Saturday, January 29, 2011

Curtis Forbes: Man of God

For those of you who have been long time readers, you know the things that matter to me. One of them is people with cancer.

I belong to a "mailing list" entitled Apostles Today. It is a group of folks that God has given as a gift to the church. One of them become a close friend through the miracle of the Internet and cellphone technology. His name: Curtis Forbes. He was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago.

I had seen posts by him on the list, and one day I read that he was in the hospital. I emailed and asked for his cell so I could text him during his recovery. That was back in June. I started to check in with him, and not long after he was released, I called him to say hello; it was a bit awkward at first. We didn't have any history - just Jesus.

Contact with cancer patients is tough, and I am not too good with people in general. Because both my parents died of cancer, I just have heart for folks who suffer from cancer. My strategy is this: it is better to make a few mistakes, then to leave folks alone in their sickness.

During the time that my dad was ill, he was a few hours drive away. I made it up there pretty often. He even came to stay for a week with me on Cape Cod. When my mom was sick I was half a continent away. I made a few trips to Ft. Wayne, either alone or with my girls. I called her every day - that was the best that I could do. She only missed one call, it was day or two before she died.

Two years ago one of the guys in my men's group had cancer. I would call him every day to tell him that I loved him, and I was praying. It went on for a year. He was completely healed and has since retired to Tennessee. The phone calls with Dave were a daily gift.

Yesterday, Friday the 28th, Curtis missed a call from me. As always, I left a voice mail saying that I was praying for him, and if he felt up to it, to give me a call.

This morning (Saturday) at 4:32 am, my friend Curtis went to be with the King of Kings.

I called Curtis just about everyday and on the rare occasion when we didn't speak, there were text messages. He spoke about his family, his church family and about his amazing wife. He was proud of his kids too. We shared the joy of their trip to Disney World just a few weeks ago and the disappointment of another lesion in a new location.

Curtis was a gift to the Kingdom too. HERE is more.

I tried keep up with a dizzying array of doctors appoints, surgery, radiation, Ippi and Chemo treatments; and we prayed. We talked about hope, about love, about our amazing Jesus, and the bad reports that seemed to come in almost weekly. In spite of all that, he only missed one call.

His journey with cancer not was not out of the sight of a loving God. He had peace, he had strength, and he would tell me how he thought he should have fear, but it wasn't there. Day-in-and-day-out, he spoke about the amazing peace of God. I put some of my friends in touch with him to pray, and he inspired them as well.

I last spoke to Curtis on Thursday about 5:15. We had a good conversation, though I could tell he was in pain. We prayed a little - we always did. We laughed a little - we often did. We joked about who had the worst testimony. He told me about an opportunity he was given to share his testimony, his bad boy testimony with the men at his church. I believe that was supposed to be tomorrow. Instead he leaves a testimony of peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding.

Last words matter, and these were his.

"I love you man of God."

Thanks Curtis for the gift you were to me. You will never know what a blessing it was to hear your voice, and to witness your strength. It was you who was truly the man of God.

Friday, January 28, 2011

God is Good! Really? I Hope So!

I have a friend who's infant daughter spent 4 days in the hospital. HERE is the story. I checked in with him each day by text or phone, and prayed too. She's home and doing great! PTL! I am sure it was scary.

Healing, and good results come from a good God.

What happens when things don't go so good? What happens when folks get sick and die? Is God good then? It's a tough question. Not to mention that serious illness is tough to watch, and worse to have.

I have another friend that was diagnosed with cancer. I have been praying for him, as well as testing or calling just about every day for most of the past year. I have done it before. I hate cancer!

It was painful news to hear that the doctor recommended Hospice Care.

I have been a Christian professing healing for 35 years. I have seen God do it, and he has used me a few times along the way too. I purposely wrote about the dead being raised on Wednesday to challenge the faith of my readers for the "big one."

When things are looking tough, where is our hope? Obamacare, doctors, hospitals, vitamins, supplements, and exercise? Don't worry, I am asking me the same question. And I am trying to unravel a passage like this...

Romans 5:3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

I once read in a book about some 3rd century monks that lived on an island off the coast of England. I believe the original account came from a man named Plutarch. (It is always interesting how nonbelievers perceive believers throughout history). In any case, the monks had such a close relationship with God and such a great faith that He would revel the time of their death; they called it an ascension. It was something they looked forward to. They would often go and wait upon the Lord to be taken up as they sang hymns and encouraged each other. (1 Cor 14)

I often wonder what hope Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had when the King tossed them in the fiery furnace? (Daniel 3:1-30) What were they thinking, what was going on in their hearts?

