Archive for January, 2010

In John 20:  24-29, he shares the story of Thomas, one of the Twelve Disciples, and his reaction to being told that the other disciples had seen the Risen Lord – “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it. [NIV]. 

Thomas had walked intimately with Jesus throughout His ministry, had seen Jesus heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out demons but doubted that Jesus had the power to overcome the grave.  He had even been told by Jesus himself that He would defeat death and be raised on the third day but yet, he still doubted.  That was until Jesus appeared before him, allowing him to touch the wounds of His crucifixion, thus creating instant belief in Thomas, who exclaimed, “My Lord and My God!”   Jesus didn’t share his enthusiasm, admonishing Thomas, “Because you have seen me you have believed;  blessed are those that have not seen and yet believed.” 

In Doing Healing:  How to Minister God’s Kingdom in the Power of the Spirit, Alexander Venter writes this about the Bible’s Doubting Thomas encounter with Christ, “Many people, Christians included, struggle to accommodate the spiritual and supernatural dimensions of reality as normal and natural….Why?  Because of how we see things, how we view reality in terms of  our material consciousness….It is a classic clash of two realities, two worlds.  Thomas did not have space in his reality, his frame of reference, for Jesus of Nazareth – the Messianic hope – to die on a cross and then be physically resurrected from the grave.”

Before Thomas saw the resurrected Lord, his reality was based firmly in the natural world that struggled to grasp the spiritual and supernatural reality of God’s Kingdom.  Afterward, his reality was based firmly in the supernatural.  When faced with God’s Reality, he brought his small, flawed reality into alignment with God’s.

Prior to going to Brazil on 2007,  our reality did not include the spiritual and supernatural Reality of God.  Our reality was small and had been molded by a denomination blinded by a prideful and intellectual reality that did not welcome the supernatural truth of God.  But in Brazil, we came face-to-face with God’s Reality.  We saw people healed (including myself of allergies) and people delivered of evil spirits.  Just like seeing the resurrected Christ changed Thomas’ world, seeing the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit changed our world.  No longer were we content to force God to conform to our worldview. 

We believed that Jesus still used his followers to heal, to cast out demons, to prophesy, to speak in God’s language and raise the dead (even before the trip) but couldn’t fathom that we could be used by the Holy Spirit as instruments to heal others, cast out demons, speak in tongues and prophesy.  That we could walk fully in the Gifts of the Spirit. 

But after spending this past weekend in Wilmington, NC at a Healing and Impartation workshop by Timothy Berry and Global Awakening, we now know that we know that we know we can….and will, walk fully in the Gifts of the Spirit.  Words of Knowledge was given.  Healings took place.  We were prophesized over and given imparations from the Holy Spirit.  We were awed with stories and testimonies of how God is bringing the supernatural power of Christ to the lost and hurting of this world, using followers just like us to do mighty works for Him, and how He wants to use us to do those same mighty works.  

Now that “we know that we know that we know”, we are confronted with the real challenge….doing.  There are no more excuses.  Our eyes have been completely opened.  God knows this and he will raise His expectations accordingly for our lives.  What an exciting, and downright scary, humbling realization!   

We were willing to change our reality in order to experience God in a greater way so that we can walk fully in His supernatural ways to bring Mercy, Grace, Hope, Love, Power, Healing and Deliverance to this lost and hurting world.  It’s not easy to give up our worldly, materialistic reality…but it’s essential if we are to grow, become more Christ-like and be used in a greater way for God.  

So what will you do when confronted with the Reality of God?  Stick your head in the sand, cling desperately to your worldly reality and refuse to yield, or will you release your reality so that God’s Reality can become your reality?  It’s your choice.  Deny it or submit to it?   

 

 

The Gospel for Brazil Caravan will once again be rocking south in June to share the mercy, grace, love and hope of Jesus Christ with the Brazilian folks that inhabit the northeast desert region.  For Christy and I, it will mark our fifth trek south.  Brazil and her people have become a part of our souls, and we feel honored and blessed to be able to do God’s work in, and for, Brazil. 

Along with placing a passion for Brazil in our souls, God has also given us a passion for Missions and the Great Commission.  Christ commands us clearly to fulfill the Great Commission by going into all the world to tell everyone about the Truth and Gospel of Jesus Christ .  As Christians, we should be fervently doing the business that Christ has given us to do but unfortunately most Christians in America believe the Great Commission is really just a suggestion that they can conveniently disregard if it doesn’t fit into their brand of Christianity or busy, unfruitful lives.  Instead of Missions being the priority, it’s often overlooked completely.

So instead of complaining about the church’s lack of regard for Missions, Christy and I have made it a priority to get everyone we can passionate and excited about Mission work and fulfilling the Great Commission through Gospel for Brazil.  We feel that God doesn’t just want us to go but he wants us to take others with us, helping fuel their passion for serving God and reaching the lost, and helping them grow into strong disciples.  Every year we go, we want to bring someone new with us that has never had the honor of serving God in the mission field.  It’s a life changing experience that will take you to a new spiritual level where you can become dangerous for God (if you allow it too.)

