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?
Over this past week, I’ve been reading through the book of Jeremiah (I spent last month in Isaiah) and what the Holy Spirit has been showing me while I’ve been reading is this: “God’s love is always guided by His truth and His truth is always fueled by His love which constitutes God’s ways.” Now, I know that this is a bit simplistic (I mean there’s also grace, mercy, justice, goodness, etc. all of which are also of God and important), but sometimes I feel like we complicate things. For me, when things happen in my life that I don’t understand, it helps to remind myself that God is love and that He is truth (I would also add that He is good). And though I may not understand why this or that is happening in my life or in the lives of the people around me or the things happening in the world I can trust that God knows what He is doing. Being at peace means I start from a position of trust in God’s ways and that His ways are comprised of His truth and His love.
Systematically, I believe that all truth is God’s truth, but that there is a hierarchy to truth. Meaning, there is general revelation which consists of creation which points to a Creator (Romans 1:18-20), basic principles of the world (Romans 12:1; Colossians 2:20; Galatians 4:3) and the knowledge of morality (Romans 2:14, 15) all of which God set into place when He created the universe (Genesis 1, 2). And then there is special revelation which consists of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 2:20, 21) and Jesus (Hebrews 1:1, 2). Naturally, special revelation must always supersede general revelation. Nonetheless, truth will always be truth and hence must come from God who is truth because God cannot lie. “So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18a NLT; also cf. Titus 1:2; Numbers 23:19).
Now if this isn’t enough we must also remember that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than our thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8, 9) which collectively hopefully characterizes God as completely transcendent, all-powerful and down right overwhelmingly Divine which should inspire what the Bible talks about as the fear of the Lord (2 Chronicles 14:14; 17:10; 19:7, 9; Job 28:28; Psalm 19:9; 34:11; 111:10; Proverbs 1:7, 29; 8:13; 9:10; 10:27; 14:26, 27; 15:33; 16:6; 19:23; 23:17; Isaiah: 11:2, 3; 33:6; Acts 9:31; 2 Corinthians 5:11). Sometimes, (and I include myself here) I feel like the majesty of God and His transcendentness has gotten lost in the midst of friendship with God. Now, hear me on this, I love being friends with God in fact I cherish our friendship. But, there are times where I can get too comfortable and casual with God where I forget that He is also the Creator of the universe, who is omniscient (knows all things), omnipresent (is able to be in all places at the same time) and omnipotent (all-powerful and all-ruling).
It’s not that the children of God (those found in Jesus) should be fearful of God in the sense that we should run and hide from Him, but that while we fully embrace being friends of God we should also stand in awe of His majesty and bow in reverence to His divinity. I know that this may seem complicated or overwhelming at times, but we can take heart because Jesus fully embodies all of this which is why He is able to say: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me“ (John 14:6 ESV). We must always remember that the only reason that we are friends with God is through Jesus. Without Jesus, we would still be enemies of God because it is only through Jesus’ shed blood on the cross that we have peace with God (Romans 5:1-11). Those found in Jesus need not fear punishment (1 John 4:16-19), we only need to concern ourselves with being disciplined (Hebrews 12:4-11). Biblically speaking there is a difference between punishment and discipline.
Add to all of this that God is love (1 John 4:8, 16) and what we get is the reality that God’s love, truth and ways are deeply and infinitely unified with one another. I don’t believe we can separate them, nor should we ever try or think of them separately but as always working in relation to one another. The love of God always being guided by His truth and His truth always being fueled by His love which constitutes God’s ways because the ways of God must always been seen as being comprised of His truth and His love. I mean, isn’t this what we find in Jesus?
The more I experience life with God, the more I am caught up into His love. Life and love go hand-in-hand. I don’t believe you can truly know God without experiencing both because God is both. God is love (1 John 4:8) and God is life (Genesis 1, 2; Exodus 3:14; Psalm 139:13-16; John 1:4; 8:58; 14:6; Thessalonians 1:9). It is within love that life gets released. When Jesus came down from Heaven to Earth, He said He came to give us life abundant (John 10:10b). I believe there is much confusion in what most believers understand as being a child of God and what it means to be in Christ. For those in Christ there is no more punishment from God, only discipline (Hebrews 12:10, 11). Because Jesus took upon Himself the full wrath of God for sin (Romans 3: 23-25; 1 John 2:2), citizens of the Kingdom of God no longer have to fear judgment or punishment.
“All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because He loved us first” (1 John 4:15-19 NLT). What this says to me is that the more we know and experience God’s perfect love in Jesus, the more we will understand that we no longer have to fear judgment or punishment from God because through Jesus we can approach the Father with confidence (also cf. Hebrews 4:14-16). Even more, it is God’s love that fuels our love (v.19). Love and life go hand-in-hand, “all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them” (v.16), what an amazing truth.