Not having been face with death recently, I don't really know what I would be thinking, feeling or doing.

Romans 8:24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?

Tell me about the hope that you have.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Can God Do it? That's a Yes or No Question!

What do you think about the floods and natural disasters in Australia and Brazil? Some folks think that it is a sign of the End of the Age, and others think it due to Global Warming and climate change. Personally, I don't really care. What matters is that there are people down there that God loves.

Yesterday I was reading an account about 16 folks being raised from the dead in the Brazil these past few weeks. Before you decide to read or not read, please read. HERE is a link to the article. Think about it, Lazarus times 16!

I am sure you are thinking one of the following thoughts:
- This is a hoax or a lie.
- They probably were just unconscious and woke up.
- How can we scientifically confirm what happened?
- There has got o be a logical reason for this.
- I guess God can do it - He can do whatever he wants to.
- Why does He always do stuff like this in other countries?
- I could believe 1, but not 16.
- OK, that is really cool. I suppose it won't happen again in my lifetime.

I guess I have to ask the question, do you believe God can do this? Do you think that you could be the person that he uses? If the answer to either of these questions is no, what is it that you in fact have faith in?

If we look at the Bible, the entire theme of it is being raised form the dead - I mean, isn't that the hope of the resurrection being raised from the dead? The truth is that it is a reasonably common biblical occurrence as well. Elijah did it. (1 Kings 17) Elisha did it. (2 Kings 4). Jesus did it a couple of times. (Matt 9:18, Luke 7,  and John 11). Peter did it. (Acts 9) Paul did it. (Acts 20) oh yeah, and when Jesus died, a whole ton of folks came out of the tombs and walked about the town.

Matthew 27:51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.


 How many proof texts do we need? My point is simple today - we either have faith, or we do not. Certainly there is plenty of work to do, and this could be a useful gift, don't you think?


Matthew 10:7  As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

I realize the real problem here is the lack of dead people; after all some has to die in order for someone to be raised from the deadAmen?

Do you have limitations on God?

Monday, January 24, 2011

If You Only Knew - His Presence

I am like most Americans, my life gets pretty busy. I commute into Boston and work an 8+ hour a day. I have a wife, kids, pets, bills and all the regular stuff. My wife handles a lot of  things for me - a lot! I manage to fit in date nights, music, writing, social networking, teaching a class - oh and church. Life zooms along at near light-speed and doesn't appear to be slowing down any time soon. I also take time to pray for a couple of sick friends and my family every day.

I used to be baffled by the presence of God. I would go to a great service and feel spiritually recharged. On the way home, or soon after, something would come up and it would be as if I had never been there. Maybe you understand what I am saying. God just didn't seem to fit into my day-to-day. While I was working, I didn't have time to give him a thought.

I began to ponder the presence of God. I discovered that the presence of God comes in two forms. The manifold presence of God (John 15:5) in which we abide in Him and He in us; and the second, the manifest presence of God where the Spirit is present at different times for different reasons.

Acts 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.

The indwelling Spirit is the seal of our salvation, and it is ever present once we receive Christ by faith.


Ephesians 1:13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.


As grateful as I am for the indwelling Spirit, I find Christianity pretty boring without the manifest presence of God. Having a sports car in the garage doesn't excite me as much as driving one on the open road. Although I had experienced God on and off over the years, I wanted to truly walk in the spirit. I want to be with my God all the time. I wanted more than the assurance that He was there, I want to feel his presence. I wanted to know what Paul and Silas knew in jail. I wanted to know the secret of healing that Peter and John knew in Acts 3, and I wanted the angel of the Lord to appear to me as he did to Paul.

I wanted God; all of Him! What I didn't seem to realize is that God wanted all of me as well.

And so began the journey of pressing in, study, prayer, and trying to act in faith. And one day, the presence of God came very powerfully; and years later, it has never left! I have survived the desert, walked in the valley, and climbed to the mountain top, God was in all those places.

How about you, have you experienced the presence of God?

Friday, January 21, 2011

5 1/2 How Do We Love?