And that’s why we are so pumped and excited – not only are Christy, Garry (third trip) and I going but we have four more people joining us for this year’s journey south.  AWESOME!!!   Adam, Danielle, Eron and Michael are coming with us and all (except Danielle) are “newbies” to the international mission field.  What an honor and blessing it will be to mentor them over the next four months, and to do God’s work side-by-side with them.  What excites us even more is the fact that they all have a heart for serving God, and are seeking to take their faith to a new level….and they will.

So please begin praying for the Savannah Gospel for Brazil Jesus Caravan as we all begin to prepare our hearts, minds, souls, spirits and bodies for our trip in June.  Pray that a hedge of protection and God’s Holy Angels will surround and protect us from the schemes of our Enemy, that all Passports and Visas will be received without issues, that the Holy Spirit will give us all fresh anointings, rising up in our spirits to prepare us for the work ahead, and that we will all grow in our Spiritual Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit.  Additionally, pray for all going (approx. 14 from Wilmington). 

There’ll be more postings to come so please stay tuned….

Christy and I have known some very dark times financially.  For a long time, we were held captives by the financial demons of this world.  They were always present, hounding us and beating us down. 

One of those financial demons was a local collection agency that represented an integrity-challenged chiropractor I had been visiting.  He had overcharged me out the ying-yang, and when the car insurance of the person that hit me wouldn’t pay, he went after us as if the $800 was $8 million.  The collection agency lived up to the “low-life” stigma that so many collection agencies carry.  I basically told them that I wasn’t paying a dime unless a judge ordered me too. 

Well….we had our day in court, and the judge did just that – ordered us to pay.   The judge was not very happy with the agencies, and would have loved to have socked-it-to-em but couldn’t….because of a stupid technicality.  The blasted technicality reared its ugly head and bit us.   Anyway, I regress….

So, when Christy came home last night and told me that she had won some gift cards at a meeting she attended, I was thrilled.  We thanked God for the blessing, and were grateful for our God’s good favour. 

However, when I looked at one of the gift cards valued at $100, I couldn’t help but laugh, and thank God for the vindication, even though small.  Yep, you guessed it!  The gift card she won was from the same local collection agency that went to war with us all those years ago. 

Ha!  Ha!  Spending this one is gonna be extra sweet!  You just gotta love God’s sense of humor!

Since he was a little fellow running around on a Pee Wee League football field, Colt McCoy had a passion, a dream, to one day play for a National Championship wearing a  Texas Longhorns jersey.  In 2009, he came within seconds of having that opportunity but his defense let him down.  So, instead of going pro last year, he stayed for his Senior season for one more chance at bringing that elusive National Championship back to Austin. 

Finally, after thirteen wins versus no losses, he had his opportunity to play for the  title he had dreamed about since he was  a young gunslinger.  No more waiting, no more wanting, just time to make it happen.  His moment was now….and it lasted all of five plays.

On that fifth play, he rolled left and was hit hard from behind on his right, throwing shoulder.  He quickly got up but immediately realized something was wrong.  It was as if his arm had gone to sleep.  Off the field he ran, and just like that, the dream he had had since a young boy was over.  He wouldn’t come back into the game.

Personally, I don’t pull for either Texas or Alabama, and didn’t really care who won.  If they had both lost (if somehow possible), that would have been fine with me.  Nor was I a Colt McCoy fan.  But that was before he gave his post-game interview on the field after his National Title had vanished before his eyes.

Watching him speak about his faith, and about His God (our God)  being bigger than any setback was a powerful testimony to this kid’s character.  It would have been easy to be bitter and throw himself a pity-party on national TV but he didn’t.  He gave God the glory.  He didn’t say this but I believe inside he knew that if Jesus could overcome being brutally crucified on a cross for the sins of others, then he could surely overcome the death of a worldly dream.

If I had been faced with the same trial at his age, I definitely wouldn’t have had the grace and spiritual maturity to handle it like he did, and I definitely wouldn’t have been talking about God.    So, thanks Colt for putting a game into its proper prospective and reminding us that we worship a God bigger than any injury, failure or set-back that this world and satan can throw at us.

Why is it that the more I read about, study and “practice” the Gifts of the Spirit and setting the spiritual captives free through the casting out of demons (deliverance), the more I am drawn to the Fruit of the Spirit – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience (Longsuffering), Kindness and Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness (Meekness) and Self-Control?  For every book I read about the Gifts and Deliverance, I am reading one about Love and the Fruit of the Spirit.

