Monday, January 25, 2010

"Power Outages" and "Unanswered Prayer"

Two and a half hours ago power went out in our home...actually, it was out for our entire block on our street. I immediately placed a power outage call to the power company (Jersey Central Power and Light...or, JCP&L). It took about an hour and an half for the repair truck to show up outside our house, but that's still a great response time! When that truck showed up I posted a Facebook comment, "Now, if only some answers to prayer would manifest this quickly!" About 5 minutes ago (after the utility repairman working on the problem for about 45 minutes in hurricane force winds standing in a bucket on the end of a hydraulic arm about 25 ft. off of the ground) the power came back on, and I posted the comment, "Power is restored!"

I want to comment further on both of my previous FB posts regarding the answers to prayer and power being restored. I feel strongly about both of these issues, and I also feel that there is much doctrinal error concerning both of these in the Church today.

My thought this morning was, "Oh, no...the power is out! What do we do now? My laptop only has a few minutes of battery power, my connection to the Internet is completely dependent upon the power being on, the stove is gas but the igniter is electric, the refrigerator won't hold the cold...", etc., etc. My cousin just wrote to me as a reply to my FB comment about the power being out, "In my house that's cause for panic!" Yes, I agree completely...the knee-jerk reaction to a power outage IS panic! It's a scary thing to have the power go out, to hear the howling, gusting wind outside, to see and hear the driving rain beating on the windows! But my observation and following question is this..."The power has 'gone out' in the Church and the wind is howling and the storm is raging...why isn't anyone overly concerned about this?" While there may (or maybe not!) have been a spiritual "panic" at first, we seem to have gotten used to getting by with candles (religion) and flashlights (our own attempts to provide power). Communication certainly isn't working (between pastors and pastors, pastors and people, people and pastors, people and people, and EVERYONE and GOD), the answers to prayers aren't manifesting (probably due to the breakdown in communication), and the "food" that is being served in many churches isn't even reheated's cold “take-out”, generic, and it may have been relevant for the pastor's study or for times past, or at best it is doctrinally correct but practically and relationally irrelevant, out of touch with where people truly are in their lives (because the pastors/preachers are out of touch with the people (see my previous note for more on this...shepherds should smell like the sheep, otherwise they are simply "professional preachers" who may be great orators but are lousy pastors). And people still live with their problems, they still go to church, they still stand up and sit down on command, they still accept that nothing can (or will) be done except to continue "business as usual" (which is a putrefying concept for the Church of Jesus Christ!)

So, the problem(s) remain...Where has the 'power' gone in our lives and in our churches? Why aren't more people (pastors?!) concerned about this? When is God going to send us shepherds that truly will shepherd the flock? When will the Church STOP being satisfied with unanswered prayer and powerlessness, and stop trying to make up for these deficiencies with high-powered, secular, business organization/management solutions, candles, flashlights, spiritual-gasoline-powered generators (religion, human effort and reasoning, bigger is better, etc.)? I'm not advocating a full-blown panicking, but maybe a little panic over this situation would do us some GOOD here! Why don't our prayers seem to get any higher than bouncing off of the brassy heaven above our heads? Why doesn't God come as quickly as JCP&L did to fix the problem(s)?

I don't buy into the "Word of Faith" teaching that if the prayers we pray aren't answered (or don't seem to be answered, or aren't manifested) by God then there's something wrong with US...we didn't pray with ENOUGH FAITH! That is nothing but condemning, guilt producing, legalistic trash. I'm NOT suggesting that instead of US being the problem that there must be something wrong with God. I AM saying, though, that there is something wrong with the teaching that there must ONLY be EITHER something wrong with us OR God, and it certainly isn't God. There are other factors in prayer that the "name it and claim it" camp totally disregard. Such factors include God's timing, our timing, other people (vacationers pray for sunshine, farmers pray for rain, etc.), selfishness, pride, our inability/unwillingness to deal with uncomfortable situations and God's desire to disciple us THROUGH such times, etc., etc. I simply refuse to believe and practice that if I ask for something in prayer then believe it enough that God is obligated to give it to me! I also reject the notion that if I REALLY had "true" faith, I wouldn't have to ask for something again...asking again would mean I didn't have enough faith for it the first time I asked. Once again, this is religious, guilt producing rubbish.

I am extremely confident (not proudly arrogant, but well-grounded and humbly confident) in my relationship and fellowship with the Lord. Because of this, I CAN ASK these questions KNOWING that I am NOT in a faith-deprived state when I ask them! Faith that our God loves us, cares for us, provides for us, etc., drives us DEEPER into Him, causes us to SEEK Him in-and-through our questions and unsolved problems. I believe that religionists and doctrinalists are more upset by our questions than God is! I believe God delights in them! He sometimes purposefully allows and even prompts us to question Him, knowing it will draw/drive us closer TO Him! I do know some who allowed themselves to go in the opposite direction and they forsook God because He didn't answer them as they wanted Him to...but I also have the confidence that God will bring them back to Him! He will reveal Himself to them and show them that His existence, His love, His providence, His care for them (and us) does NOT depend upon whether WE experience Him as we would like to. He remains God, and His will for us is still that we do not live under condemnation, and in this case it would be the condemnation of even ourselves, and that of religionists and modern day Pharisees who would teach and preach that God MUST answer our prayers otherwise we simply are not asking with enough faith. If THAT WERE the Truth, I'd leave Christianity behind as well.

So, where do we go from here with this? I wish I knew and could write down the formulas for assured answered prayer and continued unlimited power in the Church. (Actually, I don’t wish this…I literally hate scripted, religious formulas! I believe God does, too! I counsel you to literally RUN from anyone who proposes such formulas to you.) The Word of God gives us insight into these things, but it was NEVER meant to be such a formula or set of formulas to “success” or “great faith”. It WAS meant to reveal God's character to us, His unfathomable love for us TO us, and to lure/entice/call/set us on a JOURNEY of LIFE and FAITH seeking Him, finding Him, following Him, realizing our further need for Him, questioning Him, seeking Him, finding Him, following Him, realizing our further need for Him, questioning Him, seeking Him, finding Him…etc., etc.

I do not propose answers here...only questions. But I sincerely believe that it is IN our questions, and as the questions drive us to seek Him more desperately, that God WILL make Himself known to us. The Christian life is a JOURNEY of living by faith and then constantly reevaluating what that faith is! It is a constant seeking and finding of God, not that He's playing hide-and-seek with us, but that He is constantly drawing us, through our questions, desperation and seeking, from faith to faith, from glory to glory. When will we finally understand fully? The Bible is very clear on this..."when we see Him we will fully know Him, even as now we are fully known by Him." While I live in this earth and in this body, I know that I will NEVER EVER find or know Him completely. I will ALWAYS have questions, see and experience "power outages" in both my life and in the Church. I pray that the Holy Spirit will ALWAYS cause or prompt an immediate "panic" in my spirit over these things! I pray that such “panic” will prompt me to first examine myself, then to speak the truth in love over myself and others, and that we all have humble and contrite hearts before our holy God and come to Him in sincere repentance for how we missed Him. Then I pray God will KEEP me (and us) in the palm of His Hand and under the shadow of His wings even if/when I (we) don't feel Him and when I don't understand Him (or myself!). I KNOW that God will ALWAYS answer that prayer in the affirmative, and will manifest the realization of that to me (us) in His timing.