Well, it is Friday, and because of the the weather I decided to take the day off from commuting. I am teaching my class tonight - I think it will be live on the web if your not busy at 6:30 EST. Video Feed Page

I was pondering a few things this morning - and I was thinking about how the church always says that we need to love. Then they proceed to define love by actions that make others feel loved - or so they think. I have written about love a lot of time, HERE is my take on the 1 Corinthians 13 "the love passage."

What I am thinking about this morning - and winging it here - is how we love others; what is the method of love? I read a lot about how we can love the poor by feeding them, by drilling wells in Africa where there is no water, buying goats for farmers, and stopping human trafficking, all of which are noble, important and valuable ministries.

We can love others by serving them. I am always stunned when churches don't know what the needs of their congregations are. So many seem to choose sexy ministries to exotic places, when they could serve their community by buying a snowplow and doing driveways for the elderly, or offer free babysitting so single moms and couples could work or get a relationship building date night.

I once new a guy that wanted to buy an old limo to pick up kids for youth group; how cool would that have been?

When it comes to loving others, we can use the 5 Love Languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. It is important to communicate love to those we are in contact with. According to the Word of God, it works on neighbors, wives and enemies!

Have you asked yourself how you could love more? Would you be more patient, or offer more grace, or more understanding? Would you be tolerant? Would you serve others more?

Christians give lip service to love all the time. "Jesus loves you!" they say. Well, now I want to make a few points about HOW Jesus loved us.

-1 He Choose To: Jesus chose us, he didn't have to. We didn't discover him, he has always know us and our eyes were opened.  Matthew 22:14 For many are invited, but few are chosen.

-2 Sacrifice: Jesus backed up his words with sacrifice; he laid down His life for you and me. He served those around him, and told them the truth regardless of what others thought. 1 John 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

-3 Discipline: It is interesting how even Christians avoid any confrontation of their own sinfulness. I don't mean in an abusive, controlling or mean spirited way. God does not expect us to know what good character is, but he expects us to respond when it is pointed out. Hebrews 12:6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.

-4 Devotion: Jesus is in love with us, he is devoted to us as a brother and a father. He is devoted to raising us as sons and daughters whom he is already delighted in. Nothing can separate us form the love of God - then we get to pass it on.  Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

-5 Not Doing Evil: TV only speaks of evil when things are seemingly, unspeakable. Sin however always harms others. The collateral damage of our actions is amazing when we ponder it. Personal holiness is pretty much defined in this passage. Jesus did not evil, we need to follow His example. Even in his anger, He did not sin. Romans 13:10 Love does no harm to a neighbor.

-5 1/2 He was: 1 John 4:8 God is love.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Tale of Two Realities

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way-in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

If you have ever traveled outside the country, you know there can be a distinct difference in culture, especially if they speak a foreign language. Over on Kingdom Bloggers I wrote about one of my favorite verses a few days ago. It had to do with the reality of the new man living inside the old man.

I'd like to take that thought a lot further in this blog. There is always a spiritual reality, and a natural reality. The Tale of Two Cities is like that. There are the unseen and the seen by faith realities in life. One is temporal, and one is eternal. Here is an example:

This is Elisha's Reality:
1 Kings 6:15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.

This is Elijah's Reality:

1 Kings 6:16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”


17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.


In the natural we will always have trouble. our body is going to die as a result of sin (Romans 6:23). our heart is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), and and eve if we are close to God, we will have trials (1 Peter 1:6) that shape our faith.

There are many examples of two spiritual realities: one seen, and one unseen.

Mark 8:33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

The disciples must have been standing there, jaws hanging.

Within our own body, there are two spiritual realities: one seen, and one unseen. There is the one that needs to eat food, and the one that needs to eat heavenly food. There is the receptor of water and the receiver of Living Water, the regenerate spirit.

In this world we have exalted knowledge (knowing stuff) to an all time high. Educational institutions claim that knowledge is power. We have all sorts of emotional tools, teaching and understanding, yet we still can't get along. We have, for the most part, placed God after calling the doctor, and using the information of social workers.

Here is how that reality is working?
Romans 1:28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

Our natural mind, our feelings, and all our senses we created to give us information about our surroundings while recording information for the future. They were not designed to run our lives. It is interesting that critical thinking and problem solving skills often take precedence over our spiritual reality.

