A Prosperous Life

A fulfilled and prosperous life doesn’t come when we try to simply better ourselves or pursue our personal ambitions and dreams. It doesn’t come when we gain more intelligence or strength. It doesn’t arrive when we “arrive”. We don’t reach prosperity when we get a certain amount of money or fame. A prosperous life comes from something much deeper and much different than what many of us are taught growing up.

A self-centered life approach only causes a larger and larger hole in our own souls for more and more. It creates a monster of consumerism and a need for more and more that can never be satisfied. The more goals we reach and things we gain the more we feel like we need. We see this easily illustrated by just reading news articles on entertainment and sports stars. Over and over again we see destroyed marriages, drugs problems and suicides in spite of all these people have attained and possess.

A fulfilled life comes when wCzech Teen Challenge Trip 2014-101e lay it all down to follow Jesus. The adventure begins when we seek first His Kingdom and enter into a lifestyle of complete faith and trust in Christ. When we abandon all and completely give ourselves to Him then we can enter into a life full of joyful exploration of Gods Kingdom. To the degree that we lay ourselves down at His cross is the degree by which we gain access to His Kingdom realities which are love, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit.

He promises that when we lay it all down to follow Him that we are invited into the Family of God. Within this amazing family we encounter a loving Father who delights in giving us His good gifts and access to His Kingdom which represents perfect peace, joy and love.

Jesus didn’t ask to follow his disciples around. Rather Jesus invited his disciples to come after or follow Him. Jesus is calling us to lay everything aside and choose to follow Him in everything we do. When we begin to live a life totally abandoned Jesus then we can access a truly prosperous life and encounter a fullness of life that we never have dreamed possible. His invitation is open to each of us every day.

Will you lay your life today and choose down to follow Him? 

Arise and Shine

It can seem depressing at times to watch as it seems that our world grows darker and darker. Just take a minute to watch the news or read the headlines and you will quickly feel an inch tall and like you have nothing to offer in the midst of so much darkness, chaos and despair. I believe that God is not calling us to ignorance of what’s happening around us. Rather, we are to know what is going on in our world but to respond to it with boldness and courage rather than debilitating fear and mind numbing complacency.

 God has called His sons and daughters to rise and shine the light and hope of Jesus everywhere we go. He promises that even as the darkness appears to grow that we will burn brighter and brighter for nations to see and be drawn to Him. We as Christ followers are not to simply wait and cower in a corner until He comes back to rescue us but rather we are to go and shine brightly in the hardest darkest places of our world! We are meant to bring His light into every situation we face and not cower in fear from had situations.   
God is raising up a generation that will lay their lives down and bring His hope and light into a world that is overwhelmingly dark and depressing. We are that generation! We will shine brightly until His glory covers the earth.

He is calling us not to obsess over the darkness and how bad things might be. He wants us to become more and more like Him so that His glory and His light can shine through our everyday lives! It’s only when we live in this paradigm that we can truly begin to do what Jesus commissioned us to do before He ascended to the Father. We can’t keep our lights be hidden in the corner if we plan to make disciples of cities and nations. We must let our lights shine brightly so that cities and nations can be drawn to the Glory of our King!

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. “For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you. “Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭60‬:‭1-3‬ NASB)

Revival on the River 2015

Revival on the River Unity Night Take the CityWe are so excited that this year’s Revival on the River event is going to be a two day event! Please join us for Unity Night on Friday April 24th for a night of food, fun and music. Also, we would love for you to join us on Saturday for the “Take The City” outreach which will be sending out 100 teams all across the area. This will be the largest organized community-wide outreach the Chattahoochee Valley area has ever had!
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In April of 2014 we had over 2,500 people from theChattahoochee Valley area come together for the very first Revival on the River – Unity Night! It was an amazing night of celebration as over 50 churches from the area came together. We would love for you and your church to come and even get involved this year! 
 
Here are three great ways you can get involved:
  1. Get involved at the Take the City outreach on 4.25 @12pm – Click Here to Sign Up
  2. Have people join the Intercessors team for Unity Night – 4.24 @ 5pm
  3. Have any singers from your church join the Unity Night Choir

Thank you all so much for joining us in prayer as we finish up all the final preparations for this exciting event. We anticipate that God is going to do tremendous things this year at Revival on the River!

Pistol Whipped – A Testimony of Redemption

Pistol whippedTonight I was hanging out on my front porch reading and talking with my roommate Jesse when a guy came walking beside our house. It was dark outside so we couldn’t really see him well but when we did notice him walking by we said hey and he asked us if we had a cigarette we could give him. We told him no but then we asked him how his night was going. He started to tell us that it would be better if he could get the cut on his face to stop bleeding. We were kinda caught off guard when he told us that but we then asked him what had happened to him…

The guy came over to our house and started to tell us that one of his “friends” had robbed him and had pistol whipped him before taking his money. We then offered to get him a bandage or something to help with the cut. After finding a little first aid kit we helped clean the wound and put a bandage on it. The guy was so thankful that even though we didn’t know him at all that we were willing to help. He then started to explain that he didn’t even know why he had walked in the direction of our house but was kinda just wandering around. We realized that God had obviously led him to our house so that we could share our Fathers amazing love with him.

