Preaching the Gospel is Preaching the Gospel

Not drilling wells

Jesus didn’t send his disciples into cities, and say   “When you go, be nice, trendy, hard-working, law-abiding citizens, start successful businesses, be super culturally relevant, and pray…   And wait…   Wait for that moment.  That moment someone asks you why you’re such a great person and why you’re so successful. Then, and only then, preach the gospel to them.” Actually he told them to preach the gospel, heal the sick, cleanse lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Matthew 10:8   It’s dumb for us to do everything that helps us spread the gospel, but never actually preach the gospel. That’s just dumb. I understand that there are many “covert ministries”, and spheres where much wisdom is required, and I’m thankful for Christians who God has positioned to bring influence in the various mountains of culture. And I understand that in most cases, it would not be a good idea to jump up onto the table and start proclaiming a blistering bible message. However, I’m afraid that we’ve become kind of like hunters sitting in our hunting blinds, and we’re so preoccupied with the process of sitting in waiting and perfecting our animal calls, that we never take the shot. We just watch the game stroll by and we pat each other on the back, and pride ourselves in how close they got to us without getting spooked.

Don’t let your heart get crusty

A prophetic word

“Don’t let your heart get crusty.   You need to soak.   Stop trying to run a marathon.”  Those were the exact words I heard from the Lord in prayer.  Perhaps this word is for you too.  My heart was growing crusty.  It’s not that I was losing my edge.  The opposite would be closer to the truth.  It was that in the place where my heart used to be full of compassion and tenderness, it was becoming edgy.

Soaking.  

Perhaps the term “soak” doesn’t make a lot of sense to some.  “Soaking” is when I spend time in Gods presence without necessarily doing anything.  “Soaking in His presence.”  Not tomato juice.  I’m not reading my bible, I’m not praying for anything.  It’s when I’m just resting in His presence, and practicing being loved by Him. Sometimes life turns into a marathon.  And in my attempt to catch up with life, I forget how to rest.  How to disengage.  How to pause.  I believe it was never intended to be that way.  All of nature is more like a series of sprints than a dragged-out marathon. It’s even the natural way our bodies function.  Our muscles slide into atrophy if we do nothing.  But if we over-work them, they are traumatized.  They need stress, and then sufficient recovery to grow and be healthy.

Intimacy and work.  You need both. 
If you work too hard, you lose intimacy, and you forget how to rest and soak.
In my case, I have to be careful to not let my identity of being a son, who the Father trusts, not to let that give me an excuse to not seek the the Holy Spirit for His lead.
Either extremes are unhealthy.
In one extreme people supposedly rely so much on God leading them, that they simply don’t really do much, because they’re waiting on His lead.  In my case, as I learn to be a son, and realize the light is green by default, and pursue releasing the Kingdom on the earth, I can start to neglect allowing Holy Spirit to lead me.
The third group is the people who don’t really believe God could lead us supernaturally, and rely entirely on just serving the Lord faithfully.  Those are the ones who have a younger prodigal brother, who they despise.
We’re all learning what it looks like to live as sons and daughters, and no longer slaves.
Sometimes we learn one piece, but neglect the other piece.
Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
    as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to listen than the fat of rams.  1 Samuel 15:22
It’s important that we live with the realization that He first loved us, and continues to love us, before we loved him.
If we get that mixed around, then it really screws us up, because then we start
working for love,
working for healing,
working for favor,
working for blessing.
Instead of being sons and daughters and inheriting what belongs to us.
God wants to install sonship sensors, that give us an alert warning when we start to slip out of sonship, and back into slavery and orphanhood.  
When I come to the Train Station in our city, where I minister to the homeless, I can either rest in Gods goodness and in my identity as a son.
Or I can feel the pressure of making something happen.
You see, often people get healed and we see phenomenal miracles.
However, when my hope is in my ability to make something happen, I end up disappointed and discouraged, because I can never live up to the standards I set for myself.
But He is strong in my weakness.  That’s where the real “magic” lies.
Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” Luke 15:31
What is it like to be hugged by Father God?
Did you get many hugs as a child?  Or very few?
Our loving Heavenly Father wants to hug you, and speak words of pride and joy over you, and let you know how proud He is with you.  That’s the heart of God.
Here’s the challenge.  
Practicing being loved by the Father tends to be a more difficult task for us humans as opposed to us loving the Father.
That’s where we get everything messed up, and slip into a performance, orphan mentality.
The problem is that we tend to be more concerned about how well we’re loving Him than keeping a close watch on how well we’re allowing Him to love us.
He’s the One pursuing us.  If you’re not experiencing that reality, then you’re missing out.



