Kicking Insecurity to the Curb and Starting a Podcast!

I pride myself in being self-confident and self-aware most of the time. I love to dream with God and talk about the thing s I want to accomplish in life. However, I was recently challenged and corrected by a good friend.

“Be mindful of your influence. I think sometimes we impact people and we don’t even realize it, because we don’t think highly of ourselves. But people look up to you. You have wisdom and spiritual understanding that is beyond your years. Most times, you are the most influential person in the room.”

This hit me like a ton of bricks right in my heart. Am I stewarding my influence and am I my best friend? Do I believe in myself? Normally I would say yes but this correction really challenged me and spoke to the goals that I have set that are left untouched because I am my biggest barrier.

So here we go! I will be starting a podcast in a few months!

This is something I have been wanting to do and something others have been wanting me to do for a few years now. Part of actually achieving this is raising some funds for a good microphone and a new laptop. I currently have a Mac Powerbook G4. If you’ve never heard of that, it’s because it’s pretty dated. Officially, they were discontinued in 2006. This makes it rather difficult to use recent software and forget about using a browser. In fact, Safari crashed so much, I just don’t even go online. I mainly use it to write on Word and listen to iTunes.

Part of kicking insecurity to the curb for me is to ask for your help and for your participation in this project. I think fundraising is less about asking for money, though that is essentially what’s happening, and more about inviting people to believe in you. We have started a Go Fund Me Campaign that I would love for you all to visit and consider investing in whether that be financially or by resharing it on social media and mostly by prayer!

Together we can bring the message of Crazy Grace and of the love of Jesus to so many people through iTunes and many other platforms! Links are below!

Thank you in advance!

False Grace and the Sin of Appearance Without Substance

Today as I was driving home from work, God started to speak to me about releasing several prophetic words to the church in America. I felt a very sober atmosphere in the car as He spoke to me. It’s an atmosphere that I haven’t felt in quite a while. I knew that whatever was about to be heard by my ears would be rather intense and that this was not only a word for the body of Christ but for me as well. It seems, throughout scripture, that the prophetic words God releases to men and women of God have a profound impact on the listener and prophetic person and not just the recipient of the word.

God tells the prophet to eat the scroll, not only to speak it and deliver it but also to ingest and receive nutrition first. That’s the danger of releasing words before their season and delivering words too quickly. Many times we want to feel the thrill of prophetic ministry and in our youthfulness and inexperience we exchange responsibility for thrill. This is why accountability and mentoring is so important in prophetic ministry. We need those who have ministered in this manner for years before to come alongside us and guide us in the things of the Spirit.

God began to say to me, “The church thinks it knows about grace but it does not. The church also thinks it knows about righteousness but it does not. The grace that they think they know is really controlled complacency. The righteousness they think they walk in is the sin of appearance without the reality of holiness. Yet so many are engaged in arguments and debates with these two sides yet they are guilty of the sin of both. Those that are opposed to too much grace being given are guilty of the sin of appearance; they look like they are following all the rules, doing the right things but do not possess holiness and are not actually set apart. Those that are opposed to legalism, works and the performance of righteousness are guilty of controlled complacency; they offer a false grace to those imprisoned and held in slavery to sin and never free people from sin but perform planned ignorance of compromise. They suppose that if they are patient with the sin of these people in their lives, sin will disappear and righteousness will take shape with little or no effort on their part. This is not grace. It may be their version but it isn’t worthy of the same word I use.

In both of these groups, they are guilty of the sin of the priest, Eli and his sons. Eli’s sons were wicked and would sleep with prostitutes and the entrance of the tabernacle of meeting and defile the offering causing people to despise giving the offering because they would take the best parts of the meat for themselves.”

I was struck with such of an awareness of the presence of the God and also the mercy with which we live in. I immediately realized that many parts of my life should be removed from the place of complacency. I asked the Holy Spirit to come and empower me even more to be transformed and to be increasingly set apart for the purposes of advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I came home and began to read about the life of the prophet, Samuel, one of the many men in the bible that I relate to. Samuel heard the audible voice of the Lord very early in his life and ministered before the Lord as a child. When I was 22, I made a decision to follow Christ and surrender my life to Him. That very night, I heard the audible voice of God call me by name and this continued on Feb 22 of the next two years. Just like Samuel, I heard the audible voice of the Lord call me three times and the last time, God revealed to me my calling and what my life was meant for. God truly met me in the child likeness of my early years just like the prophet Samuel. I had no idea what I was doing and in many cases I still don’t. I learned that it was ok if I didn’t and the Father simply wanted me close to Him; ministering before Him like Samuel.