Friday, November 6, 2009

What's Wrong With Me?

It's almost 4:00 a.m., and I have tossed and turned for almost 4 hours now, sleep has eluded me for most of this entire night. I have not been able to get eternity out of my mind. I have not been able to stop thinking that Jesus could return this very night. I have not been able to able to stop pondering the day that has past, asking the Lord how I could have served Him better, and asking Him to please give me another opportunity to do better tomorrow. I have confessed my sins of this past day and pleaded the blood of Jesus over them...sins of thought, word, and deed...both of commission and omission. The scripture runs through my mind tonight over and over, "Watch, therefore, for you do not know at what hour your master will return...", and I examine my heart over and over to make sure I'd be ready, that the oil in my "lamp" is filled for His coming. I have visions of angels and elders worshiping around the throne of God and I sing quietly with them (so as to not wake my wife as she sleeps), "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord. Worthy is the Lamb!". I weep before Him without even knowing why...I just know I'm in His presence and I don't want to leave. No, I don't even want to go to sleep and miss any of this.

What is wrong with me? Is any of this normal? I would have to say that it is definitely not! There is something stirring inside of me that is telling me that God is up to something. There is a move of God coming that is going to shake first the Church, then the world. I say that it will shake the Church because the Church, for the most part, IS SLEEPING!...which is what would be considered completely normal in today's world. Perhaps that's why I CAN'T sleep. I wrote yesterday that, "there must be more than just the same church as usual Sunday after Sunday ritual of 'going to church' and calling it an 'encounter with God'". But it's the "normal-ness" of the Church that is what's wrong in God's eyes and in His heart. We have lost our passion. We aren't kept awake through the night anymore by His Spirit, and it consequently doesn't flow over into our worship services either. We've grown cold to the desires of His heart and seek only what is on our own hearts with our own agendas. This has become "normal" for us. We dole out time for God more strictly than we do for the Yankees or for the Giants or even for Desperate Housewives, and the church service better not go even one minute longer than it's supposed to (or I'll just get up and leave if I have to)! We sit in the "overflow" even when there is still plenty of room in the main sanctuary...what's with that? Why not just stay home and watch the podcast? We have lost the passion of the Spirit. We don't cry out for God anymore. Our services are way too orderly and dignified. Our prayers and sermons are so carefully scripted and timed to the minute and never deviate from the script that the Holy Spirit couldn't get a word in edge-wise even if He showed up in person to do so.

What's wrong with me? Why does all of this bother me so? Why is my spirit so unsettled with all of this? Why am I so abnormal from the majority?

I cannot help the fact that the Lord is revealing all of this to me and convicting me of all of these things about the Church in general. The old sayings certainly fit here..."Don't stone the messenger", and, "If the shoe fits, wear it." I know it is not a popular thing to write all of this. It's not politically correct. But then, neither were the prophets of old. Neither were the apostles who spoke what the Lord revealed in their hearts. I guess, then, neither am I politically correct. Church was never meant to be a politically correct, comfortable place, yet that is what we have made it to be. I am convinced that the term "seeker sensitive" was introduced in the church by the enemy himself as a device of major deception to get our focus off of the true reasons for gathering together as the body of Christ. We are to stir ourselves up in the Spirit, to fervently and intimately worship the Lord corporately in spirit and truth, and be stirred, challenged to repent, grow, mature, and urgently be ready for Christ's imminent return. We are then to be charged with the urgent responsibility of going into the world with this gospel of God's love to spread His Kingdom to others. We are to expect nothing less than revival, the shekinah glory of the Lord to fill the house, every time we gather together. We are to leave church saying, "do we have to leave already? Can't we stay for another hour?", rather than, "isn't it time to go yet?" Does this sound like what you experience week after week in church? Is undignified revival breaking out on a regular basis? Or is there more emphasis on quieting and removing any distractions?

What's wrong with me? I still can't go to sleep. This stuff still won't leave me alone. Lord, send REVIVAL anyway and mess all up all of our dignified, keep people happy, order of services! Let it be a Holy Ghost spontaneous church that lasts for DAYS and WEEKS at a time, round-the-clock, without one minute of it being scripted! Mess us up good, Lord. Amen!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Prophetic Word - Pastor Ed's Confirmation of God's Calling Him to Missionary Service

Prophetic Word - Pastor Ed's Confirmation of God's Calling Him to Missionary Service

During my mission trip to Romania (Sept. 17-30, 2009) I participated in a Worship & Prayer Ministry Night at Betania Romanian Pentecostal Church in the city of Targu Mures, Romania, on the night before I left to return home to the States (Tues., Sept. 29). What a powerful night of experiencing the presence of the Lord that was! Along with flowing in expressing my worship through my electric guitar as part of the worship team (truly a desire of my heart!), I was also honored with the opportunity to preach and encourage the congregation that night in the Word of the living God. During the prayer ministry time following the preached word, I personally laid hands on and prayed with many, many of those in attendance that night. Before the evening ended, Brother Jon Nairn, a minister of the Gospel (from Australia!) who mightily flows in the gifts of the words of knowledge, wisdom, and prophecy, called me over to himself, where the following prophetic word was spoken by the Spirit through him (also attached as an audio file). I receive this word, and share it publicly with everybody here, as confirmation of God's missionary call on my life and ministry. If you listen to the audio file you will notice and hear that it is also being translated into Romanian as Brother Jon is speaking it.

Jon:(addressing the congregation)

I'm going to do something right now in the Spirit...I want you all to reach your hands out to this brother here tonight. I want you to reach out. This is not like we're visitors in this place. But this is as if we are family together, joined arms, as the Body of Christ. I ask that someone get a piece of paper and start writing this down. (someone did record this on his cell phone and sent me the audio file)

Jon: (speaking prophetically over me...I could not stand during this, as I fell in the spirit)

Hallelujah, hallelujah, thank you, Lord, thank you, Lord. I've been sitting on this for about four days, brother. Hallelujah. I want to tell you tonight that God is bringing you into a place of specialized ministry. You would know from the Word of God that there was a special anointing oil that the priest used. This wasn't common anointing oil, but special oil. It was that of special ingredients that were used. And God has brought together the different aspects and stories of your life, the times of difficulty and times of joy, the times of gaining of wisdom and understanding. And it's in this hour that He is bringing forth the oil from your life. This is a special oil that will be ministered into the Body of Christ, and it will be ministered into the international arena. And you will be imparting something that is of a specialty and uniqueness through the Spirit of God into hearts. And in the past you have cried out and said, "Lord, why, why these times, why these trials? Why did you take me through these events? Why did you allow me to learn that?" But the Lord has been bringing together all these things to create a vessel that is going to call forth the anointing oil that will release, heal, restore, and create. Don't be afraid of the future. Some things you have laid as foundations in your life. Through experiences you have laid some foundations. And you think, "they help me in my strength". But God is about to remove them because He knows that you are founded on His Son. You are going to come into a time of freedom and release in ministry that you have never known or experienced before and the ministry that you will carry will be infectious, and people are going to be drawn to you. And you know on that day you're going to look over your shoulder, brother, and you're going to see many, many sons and daughters released into effective ministry in Jesus. Praise God.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Be Ready!

