Whatever It Takes

This blog entry has already proven itself difficult as I have written four different opening paragraphs only to restart each time.  What’s interesting is that I knew that the title was going to be what it is before I even started writing this.  I have been mulling over for a couple weeks now how I feel it best to say what it is I need to say.  This isn’t as easy as I thought it would be.  So I am definitely trusting the Holy Spirit with this.

Whether if you have read any of my previous posts, or know me personally, you would know that I am a Christian.  I love Jesus.  Above all things, I want to know Him personally, walk with Him intimately, and I want to do His will.  Lately, I have been in a weird phase in my life with the Lord, but make no mistake, it has been very good.  There has been a calmness to this new season that has left me without any doubt that it is God.  “Relax” has been a word that has been resounding in my spirit for months.  God knows exactly what I need, and if He says to “relax”, what am I going to do? Relax, of course…  or at least I’m gonna try.

In our American culture, we are programmed to “do, do, do”, and our worth/value directly correlates to our performance.  Furthermore, our candidacy for promotion tends to be founded upon merit, behavior, and actions.  I know I might be making that last statement sound like a bad thing, which I know isn’t always the case, but in the scope of our faith, it tends to breed competitiveness, pride, and arrogance which are all inherently bad.  Basically, what we do trumps who we are.  Am I saying that promotion, accomplishment, and all the other related things are bad?  No.  At least not when there is proper balance with it all.  What I will emphatically say is bad and a fallacy is when identities are founded upon what a person’s merits and accomplishments are.  That may not necessarily be what is directly taught, but I assure you, subliminally this lifestyle is EVERYWHERE and it is steadily woven into our personalities as we grow up.  Growing up in the church is no exception and can actually be worse.  So ultimately, going back to what the Lord has been saying to me (relax), it really can be somewhat difficult to do because of the culture I’ve grown up in.

In my junior year of high school, I was a bass player for a local band.  It was a blast and I enjoyed my time in it.  During summer camp with my church that year, the Lord spoke to me and encouraged me to quit the band because He was going to use me in praise and worship.  I was obedient immediately and met with the guys in my band as soon as I got back from camp.  I had no further direction other than Him mentioning he was going to put me in praise and worship.  As I analyzed and meditated on it all, I obviously grew very curious as to how God was going to work His plan for me.  It didn’t seem like the opportunity was there for me at the current church I was at, but I trusted His word nonetheless.  After graduating, I was still left wondering when this would all take place.  Well, that year at the same camp the Lord spoke to me about praise and worship, and I met the cool kids of “On Fire Youth” from Agape Church in Little Rock, Arkansas.  It was an instant, and I mean INSTANT, connection.  I hung out with them all week and ended up learning that they needed a bass player for their worship team.  Hmmm… uncoincidentally, I was a bass player at that time.  God made it clear.  I started with playing bass in the youth band to leading songs.  Then from leading worship in the youth band to leading in main services.  I have been doing it for fifteen years now, minus a two-year sabbatical.

At the turn of the year, I had purposed to fast and spend time in prayer regarding my and my family’s future.  As the months have passed, it has become apparent that for me a season of rest is at hand.  Again, this “relax” word keeps popping up in my spirit over and over.  When I prayed to the Lord for more of a desire for Him… “relax”.  When I am desperate to know what our future holds… “relax”.  When I want so badly to flow in the gifts and do His work… “relax”.  When I want to please Him… “relax”.  When I am displeased with myself for not getting up and praying or reading the Word… “relax”.  Relax, relax, relax.

As I am typing this, the Lord is speaking to me saying, “Sometimes the best and most perfect and pleasing action is to just be still and know that I am God.”  I believe some of you reading this needed to hear that.

How perfect is our God?  How satisfied are you in just knowing Him?  How confident are you that even in doing nothing you are still pleasing to Him?  Why do you feel it is appropriate to beg God for things when He knows your heart better than you will ever know it?  Don’t you know that to trust Him with your whole heart means to trust that He will finish His good work in you?  Don’t you know that He knows what is best for you in every facet of your life?  Can’t you see that your striving is resistance to Him?  Quit looking at what others are doing for Him and believing that they must just be in a better place with the Lord. Maybe they are, or maybe they’re far from Him and are just trying to vainly make up for by their deeds.  Remember John the beloved?  Remember how Peter was insecure about John’s relationship with the Lord?  Remember when Jesus corrected Peter about that?  Jesus doesn’t compare your accomplishments with others, so why you do you do that to yourself?  Jesus desires a PERSONAL relationship with every person.  Let us rejoice that our walks are unique and different rather than harboring envy and jealousy.  Our identity in Him is what matters most.

