am weak and I desperately know where I need the work of God's grace in my life!  There have been times, where it has taken me years to respond to something because it has taken me this long to get back into alignment with God's heart and character on an issue.  

So,  if right now .... have a part of Nicodemus' inner struggle going on with us .... let's ask - what does it mean for us to follow Jesus?  

Are we called to be a bridge of Biblical reconciliation?  

To bring about a Biblical Truth to a chaotic circumstance? 

To speak life and to build up the life of another broken leader?  

What gossip, slander and evil have we been listening to - that we are not stopping?  

What one lost sheep does God want us to run after?  

Today, I am asking Jesus how can I follow Him - 100%.  No more partial obedience.  I want to be all in again.

I mean, really asking that question and being willing for him to show me where self-deception has had it's way in me! 

Today, I am asking Him where I have deceived myself due to my own fears and insecurities of religious leaders?  Where am I lacking courage?

But no one had the courage to speak favorably about Jesus in public, 
for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.  
John 7:13 NLT

Where am I bound by fear? 

Today, I am asking Jesus to make me bold - and to overcome any inner struggles similar to Nicodemus and to do what is right.  

No matter what the loss and no matter what the cost.

For all of us - we have the voice of Truth whispering something to us all the time.

Question is - are we listening?   

It has been telling us to do something and yet, we like Nicodemus have kept in the shadows due to fear of speaking up and standing up for Jesus. 

To be His voice and His light in the midst of our religious structures.

We need to follow Jesus into uncomfortable waters.  

Even if that means we lose everything in this world in order to be obedient; led by our passionate love relationship with Him!

To say yes to Jesus and no to what is not God honoring  - will ALWAYS come with risk and loss.  

We can't have Jesus and do what hurts ourselves and others.

But .... compared to what we lose - we gain SO MUCH MORE.   

We gain the One who created the heavens and the earth and the One who will always be on our side!  

The One who calls us child.  

The One who calls us His beloved.  

The One who gave His life - to mark us with grace and to keep us as His own!  

We might not have anything that this world has to offer ... we might have lost everything .... but we will gain God Himself in our choice to follow Jesus. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Life-Changing Power of Gratitude!

Thank you to everyone who has been responding and helping to build out this testimonies, references and endorsement page on my ministry site! 

I am overflowing with gratitude for all of you! 

At the end of this blog - is a new vblog - a video blog on this same topic! Thank you for checking this out.

I am so beyond thankful for these references.  They really do mean SO much to me!

As I have been reading through the testimonies and references that are coming in ... I am deeply moved by the power of gratitude! 

Through it, God has been revealing to me, more about the attitude of gratitude.

It got me thinking about Jesus and how very few people ever came back to truly say thank you - with a genuine heart - for what He did and how He touched their lives.

I often wonder .... what is in our human nature that wants to avoid gratitude and expressing it to people

Are we so absorbed with self and life ... that we can't slow down and smell the roses?  

Today, I am in conversation with my God about this as I have been moved to tears reading the words written by long time friends and people I have served with in ministry for 17+ years.  

Gratitude surely has the power to wash away negative debris.

These references are reminding me of God's love.

The love that hunts down that one lost coin.  The love that will lay down one's selfish ambitions for the sake of someone else.  The love ... as Paul describes in Philippians 2:1-8 ... which prefers others over self.  The love that covers sin rather than seeking to expose it in order to destroy others.

In our human nature, we have such a tendency towards negativity and grumbling.  I am not immune to this temptation.

I believe this is even more so the case for prophetic people who have strong discernment gifts. 

We tend to feel and to see the "not so good" parts of people, or ministries, or circumstances. 

We often see what others can't see.  This is part of the way God has wired us and he does so because He wants us to become life-giving agents to those people.  He wants us to love them as He did when He hung on the cross to take away their sin and to cover them once and for all with His love.

And really, this is kind of the role of the prophets .. or the prophetic voice in the church.  

They are here to keep us in sync with God's heart.  At the core of the prophetic voice is always ... to bring people; God's church back into intimate relationship with God and to being obedient to His Word.   

The prophetic voice should always be about restoring people TO LOVE! 

Prophetic people tend to know when people are wearing a mask and we tend to know the flaws and issues intuitively (really, intuitively by the Holy Spirit). 

This IS the nature of discernment.  To be able to know what is flesh, what is the enemy and what is God!  The testing and discernment of spirits.  

This is why rejection is so common among prophetic people ... because people (or leaders) who are in darkness or deceived will reject the light that prophetic people carry because they do not want to be exposed.  They fear living in the light.  They don't want the accountability even if they say they do. 

They will do whatever is necessary to drive out the prophetic voice that is trying align people back to God and to being obedient to His Word.  And if we are being led by selfish ambition - we surely don't want to know what God's will is in any certain circumstance - so we definitely don't want to hear or heed to the prophetic voice.

None of us are immune from these temptations.

However, what happens when we are immature or unhealthy in the prophetic or not trained or equipped with an understanding of the gifts of the Spirit ... we can take what is negative and we can magnify it .... and create a monster out of what we are sensing. 