I believe what the Lord is communicating to the church in this season is a warning to not be guilty of the sin of Eli. Eli’s role as priest of the tabernacle was a profound responsibility. He was in charge of making sure the Tabernacle was run and kept holy and that the priests were ministering to people and administering the worship of God appropriately. Instead the sons of Eli were engaging in intense sin because of their position. They were having sex out of covenant with various women at the very entrance to Holy ground. The tabernacle of meeting at that time was a very holy location for the people of God. It is where many would come to bring various offerings to the Lord. Eli’s sons were defiling the offering by removing the choice cuts of meat from it. This essentially removed all substance from the offering, as the point of making an offering was to offer your best to God. If the best parts of the meat were being removed, God was receiving the leftovers.

This was very serious sin and it was up to Eli to confront his sons and hold them accountable. Eli only confronted them after he heard bad reports from several people including another man of God, presumably a prophet or anointed servant of the Lord. Even when they were confronted and did not give heed to the words of their father, nothing was done. Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel and warned Eli of danger and destruction because of his sons’ sins and Eli’s response was the OT version of “it is what it is”; and so, it was.

How does this translate to the modern warning the Lord is giving many leaders and priests in the body of Christ today? Very simply put, false grace is rampant in the church. This fake grace is not grace at all and isn’t even worthy of the description of the word, grace. God’s grace is an immeasurable force in our lives and relationship with God and so defining it as a currency or number is absurd. Grace doesn’t look the same for every person or every situation in life. When we hear the word grace, what most people immediately visualize is the action of mercy; to deal mercifully with someone. For example, it was the mercy of God to forgive our debt of sin; it was the grace of God to give us resurrection life.

Grace does not in any way ignore sin. It is actually violently opposed to the bondage and slavery of sin in the Christian’s life. A “grace” that empowers ongoing sin in the believer’s life is the plan of the enemy to use revelation against us by adding a slight perversion. To some grace is mercy and forgiveness and a complete pardon of the wages of iniquity. To another grace is forgiveness but also justice; a justice that requires the individual to respond obediently and pursue health. Grace is like water; it fits and adapts to each of us as if we are containers. If you experience freedom of sin, then you can be sure you are being met with grace.

The other side of this issue that the Lord is addressing is false righteousness and specifically the sin of appearance. Many people, in reaction to a false grace ideology, go to the other extreme and deny grace the place of its redemptive power. Instead they insist on the appearance of holiness but lack its substance. It’s like someone who mimics tough talking fighters and thugs but has no fighting skills, guns, ammunition or any real experience being a tough guy. They may look the part but if you had x-ray glasses you would see the lack of any real substance. Much like the sons of Eli, they have the priestly position but their character is extremely lacking and though they wear the robes and the garments of someone who loves and ministers to God, they DO NOT know the Lord.

Obedience is vital, but it must be sincere otherwise we are not obeying the Lord but trying to buy a position of power. We are attempting to bribe God. Maybe if we don’t watch these movies or don’t listen to this music, God will give us a higher position before men. See, this attitude doesn’t desire the love of God or intimacy with God but rather prominence before the eyes of men. It is as ritualistic and evil as the building and worship of wooden idols. We are looking only for the benefits of being associated with God and not for truly knowing Him.

Ok, now its time for good news! God is sending out Samuels, modern-day prophets who will know the voice of the Lord and declare hope to sinning priesthood. It was said of Samuel that not one word that he spoke fell to the ground empty. Imagine if we had a company of prophetic voices whose words never left unfulfilled but carried weight and substantial power! Imagine the power of these prayers!

Yes, God is releasing a new wave of prophetic ministers who can hear from God; speak with authority and whose identity is grounded in sitting before the Lord. We need more ministers who live from the secret place and understand that it’s not a season but the purpose of life! They minister to the Lord and before Him, not to men and before men.

Who am I? No, Seriously…

The longer I examine my devotion and the way my Christian life unfolds, the more I identify myself with the stories of the prophets. Do I believe that I am called as a “Prophet” by God? Well, that’s an enormous can of worms to open. In one sense, I identify with their struggles, their failures and their joys. In another, my dreams are pioneer dreams; very apostolic. I want to pioneer new things, great things, things no one has ever seen or dreamed of before. However, I love people and specifically being in relationship with great leaders and people who are changing the world. My motivation for being in relationship with these people is not selfish but selfless. I wish I could take credit for this but I believe it is simply how I’m wired. In reality, it is probably a very selfish way to live because my heart is full when I pour into great people and not full when I don’t. I guess even my selflessness is, in a sense, selfishness. Is there such a thing as selfish selflessness?

