What if you could pray WITH God?

2018 is over – K BYE – haha! 2019 is here – Happy New Year! There is a smorgasbord of options for what to focus on, do, or shoot for this year. I truly believe that one factor will set your year apart beyond any other, and make the greatest difference in your life – learn to pray WITH God!

Heaven is filled with prayers. They go up before God like incense (Ps 141:2, Rev 8:4). I’m sure SOME SMELL BETTER than others. Both Jesus (Rom 8:34) and Holy Spirit (Rom 8:26) are praying for us – I’m sure their prayers smell sweet and amazing to God, but so many of us are praying TO God – from our own whims, desires and wants. But what if we could pray WITH God? Pray in accordance with His will the same prayers that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are praying? Then your prayer might stop smelling like flatulence in the throne room, and add value and glory to God’s domain. Do you think God is more likely to answer those prayers?

This First Wednesday (Jan 2 @ 7 PM), we are going to learn to craft prayers that smell sweet to God, by praying along with Him. Please join us in person if you’re in the Lansing, MI area or online (journeylifechurch.com/ live-stream-1) if you’re not in the area – this is the breakthrough you need in 2019!

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Consolation Prizes

“A purple ribbon!?!” I could feel the tears welling up as my 8-year-old mind tried to process losing. The purple ribbon was the one no one wanted, the slap in the face, the kick to the groin. Mortified, I tried to hide my reaction from everyone! It was as if a million condescending hands were patting my head at once, “Good try, little buddy.” Consolation prizes are a momentary feel good at best. For the one kid that was super pumped that they got a ribbon, there were 3 of us who wanted to get swallowed up by the floor. We would rather have gotten nothing and enjoyed the anonymity of losing. But it wasn’t to be.

Jesus compares earthly wealth to a consolation prize, “Woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation.” (Luke 6:24 NKJ) In other words, all the wealth that the richest people in history amassed amounts to a pat on the head and a purple (you stink at this) ribbon in eternity.

Listen, I don’t believe that Christians cannot be wealthy. God has used many wealthy people to get glory in His world. At the same time, turn your focus from earthly blessing to eternal blessing and your life will be worth more than a consolation prize. How can you bless God today? Take a moment right now to honor Him. How can you bless people today? Take a moment right now to encourage someone. Set your heart on God’s things right now (Col. 3:1), see Colossians 3:12-17 for a list of those things.

The Power of Weakness

You’ve had one of those days, right? A day where motivation is hard, little things annoy you, people seem like projects, projects seem like mountains, and every task you try gets harder. In the middle of one of those days, I heard God speak clearly in my spirit, “Strength . . . is only made perfect in weakness.” My mind quipped, “Well, I’ve got a boatload of weakness for you . . . so . . .” and then I stopped because, well, I was feeling weak – haha.

God was, of course, paraphrasing Himself (he’s allowed to do that) – in 2 Corinthians 12:9 He says, “My power is made perfect in weakness.” Then I looked at my to-do list again and thought, “If any of this is going to go well, it’s because You’re doing it.” And that’s when it made sense. There’s a humility only possible in that place in your spirit that says, “God, I know I can’t do this.” God’s gets glory in an essential way when we KNOW beyond a doubt that He’s the only source.

My strength gives me glory, but God’s strength makes me worship. Maybe you feel strong right now – know that your strength will always be incomplete without God’s glory. Or maybe like me you feel weak, this is your chance to lean fully on God’s power, and make Him look good. Either way, pray with me right nowGod, I give you the opportunity right now to get glory from my life. I lay my to-do list before you, and allow you to mess with it. I lay my strengths and weaknesses before you, I thank you for humility and Your power at work in my life today, giving you full access to get glory from me today, in Jesus name. Amen.”

Contagious

The garbages in my house have filled with tissues in the last couple weeks, as each person goes through a virus, or a seasonal allergy, or a reaction to the barometer change (I don’t know – my brother’s the medical guy, not me – haha). Whatever went through our house, it feels contagious (maybe), because it’s hit all of us in some sort of odd succession. That’s not fun.

But contagious is not always bad. In fact, laughter is contagious, yawning is contagious (which is a great trick for bedtime routine – hehe), quitting smoking is contagious (yep, if you want to quit, get around others who are!), and positive thinking is also contagious! Here’s the best one – THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS CONTAGIOUS!

What are the marks of the kingdom of God from Scripture? The presence of God, the supernatural words & works of God, healing, salvation, demons running away, repentance, right living, peace and joy (Rev 11:15, Matt 4:17, 23; 12:28; Rom 14:17 & so much more)! The kingdom of God is contagious! If your life is submitted fully to God’s rule then the kingdom of God is in you – YOU ARE CONTAGIOUS! That means the presence of God enters the room with you, supernatural breakthroughs are available through you, you bring people to salvation, demons run from you, and repentance, right living, peace and joy will happen to the people around you. The more people get into contact with you, the more they’ll experience the Spirit of God inside you!