We fail to seek God's wisdom and His ways for what HE wants us to do with what it is He is showing us.  

We fail to seek the life-giving Truth of what God wants us to pray or to say.  We fail to walk in wisdom.

We fail to seek Godly wisdom and to wait on Him until we have it.  

We fail to seek God's Word as our foundation and bedrock for everything!

We fail to seek the fruit of God's Spirit and wait on God until we are walking in it.

We fail to walk in gratitude.

And so - because we fail to wait - we move prematurely.  Saying things and doing things that are outside of God's timing.

And this hurts people.

This is why training in the prophetic is SO important to me. 

We must we understand our strengths AND our weakness as prophetic people and those with the gift of discernment.  

Our greatest weakness will always be to stay in the land of negativity ... never moving people into the life-giving aspects of the promised land.

We truly do need a lens change.  To move us from negativity to gratitude.  

To living with thankful hearts always!  

This way we become LIFE GIVING agents to others through gratitude ... and we don't magnify the darkness through our negativity.

Gratitude washes away ALL dark perceptions because we begin to see as God sees  ... whether this person is ourselves, our spouses, our children or someone we work with. 

Gratitude helps us to magnify the life of God in people THUS displacing anything that might not be of Him by speaking life rather than speaking death! 

What we magnify and speak to ... in anyone ... is what they or we ... will become! 

We must get this spiritual principle!  Life and death is in the power of the tongue.  

Praise and gratitude brings us into the presence of God - for ourselves and towards those we speak about.

Gratitude has the power to wash away all that negativity, words of death, curses, pain, broken-ness ... because gratitude magnifies what God put into someone and the beauty that is within them! It calls people up into who they are IN CHRIST. 

Gratitude focuses us back on what Christ has done and not on what someone else is or is not doing! 

Gratitude reminds them that in the midst of the flaws and all - God still sees us THROUGH His sacrifice on the cross. This is GRACE.

Every day should be Thanksgiving.

I seriously think there is a broken mindset we can come to believe that says if we give someone too much gratitude, or too much blessing, or too much love and edification - they will become prideful. 

So, instead we condemn or tear people down in our thoughts or words ... thinking we are doing good.  

I think we fail to see that our words are grounding people either in the life-giving soil ... of God's love and character ....  or our words are grounded people in the soil of something dark.  

A tree can never be healthy if it is planted in the wrong kind of soil. 

Scripture is so clear - "let NOTHING unwholesome come out of your mouth". Ephesians 4:29. It means what is says - nothing.

Scripture is also clear "life and death is in the power of the tongue".

Satan's job is to beat up and God's job is to build up. 

Let's partner with God in the building up of others today and not the tearing down. 

Let's begin in our own thought life. 

There is SO MUCH power in gratitude. 

In honoring others, In honoring the God that is inside of those who believe. 

This is God's challenge to me today too! 

Let's ask God who we can bless with gratitude today and then speak it out. 

Think of that one person ... whom you've been magnifying with negativity in your own mind ... someone who you simply might not like ... because in some way they have hurt you  ....

.... and instead of negativity .... write a list of 10 things you see in them that is beautiful and life-giving. 

And begin to speak THAT into the atmosphere.

I am taking this same challenge. 

If God leads you to, tell them through words and actions. 

Move in goodness towards them.

Show them that their life has value, meaning and purpose. 

You never know - someone might be sitting on the edge of despair, contemplating suicide and by your obedience - you might just save a soul and bring life to where there has been destruction! 

You might be the one to show them a different side of themselves that they can't seem to see with their own eyes!

You might just reveal God's heart for them in some powerful and life-changing ways! 

I am working on mine!   

Here is a short video thought on gratitude today as well! 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Giving ... by God's Spirit

"The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, 
and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. 

He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 

After he has gathered his own flock, 
he walks ahead of them

and they follow him because they know his voice."   

John 10:3-4 NLT

In 2005, I was a part of a ministry school in our area.  One of the activities they had us do - was on listening to God and on giving. 

We were about ready to go on holiday break and one of the speakers gave us a prayer activity to do. He told us to ask God how much money we were to set aside and to ask God when and where we were to give it.

Mike, the boys and I were getting ready to head to Hawaii on vacation. As I prayed ... and did my prayer assignment .... I felt the Lord tell me to set aside 3 - $100 bills and that he would tell me who to give them to and when.

We were about 3/4 of the way into the trip and those bills were in my wallet. I kept waiting to know who would be blessed by God. My boys were all excited too. Our trip became more of an adventure because we were on the lookout for who God wanted to bless.

I will never forget the night we sat down to dinner and it happened. As soon as the waiter walked up ... my heart started beating out of my chest. Sweat began to pour down and I began to struggle with intense fear. I knew something weird was happening.

I knew in that moment, that I knew God wanted to bless this young kid. And because of the look on my face ... the boy's knew this man - was the man!

I sat there during the whole dinner freaking out. This was my first time really listening to the Holy Spirit like this ... and doing something he was asking me to do.

