Paris, Terrorism, and Refugees

I didn’t change my facebook photo to the French flag this week.  Not because I’m not praying for Paris, but because for me, this is a global issue.  If there was a photo like that with an image of the Earth, I would change my photo to it.  


I remember the exact moment I heard about ISIS.  I was standing in my kitchen making dinner and I got a very uneasy feeling in my gut.  The first thought to cross my mind was, “If this thing does not get dealt with, there is nothing stopping it from spreading across the entire earth.”


The truth is, the world is actually a very tiny place.  I have a biblical worldview that makes it even smaller in some ways.  I believe the Church is the body of Christ, and no matter what continent we live on, we are all one body.  The scripture tells us, “when one part of the body suffers, every part suffers with it.”  To me this means the person facing persecution in Paris or Turkey or Iraq is a part of me and I am a part of them.  Their suffering is my suffering and vice versa.


Certainly, God sees the world as one whole.  Having a worldview that encompasses His viewpoint will help us intercede in an effective manner.  When tragedy strikes anywhere in the world, it should affect us as if it was happening in our own town.  Just because someone doesn’t speak my language doesn’t mean we’re not connected in an eternal way.  


It’s time for the Church to come into clarity about her position before the throne of God.  We are not called to be a weak body. We are destined and created to demonstrate our God-given authority.  We have been given access to the throne room of Heaven which is the best place we can intercede from.  


As we connect with Him in that secret intimate place, He will give us revelation in how to pray effectively.  If you are unsure of what I mean by this, try this simple exercise:


Turn on some worship music and either sit or lay down quietly.  Close your eyes, and use your imagination to picture Jesus.  Put your focus on Him and allow His presence to invade your mind, will, and emotions.  Once you are in that secret place of fellowship with Him, simply begin to ask Him how He would like you to pray.  You may be amazed at what you hear and the results you will see!


Ask the Lord to give you His heart for the Nations.  The attack on Paris this week was not just an attack on Paris. It represents an attack on all of us.  When evil like that happens, it happens on a global level. Let’s not use it as an example of our political beliefs, whatever side you are on.  Let’s ask God what He has to say about it, and what our response in prayer needs to be.  
Tragedies like this could very well increase in the coming days.  Arguing and blaming will not help.  Turning our eyes toward Heaven and getting an idea of what God has to say is the place to start.

Everything Changes

Have you ever experienced the atmosphere in a room change?  Maybe someone was in a bad mood.  The color of the air seemed to change as their emotions filled the space.  The opposite can also happen when someone with gladness and joy releases peace.   One human can change the mood in a room for better or for worse.

If people can change the climate in a room – how much more can God?

One thing I will always seek after in ministry is God’s presence.  When He is present, anything can happen.  It’s like the words to the song, “When You walk into the room, everything changes.”  Healing, deliverance, restoration, and great joy abound when He is present.

But isn’t God everywhere? Yes, God is omnipresent.  However, His tangible presence is referred to in scripture as His Kabowd….or in more familiar terms, His Glory.   The Glory of God is defined as His heavy, weighty, presence.  It’s what Moses requested when he prayed, “Show me your Glory” in Exodus 33:18.  

God answered Moses’ prayer in a distinct way.  He will do the same for us as we seek and pray for the manifestation of His Glory to be in our lives, ministries, etc.

Is it important for us to make a request like Moses?  Certainly, God can crash in, even in His glory, without being asked.  But most of the time, from my experience, God is more present when His presence is INVITED.

We live in a condo.  Many of the condos around us are occupied with college students.  Occasionally, someone will walk into ours on accident.  It doesn’t happen very often, but it has happened on occasion. More often though, the only people who come into our condo have been invited in.  

Invitations are powerful.  They give access.

When we invite God’s presence ….His RSVP is affirmative.


We can take a couple of approaches when it comes to inviting God’s presence into our day, life, or gathering.  

First approach:

We can focus on doing our own thing and leave it all up to God whether He shows up or not. I’ve heard people say this about receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They will say, “If God wants me to pray in tongues, He will grab ahold of my mouth and make me.”

Some have the perception this is what happened at Pentecost…that God just showed up & made everyone speak in tongues. They were not asking specifically for the gift of tongues, but they were expecting an encounter with the Holy Spirit. Jesus had told them to wait for the gift that had been promised.

They were ACTIVE in their seeking and waiting.