Of all the "end times" debates (rapture? no rapture? tribulation? no tribulation? anti-Christ? pre/mid/post/pan/non-millenium rapture/tribulation? etc.), there is one abiding fact that must be reckoned with: Jesus IS coming back. This is certain. The one thing the Bible is absolutely clear about without ANY disagreement by any theologian, scholar, church, or denomination: YOU MUST BE READY for His coming. Hiding your head in the sand like an ostrich simply because you say you don't believe in the coming of the Lord will not stave off the dire consequences any less than the ostrich will become lion food for his actions! How silly are children who hide under the protection of their bed sheets from monsters lurking in their bedrooms, as if their bedsheets could protect them if the monsters were real? Perhaps that is why so many think they can hide under the same bedsheets of ignorance today, because the bedsheets of their childhood seemed to work all too well at protecting them from the imaginary monsters, and God is, to them, nothing more than an imaginary monster who wants nothing more than to cast them into the pit of hell. Oh, the pity of it all when in the end the Truth will be clearly seen and fully known...the Love of God provided Jesus to bear such a hell in their place and to be the true substitution and protection for them from that horrible destiny, from that very real monster. This is the same Jesus Who is now alive forevermore, Who WILL CERTAINLY return for His own, for those who look for His appearing, those who love Him, those who trust in Him and come to God through Him. When will He come? Nobody knows the day or the hour, but we DO know the season is upon us. It could be today. Nothing else matters about any of the other details of the end times, really. Only this...HE IS COMING BACK. ARE YOU READY? Are you living for eternity now, or are you only living for now? Well, if you're not ready, maybe all that other stuff really does matter after all.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." John 3:16-21 NKJV

"But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." Luke 12:39-40 NKJV

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Child-like faith...

I prayed with a 9-yr. old boy this morning who came to the altar for prayer for his mom. He said his mom needed love. After a minute of gently talking with him, I anointed his hands with oil, and with tears in my own eyes I prayed for his own child-like faith to be so empowered that as he went home and laid hands on his own mother, with the simple words, "Mom, Jesus loves you, and so do I", that the uncontainable, gushing over, overwhelming love of God would overflow from God and into that little boy's mom. He then asked me a really honest, straight-forward question, right there at the altar! "Pastor, how do you know this will happen?" I simply told him, "...Because I know the prayers of children are special to God and He hears you believe and trust that God heard you when you just asked him to give your mom more love?" (he quickly and definitely said "Yes!")...(I continued telling him...) "...and you are a child of God with more faith than many people who are much older and even pastors in the church today. Now you just go home, put your arms around your mom and just love her, and share Jesus' love with her, and He will touch her heart through you believe that?" He said, "Yes, I believe that He will!" I was the one who needed the box of tissues after that! Yes, child-like faith..."Let the children come unto me, do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Emotionally drained, but God is my strength and is in complete control!

The past two weeks have been extremely busy and very emotional for me and my family. We had been joyfully anticipating the birth of our 7th grandchild. The phone call we received two Sundays ago was not from that daughter, however, but from our youngest daughter. We had not been previously aware that she, too, was pregnant! But this was not a pleasant phone call to receive. She was calling to let us know that the pregnancy was ectopic (not forming in the correct place) and had to be removed immediately, as her own life was endangered by it. We traveled to southern New Jersey (90 miles) to be with her and her husband (and 2 young daughters) through several days of doctor visits, hospital waiting rooms, surgery for her, and recovery at home. The emotional scars are still deep. We got home very, very late on Tuesday night, exhausted physically and emotionally. Two days later we received the call from our other daughter...come back to southern New Jersey...the labor process has begun...our 7th grandchild was making his entrance into the world! My wife, Lauretta, and I retraced the same travel route we had just been on earlier in the week, and were at our daughter's side before lunch time that day! After an intense day of labor, Maxwell Edward Hodges was born on Aug. 27, at 7:12 p.m. What joy! But, with our youngest daughter, Lisa, still in our hearts (we also were spending the night with Lisa), the tremendous joy at Max's birth was tempered somewhat by the sadness and empathy we shared with Lisa and her family.

Another week went by, and we got the phone call from my brother that his wife's mother had died. Early this past Saturday morning (6:30 a.m.) we drove to Scranton, Pennsylvania, (2.5 hours), for the funeral service, and to spend the day with my brother's family. That night we drove from Scranton, PA, all the way to southern New Jersey again (the very same town we had been to two separate times during the previous week), over 200 miles one-way! This trip was to be there for my son, Chris's, celebration of his 33rd birthday (he was actually BORN on LABOR DAY back in 1976 !! How ironic is that?). We spent Saturday night with his family, went to church the next morning with my entire family (all three children, all of their spouses, and all 7 grandchildren), and then went back to Chris' house for an all-day BBQ and family celebration. Lauretta and I then drove back to our home in South Amboy, New Jersey, late last night (Sunday), and we literally collapsed from exhaustion!

As you can see, we have been on an emotional roller coaster during the past two weeks. Our faith is strong, and our God is in control!

Today, Lauretta is spending her last day of summer preparing for her first day of work in a new school district tomorrow! She is an elementary school Media Specialist, and will be working in the East Brunswick Public School District.

I am now turning my prayers, thoughts, and energy towards preparing for my upcoming trip to Romania (Sept. 17-30).

I want to thank EVERYONE who has joined the Facebook Group, "Help Bring Pastor Ed Fernandez to Romania !!"  (Click Here)  for all of your prayers and support! You are such a GREAT ENCOURAGEMENT to me! When I was in Romania in May I was the one who accompanied another pastor in his mission there. This time I am coming by is the vision that God gave to me personally. I need to constantly be reminded of all of your friendship and your excitement for the vision that God has put on my heart for Romania. You are more valuable than finances. You are the very confirmation the God writes on my heart that what I am doing is exactly what He wants me to do. Also know that I am extremely grateful for the financial donations that have been given so far. I know God is a God who meets every need, even to fulfilling the desires of our own hearts when our desires are His desires within us! I will still need continued financial support, so please continue to pray about your participation in this ministry.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this...I know it was very long, but I wanted you to hear my heart and know the cares that have been on my heart as I prepare for my visit to you in Romania. I also want you to feel my excitement and anticipation to see what God will do, how our own eyes will see His miracles!

Please write back! You can reply to this discussion, or you can send e-mail (, or you can become my Facebook "friend" and send a message there. I eagerly await hearing from all of you!

God be with you and direct all of your steps!

