Do it Again

Lights turned out on 300+ kids in the middle of our worship set, no sound. I’m almost the only adult in the room (my worship team was teenagers, and the other camp counselors were in a counselors meeting)! Kid’s camp was about to get WILD! It was like instantly the blood pressure went up for everyone in the room – panic mode was loaded and ready! . . .

But God . . . had been BURNING IN MY HEART exactly what needed to happen next. I put my guitar down, and started yelling out over the crowd of 1st-6th Graders, “God’s wants to do something awesome right now, who in the room has pain or sickness right now?” About 70 hands went up. “Everyone else go to someone with their hand up and start praying for healing. Don’t pray wimpy prayers . . .”

About 15 minutes later the adults started filtering back into the room (they were a little bewildered). Lights had come back on, and there was a line of children coming up to the stage and telling about how God had healed them that morning. That morning Jesus healed 100% of the kids who were sick or in pain! Not one left with sickness or pain that day! Jesus is amazing! Only Jesus! That was the Pennsylvania-Delaware AG District Kid’s Camp of 2015 on the Thursday in July, 4 days before I preached at Journey Life Church for the first time.

I say all that to say, “Lord, do it again!” That’s the phrase that the word “testimony” implies – “do it again.” My HEART BURNS day after day for God to do what only He can do. Holy Spirit remembers how to do it and He’s energized by that prospect too. Join me in testifying and in praying, “Lord, do it again!”

Saturate this . . .

Have you ever needed extra, EXTRA assurance from God? Have you ever KNOWN for sure that you heard from God, but you’re still freaking out about obedience? Gideon relates. He’s hiding. An angel shows up – he immediately questions the angel! (Judges 6:13) Then again (6:15). Gideon asks for a sign (6:17), then another (6:37), then ANOTHER (6:39) – “Saturate this fleece . . . saturate the ground, not the fleece.” God knew Gideon was freaking out. In fact, in chapter 7 God gives Gideon a fourth sign for free (7:9-15)!

Does God know that we need assurances? Does He know we wrestle with insecurities when it comes to our life and the supernatural? Of course. Will He give your FOUR SIGNS like He did Gideon? Maybe. I do know this – God likes to SATURATE PEOPLE more than He likes to saturate fleeces. That’s what baptism issaturation, full immersion. There’s water baptism, and Holy Spirit baptism. The fun part about Holy Spirit baptism is that you STAY SATURATED! You walk around soaked with the power of Holy Spirit.

So here’s the prayer, “Father, saturate me in your Spirit, so that everyone around me can see and experience You through me. Not for my good, but for Yours and for Your world, in Jesus name. Amen.”

Revival’s Secret Sauce . . .

“ARE YOU SAVED, SANCTIFIED, AND FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST!?!” I can still hear the preacher yelling, or even singing (thanks Carman – haha), from revival atmospheres years ago. Most people understand saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, but . . . what is sanctified again? It’s a big churchy sounding word. And this concept has been a part of nearly every revival that I can track all the way back into the book of Acts. Sanctified means Saint-ified, or becoming a saint, becoming set apart for God. The process of becoming set apart and holy only unto God. It’s a necessary part of the Christian life. In fact, it’s assumed in the Bible that this is happening to Christians . . .

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18 NIV)

What does this mean? Holiness. “Ooooohh, that’s not a popular word today Pastor Jared. Didn’t that word get canceled or something?” Not by actual Christians it didn’t! Cause it’s in the Bible . . . a lot. So does Holiness mean, no makeup, bow ties or dancing legalism? NO. Holiness means that we look more like Jesus today than when we first believed! And here’s why it’s been a part of every revival that I have studied – because you and I NEED the transformational, miraculous power of Holy Spirit to become holy! There’s no other way. Everything in us and our culture pushes against becoming more like God – ONLY through the specific powerful working of the Holy Spirit are you going to be formed more into image of the Son of God.

But it’s worth it, and it’s simpler than you think. Pray with me right now, “Holy Spirit, in what specific way do you want to make me more like Jesus today?” Then listen. Then respond.

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.

Apple Spider

“Say apple spider, Jolena” “Noooo, it’s apple cider” “[sing-songy] apple spider” “NO, apple cider” “[disappointed] ahhhhh.” My older kids were desperately trying to get their baby sister to mispronounce “cider” in the way that she used to when she was 3. But 5 year old Jolena wasn’t having it, to the great disappointment of her siblings. Because as amusing and cute as her little mistake was, Jolena knew that there comes a time to grow up. She’s fully capable of doing it right, and thus refuses to fall back into the old habit.

Spiritually, there comes a time for us to grow up too. When we see the truths of God’s Word clearly, we can’t fall back. For instance, salvation is 100% by grace through faith. So then, you never have a place for spiritual pride again. Also, God loves you and likes you, He smiles when He thinks about you. Once you know that, you never have to dwell in rejection again. Or, God still does supernatural wonders through humans. Once you know that, you can’t go back.

What truth from God do you need to own and live in today? Take a moment right now. Ask God, “What truth do I need to own and live in today?”

What if rain means . . .

