Timeless Truths

I recently finished two modern books that were based on ministers from the past. One book was based on a sermon from Jonathan Edwards and talked about the glory of God and the other was based from the writings and sermons of Charles Spurgeon during the Down-Grade Controversy.

Reading these books was an incredible experience simply because the messages were from centuries ago but they are still relevant to our time.

The first book by John Piper, God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards is a two part book. The first part of the book tells Piper’s Introduction to Edwards, gives a biographical sketch and discusses his four most important works. The second part of the book is the complete text of Edwards’ sermon on The End for Which God Created the World.

The primary focus of the book is the glory of God. Living for His glory, preaching His glory, and understanding that everything is about and for the glory of God. When can get so caught up in our own lives, watching sports, taking care of things, even just checking church off the list that we forget about the glory of God. Piper’s story and Edwards’ sermon is a wakeup call to all of us to be reintroduced to the truth of the glory of God.

That brings me to the second book, Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church Looks Like the World by John MacArthur. Now before you dismiss the book based on the recent dust up, don’t. This book is based from the life of Charles Spurgeon during the Down-Grade Controversy. What was the Down-Grade Controversy? It was during the later part of Spurgeon’s life when he stood basically alone against the shifting tide in the church of being more about plays and self help than solid Bible teaching. Spurgeon has much to teach us about what it means to live the Christian life and be part of a congregation that doesn’t water down or change the gospel. Regardless of your feelings toward John MacArthur, pick up the book and learn from the wisdom of the great prince of preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

When reading MacArthur’s book, start with Appendix 1 to get a grasp on what the Down-Grade Controversy was about. I wrote this short post because like Spurgeon and Edwards, I am concerned about the Church in my day. We have become so “felt needs” focused, so concerned about having things that attract people in that by time we get them in we can’t keep them with the Gospel, it’s simply not trendy enough. In fact it is offensive to most of the hot button issues of our day. It’s supposed to be, Jesus said it would be. I’m encouraging you to read these two books because we need the wisdom and the sound doctrine of their time and we need to know that there are two “modern evangelicals” who preach the same thing Edwards and Spurgeon did and they are changing the world with a non-fluff gospel. It can be done. It was done by Edwards and Spurgeon and it can be done by us if we follow their example.

One More Thing

After you read those two books and will no doubt be inspired to read deeper, let me encourage you to do that. If you are inspired by Jonathan Edwards get the books Piper mentions and work through them. If you’re inspired by Spurgeon go to christianbook.com and type in Spurgeon on and insert a subject like prayer, Jesus, etc. and get a book or three by him.

C. S. Lewis said the following in God in the Dock. “There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books…This mistaken preference for the modern books and this shyness of the old ones is no more rampant than in theology…. Now this seems to me topsy-turvy. Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or the old, I would advise him to read the old… It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones…We all…need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books….We may be sure that the characteristic blindness of the twentieth century….lies where we have never expected it….None of us can fully escape this blindness….The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books.”(God’s Passion for His Glory, Piper, pg. 23).

The power of that quote will be demonstrated as you read MacArthur’s book and realize how much Spurgeon speaks to our day. If you choose to start down the path of old books, let me first recommend reading a biography of the minister. Iain Murray has written great biographies on many ministers of Old and is a good place to start. I would also recommend looking for devotionals by the minister.

I am spending next year studying the life and sermons of Spurgeon. For me the year will start with reading the two volume auto biography and from there reading his sermons on the gospel and Jesus and continue studying the Bible with Spurgeon all year. As some of you may have read in previous posts I am also studying through the New Testament, and I think Spurgeon will be a great guide. I am reading the Bible through in a year in the Spurgeon Study Bible. this isn’t as much as it seems, I have all year to work my way through things and by no means will I scratch the surface of all of Spurgeon’s material.

If you want to keep up with my New Testament and Spurgeon journey next year, you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter.

If Spurgeon or Edwards don’t strike your interest read 131 Christians Everyone Should Know and you should be able to find someone to study from. You will also find helpful information in the Bible Study sidebar. The Christian Library has huge amounts of free documents, books and biographies. The Edwards, Spurgeon and Wesley Study Centers have sermons, books, letters and theological material of the perspective person that will be a great benefit if you choose to read and study their works.       

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Repentance, Rejection, and Reformation

On August 30, 2019 I wrote a post on some troubling things happening in the Body of Christ and specifically some troubling things in charismatic circles. I made a statement towards the end of that post, make the determination now that Scripture is your standard. Regardless of what any of us have been taught, have grown up believing or hear in prophetic words, the Scripture must be our final authority.

Since writing that post I have continued in prayer and study over things. I have finished reading John Wesley’s sermons and have allowed myself some very honest questioning on some things I have grown up believing. Earlier this year I began getting uncomfortable with some teachings but I shrugged it off and just kept going. On September 17 I was sent the American Gospel Documentary on YouTube and on the nineteenth I was sent Mike Winger’s video concerning The Passion Translation. God providentially used these two videos to start me on a journey I never expected.

Before I continue with my story let me say that from 2008 through the summer of 2012 I was going to a charismatic church that also taught reformed theology. Pastor Steve Solomon taught on Romans eight for nine months in 2008. He also introduced me to Jonathan Edwards, John Piper, and R. C. Sproul. Those were the seeds that brought forth the journey that has taken place these last several weeks.

I grew up in a classical Pentecostal church and watched Word of Faith preachers on TV. In my twenties I was introduced to the prophetic movement and teachings on the Jewish roots. I dove in full force, keeping up with prophecies, going to conferences and studying the Bible from a Jewish perspective. Ever since hearing Pastor Steve preach for several years I continually struggled with the Word of Faith teaching. It seemed so shallow compared to reformed theology. Nevertheless I persisted in pursuing the faith teaching and the prophetic movement, I did this because there is a great end time move on the horizon and I don’t want to miss out on what God is going to do.

Even though I was following the prophetic movement in the back of my mind I was skeptical of the words coming forth, they all sounded generic. One place I was going to always talked about what was coming, after a couple of years I became uncomfortable with the conferences but I kept going because I didn’t want to miss prophetic words because I didn’t want to miss the move of God.

Back to the two videos I mentioned. One of the key teachers in the Word of Faith church I was attending used The Passion Translation a lot, that was actually the Bible he carried in church. One of the issues I had with that was the translation was only the New Testament, Psalms, Proverbs and Song of Songs. Many people in the charismatic movement use that translation because it undergirds their theology, it is not a real translation.(Please watch Mike Winger’s video so you can see the problems with the translation) At the end of The American Gospel promo video there was a testimony from a formal Bethel Student named Lindsay Davis that interested me. I have never followed Bethel, I’ve read three of Bill Johnson’s books but that’s it. I know how popular Bethel is though so I looked up Lindsay’s testimony on YouTube. To make a long story short, that lead me to two former new agers, Doreen Virtue and Melissa Dougherty. Now outside of them interviewing Lindsay I wouldn’t have thought they would have anything else of interest for me. But they had an interview with Costi Hinn about the prosperity gospel which really got me to question some things as well as Melissa’s video on New Thought and Word of Faith. I also found Chris Rosebrough through them. Chris takes popular Word of Faith and prophetic teachers and prophecies and dissects them with the Word. I have watched several of his videos the last few weeks.

I have been reexamining some things and have been honest about things I have pushed to the side, such as Jesus suffering in Hell and some interpretations of Scripture I was never quite comfortable with.     

I don’t want to go long with this post so I won’t be going through all the Scriptures I’ve looked at, I want to encourage you to watch The American Gospel Documentary and watch some of Chris’s videos as you study the Word for yourself.