Paul tells us in God’s Word that we are to earnestly seek the best Gifts and strive to use them to the glory of God to set the spiritual captives free, bring salvation to the lost and healing to the sick and hurting but he also states that Love, not the worldly kind but Christ-like Love, is greatest of all and what every disciple must have in order to live lives pleasing to God, and make a real difference for His Kingdom.  Walking in the Gifts without Love and mature, Christ-like Fruit is nothing more than a spiritual parlor trick that is used to glorify ourselves and build ourselves up.  However, when we earnestly seek to grow mature, good Fruit AND walk in the Gifts, then we will become dangerous for Christ.  Christ requires a balance, and once we strike that balance, then people will be drawn to the Spirit within you, they will seek Truth, they will be freed from their spiritual bondage and they will be healed of their physical, emotional and mental diseases. 

So….why is it that the more I read about, study and “practice” the Gifts of the Spirit and setting the spiritual captives free through the casting out of demons (deliverance), the more I am drawn to the Fruit of the Spirit?  Simple…it’s because I was out-of-balance in my spiritual walk.  I was so focused on being anointed with and walking in the Gifts that I ignored my growth in the Fruit.  Granted, God has grown the Fruit within me over that last several years but in order for Him to use me as He would like, I have to grow even more, seeking to become more Christ-like in every aspect of my life and my character.

And this is the challenge for all of God’s children – earnestly seek the Gifts of the Spirit AND grow good, mature Fruit of the Spirit.  One without the other will lead us in a circle right back to the state of Lukewarmness where the church currently resides here in America.  God hates this place, and it mocks the sacrifice that Christ offered up to humanity.  The time has come for me, for us, to unleash the Power (Gifts) and Love (Fruit) of the Spirit into our families, our communities, our churches, our states and our country.  It’s time for us to become dangerous.

So…do you know your enemy?  If not, you better get to know him because he has come to kill, steal and destroy everything good in your life….your marriage, your family, your happiness, your joy, your peace, your hope, your faith and your love.  He wants desperately to steal your soul for eternity,  keep you in spiritual bondage, keep you depressed, oppressed and useless to God. 

So…do you know your enemy? 

My best friend since childhood doesn’t, and his life, his marriage and his family is being destroyed by the enemy.  He’s not a christian and the enemy is keeping his soul dead and condemned, and taking his family with him.  One of my good friends doesn’t, and she’s depressed, full of anxiety, full of guilt, condemnation and fear.  She thinks the enemy is a fairy tale.  She is still a baby in her faith after 20 years.  She’s a Christian but the enemy is the same.  Another person close to me doesn’t know the enemy either.  His life has been full of destructive addictions, torment and torn relationships.  He professes Christ but he is running from God.  He doesn’t realize it.  That’s how blind the enemy has made him.

So…do you know your enemy? 

The American church tells everyone they do.  But most don’t.  They distort the Gospel, they live by religious rituals and legalistic laws, they cling to false doctrines and dominational cliques and quench the Spirit.  They allow homosexuals to run their churches, turn a blind eye to the  thousands and thousands of unborn children killed each year, vote for politicians that are hell-bent on removing all traces of God from our society,  cater to their country club congregations at the expense of the world’s lost and hurting, and bow to our government and status quo to protect their money and worldly kingdoms.  I could go on and on but what I really want to know is….

Do we know who our enemy really is?

Seeking God and striving to be more Christ-like is a continual process that doesn’t end on December 31st of each year and begin anew on January 1st.   No, for a person that is a geniune follower of Christ, our spiritual journey isn’t dictated by a worldly calendar.  However, bidding adieu to the year past and welcoming in a new year provides a momentary pause to reflect on where you have been in your walk with Christ, and in which direction to continue. 

For us, two thousand and nine was a blessed year that saw us both make major breakthroughs spiritually.  We found a great, Spirit-filled church where the fullness of Christ is on display to call home, we began growing in our prayer language, we confronted some areas of our lives that needed some spiritual spring cleaning, we became a part of a great Life Group seeking to be used by God in a dangerous way, we made another trip to Brazil with Gospel for Brazil, and God began giving us some revelation and insight into how we are going to be used for Him to reach lost souls and minister to the hurting and pain-filled of this world.    It was a good year, and we are grateful to our Lord for his favour in our lives.

Moving forward in the new year, our focus, our desire is to become dangerous for Christ by beginning to walk  fully in the Gifts of the Spirit that God has given to us, and to grow the seeds of our faith into a spiritually mature tree that yields good Fruit that can be used to set the spiritual captives free and bring the hope, love, peace and joy of Christ into the lives of others.  It sounds simple but we know we have many miles to go, and being  used by Him requires discipline, and at times, sacrifice.  We have to seek Him with a single-minded focus, and strive to be Christ-like with all of our being.  But we are hungry and not content to stay where we are in our walk with God.  We want more….we need more! 

So let’s get back to work!

P.S.  Happy New Year!!!  We hope it is a blessed, Spirit-filled year for you and your family, and we hope that God will work mightily in and through you, even if it means stretching you beyond what  makes you comfortable.