Reliving the Drama

The dimly light hallway outside the Operating Room, was the scene of my biggest PTSD moment, AND God’s biggest triumph in me. The last sound I heard was my son’s flat-lining machines, after Jessica’s womb had collapsed on him. The frenetic scene that had preceded that of Nurses screaming and Doctors running, had now melted into an eerie peace – once the doors of the OR had shut and I sat alone in the hallway praying, almost by instinct, in the Spirit with all my soul.

My anguish morphed slowly from anxiety-pulsed nervousness, to intense Spirit-led intercession, to a moment that changed everything. I heard in my spirit (not my ears) the sound of my son crying, and it was beautiful, and my anxiety melted into peace as the presence of God enveloped me. 20 minutes later as I sat in supernatural peace, and I heard with my ears (not just my spirit) the sound of my son crying from deep inside the OR. Then I was crying, then I was praising God! My son is alive today, because of God’s miraculous power, that was the third time God kept him alive miraculously to that date.

Even recalling that story my heart races again, my eyes well up with tears, my spirit soars with gratefulness to God. God is SO good! Here’s what God wanted me to tell you today – relive the drama of the God moments in your life – when you were saved, healed, baptized in the Holy Spirit . . . ANY moment where you knew beyond a doubt that God is real and He’s on your side. Relive that drama right now. It’s the best kind of drama you could live in. Live FROM that place of God’s victory in your life today. Happy . . . Thanksgiving!

Too Far from Danger?

Gunshots every night was not the generally advisable environment to keep 40+ teenagers! Yet there we were, in San Quintin, Mexico on the Baja California Peninsula, sleeping in little places beside migrant worker camps that were revolting. Thank God, I had youth pastors who were willing to take us TOWARD the danger rather than away! Each day we would split into 4 groups, divvy up food (like a yummy oatmeal) for about 100 kids, split up and drive to different migrant worker camps to feed hungry kids. My group pulled up to a large, ominous fenced in area that day. No one in sight. We thought it was a dud. But no sooner had the gate been opened for us, that kids started pouring out of shanty houses, it seemed like they were just spawning out of the desert sand itself. There was a sea of kids there. We had 100 servings of food, their parents were the ones shooting and revolting the night before – this was NOT GOOD!

As a 14 year old, I still knew what to do – we prayed, “God, you see these kids, multiply this food so THEY can be blessed AND we don’t die.” Then a 15 year girl and I (who I might or might not have had a crush on), began to spoon out the food into the cups. We both felt in our heart, and agreed to give out the same amount of food we would have for 100 kids. So we did generous servings, and went through 700 cups that day (cups don’t go bad, we had lots of those). Every child ate and was satisfied, and we even had food left over. The exhilaration of that moment obscured my hand cramps, as we powered through. That girl and I KNEW what God had done, every one there was witness to it. God loved those kids so much that He wanted to bless them, He loved us so much that He wanted us not to die, and He loved His reputation so much that He wanted these kids to have a good first experience with Christians!

Some of us are too far from danger to be a threat to the enemy, to be a rescue for the world, or to invite undeniable encounters with God in our life. So when you feel the nudges of the Holy Spirit to step closer to someone in need, maybe the danger filter needs to lose. Who can you reach out to today? How does God want to crush your comfort zone?

What if God’s Kingdom can still move forward?

The world stopped for a virus. The world has seemed to stop for the American election (although it really didn’t). So what’s happening with God’s Kingdom, with the Church? What’s possible? Where do we go from here?

Jesus said “The kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing” (Matt. 11:12). In other words, God’s going to win no matter what. God’s plan is moving forward, His kingdom is bigger than a virus or an election! Be encouraged and receive God’s peace right now.

God’s kingdom is moving forward at Journey Life Church! Watch the above video ^^^^^ to catch further vision for our Journey Forward Building addition. Pray and consider whether God would have you commit to give toward Journey Forward. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgAn5RLEP28&feature=youtu.be.

God’s kingdom is moving forward in your life too – let me know how I can pray for you and declare God’s kingdom in greater ways in your life.

Soaking in . . .

Soaking in . . . the sun, a bathtub, sweat, grape-seed oil, chocolate, ice cream (I know it got weird – haha)??? Soaking in what, Pastor Jared!?!? Before we get there, at the most anxious point of my life – the point where, as a 28 year old, I ended up getting many stress tests, had heart palpitations and genuinely my deepest desires did not line up with my actions. I got inspired to sit with God and say nothing. Truth be told, I was so fried and burnt-out that I couldn’t bring myself to say anything – yet it WAS SO HARD! My mind was racing, I just wanted to fidget and talk and fret, anything but sit and be . . . with . . . God! So I let my mind race, and then I wrote down all the things it raced to, then I set them aside, my fingers and feet got tired from fidgeting eventually, then my heart rate slowed, my senses heightened, distractions started to fade . . . and finally . . . I don’t know what happened next, because I fell asleep . . .