One of the things I was taught in the Word of Faith was you put the Word first, and I have been doing that in a way I haven’t been. I have realized that the prophetic movement has actually taken me away from the Word of God and the Spirit of God, it hasn’t lead me to it. When you really get hooked in with the prophetic movement, it becomes a drug, you always need your next prophetic fix. One “prophet” I followed typically releases three words a week. As I began looking at past words I realized many of them were not saying anything of substance and other words had clearly not come to pass. What really bothered me was how every word was about something around the corner. False prophets were never called out, false prophecies were swept under the rug and that is not biblical. All of the sudden I began to see the level of deception I was walking in. From things like the library room of Heaven, I would take trips there in my mind. I would go in different rooms. That was not of God, it was deception. That is something I have repented of and stopped. As I have looked over words in journals and things the Lord has “spoken to me”. I realize it was not the Holy Spirit but my own mind.

One of the things being pushed right now is the streams coming together. That has bothered me from the first time I heard it. That thinking is giving rise to the great apostasy. I’ve read both of Costi Hinn’s books; Defining Deception and God, Greed and the (Prosperity) Gospel as well as Holly Pivec’s book, God’s Super Apostles. I have been reading and studying the New Testament holding all of my beliefs next to Scripture. I have found the Word of Faith and the prophetic movement seriously lacking in biblical truth and correct application. Concerning the Jewish roots, the Church should not be anti-Semitic. We do need to understand historical context, especially the Jewish context of the New Testament but believing studying ancient Jewish wisdom will unlock secrets for us is another false teaching and another way many in the prophetic movement are leading people away from the sufficiency of Scripture.

I repent of and I reject the Word of Faith which puts the emphasis on my faith and desires and not the sovereignty of God. I repent of chasing after the prophetic words and charismatic movements, the false signs, false revivals and the wrong application of the Jewish roots of the New Testament that come with them. I reject the modern prophetic and apostolic movement. It is leading people away from the sufficiency of Scripture and I want no part of it.

There is more I could say but many of my thoughts and observations from Scripture over these last several weeks are posted on my Instagram and Twitter if you would like to see how I got to this point in more detail. I believe everyone needs to do what I did, study the Scripture for themselves and be willing to let the Word destroy wrong teaching. I have unfollowed all the teachers and prophets on social media. I went back as far as I was able to on Twitter deleting and un-retweeting things as well as deleting posts from Instagram, I’m sure I could have missed some but this is my public statement of repenting and rejecting the Word of Faith and prophetic movements.

I have walked away from Word of Faith in the past, only to return but I can tell you what is different this time. I have no draw or desire to hear those teachings and I no longer feel like I am missing out on anything. The Word of God is enough. Christ is enough.

I am looking forward to getting reacquainted with the Jesus of Scripture and following Him. If you have any reading recommendations, church recommendations, or want to share your own testimony of being saved out of deception I would love to read your story in the comments.

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Thoughts on Recent Events

Two weeks ago The Lord instructed me to begin reading the sermons of John Wesley, so I pulled out the two double volumes and began with volume one, sermon one. Since that time there have been two high profile leaders renounce their faith and a international revivalist accused of some very dark stuff. I believe these events and as much as I hate to say it, others like them that will continue in the coming months, is part of the reason I am reading Wesley right now.

I have no desire to discuss these three situations. The truth is I didn’t follow their ministries or any of the ministries around them. In the charismatic/pentecostal part of the body I have grown up in there has always been lots of talk about a great end time revival. What we are seeing now is the beginning of a great end time apostasy.

My heart grieves for the Church right now, for victims, for those questioning their faith and I am praying for those involved. I am praying for people to have grace to repent and for leaders to have the courage to speak up and enact discipline.

HOW DID ALL THIS START

Granted I don’t and most of us don’t know specifics on things but speaking to the charismatic body of Christ I honestly believe these type of things have begun to take hold because we don’t have a strong theology. Pentecostal and charismatic believer’s are known for emphasizing revival, miracles and signs and wonders and that is our problem. Those things are supposed to be the result not the focus.

Hebrews 12:1-4 NIV ” Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

We all say that Jesus is the focus but if we are honest, much of the pentecostal/charismatic church quit focusing on Jesus a long time ago and started focusing on revival, crowd size and signs and wonders.

THE RESULT OF A SHIFTED FOCUS

Because there has been such an over emphasis on signs and wonders we have valued gifting over character and the spectacular over the steady. Do I believe in healing and miracles? Yes. Do I believe in restoration? Yes. Restoration to God, first and foremost.

My heart breaks right now because many members and leaders are taking the restore passage in Galatians six while totally dismissing the qualifications set for ministry in Timothy. This out of balance emphasis makes it seem like as long as your flowing in the gifts God winks at your sin. We have mistaken the mercy of God to give time to repent for his approval because signs and wonders are happening.

Hebrews 12:4-13 “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

WHAT DOES GOD VALUE

First and foremost, God values sons and daughters over their ministry. This is why Paul said I have turned such a one over to satan for the destruction of their flesh that they may be saved on the day of judgment. There are gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is more important. A tree is known by its fruit. Many have mistaken that to mean the fruit of ministry is signs and wonders. How can that be when Jesus said, many will come to me saying I prophesied in your name, I cast demons out in your name, yet I will say, depart from me I never knew you. Hebrews says without holiness no man shall see the Lord. Considering none of the qualifications of ministry list anything spectacular, I think if we are honest we would say as a whole the charismatic emphasis has missed the boat.

WHAT DO WE DO

The most important thing we can do is guard and examine our own hearts. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas in our own lives that are not pleasing to Him. In holding to standards of righteousness we must remember to do so in love and pray for those who have walked away or fallen to be restored to their relationship with Jesus.

As I have been praying for several days and reading different things, one thing seems to be clear concerning exposure of unrepented sin, this is just the beginning. Judgment begins in the house of God and we need to be ready for that. As believer’s we need to make sure our focus is on Jesus and not our favorite preacher, author, or singer.

As I said at the beginning, I have been reading John Wesley. He was known for preaching holiness and for teaching something called the middle road. Basically meaning, stay out of ditches. The pentecostal/charismatic world has fallen into a revival ditch full of signs and wonders. We need to quit looking for revival and look to the reviver. Our theological roots of holiness need to be revived. We need to put character over gifting and emphasize sanctification over supernatural manifestation. On Sunday we enter the Hebrew month of Elul which includes thirty days of Teshuvah, meaning to return. With all that is going on, I believe The Lord is calling us to return to holiness, to return to what He holds dear.

I am praying for the Church as things continue to unfold. I am praying for our faith to be rooted and grounded in the Word of God. I am praying each individuals faith will be able to stand the test that is coming as the idolatry of celebrity preachers, unbalanced teachings and more are exposed in the coming months. I encourage all of us to take this next month as an appointed time of heart searching and consecration. Ask for a heart of holiness to be given to you, ask to be sanctified and taught what it is to live like Jesus.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I think it would be helpful for those who have grown up in or are part of pentecostal and charismatic churches to read Donald W. Dayton’s book, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism. Even though most of the doctrinal statements emphasize sanctification and holiness many of us don’t know what that looks like to live it and this book will help.

I also want to take this time to say I am spending 2020 in the New Testament. I have studied faith this year and the path I was lead on looked nothing like I thought it would. At the beginning of August the Holy Spirit told me New Testament 2020. What that looks like is beginning to take shape and I know I will see a major holiness emphasis next year.

As things continue to be exposed in leadership and in your own life, make the determination now that Scripture is your standard. Unfortunately we have already begun to see people walk away from faith and this will continue. If ministries you support or your church puts someone’s gifting over their character, make the decision now that you will walk away. If you have to choose between holiness or healing at your church or in a ministry, choose holiness. I believe there are some emotional days ahead for many; keep your eyes on Jesus, meditate on the Scriptures, pray, walk in love and worship Jesus and you will make it through the house cleaning that has begun.

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Bible Study Tips

I just finished reading through the New Testament, which got me to thinking about Bible study. Bible study isn’t boring and knowing theology isn’t just for preachers. Granted pastors should go deeper and spend more time in study do to the fact that they are teaching a church, however study is for the believer. In this post I am going to share a few ways I study and a few things you can do to make your Bible study more meaningful.

Most of us have a Bible APP that gives us a verse of the day and that’s fine but we all know we need more than just one verse a day. The same kind of thing is true for studying the Bible. If you’re going to study verses, read the chapter. If you’re going to study a chapter, read the book. Context is key and honestly, I think we get more out of Scripture when we at times purposefully set aside an hour or two (the same amount of time as a movie) and read a book of the Bible in one sitting.