Image courtesy of: ReflectedSerendipity on Flickr

A list of declarations that changed my life

Exposing a subtle lie I used to believe about the power of the tongue

There was a time when I was a bit skeptical about making “declarations of faith” as some do in certain Christian circles.  When I would run into Christians who believed in this kind of practice, I often felt like it wasn’t sincere and authentic.  I believe God wants us to be real.  I mean read the Psalms.  David didn’t polish his words with God.  That all changed when I was in BSSM taking the Church Leadership Track led by Steve Backlund, the crazy guy who is always trying to get people to laugh at lies.  I realized there were probably a few lies I had been believing, and my attitude toward making those audacious un-authentic declarations of faith started to change dramatically.  It was a combination of scriptural teaching, and empirical evidence from my own life that slowly converted me to one of those crazies. The problem with deception is you don’t know you’re deceived until it is somehow exposed. I am fully aware that many aspects of this idea of making declarations and proclamations has been abused in many ways.  But unfortunately we, the church, have a great reputation of throwing the baby out with the bath water.  I don’t know how someone could throw a baby out with the bath water.  I prefer not visualizing that.  

The Prophet Of Love

Who went to meet the lover of his soul on Valentines Day

Three years ago, on Valentines Day, a great man, who many came to call “The Prophet of Love” went home to meet the lover of his soul.
I had the honor to know Bob. He was a dear friend of our family. I never met anyone who knew scripture like he did.
And he truly lived to please the Lord.  Many who heard him for the first time, might think he was just some corky, mystical hill billy, but he was a great prophet, and he was the real deal.  He could also interpret dreams like nobody I’ve ever heard of.  He blessed my parents, and our extended family tremendously through interpreting dreams, which he would do using scripture he knew so well.  My earliest memory as a kid being exposed to the prophetic, was hearing how Bob predicted with precision to the day, a horrible earth quake that struck San Francisco, when the bridge was damaged.  As a kid, that really impacted me, that God could use someone to actually predict something like that with such accuracy.

The conversation with a liberal, Jewish, atheist businessman that flipped his world upside down

This was a conversation I transcribed from a podcast with Kris Vallotton. Kris was exhausted, and not interested in talking with anyone. However this liberal, Jewish, atheist businessman just wouldn’t leave him alone.
Kris Vallotton is a prophet with a unique calling that often involves ministering to leaders of nations, and people from various walks of life, outside the church.
He has prophesied to individuals about becoming presidents of nations, and these prophecies have been fulfilled.
God opens many doors for him to influence, and minister to people in very high positions of government from both sides of the aisle, politically speaking.  He has a very unique Joseph/Daniel anointing to prophetically speak into people’s lives in ways that literally transform them.
He also is the co-founder and leader of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) in Redding, CA where I completed the BSSM program in 2011-2014. It was three of the best years of my life, and I highly recommend everything Kris has written.

4 Examples of how unlocked identity reveals your destiny

The revelation of your true identity leads to the revelation of God’s true identity.  This leads to the revelation of your true destiny.  Whether you are a follower of Jesus or not, you’re probably like me and have spent most of your life trying to answer this million dollar question. “Who in the world am I?”  When we find out that someone has not been born again, our first reaction is to tell them about Jesus.  Perhaps in some cases the first step should not be to tell them about who Jesus is.  Perhaps we would be more effective in sharing our faith if we followed Jesus’ example and made our first step to tell them about who they really are.  I am fully aware that this might come off as some sort of humanistic false idea.  Easy… Allow me to explain.

The scientifically proven way to hear God’s voice

I was 15 years old.  My heart was on fire and my brain was almost boiling.  As the pressure increased, tears started to run down my cheeks. It was a stuffy summer night and I was pacing the dusty streets of Kharkov, Ukraine.  I was frustrated with people.  Not just any people.  It was the people who would say “God told me this…” and “God told me that…”
“Do they really hear God?” I thought. Or are people just audaciously faking it?