- Pastor Ed Fernandez

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mission to Romania - On the FRONT Burner Right Now !!

Please partner with me in spreading the Gospel in Romania!

I had always thought that I, being an ordained pastor for the past 30 years, presently an ordained minister in the Assemblies of God, would spend my entire life ministering as a pastor in a local congregation. For the past 4 years God has been testing me, stretching me, growing me, maturing me, literally filing off the very rough and ragged edges of my pride, teaching me humility and submission as I have never understood it before, and developing the fruit of compassion within me. I have been waiting for Him to open the door to a pastoral ministry position in a local congregation, but that is simply not happening as I expected it to. Instead, God is now placing a burden on my heart for the mission field, something that even 6 months ago I would have said was a crazy idea! I believe God is bringing me into a new season and a new area of ministry. After my church sponsored teaching mission trip to Romania this past May, God literally "hooked" my heart for that country, its people, its pastors, and its churches. I am now learning the Romanian language and have at least 15 FaceBook "friends" from Romania with whom I correspond regularly (some I even video conference with using Skype!).

It is now my God-given vision that I will be making at least 3 trips to Romania each year, some for more than a month or more in duration. (Each trip will cost approx. $2000, which I am hopeful can be raised through faithful supporters and my own work towards this amount.) The burden on my heart is for the Romanian Pentecostal churches and pastors as they seek to follow God's call to spread the Kingdom of God and His mercy and grace in their congregations and communities, as well as to help plant brand new churches in areas where there are no Pentecostal congregations. I look forward to seeing God unfold before my very eyes how I can be of service to Him and them in Romania. Will you pray about helping me raise these funds for this important mission ministry? If you are a pastor, will you prayerfully consider presenting this to your board to consider supporting me as one of your congregational missions giving ministries each month? Make no mistake about it...I will go whether the funds are raised or not, as I believe God has put this on my heart that strongly. I'll just find some way to get there.

I know I will need to raise about $6000 per year for my mission trips to Romania (the first of which is coming up Sept. 17-30). Of course, I will gratefully receive tax deductible donations, but I am also willing to work for this cause as well. Do you have a computer that's giving you problems? Need programs installed or a home network set up? I can help you! Help me spread the Gospel in Romania! Write to me for details!

For any who are so called and interested, the tax-deductible 501(c)3 non-profit corporation that I am ministering under in any and all of my missionary endeavors is, "River of Life Ministries". All checks should be made payable to "River of Life Ministries", and either given to me personally or mailed to me at: 284 Fourth St., South Amboy, NJ, 08879, USA. You will receive a tax-deductible receipt of your contribution as a record of your giving for your tax purposes. I also have the blessing and covering of my pastors and the deacon board at Evangel Church in Scotch Plains, NJ, as I seek to follow God's missionary call on my life and ministry.

I will post updates on my missionary travel plans, as well as progress and ministry reports with photos (and possibly videos) following each trip.

Thank you so much! May God richly bless you!

Pastor Edward Fernandez

My thoughts on worship...

September 14, 2009


(This is for my friend Neil Kovak's ministry, "The Fishers of Men Music Ministry" ... become a fan today!  Click Here!)

Before you read any of the following article below, let me first say that although there were no guitars (acoustic, electric, or bass), no amplifiers, no effects (reverb, chorus, distortion, delay, wah, etc.), and no keyboards (pianos, synths, etc.) in any of what follows, I sincerely believe that all of the aforementioned, wonderful instruments are very pleasing to the Lord and are mightily used by Him in praise and worship today! (Oh, yeah, I didn't mention horns, flutes, and drums because they actually did exist in ancient Biblical times...yea for horns, flutes, and drums, too!). Now, where did I put that harp and lyre?

Although the prohibition against images (Deuteronomy 20:4) prevented Israel from developing an impressive tradition of visual art like the Greeks, music played a central part in its life. Every facet of its life and every stage of its history were marked by music. Music was present when people greeted each other and said farewell (Genesis 31:27 - "Why did you flee away secretly, and steal away from me, and not tell me; for I might have sent you away with joy and songs, with timbrel and harp?"; and Luke 15:25 - "Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing"), when they married and were buried (Jeremiah 7:34; 48:36), when they went off to war and were welcomed back from it (Judges 20:34; Isaiah 30:32 - "And in every place where the staff of punishment passes, which the Lord lays on him, it will be with tambourines and harps; and in battles of brandishing He will fight with it"). From the least to the greatest, biblical people sang and played instruments (1 Samuel 16:18; Job 30:31). At the everyday level we find romantic songs, working songs, and yes, though unwise in the presence of the Lord, even drinking songs (Isaiah 22:12-13 - "And in that day the Lord God of hosts called for weeping and for mourning, for baldness and for girding with sackcloth. But instead, joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating meat and drinking wine: 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!'"). Major events in the life of the people, such as the exodus from Egypt, conquering the Canaanites, recapturing the ark, dedicating the temple, crowning the king and returning from exile, were celebrated in music and song. Indeed, the Israelites excelled in music, perhaps more than any of their contemporaries, and nowhere more so than in their corporate worship. From the beginning, music and song were at the heart of temple worship (2 Samuel 6:5,14; 1 Kings 10:12; 1 Chronicles 15:15-16), a tradition that continued when the second temple was built (2 Chronicles 29:25; 35:15; Nehemiah 7:1; 12:27-43). The scale on which this took place was impressive (1 Chronicles 15:19-21; 16:4-6,39-42; 23:5-8; 2 Chronicles 5:12-13; Ezra 3:10-11). There were string, wind and percussion instruments. The number of personnel required by this extravaganza and the overwhelming atmosphere of joy and festivity are beautifully captured in several passages (e.g., Psalms 68:24-27; 149; 150). All this is seen as a natural or fitting response to what God has done for his people, whether corporately (Psalms 147:1) or individually (Psalms 13:6; 27:5-6; 71:20-23). This role of music and song was continued in the early church (Acts 16:25; 1 Corinthians 14:14-15,26; Ephesians 4:19; Colossians 3:16).

The evocative image of singing a "new song" appears nine times in the Bible (Psalms 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isaiah 42:10; Revelation 5:9; 14:3). An implied contrast to "old" songs, it is an image of the transformed life of faith, the dynamic, ever-changing nature of a life lived in fellowship with God, and the perpetual renewal of God's mercy in the life of a believer.

Sometimes God or his Spirit is said to be the source of the skills that produce music and song, so that music assumes the quality of a gift and inspiration (Exodus 31:3,6; 35:25; 36:1; 1 Chronicles 15:22; 25:7; 2 Chronicles 34:12; Psalms 33:3). David describes himself as the God-anointed singer of Israel's songs (2 Samuel 23:1). But the Bible also speaks more directly of God as a composer of songs and of the divine wisdom they contain (1 Kings 4:29,32). In Psalms 40:3 David claims that it is God who "put a new song in my mouth" (RSV). Alongside the image of God as lawgiver, therefore, we should place the image of God as musical composer (Deuteronomy 31:19). He is also a performer: his heart "moans for Moab like a flute" (Jeremiah 48:36 RSV), and he exults over Zion "with loud singing" (Zephaniah 3:17).