Most of us don’t know Hebrew and Greek but there are tools out there like the Strong’s Concordance that can give us the meaning of the original language. It’s not necessary to look up every word of a verse that you’re studying but there will be times when your interest is peaked and you’ll want to dive a little deeper into the meaning.

I probably should have started with this but pray before you read and ask Holy Spirit to teach you. That’s His role in our lives, so we need to ask Him for that help.

Always take notes on what you’re learning or thoughts you have while you’re reading. One thought can develop at a later time and become a great study.

Phones can be helpful when it comes to finding a verse but have a real, leather bound Bible you use to study out of. It cuts down on distraction, ( which reminds me, put your phone on silent). When we sit down to study we need to give that time and God the respect of our attention being on Him.

Use different translations. I recommend using a good “word-for-word” translation (NASB, ESV, NKJV, MEV) and a “thought-for-thought” or Paraphrase as well (NIV, NLT and The Message). When you study you should have at minimum two translations to look at. I also recommend the Amplified Classic Edition Bible and The Passion Translation. If you like to use a study Bible I would recommend the Spirit Filled Life Bible and the Life Application Study Bible.

Take your time when you study, you won’t always finish a study in one sitting. Allow time to meditate on what you are getting out of your study. Talk to friends about what you’re studying and see what they get as well.

You can take a look at the recommended reading page for Bible Study tools and other books. As you study the Bible, include a study of the history of the places you are reading about to get a more complete understanding of what is going on. Make a general study of church history and theology to help you better understand the text.

One last thing, have a spot that is designated for study, make it comfortable, have your stuff all in one place so you can get immersed in going through the Word, running references, looking up words and getting to know the people in the book. It may take a few times to really get into study but one day you’ll look up and realize you’ve been sitting there for three hours and only think it has been fifteen minutes.

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Preparations for 2019

It’s a couple days after Christmas and our attention is beginning to turn to 2019. Some of you are thinking about what resolutions you are going to make, (we’ll talk about that in a second) and some of you are trying to talk yourself into taking down the Christmas decorations.

The few days between Christmas and New Years Eve are definitely a time of transition. Back in August I released the theme for 2019, Jesus and the Spirit of Faith. In that post I mentioned that nine is the Hebrew letter TET which is goodness and is the picture of a funnel. This is the Hebrew year 5779. The Hebrew decade of 70 is AYIN which means to see. In 5779/2019 expect to see the goodness of God funneled into your life.

I also mentioned in that post that 2019 would be a year to hunger after the Word in a fresh way. The Bible is not just a book, the Bible is a person and His name is Jesus.

How can we prepare for the funnel of God’s goodness in 2019? Last night Holy Spirit began sharing some things for me to do in 2019 to receive all God has in store.

  1. Forget the resolution

We all know how it goes, you make a resolution and within three to eight weeks it’s things as usual and no lasting change happens. The truth is resolutions are made from our own thinking and in our own ability. I want to get healthier this year so I am going to (fill in the blank). I want to lose weight so I am going to (fill in the blank). Instead of making a resolution, set aside specific time for extended prayer before January second and ask the Lord what changes He wants you to make in 2019; write them down, ask for divine strategies on how to accomplish them and ask Holy Spirit to empower you to see them accomplished.

  1. Connect to the prophetic word

Earlier this year I talked about connecting to a prophet or prophets. If you are not connected with a prophet ask Holy Spirit to give you a connection. That connection does not mean you will know them personally or even live in the same area. Prophetic connection is first and foremost spiritual. When you connect to the prophet find the word for 2019; print it, pray over it and declare it every day. Don’t be passive with the prophetic word; walk it out, be obedient to directives and sow into the ministry that is prophesying into your life.

A word of caution on the prophetic. Don’t Google prophetic words for 2019. Different prophets carry different words. The body of Christ is large and each of us have a specific alignment and assignment in the Kingdom. We can only receive from and walk in a word that fits our individual alignment and assignment. When we overload ourselves with everything that is being said we don’t have clarity with what the Lord is saying for us and we can get confused in the direction we should go.

  1. Immerse yourself in the Word

I love the Bible app, I use it when I can’t find a verse I’m looking for, it’s a great tool in so many ways but if our Bible reading is just the verse of the day we are missing our food for the day.

Job 23:12 NLT “I have not departed from His commands, but have treasured His words more than daily food.” My prayer for myself and everyone who reads this blog is that in 2019 we see The Word as more needed in our lives than food. That sounds crazy at first but take the time to read Psalm 119 and you’ll see what Job is saying.

Read through the entire Bible in 2019. I am going to read it chronologically. Don’t stop there though, immerse yourself in the Scripture. The word immerse or immersed in the Webster’s 1828 dictionary is defined as “to plunge, to cover deep, to overwhelm, to involve, and to be deeply engaged.”

everyone has busy schedules, there is no denying that. But an ugly truth emerges in the midst of our business, we neglect Bible reading. Before you go into 2019 take an inventory of your time. In the midst of business, when do you make the time to watch what you DVR’d or watch Netflix? when do you make time to relax? Examine those moments during the day and take from them to make more time for reading and study. if after looking at your schedule you say, I just don’t have extra time, pray and ask Holy Spirit how you need to plan your day.

Apart from reading through the Bible (which is typically four to six chapters a day, depending on the plan), read Scripture. Read it continuously. In 2019 I will be continually reading through the gospels, Acts and the books of Moses along with reading the Bible all the way through.

As much as you may enjoy your Bible app, I encourage you to get a printed Bible to read in 2019. Yes, Bibles can be expensive but what better investment of your money than the Word of God? Hold it, turn the pages, learn the order of the books, write notes in the margin, highlight and underline words and verses that speak to you. Get a Strong’s Concordance for deeper study of what Holy Spirit is saying to you, so you can understand the depth from the Hebrew and Greek languages.

Fall in love with The Word in 2019. Read and re-read Psalm 119 monthly, read a Proverb each day. Be consumed with the Word of God – the person of Jesus!

Pray on New Year’s Eve, Lord let me love, let become consumed and impassioned by the Word. Let me see Jesus on every page. Let 2019 be the year my mind is renewed and my life is transformed by your Word.

  1. Be expectant and prayerful

If we don’t expect anything, we won’t receive anything. Mark 11 says we must believe we receive when we pray. Be a person of continual prayer in 2019. I believe 2019 will be a great year. I am excited about all that we will learn about Jesus and the Spirit of faith. I am excited about how each of us will walk by faith and be victorious. Get ready for goodness of God to be funneled into your life in ways you never could imagine in 2019!

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Don’t Forget Your Neighborhood

Go into all the world and preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations, these are probably some of the most familiar words to the Christian’s ears. We know these words under the banner of the great commission found in Matthew twenty eight. We know these words, we hear these words preached but what about the words of Acts 1:8?

Acts 1:8 NASB “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

I’ve been thinking about the Church lately and how we are able to reach the world in so many incredible ways. I’m not even talking about the big churches and ministries either, we all have an ability to have a wide reach through social media. Relatively unknown churches can have huge on line viewing numbers. As great as all this is, have we been so focused on all the world that many of us have forgotten our own neighborhoods? Have churches become so missions minded that we have forgotten our own cities and states?

I believe we should do everything we can to reach the entire world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each of us should support missions and ministries. That being said, each of us live in a neighborhood, attend church in a certain city and have several personal interactions on a daily basis at Starbucks, the grocery store, on your Target run or any other number of places. This is where we can be personally effective. When we build relationships it enables us to lead people to Jesus and most importantly disciple them.

The Church has been really good at making converts and church attendees but we haven’t majored in discipleship. We need to get to know people, invite them to church and cultivate a friendship with them. We need to grow together spiritually as local bodies of Christ.

I am so thankful for the emphasis on going into all the world. We need to keep doing that. Along with that though, maybe it’s time for a renewed focus on reaching the neighborhood we live in and the cities our churches are based in.  