But, one of the more effective schemes of the devil is to trick people into believing that God’s heart towards us is to do us wrong and that He cannot be trusted. Isn’t that what happened in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) and what the devil tried to do during Jesus’ testing in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13)? If the devil can skew our perspective on the goodness of God than in many ways he has succeeded in driving a wedge between us and God because he has stolen our confidence in approaching God for love and care. The Scripture verse that continually helps me to reorient myself in understanding God’s heart towards me in contrast to the devil’s schemes is John 10:10 “The thief [devil] comes to steal, kill and destroy. I [Jesus] came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (ESV). We must never forget that God’s desire is that we should live! His heart towards us is to bring more and more life (and love) into our lives.
So this is my prayer: that the Father would pour out His grace upon our lives and that He would heal our minds by replacing any distorted views we have of Him with the truth of what His Word and Spirit testify to Who He Is. That through the living presence of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us He would release more of His love and life, so that it literally overflows into every area of our lives and into every relationship. In Jesus Name, Amen.
What comes to mind when you hear the word light? For me, I associate light with life. When I think about light, the sun naturally comes to mind; the sun whose life giving rays nourish all life on earth. Without the sun, life as we know it would end because the sun provides both energy and warmth to all of creation. But, we are not solely just natural beings who have only natural appetites and desires. No, we are also spiritual beings who have spiritual needs and desires. Just as the sun gives nourishment to our bodies, so the Son gives nourishment to our spirit. As Jesus tells us “Yes, I am the vine; and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NLT). Remaining in Jesus gives us the nourishment we need to produce fruitful lives.
Furthermore, the bible says that “God is light and there is no darkness in Him at all” (1 John 1:5). When light encounters darkness, two things happen: 1) it reveals what is hiding in the darkness and 2) it drives the darkness back. God is not intimidated, confounded, anxious or worried over the darkness of the world. Just as in the beginning when He created the universe and everything in it, He is still speaking into those who are formless and void by creating life with His words. “For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:6, 7 NLT). The great treasure in us is Jesus; He is the light of the world that shines in the hearts of those who put their faith in Him. “Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12 ESV). Having the light of life means followers of Jesus are now living in God’s light which empowers believers, connecting them in fellowship as the blood of Jesus cleanses them of sin (1 John 1:7) while also increasing our capacity to love one another (1 John 2:10).
So this is my prayer: that the Lord would continue to shine His light in our hearts bringing greater healing, deliverance, redemption and restoration to our lives. Jesus You are the light of the world and we shine for You as little lights within Your glorious light to a lost, hurting and broken world. Help us to live more fully with You basking in Your light and Your love! To the Father’s glory and in Your Name, Jesus, Amen
I’ve felt moved by the Spirit of God to begin meditating on life. So, in response to His leading I’ve read through the story of creation (Genesis 1 and 2) while paying close attention to signs of life. Overall, what struck me was God’s power over His creation. Never once while reading the text did I ever get the sense that God was really straining Himself to create. No, when I read the narrative, my sense of it is that God was thoroughly enjoying Himself during the creation process: He took great pleasure in creating because God loves life. Not only do I believe that God loves life, but that He also loves celebrating life. I couldn’t help but wonder about the joyousness that must have gone on while God was creating. After all, it was quite the epic event.
Reading through the creation narrative was a good reminder of the truth that God is the Author of life. This means that whenever and wherever we encounter life, we should be reminded of our Creator who is the Giver of life. I don’t know about you, but I spend far too much time gazing at Man’s creation (technology) than I do gazing at God’s creation (all living things). Maybe we can spend the next few days together watching creation while praying that God would help us to see the wondrousness of life and to celebrate creation as He does: “as very good.” This truth has not rung more true to me than now.
Currently, I have been given the privilege to serve the Lord in Tanzania, Africa for the next two months. When I look around at the quality of life here in Tanzania, I am arrested by the pervasive poverty everywhere. It is hard for me to see the goodness of creation because sin has marred creation and distorted the created order. But, the more time I spend being among the Tanzanian people, the more I’ve come to see not only the preciousness of people, but also the goodness of God’s creation as very good. God has blessed me to see that because everyone is created in the image of God, we are all precious, period. He has also blessed me to see the resilience in the Tanzanian people which I see as coming from God who proclaimed at creation that what He created was “good.” God doesn’t ever create junk and because of this, He has built into us a resilience to endure through great hardships. He is after all the master Craftsman.
So this is my prayer: that as we gaze upon creation, God, the Author of life, would bless us with redemptive eyes to see past the sin that mars and distorts all of life, and to see creation from an eternal perspective with the faith to believe that because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, He is making all things new (Revelation 21:5). In His Name, Amen.