The book of Revelation can serve as a summary of what music means to the biblical imagination. Trumpets serve a ritualistic purpose of announcing the advent of times of judgment and redemption. References to harps lend an otherworldly atmosphere to the picture of heavenly realms (Revelation 5:8; 14:2; 15:2). Most pervasive of all is the singing of the saints in heaven over their redemption and glory (Revelation 5:12-13; 7:12; 11:17; 14:3; 15:3).

(from Dictionary of Biblical Imagery © 1998 by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA.)

September 12, 2009

"For the battle is not yours, but God's"

2 Chronicles 20:5-22

5 Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court,
6 and said: "O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?
7 Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?
8 And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying,
9 'If disaster comes upon us — sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine — we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.'
10 And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir — whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them and did not destroy them —
11 here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit.
12 O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You."
13 Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord.
14 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly.
15 And he said, "Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you:'Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's.
16 Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel.
17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you."
18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord.
19 Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.
20 So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, "Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper."
21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: "Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever."
22 Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated.

Most of us worship God when things are going well. And while worship can and should be a daily joyful exercise, and also an expression of praise for the Lord’s victories, remember that worship and praise has also been commissioned by God as one of the most powerful weapons in our spiritual arsenal.

So we can learn something from Jehoshaphat. He assigned worshipers to lead the armies into battle- and Israel crushed her enemies! Worship brought forth the victory in the midst of battle! (Well, actually, God did the work of winning the battle, but the victory came THROUGH worship!)

In the midst of your spiritual battle(s), learn the power of praise and the weaponry of worship, to disarm principalities and powers in heavenly places. When fears, doubt, discouragement, and despair threaten to overwhelm you – war against them with praise and worship. Learn to praise Him in the midst of the battle…and soon enough you’ll be praising Him even more, for the victory!

September 10, 2009

"Can't Sleep?"

It's 3:30 a.m. I fell asleep hours ago. But, now I'm awake and can't fall back to sleep. Does anyone else have this "problem" at times? Consider this...

1 Samuel 3:3-10
3 ...and while Samuel was lying down,
4 that the LORD called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!”
5 So he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.”
And he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” And he went and lay down.
6 Then the LORD called yet again, “Samuel!”
So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” He answered, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.”
7 (Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor was the word of the LORD yet revealed to him.)
8 And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD had called the boy.
9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.”

Now, I cannot say that it was the audible voice of God that I heard tonight, or even in times past such as this one, but this I do try to go back to sleep is fruitless. Toss...turn...drift off, but then awaken again...toss...turn...and repeat this until the sun comes up again...why does this happen? It could very well be that you, like me at times, neglected to spend the quality "alone" time with the Lord during the day as we should have, and God, being very jealous for us, is desiring to simply fellowship with me at a time when there are no other distractions! The Word says that God neither slumbers nor sleeps. Sometimes, I feel like I need to remind Him that I need to do both of these! But God's jealousy for me wins out over even my own physical need for sleep. And I know that spending time with God is the best thing I could ever do, at any time of the day or night. He loves me so much and wants to be with me and fellowship with me and be intimate with me, but He's ever so patient with me, that He'll wait until all the distractions of my day, of my mind, are at rest and far away. And, like a lover rolling over with an intimate embrace during the night, He gently calls to me, He whispers my name, He kisses me ever so softly...He longs to spend time with me. As I imagine that it is simply sleep that is evading me, I, in sheer futility and in such human insensitivity, try so hard to fall back to sleep.

Well, like I said earlier, here I sit typing this, now it's 4:00 a.m., and I've just spent about 30 minutes in intimate closeness and fellowship with my God. I know why I couldn't sleep...and I am so glad He awakened me. I am taking these few minutes now, before I do go back to sleep, to tell you of my middle-of-the-night encounter with the living God who loves me. When I realized why it was that I awoke, I said, along with Samuel, "speak, Lord...for I hear You." As I listened, tears filled my eyes. Who is this God that loves me so much? He stopped me in mid-sentence even as I tried to repent of not spending this kind of time with Him earlier. "It's's OK...we're together in My My peace." And He held me close, and I worshiped. I wanted to sing out loud to Him, but I also didn't want to wake my beautiful wife (who really does need her sleep and who will be getting up in about 2 hours from now!). I am sitting at her computer in her office now as I type this to you. My heart and mind are now at rest, and I know that "He Who watches over me neither slumbers nor sleeps", and knowing this makes me even more secure in Him. I love Him so. I will go back to bed now and most surely will worship as I lay there. But this time I'm sure that I will awaken in the morning fully refreshed from my time with God tonight. I am confident that I now will be able to fall peacefully asleep as I am woshiping Him.

Good night, Lord. Good night, everyone else!

September 8, 2009

God’s Grace for Our Worship

God requires, and deserves, perfect worship. We are certainly not capable of that. But the wonderful truth is that God has in Jesus Christ likewise provided for the perfect worship that He requires. Jesus always presents to His Father a perfect offering of worship, and He does so in our place and on our behalf. This is God’s grace for our worship. And as we don’t need to fear that our salvation or our sanctification is ultimately dependent on our own strength and our own efforts alone, so we don’t have to fear whether our worship has been “good enough.” In and of itself, it of course consistently falls pitifully short; but IN CHRIST, as He gathers up our meager efforts into His own perfect offering, our worship is always perfectly acceptable to the Father — not because of its excellence, but because of the excellence of His Son. This also means that, whatever the outward style, form or manifestation of our external worship may be, a marvelously unifying truth is that wherever true worship is taking place, it is doing so because Christ our Mediator and Worship Leader is present in the midst of His people empowering and leading our people. Regardless of the outward trappings of our worship (architecture, dress, music style, etc.) the fact is that there is only ONE way to come to the Father in worship: and that is, through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our Mediator guarantees us full and unfettered access to the presence of the Father. Hence we may speak of worship as a gift of God’s grace. Our standing in Christ and our access through Him enable and empower our grateful praises. “We give Thee but Thine own, whate’er the gift may be.” Worship is our gift to God, in grateful response to all that God has done for us and given to us in Jesus Christ — but only because of His grace for our salvation, for our sanctification, and for our worship.

September. 6, 2009

I was raised in the Lutheran Church (Lutheran Church in America) from birth. After college came seminary (The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia), and following my graduation with a Master of Divinity degree came ordination and pastoral calls to three Lutheran congregations (between 1979 and 1995). Traditional, liturgical, denominational...all important ingredients in my developing a rich appreciation for the hymnody of the church. First was the black hymnal (pre-1958), then came the red hymnal (1958-1978), then the green hymnal (post 1978)...and I had the chants, liturgies, settings, and almost all of the hymns (300+ in each different version) memorized!

OK...enough about my traditional background, I offered all of that simply so that you would appreciate my qualifications to comment on this subject...let's actually get to the subject at hand. "...To Hymn, or Not To Hymn".