Just about a month ago, the Lord prompted me to step away from praise and worship, and this past Sunday (June 9, 2019) was my last service on the team.  This prompting wasn’t necessarily a surprise to me, nor my wife when I told her because we both had been feeling a change was coming.  Do I know what the next step is? No. And honestly, I don’t care what the next step is.  I have obsessed over the next step for most of my life rather than just taking in all that this present step has to offer.  Does this mean I am never going to do praise and worship again?  I highly doubt that because the gifts are without repentance.  Whatever the future holds, it will still be there when I get there.  I am willing to do whatever it takes to promote the Lord working in my heart.  If that means I have to sit on the bench for awhile I’m good with that.  I truly believe the Lord is rewiring my heart to understand that my gift in worship is not my identity.  Whether or not I sing or play another note is irrelevant.  What is relevant is how I identify with Christ aside from anything I do for Him.

Though I may not see the full picture, I know He does.  I don’t have to understand to obey.

My reason for sharing all this is to testify that God is the Promise Keeper in this covenant relationship.  My only burden in this relationship is to trust that He will do with my heart what He says He will do.

– From Death To Life

 

 

 

Just Throwing This Out There

I meant to do this a couple weeks ago…

In early March, I had a dream that woke me from my sleep.  It wasn’t the usual dream that is easily forgotten and details are spotty.  When I awoke I immediately typed it into my notes in my phone and then tried to go back to sleep. The dream went as follows:

I was in a dimly lit movie theater. There were a few people around me that I knew and some I did not know. In the row just in front of my row and two seats down to my right (which was an aisle seat), a young man I did not know began to convulse with a seizure.  Many people began to pray for his healing and were laying hands on him, or at least stretching their hands forth as I was.  In the middle of his seizure attack, he rears his head back to the person behind him and says, “Call Sandy!”.  My friend Jeremy was in the same row as I was, but was buried in his seat in prayer for the young man. (I later asked Jeremy if perchance he was aware of a young man with a condition like this and he said no.) I woke up not long after that.

When I tried to somewhat analyze the dream and ask the Lord for interpretation, I feel like the Lord was trying to tell me that the seizures were not physically related and the young man has been tormented since childhood by a spirit.  To this day, I am still unaware if “Sandy” is his mother, relative or friend, but I could judge by the feeling I had in the dream that she (or possibly he) was important to the young man.

I ended up calling out the dream at my church that following Sunday to see if potentially it pertained to someone’s life in our present congregation and no one responded.  My church has a LiveStream also so I didn’t rule out the possibility of the target person listening by that means.  Since then, I have been diligent to be aware of potentially meeting a person with the name Sandy.

However, as stated in the first sentence, I meant to post this here a couple weeks ago.  I feel like the Lord reminded me to do it, so here we are.

If you know of a young man who suffers from seizures and the doctors haven’t been able to determine a physical cause, and he knows someone close to him named Sandy, please feel free to either prophecy this to them or send them to me somehow.

The frustration your family has felt about this condition and the lack of answers is seen by God and He wants you to know to cast off the spirit of infirmity.  He will deliver him.

Side note: I am fully open to the possibility of me misinterpreting this dream. If you read this and feel strongly that the Lord is giving you a different interpretation, PLEASE let me know.

Identity [CONVICTION ALERT!!]

This is definitely not a feel good article. HEADS UP! I gave you the warning in the title and here! Read on at your own risk.

Ever since my church hosted one of Todd White’s Power & Love conferences I have been consumed with outreach ministry videos on YouTube. Along with some of Todd White’s videos I have been watching a couple other guys names Tom Loud and Pete Cabrera Jr. The actions of all three of these men have really raised questions within myself about my faith and identity. So in turn, I have been seeking the Lord a lot lately on my identity in Him.

Pete Cabrera Jr., in particular, has really piqued my spiritual understanding. As I have watched his videos I have felt many things. Things like- bewilderment; hunger; awakening. He performs undeniable miracles and has a genuine heart for the lost. I get the Holy Ghost trembles, as if I’m running a fever, when watching his videos. His walk is the antithesis of conventional, modern, Sunday morning Christianity.

This is exactly what I have been needing to see.

All three of the aforementioned Men of God LIVE it. They don’t “attend” it; they don’t just preach it. It isn’t just a part of their daily lives. It IS their daily life. It is WHO THEY ARE and they prove it!

As it would most Christians (or at least I hope it would), conviction started to be released in me. Couple that with the Holy Ghost outpouring at the recent conference and you have a delicious recipe for self destruction. And I mean that in the good way.

During my worship and prayer time one morning, I was expecting a word from the Lord. Nothing necessarily specific; just a word. (Side note: I no longer go into prayer with doubting God will speak to me anymore. I honestly used to. I now fully expect God to speak to me daily). Thankfully, the word was about identity. It was proposed to me in questions.