I was desperate to hear God’s voice.  I wanted it more than anything else in the world!

Have you ever had thoughts like that?

A simple hack for effectively stewarding prophetic words

It will make you feel RICH

So, you have promises and prophetic words from God for you life?   Good.  The prickly truth however is this.  Just because you have prophecies and promises stored away in your little treasure box, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re getting all the juice.Here I share one little practical approach that was a real game changer for me personally.

6 steps to not being afraid to fail in the prophetic

This is by no means a comprehensive guide to ministering in the prophetic.  Just a few things I’ve personally learned over the last few years.
Once I was praying for a friend.  I saw a Viking helmet on his head.  I don’t know how I saw it.  It could have been in the spirit, or maybe just in my imagination, but I believed it was from the Lord.  “What could that mean?” I thought.  Is that something negative?  I got an interpretation that I believed was from the Lord (and it may very well have been).  Here’s the funny thing however.  When I shared the word, I thought it was symbolic.  “Of course it’s symbolic.” I thought.  “How could a Viking helmet be a word of knowledge?”  Well it turned out the last few weeks, my friend had been watching a program on TV about Vikings and the Lord was showing him a lot through it.  So was my word a word of knowledge or prophecy?  Probably more of a word of knowledge than a prophecy, however I didn’t know that when I gave it.

  1. Don’t worry about whether a word is prophetic/symbolic or a word of knowledge.  

I would say 90% of the time, when I receive a word of knowledge, I don’t know it’s a word of knowledge.  Obviously there is a distinctive difference between a word of knowledge and a prophecy.  A word of knowledge is a current piece of information you receive from the Holy Spirit that you could not otherwise know.  A prophecy refers to the future. So what if you receive a picture, vision or word from the Lord, and you don’t know what it is? Is it a word of knowledge or a prophecy?  I am continually more and more convinced that we don’t necessarily need to know if it’s one or the other.

  1. Don’t be afraid of the dark.  That’s where God trains us in humility and childlikeness.

Sometimes getting a word from the Lord is like reaching out in pitch black darkness hoping to feel something.  You don’t necessarily feel confident.  That’s where words of knowledge are so useful however.  If you give a prophecy to someone, it’s sometimes difficult to judge the word, and determine how reliable it is.  However, if it’s a word of knowledge, it won’t take long to find out if it was from the Lord or not. I believe this particular dynamic in itself is part of the way God trains us in humility and child-likeness.  It takes some courage to share something you don’t understand at all. Something that seems strange or funny, or might make you downright look stupid if it’s wrong. I was praying for a young woman by the name of Victoria.  I kept hearing the word “victorious beauty” going through my head.  Again, I was striving to understand what it could mean.  Was it because I thought she was beautiful?  Or was it the Lord?  I just shared it, not really knowing what it meant.  Then she said “my middle name is Beauty.”  Sometimes the most encouraging word a person can get is a word of knowledge.  Just to know that God knows you, and sees you right where you’re at.  It’s powerful.

  1. Prophecy and words of knowledge go hand in hand 

Scripture doesn’t necessarily separate them like we tend to.  In 1 Corinthians 14:24,25 Pauls says “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.”  Paul refers to prophesy talking about secrets of one’s heart being disclosed.  I would say disclosing secrets of one’s heart is a word of knowledge.  It’s not necessarily predicting the future. Shawn Boltz, who ministers in a phenomenal prophetic gift once shared a concept he learned from the great prophet Bob Jones when ministering in the prophetic. He will share a word of knowledge, and if the word of knowledge is accurate, then he knows the prophecy is right also, so only then will he share the prophecy.  It lines up perfectly with Jesus speaking to Nathaniel in the gospel of John.  First Jesus spoke to his identity: “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” then he went on and prophesied about his future:  “Truly, truly, I say to you,[k] you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

  1. If you don’t have an interpretation, don’t share it. 

In his book Basic Training for the Prophetic Ministry, Kris Vallotton teaches “If you have an interpretation, share it.  If the Lord is not giving you an interpretation, then don’t try to come up with one.”  Just share the word.  Chances are the person will have one.  Perhaps  we attribute to ourselves far too much responsibility for explaining words.  Many great prophetic words get messed up by bad interpretation.  I was praying for one guy and I saw Jesus giving him sunglasses.  Here we go again.  I thought it was symbolic, so I started giving him this profound interpretation of what it represented.  Then he told me “I’ve been thinking about that the whole day today.  How much I want to get some sunglasses.”