There seems to be a tension in evangelical, charismatic, and Pentecostal churches today (maybe even within some denominational congregations as well!) which centers around the genre of music and congregational praise & worship that is used in worship services by pastors and worship leaders. Some use contemporary praise choruses and songs almost exclusively, with the words of the songs being projected on a wall or screen for the congregation to follow along with as they sing. Others use a traditional or even contemporary hymnal, with hymnal racks in each pew or on the back of each chair. Still others combine both of these...contemporary praise and worship songs and traditional hymns, and vary with how they disseminate the words to the congregation (printed bulletins, some projection on screens and some use of hymnals, etc.). Invariably, very few people are completely satisfied by the style of worship that is used at their church! If specifically asked what they would change about the worship service, among the length of the service and the volume of the sound system, the most frequent "complaint" is that the congregation does not sing enough of (or too much of) one of the two styles of worship music expression. In fact, I am regularly asked by congregants, "Can we sing a traditional hymn or two the next time you lead worship?" It is obvious to me that this is an important issue and needs to be addressed!

Which style of worship expression is best? Contemporary? Traditional? Yeah, if I gave you an answer to that you'd accept it anyway!!! Let's be real with each other, OK? Many of the traditional hymns of the church are extremely spiritual, exciting, intimate, scriptural, and are a comfort to those who grew up with them. Many more of them need to be relegated to the "circular file" because they are not scriptural at all and are utterly un-sing-able and would literally kill any atmosphere of worship that was present before that hymn was begun! Yet, the exact same thing could be said about some contemporary praise and worship choruses and songs. So, what criteria should we use?

Let's turn to the Bible and see what it says about the subject...

Ephesians 5:18-21
18 filled with the Spirit,
19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,
20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

Colossians 3:16-17
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

OK...I don't think that anyone would argue with the fact that in these two passages, the "psalms" that Paul refers to are the "scripture songs" that are found not only in the book of "Psalms", but in other places in scripture as well. Psalms are scripture. They are the "songbook" of Israel in the Bible.

Perhaps one of the least understood concepts is what Paul refers to as "spiritual songs" in the above passages. These are utterances of worship, praise, and thanksgiving that are spontaneous, sung "in the spirit", which may be in a known or unknown tongue or language. They may be private (used in personal devotions) or public (used in corporate worship). These "spiritual songs" would be intensely personal, prompted by the Holy Spirit, not rehearsed or previously written, and would be completely appropriate to the personal or corporate worship setting and situational context of the participants.

Well, that's two of the three genres that Paul mentions. Now, what do you suppose he meant by a "hymn". Which specific "hymn" do you think he had in mind? "How Great Thou Art"? or, "Just As I Am"? How about, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus"? The truth is, Paul meant none of these. In fact, there are no "hymns" on record that were written prior to the 17th century! How could Paul have known any of these, then? He couldn't have! So, what is he referring to when he says, "hymns"? Well, he's talking about SONGS used in worship, praise, and thanksgiving, songs which were CONTEMPORARY in his day! These songs were sung, maybe as a "spiritual song" at first, maybe by a songwriter or musician, and then written or learned and repeated in congregational worship. Think about this for a minute...what we consider to be an old "traditional hymn" today was, in fact, a contemporary praise or worship song in its own day! The ONLY thing that differentiates a contemporary praise/worship song of today from a traditional hymn of the past is the TIME PERIOD IN HISTORY in which it was written! To be sure, there are musical differences, tempo differences, subject differences, etc., etc., but in a hundred years perhaps what we consider "contemporary" today will then be considered to be "traditional" at that time!!

So, where do we come out in our quest for "...To Hymn, or Not To Hymn"? It's a matter of personal preference...that's ALL!!! If you grew up with "traditional hymns", then when you hear them or sing them again they will undoubtedly bring back memories for you. That's why you long to sing them again today! But I've met folks who were raised in the church from the time they were children who NEVER heard of hymns at all! Think of it...there are folks out there who have never heard "How Great Thou Art" or "Crown Him With Many Crowns"! Does this mean that they are missing something and are somehow "incomplete" in their worship repertoire? No more than for a contemporary worshiper accusing a traditional worshiper of the same for not knowing the praise song, "I'm Trading My Sorrows"!

I'm wondering why we can't include all of Paul's THREE worship, praise, and thanksgiving genres in all of our congregational worship experiences...not legalistically, but generally! To leave any ONE of them out of our worship of God would be our own loss! Let's not just focus on hymns or contemporary songs. I think the more important question should be, "what about the 'spiritual songs' that we NEVER use"? These are the true "entering in" songs of the heart by each worshiper, each worship leader, each congregation. These songs are like the personal note that you hand write inside of a Hallmark card (in addition to the pre-printed sentiment). Rather than bickering about not enough hymns or too many contemporary songs, I think we should sing more "spiritual songs"! Perhaps then we wouldn't care about the frequency of the other two so much!

September 2, 2009

Let's launch out into the deep in this note, shall we? Let's talk about some things that are very scriptural but also very misunderstood, disavowed, resisted, denied, and even forbidden in the Church. How 'bout "Worship and the Spirit of Prophecy"?

At this point, most denominational pastors and people are saying, "What's that?!". Others are saying, "Oh, no! Not that!" Yet others are thinking, "I've heard of it, but we don't do that here". And then some are saying, "Prophecy passed away long ago with all of the other spiritual gifts."

1 Chronicles 25:1, 3
1 David and the captains of the army separated for the service some of the sons of Asaph, of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, stringed instruments, and cymbals...
3 ...who prophesied with a harp to give thanks and to praise the Lord.

In these verses we see that it was not only acceptable, but intentionally commanded that among the worshipers were those who would prophesy as the harps, stringed instruments, and cymbals were being played. There is also the implication here that the music itself was prophetically inspired!

1 Samuel 10:5-6
5 After that you shall come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is. And it will happen, when you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a stringed instrument, a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them; and they will be prophesying.
6 Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them...

These verses speak of Saul just prior to his being anointed as king of Israel. It is unmistakable that worship, praise, and prophesy are intricately bound together. Not only are prophetic utterances a "natural" part of worship, but musicians themselves can function prophetically as well! By playing with sensitivity to the Spirit, a prophetic musician can "unlock" a worship service and inspire an entire congregation to connect intimately with the Lord. An anointed musical interlude, played spontaneously in the Spirit at the proper moment, can sometimes carry more impact that the spoken or sung word!