I believe we are given people’s hearts by God Himself. We are given stewardship of the most precious treasure in this world; the hearts of His kids. I find nothing better than wasting myself on God and His kids. It is so fulfilling and fun! Sometimes it sucks, it really does. Not doing this would suck way more.

“It’s Love. Love comes with hurt.” – Maggie: The Walking Dead

So the question of what office I’m wired to fill in the body of Christ is a complex one. Am I a prophetic pastor, a pastoral prophet, an apostolic prophet or a prophetic apostle? See what I mean? What I have come to learn is that I’m me. I’m unique and in many ways I fit many roles. I’m like a spiritual jack of all trades. I can wear a lot of hats if its needed but what is home for my heart? That’s pretty simple; home for me looks like intimacy with Jesus, writing about what He is teaching me and empowering people in my life and those who I come across. So that looks like more of a prophet. It’s what I have been called more than anything by the people I love.

This is an open conversation I have with God and myself and has been continuing for years. Who am I? This question is a resounding bell in the inner parts of humanity. Moses asked it, who happens to be one of my favorites, and God answered him by promising to always be with him. God’s answer to our identity issues is telling you who He is and promising to be with you, no matter what. That’s why I love that dude.

I don’t have a conclusion here, just more questions. So talk. Who are you? Who is God to you? What does home look like in your heart?

Be a Child and Stop Wiggling

Sometimes the best thing you do to help your spiritual development is to believe in yourself. Being happy and at peace with your own heart is one of the most understated keys in communing with God. I have had the pleasure of meeting and doing life with some of the best human beings in the world. Yet, so many of them, are plagued by the absence of self-peace. No matter the blessings or the accomplishments they experience in life through God an others, they have a hard time being at peace with who they are. This often translates to increased religious tasks and duties, of which there is no actual command or urge from the Lord. It is something inside of them that says, “can’t you do better, do more, be better, and stay away from more?”

In all the striving and stretching out their hands to become better and do more of the things which do not actually please God any more than He is already pleased, they completely miss one of the great treasures of life with God; contentment. Truly, the greatest joy found in the secret place with God must be a contentment to be with Him, lacking nothing because with Him we have everything.

Many of my friends have children and when I come and visit them, they always hand me their children like some sort of chocolate treat that I just HAVE to enjoy. I don’t know what it is about parents that makes them want to show you how much they adore their children by throwing their helpless bodies in the arms of an inexperienced friend. I often feel like I’m being tossed 10 golden eggs covered with butter and oil. These children do not know me so they wiggle, writhe and try to get out of my hands like Frodo running from the ring wraiths. At this point, I gladly return their children to them.

This perfectly illustrates striving and intimacy with God. When you don’t really know someone and you are told to have unwavering faith and trust in them, you will wiggle and writhe to get out of that situation. But if you have intimacy with this person, you actually don’t feel right unless you’re within their arms. You trust them wholly and completely, yearning for the embrace of complete abandon.

Striving is the wiggle, the writhe, the helpless and hopeless escape attempt of our hearts when they come into contact with a God who is completely at home in the impossibilities of human life. He does impossible all day, that’s His jam. Be a child. Trust Him in that place and stop wiggling! It’ll be ok; it has always been ok for everyone ever in history who has trusted Him.

Should I Leave My Church: A Facebook Response

Ok so here we go. There are always many reasons to leave a church at any given time. That’s the issue with having human leadership leading you into the more of God and an abundant life; hopefully that is the goal. There will be times where leaving is very warranted. First of all, you must know the defining characteristics of a “church”. Is there prayer? Is there worship? Is there outreach and the saving of lost souls? Is there then discipleship of said new believers? If any of these answers are no, you are not going to a church but a gathering of believers. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you just have to know what it is you’re actually going to so you can adjust your expectations and perspective accordingly. The early Acts “church” was primarily a gathering of believers, praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It was not a church yet they were the Church. Did you catch that capital and lowercase, yeah, that was on purpose.

So you’re going to a church and some decisions are made that you can’t stand behind, so now what? Well I wish this was a reason to leave but alas it is not. Many people in your life and around you will make bad judgements or bad decisions and even good ones that you just don’t agree with or can’t reconcile. This is called life. My parents made decisions with me in my growth and development that I can’t say I’ll be repeating but that doesn’t mean they were wrong. They did the best job possible with the tools they had and the child they were entrusted with. So it is with many pastors and leaders in church. I have been to many churches, been very intimately involved with many teams and even had to honor to speak into these leaders. They are all good hearted, loving, upright men and women. They are doing the best they can with what they know and the gifts they have.

