Monday, June 27, 2011

What are your plans?

My vacation is coming so Paige, the kids, and I are preparing for our time of enjoyment, with no worries or concerns, just enjoying our time together. I love vacations and this is the first time in my life I am taking a couple of weeks in a row.

I am a planner by nature. I like to plan things out in my head but when vacation comes, I plan some things but for the most part the big plan is always do whatever it takes to simply relax, chill out, and enjoy these precious moments with my family. It doesn’t sound like a plan but it is.

What are your plans with God! I just heard a loud, “What?” Yes, we make plans with God, in reality we are following His plan but if we do it right it is not work or struggle just God moving through are lives with a natural, “super natural”, flow.

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Acknowledge Him in all of your ways and He will make your path straight.”
Psalm 37:4,5

God has placed those desires in our hearts. We desire to excel. We desire to do well for our families. We desire to accomplish great things with our talents. We desire to see the dreams on our hearts fulfilled. Guess what, God places those desire and dreams there. We are made by God with a purpose in mind. Our purpose brings great joy and fulfillment to each one of us. By “delighting ourselves in the Lord”, we fulfill our purpose and find the joy we long for.

So go ahead and make plans. God will direct them, the desires you have He has placed in you so by planning you are fulfilling His pans for your life.

All of this is really dependent on two main assumptions. 1) You are a Christian by word and deed. 2) You are spending time each day with the Lord through prayer and reading His Word. Jesus said, if you love me, you will keep my commandments. Relationship is built on actions not just words. It is very easy to get fleshly desires and God ordered desires confused. Our flesh wants what it wants and God is constantly drawing us to himself and the things that will bring us true joy not some cheap imitation. Sin, in most cases, is a cheap, costly, painful imitation of the great plan God has for us.

God says, “The plans that I have for you are for a hope and a future, plans for your welfare and not for your destruction” Jeremiah 29:11. Why do we end up in so much pain and or confusion? We have a lack in our relationship. God already has a plan and it is good. God already has a plan that will bring us great joy. If the relationship is not there, even though God has these great plans for us we can miss them due to our lacking relationship.

Take a few moments to reorganize your life. Recognize that the confusion and/or pain you are in, does not come from God. Start spending time with Him and you will naturally begin fulfilling you joy and His plan, the plan you were created to fulfill.

Again I ask, what are your plans? They can be great if the relationship is there. So what are you waiting for? At least make a plan to read the Bible a little today and to spend at least a few moments in prayer.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Leaping off of the page

There are so many ways the Lord likes to communicate with us. I had mentioned a few days ago about personal prophecy, the way I hear from the Lord the most is when I am reading the Bible and something feels like it has leapt off of the page. This morning I had that kind of experience. Here is what I read, hopefully it will encourage you as well.

Romans 8: 26 - 31

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Six very simple verses with a powerful message; here is what I got from the message.

1) We are never really weak because the moment we are, the Holy Spirit will give us strength, as we need it.
2) Even if we don’t know how to pray God knows and the Spirit will give us the right prayer at the right time.
3) God knows are hearts and has His Son standing in the gap for us always
4) Even when we don’t understand why something is happening, if we trust the Lord, He makes it all work out for our good.
5) He knows us, called us, loves us and is daily helping us to become who we were made to be.
6) As we do what we are called to do, we naturally give God glory.
7) There is no one and nothing that can stand in the way of a man or woman who loves and serves God.

That should be enough to help you make it through your day. I know it has for me. It is some times just the simple reminders that the Lord gives us that can change our attitude and change our world.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Graduation Day!

This is the month of graduations. I think we have hit a record high of over 20 invitations. It is an honor to be invited to join in the celebration of this achievement but I want us to compare graduations if we can. Even if you aren’t interested in the topic just keep reading and you may be surprised.

Think about graduation for a moment.

- You struggle for years to finally achieve the goal
- The purpose is for you to finish one thing to start something fresh
- For most it has been at the same time a difficult and joyous road to get to this place
- There are people along the way that help you reach this point and rejoice with you as you make it.
- Everything is geared to accomplishing this one goal and when you make it there is great joy and relief all at the same time.
- It is something you do alone and for most, the travel to the new adventure is by yourself as well.
- Regardless of the help you may have received to get here, it was your own decisions that enabled you to graduate. No one could do it for you.
- People you may have never met before cheer you on at the ceremony.