I argued with God during the whole dinner ... all while my boy's lectured me on why I needed to obey God. I kept thinking - 'who taught them this stuff on obedience anyways'? Geez. Don't you love it when you kids start mentoring you and holding you accountable?!

After going back and forth with the Lord, I simply just could not speak out what was on God's heart for this young kid. So, I asked the Lord if I could write it on the back of the paper receipt/check.

So, I gave him the normal tip and then added the additional $100 bills. I also added a note on the back of the check.

A few minutes later, I see the young man off in the corner reading the note - sobbing. God had intervened and touched his heart.

He came over and shared with me about how he had been praying for this money to come in ... in order to pay for his next semester of classes at school.

He was struggling to know if God was going to be faithful to help him. Like the deep struggling that brings you to tears.

This experience was one of many - that made me want to be a different kind of Christian.

One that lives from these sorts of experiences in every day. Truly just being a pencil in his hand -and letting people know God exists in small and tangible ways.

I don't always obey like this. Around the same time frame, I was at the state fair with my boy's and we walked by a new age tarot card booth. As we walked by the Lord strongly prompted me and said that he wanted me to go over and to pray with the women that was giving spiritual readings.

He wanted me to lead her into a personal relationship with Christ. He wanted me to boldly tell her she was serving the wrong kingdom. Geez. Who wants to say that to someone?  

He wanted me to tell her how amazing Jesus Christ was and how awesome it was serving God and walking in an intimate relationship with Him!  

He wanted me to talk to her about the Kingdom of God.

My boy's at the time were 4 and 6 years old. I had every reason in the book why I couldn't obey God. Namely, my kids were just too little ... and they were very active boys who in a moment could be gone climbing some wall ... and being that we were at the state fair and I was alone there with them .... I walked away ... disobeying God.

I repented of course, and asked God to forgive me and His grace washed over me - but I often wonder how her life would be different if instead of serving the kingdom of darkness she was serving God. I wonder what amazing things she would be doing for him now?

The lesson here - is to not say - hey, look what I did - but to say - this sort of experience is available to all of us.

We all have the opportunity to hear God's voice and to be led by His Spirit in blessing others.

We simply have to listen and then step out into obedience to do it!

And to receive His grace when we fail to listen.

An encounter that reveals the Truth ... God is real and God does care. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Overcoming Depression; Put Your Hope in God!

Today, I launched my You Tube Channel.
Here is my video devotional (vlog) on Psalm 42:5-6.

Look forward to seeing you there! 
Thank you in advance for subscribing! 

"Why am I discouraged? 
Why is my heart so sad? 

I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! 

Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you— even from distant Mount Hermon,the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar." 

Psalm 42:5-6 

Depression is a time for soul-searching, for asking questions. 

We are often discouraged because we concentrate on our circumstances rather than on God and what He wants to reveal to us through His Word.

The psalmists questions awakened him to the reality that God alone is his source for comfort and for hope. Scripture says that "hope deferred makes the heart sick". 

Depression is often a sign that our hope has been misplaced. We have taken root into something or someone other than God. 

Sometimes, that root can be expectations that we have of God and of others. When it fails to go our way or the way we expect it to go - we lose hope.

We need to uproot those expectations and place our hope and confidence back into God! We need to let those roots grow deeper and stronger in God and in God alone.

If God is allowing a certain trial, test or temptation for us - then we have to see it as God fortifying and strengthening a certain Truth into our lives. God allowed Jesus to be tempted in the wilderness and it was Jesus' unwavering convictions to the Truth that allowed him overcoming victory over his enemy. It wasn't just the fact that he knew the Truth - He believed these Truths! 

God allows the temptation to bring us back to the one and only source for life. God and His Word. Every temptation will strengthen us in Truth if we allow it to. If we ask the questions and then wait on God for which Word of Life ... in Scripture will empower us to overcome! We must allow our roots to grow deep into that Truth and we will walk victorious! 

"But Jesus told him, 
“No! The Scriptures say, 
‘People do not live by bread alone, 
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God."
Matthew 4:4

Monday, April 21, 2014

Overcoming Evil; Do Good!

"Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, 
for it is written: 

“It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 
On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; 
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. 
In doing this, they will be ashamed at what they have done to you.” 
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." 

Romans 12:19-21 

The worst response to betrayal is to give in to vengeance. It is the natural response of our flesh, of the old man, of our old sinful nature. 

The wisest response to betrayal is to move in the opposite spirit. To move in goodness towards that person. To "do" something good and loving for them. 

God has the strategy in how we might do this! Simply ask Him how you can begin to bless and release the life and love of Jesus Christ into that person with whom you might have conflict. 

If God has allowed this season or this adversity for you - then he is developing the fragrance of blessing into your life. He wants to teach you a powerful truth of the nature of blessing. 

Trust God to be the righteous judge over this wrong in your life. 

Trust Him to do in the hearts what only He can do. He can harden a man's heart and He can soften it through simple acts of goodness.

Think of one difficult person. Think of that one person who has broken your heart. How can you (and I) - move in goodness towards them - in what we pray and in what we do? Ask God for His strategy to bring His life and His love to them.