In some specific cases, (I only know one family, and a few random singles this has happened with) God will call you to a mission or assignment in your life that will put big requirements on your time and energy. It will be impossible and unhealthy for you to be a regular churchgoer. Missionaries, musicians, entertainers etc…. In these people, it would ridiculous for them to belong to a church but it is vital they belong to a community and the Church. The mistake we so often make is that we try to have community around the focal point of church but we can see in Exodus and much of the Old Testament how the nation of Israel did church around the focal point of community. Israel was first a family and then a spiritual building of believers. Even in Acts we see a community of lovers of Jesus who were desperate for the Holy Spirit to show up and church happened around that community. So yes, we have it backwards, inside out and upside down all at once.

I would say to you, do not leave the church because of a few decisions you didn’t like. If you do you will rob yourself of a vital process in Christian development and growth. That process is called the perseverance of character. Talk to your leaders and keep talking with them. Meet regularly and get into their hearts. Find out where they’ve been in life and how that has shaped who they are in God and in the building of His Kingdom. You will more often than to find that they are good hearted, selfless and love people and hate making hard decisions that they must make. These decisions are very difficult and the risk for big mistakes is great on every side and every angle. If you will be faithful and obedient to go through a process of understand and character with them, you will find yourself doing exactly what Jesus did: growing in favor with God and man.

Move Over Faith and Hope, Love is the Greatest!

So love is a crazy thing, isn’t it? You can have all your preconceived notions and ideas about it but when it shows up, you have no choice but to change your mind and attitude and fit into its mold. Love is a brick wall attached to a speeding train that can also fly and hurl bombs in every direction, except its awesome, not a maniac destroyer of life. You will always run into people who disagree and are pretty bitter and disillusioned. However, they are bitter and disillusioned so you probably shouldn’t follow their advice very closely.

Paul makes some pretty gnarly statements about love.

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13

Paul has done his homework. He has written about both faith and hope in his letters and has concluded that love, when compared to faith and hope, is the greatest of these. That’s an epic statement! The bible says that it is faith that pleases God and faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of what is unseen. Hope is the assured expectancy of things that are unseen. Faith and hope are like the best power couple ever! These two carry so much power with them. Imagine the endless possibilities or impossibilities that can manifest when you have faith, which pleases God and is the evidence of what is in the unseen realm, and hope, the expectancy of crazy things happening!

Then love comes along and Paul gasps and stands back almost in terrible awe and says, “Woah, love! You’re kinda great! Actually, I think you are the greatest of these!” Maybe faith and hope were feeling a little insecure but probably not because maybe love is what faith and hope were focused on in the first place. Maybe love was waiting to be unveiled and hope was waiting in assure expectancy for love. Maybe faith saw love coming and was pregnant with the evidence of what no one else could see yet. Yeah, I think faith and hope were setting us all up for love. The kind of love that sets you free while it hits you in the face at 689 mph. The kind of love that doesn’t care where you’ve been or what you’ve done or even how you feel. When love comes around, you transform in the real “you”, the destiny “you”.

I think Paul was right. Love is a BIG deal. I think love is the greatest of these.

The God that Chases

Intimacy is the position of heart connected to an undying, eternal God who is forever bent upon encountering us. There is little we can do to avoid this. God WILL encounter the hearts of His people. We can run and avoid Him and ignore Him but He is nonetheless undeterred. In fact, the more we struggle and run, the more inevitable it is that He will catch us and transform us into a puddle of repentance on the dirt floor of our souls.

I learned this truth very quickly. I had spent the first 22 years of my life on and off again having experiences with God but it wasn’t until Feb 22, 2002 that I actually surrendered my entire being to Him. I was a mess on that arena floor in Sacramento, CA. After this, I began to see huge changes happen supernaturally in my life. I say supernaturally because Eastern Europeans don’t stop cursing like madmen with just will and desire. This takes a powerful, almighty God.

There was a point, however, where my tenacity to follow Jesus wasn’t enough to keep me from being spiritually stupid and making sinful decisions. Now here I was, a Christian, freed from the slavery of sin and instead choosing it freely. I still believe that if as much of the church was as offended with the sin of Christians as it was with the lost, we would see a significant outpouring of revival.