After bandaging him up we were able to lead him to Christ and right there on our front porch. He knelt down with us and prayed the most sincere and honest prayer without us even telling him what to say. I honestly wish I had a recording of his prayer because of how sincere it was. We then prayed with him as he asked God to forgive him and to come and live inside of him. Then as we prayed he actually forgave the guy who had just attacked him. At the end we began to just pray for God’s love to be revealed to him and he said he could feel God’s loving presence in a real and tranbgilble way!

After we prayed we all just hung out together on our front porch until around 11. We told each other stories, joked around and ate snacks. It felt like we had known the guy a lot longer than an hour. It was so unforgettable to witness such an amazing miracle. We got to witness someone who was dead inside come to life as Jesus came too live inside of him. We got to see a young man who had grown up in foster care and told us that he felt like he had no one who cared about him come into the Family of God and become a son of God.

We had the amazing privilege to see an orphan become part of a family…

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5‬:‭17-21‬ NIV)

The Key to Revival

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Our greatest enemy as Christ followers is our pride and our self-sufficiency. As we follow Christ we are to follow His example of humility. We are also to follow His example in laying our lives down in exchange for His. As we follow Christ we trade a life of pride for a lifestyle of lowliness and humility.

“For this is what the high and exalted One says– he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15

The word contrite in the verse above comes from the hebrew word “daka” which means to be crushed. Through the prophet Isaiah God tells us in this verse about how He not only is in a high and exalted place (heaven) but that He is also drawn to those who are “daka” or crushed. In talking about Christ Isaiah also says in an earlier passage, “He was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). We see that Jesus chose to allow himself to be crushed for us. I believe that we are also called to lay down our own lives and allow our pride to be crushed before Him.

What I find so cool about this verse is that it comes with a really powerful promise about God’s nature. He tells us at the end of this verse that He will revive those who are humble and have allowed themselves to be crushed (those who are contrite). We have a promise in this verse of revival. The only condition of this promise is that we humble ourselves and crush our pride. As we do this in faith then God promises that our hearts and lives will be forever changed.

Revival comes in response to humble saints. Revival comes as God draws near to those who have crushed their pride and have come to Him in humility and brokenness. God longs to send revival and He is simply waiting for us to crush our pride and humble ourselves before Him!

The word revive in the verse above is used over 250 times in the old testament. It is the hebrew word “chayah” which means: to live, restored, revived, to be restored to life and to live prosperously. When God promised to revive us in response to our brokenness then He promised to bring us into a life where our soul is prosperous. This same hebrew word is used over and over again in the OT when talking about genealogies. For examples it is used a lot of times when talking about how someone “begot” another in a list of family lineages. It is a word that ultimately means to create life. When we pick up our cross and lay down our lives then God promises to birth something new inside of us. 

“Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves.” 2 Cor 5:14-15

God is looking for a generation who will humble themselves, seek His face, turn from their sin so that He can bring healing and restoration. He is looking for a generation who will become broken and humble sot hat He can birth something new inside of them. He longs for a humble church whom He can use to birth revival. If we want revival then we need to ask God for humility and brokenness. Revival is coming but only in response to our humility. Revival is coming as we crush our pride and choose to totally depend on our God. Humility is the KEY to revival in the Church. 

WWJD?

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I remember growing up in elementary and middle school when this really interesting fad hit the southeastern United States that involved these colorful bracelets with the letters “WWJD?” on them. In fact, when I first begin to see these bracelets on people I can distinctly remember pretending like I knew what the letters stood for before I really even had a clue. Maybe as I mention them you can also remember these bracelets. The interesting thing about these bracelets that I remember is how suddenly they became hugely popular in the community where I lived and how suddenly everyone not only had one but some people actually would wear 5 or more on a single arm. It was the cool thing to do and so of course I began to follow and got one or two of my own!

WWJD?The interesting thing about these bracelets that I distinctly remember is that over time people at my school that were not Christians and were not involved in church whatsoever suddenly began to wear the bracelets. It seemed as if everyone was asking this same question, “What Would Jesus Do?” I remember how the popularity of this bracelet seemed to be a huge success for the Christian community but now that I look back I wonder what impact it really even did make on our culture?

Last night I was reflecting about a friend of mine who was over at my house earlier this week and was doing some hilarious impressions of me and some of our other friends as we were all just hanging out. It was so funny when he began to do the impression of me because of how accurate he was in impersonating me. Everyone started bursting out laughing from the moment he started speaking because his voice and mannerisms suddenly resembled mine in such an astonishing way. My friend then told me something that really caught my attention. He said that he couldn’t do impressions of certain people because he had not really had time to watch them and study them.

