I Am Convicted

I am convicted by my previous post “The True Giver”. The thoughts in my mind about poverty and wealth are wrestling against each other. Is poverty and wealth individually what we understand them to be? Is poverty bad according to the wealthy? Is wealth good according to those in poverty? As we all know, wealth has its downsides as well as its benefits. Jesus says in Mark 10:25,

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Can we take these words literally? I think we have to. But also I believe it is deeper than what is literal. Again, as shown in my previous post, value is not put on an amount given, but it is the heart behind the giving that determines the valuation.

I still struggle with wanting certain things that I don’t need, such as a motorcycle. I want to be able to buy the house my beautiful wife deserves. I want my son to be blessed with things that I wasn’t able to have growing up because I was raised by a single mother who had to work hard to raise two boys essentially by herself, and couldn’t afford to get us what we wanted all the time. (That is by no means a complaint on my upbringing. My mother gave me the most valuable thing a parent can give their children… prayer.) I’m sure most other people can connect with what I’m saying on a personal level.

However, though I want these things for me and my family, I can’t lie and say that my heart does not have conviction and want to do as Jesus has commanded, sell everything and give to the poor. Some may look down on that. I don’t believe it is the action of doing such things that they look down on. I believe being convicted about it is what they look down on. “Can one shrug off a command from Jesus as “not for them” and continue on a separate path?”, is something I have asked myself frequently. Like when He tells the man in Mark 10, “One thing you lack. Go, sell as much as you have, and give to the poor; and you will have treasure in heaven. THEN come, follow Me.”, the man turns away in sorrow and grieved as he left because he had a lot of property. A few verses further, Peter tries to tell Jesus something he wants Jesus to be sure of about he and the other disciples, “Look, we’ve left everything to follow You!”(verse 28). Jesus proceeds to debunk what Peter says, “Amen, I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property for My sake, and for the sake of the Good News.” …Wait, what? Our graceful Savior basically made Peter eat his words probably in front of a large group of people? No. It cant be! He’s too kind! …This, of course, was Jesus’ way of proving the hearts of man are deceptive and full of lies.

Jesus is the most graceful rebuker. If it weren’t for His rebukes and corrections we would have zero hope of ever changing to become more like Him!

So here is where the conviction of my heart comes in. I must first disclose that I am not against prosperity, nor am I against choosing to give everything away and give to the poor, but I am not on the fence about any of it either. I do not intend to sell everything but I am not pursuing “prosperity”, either. I often tell myself that I need to pray to be directed by The Holy Spirit on how much, who, when, where and what to give. This, I’ve grown to believe, is a degrading way to treat the principle of giving from the heart. I am guilty of it. I am convicted in the reason that if God gives us a heart to give, a heart that pleases Him and truly glorifies His goodness and mercy to the poor, it should not matter at all how much, who, when, where, and what to give, because He will honor it. That of course is not to say that He wont give us specific amounts to give occasionally, but that is so far beside the point. Having a heart to let go of it all and hold fast to my savior is where God wants me at all times. This produces an attitude of giving selflessly, and also, I am finding, the ability to not desire things for myself as I once did. How is this so? Because I already have everything… Jesus. I am thankful to my Lord that He has worked such gratitude into my heart!

When Jesus tells the man with a lot of property what he must do, He already knew the man would not do as He stated. Nonetheless, Jesus still told Him. So much grace! Also, just to clarify, what Jesus is telling this man is not a legalistic gesture for the man to do in order for him to obtain eternal life. He is merely proving a point that you can not and must not love anything or anyone more than Jesus. Only through this appropriated love and devotion to Jesus will the seed of salvation be planted in your heart.

There are amazing people who give continuously that will have riches beyond measure in heaven, but that is not why they give. They ultimately could not care less about what they will attain for there good works. They only want Jesus. They desire the Holy of Holies. That is their treasure and riches. In that, a million dollars can be disregarded quickly as petty worthless cash, and two pennies can be accounted as the most valuable donation given, noteworthy of the attention of Messiah, and documented for millions of souls to read throughout two millennia. That is where they give from. I want to give from that place.