Even our DNA, as Mike Manthei said this past Sunday, is a record of our generational blessings and curses. (Exodus 34:7)

Our reality, and our spiritual reality are not the same. In fact they are at war. The knowledge of God and the wisdom of mankind will always be at war. This is too often expressed in some fashion that somehow points to the fact that the sin nature and the spirit man are somehow linked; they are not. The new man lives within the human body. However; they are not linked anymore than the cabbage you had for dinner last night is.

What is the spiritual reality? It is one in which the Father is at work, and our job is to see what He is doing, and do it. (John 5:17) God is always at work in the unseen realms (Hebrews 11:1) creating an orchestra of encounters with his beloved creation. For those that yield to Him, he has created good works for them to walk into. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Our spiritual reality is to live (by faith) in the things that God has promised us. The word of God (logos) makes many promises. However; the only promises that will be fulfilled are those that are truly rehma (Rhema is the eternal and spiritual understanding of God's will.) and we received them by faith.

Living out our spiritual reality is quickly doomed by the lack of faith. It is further in trouble when we try to make something that God did once, a formula for spiritual success time and time again. I always liked the saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Religion seems to be doing the same thing over and over expecting the same results. (More on religion very soon!)

It is important to note, our faith doesn't give God power or is faith power in itself. The Holy Spirit is the messenger of God's power as he transmits across the power line of faith.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Class 1 - Postmortem

Class 1 of the Apostolic School is complete. I received an email from my pastor.

David,

You did an exceptional job last night.  I mean REALLLLLLLLY exceptional.


Love you,


Daryl



I certainly appreciate my pastor very much. He is becoming a close friend. Most of all, it is nice to be loved, even if when I don't do anything; he's good at that. I say "thank you Jesus for what you do." I knew going into this I had nothing to offer without God's intervention.

So what happened? I talked about my passion for Jesus, for helping others find their spiritual gifts, and I taught them to pray for one another. The Doctrine of the Laying on of Hands is very simple.

I stumbled across one of my favorite verses and went for a quick sermon on the releasing the new man. HERE are the details.

We had folks put down their prayer needs on paper, and picked 3 of them to receive the laying on of hands. I am looking forward to the testimonies next week.

Later we asked folks to desire spiritual gifts and then prayed for some of them to receive them from God. Again, I am looking forward to the testimonies.

I made a few mistakes - and well, let's just say sarcasm is not a spiritual gift. I am always humbled to have the headset on.

You can actually join us online Friday nights at 6:30 PM. Here is a LINK. I believe there is a recorded version of the 1st class there as well.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tradition, Breaking the Mold Without Ruining the Work

Today I am teaching my first class in the 5-Fold School of Ministry. As a group of Christians, we'll be looking at some challenging topics, encouraging the participants to love others with their gifts, and in some cases, relying on tradition.



All three aspects of the class are scary.

Topics that challenge existing church paradigms are scary because they could conceivably create another ineffective model for doing church. Asking believers to step out into spiritual gifting is scary because, let's face it, the gifts of the Holy Spirit can get messy some times; it's a lot less risky to make someone a pan of baked ziti than it is to hear God in prophecy, and deliver it. And finally, knowing when to depart from tradition, and when to stick with it, is also scary. The church tends to reinvent itself every so often, and the results are mixed at best.

The question I am exploring is how to we change what is broken, and capitalize on what is working (what God is actually doing)? Fixing churches is not always easy, and often the approach is something like this.

"My sister's horse was sick, so I shot it. I heard it helps with the healing process. And if he is still sick next week, I'll shoot him again."  - Larry the Cable Guy

I propose going slowly - making a U-Turn on the Interstate is dangerous!

James 3:4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.

Of course, looking at this from another perspective, we need to embrace change so that we can become effective and mature; there is no formula for either one. I think of the most overlooked principals in church is "walking with God." It is easy to run along and ask Him to join us in our journey in life and maybe missing our spiritual destiny altogether. It makes me think of many pop and rock singers that got their start in Gospel or Christian music such as Whitney Houston, Elvis Presley, and Marilyn Manson. I am not saying that secular music is bad, but when I look at the opportunities they may have missed, it seems sad. Of course it is just as easy to throw some religious behavior in God's direction without connecting to the Spirit.

If we read the book of Acts, there was a lot of resistance to the Gospel message within various cultures. The text does not mention those that didn't really engage the Gospel message, either in the time of Jesus, or later in the ministry of the apostles.

Indifference is a whole other blog.