We’re declaring and seeing healing in our house (because healing is contagious), and it’s time to give away your best contagions too – the kingdom of God is in you, and HE WANTS OUT! Give God’s kingdom away to someone right now. That’s right, take a moment – call someone, send an encouraging text, ask someone if you can pray for them.

Pure Joy

It was like an annoying symphony of generic ringtones, my phone, ipad and computer were all lighting up, buzzing and ringing at the same time! I knew it was an accident: butt-dialed, 2 yr old mischief, or fat-fingered the phone were the leading theories. My wife NEVER Facetime’s me first; it’s always a call or text first, then switch over. All that, and I answered anyway!!! Why???

I should say it’s because I love my wife (WHICH I DO!!!!), but that wouldn’t be accurate. Because I knew if it was a butt dial or a fat finger, she probably wouldn’t be there anyway. I answered on the off chance that my cute lil’ baby girl was sincerely trying to talk to her daddy! I interrupted my “very important” to do list to answer, because if there was any chance of hearing her voice, or seeing the top of her head or her shoes, that was going to bring me joy! “Hi dad-dy” she said, as I saw the top of her forehead, and part of her blurred thumb – pure joy! 

I wonder what God thinks when we call on Him! Did they butt-dial me again? They were probably just angry at that guy in traffic and slipped a little, or maybe that was a sneeze-blessing mention? I bet He listens anyway, why? On the off chance that His lil’ baby sincerely wanted to talk their daddy. Actually, I know He listens, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14 NIV)

God hears you! Take a minute and talk to Him on purpose right now. Your call is pure joy to Him!

Awareness

“Stop messing around, they’re looking!!!” My oldest brother’s loud hissing whisper, arrested the other two of us mid grapple, so we quickly stopped inflicting pain on each other, and sat staring back at our parents with the best angel faces we could make. They gave us “the eye” only to move easily back into their joyful conversation at the party. We didn’t dare mess around in the moments that ensued, knowing the consequences that inevitably would come if we caught their eye again. As long as I can remember, I could NEVER disobey when they were looking directly at me . . . OR was I looking at them? . . . I guess it was both really.

It was awareness. There is something powerfully motivating when you become aware of the gaze, the presence of God! Peter and John were so aware of God’s gaze they willingly suffered persecution in Acts 4:19, “Which is right IN GOD’S EYES: to listen to you, or to Him?” The presence of God is with us and many times we’re oblivious to it like Jacob, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it!” (Gen 28:16). God said He’d never leave you or forsake you (Heb 13:5) that you are the apple of His eye (Zech 7:2 – it’s a fun old phrase meaning He favors you/loves to look at you!)

God’s gaze is motivating, and it’s also delight-filled. When you become aware of His gaze it has the authority to convict you of sin, and the warmth of a comfy blanket. So take a moment, right now, picture God, lock eyes with Him – let Him convict you, let Him love you.

If I Could Turn Back Time …

I sat in my car replaying the situation, beating myself up over this giant missed opportunity! “What was I thinking??? How could I miss that???” Of all the things that I’ve regretted THIS ONE will stick with me, this is one I want to get deep in my psyche to produce a new pattern of behavior later.

I’ve regretted a lot of things in my life, soooo many. To admit mistakes is not weakness, but a springboard for growth. The Holy Spirit has a lifelong interest in your growth, so get over the illusion of perfection and let His loving conviction in. This regret stands out – I saw great financial need – I had in my pocket the ability to bless that person outrageously: a $100 bill. I felt God nudging me to give it, and I didn’t. I don’t know what happened – did my cheapskate side kick in? Was I scared to deal with the reaction? Was there a giant bag of candy I wanted more (that was probably it – ha)?

Obedience was so easy, but now there’s no going back. The moment is gone just like the 57 or so “fun size” Crunch bars I ate yesterday. So I repented. I want that memory to haunt me, I want it to create a marker in my brain so that joyful obedience is my instinct next time. If I could turn back time … well, I can’t … but with the Holy Spirit still tugging on my heart I know that marker in my spirit will have another opportunity to produce obedience. As for the Crunch bars, they might be less forgiving – ahhh.

So take a moment, turn one of your regrets into a marker in you mind for an obedient tomorrow and watch how the Holy Spirit uses it! It’s going to be fun!