I truly have lost any desire to be wealthy, for the desire to be wealthy is a distraction and a lie. No matter how much we pray to God to help us win the lottery so we can build churches and pay off houses, and this and that, He will always know our true motives and also what is best for us. Do not deceive yourself. Focus on what holds true value to our Father. Souls, love, faith, etc. Seek first the kingdom of God, but do not do it to get things added to you. The addition of the things will take care of itself. Do it because you love Jesus and want to expand His kingdom. God is not to be worshipped and pursued for the benefits of doing so. He wants to be the object of our affection, as we are His. If you do not feel the love and truth behind this message, I strongly urge you to get before God and pray for Him to reveal His heart to you. You have to truly want that though. You also truly have to want to be able to let go of all of your wants and false needs. God knows your true needs. Again, don’t deceive yourself. True blessing and freedom comes from truly and deeply loving Jesus.

With love and shalom

From Death To Life

The True Giver

[ This is a different post. This is how The Lord led me to write what He put on my heart. I pray that His Spirit plants the seed of truth in your heart.  – Shalom ]

Man: Praise your name Father! You are God of the universe and all things belong to you! Here, look as I give! Look at the homeless I have helped and have given bread to eat! I have blessed many in your name and shout your goodness to them and have done many things in your name! Blessed are you Father! What man have I faced that I didn’t give to or declare your Holy Name? Hear my prayers, Father, that I may receive more in abundance so that I may give more! More, more, more!

God: {silence}

Man: Look, Father! Listen to the sound of rejoicing as money and abundance flows! Your will be done, Father! More, more, more!

God: {silence}

Man: I have given everything I have, Father! I have made those around me wealthy and fed the poor. But now I have no food for myself and can no longer show kindness and blessing! I feel as though You have forsaken me and haven’t seen the things I’ve done for You! Have you not seen my giving? Have you not seen the great proclamation of Your Name I have spoken to others?

God: {silence}

Man: I have nothing now… nothing to my name… Your word says you bless those who bless others. You bless those who give. Am I in error, or is Your word wrong? Please, Father. Show me my error!

God: {silence}

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Woman: I’m grateful, Father, for all things you have given me, but all I want is you. I am so grateful for Your Son, Yeshua. In Him I lack nothing. I can’t get enough of you, Father. Your goodness is overwhelming me right now! My heart is full and satisfied! I pray, Father, for the chance to pour out your love to others so that they may KNOW you, Lord! So that you can love them as you have loved me! Let them see Your Son in me, Father, so that the riches of Your love abound toward them! Be still my heart and desire nothing this world can give, for at my Father’s right hand are pleasures eternal! What value does money have to you, oh Lord? What sacrifice may I bring to appease You? I see the men that bring riches to your storehouses, Father, and I am grieved as Your Spirit in me is! Which of their hearts is true? Which of them has brought You what You desire? Reveal the deceit of their own hearts, Father, so that they may see their vanity. Also, Father, protect my heart from the same deceit. I’ve heard what is taught from the church’s pulpits. May the truth be revealed, Lord, that You account NOTHING of worth when done with a boastful heart. A heart of haughtiness and falsehood. A heart not connected to Your’s. Though they give in Your Son’s name it is of no eternal glory to them because of their dead hearts. My Father, may all I ever ask for is a pure heart to worship You with. A heart that You see and hear. A heart that gives expecting nothing in return! I truly want to give expecting nothing in return! Work that into my heart, Lord, as only you can! Work that into all the hearts of those who are truly Yours! Thank You, Father, for Your shalom. Thank You for the rest only You can provide in Yeshua The Messiah. I love You with all my heart!

