2 HUGE Reasons Rahab’s Scarlet Ribbon Matters to You

I hear the word “Scarlet” and almost immediately think of “The Scarlet Letter” the famous book by Nathaniel Hawthorne that used a bright, red, letter “A” to brand someone’s sin. Yikes! That color needs redeemed for sure, and Rahab’s story goes a long way to exactly that . . .

Rahab’s scarlet cord out of the window of her house on the wall of Jericho was a statement of faith in God and faith that God’s people Israel would keep their word. It meant salvation not just for her, but for her whole family! It parallels the red blood of the lamb that was on the doorposts of houses so that the angel of death would Passover the houses. Because of her scarlet cord the army passed by her house, and what’s more God Himself designated her for salvation, even preserving her house in destruction of the wall. The scarlet cord parallels the blood of Jesus, which now washes your sin and my sin so that eternal death passes us over and instead we’re marked for salvation. This is why this matters for you . . .

  1. The blood of Jesus that washes sin is NOT a disgrace for you – it is your source of hope, cleansing and salvation. Just like Rahab’s cord, the scarlet blood of Jesus is a symbol of God’s goodness in your life. When spiritual death looks at you, it sees His blood and has to pass over!
  2. When you demonstrate your faith, by carrying a Bible, marking your house with Scripture, wearing Christian shirts, listening to the Bible and Christian music, talking about God’s goodness to you – you are telling the enemy he has no claim on you and inviting the work of God in your life!

So redeem the image of the blood of Jesus in your heart right now. Realize His hope, cleansing and salvation again. Also, boldly make plans to demonstrate your faith today.

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3 Signs You’re Ready to Take New Ground with God

“I feel stuck,” with waterworks, tissues & me sitting across from them in my office saying to God, “HELP!” Health, finances, marriage, job, kids, emotions – for this person everything felt stuck. Taking new ground felt impossible, unrealistic, even laughable in that moment – But God!

Joshua and Israel are about to take new ground for the first time in 40 years in Joshua 3, and here are three special observations from their generation and community that will help you and I take new ground for God’s kingdom too . . .

  1. Your people are in unity after God. It’s not just about you. Taking new ground for God’s kingdom is dependent on the community around you – your friends, your family & your church. These question will help you move forward . . .
    • Who are your friends? Are they going fully after God? How are you affecting them FOR God?
    • What is your NEXT STEP in affecting your family for God?
    • How are you contributing to the spiritual atmosphere at Journey Life Church? What is your NEXT STEP in adding to what God’s doing (ie. in worship, prayer, serving, Life Groups, etc.)?

We are better together. You might be able to take ground alone, but you certainly won’t be able to occupy and hold it without a community. You need people around you in unity after God.

  1. You have a leader worth following. Obviously, God is the real leader. However, in taking new ground for the God, He delegates to human leaders like Joshua. So here are some questions to move you forward toward your leadership . . .
    • Who are the direct and most accessible spiritual leaders at Journey Life Church for you? For some that will be a Life Group leader, serving leader, others that will be a staff person.
    • How can you PRAY FOR those close spiritual leaders and SUPPORT them so that their work is a joy! (Heb. 13:17)
    • How can you pray for and support the other spiritual leaders in your life (staff, pastors, group leaders, me-pray for me!)?
  1. You have an ALL IN attitude. The Reubenites & Gadites said to Joshua that as God’s with you and you’re strong and courageous we will do, “WHATEVER . . . WHEREVER . . . [and] FULLY OBEY!” That “all in” attitude is required to take new ground for God’s kingdom. Here are some questions to diagnose your attitude . . .
    • What stipulations are you giving to your leadership in order to follow them? Are they – God’s with you and “be strong and courageous”? Because if not, then you might need to re-evaluate.
    • How are you making yourself available to God and the spiritual leaders in your life to move God’s kingdom forward? Realistically, what are your schedule, action and heart limitations to being able to make a statement like this without reservation?

You may feel stuck right now too, BUT GOD has new spiritual ground for you to take personally, and I believe it’s directly tied to the ground we’re taking as a church also. Take a moment, go back through the above questions and let God speak to you for breakthrough.

Manly Men in the Bible Do These 5 Things

Elbow deep in grease, hands screaming in pain from shoving them into the tiny spaces in my car’s engine for two hours. My neighbor had come over to help – you know it’s a real manly project when the neighbor feels the need to get involved, (or does that mean I’m strugglin – hmmmm). I was feeling prre-tty man-ly that day, until I realized that all that effort and I’d only changed the blinker light on my car – hahaha. Well, it was more manly than taking it to SOME OTHER MAN who was manlier than me, to do the man-thing, so I was OK with it!

