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.

The Antidote to Legalism . . .

Can we all agree that legalism isn’t helpful? Laws for the sake of laws in the church, trying to save people from themselves has a long history of overuse. That said, we are TERRIBLE at restraining our sinful impulses in the modern church. Why is that? What is the healthy way to approach living for Jesus, restraining sin, embracing right actions? The answer is simpler than you think, however, I don’t hear anyone talking about it, or connecting it as the antidote. So this is coming to you by revelation from the Lord, I believe . . .

Self-control is the antidote to legalism, the prophetic opposite, God’s designed way for us to live for Him, restrain sin, and embrace right actions. Self-control is a Fruit of the Spirit! Self-control or self-discipline is one of the primary ways God wired you to fight sin. Here’s the difference – legalism says, “this worked for me, so every person everywhere MUST now do this, or else they’ll be punished.” Legalism then uses Scriptures that are designed by Holy Spirit to train our conscience and discernment with the Holy Spirit as a hammer to demand compliance. Legalism doesn’t work (Col 2:20-23). Self-control, on the other hand, is RELATIONAL. Self-control works in perfect harmony with the PERSON of the Holy Spirit, Who guides you into appropriate and specific guardrails, restraints, goals and directives that motivate rather than mandate right living.

Self-control says, “God has called me to a system of guardrails, goals and directives, let that inspire you to get to know Holy Spirit for yourself and develop your own guardrails, goals and directives!” Legalism says, I’M restraining myself and doing all of this, so you HAVE to also, and if you don’t you’ll be punished!” One is healthy, relational and motivational and the other is demoralizing and condemning. Now let me be clear, there ARE categories of things that God has specifically asked all Christians everywhere to do or not do in the Bible (ie. the 10 commandments, the sexuality laws, love one another, and SO MANY others). However, we err, if we think EVERYTHING falls in that category. Then, we’re not reliant on Holy Spirit for guidance daily, which is what is REQUIRED of us (John 10:27).

So here’s the antidote . . . ask Holy Spirit for the proper guardrails, restraints, goals and directives to motivate yourself to right living. YOU NEED THESE! Don’t neglect this! Then by example and through love you GET TO motivate others to seek Holy Spirit too. So do it, right now, ask God, “What guardrails, restraints, goals and directives do I need today to motivate right living?”

Also, COME THIS SUNDAY where we’re going to break out these very matters of conscience in fuller detail from Romans 14! This may be the most practical message you ever experience!

In my heart for more than a year . . .

The message that I spoke Sunday from Romans 13:1-7 has been in my heart for more than a year! Why? Because I’ve heard this Scripture abused over and over ad nauseum by Christians and non-Christians alike, by anyone who will parrot it. I wanted to add balance to the discussion. My prayer is that through this teaching our people will be delivered from a NEED to comply, AND from a NEED to NOT comply. Ultimately, we have to follow Jesus first! If you need any prayer or discernment for your particular situation, our staff and prayer team would love to partner with you on that.  Catch the message replay here.

I’ve also attached the handout from Sunday’s message with my (much requested) translation of Romans 13. A couple thoughts about my translation . . .

  1. Yes, I am qualified to translate from the Greek & Hebrew (M.A. in Advanced Biblical Languages & an earned Doctorate).
  2. This is my take on the translation, I am NOT infallible or inerrant (God’s Word in the original languages is infallible & inerrant).
  3. The translators 99.95% of the time do an amazing job! They are men and women of God who believe the Bible is infallible & inerrant and are doing their best before God to communicate God’s Word as accurately and helpfully as possible. I know some of those who worked on the translation teams personally. Bottom line – you can trust that God’s Word will speak to you and give you life every time you pick the Bible!
  4. No, I am not able to translate the entire Bible personally. I’m called to Pastor first, and that takes the majority of my time – I need to stay in my lane of calling – haha.

I love and bless you all in Jesus name! Be strengthened and encouraged! Jesus is coming soon!

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?”

If You’re Happy and You Know It . . .

If you’re happy and you know it . . . “sing songs of praise!” (James 5:13) Yep, it comes right out of the Bible. Singing praise to God should be a physical manifestation of the happiness that God has given you. But I can’t sing“Make a joyful noise to the Lord” (Psalm 100:1). God’s command doesn’t require talent – just noise. Being on the worship team requires talent though, haha. But talent is not a prerequisite for singing or happiness before God. And the Bible implies that the two go together.

Like Buddy from the movie Elf, “I’m singing, I’m in a store and I’m singing, I’m in a store and I’m singing!” What if singing praise to God can unlock a new level of joy in your heart? The Bible contends for this, and commands it (at least 29 times) why? Because singing has the ability to make your heart happy. It’s not always the same for listening to music, there’s something about using your built-in instrument, your voice, and connecting it to the living God. That’s why God says if you’re happy, sing songs of praise.

Get an upgrade of joy right now. Sing to God. Who cares who’s around? God wants to lift your heart today.

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.

Do you feel God?

Snot everywhere, tears spitting out with the convulsions of grief, joy, hope and embrace that filled my soul and that was just at the “box of chocolates” line in Forrest Gump – haha. Sometimes our feelings can get triggered by the silliest things, and then don’t get triggered when they should, and we feel like a lifeless robot. For better or worse lifelessness is life without feelings. God created us to experience life with our five senses (six, if you count sense of direction – but mine left the moment GPS came around – haha), and our emotions. Our bodies are wired for compassion and elation, for anger, sadness and profound contentment.

So, when was the last time you felt God? I sense (haha) a couple of you tensing up just reading that J. Here are some thoughts as to why that is, and how we let God win in our senses . . .

God is not a feeling. God is love (love isn’t feeling either – haha), but He’s bigger than love – love serves God’s desires. Therefore our feelings also submit to God and His Word. Feelings can be deceptive (Jer 17:9).

God is greater than your feelings. John 3:20 – it’s a thing. God owns that area too and He will operate in our feelings areas more when we align ourselves with His purpose there.

God works in your feelings. You’ve experienced God before in this way – there was a rush of happy tears for freedom or sorrow for sin or joy that caused you to move out of your emotional box with [insert response – laughing, shouting, jumping, clapping, dancing]. These kinds of responses are normal all over the Bible – Jesus had them, the apostles had them, and everyone who interacted with them did. Feelings can provide a gateway for God to work (Prov 21:2, Phil 4:7).

When we don’t feel God that doesn’t mean He’s not around, and when we do feel Him that doesn’t mean we’re super Christians. So open your whole being to God and you will feel Him. He’ll prove that He’s here, that He’s on your side, that He’s love, and if you ask He’ll probably give you words and marching orders that move you beyond feelings. So open your whole being to God right now, quiet your mind, ask Holy Spirit to come, and stay there until you’re ready to take Him with you.