Feeling God . . .

“You all are addicted to feelings! It’s all emotionalism with you Pentecostals!”Well, phooey on you too, you jerk faces!” – is what I said in my head. But not out loud, because that would have played in to their point (I was thinkin’ – haha). Those kinds of accusations make you think – should we FEEL GOD!?! Are emotions wrong in faith and spirituality!?! The answer is yes (we should feel God) and no (emotions are NOT wrong in faith). Here’s why . . .

The Bible is FULL OF EMOTIONS and emotional responses to God! The word “heart” lev (601x’s in Hebrew OT) and kardia (156x’s in Greek NT) are emotional words. There’s lots of dancing in Scripture, shouting, crying out, falling on knees and face, lifting hands, clapping, laughing, crying, etc. Read Psalms and see if you can get through 3 verses without emotional language. Read prophecies (about 1/3 of the Bible) and see if they don’t quickly tug on your heart. Jesus’ teaching focused on heart language first before doctrine. In fact, it’s fairly obvious that the Bible is full of more emotions than it is doctrine – that sounds controversial, but it’s really not. Take an honest inventory.

Here’s the bottom line – I would charge that people who DON’T seek to feel God are following their lack of emotions rather than the Word of God. The Bible is an emotional book, BECAUSE we are emotional beings. The Bible comes to the mind through way of the heart. Jesus healed or prophesied BEFORE he taught in most cases, and so did the apostles. I’m not saying that we should be addicted to emotions. I’m not saying that we just need to go from one Holy Spirit fix to the next, like Holy Spirit junkies. The Word of God can stabilize us in times where the feeling is not there. However, if my experience doesn’t line up with the Word of God, then it’s my experience that’s wrong, not the Bible. The Bible is overwhelmingly full of emotional responses to God and His works – we’re allowed to seek to be more like God in this way . . .

Here’s how – ask God right now, “God, is there an area of my emotions I’ve been holding back from you? God, I open myself up to you, to work in EVERY part of me right now, in Jesus name. Amen.” Then stay in God’s presence . . . just . . . stay.

Praying for the Afghan People

If you’re like me – you don’t even know how to pray. 39 million people, 7,411 miles away across two oceans (either direction), customs I don’t understand, people I’ve never met. But yet my heart breaks for the Afghan people. So this week I spoke to a former missionary, a friend of our family, who spent 30+ years in neighboring Pakistan. I cannot name him and have to paraphrase what he wrote, because it would be dangerous to many of his friends and contacts still there in the region. Here are some of the things he said, I believe they’ll give perspective, some peace, and clarity for prayer . . .

  1. He outlined 50+ years of suffering for the Afghan people, stressing that they are survivors. When they saw that the US would pull out, they quickly traded payoffs for surrender, because that was their only chance for survival. They are just looking out for themselves – with payoffs, deals, practically – for their lives, families and tribes.
  2. Their sorrows are ongoing. Many who sided with the US will be murdered, they’re already disappearing. Young unmarried women are being taken as wives for the soldiers in horrific abuse, worse than death.
  3. Kings rise and kings fall. God our King, can handle terrorists, tyrants, big talkers in powerful places, and all who would echo their tales in the media. “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.” (Isa. 33:6 NIV)
  4. Here’s how we can pray – that God would restrain the sin instincts of the human heart. That He would continue to reveal Himself as He has been for many years to many individuals, and give them peace, so that they’re not consumed by fear.

Let’s pray right now, together. Father, in Jesus name, we know that you love the Afghan people. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of your heart for them in this moment. I declare peace in so many of their hearts, a revelation of your Son Jesus, and for supernatural restraint on all those who would hurt them. I bless them in Jesus name, and declare that your glory would be revealed even in these times. Amen.

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!

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).