God is passionate about drawing near to people and saving them from their dysfunctions and distortions. He is passionate about bringing great healing to people’s hearts and lives and victorious deliverance to them from darkness and demonic oppression. His love truly is furious because He cannot stand to see His creation (us) not living as He created us. You see, the devil has a plan for your life (keeping people bound in addictions is one of his plans among others), we have a plan for our own lives (which may seem good, but is limited) and then God has a plan for your life (which is perfect and full of hope and blessing). I don’t know about you but I’ve already spent part of my life living the devil’s plan for my life and in many ways have continued to struggle in letting go of my own plans for my life because I have tasted what God’s plan is for my life and let me tell you it is more than I could have ever dreamed of. I get to spend each and everyday with the Creator of the Universe. I get to know and experience His passionate love for me all the time. I also get to live out God’s amazing destiny for my life which can be challenging at times because it pushes me to live by faith, but at the end of the day there truly is no other way I desire to live. Being caught up into God’s furious love has forever changed me and now carries me into living out my eternity destiny here on earth. Do you know the furious love of God?
Lately I’ve been realizing that I am just getting this idea of living a life in worship to the Father. Though I’ve been saved almost 10 years now, have experienced many supernatural moves of God in my life, been through Seminary, actively involved in mentoring, discipleship and being on mission for Jesus, been in ministry leadership as well as starting a prayer movement, what I am realizing is that I am really only just grasping the concept of living a life of worship to the Father. More and more, Holy Spirit has been reminding me of Jesus’ words, “But the time is coming – indeed it’s here now – when true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way”(John 4:23 NLT). The more I meditate on what it means to be a worshipper of Spirit and Truth, the more I am convinced that there’s a huge difference between doing worship and being a worshipper. I believe that everyone is capable of worship. If we realize it or not we are actively engaged in worship everyday. You don’t have to be a prophet to see how the world revolves around the worship of people and things. The worship of celebrities and political figures is nothing new, nor is the idolization of technology. Add to this equation the rising tides of addiction in the world and you have a recipe for even greater degrees of misdirected and distorted worship. It’s funny though worship is inherent to who we are because we have a Creator, why is it so difficult to live a life of worship to our Creator? The simple answer is sin. Sin has a way of perverting and distorting everything that we do. It’s not that sin makes us all as evil as we could ever be, but sin does have a way of twisting even our best intentions. Sin entangles us and keeps us from embracing being the true worshippers of Spirit and Truth that God desires.
Currently, I am in a unique season. The Lord is teaching me what is means to be His missionary. Over the last five years, I have been heavily involved in church ministry and leadership and have loved every moment. But, earlier this year the Lord impressed on me His desire for me to learn what it means for me to always be His missionary first and foremost. This transition has taken about a year and has meant stepping down from all church leadership, even relocating to another church. Embracing this new season, has inspired this current reflection on worship and service to the Lord. To be honest, this transition has been harder than I had expected. Always being God’s missionary has meant seeing life through a different lens. For the last five years I’ve looked at life through the lens of a shepherd caring for the flock that God has entrusted to my care. Now that this flock has been entrusted to others, I am feeling a bit lost. What I am realizing is that working in the barn is a bit different than working in the fields. When I was working in the barn (church), it was easier to discern the line between what was worship to the Lord and what was not. Learning to work in the fields (world) has meant redefining what worship to the Lord looks like. Working in the field has also meant having to be more intentional about making what I am doing as an act of worship to the Lord. Being in church ministry and leadership made it easier to see my service as a form of worship to God. It was easy to see what I was doing as “working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23 NIV). Now that I am not actively involved in church leadership it’s like I now have to relearn what it means to be “working for the Lord.
I know I am still in the process of walking this out, but where I am leaning towards is rather than trying to make everything I do an act of worship to God I need to simply embrace more fully the reality that through Jesus I simply am a worshipper of the living God. If I try to make everything I do an act of worship to God, worship can very easily become reduced to a bunch of tasks to be checked off a list. I would end up doing worship all day, rather than being a worshipper where worship is inherent to who I am. On the surface, they may look simliar, but underneath is a world of difference. When worship is inherent to who I am, everything that I do becomes an act of worship because it is born out of love and devotion for the Father. Jesus fully understood this. His whole life was lived in worship to the Father because He understood who He was to the Father and who the Father was to Him. It must be no different with us. Our worship must come from a place of intimacy with the Father. The Pharisees lacked this intimacy with the Father and their lives where reduced to a bunch of external actions strung together with the guise of worship. But, their offerings of worship lacked the inward motivation that the Father desired. Everything they did had the external motivation of being seen and praised by men. They were continually projecting image, rather than pursuing intimacy. When worship comes from a place of intimacy with the Father, then a worshipper that the Father desires is born. And here’s the Good News: as believers in Christ we already have this intimacy with the Father, we just need to lean in and embrace this intimacy.