On Sunday, September 27th, 2010, God supernaturally grew out one of my legs and then evened them out. Yes, a physical creative miracle happened. The back story on this is that over the last four or five years my lower back has been steadily giving me more and more pain. All of this culminated a week before when I flew from Los Angeles to Chicago (September, 19th). After the flight I started to feel a sharp pain in my left leg and it even started to go numb from time to time. On Monday, I rested as much as I could, but the pain was still there. On Tuesday, I was walking through a grocery store and in the back by the pharmacy there was a little stand where a chiropractic business was checking people’s balance. I filled out the form and let them know that I had ongoing lower back pain and that now my left leg had just started to hurt and go numb from time to time. So, they had me stand on two scales, one for each foot and checked my balance. What the balance test revealed was that I leaned almost 12 pounds (5.5 kg) to my left leg which normally should only be a 2-3 pounds (0.9-1.2 kg) difference confirming that added pressure was being put on my sciatic nerve and was possibly causing the numbness.
To back up a bit, the week before all of this happened I felt the Lord really challenge me while I was at a prayer meeting (Septmeber 15th) where people were praying for healing for a woman. I very distinctly heard Jesus ask me: “Do you really believe that the Father will give you anything that you ask of Him in My Name?” His voice wasn’t an audible voice, but I distinctly felt and heard His voice reverberate throughout the whole of my being. I heard it in my head and in my heart all at the same time. It was like Jesus was speaking directly to my spirit. So, for the next few days I really wrestled with this question. But as I wrestled, Holy Spirit kept reminding me that the only reason that I live, move and have my being in Him at all is because of God’s grace. All the blessings in my life are truly undeserved; be it healing, salvation, deliverance, redemption or restoration. As Paul so eloquently put it, “But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace” (1 Corinthians 15:10 NLT).
If you know my story, then you may think that if anyone should get this it’s me. But, though I have experienced many supernatural moves of God’s grace in my life, I still wrestled deep within my heart with a distorted view of God’s heart towards me. God’s heart towards us is to heal, save, redeem and restore, period. I mean He gave up His one and only Son, Jesus, so that He could accomplish all of these things through an intimate relationship with us for all eternity. That’s God’s heart towards us. He’s not stingy with His love, goodness, mercy and grace, but infinitely generous and compassionate when it comes to gifting, blessing and showing favor towards us. We just need to believe and receive His love, goodness, mercy, grace, gifts, blessings and favor. Coming to this revelation has really freed up my heart and mind to just receive from the Lord and allow Him to pour out the fullness of His grace upon my life. In my wrestling what I was confronted with was the belief that 1) I thought I needed to work for God’s grace, 2) I didn’t think that God wanted to show me more of His favor and 3) because I was too proud or too ashamed I would just plain refuse to accept God’s favor. But, the breakthrough came when I began repenting for these distorted beliefs of trying to earn God’s favor by working for it, of my own self-condemnation that I projected onto God thinking He didn’t want to show me more of His favor and of my pride and shame that refused to accept God’s goodness and blessings towards me.
Now back to the healing miracle at hand. After leaving the balance test, I began to think that maybe my left leg was a little longer than the other and because of this has effected my lower back over the years which is quite typical from what I understand. That night I had my connect group (small group) pray for my back, a couple people said they definitely felt like there was a spiritual component, one of them saw an image of a vine wrapped around one of my legs. When I woke up on Wednesday, the pinching and numbness was gone. Later that day I felt like I should try and measure my legs and ask for God to even them out. So, I sat on my bed stretched my legs out and placed my hands on my right hip and began to simple ask the Father in Jesus Name to even out my legs. Nothing fancy. Right away my right hip began to tingle for a minute or so and then stopped. In my spirit, I really felt like God did do something, but I wasn’t sure what. So, I thanked God for healing me and that was that. (I know this post is extra long, but I really want to give as clear and detailed account of everything that happened, so please bear with me. I promise you it’s worth it.)
Fast forward to Sunday, September 27th, 2010 around 8pm. I am at a teaching session on healing (through my church: CITC) at Chris and Nancy Whiteley’s house. As the teaching portion was ending, I asked the group to pray for my back pain. I didn’t go into detail of what had transpired earlier in the week, but did share that I felt like my back pain had a spiritual component, was possibly connect to a generational curse and that I felt like one of my legs could possibly be longer than the other. So, Nancy and Chris led me through a prayer of repentance over the generational curse over my family and then began prayerfully breaking in Jesus Name any connection that a spirit of infirmary may have had over my back pain and began praying for healing and restoration to any degenerative damage to my back. During this time I really didn’t feel anything at all. So, next they had me sit in a wooden chair with my lower back resting fully against the back of the chair. Chris then had me lift my legs and he held my feet together to see if they were different lengths. After the group looked at my legs they said that my right leg was definitely a little shorter than the left.