I want you to stop for a second and look at this as a metaphor for our lives and compare graduation to our going home to be with the Lord. Now reread the points above in light of that thought.

If we looked at life the way a high school student looks toward graduation, our lives might be a little different. If everyday we are focused on the goal of graduation, going onto the next step, preparing for where we are headed. If we were to realize it is up to us to make the right decisions as well as being grateful for all the help along the way, life might be different.

We are all headed for graduation. Let’s live like we are going to graduate well.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Is Personal Prophecy Biblical?

Is Personal Prophecy Biblical?

I wrote yesterday about some of the hard questions and this is one of them. Today’s blog is slightly different than my normal blog content but hopefully you find it just as insightful, if not more so. The scripture encourages and even challenges us to know what we believe and why we believe it.

“…sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;” 1 Peter 3:15

Here is a very light version of my personal belief about personal prophetic ministry.

There are three ways I would look at this:

1) If Jesus did it, He is our example

Would you agree that anything Jesus did would be OK for us to do? Of course you would. 

Here are a couple examples that I perceive as Jesus flowing in personal prophecy; knowledge and/or wisdom see if you agree

John 1: 47, 48 Nathanael 

John 4: 17,18 the woman at the well

In these two instances Jesus uses knowledge, of a prophetic nature, to reveal that He hears from or speaks for God.

Through the Holy Spirit, He has given us the same gifts. He encouraged us that we would do greater things than He did (John 14:12). If you believe that only means shear volume, in numbers, then we at least must have the call on our lives to influence and reach people in the same manner that He did. Some need a personal word that lets them know that God knows them.

2) Gifts in operation in the Word.

Let's look at a few scriptures that I believe allude to the nature of personal prophecy. Lets simply look at 1 Corinthians 14

1 Corinthians 14:3-5 

But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.  I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.

Prophecy is for edification of the church. Does it edify if God speaks specifically to one person and all see the blessing of that word? I believe it does. 

It would be utter chaos if "all…. prophesied" to speak specifically to the church. I believe this scripture encourages the idea of personal prophecy. If we are always seeking the Lord, then we should expect an answer and some times that answer will come as a personal prophetic word. In my estimation that is part of why Paul desires that all would prophesy. Sometimes we have to read the word for what is implied, for example:

Jesus is approached about Lazarus dying and He states "this sickness is not unto death" (John 11:4) which is to imply that there are sicknesses unto death.

The leap I make and perhaps it may be too far for some is that the Holy Spirit does not limit His revelation to us. We limit the revelation of the Holy Spirit's gifts and fruit in our lives. If the Holy Spirit dwells in us then all that He is, is available to us. More about this later. 

1 Corinthians 14: 24,25

But if all of you are prophesying, and unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your meeting, they will be convicted of sin and judged by what you say. 25 As they listen, their secret thoughts will be exposed, and they will fall to their knees and worship God, declaring, “God is truly here among you

To me, this is a very profound scripture referencing the power of a personal prophetic word. The "secrets of the heart are revealed" that sounds very personal, not so much for the whole church as it is for one person.

1 Corinthians 14: 26 - 29

How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all        things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.

Revelationapokalupsis  ap-ok-al'-oop–sis (Greek word)

disclosure:—appearing, coming, lighten, manifestation, be revealed, revelation. Paul alludes to, using this word, that He could be encouraging certain supernatural manifestations or an enlightenment from God's word or something supernaturally revealed (prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom)

The root for this word is  ἀποκαλύπτω, apokaluptō, ap-ok-al-oop'-to - to take off the cover, that is, disclose:—reveal. This is what prophesy, words of knowledge, and words of wisdom do they "take off the cover" of hidden things.  

Notice also those in authority and the general body of Christ must judge whether something is of God or not. This too edifies the church causing growth in the people as they talk about the prophetic word and compare it to scripture.

Last, let's look at the next few verses 31 – 33

In this way, all who prophesy will have a turn to speak, one after the other, so that everyone will learn and be encouraged. 32 Remember that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can take turns. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people.