What does a cloudy, rainy day mean to you? Overcast, dark, threatening skies, humidity, frizzy hair. What mental/emotional state does it put you in? . . . If your answer is “not good” then you have a lot of company. Psychology researchers have established a link between rainy overcast days and feeling down. However, that kind of gloom is a fairly modern invention (since we’ve been able to stay inside and not have to work the land for food). Now, LET’S REFRAME it. In the Bible rain is almost always a sign of blessing from God. (Lev 26:4, 2 Chron 7:13, Amos 4:7, Hosea 10:12, Isaiah 45:8, 55:10, Jer 5:24, 14:22, Job 5:10, Joel 2:23, Matt 5:45, Acts 14:17, James 5:17-18, etc.) Why? In the ancient world, rain means food. No rain, means starvation. People were constantly looking to the skies.

So what if rain means … blessing, food, the favor of God? What if, instead of seeing our frizzy hair and a threatening sky, we saw the promise of what would come next? Look past the moment – understand that THE HARVEST IS WORTH ALL THE GLOOMY DAYS THAT IT TAKES. What if the clouds, turmoil, storm and mud that our nation and your family is going through right now is just the necessary precursor to the harvest that God wants to bring? Then it’s time to ask the “Lord of the harvest to send out workers” (Matt 9:38). It’s time to be ready to be sent to invite people into God’s kingdom.

Why do we Eat Ham?

“Why do we eat ham?” Hearing this question from a Jewish friend took me back a second. I mean, bacon makes almost everything better (except cupcakes – don’t put bacon in cupcakes!) But the Old Testament command not to eat pork is well documented (Lev 11:7, Deut 14:8-10). Why did Christians turn? What made us hungry for the sweet meat? Well, the origins are supernatural – that takes us to Acts chapter 10 and the Apostle Peter in a trance (no, this isn’t eastern mysticism, this is a way Holy Spirit can speak) . . .

Peter’s trance contained a sheet let down from heaven with pigs and other unclean animals on it. God told Peter to eat, Peter argued with God, then God said, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (Acts 10:15) This scene repeated THREE TIMES for Peter (because God knows we’re stubborn). The greater meaning was the Peter was supposed to accept non-Jews into the faith. But it was also interpreted in Acts 15 to mean that Christians could eat any food.

So what does this mean for us beyond a savory BLT sometimes? To me it means, whatever I’ve experienced in the supernatural . . . THERE’S MORE! God has more creative ways to speak than I could imagine. God likes to show off supernaturally more often than even my capacity to receive it from Him. AND some of the ways God speaks are really weird, and even repetitive. So enjoy your pulled pork tacos, and remember that God wants to do supernaturally beyond what you can ask or imagine.

A Picture Speaks . . .

I immediately felt crazy. I stood there bewildered, he was bewildered, and there was no relief. I felt like God had given me a picture of an easel in the middle of a room. So I shared it, but then God gave me zero spiritual insight as to what it meant, so I didn’t make it up, I just went silent . . . 2 YEARS went by, not hours, days, weeks, nope . . . 2 YEARS!

I had forgotten about it, I hoped he had too. But I saw him again, and he said, “you know that picture of the easel you gave me.” “Nope, don’t remember.” So he reminded me, and then added, “We didn’t know what house to buy that week, but the one house had an easel in the center of the room, so we bought it, it was awesome!Wow! Praise God!

PICTURES is one of the primary ways God speaks in the Bible. In fact, in the prophets, visions and dreams are used by God just as much as words. Check this out . . .

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:9)

So, a picture speaks . . . a thousand words, or in God’s hands, a multitude of words! What if God wants to speak to you through pictures today? Take a minute right now and ask God for a picture.

Never be lacking in . . .

“Zeal for your house consumes me” (Psalm 69:9 & John 2:17) Noah, Deborah, Elisha, David, Mary, Samson, Paul, Samuel, Lydia, John the Baptist, John the Beloved, Ruth – what do these heroes of the Bible have in common with George Whitfield (Great Awakening), St. Patrick, William Seymour (Azusa Street Revival), Charles Finney (2nd Great Awakening), Maria Woodworth Etter, Smith Wiggelsworth, John G. Lake, Kathryn Kuhlman, and many more? These individuals hold many significant ultimate commitments in common, and were all used mightily by God. But there is an element that also cannot be overlooked in all their stories . . . ZEAL!

Zeal, passion, fervor, ardor, fire, intensity, drive, excitement – all of these mark individuals
God chooses to move through. Paul commands this, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (Rom. 12:11 NIV) The two Greek words there spoude (haste, speed, urgency, zeal) and zeontes (fire, boil, seethe, burning zeal, spiritual glow) . . . they are both extremely animated words, with kinetic, frenetic (even violent) imagery attached. This means 2 things for us . . .

  1. Stoke the flame of passion in your life
  2. Funnel your passion toward serving God

God is calling you to be passionate, but NOT just for any old cause, or selfish desire (which are the things we tend to expend passion on). God is calling you to be passionate for Him! Stoke the FLAME zeontes of passion for God, there must be a URGENCY spoude of mission for God and His Kingdom. Don’t worry about wildfire, God can handle that (and He has been). The Spirit of God is shouting in your spirit, “JESUS! ABBA! REVIVAL!” Respond. Take a moment RIGHT NOW  to set your heart and emotions on the person of God, on lost people coming to God, on God doing what only He can do, God’s voice, His pictures, His heart, His Church, His world. Fuel passion for God right now and never be lacking in ZEAL!

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.