  1. Step out. 

I have been asking the Lord to give me names of people He wants me to share something prophetic with.  Let me tell you from personal experience, it’s not a very thrilling place to be when you get up on stage, and call out some names, and all that happens is awkward silence. And your brain is about to explode trying to come up with what to say.  I’ve done that several times.  I’ll share one last story. I was on a ministry trip in Arroyo Grande, CA.  I felt like the Lord gave me a name.  In the previous city I thought I got two names from the Lord however none of them were in the room.  It was very awkward.  This time we were in a ministry school so everyone had badges. I thought “great, I’ll just try to find the person with the name I got and I won’t have to get humiliated if they’re not here.”  I didn’t see anyone with that name.  So when the time came to minister on stage, I was afraid to call out the name, because I was sure there was nobody there with that name.  I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to call it out anyway.  I honestly thought it was part of my humility training – learning to be o.k. with looking stupid sometimes.  When I called out the name a young woman’s hand shot up in the air and she jumped up and yelled out “that’s me!”  The only problem was that the name I called out was Heather, and her name badge said Miranda.  “I go by my second name, but my first name is Heather!”  I gave here the word the Lord gave me for her, and she was very blessed.  There’s only one way to learn to step out in the prophetic.  That’s doing it over and over again, and learning to be o.k. with feeling awkward and stupid sometimes.

        6. Learn how you hear from God. 

I recently finished a book I highly recommend by Doug Addison on dream interpretation called Understand Your Dreams Now.  Doug often encourages people to journal as one of the key ways we learn how we hear from God.  When you write things down you have a record to check and see how things played out, and how accurate a word was.  Write down not only the word, dream or whatever, but how it felt, how God spoke to you, what did you sense, what did you see.  This is a practical way to train ourselves to hear God’s voice.

Hopefully my stories of success and failure will encourage you to step out, and share God’s love through the power of the prophetic, even when it feels like you’re in the dark. “I wish… even more that you prophesied…” 1 Corinthians 14:5

What is one area that feels like you’re in the dark, but you know you need to step out in faith and do what Holy Spirit is leading you to do?
Feel free to comment, share any questions or disagreements below. :)

 

 

Image courtesy of  Hans Splinter on Flickr

Trust to hope. Hope to faith.

Peter sees vision of unclean foods. Acts 10:9
God speaks through the day-to-day dynamics of our humanity.  And He doesn’t have a problem with it.

It’s interesting that the vision Peter saw about eating unclean foods, was in the context of being hungry. He got hungry when he started praying, so he went and asked the cooks to make something for him. Apparently he didn’t see anything wrong with interrupting his prayer to order a lunch. The fact that he saw the vision in this context could potentially make it easy to doubt the vision was from the Lord and just think “I was hungry. No wonder I’m seeing weird visions about food.” I wonder if God would have given him a different vision if he wasn’t hungry at the time?
I’m sure there have been a time or three when I disregarded what could have been from the Lord, thinking it was “something I ate” or “a movie I watched” or circumstances in my life that were playing into my imagination.

Whenever the Lord reveals something or speaks to us, there’s always plenty of rotten apples of doubt and fear laying around. They’re easy to pick up. If that’s what you’re focusing on.
Many legitimate prophesies sound foolish or unrealistic. Until they’re fulfilled.
Trust is Faith’s brother. Just as Doubt is related to Fear.
When Jesus prophesied about demolishing the temple and it being rebuilt in three days one group was furious. The other was confused, but chose to put one foot in front of the other and trust him even though they didn’t understand.
It’s normal to feel confused. Just as it’s normal to feel fear.
You can feel fear, but still act courageously. Similarly you can be confused, but choose to trust.
Trust leads to hope, and gardeners have proven that hope is the best soil to grow faith in.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on yourown understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” – David the giant killer.