God: Daughter, I see and hear you. Your tears hold more value than all the money ever made from the beginning to the end. Your obedience to My Spirit has brought you to truth. I will reveal all you ask, My Daughter. Keep praying for those that you see. I am a miracle working God and can change the hardest of hearts. You have brought Me all I want. A heart that I know truly belongs to Me. I know the heart of all mankind. Deceitful, wicked, lustful, and proud. Even those from the pulpit are no exception. They do not see that I alone can change them. I alone made the way through My Son. I alone can give them My heart.  My heart in them is what I honor. For I made a way for them to be radically changed into a new creation. A creation who knows it’s place with Me. I can only bless what is done from those who have My heart. For only those who have My heart do anything of worth to Me. Pray for them, Daughter. Pray that their hearts be broken so I may transplant My own heart into them. They can not obey my commands without My heart in them. I love you, my Daughter. You have stored up riches beyond measure with Me. You have blessed me this day!

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The Word of God is clear that He resists the proud (James 4:6). The man in this story has given so much, yet God acknowledges none of it. The proud squander money everywhere else just as they squander it in giving to charity or church or to a beggar. It makes no difference to God where and how they squander it because He resists them. If He resists them He will also resist all they do, regardless if they do it in the name of His Son, Yeshua.

The woman displays all God wants and all He blesses, and all that holds eternal worth. What is done from that kind of heart is what God will bless and multiple. Do not be deceived.

Pray that God gives you His heart.

With love and shalom

– From Death To Life

The Other Side

Recently, during a small gathering with a wonderful group of people my wife and I are privileged to be a part of, and after hearing a thought provoking message from the one and only Dr. Doug Wheeler, we had a brief discussion. During this discussion we all verbalized our insights on how what was taught applies to us personally and spiritually. All points were dead on and also very honest. During the discussion part of something I said took me by surprise. I’m not sure if that happens to anyone else, but it’s not the first time it’s happened to me.

I shared a situation I was in spiritually about 10 years ago that will forever be stored in my spiritual memory bank. I’m not going to elaborate the whole story for the sake of digital paper, but the main point was I was struggling with scripture and I felt highly condemned. It caused me sleeplessness and stole my peace out from under me. Thankfully, I had a mentor in my life at that time by the name of Rusty Parker. He was the dean of Agape College at the time. I reached out to him about all of this and he arranged time in his busy schedule to meet face to face with me. As I explained everything I was struggling with, he, of course with love and compassion, encouraged me to peel away from the particular scriptures I was reading at the time.  For me, that meant I really needed to put the Bible altogether down for a time, but not forever. This was an attempt and hope to let the power of God through His spirit be the one to penetrate the hardness of my heart and deliver me. Though it took time, God was ever faithful to restore to me the ability to see His Word for the goodness and truth and peace that it really is.

Coming back to what was said in our gathering recently as I told my story. I got to a point where I really felt the Holy Spirit revealed something that has been encoded into my heart. I said(paraphrasingly),

“The Word of God to those whose heart is in right standing with Him is pure and brings life. We see God for who He truly is and see the love He has for us. But to those who are not in right standing it can be the opposite. It can be a detriment and stumbling block, and cause people to only see His wrath and judgement and keep them under condemnation.”

This isn’t a new concept being on the side of having a true relationship with The Father through Messiah. We know His goodness because He has enlightened the eyes of our understanding(Ephesians 1:18). But being on the side of the consequences of sin and not having a proper relationship with God it is impossible to get to know Him through this Holy Book because Life is not operating  properly in the heart.

In the letter Paul wrote to his Roman brethren he explains something that should help us get a better grip on the importance of the meaning behind what I believe the Holy Spirit said through me. Romans 1 is a beautiful passage because it gives an understanding that one of the ways God reveals Himself is through nature. All people will be without excuse regarding the knowledge of God’s existence.  What also is said in this chapter can be so distorted and perverted once read with a dead heart. Being on the side of the wrath of God, reading this only confirms for us His wrath and not His love. But does this mean God isn’t trying to get us to see Him for who He really is? Of course not. This passage is clearly showing us that God has given ample evidence of Himself through His creation so that there is a chance for everyone to get to know Him.