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Saved, healed and delivered

So many times when we think of the Christian life or the purpose of the Church, we think in terms of getting saved and leading people to Jesus. That’s good and that is the entry point of Christianity but the purpose of being a Christian is not to just get our ticket punched for heaven.

Jesus quoted Isaiah 61 when He stood up to read in Luke 4:18-19 NASB “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed,19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

When Jesus gave the model prayer He instructed to pray your Kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. There is so much more to salvation than just Heaven. In fact the Greek word for salvation is SOZO which means saved, healed, delivered, made whole and preserved.

FAITH FOR HEALING

We have no doubt about God’s will concerning salvation but when it comes to healing, in the Church world we’ve come up with some reasons why God won’t heal. One of the main reasons we have come up with is sovereignty, we just can’t know the sovereign will of God about healing. Sometimes He does and other times He doesn’t. God may also be trying to teach us something or draw us closer to him through sickness. The problem with these beliefs is that we can’t find them in Scripture. Jesus healed all who came to Him and he repeatedly said, according to your faith, be it unto you.

Many Christians, myself included, have heard so much doubt, unbelief and negativity that our faith isn’t strong enough to receive from God. We can’t expect to receive healing when we are constantly speaking words contrary to healing or if when we hear a testimony our first thought is, I don’t believe that, that didn’t really happen.

Proverbs 6:2 says we are snared by the words of our mouth. Proverbs 18:21 in the New Living Translation says, “the tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences”.

If we are constantly speaking things contrary to life, health, prosperity and good relationships we will reap a negative harvest. 2 Corinthians 4:13 NASB “But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak,”  Whether we realize it or not we are speaking what we are expecting. Proverbs says, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. If we want to walk by faith, if we truly want to receive what God has for us we must speak words of positive faith.

BREAKING GENERATIONAL CURSES

Many of us have a hard time speaking words of faith because it has been taught against in the church and made fun of. The thing is, those people have what they say, they are dealing with negativity, lack and sickness because that is what they believe for. We will get into this more next year as I teach on faith but faith is not the absence of problems but the ability to get through them.

Many of us struggle with negativity and are in bondage to certain things though because it is a generational curse. When we get saved we are on our way to Heaven but unless we also break the curse it is still in operation in our lives. We confessed Jesus as Savior and Lord to be born again. Many of us though are still confessing negatively in every other area of our lives and that is why we need to break curses and receive deliverance.

When Jesus quoted Isaiah, He said, “to set free those who are oppressed”. Look at Acts 10:38 NASB “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”

RECEIVE MORE THAN A SAVIOR

We have looked at a couple of Scriptures today that show Jesus was about more than just our salvation. He’s about our healing and our freedom, we can add so many other things to that list as well. Today, I want to encourage you to receive more than just entry into heaven, pray the model prayer Jesus gave us. Ask for Kingdom here and God’s will in your life now. God’s Word is His will. Every promise in the Word is for us today. the moving of the Spirit is for today.

Matthew 6:33 AMPC “But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.” Jesus wants more for you than just Heaven for eternity, He wants you to experience God’s goodness now. We won’t need healing and deliverance in Heaven, that’s why Jesus’ death provided them, because we need them now.

search out the Scripture, discover the full meaning of Salvation. Find the promises of God for your need from Genesis to revelation. Don’t let the devil steal your promise from you. If God said it you can have it but it is up to us to use our faith and receive it.

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Step into a new place of maturity

Yesterday the Lord began speaking a word that I believe is for anyone in the body with ears to hear. There has been division in the body lately; denominations, theologies, emphasis, etc. but I heard the Lord say, “for those willing to enter a new level of maturity I will show how their stream connects with others. I will show individuals how they can receive and progress forward in revival in discipleship by reading books from other theological perspectives.”

It is important to know which stream God has us in, when the Lord gave me this word I also heard him encourage me and I believe will encourage others that as we step into this new place of maturity we will be able to receive from voices and teachings that used to trip us up.

Ephesians 4:11-16 NASB “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 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. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

I believe those who are willing to step into a new level of maturity and begin receiving from different streams will see a great wave of revival, healing and deliverance in their circles and in their churches. The days of secondary distinctives are coming to an end for those who want to be part of the next move of God.

If your heart is for revival and discipleship, ask the Lord to begin a maturing process in your spirit and to begin to lead you in receiving from different streams. Listen carefully for the Lord to begin to direct you to specific books or teachings. Part of this maturity is understanding God is not calling you to leave your stream or discard the anointing and call He has given you but allow that call to be furthered and the anointing strengthened by receiving from others in this next season.

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2019: Jesus! And The Spirit of Faith!

I know you may be looking at the title and saying to yourself, ‘it’s only mid August and he is already posting the word for 2019?’ Yes, I’m posting it early and this post will explain why. If you follow the blog you know I haven’t posted regularly this year, I can already tell you that will be different in 2019. 2018 was a year, the Hebrew year 5778 was a year to revisit firsts and walk through new doors. For me it was also a year to focus on Jesus. Many of us have felt delayed this year but the year isn’t over yet. Prophets have been saying over the last couple of months that things are beginning to accelerate. This post is proof of that. Before we get into the word for 2019, I do want to say that 2018 isn’t over yet and if there are things you haven’t received stay on your faith, we still have four months to go and now is not the time to give up.

The Lord usually gives me a theme or word for the year in October but on July 25th (Christmas in July), the Father woke me up and said, I have a present for you. I am giving you the word for 2019 today. Needless today, I was shocked. So the day I normally focus on Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel became about hearing and writing down the word and beginning to process it. I still assumed I would post it in October but after hearing words from two prophets I knew I needed to post it earlier.

This is the word the Father gave me. “2019 will be a continuation of the word for this year. You will continue seeing and seeking Jesus in 2019. Double your time learning and being with Him. 2019 is a year to get back up on your faith. You faced a lot of distractions this year. You pretty much spent half of the year distracted. I am giving grace and extending your doors and adding that to 19. It’s another Jesus year, it’s the year of faith.”

Before we continue, you may have noticed I said the Lord usually gives me and when I wrote the word I said this is what the Father gave me. Normally, I get the word from Jesus but this year it came from the Father and a conversation followed the paragraph you read. We won’t get into this today but we can and should talk with all the members of the trinity not just the one. Anyway, I knew there was something specific about why I was hearing from the Father and not Jesus.

As 2019 gets closer we will dive more into this word but today will mostly be background and the word itself. I am a huge Christmas fanatic, it is my favorite holiday, I love everything about it. I enjoy Christmas so much I want to have a Christmas room in my house one day (crazy? Maybe. Awesome? Absolutely). It is my absolute love of the Christmas season I think the Father came to me on Christmas in July. I also knew that with what I was hearing from the two prophets I follow that this word to me was also a word for others.

After the initial paragraph Father told me to take my Hebrew book and look up the letter with the value of nine. The Hebrew letter TET has the value of nine and means goodness and the opening of the funnel. There are three dimensions of goodness in the Hebrew:

1. In the presence of God we bring our best gifts and rejoice.
2. God judges and gives us the next set of circumstances designed to best help us on our path.
3. We develop the understanding of our heart.

He then said search out what faith is and how to apply it.

I don’t necessarily think this word will click for everyone but if you’re reading this and it does, start today. I believe because of the words about acceleration this needed to be posted now and not late fall. I believe God is allowing such a flow from 2018 into 2019 that words are just coming together. In September we enter the last 70 decade, the decade of seeing, this is amazing. I believe we are in a time of seeing the Holy Spirit restore the Word and the moving of His Spirit to the Church.

This word, Jesus and The Spirit of Faith points to two things; Jesus, the Word and the Spirit of faith, seeing the Holy Spirit move and bring manifestation of what each of us has been believing for.

2 Corinthians 4:13 MEV “We have the same spirit of faith. As it is written, “I believed, and therefore I have spoken.” So we also believe and therefore speak,”

Jesus 2018 was and is the preparation for Jesus and the spirit of faith in 2019. I know I haven’t done any in depth teaching on Jesus, I think if you grabbed hold of the word for this year that Jesus had something specific for each of us in mind which is why none of the post were directed towards that. Looking to 2019 and even 5779 in a few weeks, whatever you saw about Jesus this year has prepared you to walk in a new level of faith next year!

