Thursday, March 27, 2008

Challenged

This past week has been rough. I've really struggled with finding true intimacy with the Lord. He has taken me through a process of learning where the callouses are on my heart. I've found that over the last few years I have put up wall after wall between me and God, and God is having to reveal those walls to me so that I can get rid of them and truly be free. Seeing all of the walls is painful. Most of them have so many layers that it takes awhile to figure out what the problem actually is. I had this vision of Jesus sitting on the floor in His throneroom with me. And He was explaining to me why He wanted me to see each wall individually. He told me that if I knew what I was being freed from, then I'd never go back. I needed to see what I was being freed from. What chains and what baggage I was losing. The weight that would no longer be on me.


During worship at Bethel on Sunday morning, I was still just really fighting to get close to the Father's heart. Of course it was Easter and I was thinking "Of all days to feel like I'm not at the heart of Jesus!" About halfway through worship, one of the worship leaders (Meredith) left the front of the room and walked straight to me. She said "I need to pray for you." So Meredith starts praying and singing over me, asking the Lord to come and meet me without me having to do anything. To remove all of the walls and barriers that were up around my heart. To tear through them and come to me. To take me deeper and deeper into intimacy. I was in tears because the Lord had spoken to her exactly what needed praying for. What a huge blessing.


It has been a struggle because I look at some people and their intimacy with Jesus is so readily available. It is so obvious and natural. Overflowing to those around them. To me it seems like I am always on the outside. I can't quite get into "intimacy." I feel like sometimes I can sit for hours with the Lord and never feel like I've really met with Him. Or that I've really encountered His presence. I want to know His heart so desperately and deeply, and I want to find that place so that I can rest there. Somehow there has to be a balance of seeking, but doing nothing and resting in Him.


One thing that has been such a blessing at Bethel is the fact that everyone there wants you to be free. They want any past issue of hurt, sickness, frustration, family problem...etc to be completely released and for you to be delivered and free. The army of God needs to be strong, free, and confident. They want you to be you, and to be strong in the person God created you to be.

There should be no feeling of jealousy, anger, depression or impatience in the life of a truly free and loved follower of Christ. Satan is empowered through our agreement. He only has the power that we believe he has. The people at Bethel constantly speak life to each other, rather than death. There is no complaining or built up tension. As a body, they are so close to the heart of the Father that they want to look exactly like Jesus. They want to heal the sick, raise the dead, prophecy, and love without an agenda. There is no room for the enemy in that place. Bethel is a place where God is establishing His heart. It is a place that dwells in the presence of God all the time. It is free. It is full of love and grace. It is full of authenticity. And it is full of the Holy Spirit. We would have no power if it weren't for the Holy Spirit.


"Religion is what you have once the Holy Spirit has left the building." -Bono


Psalm 103

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Testimonies!!

Yesterday, my friends Daniel, Drew and Pat and I all went on a treasure hunt. A treasure hunt is where you pray beforehand and make a list of all the things God gives you. Our list was as follows:

boots
white shirt with writing
dreds
Godiva
right leg (knee down to foot)
golf clubs
stroller
funny black glasses
brace-pole (we don't know what that is exactly)
a specific ring

So this was our list of images God gave us. The only thing related to a location was Godiva, so we went to Lenox mall. The idea behind a treasure hunt is to pray for the people that you find that have to do with something on the list. For example, if someone got a word about a red baseball hat, we'd look for a red baseball hat and ask that person if they need prayer for anything.

We first found a girl with dreds and we asked how we could pray for her. She said her mom Nancy is in the hospital with cancer, so we asked if we could pray for healing for her mom.

After several laps around the mall with no luck, we ended up back at Godiva. Then to our surprise, we saw that there was a golfing store across the way from Godiva! So we waiting there for a little bit to see if God brought any people by.

Sure enough, a lady struggling to walk went by us with her husband and grandson. We asked what was wrong and if we could pray for her. She said she has terrible arthritis in her knees and the doctor told her it would cost $100,000 to do knee replacement surgery on both knees (she didn't have insurance). She couldn't afford it so the doctor said that she'd be in a wheelchair in the next year or two due to the severity of the arthritis in her legs. We asked if we could pray for her and she said absolutely. While Pat had his hands on her knees, he felt movement in her knees. After we prayed she said that it felt like something was crawling in her knees and filling in all the missing cartilage. We asked her to stand up and try out her knees. Even just sitting and standing had been painful before. She stood up and was so surprised there was no more pain! She started standing on each foot one at a time, then she knelt all the way to the ground and moved all around. God completely replaced her knees!!!