I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with the logic that “God will make me…”  In fact, it completely removes responsibility off of the individual and puts it solely onto God. I disagree, because I believe God allows us to participate in invitation.

While preparing and planning (for whatever) we can say: “I’m not going to seek an experience…I’m only going to focus on my agenda…if God wants to interrupt me, that’s up to Him.”

Ok –  fine, but don’t expect much of an encounter with God if you’re not asking for one.

Second approach:

A second approach is to invite God into our midst. Moses ASKED and God responded.

Jesus already made the first move.  He came as a man, and sacrificed His life in a brutal death so we could gain access to HIM.  Sometimes I wonder if we’ve forgotten the veil in the temple was torn.  That means we can boldly go into His throne room.   He is personal.   God is not some distant being up in space.  He is as near as our air.  He has form, substance and personality.  He has feelings and thoughts.  He’s a real person who has invited us to intimately know Him.

I remember being taught that the “touchy feely” part of Christianity was just for new believers.  I was taught that there was a honeymoon stage in the beginning, and after that we “mature” into walking by faith and not by our feelings.  Now I understand that is mostly a lie to move us into a religious system.  Jesus paid a great price to bridge the gap between us and Him.   The truth is IT IS FINISHED.  If we must “walk solely by faith and not our feelings” then perhaps we have missed the whole point.  The point being, the finished work of the cross.  

Meditating on the finished work brings up a lot of feelings for me.  Feelings of deep gratitude, humility, and a desire to pour out my entire life for Him.  Feelings of desiring more intimacy with this beautiful Savior, and wanting Him to receive the glory due His name. Feelings are not all bad.  Jesus created us to feel stuff because He also has feelings.

Feeling HIS presence is one of the best ways to experience Him.

Revelation of the access Jesus has given us to HIM is really all we need.  Confidence knowing He will give an affirmative answer to our invitation, makes asking that much more simple.

It sounds like this:

  • Holy Spirit, come.
  • God, come.
  • Show us Your glory.
  • Lord, fill our (home, office, place of work, church) with Your tangible presence.
  • Jesus, we love You, we welcome You here.

It really is that simple.  God loves us. He’s looking for resting places in people…  individuals and families who are simply humble and open to allowing His presence to rest in them.

How about you?  Will you allow His presence to invade your spirit, soul, and mind today?  Will you be His resting place?  

It’s as simple as asking.

Prophecies and Predictions

Some have seen the recent blood moons as an opportunity to give “prophecies” and “predictions” about current and future events.   The moons are in themselves interesting, but jumping to conclusions about what they mean is presumptuous at best.


I’ve enjoyed the moon this week.  I was bummed we had too much cloud cover the night of the eclipse to see it.  Last night it was beautiful, big and bright in the sky.  I find it fascinating that God knew these events would coincide with the Jewish feasts. He is big enough and sovereign enough to orchestrate something so massive that it leaves no doubt He is behind it.  It excites me that people are looking for answers, and intrigued by it all.

The important thing is to filter ALL events, prophecies, and predictions through the character of God.

Is He in a bad or good mood?  Is He angry or happy?  Is He punishing or patient?  Is He frugal or generous?  Does He withhold or does He provide?

If you’re fearful about “prophecies” and “predictions” that you are hearing, I challenge you to filter them through the goodness and kindness of God.  Always ask yourself if it sounds like Him.

I am excited about the day we are living in.

The Bible tells us:

“Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this.”
Isaiah 9:7 ASV

Let’s filter predictions and prophecies through a biblical grid.  The Bible says that His government and His peace will only increase in the earth!

Can God warn us of impending doom?  Yes, He did that in the Bible. He warned and gave clear instruction that led to protection.

What is going to happen in the future?  I have no stinking idea.  He keeps things hidden because He knows the joy we experience in chasing answers and discovering hidden treasures.  He loves to surprise us, just like we enjoy surprising our own kids. Sometimes He gives clues, and other times He gives clear instruction.  Sometimes He gives specifics about future events, but most of the time He only gives hints about how things are going happen, with the knowledge that prayer is always a game changer.

This is what I know for sure:

Jesus came to destroy the works of Satan.  As His followers, we get to be a part of the devil’s annihilation in the earth today.  It’s time for the Church to rise up in our secure identity, stomp on the Devil’s head and walk in the authority we’ve been given.

Confusion and fear about impending doom will cripple the strength we’re commissioned walk in.

Let’s rise up and be a force of prayer, restoration, and reconciliation in the earth.  No weapon fashioned against a church like this will prosper.  We will transform the world around us, as we humbly love and serve the hurting and broken.