Romans 10:17 says faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word. I heard a minster say that faith comes by hearing not having heard. Jesus is The Word. As much as 2018 has been about becoming closer with Jesus it has been about becoming more aligned with the Word. This leads us back to the conversation I had with Father.

“Become a full fledged Word person in 2019! Jesus! And the spirit of faith! Ask for specific books to dive deep into. 2019 and even now is as about faith becoming second nature to you.”

That was the last sentence of the word. I want to close out this post by looking at faith and what it means for faith to become second nature.

The best definition of faith is Hebrews 11:1 AMPC “NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not yet revealed to the senses].

Faith, (assurance, proof and reality) must become second nature to us. For something to be second nature means a characteristic or habit in someone that appears to be instinctive because that person has behaved in a particular way so often. Abraham, in Romans four was not moved by anything, he stood strong in faith. Take some time and read Romans four. How do we develop that find of faith? By the Word, be meditating on the Word (Joshua 1:8).

I am looking forward to personally diving into faith in 2019 and being able to share with y’all and having conversations that build our faith and encourage one another. Faith is only faith if it carries us through delays and hard times. 2019 will be a year of developing strong faith.

Look at the word in full:

“2019 will be a continuation of seeing and seeking Jesus in 2019. Double your time learning and being with Him. 2019 is a year to get back up on your faith. You faced a lot of distractions this year. You pretty much spent half of the year distracted. I am giving grace and extending your doors and adding that to 19. It’s another Jesus year, it’s the year of faith.

The Hebrew letter TET has the value of nine and means goodness and the opening of the funnel. There are three dimensions of goodness in the Hebrew:

1. In the presence of God we bring our best gifts and rejoice.
2. God judges and gives us the next set of circumstances designed to best help us on our path.
3. We develop the understanding of our heart.

Search out what faith is and how to apply it.

Become a full fledged Word person in 2019! Jesus! And the spirit of faith! Ask for specific books to dive deep into. 2019 and even now is as about faith becoming second nature to you.”

2019 and even now, take what you have learned from Jesus this year and get started on your faith.

Here are some things I have started doing since July 25th to help get my faith in gear:

1. I am continuing to read the gospels so I am constantly thinking about how Jesus walked.
2. Look up Scriptures pertaining to things you want to see in 2019. If you want to see a loved one or friend saved, look up Scriptures on salvation. Wether you’re believing for family restoration, freedom, a better job, healing, increased finances, whatever it may be find the Word on it.
3. Pastor Keith Moore’s series, “True Faith” has been an absolute eye opener on what true faith is. How do you walk in faith, some of what we call faith is just pretend, how to stay in faith and more. This series is a must listen. I have already listened to it multiple times and will continue to help keep me on track.
4. Pastor George Pearsons and Gloria Copeland did a series called “Bulldog Faith” where Pastor George talks about a time in his life when he got off his faith and how the Lord instructed him on how to stay in fath. If you have been discouraged about something this is a series for you.

* The Inner Meaning of the Hebrew Letters: Robert M. Haralick

** Both series can be found on YouTube as well

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From Revival to Discipleship

The last few weeks the Lord has been talking to me about my desire and my prayer for this generation and the next. I have said the last several years that I am a person about revival, I want to pastor a people of revival. The Lord began to speak to me and say you are not a person of revival, you are a person of discipleship.

To be clear, I love revival, revival is necessary at times and revival is biblical. What the Lord showed me though was, revival without discipleship will not produce lasting fruit. Revival has the root of revive. Revive means to restore to life or consciousness, to give new strength or energy to, and to restore interest in or the popularity of.

revival is necessary, but if we are constantly needing to be brought back to life or to be given new strength every week, or need our interest restored in the things of God we are missing it somewhere. this is when we need to go from revival to discipleship.

We can all hit dry times, miss some days of bible reading and things like that, but that is not fixed through revival it is fixed through discipleship.

To be a disciple or be discipled means that we are a follower of Jesus, one who follows His Word and lives how he lived. When we become a people of the Word, when we study the life of Jesus, when we study the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament we learn what we are to live as, we discover who we are in Christ and we discover the path to victory laid out in Scripture.

There are always needs and times of refreshing, but to try to live from a place of revival instead of the place of daily following Jesus, is to miss the beauty of the Christian life. Revival is wonderful but revival achieves its purpose when it leads to discipleship. A daily time of prayer, worship, reading and a deep study of the Word. Reading Scripture is great, we are changed when we study it and allow its truth to take deep root in our hearts and spirits.

Ephesians 4:21-24 NASB “if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”

Romans 12:2 AMPC “Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].”

I love revival and moves of God. I love great worship services. Let passionate worship cause you to pursue the person of Jesus. From Genesis to Revelation the Word reveals Jesus because the Word is not a book it’s a person.

John 1:1-5 NLT “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

If you have been a person of passionate worship, don’t lose your worship ask Holy Spirit to add to worship and unending hunger for the Word of God. If you are passionate in prayer, begin praying passages of Scripture. If you long for signs, wonders and miracles, remember the foundation of those things I’d the Word of God.

I am a very passionate person, I love the passion my generation walks in. I am someone who is quick to follow where I see God moving. I’ve also learned I have to be careful. The river of God is made up of many streams and just because God is moving in amazing ways in one stream does not mean I am supposed to be over there. Unity in the body of Christ does not mean we all do everything. True unity is me operating in my call and gifting so and celebrating the guy next to me who is doing something completely different.

The disciples came to Jesus one day and said that a group of people were baptizing but they didn’t walk with them. Jesus’s response was let them baptize, if they aren’t against us, they are with us.

Regardless of what stream you are in. Whatever your passion and call is, make the Word the foundation of your life and what you do. When revival happens, praise God and flow in it but move into discipleship at the right time.

There have been many discussions and books written about why particular revivals died, stopped, or gradually dissipated over time. I believe the answer in a nutshell is that those revivals became about the revival and not about discipleship. Many revivals have in turn lead schools of revival, when really we need to lead schools of discipleship.

The Apostles didn’t go spread the fire of Pentecost, they spread the gospel and made disciples. Love the move of the Spirit and remember the Spirit was given to us to help make disciples.

If we put Mathew 28 and Mark 16 together, we make disciples through teaching and that leads to new tongues, laying hands on the sick, and casting out devils.

Today’s ask for a new desire for the Word of God and to hear the Word taught, ask for a hunger. Spend time in places like Psalm 119 and Proverbs three and four. Develop hunger by reading the portions of Scripture that talk about its power and promise.

I do pray that you are revived today if you need it and I pray that the reviving will lead you to the Word so that you can be sustained and begin to grow. Become a healthy believer with a steady diet of the Word.

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Theowhat?

I’m sitting in a coffee shop with a mocha and a water, staring at this screen with my heart full about what I want to write today but I cannot come up with a good opening to capture your attention. I’ve been a Charismatic Christian all my life. I believe God still speaks today, in healing, prophecy, even unusual feelings such as goosebumps, falling down, etc.

With this wonderful introduction I am just going to state what’s been on my mind the last few days concerning my tribe in the body of Christ. I think many in the charismatic, prophetic, healing and such streams have become focused on experience to the point we have a lesser focus on Scripture and making sure our experiences are theologically sound.

I am all about experiences, I believe in experiencing God but I have watched some services lately that have had little Bible teaching in them. There has been round about talk from Scripture but no direct teaching. On the other side of this coin there is much Scriptural teaching on all that God will give you but little emphasis on magnifying God in our hearts, daily worship of Him, and the importance of delighting in God for God Himself.

Charismatics tend to dismiss theology, saying just focus on Jesus. But if your understanding of Jesus is simply based from experiences at events and not firmly based in Scripture, the “Jesus theology” you have may not be biblical.