For those that are willing to engage change in my class and listen to new ideas, here is how I am going to handle it. I am going to:

- pray.
- admit that I don't have all the answers.
- not take myself too seriously.
- help the participants find and use their gifts through teaching and hopefully discernment.
- to ask them to check out my material with the Bible and God.
- to encourage folks to hear from God for themselves.
- encourage folks to step out, and be prepared for God to use them as well as miss God with humility.
- try not use scripted religious behavior and buzz words.
- continue to be amazed that God can do so much without my help.
- thank God for everything that He does in class.
- try again regardless of the results in the natural.

How will they handle it? I don't really know, it's new territory for all of us.

The church in my region appears to be emerging into a new season, a new way of doing things that includes many more believers that once sat in a pew.

It's exciting!

What do you think, can the church handle change, or will it continue to rely on tradition? Are you part of the problem, or the solution?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Is It Really God?

I have to say, I get tired of Christians bashing Christians - it is NOT God. I read the entire Bible an no where does it say publicly denounce others because they are different from you. Jesus never said that we had the right to punish others with public displays and neither did Paul - especially when we don't even know them.

We are reminded to go to our brother or sister, and see if we can work things out. (Matthew 5:22-24) But it is worse than that.

Matthew 5:22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.


And if that doesn't work, take along a another to establish their testimony. (Matthew 18:15-16) Of course if they will not listen then we are to tell it to the church, and in the end treat them as tax collectors and pagans. (Matthew 18:17)

These admonitions are for sin in the church, not for differences in worship style or even theology. Peter and Paul did not always agree! Each one had their own paradigm, world-view, culture and personal experience with Jesus that colored their beliefs. In love, coming together as a body, God can work in spite of many differences.

Oh brother David, what about false teachers, false apostles and false prophets?

2 Cor 11:15 There end will be what their actions deserve.


The truth is those who are not grounded in the word of God will easily be led astray. I believe that those the quarrel about words are the false teachers.

2 Tim 2:14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.

False teaching brings control, envy, strife, and the lack of peace. For the most part, many Christians do little to really grow in faith. Some want to grow in knowledge, but they are regurgitating something they hear somewhere else.Others want to have their own interpretation of the Bible. And Paul said where money, power, prestige and fancy speaking skills are involved, that is where you'll find the false apostles.

And finally, our protection against the false is in hearing God for ourselves. If we are sheep that know His voice, if we are part of a church where the ministry to God's people is not about nickels and noses, then being deceived is going to be tough.

And finally, just because you don't want to speak in tongues, or you are skeptical about supernatural healing or prophecy, ask yourself, if you never read a single verse of the Bible, how would you know that God exists? That is what Paul was up against in his ministry to the Gentiles.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Some Things that You Can Do In Church Without Making God Mad

I thought I would put together a list of biblical things that you can do in church - maybe even should do.

Stand When You Sing: 2 Chronicles 20:19 Then the Levities of the children of the Hohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with voices loud and high.

Clap Your Hands: Psalms 47:11a Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!

Shout:
Psalms 47:11b Shout to God with the voice of triumph!

Raise Your Hands:
1 Timothy 2:88 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands.

Bow Your Head:
2 Chronicles 7:3 When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the Lord.

Use Drums and Electric Guitars for Worship!
2 Samuel 6:55 Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the Lord on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrum's, and on cymbals.

Everyone Pray at Once:
Acts 4:24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord.

Dance:

Psalm 149:3 Let them praise His name in chorus and choir and with the [single or group] dance; let them sing praises to Him with the tambourine and lyre!


Speak in Tongues:
Acts 2:44 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.


Holy Kiss:
1 Thessalonians 5:26 Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss.

Friday, January 7, 2011

God is Sooo Very Cool, Especially When He Talks to You

I often think about about the times that God has spoken to me. Sure, there are a lot of kooks out there that don't hear God and claim to, or worse, hear Satan and call it God. I am neither. :)

For the Christian, we have two dilemmas, hearing God, and not hearing God.

It seems pretty logical that if we don't hear God, we are off the hook pretty much. I mean if you don't have any instruction from On High, you just plug along doing what you are already doing until you get some. Conversely, when you do hear God you are presented with a different quandary, what now!?

So for Christians that are pretty much used to NOT hearing from God, here is what I find. They seem to wish that God wold tell them what to do, or they are happy with their own opinions and biblical knowledge and they go on with life trying to be good. Some even read the Bible every day and pray too.