Her hands here really stiff and red, and she said she had a nerve disease of sorts and that her hands were always numb and stiff. It's been years since she has been able to bend her fingers, so much so that driving has been difficult for her. Pat and I held her hands and prayed for the nerve damage in her hands and that the nerves would regrow and be fully restored and healthy again. Immediately the redness left her hands and they stopped shaking. She could bend all of her fingers and make a fist! Praise the Lord! Then Daniel noticed that her ring was the one in his vision!

We prayed for her husband's sinus and ear problems (he had on big combat boots), then for their grandson's vision in his right eye. God completely restored his vision to 20/20 and he was able to read anything in the mall that we pointed at.

A little bit later on after they had laughed and cried and moved on, we all sat down at Starbucks for a little bit. After about half an hour, the woman and her husband and grandson came down the escalator and walked right up to us. She said she wanted to find us because she forgot to tell us about her foot problems. We prayed and the burning she had been feeling for the last 10 years went completely away! Her right leg was the one with the most pain in her knee and foot which was Drew's word for a woman's right leg. And just because God is good, the woman had an off-brand pair of tennis shoes that were named "Drew." If that wasn't a sign to Drew then I don't know what is!

A little bit later Patrick sent me a text (he had been praying for our treasure hunt) and asked if we prayed for a woman's hands! He said he prayed a lot but that was the only picture he really got. So that was also confirmation that God wanted to heal this woman at the mall. We also found out that they were from Tennessee and were just down for a visit. So God had really set up a divine appointment for them!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Healing

First of all- I have two confessions. One, this topic is not a topic that I have truly embraced and started to walk in. I believe in everything that I'm about to say, but actually living it is a completely different story. I desire to see hundreds of people healed and delivered from various strongholds, but when it comes down to it, I have a lot of cracks in my own foundation that keep me from stepping out and praying in boldness. I am on this faith journey just like everyone else. Second confession, this material is not original, but I think that it is worthy of being talked about and passed on. I hope you will be encouraged and empowered, strengthened and challenged, edified and sharpened.


When it comes to healing, we are quick to make excuses about why healing doesn't happen. We say that it is God's will for some to be hurt and to suffer. Or that God is more glorified through limps and broken arms. Or that this person doesn't have the faith to be healed. Or that healing isn't for all people. We can go through the list of all the excuses we make, and the more we look at these excuses, we can get a clearer picture of how the enemy has crippled the Body and convinced them that it is not always God's will to heal. That God is not good all the time. That God is not in a good mood all the time. And that we can't always know the heart of the Father.


The closer we get into this issue, we realize that there are cracks in our foundations. Cracks in our identity and who we believe that we are. I believe that Jesus wants to raise up a strong and healthy army, not one that is paralyzed and sick. An army that knows who they are and is confident in the things that God tells them. It is important that we understand Scripture and understand Jesus and the Father to be who they say that they are. Here are some questions to think about that might challenge your faith a little bit:


Is God more glorified when someone is sick or when someone has been fully healed and restored?


If we are the light of the world, what good is busted light bulb?


Did Jesus die for all people? Did He defeat sickness and death for all people?


Is that person who you believe doesn't have enough faith, big enough to stand in the way of God's promise?


Do you believe that God wants to prosper you and not harm you? that He is for you? that He wants you to shine? that He delights in you? that He wants to protect you? that He desires freedom and restoration for all people?


We are made in the image of God. We need to start attacking these ways of thinking that devalue the cross and say that the death of Jesus was not good enough and is not good enough for all of the things of today. Our limits of faith need to be challenged. We need to understand the implications of being made in the image of God. 


"As you go, preach the message: 'The Kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.'" Matthew 10:7-8 It's pretty obvious that Jesus desires for us to do this. 


"I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Phil. 4:13


"This is the confidence that we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him." I John 5:14-15 No one who came to Jesus sick left still sick. God always came through. So that shows that it is always God's will to heal.


"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Mark 11:24


"...by His wounds we are healed." Is. 53:5


"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to us." Matthew 28:18


"He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." John 14:12 We will do greater things than Jesus did. things never before seen or documented. 


"...your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven..." Matthew 6:10 Heaven is perfect. No sickness. No depression. No anxiety. No broken bones. No cancer. 


Fellow brothers and sisters, we carry the power of the cross. The devil only has the power that we believe he has. So we need to be secure in who God says that He is and who God says that we are. Let's enforce Christ's victory over the power of sin and death everywhere we go. It is God who heals the sick, not us. That has to take some pressure off! Jesus paid for us to walk in power and to put the power and love of God on display for all to see. It is the time of "greater things," so let's not go back and limit those greater things. We can't have a comfort zone of unbelief and be afraid of freedom any longer. It is time for the chains to be broken on all those being held captive. It is time to rise up. to be free. to be healed. to be delivered and restored. to walk in boldness. No one will be healed if we don't ask. So let's start asking.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Can you be a sinner and still be saved by grace?