The New Testament warns us about false teaching, false prophets, and other wrong interpretations of Scripture. While we like to focus on our experience and experience is good our first priority must be the Word of God, the Bible.

Theology is good! Let me say it again, theology is good. A right and thorough study of Scripture is important, it is the thing that will keep us from false experiences. The devil comes as an angel of light to be able to deceive. That deception will be easy if your relationship with the text of Scripture is shallow.

We know that Jesus is the Word made flesh, that should mean the written Bible is of utmost importance to us. If you see theology as dead and dry it isn’t. Men like Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards reached thousands in one service in the days before technology and social media. Those men walked in power that our generation hasn’t touched. Charles Finney who is known for theology and lectures would walk by people and they would cry out in repentance. When was the last time one of us had that happen?

Reading theology, old books, and even old sermons have the ability to draw us closer to God unlike the books of our day. With all due respect to our generations, books of old carry more of a weight and honor of God than the vast majority of our books. The books of old and book today written in that same manner go to the deep places of the Bible.

Encouragement is important but so is challenging ourselves and searching out the deep things of Scripture. It is just on my heart this week to encourage us all to go deeper in our relationship with God. Go deeper in knowing the person of Jesus. Get a book of sermons by Charles Spurgeon or Jonathan Edwards. Ask Holy Spirit to take you to deeper places in the Word. A experience of feelings is wonderful but nothing compares to the deep study of the Word of God. Scripture can touch the believer deeper than any feeling in a worship experience.

Understand, I’m not against experience, we just need to be based in the Word not experience. When we have a solid Biblical foundation, alarm bells will go off when we read a book that doesn’t line up with the Bible. Jesus is first experienced in the depth of His Word. Take time today to read Psalm 119. It’s the longest chapter in the Bible and it’s all about the Bible. The Word of God is eternal and will change our lives. A deep understanding and study of the Word (theology) will lead to a fuller, deeper and more stable experience.

Challenge yourself this year to read a deep book, don’t go fast with it, read it slowly, study it, read it with your Bible. Go deeper in God by going deeper in His Word.

Soon, I will be starting a series called Jesus Series 2018. In this series we will be looking at the theology in the life of Jesus. I believe it will give each of us a deeper love and understanding of our savior.

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Walking with Jesus

It’s a funny thing being a Christian. You get saved and you start this journey of living like Jesus. The Bible calls this being a disciple but it seems as time goes on we tend to forget Jesus. I know we would say that’s not true but if we’re honest at one time or another all of us would have to admit that we’ve fallen into the trap of just going through the motions. We do our checklist: go to church, pray, read the Bible and maybe a few other things.

Martin Luther once said “Everyday we need to be reminded of the gospel because everyday we forget it.”

Matthew 13:52 NLT “Then he added, “Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.“”

As Christians we can develop a mindset that the gospel is basic, it’s the beginning and once we grow a little that the birth, death and resurrection is just something we know. When it comes to our daily walk with Jesus, the life of Jesus and the major events of incarnation (the birth of Jesus), His death and resurrection need to continually be a source of meditation and comfort.

When we read the words, new gems of truth as well as old, there are multiple meanings we can see there. Old and New Testaments, Jewish roots and in Christ realities, reformed theology and charismatic renewal, and on and on this list could go.

As we walk with Jesus we need to pray that we don’t just see black and red words on white paper but that the words we read become alive to us.

John 1:1-5, 14 NLT “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not understood it. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”

When we grab a hold of the truth in that passage our Bible reading will never be the same. Our relationship with Jesus will never be the same.

God is so vast, Jesus is so vast that no matter how many years you have read and studied the Bible there is always more to learn. When we are firmly planted in Truth – God’s Word – our growth will never get off the right path. There are new things to learn and those new things will always line up with Scripture.

An everyday relationship with Jesus will connect things that we have been taught don’t go together. I have really been seeing that the last few days in my own walk with Jesus. We have to be willing to get out of our natural minds and see the unity in the spirit.

We all find ourselves at times going through the motions. We find ourselves reading and not getting anything out of it. We find ourselves praying and feeling like our prayers are hitting the ceiling.

Take a moment today and pray the two passages of Scripture I mentioned. Pray that how your relationship with God started will be connected to your present and that joy would rise in your heart. Pray that it would no longer be words on paper but you would receive life when you read the Bible.

One of the keys to getting out of a spiritual slump is to not give up. Go revisit the gospels and Paul’s letters again. Pray that as you read it would be life and encouragement. Ask and receive understanding and strength.

An everyday relationship with Jesus will have ups and downs. The important thing is we don’t give up in down times and in good times we still move forward with tenacity.

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Growing on Your Path

It has been a couple of months since I have posted but that has not been due to a lack of things to talk about. Since beginning #Jesus2018 it has been an everyday thing to hear and receive and as a result grow and gain revelation for my path, especially in the last four or five weeks. This is not going to be a post on what I have been hearing but my thoughts and observations of how we typically hinder our own growth and how to move forward.

One of the things Holy Spirit has been using to teach me lately is how the Hebrews moved in the wilderness, they moved when the cloud or pillar moved – they remained mobile. We need to do the same thing in our relationship with the Lord. Another thing I have seen is following in new obedience and going on a new path. One time Moses was told to strike a rock, the next time he was told to speak to it. Moses chose not to speak but to strike the rock as before and because of that decision Moses did not enter the promise land (Deuteronomy 20:11-12). Moses tried to operate in this season with last seasons word. As Christians part of our growth is changing seasons. Many times when the Lord begins to do something new in our lives it is easier to run to something comfortable, to the last revelation we received.

This has been a hard thing in my own walk with Father. Last season is so comfortable, an initial revelation or understanding is comfortable but a deeper understanding is unknown and at times scary. This is what has been revealed and is still being revealed to me. A few weeks ago Holy Spirit showed me that I was in a stream I was comfortable with but it wasn’t my stream. A message from Benny Hinn that was on YouTube confirmed this. As the weeks progressed I was also shown that the different streams I have been a part of formed the river that flowed out of me. A few days ago as I was catching up on some shows I heard the Lord say, Casey, it’s not healing that you are called to but deliverance and healing will be part of that.

In these last weeks the Lord has been making it clear who I am! Not what is comfortable, not what is easy, but WHO I AM! And I believe that is a word for many in the body and that has been confirmed through words from Chuck Pierce and Lana Vawser. We are in a season of finding our identity.

I have seen my foundation as who I am but you build on a foundation. My passion has always been for a continual revival and I am gifted and trained in the ministry of deliverance. These things are streams in me that make up the river. This has been growth. I have always heard and talked about the stream and BAM! A few days ago Holy Spirit says, let the streams in you make your river.

I discovered that I was trying to fit a mold, multiple molds actually – We have to stop! Jesus made each of us different for a reason, He used no mold. Denominations, movements, associations, they are to be vehicles not molds. Each car manufacture makes many different models under the same name, this is how we need to view the body of Christ. So many times we are running a race against each other, all trying to one-up the other and appear more spiritual and have the latest revelation. We are running the same race, we are a team, not competitors.

I am going to start posting on a regular basis again but I know these first two months have been important for me to become who I am and many people I walk this journey with are saying the same thing for themselves. Many are facing battles, keep your eyes on Jesus! Allow not only a shift but a complete new beginning in this year of 8! Get away with the Lord and ask for your identity to be revealed. As we are in this season of Passover and resurrection draw nearer to Jesus and see Him, hear Him and know Him in a new way.

I am praying that each of us grow beyond anywhere we have ever been and more than we could dream. I pray that each of us be willing to throw off old seasons and old identities. The Lord would urge you now to let go of past hurt and rejection, throw off bitterness and embrace the new identity He has for you. We are close to the beginning of this years feast cycle, take advantage of this time, draw close, Hear Father’s heart for you and receive your new identity.

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Jesus 2018

This has always been my favorite picture of Jesus

It may sound funny declaring 2018 the year of Jesus (and no, this has nothing to do with the rapture) because everything is about Jesus after all. That’s the thing, everything is so all about Jesus that it’s not. I have become so accustom to Jesus, He’s not Jesus anymore.