Worship has, for too long, been thought of only as what we, the worshipers, offer to God from our hearts. However, worship, like prayer, is an intimate conversation with God. It can't be all that intimate if only one of us is speaking, can it?!! Far too often this is the way the worship service goes:

Fast praise songs, then medium ballad songs, then mellow, intimate songs of worship, followed by the phrase, "You may now be seated", which indicates to all that the worship portion of the service is OVER now and it's time to move on with the PRE-PLANNED AGENDA! What ever happened to flowing in worship, lingering in worship, singing a new song to the Lord from each heart, from each person, allowing the Spirit to move amongst the congregation? It's MISSING from most worship services because we really don't care what God wants, we only care about making sure the service goes according to plan and ENDS on time! Wouldn't it be something if a pastor spent hours and hours preparing a message that, once Sunday morning came and the Holy Spirit really started to flow in intimate, spontaneous worship, he NEVER got to preach because the WORSHIP did not end but took up the ENTIRE TIME!!! How TRAGIC would that be?! Of course I'm being sarcastic here, not to injure anyone but to make a point. The real tragedy is that such a thing NEVER happens in our worship services. Prophecy is God speaking to His people. Prophecy can come from a spoken word in a known or unknown (then interpreted) tongue (thank God that some churches still allow this), but it can and WILL come through music and worship if we submit ourselves to the Spirit of God and allow Him to speak in the midst of our worship! Think of it...God gives us the authority to "allow" Him to speak! If we choose to NOT allow Him to speak, He won't speak. Then we're simply engaging in some nice religious songs. Then our worship isn't really worship at all, because worshiping in Spirit and in Truth acknowledges that God wants to and WILL speak to us as well. It's time that we gave God His due time to speak to us in, through, and during worship! Anything less is truly our loss.

August 31, 2009

In my last note I went through my "Top 10 Reasons to NOT Worship". I suppose from an instructive point of view this wasn't much help except to point out ways that God would NOT pleased with us. I purposely limited my comments to how NOT to worship so that as you read through them you might identify something about YOURSELF in them and be convicted in your own heart by the Holy Spirit. I did not write the "Top 10 Reasons to NOT Worship" so that ANYONE would use them in any accusatory way towards ANY OTHER PERSON! They are to serve as a corrective to the Body of Christ and it is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict of sin so that once convicted the sinner would be literally driven to God's mercy and grace in repentance, asking for and receiving full pardon because of the blood of Jesus! I've said this before, and it bears repeating..."if the shoe fits, wear it".

As I also mentioned in my last note, there really is only ONE reason TO worship. Let me explain...

Isaiah 29:13
...these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their worship of Me is taught by the commandment of men...

God tells us from His Word that our worship of Him MUST come from our hearts, and in order for that to happen our heart MUST be near to His heart. But let's find out from His Word what else must flow from our hearts in order to please God...

Deuteronomy 6:5-6
5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
6 "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.

Here we read that we must LOVE God with ALL our heart, with ALL of our being, NOT just part of it. But how is it possible to love God? Can love really be commanded? Does God really mean, "You'll love me or else!! Love me or I'll destroy you!" Of course not! No more than you can command a wife, or a husband, or a mother, or a father, or your children, or anybody else to love you. So then, how is it that we come to love from our heart? Once again, let's allow God's word to interpret itself...

John 3:16
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.


1 John 3:1
1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!

and, once again...

Romans 5:5
5 ...the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

and, yet, just one more verse...

1 John 4:16-19
16 God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
19 We love Him because He first loved us.

Here is my conclusion, then. Worship is not worked up. Worship is not orchestrated. Worship is not even planned. Worship IS the very Love that IS GOD HIMSELF as He dwells in us. If you do not have the Love of God in you, you are not His, and you CANNOT worship Him. The Love of God, the Spirit of God, the Person of God, all of these living IN you is what makes it even possible to worship God. The Love of God and worship are inseparable. You simply can't have one without the other. Worship FOLLOWS God's Love and is prompted by God's Love in you. Worship becomes your expression of love back to the God Who loved you FIRST! And it is His Spirit in you that even enables you to comprehend this, so it is really His OWN Spirit that is motivating and enabling you to worship HIM.

God IS Love, and He has shed His Love (ALL of His own Self!) abroad in our HEART!!! The Greek word that is used for our English equivalent of "shed" is more like "gushed out, overflowed, poured out to over-filling, burst forth", etc. God's Love first convicts, because that is all it can do in the life of a sinner or non-believer. The conviction of sin, and the remedy of the blood of Jesus, when fully realized (can it EVER be FULLY realized, though?), makes a person realize the length and depth that God was willing to go to in order to save, heal, deliver, and empower him/her. It is ONLY then, AFTER a revelation (something that the human mind is incapable of grasping) of the Love of God in our heart, does that SAME heart want to do nothing less than fall down before the ONE who loved him/her first. When the Love of God is revealed, I don't care what the situation may be at the time, worship in Spirit and Truth WILL follow. Those who won't allow God to reveal the fullness of His love for them in their hearts will usually be very critical of those who do allow it. You'll usually hear statements like this, "it doesn't take all that to worship God", or "I can worship God in my own way, I don't have to be like that", or, "we just don't worship like that here!" Such statements are self-revealing...those who actually make them might as well confess that they simply do NOT have the Love of God in them and they would rather NOT worship God as He desires to be worshiped. I am not saying that any one method is better than any other here. I AM saying, though, that if a person truly knew the Love of God, then the issue of HOW to worship would be a NON-issue. It would be simple...just follow your matter what others think, no matter what others say, no matter what religion or denomination or leadership says.

So, in closing, what is the ONE reason why we DO worship? Because God has gushed out, burst forth, and overflowed His Love in our hearts, and that overflow can't be contained, won't be contained. We express back to God in the best, most sincere, most uninhibited ways that we can, "I love you, Lord". This is magnified exponentially when an entire family truly worships, even MORESO when an entire congregation worships...and yet God desires more..."Thy will be done on earth AS IT IS IN HEAVEN"...

And, here's how it's done in heaven (the way God wants it done on earth, even NOW!)...

Revelation 4:8-11
8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!"
9 Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever,
10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
11 "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created."


Revelation 5:11-14
11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,
12 saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!"
13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!"
14 Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.

How about you? Do you have a revelation of the Love of God, of how much He loves YOU? Only then can you love Him in return...only then can you be a true worshiper. Are you a true worshiper?

August 29, 2009

Top 10 Reasons Why NOT to Worship

a) ...because you "have to". That's legalism, religion, and it's putrid in the nostrils of God. It's not genuine, it's not from your heart, and God doesn't accept it at all. Save your breath, your time can better be used watching a soap opera.

b)...because you'd feel guilty if you didn't worship. That's a lie of the enemy who seeks to get you into condemnation. Again, it's not genuine worship and God doesn't receive it at all. It may soothe your guilty conscience for a while, but all you've done is play the enemy's game, one which is impossible for you to win.

c) ...becaiuse it's Sunday morning and that's what you do on Sunday morning. Stay home and sleep, it will be time better spent. God hates your religion.

d) ...because everybody else is doing it. God is not interested in everybody else (well, He really is, but not as far as YOUR worship is concerned). Conformity is phony. It seeks recognition. Again, it's not genuine, and it's certainly not from your heart. Even if everybody else is sincere in their worship, God will not accept your worship because the intent of your heart is not right before Him.

