This past week our regular meeting space for our local house of prayer and the church I attend has not been open because of water that smells like sewage flooding in through the walls. It seemingly will get better for a day or two and then suddenly the water keeps re-appearing and no one, including contractors and plumbers, have any idea what the problem is. The following testimony is a quick story of how God can take something that is really an annoyance or inconvenience and make it work out in a way better than ever imagined!
“If I were pledging men and women to the Gospel of the Son of God.., it would not be to have a nice church and harmonious surroundings… I would invite them to be ready to die. That was the spirit of early Methodism. John Wesley established a heroic call. He demanded every preacher to be “ready to pray, ready to preach, ready to die.” That is always the spirit of Christianity. When any other spirit comes into the Church, it is not the spirit of Christianity. It is a foreign spirit. It is a sissified substitute.” – John G. Lake
I have been reading a book containing the works from John G. Lake this summer and also a book called Radical by David Platt. In both books they talk about the blood of the martyrs and the importance of a Christian movement being marked by a spirit of martyrdom and a willingness to die for the sake of the cross.
John G. Lake went to South Africa with a small team and within a few years raised up over 1250 leaders and 350 churches. They saw multitudes of people healed and saved all over South Africa. This great move of God did not come at a small price. He talks about in the first few year he buried 12 preachers and 16 wives and children. Read that prior sentence one more time…
While reading David Platt’s book he talks about how he left our western culture of great big, fancy churches full of beautifully organized programs and all the comforts and went to China. He talks about meeting with a group of pastors who wept for hours over their church members being persecuted, killed and persuaded into joining cults that were torturing them. He noticed how people gathered in the most dire and uncomfortable situations to read the Word of God and pray together. The story he told of the churches he encountered in China really shocked me. This is something that I read about in the New Testament but am so unfamiliar with in our culture.
I know that most of the time I am unwilling to give up my sleep, my food, my comfort, my money and my precious time for the cause of Christ. What makes me think I would really be willing to die. What if God is asking me, and you, to live a life of great risk and sacrifice? What if Jesus is calling us to a life of total surrender?
I believe that if the Body of Christ in America captured the heart and passion that filled the martyrs mentioned by John G. Lake, the early church, those who joined John Wesley, and those that David Platt encountered in China, that we would witness the greatest cultural renaissance and re-awakening ever seen on earth. I feel like God is calling me to a life that is willing to really surrender everything and not just have a willingness to do it figuratively.
I want to live a life that is no longer fearful of people maybe judging me or hating me for the cause of Christ but that not only am I willing to accept persecution but also death.
What about you?
In our life we are always growing in the Lord and never reach a point of complete arrival. There are always more good things about God that we will spend an eternity taking time to discover. In this life we will always battle our flesh and the enemy that will assault our identity and who God says that we are. We will always be practicing, growing and operating in the gifts that He has given us. This process of growing is marked by four main things that we must go through to really see the full potential of what God is trying to do in our lives. Information leads to revelation which will start our transformation that enables and ignites us to make God’s Kingdom manifest here on earth.
We first begin by learning through reading the Bible, books or by having someone teach us. This information is something that we can gain just like things that we would naturally learn like a language or a skill. I have heard it said, “Discipleship is a lot like learning a new language”. If you have ever tried really learning a new language you realize how hard that actually is. You have to be immersed in an environment where that language is used and be intentional about studying it. We have to do the same as followers of Christ. We need to immerse ourselves in teachings and new knowledge that can help us really learn this way of living a Kingdom Life.
A lot of people get to information and never move past there in the Body of Christ. Many will settle with a head full of knowledge but never pursue the revelation that God wants to offer to those that are truly hungry and thirsty for the deeper things that he has to offer. One of the greatest ways to allow God to turn information into revelation is through the spiritual discipline of prayer and fasting. “Fasting turns your life into a landing strip for revelation.” This is the place where we go from a simple knowledge of the truths in the Gospel and move into a deepened heart understanding.
Once we allow the Lord to give us his information that leads to revelation our lives start to be RADICALLY transformed. Everything changes when the Word begins to come alive and God really begins to reveal His character and his great love for each of us. This revelation of His love changes not only who we are but also what we desire. Once we begin to let the Lord give us revelation and begin to experience true freedom and transformation we start to experience an overwhelming hunger for more. When we get a taste of this revelation our desires change which leads to the great transformation that empowers us to really represent Christ to the world around us.
In John 10:1 Jesus calls his disciples and gives them authority. This represents the process of them discovering their identity and the authority that they possess before they were released to minister. They were told to go out and heal the sick and cast out demons. Jesus took them through a process of giving them information, revelation and they were radically transformed. The next thing the disciples did is they went out and operated in the authority that Jesus had given them. This same thing is what happens when we allow the Lord to take us through this process. We begin to realize that all of this transformation, revelation and information is not meant for us. Jesus has entrusted us with these things so that we not only give a presentation of the Gospel in our lives but we also give a demonstration. He has given us these amazing things not for us but for the world. This process is how He plans to equip us to really see the fulfillment of the great commission and ultimately usher in the 2nd coming of Christ. We are empowered by this process to become world changers and difference makers as sons and daughters of the Most High King and to do Kingdom business wherever God leads us.