Paul also goes on to say in chapter two, verses thirteen and fourteen,

“For it is not the hearers of Torah who are righteous before God; rather, it is the doers of Torah who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the Torah, do by nature the things of the Torah, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the Torah.”

Can you comprehend that? This passage confirmed for me before I was even truly living for Messiah that He is who reveals Himself through His spirit. In my heart I learned from Him who He is by His Spirit rather than by scripture. The Bible became a book of confirmation for me of who God is rather than a seemingly schizophrenic back and forth of ancient writings that in some places show wrath and judgement, and in others love and mercy. I believe what Paul is essentially saying here is that the Word of God is null and void to those who do not have His spirit living in them to reveal His nature, but to those whom God’s spirit is in, He has made them alive to His nature and truth, and to them His Holy Word was given to affirm what He has done in them. The latter of these are the true Sons of God.

I would like to be clear that I have no quarrel with those who read the Bible without knowing God. But I will say that it is pointless and vanity to read it without knowing Him, because true understanding of it can not be uprooted from a relationship with Him through Messiah.

Did Adam have a bible? Did Noah? Did Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Did Joseph? I’m sure there were ancient writings available at some point, but nothing like we have now. We are blessed and very fortunate to have amassed a collection of writings given by men so in tune with God. I am grateful for the Holy Bible, but my relationship with The Father precedes my ability to comprehend it. It can not be reversed.

I titled this article “The Other Side” because I’ve been on both sides. I have, in the past, lost the order of things and lost my ability to understand and rightly divide the Word of Truth(2 Timothy 2:15). It caused me a lot of pain and torment because I felt I once knew God and then lost Him. I searched for Him in scripture and looked for comfort there and there was none because my heart was condemned and hardened by scripture. Was it scriptures fault that my heart was hardened? No. Because my heart wasn’t able to comprehend His goodness as it should, scripture became futile to me.

All of this is not to say that God can’t reveal Himself to anyone through holy scripture. It is to say that the proper understanding and order of scripture can only be appropriated by The Life given through His Holy Spirit, of which can only be received through His Holy One, Yeshua The Messiah.

I love Paul’s prayers in Ephesians because it solidifies the absolute necessity for God to be the one to open our eyes and reveal the depth, height, length, and breadth, of His love. This love is His absolute true nature. Read those prayers and pray them over yourself. Ask The Father to open your eyes as only He can. Don’t bury yourself in vain study of scripture you don’t understand without first having established in your heart who God is.

If you have not received Jesus as your lord and savior, this is first. Then through the same faith receive His Holy Spirit. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). Then get on your knees and pray without ceasing, asking God to reveal to you the gift of knowing His love. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians,

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.”

The Word of God is only relevant in the Love of God.

With Love and Shalom

– From Death To Life

Are we all called to ministry?

In the summer between the ninth and tenth grades I had a strong experience of the presence of God at a youth camp in Oklahoma City. I grew up in church, but by far this was the most fun and most real experience I had as a believer up to that point. The struggles I had as a violent and depressed teenager, paled significantly in comparison to the love of The Father that was revealed to me that week. It was like meeting someone famous for the first time, but I already knew Him and He knew me, and He exceeded every expectation I accumulated of Him throughout my young years. I’m sure for anyone who has truly been blessed enough to experience the presence of the Living God can attest to my words.

This was a time of purity in my relationship with The Lord. I mean that in the sense of motive of the heart. I didn’t feel pressured to do anything or promise to accomplish great ministerial feats and become a great and mighty warrior for God. All I had a desire for was to know Him more intimately and to become more like Him.