Over the past few weeks, the question that the Lord has been asking me is, “Are you available?” You see, God has been crossing my path with quite a few people who keep telling me stories of how God has been using people who have simply made themselves available to Him. It’s really easy to think that God only uses people who are gifted and talented or mature in the faith. But, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I believe God uses people who simply make themselves available to Him. Let me explain. When God calls us to something we can trust that He will enable us to do the work He’s called us do. But, we need to let go of our own agendas and expectations and just come with a willing spirit and expectant heart. God is near to us and I believe is continually talking to us, but most of us fail to recognize His voice when He speaks because we are so consumed with our own agendas and in achieving our own expectations.
I am and have been a spiritual director to a growing number of people which I disciple in hearing the voice of God for themselves. I believe that God’s heart is to position all of His children for Kingdom work, but because we have made ourselves unavailable to Him; we get passed over and God raises up someone else. Recently, I’ve been hearing story after story of God positioning the most unlikely of people to do great and amazing things for His Kingdom simply because they made themselves available to Him. People who trusted in their ability to hear God and who also believed that God could empower and equip them for whatever work He was calling them to do. How well do you recognize our Shepherd’s voice? I am constantly having to remind myself that I do hear God and that He does speak to me through Scripture (of course), but also through my thoughts, imagination and the feelings and convictions within my heart. The Holy Spirit dwells within us (1 Corinthians 6:19) and speaks directly to us (Romans 8:16). God also speaks to me through other people, music, animals and creation at large. Viewing creation often makes me marvel all the more at the amazingness of God our Creator. If we seek to hear God’s voice, He will reveal Himself to us (Matthew 7:7,8; James 4:8).
But, at the end of the day, step one for us is to simply say, “Here am I. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8 NIV) and not worry about what step two is. Instead, we need to trust that God will empower and equip us in preparation for whatever is step two, three, four, five, etc. But, if you’re like me, it’s really easy to spend too much time waiting on God, when often times He’s already spoken to me and I am just being hesitant, fearful, even lazy at times. God has been steadily weening me off of needing to know too many steps because He wants to cultivate more faith in me. I mean, it really doesn’t take much faith if we already know what lies ahead. But, the more we make ourselves available to God, the more He will stretch and build faith in us by positioning us in situations that will proclaim that the Kingdom of God is near. I’ve heard this preached and I believe it to be true: doing great things for the Kingdom of God demands great faith. What I’m starting to believe is that God is waiting for more people to simply say to Him, “Lord, whatever You would have me do, I am willing.”
Just last week I was in Toronto, Ontario with some friends both old and new and we ended up walking around a public park, listening to Holy Spirit’s voice and leading in whom He desired that we talk to, pray with and prophesize for. In some Christian circles this is called “treasure hunting.” It was an amazing time. God lead us to very specific people, who needed to know that God sees them, loves them and wants to heal and save them and redeem the pain in their lives. He did this by giving us descriptive clues like green shirt, big sunglasses, straw hat with ribbon, park benches and brown sandals. Afterwards, I was spending time with God processing all that happened, when I asked Him if there were more people that we could talk to, pray with and prophesize for. What I heard next, I will never forget. God said to me that “there will always be more work, there will always be someone who needs to be loved and cared for.” In that moment, I felt the immensity of the work that lay ahead. I mean aren’t those Jesus’ words in Luke 10:2 which says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
So this is my prayer: “Father, soften our hearts towards You. Set us free from whatever hinders us from making ourselves available to You. Forgive us for when we get too busy with our own lives and in building our own kingdoms. Change our hearts Lord, transform us into people who simply believe that You can raise anyone up to do great things for Your Kingdom. Cultivate the faith needed within us to do the greater works that You said we would do. We believe You when You say that “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” We want to be those workers whom You call to labor in Your harvest fields. We trust You Father with our very lives and the lives of our families. In Jesus Name, Amen.
” ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ What goes through your mind when you read Peter quoting Joel in Acts 2:17-21? Two questions should come to mind: 1) Are these the last days? And 2) Has God poured His Spirit on all people? More specifically, has He poured out His Spirit on this generation? Now, if you believe that God has poured out His Spirit on all peoples and believe that this generation is included in this pouring, than you should then also believe that we are living in the last days where all peoples will have the potential to be a prophetic voice to the world for the Kingdom of God.
If you spend anytime on the Internet than you know that there are so many people out there who have something to say. Whenever I go to “You Tube” I get bombarded by video after video of people speaking up and speaking out about anything and everything. Blogging is also gaining even greater popularity. Not to mention Twitter and Facebook which are the king and queen of social networking. People in this generation have a lot to say. Now, to be honest a lot of what’s out there is just people seeking to be funny or inventive or shocking, but there are those who are genuinely sharing the passions and convictions that they hold in their hearts. If I take a step back and take a broad view of what’s going on, what all this says to me is that there are so many people out there who are or have the potential to be a prophetic voice for this generation. But, in order to be a prophetic voice to the world our focus needs to begin to change from being on ourselves to towards the world around you. This means, taking the time in discerning the times that we live in.
If we look to the Old Testament, there are two references that point to the importance of seeking those out who had insight into the times. In 1 Chronicles 12:32 we read that among those listed to join David’s army after he became King over all of Israel were 200 men of Issachar, “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” We also read in Esther 1:13 that King Xerxes consulted with “experts of the law and justice, and he spoke with the wise men who understood the times” before making important decisions. In both examples, we see the value set on those who understood the times and how kings sought them out for counsel. Though it’s not directly stated, we can safely assume that the men of Issachar were a key component of those whom David sought counsel from.
In the New Testament, we see that Jesus also addressed the importance of discerning the times when He accused the Pharisees of not being able to interpret the signs of the times. In Matthew 16:1-4, we read that “the Pharisees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.” But, Jesus said to them, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away. We all need to hear and receive this same rebuke that Jesus gave the Pharisees and Sadducees and begin to “interpret the sign of our times.”
Have you ever really sat down and taken a closer look at the times that we live in? As I spent some time really thinking and praying about the times that we live in, these are some observations that has God impressed upon me. We live in a time where there is the decline of the Church and the rise of humanism. We live in a time where there is the rise of a pornographic culture and the decline of the family. We live in a time where there is the rise of tolerance, but the decline of a genuine love. We live in a time where there is the rise of greater avenues of communication, but the decline of real connectedness between people. We live in a time where there is the rise of technological advances, but the decline of personal meaning. We live in a time where there is a rise of medical advances, but also a rise of more psychological and physical dysfunction. We live in a time where there is the rise of information availability, but the decline in the ability to process information.
God gifts and anoints people unconditionally. Meaning, He blesses people with gifts and talents and then allows us to use them at our discretion. This is seen throughout the Old Testament, Samson the judge or King Jeroboam I are good examples of this. They were both called and anointed by God (His Spirit was upon both judges and kings), but they used their gifting and authority abusively and selfishly. Fast forward to today, we also see this sort of abuse going on all over the Church at large. (I will refrain from naming any names here). So, the question may not be about having the ability to be a prophetic voice to this generation. But, more so about how well are you being a steward of God’s anointing on your life in being a prophetic voice to this generation?
A verse of Scripture that encourages and touches every part of my being is 2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”The reason I like this verse so much is that it not only takes into account my brokenness, but also my redemption. Just recently I was watching a movie and this line came streaming through, “She’s a bit tore up, but she’ll fly true.” He was taking about the plane they were flying, but how this line impacted me was that it made me long to hear God say this about me: “He’s a bit tore up, but he’ll fly true.” Again, the reason being is that it’s honest. I am a bit tore up (broken), but I will fly true (redeemed).
In our frailty, the very power of God is manifested. The more I embrace my brokenness (the reality that I am a jar of clay) the more I will realize just how precious and amazing this treasure that I have within me is (the reality that I am redeemed). So what is this treasure? If we look back to the second half of 2 Corinthians 4:4, we will see it: The treasure is “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Paul contrasts this with the expression jars of clay which would be familiar to the Corinthians because pottery was an everyday item. It could be found everywhere because it was used by the common person. We, just like the Corinthians have either seen or even used a ceramic pot of some sort. And if you have, you know that they hold water really well and are useful for many things, but that they are also easily broken.