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-23
I wanted to share an amazing testimony of something that God did this past weekend. It’s so amazing what God can do through us when we realize how good he is, what our identity is in Him and the authority that He has given us to establish his Kingdom on the earth.
I was with Shannon this past Saturday night and we were walking around the downtown area and went to this Biker event that was being held by the river. It was getting late and a lot of the people were wasted. It smelled like beer and fast food. You could hear some good old southern rock and loud motorcycles. The atmosphere was really dark that night and it really heightened my spiritual attentiveness to my surroundings. As we walked around I quietly asked God to let me reveal his amazing Love to someone.
We went under a tent where a vendor was selling miscellaneous knives and rings. When we got there I heard the still, small voice of the Father in my heart whisper that the woman in the booth had back pain. A man, who we later found was her husband, came over to help us buy something. We just stayed and looked around at the knives, its funny because Shannon hates knives but I really felt the Lord tell me to just stay right there and wait for Him.
After about 10 minutes, finally his wife walked over and I began to encourage her with a few things that Lord began to show me about her. I asked her about her tattoos and then began to share with her some prophetic words about these tattoos and how God has amazing plans for her life. She began to tear up as the Spirit of God really began to minister to her in the midst of this biker event.
I then asked her, “Do you have back pain?” She stepped back in amazement and shock and said, “YES, I have terrible chronic back pain…” I then told her, “The Lord is going to heal you. Can we pray for you??” She was kinda taken off guard but smiled and allowed us to come pray for her. Shannon and I laid hands on her declared healing over her body and commanded all the pain to cease. We asked God to release His Kingdom and healing power into this woman’s body.
After we prayed I asked her and she tested it and was shocked that the pain was nearly gone completely! Shannon and I got really excited and asked her if we could pray one more time. After praying for her the second time all of the pain was completely gone and the woman was healed by the power of God. Her and her husband were crying before we left and were so blessed by the amazing love, grace and mercy that the Father had shown them.
When we allow the Father to show us His great love for us and then extend that same love to others we begin to see lives impacted and the miraculous take place.
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.
There are a lot of things that influence how we interact with those that we lead and influence. We can be having a great day, which leads to our ability to encourage someone around us, or we can find ourselves pouring negativity and slander on those around us about something frustrating that has happened. It is important that we always remember to lead from 3 very important places that will ensure that we lead well and positively influence those people around us.
1. Lead from a place of Rest
In our culture we live in a place of constant conviction to achieve and perform more and more. Most of us have a very hard time; never stopping to really rest in the Lord. When we feel the constant need to continue striving it is because we are not living in a place where we can rest in who God is. Sometimes we feel a need to constantly be proving ourselves. As leaders we need to always make time to sit back and rest in the Lord. The Lord calls us to yoke ourselves up to Him and he promises that the burden will be light. As we rest in the Lord we will enable him to refresh us and will end up having so much more to offer those that we influence.
2. Lead from a place of Intimacy
In John chapter 15 Jesus reminds us that we need to always remain in Him as he remains in the Father. He uses the metaphor of us being the branches that are attached to him, which represents the vine. This is extremely important to remember, as we are influencing those around us. We need to always be taking time to get away and seek the face of God. We need to get into His presence and allow him to show us more of whom He is. The more intimacy we have with God, the higher the probability is that others will encounter him through us.
3. Lead from a place of Hunger and Thirst
In John chapter 6 Jesus compares himself to food. He tells us that if we will eat and drink of Him that we will no longer hunger or thirst. The physical energy, invigoration and refreshment that we gain from food and drink is simply a portrait of the way that Jesus nourishes and fills our lives. This bold promise is something that we need to always remember as we are pouring into the lives of other people. We need to exemplify for others that we crave Jesus even more than we do the water we drink, the food we eat and even the air we breathe.
Do you think God put physical food on the earth to show us how much we should crave Jesus?
It is so easy to find myself as a Christian falling into a mindset that I need to do so much to prove myself to God and others. It’s easy to feel like I always need to do more out of some great obligation to save the world. It is really easy to get overwhelmed and to try to impress everyone with how “good” I am. A lifestyle of performance and sacrifice can be one that is destructive and draining. I believe that a life of obligation and religion is far from what God intends for us.
When the prodigal son returns to his father he immediately gets the fathers ring, robe and sandals. These things represent how the father loves, accepts and can see a destiny for his son. Our Heavenly Father does the same for us and at times we forget that. We need to work from a place that already realizes that we are accepted and loved. When we realize this and abide in God’s love we are empowered to work from a place of passion.
Religions all over the world are created by man so that our human race can try and gain the acceptance and approval of some higher power. The amazing good news that comes from a relationship Christ is that we don’t have to earn anything. The price was paid and we now have God’s complete love and total acceptance. When we realize that we then want to show God our appreciation and adoration by showing His great love to those that are around us. This is the entire purpose behind our service to humanity as Christians. It’s not a bunch of acts that we are supposed to do in an attempt to convert or control. We are to overflow Gods amazing love into the world that hunger and craves for a real encounter with the living God. Our action should always be inspired by a passionate love and be done from a place of rest in him.
God desires that we live a life that is totally secure in who we are and how loved we are. He wants us to have a life full of passion and contagious destiny. The life that he offers is not one that will burden and drain us but it is one that will invigorate and inspire us to always love more.