Celebrating without Jealousy

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:41)

Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice and the Holy Spirit caused John to do a jig (“skip” in Greek) inside Elizabeth. You mom’s can relate – haha. Elizabeth is overwhelmed with the feeling of Holy Spirit working in her and immediately prophesies – immediately speaks words of life over Mary and over the baby.

Who we choose hang around will determine the words that are spoken over us! That’s why it’s important to be in church and to be a Life Group – and to do life with people who are looking to build up our soul. Elizabeth’s prophecy . . .

In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my LORD should come to me? (Luke 1:42-43)

Did Elizabeth know that Mary was pregnant? Nope – Mary barely knew Mary was pregnant. God showed Elizabeth – that’s a Word of Knowledge. Now think about this – Elizabeth Not Only immediately knew that Mary was pregnant – but she immediately knew that Mary’s miraculous baby was WAY MORE IMPORTANT than her own miraculous baby! And SHE CELEBRATED WITH HER – there was zero jealousy – complete celebration . . .

Why? Because Elizabeth realized – God’s plan is bigger than her! Celebrating without jealousy is available to you today with God. Get close to God, understand His heart for the people in your life and START TO PARTY! Your party is one moment with God away.

Reliving the Drama

The dimly lit 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?

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!

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!

Ramping Up

What if Holy Spirit isn’t dependent on your energy level? What if He’s not limited by your abilities? What if your soundness of mind or spirals of thought can’t ruin His day? What if your level of momentum at this present moment cannot stall out His unstoppable forward movement? What if He’s not as impressed with your shortcomings as you are? What if you became more impressed with His ability than your inability? And . . .

What if Holy Spirit is RAMPING UP His work in your life and your world? I could answer all those questions for you, but you know the answer. I want to challenge you to KNOW the answer (so deep in your soul that’s it’s unshakeable in your heart, words and actions). How do you get there? Meditate on God’s ability in you and your world. You may feel like you’re stuck, or drowning, or moving backwards, but know this – Jesus completely understands AND He is, in NO way, stuck or drowning, or moving backwards! Every real transformation, real breakthrough, every miracle – Holy Spirit did it AND He remembers how to do it. He doesn’t have amnesia and He’s ramping up His work in your life and in your world. That’s God’s word for you.

One challenge – read back through the above questions and statements as many times as it takes to get them deep in your spirit! “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6 NIV)

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.