For Christians that begin to hear from God, they have a lot of conflicts of faith - I guess that's what we'll call them. Did I get it right? Is this really God? What if it's not? What if it is and I don't do anything?

Today I thought I would lay it out for you:

John 5:19 “Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

So, let's break it down. That means that all the things that Jesus ever did are on the list of things we should do and more!

Therefore; if you don't hear from God or "see what the Father is doing", you don't have anything to worry about. However; if you do hear from God, then what? We are always back to the obedience question. And how do you hear from God?

Jesus also said this: "John 10:4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice."

It doesn't say that we can read the word of God and know which verse to do right now. We must know God, and hear his voice! If we don’t, we are just religious machines trying to be good, which is an unobtainable goal. We need to know which verse to act upon now! The Greek word for this is “rhema.”

Here are two little stories from my own life.

One day I was praying for my business with a long time friend. We were getting started and working together to start up an Internet company. We had worked together before, and this was just another adventure.

I heard the Lord say: "You'll make $200,000 the next calendar year." Wow! Amazing. Here I was coming off unemployment after having a $13/per hour job. He was an unemployed carpenter; big news for both of us.

A calendar year went by, and I reached the $200K mark just as I was promised.

You might think it is cool making that kind of money, but I think that it is amazing how God did exactly what He said he was going to do.

Another time I was beside my self hoping for something in my life to work out. I didn't hear from God - well until I went to a meeting with a friend in March of 2000. There was a prophet there and he asked me if he could share a word of the Lord with me. Sure, I thought what could be the harm?


So here it is: "Because your life is a prophetic word of the redemptive and delivering power of the God that you serve. There is a deliverance anointing on your life. And the Lord wants me to tell you that  there will be days down the road that you’ll walk into a church and demons will begin leaving people because of the measure of anointing that is on your life.

There is a speaking gift that God is going to put inside of you. But it’s not a teaching gift, it’s more like a preaching gift, but it is not really a preaching gift. This may sound funny, but you know what, church as we've known it, it’s over. We are not going to have services like we've had all these years. And preachers the way they’ve preached before are not going to preach that way anymore. How are they going to preach? I don’t  know, I have no idea. All I know is that God has given you a speaking gift. You are going to get up in places and speak the words of the Lord. Not just the written word but the prophetic word of the Lord, for an area, for a community, for a block, for a neighborhood and see salvation come because of the measure of the prophetic gift that is going to flowing from you.

I see: a prophetic spirit, missions, 3rd World anointing, apostolic teams going to nations."

So there you have it. Some of this has happened, and some of it about to happen next week. Does God keep his promises? YES!

How about you, do you want to hear from God?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Times They Are A Changin'

The new year is upon us. There were lots of different topics that the handful of bloggers I read, wrote about. It was pretty standard stuff for this time of year. I wasn't especially moved. I am not sure why. But don't be offended if you are one of my favorite bloggers, it's probably me.

The Bible talks about both years, and seasons; I guess both are necessary. The "year of the Lord," "for everything there is a season" - you get the idea. We mark an orbit around the sun and call it a year - it's a good thing we don't live on Mercury. During that time, stuff happens. Kids make bad decisions, another learns something new, there are flat tires, bills, work, money, snow - a whole year of sleeping, eating, drinking, and TV.

We mark the times of our lives in seasons: High School, College, single life, married life, middle-age and yikes, old-age. Seasons can last years, or they can be a few months. Time, it slips a way a few moments at a time.

I have been meditating, praying and pondering how things will go with my upcoming class. Some of these thoughts I have had for 10 years or more. I have taught on-and-off for decades. Transferring knowledge is not the only purpose of teaching - well not to for me.

Certainly I want God to do something in my class - I mean His class! I especially hope for much more than I could do just reading my book out loud to the class. How boring would that be?

God doesn't change, but His methods do. Because I know God, I can occasionally anticipate what might happen when i partner with Him. I have grown accustom to some of the ways in which He works. In addition, I have received an occasional dream detailing specific events before they happened. I have also received prophetic words from others outlining the move of God in my life, or one that identifies a season. Revelation from God is essential to the Christian!

I am happy to report that God still surprises me. That is what I am hoping for. I love it when God is free to do what He pleases, and does. I love the story of Peter and John as they healed a lame beggar. Folks were surprised!