Over the course of a few years and intermittently obtaining words from The Lord, I began to learn obedience is crucial in this relationship. As Samuel said to Saul when he allowed some of the Amalekites and their king to live, “obedience is better than sacrifice.”(1 Samuel 15:22). Understanding this only seemed feasible to me in the times of when my heart was in good standing with The Lord. However, over time, when I was focusing on my “calling” more than my relationship, things took a turn down a road of confusion and doubt.

This, I’m sure, is a common condition for a lot of believers. We somehow always come back to a fleshly nature of works and forget to focus on our first love. After all, is He not our reward? As I traveled this path, a slew of issues began to happen. I began to believe my relationship with God was based on what I was called to do for Him. I felt that if I didn’t do “Kingdom business” He would surely not bless me. I pursued worship ministry as I believed it was my purpose. Sin was easier to commit because my heart drifted further from my relationship with The Father. It was a cycle that was spiraling out of control and it led to a rotten heart wanting nothing to do with ministry…

… right where He wanted me.

What is any action worth to God if our hearts aren’t right in doing them? God, being the same yesterday, today, and forever, will always see our heart. The willingness to obey in our hearts is greater to God than doing something that looks righteous, but isn’t something God commanded us to do. By having a willing and pure heart alone qualifies us for the work of God. This means that when He instructs us to do something, we act upon it out of our love for The Father. Nothing more, nothing less. We even see Jesus keeping to this standard while He walked this earth. John 5:19 says, “Therefore Yeshua answered them, “Amen, amen I tell you, the Son cannot do anything by Himself. He can do only what He sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.”, and also later in the same chapter, verse 30, ““I can do nothing on My own. Just as I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, for I do not seek My own will, but the will of the One who sent Me.”” The implementation of this is imperative! The Son of God Himself showed us the proper order of heart, obedience, and action.

Very recently, after I consequently obtained the position of throwing my hands in the air and basically saying, “Screw it! I’m done trying!”, The Lord started to show me my error. What grace my God has to show me where I messed up so that I may repent and turn from my faithlessness! To be specific in one instance, my wife and I were attending a much needed worship night. I normally will pay some attention to the electric guitar players because that’s what I played and loved watching their precision. During this night though, I really felt drawn to the heart of worship from the worship leaders. I began to remember that’s where I started and that’s what I was gifted to do. The Lord then spoke to me and said, “Look back and find the time I instructed you to focus more on lead guitar playing.”. Of course, as I did just that, the time of which He spoke of was nowhere to be found. That’s all He had to say. It’s not that I was doing anything wrong in the eyes of the people around me, or even myself for that matter, but nonetheless, I was in disobedience to God. I have since sold the majority of my electric guitar equipment and went back to focusing on being a worship leader.  I believe this has allowed The Lord to infiltrate my heart again and correct my course.

So, as time has gone by since these events, I have set my face like flint and resolved that I will not lose the focus that my relationship with Him goes before anything else. Who I am is above what I do… But I still wonder what specifically I am called to do. Along with music ministry I have also felt the desire to teach and preach. So one night laying in bed, I was having thoughts about becoming a preacher, or pastor, or whatever else pertains to that kind of position. As I thought these things I got a sharp and quick word in my spirit from The Lord. He said, “I don’t need another man behind a pulpit.”…  “hmm… ooook… well that was awkward.”, I thought to myself. This was obviously something that I would need to meditate on and digest for awhile. As I did, my heart started to find a peace that I once felt before. These words, as they settled, began to comfort me in a way that can be difficult to explain. For once I felt like I was able to allow myself to not desire a position in ministry. Not because I don’t feel called to ministry, but because I had a misunderstanding of what true ministry is. It isn’t a position in a church. It isn’t yelling verses from the Bible from a stage. It isn’t singing into a mic and strumming a guitar. It is living a life of seeking the face of God and desiring an intimate relationship with Him. That is above ALL things! What good is a preacher who doesn’t know God? He can spit every verse of the Bible if he wants, but in the end, Jesus Himself will say, “Depart from me you worker of iniquity! I never knew you!”