My interpretation here, is that both things can take place, the church can receive a corporate prophecy and be encouraged but also if  "all" can prophesy they are flowing in the Holy Spirit to speak encouragement, challenge, reveal truth, even hidden sin (Ananias and Sapphria in Acts 5) so that believer's and nonbelievers might become who God has called them to be. There is to be no confusion when all prophesy one by one. With so many gifts, are they simply to speak corporate words to the church? Is it not the leaders, listed in Ephesians 4, job to guide and direct the church corporate under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit? Then what is the purpose of all the prophesy one by one? I would say to encourage individuals in their walk with Christ.

3) God's nature

God desires to communicate to his children. I believe personal prophecy is one of the ways that He does that. It is not the most regular way, but is one of the ways.

We believe, as charismatics that the Holy Spirit dwells in us. If we believe that, then why can't all of the gifts flow through us? I believe we are the ones who limit the Holy Spirit in our lives. Yes, there are specific offices that are authoritative and function in the higher level of gifts but the nature of God is that we would grow to love and understand Him in a very personal and loving way. I believe He uses the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives to prove that to both the saved and unsaved.

There have been abuses in the church, corporate, but I place that on bad leadership. I believe the reason God gave the functional authoritative gifts listed in Ephesians chapter 4, was so that as people are growing and learning they could have the guidance they need to function more effectively in spiritual gifts.

If a man or woman is given the gift, flow in the spirit of, or function in the office of Prophet, I believe they should be able to seek the Lord for answers when asked. Especially those in the office, we see many examples in the Old Testament and then the Agabus example in the New. We then also get into the theology of limitations where we need to discuss can a sin, you are walking in, limit God from speaking through you or to you. That is a whole other discussion.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Thought provoking questions

In the last few days I have had a series of thought provoking questions thrown my way. I love it, it forces me to dig in and share what I believe and why I believe it and it also shows me that people are really thinking through things.

Paul ran into a similar situation in Acts 17. As we read between the lines of verses 10 -12 we see that the people in Berea didn’t simply listen to Paul’s words but they searched the scripture to see if what Paul was saying was true or not. They weren’t simply being critical; they were hungry for the truth.

Paul instructs his young son in the faith in 2 Timothy 2:15

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

We all, not just those that are in “ministry”, are called to read, study, and know God’s Word. Whether we know it or believe it, we are all also called to the ministry.

Every month or so I have people asking what do I say to the Jehovah’s Witnesses that come to my door. What do I say, to the Mormons? One thing I can say for these two cults is that they do know their version of the word. Perhaps it is not fair to mention those two cults in particular because there are arguments that are not just found in the Bible. Much of their argument attacks what we believe about God, Jesus, and salvation. Many of the things we should have a firm grip on as we read the Bible.

The world is lost mainly because they don’t have the answers or know where to get them. God’s word is a love letter to each of us. The Psalmist wrote in chapter 119 “your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path”. Hearing about God only in church or through your favorite TV or radio program is like dating God. You have mushy feelings of love that are all about potential. Being in His Word on a daily basis is like being in love and married. It is daily growing, new discoveries, the wonder of learning something new about the person you love. It is knowing you are theirs’ and they are yours’. As you spend time in God’s word there is an assurance that He really does know you and you know His nature and character.

Reading the Word daily doesn’t mean we will have all the answers, all of the time that is why we go to church. Through church attendance we can have the Word reinforced in our lives. You will at times have a bit of loss or confusion as you are daily discovering the Word. The Holy Spirit will guide you as you commit yourself to diligently seeking Him. God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. He rewards us with peace, knowledge, understanding, love and growing in Him.

Life is full of hard questions. Some things take time to answer. Some things are only answered in hindsight. Knowing God’s Word gives us the assurance that everything will work out in the end. God is always faithful and loves us. There is always some thing encouraging we can glean from His Word.

God’s Word is also like an anchor to our souls. When the storms of life come. When those hard times or hard questions come, we can be at peace knowing our lives are anchored to Him and His Word.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Take a stand!

We live in a crazy world. Some who are supposed to be leaders in government have no moral code or ethics. Some who have no real sense of morality are leaders in entertainment. Those who hold themselves and others to a high moral standard are considered out of touch with reality or as one television producer put it “medieval” in their thinking.