That is the sort of God that I want to be hanging out with, the kind that does amazing stuff.

I don't exactly know what season we are in as a church in my region, but I do know that the more than any other time in the past, the 5-Fold ministry is starting to become a much more popular subject. You got to ask yourself, I wonder why that is.

Over the last century the church has had some seasons. We had a seasons where there were lots of evangelists, Billy Graham is one from that season. There were many healing evangelists in the middle of the century too, Kathryn Kuhlman was one of the most well known. We later had the shepherding (pastoring) movement pioneered by folks like Bob Mumford and Derek Prince. Their main message was accountability, character and deeper relationships.We had a season where we had lots of teaching and out of that grew the Word of Faith movement. In it was Rod Parsley, Kenneth Haigin and James Robison. They were grounded in the need to live and breathe the Word of God. In the 90's we had a prophetic explosion. It took off with the Kansas City Prophets like Bob Jones and Paul Cain. They ministered to individuals, churches and regions, some of it with tremendous accuracy.

Each one of those movements unfortunately became known for their eventual excesses. In their beginning stages I believe that God released the anoninting. In the end, some abandoned God or were shipwrecked on serious doctrinal issues. If we look at the history of revival, they all ended with, what many folks called, fleshly acts. It seems sort of natural. The Israelites get out of Egypt then worship a golden calf - this stuff happens.

The failure of man to do the work of God does not mean that we shouldn't believe the word of God, shy away from prophecy, decry altar calls, stop asking God for healing or despise accountability to another; it simply means we need to know Him better.

It appears that we are on the brink of an Apostolic Renewal as the year begins. Christians have three choices in the matter: A) we can embrace it with humility knowing that all that answers are not as easy to come by as some folks like to think, or B) we dive in with fleshly expectations and old religious paradigms, or C) we can reject it because we don't understand it or believe that is not the way God does things. I doubt the latter two choices will stop God from doing much needed work in the church. He didn't ask the Pharisees's permission to be born, He didn't wait for the Israelites to believe the good reports about the Promised Land, He didn't wait for Peter to "get it" or Paul to stop sinning. He just showed up, and advanced the Kingdom of God in spite of the religious men who knew Him.

I know a lot of Christians don't really know what to believe - but I have written a short book with Scripture references. See what you think. HERE is a link. I'd love to discuss it with you.

Because we haven't had this season before, I don't know exactly what it will bring - but I am sure that God will surprise those with faith. He always does.

How about you, have you seen seasons in your church life?

Monday, January 3, 2011

5 1/2 Things Christians Can't Seem to Live Without

Headphone Mics - Man this is a handy gadget! You can do all sorts of gymnastics in the name of Jesus. When preaching, it will fire you up with the word of God! You can be expressive, and dynamic! Gone are the days of pulpit mics, and lapel mics along with organ music!


Altar Calls - Still a staple of the the evangelical church. Funny, the truth is that 94+% of Christians got saved through making friends with some one that was already saved. Maybe we could have relationship calls?


Overhead Projectors - no more hymnals. I guess that is because they don't tech folks to read music in schools anymore. Just plaster the lyrics to the song on the overhead. But someone, please teach the worship leader the same words!


The Word "Freakin'" - it sort of goes to show you that we are not of this world. Usually accompanied by crap, shoot and gosh dang it.


Titles followed by "Pastor" - I am not sure how all this started. In the olden days of church, we just had pastors. Then we had associate pastors, zone pastors and senior pastors, followed by worship pastors, youth pastors, children's pastors, greeting pastors home group pastors, cookie sale pastors and I bet some where, the janitor is called the sanitation pastor, because toilet cleaning pastor just doesn't have a nice ring to it.


Jesus...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

God is Good! Really? I Hope So!

I have a friend who's infant daughter spent 4 days in the hospital. HERE is the story. I checked in with him each day by text or phone, and prayed too. She's home and doing great! PTL! I am sure it was scary.

Healing, and good results come from a good God.

What happens when things don't go so good? What happens when folks get sick and die? Is God good then? It's a tough question. Not to mention that serious illness is tough to watch, and worse to have.

I have another friend that was diagnosed with cancer. I have been praying for him, as well as testing or calling just about every day for most of the past year. I have done it before. I hate cancer!

It was painful news to hear that the doctor recommended Hospice Care.