God was about to teach me a huge lesson. He will not relent until He has all of me. God pursued me and showed me His love, many times during my times of sin. I would be doing things that I knew I should not and yet in these moments I would feel the presence of the Holy Spirit descend upon me. It wasn’t an approval of my sin but an opportunity to turn back to Him. It was a chance to realign my heart to His thoughts towards me and to be restored back into intimate connection with Him.

I felt like the prophet, Noah, running from the call that I had asked God for in the first place, but now grumbling in my sin. It is proof enough for me that no matter what choices I have made or sin I have entangled myself in, He is faithful to meet with me and restore me completely. God is more merciful than we would ever be if we were God and for that we are very blessed. We would make terrible, cruel gods.

Don’t believe that A or B has to happen before you can have the strength or grace to leave sin. Instead, find God where you are and allow Him to realign you and restore you.

Freedom, or is it?

Freedom is a sought after commodity in Christian culture. Many people believe they have but in reality they do not. Many people believe they know what freedom is when in reality what they have acquired is just bondage in a holy garment. All over Facebook and other social media platforms you will see numerous people finding their soapbox and preaching a message to people they cannot see or sense. Sadly, it is not freedom that is being released but a false sense of holiness.

For freedom to actually be freedom, it must be a release from the chains that have shackled us. Holiness and a call to righteousness will never be another set of chains. Freedom also will never be a snare set to entrap us in the bondage of sin.

If you find yourself stuck in a pattern of sin, you don’t have freedom. If you find yourself adopting behaviors and modifications to behavior to be righteous, you also do not have freedom. The saddest thing is to be a person that believes he/she is free because of the privileges you do or do not have or the clothes you get to wear or the access you have. That’s called being a house slave. A house salve doesn’t work in the field, lives in the house with the slave owner, eats better food, wears better clothes and even is in charge of other slaves yet is still himself a slave.

There are many people in the church who believe that they are free yet they are simply deceived. They have been brought into the slave owner’s house, given nice clothes and food yet they are still enslaved. Anything, whether behavior or an abstaining from physical things, does not buy you or earn you a closer place in God.

In Mark 7, Jesus teaches an incredible truth of the Kingdom; defilement comes from within. The Jewish people had been living the opposite. If a leper touches a man, that man is unclean but Jesus showed them that if He touches a leper, the leper becomes clean. This was an intense shift in life in God. The identity and authority in God that we walk in has an immediate effect on our surroundings. Likewise, it is not outside behaviors and patterns of conduct that keep us holy but the attitudes of the heart.

In Mark 7:5, the Pharisees ask Jesus why His disciples do not walk according to the traditions of the elders but instead eat bread with unwashed hands. This doesn’t mean the disciples didn’t simply eat bread with dirty hands. The Pharisees are referring to a man made traditional ritual of washing hands in a specific fashion. Jesus takes this opportunity to gather the multitude and confront the lie of legalism.

In Mark 7:14, Jesus responds with an explanation of, well, basically how we poop. If you don’t believe me read it for yourself.

“Hear me everyone and understand:

There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him, but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.” – Mark 7:14,15

“Are you also without understanding? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?”

And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, and covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” – Mark 7:18-23

Just as it is not the things from the outside that defile our hearts, it is also not the things we do that save us, but the attitude and actions of our hearts within us. Salvation is not behavior but a decision and a surrender of our hearts. Faith is not a yelling, jumping up and down action but a position of the heart. Freedom then, is not characterized by the things we do or the behavior we display, but the position and the unshackling of our hearts.

An example of this is horror movies. I know many Christians that do not and refuse to watch a horror movie because of the content and because of God. If they were honest, it is due to the imagery and content and not because they are evil movies. If movies with demons and evil, which also are almost always defeated in the end of these movies, can defile you or compromise your soul, you have bigger problems. So many people disagree and are offended by the imagery and content of these movies and therefore do not watch them. That is their decision but they are not closer to God and they definitely are not pleasing Him more than I am. It is actually more of a sign of holiness if I abstain from horror movies than the Christian that is offended by them.

If God asks me to stop watching them, I am actually surrendering a part of my heart that has affections tied to that genre. If a Christian who is offended and doesn’t watch those movies anyway does not watch them, that is no surrender at all. It’s like someone asking them not to shoot themselves in the foot. Ok, you’re not going to get an argument from me on that one.

Freedom is not only a release from the bondage of sin but also a release from performing and striving according to requirements of men and not of God. True freedom and holiness is being obedient to what God asks of you and having the clarity to see sin and life for what it truly is.

In the end, no matter if you strive and perform and struggle to appear good enough or holy enough, you are still only as loved as everyone else. You can’t earn more love. It will only make you more tired and exhausted.