“For this is what the Lord says— he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited— he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.”
Isaiah 45:18 NIV

As you listen and digest people’s predictions, be careful to filter all of it through the knowledge that God is a good God.  This one thing can ease a lot of fear and bring peace and rest to your soul.

While We Wait

400 years….in my book, that’s a long time.  A long time for God to be silent.  There were 400 years of silence between Malachi and John the Baptist.  400 years for the religious people to press in, pray, and prepare for the messiah.


And some of them did.  Remember Simeon and Anna? They were so expectant for the arrival of their savior.  Anna had been a widow for many years, devoting herself to prayer and waiting.  Simeon knew he would not die until he held the Messiah.



Some grew more hungry during that 400 year time span and others grew more hardened.  This second group did not devote themselves to prayer so much, but more to rule keeping and rule making.  These religious leaders cared more about protocol than people.  They became so wrapped up with keeping the law, and adding to the law, that they completely missed the messiah when He showed up on the scene.  Not only did they miss Him, but they persecuted and sentenced Him to a torturous death.


We must never forget that it was a religious spirit that put Jesus on the cross.  It’s a sobering reminder to stay hungry for His presence, voice, and spirit.


2,015 years is also a long time in my book. It’s a fair amount of time for a religious spirit to take root….or for revival to flare up.


I prefer the latter.


We are once again living in a season of waiting and anticipation for the coming King and the reigning of His kingdom.  In the season between Malachi and John the Baptist there were those who waited with anticipation and others who filled the void with religious acts and ceremony.  In this season of waiting we can also choose one or the other.



Religious spirits are often difficult to discern because they appear to be righteous.  In reality they are the complete opposite. What looks like a “good” thing is actually a creepy, crawly, demonic force that aims to take the life right out of you and bring others into bondage.  So, let’s not go there…


Instead…let’s focus on the One who did the heavy lifting for us.  Remember…He’s coming again, and we’re in a season of preparation.  We can spend this time busying ourselves with good-looking religious works…or become more used to His voice and glorious presence so that we’re ready for His appearing.

I can hardly wait.  Can you????

Who’s the Boss?

How would you feel if a stranger came, uninvited, into your house, and began to re-decorate?  They don’t ask about your taste or style.  They just barge in and take control.  My guess is that you might feel a range of emotions, and rightly so.

Perhaps decorating is that stranger’s specialty.  Maybe they’re really good at it.  Maybe they are a leading world “authority” on furniture arranging.  Maybe it would be foolish not to recognize their gifts and expertise.  But still…unless you’ve given them permission to redecorate, they are out of line, disrespecting your authority as owner.  They might be an authority on decorating, but they have no authority to use their gifts in your home unless you allow them first.

Did you know the Bible talks about different kinds of authority?  One is an authority given by God, and the other is given by man.  When these two kinds of authority are functioning in love and unity, a glorious atmosphere can develop.  When these two kinds of authority are out of balance things can, and often do, become more messy.


My desire is to help the Church (The Bride of Christ) operate in health when it comes to this topic.  Many people have been damaged by an unhealthy understanding of authority.  The Father’s heart is to bring restoration and healing.

This is where the furniture arranging illustration starts to make sense.  If I’m in your house, I’m under your authority. Your Exsousia (in Greek).  Now, does that mean you have the right to abuse or manipulate me in any way?  No!  It certainly does not.  I also come under a higher authority; the law of LOVE, God’s law, His Exousia which does not require me to be manipulated or controlled.

In a healthy environment God’s exousia exists supreme.   Restraints come off and love reigns.  Get it?  Love reigns?  Sometimes love releases and sometimes it restrains, but both are done in LOVE. This generates an atmosphere of safety and hope for everyone.  Most importantly, sons and daughters are discipled.  Men and women understand who they belong to and where their true identity comes from.  A humble and discerning leader will equip others to fulfill their calling and vision.

Who is the boss, really?  What I mean is,  who’s the ultimate ruler over all? I hope we all agree that Jesus is the head of the church?  If we don’t agree on this point, then we aren’t going to agree on much else.


The safest environments I’ve known are ones where leaders tune into the voice of the Lord and Jesus is exalted through humble leadership.   In ministry, it’s my aim to create a safe environment for those who attend our events.  For my team, this means making room for what the Holy Spirit wants to do.  I’ve found that as we gather together with this corporate mission, we rarely have to deal with “strange fire”.   As we make room for the presence of the Lord, He woos us corporately into what He’s doing.  He gets the glory as lives are transformed through His healing touch, which is something I,  as a leader, don’t want to get in the way of.