Manhood has been exalted, exaggerated, then satirized, made fun of, and most recently demonized. None of those responses are healthy. However, the Bible shows a clear and awesome picture of Godly manhood that must be EN-COURAGED. Give courage to a man in your life today by sharing this with them.

Manly Men Dream – both literally and metaphorically. Abraham, Joseph, Peter – all guys who’s man credentials are unchallengeable – all dreamers. God gave them dreams, they interpreted them by the Spirit of God, kept those dreams in their heart, and acted on them. Those dreams changed the world because of their Spirit-inspired actions, which leads to the next trait . . .

Manly Men Act. As Christians we’re not “waiting on the world to change” as John Mayer sings. We are the change. We catalyze. We’re thermostats, not thermometers. Every person in the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11) and throughout Scripture was a person of action. There might have been hundreds of people God called, who didn’t act and therefore we don’t know them at all. But manly men, particularly Godly men, act. That means we have a bias toward action. It doesn’t mean we never rest, but it also means we don’t celebrate laziness in ourselves; instead, we celebrate productivity and especially kingdom fruit!

Manly Men Cry. Abraham, David, Jesus, Peter – all of them wept – crying is in your DNA spiritually and probably physically too (Abraham is the literal father of hundreds of millions). Abraham was an alpha male leader, who earned extreme wealth, and had a personal army that defeated kings. David was a conqueror warrior who made a life of killing enemies in defense of God’s people; and he wept many times in the text and even writes about all his weeping in Psalm 56:8. Jesus was a carpenter (used to hard physical labor), who traveled in the harsh conditions of the desert, he wept for his friend Lazarus and at Gethsemane. Peter was a rough fisherman with course mannerisms at every point, a natural leader and a man’s man, yet he’s shown weeping bitterly. These men not only had emotions, but God is not afraid to put those emotions on display for all generations to see and learn that manly men cry. There will be a time with no tears, but until then crying is helpful part of our mental processing.

Manly Men Take Courage from the Spirit of God. The conqueror Joshua was strong and courageous as his life message! Samson had to rise up through the Spirit of God over and again. Peter and John facing the same people who killed Jesus for doing miracles, were DESCRIBED BY THEIR ENEMIES as having courage because they had been with Jesus! (Acts 4:13) There’s a time to cry and there’s a time to take courage. Gird up your loins” (2 Kings 4:29, Jer. 1:17, 1 Pet. 1:13) is a phrase used in the Bible as a call to action (run!) for God. The Spirit of God is longing to fight for you, when you take courage to act!

Manly Men Seek God. Moses, David, Josiah, Jesus and Paul (all have confirmed man credentials), and all of them sought God. In fact, everyone who did anything great for God in Scripture (unless they were an unbeliever being used by God) all of them constantly sought the heart, character and presence of God Himself. These are our examples, and the adventurous pursuit of God will keep men and those they influence successful in ways that matter.

4 Mindsets to Grow your Faith for Healing

What if we emptied out hospitals? What if there were simply no more deaf people in America, because the church was seeing 100% of people we prayed for healed? Thank God for hospitals and deaf ministries, but what if the tide of faith for supernatural healing just kept growing in the church? How can the tide of faith for healing grow in you? Here are my baseline recommendations . . .

  • Give Jesus what He paid for. Jesus took infirmities and carried diseases, get close enough to Him and His thoughts to realize how true that is. He already paid the price, it’s done. When you grow in relationship with Him, you will come into more awareness of what He’s done, and alignment with the fact that He wants to do it again.
  • Be opportunistic. Anyone you see or hear about who needs healing no matter how big or small, take a moment and pray with them. You may not be feeling especially spiritual that moment, or outgoing, or like you have the words, however, when you step out to give God opportunity to get glory He might just take it. Take risks, and those simple consistent steps will build your faith.
  • Pray like Jesus. Command the sickness to move in Jesus name. Don’t command Jesus – that’s disrespectful. Don’t beg/ask Jesus – that assumes you have more compassion for the person than He does. Jesus commanded healing into people’s bodies, then he asked them to test it. Pray like Jesus.
  • Rehearse what God did. If God has ever moved in you or someone around you supernaturally, remember it. Rehearse it in your mind often. Build a monument to what God has done in your heart. That rehearsal of testimony will be the dress rehearsal for your next miracles.

So go ahead – dare to believe God right now. Holy Spirit is in you and He wants out, not to leave, but to fill your world with His goodness.

I Just Want a Hug

There are very few things more fulfilling than a hug from my tiny princess Jolena. She came to visit me at the office today (thanks Jessica, you’re the best!) and my appeal, “I just want a hug,” was met by scampering little feet and a full body lunge into my open arms. There are few things that reset your mood like your baby responding to your call for affection.