If you have struggled with whether or not you are called to ministry I will assure you this… YOU ARE! But please understand, ministry has nothing to do with what you are supposed to do for the rest of your life! It has everything to do with who you are supposed to walk the rest of your life out with! That person is Yeshua The Messiah! Having the revelation that Yeshua is to be your one and only desire will show you true contentment, true faith, and mostly, true love! Nothing else comes fractionally close!

It is my hope and prayer that sharing my testimony regarding this matter helps at least one person truly overcome a heart of works and grasp the blessing of resting in Yeshua.

Please feel free to leave a comment if this helped you in anyway!

With love and shalom

– From Death To Life

Dependence on God is the only true way for America to have Independence

Today being July fourth, is a time of reflection and celebration for our nation’s independence from Great Britain. The colonies were united and leaned heavily towards a notion of freedom that ultimately spawned the passion and belief that actually made it possible to undertake such a feat. But a good question to ask is, how could these people so deeply believe that? The odds of this rebellion actually succeeding against the world power of that day and age was probably incalculable. Could it have been a gross underestimation on Britain’s part that cost them the war? Sure. Nevertheless the task at hand for the Americans was nothing short of requiring devine intervention… and they knew that… they depended on that.

Nothing is impossible for God. Time and again, in Israel’s biblical history and modern history, we have seen the miraculous transpire in their favor. The nation that the hand of God covers can not be overcome by the godless. It is undeniable that the same hand of God that was upon Israel was upon the colonies of the Americans in their endeavor of independence. He conquered for them.

This nation was purposed by God. He founded it. He brought it out of the shadow of a tyrannical monarchy. It wasn’t just about taxation or political enslavement. It was about being free from a religious establishment that hindered a true heart of worship and faith that God Himself saw. THAT is what He wanted to prosper. Praise God for the love He has for those that love Him!

The aforementioned is our history, despite a growing number of people’s efforts to distort, pervert, and spit on it. This leads to the next point.

Consequently, there is an opposite reaction from God once a nation takes to the path of disobedience and sin against Him. Israel, once again, is an example of this. Despite multiple warnings God gave them through His prophets, they continued on their own hand hewn path of destruction, and they ultimately earned the reward of their labors. Now, here’s what is a scary thought; if God would lift His hand of sovereign protection off of His chosen people, Israel, and allow them to be taken captive multiple times, and then ultimately dispersed throughout the nations of the earth, how much more so should we be of the understanding that He will do the same to this once great nation, He Himself raised up, known as The United States of America? He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever, is He not? There are consequences for sin that not a single soul on this planet is immune to, let alone an entire nation.

{To the true church of Yeshua The Messiah-

God will never leave you nor forsake you(Hebrews 13:5, Deut 31:5-6). He knows who is His(Nahum 1:7). Perfect love casts out all fear(1 John 4:18). We are not of this world and will not partake of the punishment of this world. You are part of the Kingdom of Messiah(John 18:36).

Do. Not. Fear! Never fear!! Don’t waste a precious moment of time on fear! It is not for you! Do not neglect the great hope you have in Yeshua the Messiah! Mercy is your reward, not judgement! Rest in this.}

Lastly, there is always hope. Those who preach the good news of Messiah and obey the Living God will not have any blood on their hands. As the story of Jonah reveals, we are never to assume that a nation is unwilling to listen and heed the blessed warnings of God. Let us repent together from believing our nation is beyond all hope. Let’s hold fast to our faith that our Heavenly Father is a miracle working God and can restore our nation’s great dependence upon Him and the name of His Son! Amen!

Attached below is Dr. Scott Stewart’s, Pastor of Agape church in Little Rock, recent message regarding our freedom. He raises great points we should all hear.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/agape-church-sunday-teaching/id1183490173?mt=2&i=1000389484718

With love and shalom,

– From Death To Life