How could I get in the way of what God wants to do?   I could lean on my own understanding versus His.  I could pre-decide what every single prayer and ministry moment was going to look like.  We could literally schedule God out of our events.  Instead, we have chosen to make room.  Yes, we do a TON of planning.  We write down a detailed schedule, but in that schedule, there is room.  I can’t think of one example where the Lord did not show me something prophetically during an event.  Words of knowledge are great to pray for ahead of time, but most often they come in the moments.  The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are spontaneous, not programmed.  We can not schedule the Holy Ghost.


I’m continuing to learn to trust the Holy Spirit.  Leaning on Him is a great place to lead from.  My favorite thing is watching people’s countenance literally change during our conferences.  This doesn’t happen without God touching souls in a deep, restorative way.  My job is to step back and make a place for Him to move.

Let me give you three guidelines to help you stay in a healthy place with this word authority.  My desire is to see God redeem it.  Authority is a word God spoke,  a word God loves.   We can love God’s design for authority, too, once we understand it better.

    1. Stay unoffendable.  I know…easier said than done, right?  But truly…do this.  Whether you’re the leader or the one under someone else’s authority….stay unoffendable.  Read Romans 12 and take note of the words about blessing those who persecute you.  When you get offended, forgive.  Every time that feeling of offence and pain comes at you,  forgive again.  Soak your wounds in God’s presence and light.  The best way to know if you are offended is to notice how much emotional pain you’re in.  If you still react when you’re reminded of something, there’s more healing to come.  The best way to move forward in your healing is to continue forgiving, blessing, and soaking until the sting is gone.  It takes time for our bodies to heal when we have a physical wound, and it takes time for our souls to heal when we have emotional wounds.  Our human nature wants instant results, but some things just take time.

     2. Communicate, communicate, communicate.  100% of misunderstanding happens because of a lack of communication.  Our flesh will jump to conclusions, especially when we are hurt, and this does not improve relationship. Talk it out…if you can.  Find out what’s going on.  Try NOT to judge motives.  Try to assume the best, until someone confirms otherwise.

     3. Be a powerful person. Don’t allow unhealthy people to control you.  If you’re a leader of  people who are wounding others, use your authority to deal with that in a healthy manner.  If you’re being controlled, manipulated, or abused by leadership, consider what moves you need to make to stay healthy.  Whether leader or participant, you have the power to do what’s needed to safeguard yourself and those who you oversee.  Seek outside counsel in either case.

I believe the church is becoming more and more glorious as healthy authority is being understood and established.   What about you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts about this issue.  Feel free to comment below!

Too Scary to Read

A couple of years ago I was outside after a huge hail storm.  One of the college students who lived in our neighborhood was having a smoke break on his deck and commented about the crazy weather.  He said, “It’s like we’re living in the end times or something… like the book of Revelation.”  I don’t know what his spiritual beliefs were, but current events were making him wonder about spiritual things. And that was two years ago.  Before Ebola, ISIS, and some of the crisis we face in 2014.

If you type in “Is this the….” into Google – guess what will come up 1st, 2nd, and 3rd?

You guess it:

  1. End
  2. End Times
  3. End of the world

That means a lot of people are wondering if this is the end.  Some of them might be looking for answers.  Motivated ones will research the Bible, the book of Revelation in particular.

I’ve had more than one person tell me the book of Revelation scares them, or that it’s, “too scary to read.”   If you’ve had any apprehension at all about reading this book of the Bible, this post is for you.  If a few people have told me, then there are probably many who feel this way.  Don’t worry, I’m not asking for a show of hands.  Now, take a deep breath and another sip of whatever you’re drinking…I promise, I’m not going to scare you!   I want to encourage us today to take a deeper look at this book.  Revelation has encouragement for us in any time.

Being afraid of what it might say is not a helpful foundation for studying it.

I’m not going to go into a big hermeneutics lesson here, but rule #1, for the purpose of this post, is:  fear and Bible interpretation do not go together.  It’s always important to interpret scripture in light of God’s love and character.  He’s NOT scary by nature, therefore, His Word is not designed to scare anyone.  The only reason to have any fear while reading scripture would be if you do not have a relationship with Jesus.  And if that’s the case, you can read more about developing that relationship here.