But what happens when your baby walks away, or folds her arms and stomps off, or worse yet ignores you completely? You go after her, right? Of course, but for how long? How many rejections before you back off? I tend to back off quickly and then wait for another opportune moment to reestablish relationship. She’ll never be far from my love, and the moment she’s ready to come back and respond to my call for affection I’ll welcome her.

God has overtured to you in your heart, through the people around you, through His creation, in circumstances over and over again. You have responded. But what happens when you ignore Him once and then again. He won’t badger you, but He’s still waiting for that OPPORTUNE MOMENT to reconnect with you, reestablish His hope in your life, and His voice in your spirit. That opportune moment is right now! Respond to God’s call. Turn your attention and affection toward Him. His hug is waiting and so is life fulfilled and in wonderful relationship with Him.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Rev. 3:20 NIV)

How God Can Help You Sleep Better

Confession – I’m not sleeping very well – The last four days have been rough. Foggy-minded is no way to go through life, so I decided to see what God has to say about our sleep. The average person sleeps for 25 YEARS OF THEIR LIFE! Even if you’re sleeping great, what if God has ways to maximize that time for you??? We’re going to grow together. Here’s what God can do during your sleep (raise your level of faith for growth in this area, as you visit these Scriptures) . . .

  • God can bring supernatural blessing/companionship/rearrange your whole world for better in your sleep! God put Adam to sleep and HE WOKE UP NEXT EVE – WOAH! (Gen. 2:21-23)
  • God’s promises can come in your sleep. God put Abram into a deep sleep and told him great promises (Gen. 15:12-21).
  • God’s presence can come in your sleep. Jacob saw angels and encountered God in his sleep (Gen. 28:11-22).
  • God cares about your warmth in sleep! Israelites were instructed to give back a cloak that was pledged so that their poor neighbor could sleep in warmth (Deut 24:11-12). So go ahead, put on that second blanket.
  • God protects and gives peace in sleep. (1 Sam. 26:12, Psalm 3:5, 4:8, 127:2, Jer. 31:26), God doesn’t sleep so you can (Psalm 121:3-4)
  • Do not love sleep (Prov. 20:13, 19:15, 24:33-34) Ouch! This is a good one. Sleep is not the goal here!
  • God gives prophetic dreams in supernatural sleep. (Dan. 8:18, 10:9) How about tonight!?!
  • Storms don’t have to mess with your sleep. (Matt. 8:24) Boom – drop the mic, Jesus!

Allow God to work in your sleep tonight. Invite Him in. Right now pray, “Holy Spirit, I invite you to transform my mind and my world during my sleep tonight.”

 

Why would Anyone get Their Doctorate?

Just so no one misses – I have ATTACHED my Doctoral Project “Making the Supernatural Normal: Mobilizing the Local Church to Move in the Power of God Outside its Doors” – Instructions for reading this are at the end.

I’m glad you asked – haha. I don’t know why ANYONE would get their doctorate, I’m sure there are lots of nerdy motivations. I do know WHY I DID, and I think it might help you sift through your own motivations.

I did NOT pursue this because . . .

  • I need to be called Doctor
  • My dad did
  • There’s a pay raise involved (there’s not in ministry, plus doctorates are expensive, so no, not a factor)
  • I want to run for political office (yeah, no)
  • I need more letters behind my name – the letters for my degree are Dmin (Doctor of Ministry) – say the phrase “Pastor Jared has a Dmin” out loud you’ll get why this isn’t a factor – haha.

I chose to get my Doctorate BECAUSE . . .

  • God led me to
  • I knew I had gaps in my knowledge
  • I love to learn, I’m a lifelong learner, even though this is a “terminal” degree (sounds morbid), this is not the end for me.
  • I knew our church would benefit from this
  • Being called “Dr. J” sometimes is a perk – haha.

Now, here’s a little bit of the HOW of getting a Doctorate . . .

  • Full support from my amazing wife Jessica!
  • I’m a nerd – consuming and giving knowledge of God energizes me
  • Support/understanding from my kids, and also extended family
  • Support from Journey Life Church staff, board & church family
  • Perseverance – LOTS of perseverance
  • God’s help

Finally, attached is my Doctoral Project “Making the Supernatural Normal: Mobilizing the Local Church to Move in the Power of God Outside its Doors”. Let me set expectations for reading this (if you’d like to) . . .

  1. It’s academic – after 52 stages of editing (no joke), my voice is not clearly in the text. It’s ok. The content is great, it’s all there, but it has an academic voice. This also means it’s not meant to grab you or necessarily be an interesting read. It’s an informative read, with lots of research and documentation.
  2. Some people you may know are in it. Names are named, testimonies are cited – it’s fun! Find the Easter Eggs!
  3. Chapter 2 (tracing redemptive supernatural events through the Bible) is partially in my appendix (apparently 90 pages is too long for a chapter – haha). So to trace the entire thought there are times where the appendix is referenced and you might want to jump there, then jump back.
  4. Pay attention to the bibliography. It’s a veritable who’s who of people who are writing on the supernatural right now.
  5. I’m writing this in an interesting book form also. I’m UNDER CONTRACT through Supernatural Truth Publishing to write the book of the same name that will be story based, gripping, inspiring and practical (with discussion/refection questions and supernatural exercises after each chapter). My goal with this book is to write something my wife would WANT to read – haha! This book will have my voice thoroughly throughout.