We’ve read (I’ve read) the stories so much, I’ve become so used to them that I catch myself many times skimming and not reading. Every year around October I pray and ask the Lord for a “theme” for the next year. He spoke quickly, 2018 is the year of Jesus, a year to get to know me, personally, who I am, what I’m like, the point behind my miracles, get to know my Jewishness, get to know me through other traditions. As funny as it sounded I knew 2018 was the year of Jesus for me.

I’m the type of person that I get tunnel vision easily, the Lord can speak and I focus on that one thing. When it comes to Jesus, I know that I am called to read, study, understand and teach from a Hebrew (Jewish) perspective but yet in 2018 I will be looking at Jesus from many angles including the catholic view of communion and prayer. This is something the Lord has been slowly moving me towards for a year, being able to see Jesus through many different perspectives. No Christian group has everything about Jesus down, we’ve missed the biggest part by divorcing Jesus from His Jewishness. Anyway, as I have prayed and talked with the Lord these last few months I have been asking for fresh insight, a reintroduction to Jesus if you will.

Ephesians is my favorite of Paul’s letters, yet in Revelation it is the Church at Ephesus that is told that it had left her first love. Paul hardly issues any corrections in Ephesians, they are a model church. Now I wouldn’t say I left my first love, it’s not something Holy Spirit has said I’ve done but I have let Jesus, I have let the stories become usual to me. My prayer during these last few months has been that 2018 will be a year that I fall back in love with Jesus, that the joy of my salvation will be restored.

As part of the year of Jesus, I will also be reading one biography a month of a minister that has had a great relationship with the Lord and an outstanding ministry. I will continually read Isaiah, Proverbs, the Gospels and the Books of Moses all year.

the Hebrew year 5778 is the year of the door, it is the year of new beginnings, wisdom (thus reading Proverbs continually) and financial prosperity. 2017 for me has been very much about preparation, going through the most rewarding, yet the most warring season I’ve been in. Jesus is the door of salvation, we now that, but He is so much more and 2018 is a year that I will be discovering Jesus all over again. If this interests you, join me on the path of rediscovering Jesus in 2018. I will be posting here throughout the year, but much will be posted on Instagram and Twitter as well, so if you don’t already follow me go ahead and join me on the journey there.

I am looking forward to an amazing year of knowing Jesus better.     

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The Lost Key of Personal Growth

In today’s society of microwave mentality and (the new and improved) 280 characters or less Twitter world, many of us have lost the ability to read anything longer than one page long. As much as we have access to in this digital age, if we are honest with ourselves we would say most have become lazy, lies on all sides of media, group think, and lives of running around like a chicken with our heads cut off have robbed us of personal growth.

I am a firm believer in reading books. Even though e-books have become popular I still believe it is more beneficial to hold the book in your hand and have a pen in the other to make annotations. It is necessary in our day to encourage us to become readers again and specifically readers of three types of books; books that encourage us, books that cause us to think deeply and biographies.  

Many people are able to read for pure enjoyment or as an escape of reality, there is nothing wrong with that but along with that, if we want to grow personally, if we want to learn, if we want to become better people we will read good books, books that make us better people.

Most of my reading as you can imagine centers around books on the Bible and theology. While I believe it is important for all believers to read these type of things from time to time, if you are not a minister, things that make you think deeply may be a book written by someone who has a different political opinion that you, or a book on psychology. if you have an interest in science or another field of study read those kind of books to help stimulate your thinking.

Biographies are amazing, we can read the good and bad in peoples’ lives. Reading biographies of great leaders also fit within the bounds of encouraging reading. I have found biographies to be inspiring, challenging and some are even very entertaining. Start with a historical figure you admire, and then move on to a biography of someone in your field that has accomplished great things.

If you are not a reader start by reading a book a quarter and as you become accustomed to reading move that up to a book a month. Once you have done this for a while you will develop an appetite for reading. You may even find yourself reading multiple books at a time. Next year I will read one biography a month along with whatever other reading I find myself doing. As you get in the habit of reading, make a list of books you want to read and maybe even the order you would like to read them. it can also be beneficial to set aside an extended period of time just to read books on a certain subject.

Even when you read for information you can find it to be relaxing. Why don’t you make an early new year’s resolution, whatever fits you, to read, whether it be a book every two or three months, or a book a month. Do yourself a favor in 2018 become a better person, become a more knowledgeable person, become better informed on things that interest you by reading more books.

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Reformed and Always Reforming

October 31, 2017 is the 500th anniversary of what’s known as the Protestant reformation. I thought about doing a series of posts on the history and the theology that developed from the reformation but I will leave that to Ligonier and Desiring God. Instead I want to focus on why the reformation still matters, my connection with the theology, how certain things from its beginning need to be corrected and how we can walk in the spirit of the reformation today.

WHY THE REFORMATION STILL MATTERS:

Martin Luther and his 95 Theses are known as the catalyst of the reformation. The interesting thing is Luther wasn’t looking to start a new church, just reform the Catholic Church. When that didn’t go as Luther planned things progressed from there. Luther ignited a Biblical resurgence that was later carried by John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, and my personal favorite, Charles Haddon Spurgeon and many others. I know many probably don’t read thick theological books or listen to theologically oriented sermons but we cannot have the practical without doctrine being established first and that is why the reformation still matters. Even if your church is Arminian/Wesleyan you still owe gratitude to Luther because without him, we would all still be in a system which base is not the Word of God but man-made extras. Yes, we have gotten off in areas as well, which we will address latter. There is no denying that through that point in history and the resurgence of the new Calvinism we began seeing in the early 2000’s hasn’t helped realign the Church doctrinally. I know the Church of today is all about practicality but if you don’t know and understand doctrine you will not know how to practically apply the Bible. You may not dive deep into the thick books but there are easy reads out there to help any level of study.

MY INTRODUCTION TO AND JOURNEY IN REFORMED THEOLOGY

My journey in reformed theology also known as Calvinism began in 2008. It actually began a little before that but I didn’t know it at the time. I had been listening to a radio broadcast from Pastor Steve Solomon since probably around the age of twelve. When I started driving I would go to his service on Saturday night then my church on Sunday mornings. in 2008 he started a series called Romans 8 in 2008. By late February of that year Riverwalk Fellowship became my home church. As Pastor Steve taught through Romans eight he mentioned two books; God’s Passion for His Glory by John Piper and The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards. I got both books from the church bookstore and that was the beginning of my discovery of Calvinism. This lead to reading more books by John Piper and Charles Spurgeon and listening to Mark Driscoll and Dr. James White. I began following The Gospel Coalition and its writers. Pastor Steve gave me Charles Hodge’s three volume Systematic Theology and for the three years I was at Riverwalk I dove head first into Calvinism. I left Riverwalk to move to Houston which lead me down a path of joining the Nazarene Church and studying Wesleyanism for three years. You may be wondering how I could go from a solid three years of Calvinism to the opposite view, my answer, the sovereign plan of God to expose me to both understandings. It is interesting that one of John Wesley’s closest ministry friends was a Calvinist. Jacob Arminius said Calvin had written the best Bible commentary. We can allow ourselves to become so easily divided. John Wesley said if it wasn’t for the belief in predestination he would be a Calvinist. There are parts of both theologies I agree with but when it comes to Christian beliefs I am Calvinist in theology and Word of Faith in practical application. These two things seem opposed to many but I have come to understand that the truth of God’s word is not relegated to one group. We all understand in part and we need each other. I got away from theology for more practical application in the last few years but recently the Lord called me back to refresh myself in my theological foundations so I am revisiting those first books recommended by Pastor Steve.

CORRECTING SOME ERRORS:

Martin Luther and some other reformers should be honored for how they helped move the Church forward but we should not celebrate them because they have also hurt the Church as much as helped it. Later in life Martin Luther became vehemently anti-Semitic which is a problem. We have a Bible because of the Jews, our savior is Jewish and while we are not called to be Jewish, Paul wrote in Romans nine through eleven that we should not forget we have been grafted in to a Jewish root and the root supports the branches. If you have read this blog for a period of time you know that I embrace a Hebrew understanding of the Bible and I love Israel. All of us can make mistakes in our beliefs, hating the Jewish people was one of Martin Luther’s and it spread throughout Church history but in our day we are seeing a number of believers begin to love Israel and the Jewish people again and for that I say praise God.