Haha, no joke, fell right asleep, but I woke up and chose not to reengage with the frenzy in my head, but instead stay . . . with . . . God. Finally, I knew again that God was with me, His peace was palpable, His nourishing presence was all around and through me, restoring my heart and my emotions, draining the knot in my chest of its power, my skin started to relax, the acidic feeling in my mouth started to dissipate, the lump in my throat loosened. It was just my Father and me – and I didn’t need to say anything, or do anything, or pledge anything, or sing anything . . . I could finally just be . . . with . . . God.

That moment made me a junky for soaking in the presence of God. I love it, can’t get enough. If you experience God that way truly, even just once, I promise you’ll get hooked. All of your life rhythms will benefit from those moments with God.

Tomorrow night, in our First Wednesday Gathering we’ll talk about practicing the presence of God and do a spiritual exercise to help you learn to soak in God’s presence. You’ll want to be there at 7 PM, full kids and youth ministry happening too! This will be refreshing and life-changing – you might just become a junky like me (hint – you want that).

Ask for More

“The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it.” (2 Kings 3:19)

This quirky little story, in 6 verses illustrates clearly a King of Israel with misplaced passion. King Jehoash is weeping to the prophet Elisha about his armies (2 Kings 3:14), but then when it’s time to participate in Elisha’s strange prophetic pantomime, Jehoash gets skittish and dispassionate, striking the ground only 3 times as a prophetic demonstration of beating the enemy in battle. Was this a strange thing for Elisha to ask of the King? Definitely. Did it also demonstrate Jehoash’s overall lack of passion for Yahweh? Absolutely.

Jehoash striking the ground thrice (I feel British writing that), illustrated clearly boredom and malaise in his walk with God, which were only symptomatic of his greater disobedience to Yahweh and affection for falsehood (2 Kings 13:11). Jehoash had a form of godliness, but was unwilling and un-passionate to participate fully in the prophet’s powerful moment.

There’s a time when God demands you ASK FOR MORE – a time of increase, progress, growth, harvest! If you have a history of boredom and malaise in your walk with God, or disobedience, you’ll only participate in God’s prophetic declaration to the extent of your passion. In other words, be passionate for God and His words in this season or you’ll miss the increase and blessing He’s declaring for you in the next. However, if you stoke the flame out of season, when the season of growth and blessing comes – you will ask for more – and God will give it!

I sense that for you – this is the season to ASK FOR MORE. So go ahead, participate in the strange prophetic pantomime (haha), get out the arrows and strike the ground until you can’t strike anymore. The strange prophetic pantomime for us right now, I believe, is the continual request that God’s been leading me to ask people to the altar and receive prayer for more of God. Our job is to passionately respond each time, and watch as God gives the increase in our life!

What if There’s More . . . Hugs?

One of my favorite moments as a father is when my kid saunters over and asks to be in my arms. There’s something about those arms outstretched even if their grubby, and the nose that nuzzles in the neck even if it’s . . . ummmm. . . gross. By far most of the time, I will welcome my child no matter who else I’m talking to, or how important my tasks are. That moment of embrace blesses me.

Jesus never fathered physical children on the earth, yet we see this scene twice within 30 verses (Mark 9:36, 10:16) Jesus taking a child in his arms, and then many children in his arms to bless them. I don’t know if there was a good Greek word for hugs back then, but that’s the scene that’s described. Jesus taking up in these children in an embrace, putting his hand on them and prophetically blessing their future. Grubby fingers, snotty noses, the least important people on the planet – Jesus embraces them and blesses them!

What if there’s more hugs? What if the example of Jesus means that we can receive that kind of embrace from Him also, even with our grubby fingers and snotty noses? Come to Jesus RIGHT NOW, be embraced by Him, receive His prophetic declarations of blessing for your future. What if you should give more hugs and prophetic blessings too? Who can you bless today?

You’re Built For . . .

“I saw a snake (that’s Satan) and a giant sword came down cut the snake into a bunch of pieces (that’s the Word of God)!” When my boy Jaren (10 yrs old), gets pictures from God they’re most often violent. They often involve intense struggle, and God winning! It’s easy to think,” oh he’s 10 he’ll grow out of it,” and I’m sure he’ll get more varied pictures from God someday, but I’m 37 and I still haven’t grown out of the rhythm of struggle and the need for God to gain victory in my life!

Truth – you’re built for struggle! AND you’re built to lean on God’s power and win! You were PROMISED struggle by Jesus, “In this world you will have trouble.” (Not one of my favorite promises to “Amen” to) And you were promised ultimate victory, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33 NIV) You were given weapons (Eph. 6:10-18), and you were told they’re different BUT they win (2 Cor. 10:4-5).

God is declaring to everyone in a struggle today – Use your other-worldly weapons – God’s truth, righteousness, peace, faith, God’s Word, prayer, the blood of the lamb, declaring testimony. God has already declared ultimate victory. Partner with God’s kingdom, knowing that any defeat is temporaryGod can’t lose in you!