“Is a gazelle a prey stalking predator? Can a lion be a sea dwelling creature? Can a square roll like a sphere?”

Through these questions it became apparent to me that identity isn’t just something you claim you believe you are. Identity isn’t just how something looks. It primarily and greatly is within what we actually do. Who we are inside produces what we do outwardly. Jesus couldn’t help but do the things He did because it is who He is! Pete Cabrera, Todd White, and Tom Loud can’t help but do what they do because they not only know who Christ is, they know who THEY are in Christ! Everyday is a pursuit. Everyday has a mission. Every person they come in contact with is subject to the presence of the Living God because they know they have it. I am not pointing these three men of God out to praise them. I am pointing them out because they truly are walking epistles and good examples of how every believer could be walking. I can’t help but imagine what the impact on this world would be if even just 50% of the rest of us comfy Christians actually got the revelation they have and lived it out.

Us Sunday morning Christians sing songs and pray prayers about wanting more of the presence of God in our lives, yet we are far from willing to take His presence to the streets and see the lost saved and the sick healed with it. So the question is raised- why is this? I believe strongly it is because we have lost our identity in the pews; it got blinded by the stage lights; it got misrepresented by complacent church leaders (which I can say, because I am one), and it’s been associating with political parties. Our identity has become self-seeking and no longer self-denying.

[Please understand I am most definitely NOT against cool stages with awesome light shows and modern buildings with ship lap interiors. I am just pointing out that these things have really become more important to us, and it ought not be so.]

Feel free to seriously examine your heart as I did with my own with this next question. When is the last time you received a teaching and truly thought to yourself, “How can I apply this to spreading the gospel and helping others?” Be brutally honest. I, personally, really have to go way back to my early, baby Christian years to remember the last time I thought that after a teaching (that is up until the past week and a half).

What was done for us through Jesus, and ultimately the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, was to equip us to… I hope you’re ready for this… BE GOD’S PRESENCE ON EARTH AND DO HIS WILL! Did Jesus not come to prove the good and perfect will of the Father on this earth and to restore mankind wholly into the image and likeness of God it was originally created to be? The removal and atonement of sin was just a part of it. The restoration of mankind was not to just create a few billion converts, hope they don’t sin, and let them just sit around talking to each other about doctrine while awaiting the return of Messiah. The purpose of the entire gospel was for God to restore mankind and fill the earth with His sons and daughters so that the Kingdom of Heaven manifests! “For creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God!”, Says Paul, in Romans chapter 8. This is the gospel!

If we are the sons and daughters of God, and if we have truly accepted His Spirit, then our old identity is dead along with the old man. The new man has life now! We no longer have an earthly identity but a heavenly one! Therefore, how is it so that the majority of us believers are not out on the streets doing the things we identify with; or better yet as? As a son or daughter of God who has the perfect identity of God on the inside by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, why are we sitting idly by?

Could it be because we no longer associate with the true identity of Jesus?

If Jesus were here in this day physically leading us as He did His disciples, make no mistake, we’d be walking around the cities not just proclaiming the gospel in word, but also in works. We’d be laying hands on the sick and watching them recover. We’d be telling complete strangers everything about their life with words of knowledge. We wouldn’t just be saying we believe something just because it is written; we’d be proving we believe something because we are doing it. Because it’s WHO WE ARE! You want a move of the Holy Spirit? Then move! He is in you waiting for YOU to move! You want to be free from bondage and sin? Go and do what you were redeemed to do! I guarantee you you will stop thinking so much about your own crap when you start seeing the power of God flowing through you to deliver others from theirs. Can we really claim to have God’s love if we aren’t pouring it out to those around us in the supermarkets and our work places? This is becoming so real to me it hurts!

You might say to yourself, “Well it’s not like I can live like that everyday…”, and I would beg for the answer to, “Why not?” Is God not God everyday? Is Jesus not Jesus everyday? Is a son of God not a son of God everyday? Is it really something we should just switch on and off at will? If so, we need to check our beliefs and identity again!

I am still seeking God on the fullness of my identity in Him as a son, not because I want to be selfish with it or because I need more affirmation of who HE is, but because I need to know more of who I am in Him. I also know God needs the truest and purest reproductions of Himself on this planet for the gospel to keep spreading; for people to be healed and for the lost to come to know Jesus.

We must no longer vainly wait for a kingdom that is already here. We are royal! Let’s go do what royals do!

I will finish with this.

I know most of us wont step out because we’re too afraid to miss it. That may seem like humility, but I am learning it most definitely isn’t. I’ll share a testimony with you in hopes to encourage you to trust the Holy Spirit that is in you.