This may seem in some ways like I am negating yesterday’s blog, that would be a misinterpretation of both blogs. Being real not only means being will to make and admit mistakes, it means living like Jesus in the care and compassion toward people but also holding them to a higher standard.

John 10:10 says, “the enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy but I have come to bring life and it abundantly.”

The enemy of our souls would like us to compromise the call of God on our lives to “go with the flow” and adapt Jesus to the world. Jesus paid taxes, did not allow drugs, alcohol, circumstances, or people to have more control over Him than God, yet submitted to authority. Jesus loved people intensely came down to their level to communicate with them but brought them up to His level. He never compromised one letter of the Word of God. He was tempted in every way that we are tempted, did not give in, or make excuses.

What He preached He lived. He talked about loving people and it showed it to all people even His enemies. He talked about an all-powerful Father in heaven and he displayed that power to the people around Him. He talked about a Holy and Righteous God and He lived out that holiness in his zeal for God’s house, God’s Word, and God’s desire for His people.

Where are you today? This world system, your friends, and some of your family at times, would like you to compromise. It is easy to do. Every Mom in the world has said something like this, “Well if Johnny jumped off of the bridge, would you do it too?” We aren’t kids any more but the same principle applies. We need to recognize when we are doing things that are against God’s ideal for us. We need to recognize the world is looking for leadership and whether you want to be or not you are who they are looking for. We have the answers because of whose we are not who we are. It is not always popular to take a stand but if you read history it is only those who have a cause and take a stand that have any real impact in this life.

Live the Gospel! Take a stand! Make a difference!

Monday, June 6, 2011

It’s hard work to be a Christian, or is it?

I have heard this more than once. Yes there is work to it and at times it is difficult but that is not what faith is about.

Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8,9

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Our faith is one based on the grace of God that unmerited favor that you have heard talked about. The idea is that God simply loves us. There is nothing we can do to earn his love He just does!

I have been reading a book titled “Pinocchio vs. the real boy” the book is a challenge to youth leaders or people working with youth that kids are looking for real and authentic people of faith.

You might ask, “What does that have to do with Christianity being hard?” It has a lot to do with it. Often our version of Christianity has rules that are extra-biblical and have little to nothing to do with real faith. The denomination I grew up in, going to the movies, a dance, women wearing pants, men not wearing a sport jacket all were virtually next to a sin or were considered a sin. Certain styles of music were considered a sin. However it was perfectly OK to be a glutton, to lie if it was a benefit to you, to gossip and to flirt with another persons spouse. It was all about the outward appearance and not the heart.

Hypocrisy is not about being imperfect. All of us are imperfect; none of us will ever achieve perfection in this life. I know it is easy to feel condemned by our imperfections. The truth is recognizing and acknowledging our imperfection is a way to freedom and becoming real. Each one of us, every day, is in need of the Father’s love and grace.

The more we make it into work the harder it becomes to rely on His love and grace. It becomes work when we feign perfection, when we are afraid to acknowledge our weakness and allow the Lord’s grace to cover us. It becomes work when we become afraid of losing God’s love or favor. It becomes work when we are more concerned about what others think about us than how God feels about us.

Real is about working to become all that God has called us to be and recognizing, in the process, we will make mistakes. Real is giving those mistakes, sins, failures to God knowing that He love us enough to keep encouraging us on.

Real is looking at people and things through God’s eyes. Not judging someone by our cultural standard of measurement but by God’s standard of love. Reality through God’s eyes is based on His character. His character is truth, love, joy, peace, patience and so much more.

Real is living God’s heartbeat! God’s heartbeat is loving people and drawing them to His truth and His freedom. We will never compromise who He is or who you are in Him.

Our relationship can be work at times but it is a work done out of love not fear. It is a relationship based on what is true, not a false need for perfection. It is a relationship based on our recognition of God’s love for each of us and those around us. This type of relationship takes our faith from work to freedom.

Our faith can be a struggle we are battling so many things. It is meant to be a struggle with a smile. A life based on real authentic relationship with Jesus, that changes the lives of others.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Jesus said in Luke 21 that there will come a day when men’s hearts will fail due to fear. The heart-attack rate in the US is on the steady increase. Stress and anxiety along with poor diet and a lack of exercise play a vital role in this increase. Does the Bible have anything to say about this? Can we biblically control the amount of worry or stress in our lives? The answer is, “yes”!