Revelation is filled with 22 mysterious, yet amazing chapters about Jesus and His bride. There’s not one individual who can say they completely understand everything that’s written in it, but all of us can find strength and encouragement there.

The name of the book itself is AMAZING….The book of REVELATION.  Wow…revelation is an amazing gift…and this book was given to John (the author) as an incredible revelation.  I believe everything from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 is revelatory.  God gave us the Bible; it’s alive. He reveals Himself on every page.  I love that John simply shares the revelation and does not go into a big explanation about it.

More often than not we complicate things that are meant to be more simple.  The book of Revelation is meant to bless and not scare.  John said in Revelation 1:3, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it…..”  So, I’m thinking, if you want to be blessed, read the book.  But don’t just read it, ask God to bring you clarity and understanding as you read.  I’m not saying that you’ll “get it” entirely, but  you’ll be blessed and encouraged as the eyes of your heart are opened.

The book of Revelation has encouraged me on many levels.  I’ve been comforted, convicted, and intrigued.  It’s given me a hunger to experience more of Jesus.  John was privileged, but the blood of Jesus has bought us all similar privilege.  None of us will be adding to scripture, but all of us are welcome into revelatory encounters with the word of God, which is not only a book, but also a person!  If you’re weary or dry, I encourage you to take time and meditate on the book of Revelation.  Your spirit will be refreshed as you “eat” His words of life.


Are we living in the end times?  I don’t know, but we are living in some exciting times, and God is not surprised by anything that’s happening.  Are things getting better or worse? Yes. Both. (Isaiah 60:1) Can reading the book of Revelation encourage us in these days?  Yes. Will it answer every question we have? Probably not.

Is the Church called to be a light no matter what time in history it is?  Absolutely.  Will encountering God in His word equip us to be more of a light to the lost and hurting?  Without a doubt!


Here are the facts:

  1. These are troubling times.
  2. God is our refuge and strength in times of trouble.
  3. We discover more of God when we read His Word.
  4. God is in the book of Revelation.

There are a few ways we can respond to the times we live in.  We can bury our head in the sand, caving to fear; Or we can be brave and face head on that which in front of us, equipped with His power, Word, and love.

As I was typing, this song came on and I think it sums up what I’m saying perfectly.

No matter what happens…it is well with my soul.  When I have saturated myself in Him and His Word, I am confident in who I am and Whose I am.  Indeed, it is well with my soul.


Our Confidence

noun \ˈkän-fə-dən(t)s, -ˌden(t)s\
: a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something
: a feeling or belief that someone or something is good or has the ability to succeed at something
: the feeling of being certain that something will happen or that something is true

Confidence determines outcomes.

My 10 year old son started playing All Star Baseball this year. I’ve always enjoyed watching baseball, but never fully realized how mental and emotional this game can be. It’s easy to tell when the boys are feeling more or less confident. Confidence affects their outcomes. When they get ahead in hits and runs their confidence is high. They step up to the plate and go to battle every time. I can see the confidence on their faces. When their confidence is shattered, they don’t look the same. They make more errors and get fewer hits & runs. And I haven’t even talked about pitching yet. Pitchers have the toughest job of all and require the most confidence.

Our little Jr. Buck team has had some amazing victories this year and some emotional losses. I’m thinking that 10 year old baseball is just as intense as the MLB world series….minus the audience. The world might not be watching, but the competition feels just as fierce.

Right now they are learning that everyone makes mistakes, and those mistakes can not take them out of the game. One error in baseball can be very costly, but they are learning that they can not allow that one mistake to play into their next at-bat, pitch, or catch. The coaches will encourage them to, “shake it off”, parents will cheer, “it’s ok…get the next one.”


Wait…am I talking about baseball or real life?

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a voice over our shoulder every time we messed up affirming us that our identity is not found in how we perform, but in who we are? Oh, yes! There is such a voice of affirmation:

But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory. Hebrews 3:6

And what an incredible confidence it is! Confidence here connotes the following: freedom, unreserved-ness, fearless confidence, and cheerful courage. (Thanks Dr. Dav for that research!)

In other words..when we step up to the plate of life, we can swing with full confidence, knowing that we will succeed. Our success is guaranteed because of the finished work of the cross. I’m not talking about finances or fame here, I’m talking about success that comes from knowing who you belong to and finishing your race with confidence in Him.

Woah! Now that is something to meditate on and celebrate!