I later realized that this is a really interesting fact that he demonstrated at my house. My friend taught me in this situation that we couldn’t represent or imitate something we are unfamiliar with! We must study and spend a lot of time with someone if we really plan to imitate them and act like them. In fact I have been around people that were so close in relationship that they could literally finish one another’s sentences! This is a demonstration of true intimacy and friendship.

peter pan peanut butterI want to offer one more example that I just thought of us well. Let’s pretend that someone you know really well has asked you to run to the grocery store for them and purchase something for them before you come to visit them. Imagine if that specific brand of whatever they wanted was out of stock. You would immediately know how this person would respond. For instance you may already know that if it is not “Peter Pan” peanut butter then you may as well not even purchase anything. You would then make a really well informed decision for them without even having to ask them. You wouldn’t even need to call them because you already know what decision they would have made. This is what true intimacy looks like! This is when you know that you really know someone well. You know them well when you can easily imitate and represent them!

Now I want to look back at the “WWJD?” bracelets that I originally brought up.  The whole point of these bracelets is to remind people to always ask the question wherever they are what Jesus might do in that situation. While I think that this question is of extreme importance in our everyday lives I want to suggest that there is a key ingredient that is necessary before this question can even be relevant. We must intimately know Jesus before we can ever assume or imitate what He might do in our everyday lives.

Do we really even know Jesus in such a way that we can easily do what He might do? Have we spent so much time with Him recently that we know how He talks and responds? Could we imitate his mannerisms to others without really even putting any thought to it? Have we spent so much time studying, reading and memorizing His word that we can quickly say what He might say in any situation that we find ourselves in? Do we even have a relationship with Him in such a way where we are qualified to answer this important question about what He might do in whatever situations we face on a daily basis? I think that these questions are some important ones for us all to look at and ask ourselves.

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Lastly, I want to say that I love the “WWJD?” bracelets and the question that they represent. I think that it is one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves on a moment-to-moment basis as we live our daily lives. The amazing thing is that when we combine this question with a lifestyle of studying His word and practicing His presence then anything becomes possible! When we memorize His word and devote ourselves in the secret place of prayer then we have the opportunity to become so familiar with Christ that it becomes more and more easy to imitate Him in our everyday lives. In fact, I want to suggest that when we devote ourselves to living in intimate communion with Him that the question of what He might do becomes totally irrelevant because we just naturally begin to act how he might act and say what He might say.

We create a recipe for the supernatural to become natural as we begin to combine a lifestyle of intimacy with Jesus and the question, “what He might do in our everyday situations?” When we combine these two things then suddenly people will begin to encounter Christ in us which is the only Hope that they truly have. People don’t need to encounter us or our weak impressions of who we think Jesus might be. They need to see Jesus in us in such a way that their lives are forever changed. These type of encounters only come through people who are truly abiding in an intimate relationship with Jesus.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV)

Learning Obedience through Fasting and Prayer

Rebellion was the first sin in the garden and it involved food. Adam and Eve were given commands from their inception and were given a single thing they were to abstain from. When they fell into sin by rebelling against God it caused a great chasm and separation between God and man. Since the fall of man God has been in the pursuit of bringing his created children back to himself while still respecting the free will that he gave them. This free will is what makes us so special in his sight.

Jesus came so that our rebellion from God which results in eternal separation could be forgiven. No matter how much good we do and how hard we try we can never do enough to cover up even the smallest sin we have ever committed. Rebellion is rebellion and the cost of rebellion is separation from God forever. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus paid that price that we could never pay back for our rebellion. He made a way for us to enter back into relationship with our Creator and Father!

When we choose to receive forgiveness through Jesus Christ we make a choice not only to just believe in Him but to also make Him Lord. We choose to believe in Him and also choose to change our old ways and learn to obey Him in every way. We gain salvation as a free gift that we do not earn. We gain the blessed and abundant life that comes along with salvation when we learn to live obedient to Christ as our King. We enter into His fullness as we set ourselves apart and learn to submit to Him.

Adam and Eve lived in perfect communion in the Garden of Eden because they were COMPLETELY submitted to God. They encountered complete peace, joy and abundance to the fullest in that place because they were completely obedient to Him in every way. In Christ, we also have the amazing opportunity to enter into this communion with God the more and more we subject ourselves to Him and all His ways. We do not subject ourselves to him because we are merely His slaves but rather because when we live a life of complete obedience we enter back into a place like the Garden of Eden with our Father God! Obedience makes our life a landing strip for God’s goodness and abundance while rebellion blocks these things from coming into our lives.

God can never bless rebellion so we must learn subjection and obedience to His son Jesus. Remember the two things that were involved in the fall: rebellion and food. When we fast we subject our flesh, which is full of rebellion and sin, to the Spirit of God. When we neglect our flesh we teach it obedience to the person of Christ Jesus. Just like rebellion was started in the eating of this fruit so is obedience injected into our lives through the abstaining of it. Just like a supernatural occurrence happened when they ate the fruit so is there a supernatural exchange when we choose to abstain from food and bring our souls into submission.

Fasting and prayer teaches our flesh to obey the Spirit of God and allows us to enter into the blessed abundance of intimacy with our Father in Heaven like there was once in the Garden. As we enter into the weakness of fasting it brings things to the surface that we would otherwise not see. It acts as a purifying agent that exposes our impurities and rebellion. As we begin to deal with these things we learn to subject ourselves to the will of our Father and are able to live more fully in the way He created us to live. Fasting is that which teaches our souls obedience and helps us to enter into the abundance that we were originally created to exist in!