I have been a Christian professing healing for 35 years. I have seen God do it, and he has used me a few times along the way too. I purposely wrote about the dead being raised on Wednesday to challenge the faith of my readers for the "big one."

When things are looking tough, where is our hope? Obamacare, doctors, hospitals, vitamins, supplements, and exercise? Don't worry, I am asking me the same question. And I am trying to unravel a passage like this...

Romans 5:3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

I once read in a book about some 3rd century monks that lived on an island off the coast of England. I believe the original account came from a man named Plutarch. (It is always interesting how nonbelievers perceive believers throughout history). In any case, the monks had such a close relationship with God and such a great faith that He would revel the time of their death; they called it an ascension. It was something they looked forward to. They would often go and wait upon the Lord to be taken up as they sang hymns and encouraged each other. (1 Cor 14)

I often wonder what hope Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had when the King tossed them in the fiery furnace? (Daniel 3:1-30) What were they thinking, what was going on in their hearts?

Not having been face with death recently, I don't really know what I would be thinking, feeling or doing.

Romans 8:24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?

Tell me about the hope that you have.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

500 - Sex, Drugs, Rock n Roll, Faith, Love and Grace

Today is the first day of another new year. I normally post on Friday; however, this is my actual 500th blog right here at Fire & Grace. I wanted it to coincide with the tectonic plates of time shifting to 2011.

For New Year's Day I could write about the past year, what the future holds, or reminisce about the alcohol fueled ghosts of New Year's past. I could write about the food we are going to have at our little celebration that will be over at 10, or what it was like to watch the ball drop. I might even cast spiritual vision for the future.

Enough about what I am not going to write about !


The original intent of Fire & Grace was for me to tell stories about my Jesus. This life is described in Deuteronomy 6.God commands his people to answer their children and tell them about deliverance, signs and wonders and the reason they are living a bountiful life.

God has truly brought me out of a bunch of places of bondage, through the fire, and given me gifts that He intends for me to use. I will make some mistakes - others will write better, pray better and be more prolific in church circles. Today I can say, who cares. The success or failure of my efforts in the Kingdom are measured by God, and the intimacy He and I enjoy - not in numbers, money, or groupies.

A Heart's Desire -
God is a wonderful God. I know it's hard to say that when you are in the midst of trial, but it is true. As he was faithful to the Israelites coming out of Egypt, he has been faithful to me - even when I built some golden calves.

Somewhere in the early months of 2000, I came home from an exciting worship service. I was sitting in front of my computer that afternoon and the presence of the Lord descended upon me. This sort of thing doesn't happen to me every day. I remember my spirit simply being alive as I sat there; I felt a rush of revelation. It is hard to describe, but sitting there meditating on the Lord, I just felt like I knew some things that I didn't know a few moments before.

For a couple of hours I read the Bible and took notes. As fast as I had a thought, I would do a word search to measure what I was hearing with the word of God. I took 29 pages of notes that day. Much of it was about the 5-Fold ministry. For me it was a shift from looking at the church by what I might have to offer, to a new understanding of what God wanted to do with each believer.

Along with a new realm that I knew little about, there was some new theological questions I needed to answer. I was so excited, I never gave a thought to the opposition that might come to what I felt God was showing me that day.

Early on in the Charismatic church, I remember the controversy over tongues. It seemed shallow to me, because it was as simple as do it, or don't so it. The thoughts I was having about church this particular afternoon were much more than worship style or personal comfort, they were about changing the face of church as I had known it.

For years I meditated on what I had learned that day. I didn't run off to see if some other Bible teacher was on the same page. In fact, I avoided reading about it. I simply held it in my heart, studied it more, and continued to weigh it against what I saw happening in the church around me. Occasionally I would have a discussion with someone about the 5-Fold ministry in Ephesians 4. They had a lot of questions about whether apostles exist today, if New Testament prophets can make a mistake, and those sort of issues.

Well, here is just about 11 years later, and I am confidant to say, most of what God showed me that day is now part of my Christian walk. I have put the basic teaching in my new book: Apostolic Reform (The first few chapters). Lord willing and the creek don't rise, I will be teaching it in a class at my church starting January 14th.

It is called the 5-Fold School of Ministry. Here's the web site: www.ApostolicSchool.com. Who knows what will happen with this first class, or even if there will be another one after it. I can say for certain, that I feel that God is certainly in this one.

How's that for God's faithfulness!

Do you have a promise from God? Tell us about it.
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