A good friend of mine has a blog that I enjoy reading from time to time. However, his most recent entry was a little bit different. The point of this entry is how no one is good, and so we spend our whole life trying to be good. He comes at this from a Christian angle which is a little bit discouraging. The influence of this particular entry came from a philosopher that works at the school my friend teaches in. He also is a believer...but somehow, things have gotten lost in translation between here and the cross.

Here is my response to his blog entry:

"I think we get wrapped up in the "im a sinner" rather than the "saved by grace" part of the statement. The thing with Christianity and Jesus is that we are good post Jesus. we have the mind of Christ. we are children of the King. We have a new nature. the old has gone and the new has come. not the old is sorta gone and it still lingers a little bit. no. its gone. we are new creations. loved by God. made pure by Him. When we still claim to be a sinner and hang out on that side of the Truth, we miss not only the beauty and importance of the cross, but we also miss out on knowing our true identity and the abundant life that flows from being confident in who we are in Christ. we are dead to sin, but alive in Christ. we need to walk in boldness believing in who we are. some of us are so held back because what we believe that we are is not really who God says that we are. we are free. we are new. we are restored. we can have confidence that now we are saints, and no longer sinners."

So if you consider yourself saved by grace and made new in Christ, then you are no longer a sinner, but a saint. no longer a slave but a son.

We have to believe that.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Need for God's Presence

There is such a need in the United States for the presence of God. The raw, powerful, compassionate and loving presence of the Living God. Not only is there a need for God's presence, there is a need for the power of His presence. Throughout the Old Testament we see God's power on display. Elijah calling down fire from heaven. Moses petitioning Pharoah to let the Israelites go, and bringing plagues onto the earth to display the authority and power of the God he serves. Manna from heaven. Daniel in the blazing furnace. Gideon and his army. The walls of Jericho crumbling with a shout. Continuing on to the New Testament, Jesus displays power from on high by healing the sick. Raising the dead. Casting out demons. Speaking words to the woman at the well that no one could have known but someone in tune with the Father. These are all displays not just of God's presence, but of His power.

The Christians in the United States have watered the almighty and powerful God down to a few comfort-bringing theological principles and a handful of self-help formulas to turn to in time of need. Christians in the US are not walking in the power that Jesus said we possess. Most Christians do not realize that we are no longer sinners! We have the mind of Christ. We have a completely new nature. We are princes and princesses. Children of the King. We have been given victory over the darkness...always. How much more of an impact could we have on the world if we really BELIEVED in our identity? That the same power that rose Jesus from the dead, healed every sick person, and kept Daniel from burning in the furnace is in us. We can rebuke the darkness. We can declare and proclaim the presence of the Kingdom. We can heal. We can speak Truth. We can prophecy. We can speak in tongues. We can speak to the dead and say 'Get up and walk!' We can tell the blind to see. We can literally 'bring heaven to earth.' What a radical change in the atmosphere it would bring if all Christians wrapped their mind around their identity as children of God! a royal priesthood.

God has already declared that we would do "greater things" than Jesus (John 14:12). GREATER THINGS! That means there will be times when we won't even know what it looks like or what to expect. Who wants to serve a God that we know everything about? I am expecting Him to do new things in this generation. Things never before seen. Miracles never heard of. Join me in that.

And I want to challenge us not to gauge God and the possibility of what He can do based on our own experience. We would rather expect what we know can happen rather than expecting the unexpected. the impossible. the abnormal. the supernatural. It's hard and uncomfortable to let God do something we know nothing about. It takes a lot more faith than we're used to. He has already declared that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to us, and that He wants to do greater things than He did in the life of Jesus. What a HUGE declaration! Why would we want to walk in anything but the power He has already given us?

Originally, the Church went to the streets to heal the sick and to raise the dead. They didn't bring people to church. Church was a place where believers were encouraged, sharpened and edified. People would come to Christ on the streets and then come to church. Wouldn't it be cool to heal someone who has been paralyzed for years and be able to tell them to get up and walk? How much more would they want to know about the God we serve then? Demonstrating the love of God for us through Jesus, and that we carry a power that is beyond ourselves is essential to the Gospel. That person would then have proof in the natural that God is real. He is powerful. and He loves him.

I want to see our generation arise and shine, for the glory of the Lord rises upon us (Is. 60). God has called us to step out on faith. To believe Him for incredible things. To pray impossible prayers. To dream dreams that would only be possible if God shows up. Dreams that are so big they would take more than a lifetime to come to fruition. We have the heart. We have the Spirit. But are we ready to step into the Promised Land so that we can live and dwell in uncharted territory? Uncharted territory that is consumed by the Presence and fire of God? I'm already walking and I hope you'll join me on this journey.