Now, the connection that Paul wants to make here is that just like jars of clay, human beings are just as fragile and easily broken. Now I don’t know about you, but I can understand and relate to that. If you’ve ever held a baby you know what I’m talking about, or if you’ve ever broken a bone or know someone who has, you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever been in any kind of relationship then you know what I’m talking about because we are fragile beings and our hearts and bodies feel pain. But just as Paul marveled, we too should also marvel, because we have an amazing God who has entrusted us, weak vessels, with the treasure of the gospel of God’s glory that is revealed in Jesus. According to this verse, God does this to show that it is His all-surpassing power that is at work in all of us. To be more specific, the power that Paul is talking about is the divine power that enables him to preach the gospel while persevering through personal hardships and trials. Phew! I don’t know about you, but I am glad to hear that because it takes all the pressure off of us and frees us up to speak and be truth, life and love to people.
I believe with all my heart that God has called every believer to do great and amazing things for His Kingdom. But this means that we will have to lean into this power of God within us to 1) be the Gospel to strangers, friends and family and to 2) persevere through the hardships and trials that will come our way because of this. What helps me when I get fearful or discouraged is remembering that I don’t have to do this alone, but that God is always with me. He has given us His Holy Spirit to not only comfort us, but to also empower us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control and has also lavished us with some pretty awesome supernatural gifts. “Though I am a bit tore up, I will fly true” because the same Spirit that rose Jesus from the dead is also living within me.
God gave me a vision in the International House of Prayer’s prayer room (12/29/09) of my whole body engulfed in flames. There have been numerous times that people have prophesied over me that I will bring light into dark places. I’ve always interpreted this as meaning I would carry the light of the Gospel. After the vision, God said to me that I will literally be this light because my very life embodies the Gospel. I have been tranformed by God’s Word and Spirit and the fire of the Gospel continues to grow within me. But, I need to be continually fanning this flame of His Word and Spirit by stoking the fires within through love and obedience. God has anointed my life with a fierce and fiery love which demands intimacy with God. He has poured out His unconditional love upon me and He desires my unconditional love for Him in return. God will settle for no less and neither should I. This will take consistent sacrifice and faithful commitment to being about the Father’s will. Just like Jesus, I need to be doing the things of heaven, the things that He saw the Father doing (John 5:19) here on earth and proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is here!
I love this next passage of Scripture where Jesus further expands on the oneness of Him and the Father to Philip: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves (John 14:6-11)
God has been working on my character since the first day He saved me, so that I can bear the weight of His anointing on my life. For awhile I struggled with feeling like I’ve disqualified myself and that maybe God had taken His anointing from me because it has been such a rocky road of sanctification and such a hard process of character building. Trust me when I say that when Jesus saved me, I was pretty much characterless. I was a drug dealer and addict who would do just about anything to satisfy my lust for drugs, money and sex. But as Jesus says, “What is impossible with men, is possible with God” (Luke 18:27). Truly, my life is a living testimony to the truth of Jesus’ words.
So, as God has once again met me, He has reaffirmed His anointing on my life and let me know that His Hand has never left me and that He is holding back the fullness of His anointing on my life, so that He can work on my character and in many ways bring healing and restoration to my life. He has impressed upon me the great importance of first seeking His Face in intimacy and then seeking the release of His Hand of power through His anointing on my life. Heidi Baker sums this up well when she says, “Fruitfulness is born out of intimacy with God” in which I whole-heartedly agree. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it (John 14:12-14). To do what the Father is doing in Heaven demands that I be near enough to Him to actually see what He is doing. This demands an intimacy that comes only through Jesus (John 14:6).
I have been encouraged recently by Bill Johnson who says, “When promotion comes too soon the impact of our gift brings a notoriety that becomes the catalyst to our downfall” (When Heaven Invades Earth, 2003, 61). I have already experienced this in my own life because of my arrogance where I became puffed up with myself due to my lacking character. So, God gave me over to my lustful arrogant pursuits, but only to teach me lessons of submission and humilty. Bearing God’s anointing demands that a person be fully dependent on God’s strength through His Holy Spirit. Jesus modeled this perfectly with His own life. Character and anointing are intertwined. God does not want to see me fall, so as my character increases so will His anointing. Men of God disqualify themselves because they don’t have the character to bear the anointing. Or they never truly walk in the fullness of the anointing because they lived in their own strength, rather then God’s. I need to humble myself under God’s mighty hand and He will lift me up in due time (1 Peter 5:6) in His strength. Thank you Lord, for bringing greater clarity to what You have been doing in my life and for releasing my heart to love You in greater love and measure and for giving me a renewed fervor to pursue integrity. It’s all coming together as Your story in me continues…