Roe v. Wade was overturned – Why? What now?

Roe v Wade was struck down on Friday, Why is this important? Why is this the right thing? Why have we been fighting for this for so long? How does this help our country? How is this a win for Christians? . . . AND . . . What do we do from here? . . . This video is personal and gives lots of Scriptures, resources, rebuttles to arguments, and practical training for moving forward! Check out the video here . . . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HM1eHDbaUWk.

Love & Blessings to all, Jared

How to Change Your Family Legacy

My grandpa went to be with Jesus today.  He came from brokenness to Jesus and changed EVERYTHING for my family. He was 96 years young today when he passed, still knew how to make people laugh, and loved grandma (93) so well, although listening to them bicker because they couldn’t hear each other was quite a show.

He was one of my heroes, here’s why. Before him, my family’s legacy was brokenness – addiction, abuse, homelessness, prostitution, prison, etc. He ran away from his abusive homelife as a teenager, was taken in by a Christian family, met Jesus, and EVERYTHING CHANGED! Although abused, he did not abuse his children, or get enslaved by addiction. He passed on faith in Jesus to my dad, who passed it to me and I to my kids. Our family’s legacy is now doctors, pastors, missionaries, teachers, families that stay together, and stability.

He broke the line of destruction in my family, and started a line of life. I hope that encourages anyone who’s endeavoring to break the line of destruction in your own family. The answer is Jesus, and the proof is this joy-filled man of God.

He served in WWII, built houses in Chicago for 37 years. Then he spent 41 years in retired life as a fisherman and golfer extraordinaire, with a wonderful tropical fruit orchard, and weekly trips to Upper Room Assembly of God and Golden Corral. He taught me how to fish, to golf (I wasn’t a great student – haha), to pound a nail, to have a commitment to laughter, and how to rewrite family legacy for God. I loved him, and today I honor him.

The Most Important Skill in Developing Discernment with God

“I’m not crying, you’re crying,” as happy tears run down both our faces. Remember I’m a sympathetic crier – haha. God had given me a picture of a flower (a Jack in the Pulpit, to be exact). Then I described what I felt like God was saying through that picture and it hit so deeply to the heart that water works started and so much long-term fruit as well. 5 years later it’s still bearing fruit. So, how did I know God was speaking to me? Why was I confident that I was sharing something from God and not just my head? The short answer – discernment. Discerning between spirits (1 Cor 12:10) – human spirit, demonic spirits or Holy Spirit.

If you’ve felt like you heard from God before in your life – you’ve used this gift. It may have been direction from God – He led you to your spouse, or to a job, or to our church, but it produced good fruit in your life, therefore, you have reason to believe it was God, not you. It may have been a picture from God that gave you hope when hope seemed lost – fruitful. This may possibly be the most important skill in my journey of developing discernment with God. That skill is . . .

Reverse engineering a fruitful encounter with God. What!?!? Let me explain . . . You feel like you hear from God. You try something based on that. It produces good fruit. Maybe amazing fruit. That means you have reason to believe that this encounter with God was genuine.

How do you reverse engineer a fruitful encounter with God? I would start with a few questions when looking back on the time that you received the word or picture from God that produced good fruit.

  1. How did I feel at the moment I received that communication from God? Take a snapshot in your spirit of that moment, remember the sights and sounds around it.
  2. What, that day, led up to that encounter with God? How was my day going before the encounter? What had I done, said? How had I spent my time?
  3. What, in that season of life, led up to that encounter with God? How was my prayer life, church life, Bible study, etc.? How was my heart? How recently had I repented of sin?

When you see clearly the circumstance that spawned authentic encounters with God in the past in your life, that will give you clues as to how to repeat them. It will also help you to discern ahead of time better when they’re happening again. This speaks to your personal history with God. I cannot pray and impart this to you. You have to forge this in your own prayer life. This is a pursuit I intend to continue growing in the rest of my life personally.

Pray this prayer with me, “Lord, I want to hear and know Your voice. God, that Your voice would be so clear and obvious to me that I would catch it the first time, and act on it, giving Your goodness away to my world. Train me Lord. 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.

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!

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.

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).

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.