Success is not a Fruit of the Spirit …

“Success is not a fruit of the Spirit, but peace is,” even as the words dribbled out of my mouth, we could both tell they weren’t from me. Have you ever stood apart from yourself for a minute and thought Amen! Good point, you’re definitely not smart enough to come up with that one. The Holy Spirit (and His peace) showed up in that room powerfully, as He inspired that Word of Wisdom (See 1 Cor. 12:8).

For me, and so many others, “success” has been a cruel taskmaster. The desire to provide, mixed with the desire to feel powerful, mixed with survival instinct produces a striving for “success” in many that has proved unhealthy. But what is it that God requires of us? To live for His Son, full of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:24-25). What does Holy Spirit produce? Fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). Yum, I like fruit. “Success” is not yummy. It goes down smooth, numbs your senses to reality, makes you think you’re better than you are, and then can leave just as quickly and you’re left with regrets, lost time and possibly broken relationships.

But what if we redefined success? What if God’s definition was always different? … Success is when your life produces more of the goodness of the Holy Spirit. If your “success” is threatening your peace, it’s not success at all. So take a moment right now, and reconnect with the God of Peace (Rom 15:33, 16:20,1 Cor 14:33, 2 Cor 13:11, Phil 4:9, 1 Thes 5:23, Heb 13:20).

Faith Like a Child

“Mommy, it’s bwoken” my 2 year old Jolena said today as she looked at the mangled ash of a building that was the teen center Building 21. Jessica: “Yes, (choking back tears), yes it is honey.” Then Lena says with complete faith and trust that it’s going to happen, “You have to fix it.” There was no question about what was possible in her tone, no hesitation based on finances, or insurance companies, or physical strength. Instead she looked at the building, looked at her Mommy and thought, “Oh yeah, you can fix it.” She just knows that mommy doesn’t let her down, she is her full source of supply and help, and her confidence in mom’s abilities are not dependent at all on what she sees – only on the fact that mommy has never failed her.

What if you and I had faith like that? Looking at your mountain – your broken relationship, or sin, or broken body, or tough job situation, or God-sized dream – and just say to God, “You have to fix it.” Nothing double minded, nothing demanding – just simple faith and trust that God is my full source of supply and help. I look at my situation, and then I look at my God and think, “Oh yeah, you can fix it!” Faith like a child – He’s never let me down, and nothing is impossible for Him! Our building is broken, but our community is galvanized. Our building is broken, but this didn’t take God by surprise. Our building might be broken, but this was never about a building. Our building might be broken, but our vision is stronger than ever and God is going to bring beauty out of this. God brings beauty from ashes, strength from fear, gladness from mourning, peace from despair.

In the aftermath of our teen center burning down on Sunday night, we’ve been in a whirlwind of emotions, interviews, board meetings, talks with insurance, contractors and people who want to help. I can tell you with confidence – no whirlwind is worth taking your eyes off of Jesus. Whatever your whirlwind, whatever’s broken – take a moment right now, with faith like a child, look at Jesus – become fully confident again that He is your source of supply and help.

For details about the Building 21 fire – watch this video from the night of …

  • For details about the Building 21 fire – watch this video from the night of … https://youtu.be/5hRubXiSmZE .To purchase tickets to the Building 21 Tailgate fundraiser on Nov. 8th where you’ll learn how you can help rebuild click this link … buildingtwentyone.org/tft.

Reward

“Ah wan ge ma mpackpack on, daddy” (Translation: “I want to get my backpack”), my 2 year old Jolena states resolutely. Meanwhile, she hadn’t brought her backpack, but was simply trying to be like her sister – but oooohhh what a cutie! I just wanted to find her a mpackpack from somewhere to reward that little baby for just being my cute little baby – haha. The reward for me, was being there for that moment with her – I felt my happy meter rising (endorphins or dopamine or something science-y), I felt heart enlarge, and for a moment my burdens feel lighter.

Scientists who study motivation tell you to have constant little immediate rewards for yourself for doing the right thing (ie. 3 mins of break for 20 mins of focused work, a steak dinner for a week straight of working out, a smoothie for making the choice to get up at your first alarm, etc.). What if your rewards were even better than those things? What if you counted as reward spending focused time with your family, or getting some moments alone with God? I’m learning that being all there for moments like the one above with my kids DOES in fact satisfy my reward center; and you know what else does – a few minutes striving free minutes in the presence of God! Striving free – no agenda, no to-do list, no mantras to quote – JUST BE with God. I know that can be your reward too.

So reward yourself right now, take a short time (don’t tip the scale to painful) – JUST BE with God – picture Him as best you can maybe, or just relax knowing that He’s there. You’re closer to breakthrough than you could ever imagine because God is with you and He is your reward!