I recently felt a strong prompting by the Holy Spirit with a word of knowledge midday on a Saturday. He told me a woman with fibromyalgia will be at church the following day and that He wants to heal her. Even more specifically, He said she will have almost not come. Obviously, I had doubts and I hate to say I struggled with actually committing to do it. I knew my carnal mind was trying to step in and tell me I heard incorrectly. I pushed the carnal mind aside and I proceeded to indulge in some more videos of the guys I had been watching because I knew it would increase my faith. A few videos in, Tom Loud ends up praying for a woman with fibromyalgia and the pain left her. You could see the surprise in her eyes to see the pain leave. I took this as confirmation number one.

As soon as I woke up Sunday morning the Holy Spirit prodded me again. As I got ready it was on my heart the whole time. I arrive at church early for band practice as I am on the worship team… still have it on my heart. It was like a stubborn child repeatedly pulling my shirt tail and saying, “Dad. Dad. Dad. Dad.” Praise and worship is over before I know it and I am sitting in my beloved front row pew. Pastor taught about the Holy Spirit and rattled several key points that helped me greatly. All the while, my entire torso was on fire as if my spirit were responding to an altar call. I took the specific message and spiritual heartburn as confirmation number two.

The message is over and the band is called back on stage. By this point I am determined to do what the Holy Spirit tasked me to do (because after all, it is who I am now). I refused to put on my guitar but instead just sing while Pastor was praying for people to receive the Holy Spirit. I waited for the seemingly right moment to approach Pastor, and jumped on the first opportunity. After a few more moments, and when everyone who came down to get filled with the Holy Spirit had returned to their seats, Pastor pitched it to me… phew boy, here we go! I spoke what I was told. After I saw no immediate movement, I had no problem admitting to the congregation the possibility I may have missed it. I emphasized, though, that I would rather step out and miss it hoping someone might be healed rather than not stepping out and someone definitely not get healed. After a few more moments, four women stepped out to be prayed for. PRAISE GOD! I was so honored to be the one to pray for them!

Now, God was pretty specific with me when He spoke to me and said woman in the singular form, however, I had no desire to limit what God could do though if multiple women were to step out. I trusted that He would heal them all if that were to happen. But just to emphasize how good God is… I approached one of the ladies before she went to go sit back down and asked her how she feels now. With tears in her eyes she said she felt good, and that she almost didn’t come this morning! I proceeded to tell her more specifically what the Lord had told me and that He was referring to you when He put it on my heart. This was my final confirmation. HOW GOOD IS GOD?!?!?!?

I pray that the body of Messiah will finally awaken once more to it’s true identity and start living in the fullness thereof! Amen!

– From Death To Life

 

The Outpouring

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples in the upper room was the crescendo of the entire gospel. Everything Jesus did led up to this point in time where the manifestation of the sons of God on the Earth could finally come to fruition. Why do we live as if there is still a separation between Heaven and Earth when God Himself has poured His spirit out upon all flesh? The Kingdom is NOW thanks to the Holy Spirit! It is here! It has been here for over two thousand years! It belongs to the least of these!

REVIVE, CHURCH!! Jesus did not do everything He did to only make you weaker! Jesus did not endure everything He did only to leave us powerless! WE ARE THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF THE MOST HIGH GOD; ADONAI, YAHWEH! Declare and LIVE IN your rightful place, oh Church! This Earth is OURS! WE have the dominion and power! WE have the keys! WE have the power over death! The LORD willed it for us AND won it for us! 

AMEN!

The Words In Red

Sometimes I tend to really over spiritualize my search for scripture. I have never really been a “bible plan” kinda guy, so often I find myself wasting more time contemplating which passages to read than actually reading them. From Psalms to Proverbs; from Ecclesiastes to Ephesians, it’s difficult to just nail down a certain book to read through entirely.

However, this morning a miracle happened. I found myself reading scripture sequentially! Hallelujah!

I read in Matthew, chapters six and seven. The majority of the content is the very words of Messiah. As I read the words in red, no matter how old I get, I can always vividly imagine being one of His disciples within arms reach while He speaks. His words being carried by the very resonance of God’s voice into my ears and delivered into my spirit. I can imagine that back then, for the pure in heart, and those longing and diligently awaiting Messiah’s arrival, the first time they heard Him speak was the most reviving moment of their life.

I am reminded, when reading His words, that all of who God is was being displayed by His Messiah for all to see and observe. How restless is God for us?! Not only did He supply of Himself through Messiah the perfect interpretation of His Torah, but in that same Body, the perfect and final sacrifice for our sins. His plan for our redemption was flawless and irreversible!

The day approaches where the whole Earth will hear the voice of Messiah once again! To the pure and saved, it is the voice unto redemption and salvation. To the sinful and rebellious, it will be the voice of their reckoning and destruction.

The pinnacle of scripture are the words in red. Everything else in the Holy Book is the throne upon which they are seated. They will never be dethroned! Amen!

-From Death To Life