Many of  the early reformers were not known for embracing the move of the Spirit but what has been termed the “new Calvinism” has. Pastors and teachers such as John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Sam Storms and Mark Driscoll have been able to open up many in Reformed churches to the gifts and ministry of the Holy Spirit. My prayer is that as time goes on many who hold to Calvinist theology will also see the truth in Word of Faith teachings as well.

WALKING IN THE REFORMATION TODAY:

While the reformation did give rise to a specific theology it must be that and more to us today. The reformation happened because things in that day needed to come back into focus, just as things in our day and in the past have needed to become re-centered on Biblical Truth. We have a tendency in the Church world to disregard the last move with each new move, that’s why a reformation becomes necessary. As we continue to get new light on the teaching of Scripture let us remember we cannot build anew if we get rid of the foundation.            

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Love: A breakdown of 1 John 4:9 – 5:21

Instead of writing a full blown post on God’s love and us loving others, I decided to let a particular passage, 1 John 4:9 – 5:21 (NIV) speak for itself, with a few thoughts from me.

 This is how God showed his love among us:

A –  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

[Because of salvation we have the ability to live as Jesus did through the power of the Holy Spirit. We may mess up from time to time but forgiveness is there and strength to keep going].

B – 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

C – 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

D – 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

E – 19 We love because he first loved us.

F –20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command:

G – Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.

H – This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.

I – In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

J – This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.

K – For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.

L – We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.

M – 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.

N – 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

O –12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

P –13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Q –14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

R –15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

S – 16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

T – 18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.

U –19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

V – 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true.

W -And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

X –21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

[anything we put before God is an idol. Whatever we put first, whatever we think most about, that is the god of our life. If we set aside devotional time or prayer time for something else, that thing is an idol].

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Studying a book of the Bible

Using A Study Bible

The most broad, yet rewarding way to study the Bible for me is to study a book. if you are going to study a book I recommend using a Ryrie Study bible to assist you. The Ryrie Bible includes all necessary information for a book study including; Author, date, outline and timeline. each book is broken up into parts and sub-parts which makes book study easier. The Ryrie also contains comments on most verses in the Bible. With much of the work for a book study already done, you will have more time to devote to study itself.

What to Look for

When studying a book of the Bible it is important to make note of key words and themes throughout the book. Studying is not a quick thing, nor is it meant to be done in a day, take your time and absorb the message of the book.  

What to use

  • Study Bible
  • Notebook specifically for the purpose of your study
  • Concordance (to look up words and find definitions). the Strong’s Concordance has an edition for most Bible translations.

Tips for Study

Start with a small book first, they are easier to study and can be completed in a reasonable amount of time which can give you a sense of accomplishment before you begin with longer books. James and First Thessalonians are short books that do not have much deep theology so i would start here before attempting a study on the book of Ephesians.

Always pray before you get started and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you the truth in the book you are studying and how to apply it to your life. The life Application Study Bible is also helpful in this area.

I do recommend both the Ryrie and Life Application Bibles because they have two different purposes and have proven immensely helpful in my own studies. I use my primary Bible and these two as a help when I need an outline or practical application of a verse or verses. You can never have too many tools when it comes to helping you study the Bible.

How to Study    

Read the book through once.

Identify main themes as you read through the second time (This will take several days for longer books). Underline or circle key words.

Pick a key verse in each chapter.

Summarize each chapter in your own words and write a paragraph on how it applies to your everyday life.

Write a positive confession based on the theme of the book.

Write out a prayer based from the theme of the book. (Some books have prayers in them you may want to adapt for your life.)

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Benefits of Bible Study

Many of us, no doubt as we sit and read our Bibles each day desire to find deeper meaning in what we read. I’m sure, like me, you have sat and wondered how exactly does this apply to my life? My desire is to answer that question as we discuss different methods of Bible study.

When it comes to our daily reading most of us will read a chapter or go through a plan on our Bible app and that’s great but when we take the time to study the Bible we see the depth of it and learn how it applies to our everyday life.

Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek God’s kingdom first and everything we need will be added to us. The word seek in the Hebrew means to research and study. When we research and study the Scriptures we learn how to apply them and walk in the benefits and blessings promised in them.

God’s will for us is to be blessed in every area of our life; to have good friendships, a good family life and to be happy, healthy and whole. The Primary reason to study of course is to develop our relationship with God and become closer to Him but as we get close to God He wants to bless us. Remember Jesus saying, if you know how to give good gifts, doesn’t it stand to reason my Father gives great gifts, (my paraphrase). We will not walk in blessing if we don’t see it as God’s heart for us to be blessed. Studying the Bible brings not just spiritual blessing but mental, physical and financial blessing as well and those are just as much benefits as spiritual growth and God does not want us to shy away from that.

Studying the Bible brings success

Joshua 1:7-8 NLT “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this book of instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”  

God intends for each of us to fulfill our God given purposes and each of us have a great purpose to fulfill. Everyone is important, everyone has a purpose and god’s plan is for everyone to succeed but a key to succeeding is spending time Studying the Bible.

Studying the Bible brings about a good life and health to our bodies

Proverbs 3:1-2 NIV “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.”

Proverbs 4:20-22 KJV “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. 21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. 22 For they are life unto those that find them and health to all their flesh.”

The first promise of healing and health came when the Israelite’s left Egypt. God said, I am the Lord who heals you. In order to walk in the promise of health we need to know what the Word says. We know what the Word says by studying it. We often quote that the truth shall set you free but the verse actually says, you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. To know truth means to own it and apply it. We can only own and apply what we know and that knowing comes through study.

A closing thought

Psalm 119:9-11 NIV “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hid your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

We learn the word, we gain victory through the word by studying it, the Amplified Bible says conforming our life to it. As much as I believe in reading, we can’t conform our life to something we have read but something we have studied and as earlier Scripture pointed out studying and meditating has to be a daily thing. In the beginning your daily study may only be fifteen minutes and that is great. You eat an elephant one bite at a time. As you look at different study methods start with an easy, short book, start with an interesting character or a favorite subject. It’s important to build up to the longer books and the deeper subjects.  

Check the recommended reading page for Bible study materials. If you don’t have a study Bible my first recommendation would be the Life Application Study Bible because of all the practical helps. As you look at the different study methods don’t rush through your book, chapter, or character study. Bible study is meant to go more in depth than your reading, allow it to go slow in the beginning and enjoy the learning process. The more efficient you become with different methods the quicker you will be able to spot the different key things in each.

I believe studying the Bible can be and is a very rewarding experience, you just have to find your niche and that’s what I want to help you do.

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Living Your Passion

Blog notes on LaptopEach of us have something in life we are passionate about, something we can talk about 24/7. That is the thing God has called us to. While it may not be our full time job, that thing is most likely our Kingdom purpose. If you’re a sports fanatic, use that passion to coach or assist in a youth league. In that environment you can be a father figure to a kid who doesn’t have one and make a lasting impact on his/her life.  

Being a follower of Jesus and being a part of a local fellowship is not about us packing out our building but changing the lives of those in our community be getting involved or starting a food bank, helping out the schools without pushing our church. If we serve well those in the community will take notice.

Whatever your passion is, I want to challenge each one of us to ask God how we can use that passion for a Kingdom purpose. Too many times we over involve ourselves, become over committed, and do so much we really don’t accomplish anything. Each of us needs to find that ONE THING we are most passionate about and pursue it. There may be a couple of other areas you are passionate about as well but I believe you will find that everything else stems from that ONE THING.

Take some time today, this week, this month and ask God to help you discover your passion and show you how to live it for Kingdom purpose.

When you find that passion, get some books that will help equip you to live it out, start an outreach in your church or get involved with a community organization. When we live out our passion, we change our community and our world, one person at a time.

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