This Surprising Truth about Jesus is in Almost Every Story in the Book of Mark

Laying on the floor, eyes closed, incapable of movement – I heard a symphony of noises all around the room: loud praying, yelling, singing, “More, Lord” repeatedly (the same prayer that sent me to the floor without anyone touching me), BUT ALSO WEIRD ONES – someone roaring like a lion in one corner, someone else acting like they’re giving birth behind me, someone barking like a dog in the other corner, and laughter not like someone told a good joke laughter – but rather embarrassing, uncontrollable laughter – loud and awkward. Those sounds were accompanied by abnormal movement – shaking, jerking, doubling over, gyrating like electrocution happened. And ALL OF THAT would have freaked me right out and caused me to scream “fakers”, except for the UNDENIABLE work that God was doing in me . . .

As I laid paralyzed, God began to speak to me and confirm in specific and unavoidable ways many things He’d been telling me about my future and ministry. On the screen of my imagination, He flashed vision after vision of things He had for me and I would do for Him. Those things ALL HAPPENED, His words ALL came true. 25 years later I still remember many of those words, visions and fulfillment.

If you want to call it emotionalism or excessive – you’re entitled to that opinion. You’d be wrong though. Were there people who embellished a little – maybe – but when God shows up undeniably in your life you might freak out too! There’s excess in every Gathering of believers from the beginning, but in a move of God, we get our excesses out IN THE OPEN so we can grow from them and learn, rather than all the private sin of other believers

Also in a move of God those excesses are the exceptions that prove the authentic work of God in people’s lives. I know God was moving and HE was aggressively and consistently pushing me OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE and that’s what brings us to Jesus (sorry it took me a minute to get there – haha) . . .

Throughout His life, Jesus aggressively and consistently pushes people out of their comfort zone. As we’ve studied Mark (and throughout the rest of it – I’ve read ahead – hehe) this is one thread that’s not going away. Jesus was a pusher. Jesus militantly crushes barriers in which people were personally and spiritually comfortable. He only and always broke down the barriers that who would separate people from God. Personal space – crushed. Self-righteousness – crushed. Earthly thinking – crushed. Doubt in His power and goodness – crushed. Every time. He aggressively pushed people into a place of encounter with God!!!

Jesus is STILL aggressively pushing people out of their comfort zone and into authentic encounter with God!!! Ask Him, HOW AM I TOO COMFORTABLE? When I come to church, what are my next steps toward encounter with You? In my prayer time right now, Holy Spirit please invade my comfort zone and bring me into Your growth!!!

What if Water Baptism Means Resurrection?

When you come up out of the water, all you might FEEL is wet. That’s ok. You don’t need to feel this, you simply need to walk in obedience. Water Baptism is symbolic AND supernatural! The need to make it one or the other is a false division. Every baptism in the Bible is tied directly to supernatural encounter with God . . .

  • John’s for repentance – Mark 1:4-5
  • Jesus’ for identity – Mark 1:9-11
  • Day of Pentecost (Holy Spirit encounter AND water baptism) – Acts 2:37-41)
  • Philip’s miracles & baptisms in Samaria (Acts 8:5-13)
  • Ethiopian Eunuch’s supernatural encounter & baptism (Acts 8:36-38)
  • Paul’s encounter with Christ & baptism (Acts 9:1-19)
  • Gentiles speaking in tongues & water baptism (Acts 10:47-48)
  • Jailor’s supernatural deliverance & baptism (Acts 16:27-34)

Bottom line – when you get water baptized you’re going to encounter God! It’s God’s will for every believer to have a meaningful baptism. But I have to go one step further, the significance of water baptism is no less than the death and resurrection of Jesus Himself that YOU NOW PARTICIPATE IN! . . . We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”  (Rom. 6:4 NIV) What does that mean? The resurrection power of Jesus lives in you! What does THAT mean fully? I think it will take us way into eternity to unpack it, but I know it’s good, so good.

If you haven’t been water baptized, this is your next step – this Sunday is your day! Come and celebrate with others this Sunday, the worship, the teaching, the Gathering & the water baptisms – it’s going to be a party!

A Joyful Whirlwind

Pound, pound, p-p-pound, pou-p-pound pound – the stomping of 6 little feet throughout my house for 30 minutes after my kids got home from school yesterday got my adrenaline going! Why now? They’ve been sitting, storing up energy for 2+ weeks over the break and now they have this HUGE, ALL-ENCOMPASSING DAY – with school and piano lessons afterward and now it’s time to GO NUTS! They should have been less rested because of that day, but they were more energized instead.

Here’s the point . . . a break from your normal routine doesn’t always mean rest AND a huge season of activity doesn’t mean you have to feel overwhelmed. What’s the difference between tons of activity meaning exhaustion, and tons of activity being energizing – one word – JOY!!! Joy represents the difference between a whirlwind that drains and a whirlwind that feeds! My kids were having a blast! They were so pumped up! And that joy did NOT lead to a crash. What if there’s joy that doesn’t lead to a crash?

Hebrews describes this scene in heaven . . . You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, (Heb. 12:22 NIV) That is particularly the kind of joy that God is calling you to. Joyful activity. There will be seasons of rest, but your reset in 2020 means that activity can be joyful! Lean into God’s joy today!