Making_the_Supernatural_Normal_Jared_Stepp_Doctoral_Project

3 Kinds of People You’ll See This Easter (and How to Pray For Them)

Every Easter there are a handful of people who come, give their life to Jesus, and then . . . we can’t find them. Yikes! If that doesn’t scare you, it should. This is the kind of thing that bothers me, keeps me up at night, produces holy discontent in me that demands a response. So how should you and I respond? Well, Jesus describes these people in the Parable of the Sower (Matt 13:3-9) let’s start with His categories . . .

  • People that are in the wrong place (seed along the path v. 4). The birds eat this up. For these individuals, they happen into the Easter Gathering, or get dragged there, guilted there, coerced there; and they have too many commitments to the demonic forces and ideas in their life that the seed of the kingdom of God gets snatched right away.
  • People who make a shallow commitment (seed on rocky soil v. 5). These people will raise their hand for salvation this Easter, they might even start coming to church for a period of time. But their commitment to Jesus runs up against a hardness of heart, and a stronger commitment to themselves (rocks). They get out of the habit of church, and their commitment to Jesus is shown not to be real. The kingdom of God is not growing in them.
  • People who have loud influences (seed on thorny soil v. 7). These people receive Jesus, but then listen to the louder influences in their life – worries, wealth. They can’t hear Jesus anymore and get choked out.

So how to pray? Pray for good soil! (v. 8) Good soil is tilled (God, bring those whose life is turned upside down, humble), the rocks are removed (God, soften their heart), the thorns are pulled (God, uproot all the loud influences in their life, so that your voice is the constant). Take a minute to pray right now that God is bringing and tilling good soil in people’s hearts, and that WE ARE GOING TO SEE the miracle of the kingdom of God growing in their lives!

The Secret to Training Yourself (and Your Kids) to Make Right Choices

Have you ever had one of those days? For us, every so often there’s a day when we feel like our kid’s bodies have been taken over by other very bad kids. Simple things – listening, obeying, not being a jerk to your sibling can be so hard. Somehow it’s a HUGE SURPRISE that we have to get up in the morning and put clothes on. Anyway, teaching your kids not to be jerks is a big task, filled with daily attention, discipline and prayer. The holy grail for every person is this, “How does obedience become something that is internally motivated and not externally enforced?” If laws and fear of jail are the only thing between criminals and their crimes, history proves that is not enough.

So if the answer is not more punishment (and believe me, you have to discipline and be disciplined, but there’s diminishing returns at some point), how do you train people to be great humans? Although there’s no shortcut to discipline, the Bible tells us the secret to making it stick – stay connected to the Spring of Living Water! A spring is underground, unseen life-giving flow. According to Scripture and soooo much evidence, there is only one truly life-giving spring and it’s having a personal ongoing connection with the living God.

This is why family devos (prayer, Bible reading) is an imperative for anyone wanting to raise kids who are internally motivated to make right choices. Personal devos is a necessity for everyone who wants to be consistently internally motivated for right living. Getting yourself and your kids into a community of believers (church, life group) constantly is essential for anyone needing to be internally motivated. These are tangible connections to the spring of living water that is unseen, then your motivations will be unseen and strong for a lifetime. So stop raising your kids to be jerks (he says with a knowing smile), and connect to the unseen Spring of Living Water every day.

Here are some Scriptures for further study on the Spring of Living Water – Num 21:17; Prov 25:26,;Isa 58:11; Jer 2:13, 15:18, 17:13; John 4:14; James 3:11-13; Rev 21:6.

Why didn’t YOU invite me?

“Why didn’t YOU invite me to your church???” She quips to her friend, with a smile and a laugh – slightly awkward, but still fun. One day earlier … one of our staff members had met a lady, had decent rapport with her and decided to give her the “Upside Down: Easter Sunday” invite card. “Hey I know someone at your church!!! Why hasn’t SHE ever invited me???” (To protect the innocent the names are anonymous – haha).

So here’s my challenge to you – avoid the awkward and get in on the fun – INVITE someone you know to church right away! Use that Easter invite card. 82% of unchurched people in America said they would be likely to attend church if invited by a friend, coworker, neighbor or family member (Lifeway). This may sound astonishing, but I’ve found it to be true. Your invite is the only thing standing between someone and their encounter with Jesus!