So, while Chris was holding my feet, Dave Foster put his hand on my right shin and began to invite the Holy Spirit to come and bring healing to my leg. Then Taylor Lyall, who had his hand on my right thigh began to command my right leg to grow out in Jesus Name. Here’s where it gets good. All of a sudden my right leg from the knee down began to tingle like crazy and then it felt like someone yanked really hard on my right foot and I literally felt my leg grow out from around my ankle area. Everyone there started screaming that my foot just totally grew out like an inch or so (maybe around 3 cm). Personally, it really felt like my leg had grown too much. I didn’t say anything but then Chris had Monica come put her hand on my feet and she began to pray that God would even out my legs. Then my left ankle area began to tingle too and it really felt like both my legs were shifting about. It was quite a strange feeling. I was literally holding onto the chair like I was about to take off or something. All in all, I think we prayed for maybe 10 minutes while I was sitting in the chair. Afterwards, when I stood up it definitely felt different.
Today (September 27th), as I am writing this the calf muscle in my right leg feels extra tight and my right knee feels a bit weird like it’s adjusting or something. I have no more pain in my lower back, but I do feel like the muscles back there are a tiny bit sore as well. Maybe my lower back muscles, nerves and tendons are also adjusting I’ll see over then next few weeks if I need more restorative prayer on my back. Over the weekend, I bought a balance board and ordered a Bosu ball because I wanted to work on resetting my balance. I’m glad I did because now I can work on my balance, not because I have one leg shorter than the other, but because God miraculously lengthened and evened out my legs and now I need to reset my balance because I have too legs that are the same length. God’s grace and goodness towards us is so amazing! So amazing!!!
The heart of the Father is goodness towards us to heal, save, redeem, restore and deliver, but because we are caught in a war where the enemy is constantly attacking people and trying to destroy them (John 10:10a) many people confuse this suffering as actually coming from the heart of God. The last thing God wants is that people would suffer, His heart is that no one perish, but all would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Now if you’re like me than the question that comes to mind is: “Well, if God doesn’t want anyone to perish, than why doesn’t He cause this to happen?” The causality of God is surely a mystery. I mean the causality of God has been on the hearts and minds of people for thousands of years. I’m not about to wade into this debate, but rather share how I find peace in the midst of this mystery of God.
For me, when I don’t understand something in terms of faith and life (which happens often), rather than question the character of God, I try to remind myself of what Scripture says about Who God is. I mean the Scriptures describe God as the Eternal (Deuteronomy 33.27; Romans 1:20) King (Psalm 95:3; Isaiah 43:15), Who is an infinite (Psalm 147:5; Job 11:7-9), unchangeable (James 1:17), Spirit (John 4:24), perfect (Matthew 5:48) in holiness (Isaiah 6:3; 1 Peter 1:15-16), Living (Psalm 42:2; 84:2), True (Jeremiah 10:10), wise (Psalm 104:24; Proverbs 2:6; Isaiah 28:29), good (Exodus 33:19; Psalm 63:2; 31:19), just (Psalm 33:5; 89:14; Isaiah 30:18), all-powerful (Luke 18:27; Revelation 19:6), and love (1 John 4:8). When I allow this to be my starting point, then I have a better chance of discerning between what is from God and what is from the evil one. I know this is pretty simplistic, but I’m becoming more and more convinced that in the midst of unbelief and doubt, childlike faith is the only way to go because kids don’t doubt the goodness of God.
One of my most favorite things to do during church is to watch the children during worship. A strong personal conviction of mine is to have entire families together for worship. This may by trying for some and may mean allowing the children more room to roam and play (if need be), but biblically speaking I believe this paints a better picture of the worship around the throne of God. This may sting, but I really don’t think there will be a separate area for kids’ worship. Also, in this way children actually get to see their parents actively worshipping God which is invaluable. Some things are better caught than taught, for kids, worship is one of those things. But, for adults like me, there is also the blessing of seeing the Spirit of God touch the kids, moving them to sing and dance in worship to God which helps me to better understand what childlike faith looks like. Again, some things are better caught than taught, for adults, faith is one of those things.
Thanks to Sin, life is complicated enough. So, the last thing we should do in the midst of testing is to complicate it with complex theology. Now, I’m not saying that theology is bad, I find that thinking theological can be very profitable. But, at the end of the day, all theology should lead to worship. If it doesn’t than what’s the point. The reason we study the Scriptures is to better understand the one and only Living God in Whom we worship. This should be at the heart of our theological study. When our pursuit of theology actually gets in the way of our worship, then we should probably put our study on pause in order to regain a heart of worship. If there is one thing that we will be doing for all eternity is worshipping God. Worship is forever.