Jesus is the prince of peace. He said the peace I leave with you isn’t as the world gives but a greater peace, don’t be worried or be fearful (John 14:27). Paul wrote that we are to be anxious for nothing but pray, ask, be thankful and at peace about everything (Philippians 4:6). There are a number of verses that tell us not to worry or be anxious. We are told to rest and be at peace.

So why do we worry? Why are we anxious? Fear is a powerful weapon in the enemy’s arsenal. In fact, it is one of the very few powerful weapons he has, however like all of his weapons they only have as much power as we give them. If we choose to not be anxious, if we choose to not worry, then they have no power.

I know there are plenty of things to worry about out there. Here are a few ideas to bring it all under control.

1) If something is out of your control, why worry there is nothing you can do about it any way. Remember things are never really out of our control because when we pray things happen. Fear does not move God. Faith does!
2) Many times we worry about things that only “may” happen rather than must happen. Why worry about possibilities? When we worry about possibilities we are only focusing on the possibilities with a negative potential impact. There is always at least an equal amount of possibilities that have a positive impact to any given situation.
3) Do something about the problem! Rather than constantly worrying about something, become proactive and do something about them. If you are worried about your health, start taking care of yourself. If you are worried about your finances look for ways to correct any problems you may have. If you are not tithing, tithe. As long as your money is in your control, your finances won’t get better. If you are concerned about your future, start reading your Bible and developing a better relationship with Him. Whatever you control will only be as good as what you can do with it. Whatever God controls will be as good as what He can do with it!

A scripture that may be overused but I believe applies here, comes from the book of Jeremiah, chapter 29 and verse 11. “The plans that I have for you, says the Lord, are for a hope and a future, plans for your welfare and not for your destruction.” God has amazing plans for us, plans that we can even comprehend the complete scope of them. He also said in 2 chronicles 16 that God is constantly looking to fully and completely support those whose hearts are totally His.

How amazing is it that the God of the universe desires to support, strengthen, supply, encourage, and bless us. So why worry?

By the way, as a side note, gluttony is a sin! You can protect your heart by eating right rather than eating to meet an emotional need and by exercise. It will also help break feelings of depression and anxiety.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Accidental witnessing

I was driving early this morning with the top down on my car, K-love is on the radio blaring, “Give me your eyes” by Brandon Heath. I pulled up to a stop light. When you are in a convertible the radio needs to be extra loud as you are driving because of all of the road and wind noise but when you stop, if I would have had a bass boost I would have been like of those teenagers who power their cars by their stereos. It wasn’t bad though as I looked around I noticed people near me were head bopping to the song as well. My mind went through a whole series of questions; “How many times does this happen?”, “How has my driving been?”, “Does anyone understand what they are bopping their heads to?” In a way I was accidentally witnessing.

Our lives should be a living example of Christ by everything we do. The apostle Paul said that we are to be letters easily read by all men (2 Corinthians 3:3). In other words, people should be watching us, seeing Jesus in what we say and do. Jesus criticized the Pharisees for putting on a show but not really having the true heart. It is not about a show of holiness but a reflection of what is really in our hearts.

Being Jesus is not just about sharing our faith with words but simple things can lead to “accidental” witnessing. Have you ever seen someone in trouble with their car and offered to help? Watched a baby throw a toy to the ground and Mom did not see it, so you picked it up? See someone struggling with groceries and you helped? There was a time when things like these were common courtesies but that day, has long past. Simple things like that can, at the very least bring joy to someone for a moment or open a conversation. In the book Conspiracy of Kindness, Steve Sjogren discusses that simple acts of kindness from a pure heart can become convincing acts of evangelism.

Part of the fruit of the Spirit is “kindness” something lacking in much of today’s society. Taking a few minutes out of your day to live Jesus before others can make for some interesting “accidental witnessing” that could change a life for eternity. Please keep in mind; generally speaking, it takes many such encounters to lead someone to saving faith. We are to simply “be Jesus” to others and allow the Holy Spirit to do through work through us. Everyone can be a witness; perhaps this is a style that will work for you. Allow the Lord to use you to change lives through simple acts of accidental witnessing, watch and see where the Lord leads.