e) ...becauseyou're in a position of visibility and responsibility in the church, and you need to be a good example for others. Well, you're on the right track, but sorry, no cigar on this one either. Worshiping to prove to others how holy you are or to falsely show them how it's "supposed to be done" when your heart is not in it is, once again, dung to the Lord.

f) ...because the worship team is playing...I feel compelled to sing to support them and let them know they're doing a good job and encourage them. Again, a good humanistic motive, but you missed God's bulls eye by a mile. Trying to encourage others when your heart is far from God is worshiping in the flesh, not in the spirit. More dung.

g) ...because I really like the song that's being played. Hypocrite! Can you worship when it's a song you don't particularly like or even know?

h)...because I'm a worship leader or team's expected of me. Quit. Resign. When your heart is right and duty takes a back seat to intimacy, maybe you'll be qualified to lead again.

i) ...because God wants me to. Again, close but no cigar. God doesn't want your worship, He wants YOU. When He has YOU, He'll have your worship.

j) ...because I can sing or play well. Damnable pride...gets you every time. The scriptures say "make a joyful noise unto the Lord." God would rather have 5 people who have terrible voices worshiping from their heart than 100 people who have professional voices singing only because of the quality of their voice.

That's all for now. This list could go on for many, many more ways to NOT worship God. There really is only one acceptable way to worship God, even though that true worship may take many forms...we'll talk about that next time. If any of the above described you, here's your homework...REPENT, PRAY, HUMBLE YOURSELF, ASK GOD TO REVEAL HIMSELF TO YOU AND SHED HIS LOVE ABROAD IN YOUR HEART. If you do that, you probably won't even need to wait until my next installment on the positive side of "How to..." of worship.

August 27, 2009

Awesome worship last night at Living Waters Christian Center in Mystic Islands, NJ

Lauretta and I spent a wonderful afternoon and had a fabulous dinner with Pastor Steve and Linda Mears in New Gretna, NJ. We then experienced the most intimate, sensitive, and Spirit-led worship that we have in years with their congregation, Living Water Christian Center. No clock, no agenda. Worship, prayer, ministry, and the Word, all as the Holy Spirit spontaneously willed. I'm confident that God's heart was touched, and consequently, everyone was touched by God. Awesome!

August 27, 2009

I came to a new understanding of worship last evening. I always knew this, but it went from my head to my heart of understanding, making a rhema word for me that I'll never forget. I am convicted because last week I wrote to our worship administrator about 4 new songs that were planned for our Sunday morning worship set, which I had myself convinced that it simply wouldn't be conducive to an atmosphere of intimate, relational worship since the congregation would not know the songs. I thought it would be more of a performance than a congregational participation event. I was wrong about that. Sunday came, and the worship was powerful, yet intimate. People entered into the presence of God, even through the new songs. But last night God brought me to even a new place, a higher place with Him, and a more in-depth understanding of how He desires the Church to worship Him corporately. Lauretta and I worshiped with the congregation pastored by our dear friend, Pastor Steve Mears, Living Waters Christian Center in Mystic Islands, NJ (south Jersey shore). His wife, Liinda, was the only worship leader and team member (keyboard, vocals), along with two harmony singers, and there were only 25 people in attendance. We worshiped for well over an hour with absolutely no regard for time, the clock, service agendas, etc. And every song we sung was unfamiliar to me, new to me...I did not previously know even one of them. Yet, as I humbled myself, as I "went with the flow" and entered into worship, the presence of God permeated my entire being as I raised my hands, my heart, and my voice, at times kneeling, at other times laying prostrate at the altar. Tears of intimacy flowed unhindered, God accepted my worship by filling me with His love and His presence. And I was not alone. The altar area was crowded with others who were experiencing the same marvelous presence of the Lord. While we were all worshiping together there were also periods of quiet time, where no song was played or sung. These times were amazing, as the sound of people weeping in His presence, laughing quietly in joy, spontaneously worshiping in tongues, and other expressions of worship could be faintly heard throughout the room. Pastor Steve was quietly ministering to people during this time, which was totally Holy Spirit led. People were healed during the worship time! This didn't have to wait for the "scheduled" altar prayer ministry time at the end of the service! No one in the room had any consciousness of time as it seemed that we were "caught up" into the very throne room of God. No one wanted to leave that place. The Holy Spirit worshiped in and through us as one body.

So, what did I learn? ...something I knew already but had forgotten over the past few years... I "re-learned" (remembered) that God is not as much in the "order of service" as He is in the desire of our hearts. The actual songs used in a worship "set" are like springboards, starters. Then the songs themselves become largely unimportant as they lead to the true song of our hearts being sung to the Lord. I realized my need and my desire for more of such times of intimate corporate worship. I once again am desperate for worship services that flow in the Spirit for hours. I realize that I am so dissatisfied with the concept of a "worship set" of songs, with a scripted service, and with the legalistic imposition of the confines of linear time (the clock!). I realized that I haven't really, really worshiped in the Spirit in a very, very long time, even though I thought I had. I was conditioned to worship "in the box", and I became used to it, and it was good at times. But last night...well, I loved it. I want more of it. I have to have more of it. I am simply ruined now for "regular church services", which we so erroneously call "worship services", where worship is relegated to the first 20 minutes and is seen only a a prelude (warm-up) to the message. I am jealous for God, I just can't get enough of Him, and I never want to presume to tell Him how a "worship service" should go ever again.

August 25, 2009

My thoughts on worship for today are more practical than devotional or theological, and I have no one particular church in mind as I write these thoughts. This is meant for the body of Christ in a general, and... "if the shoe fits, please wear it!"

Pastors, elders, deacons, and all other leaders of any influence with people...YOU need to be the example for the rest of the congregation to follow in worship. I know my previous notes spoke to each individual's responsibility for their own worship attitude and expression, but the fact remains, sheep need to be led. It really bothers me (and God?) when all worship leadership is left to the one worship leader (and worship team) on the platform while all the other pastors and lay leaders are running around taking care of administrative tasks (or other things) and are absent from the worship experience. The modern Church is totally mistaken when its pastors and leaders make the determination that worship is simply the PRELUDE to the important "stuff" which follows (sermon, prayers, etc.). To the contrary, worship is the PRIMARY reason for gathering corporately as the body of Christ. I think it is totally contrary to the Spirit of God for pastors to be totally absent from the worship set and then strut onto the platform for the "highlight" of the service (THEIR sermon!). It is simply not right for elders, deacons, intercessors, and other leaders to do the same thing. Personally, I won't ever ask for prayer, counseling, or ministry from any leader who is not an intimate worshiper. There is no task in administering the church that is more important than corporate worship. No sign ups, no ushering detail, no prayer request, no sound problem...nothing!...(there are others who could handle these details)...worship comes first, and EVERY pastor and every congregational leader need to be the VISIBLE, leading examples in worship for the rest of the congregation, even if you can't sing and don't feel that need to be there leading in worship by example. The sheep WILL follow, and the Spirit of God will be pleased and then bless the elements of the service that follow worship! I have even forsaken all other elements of the service (sermon included!!!) when the Spirit of God was powerfully and intimately moving in was so good that I simply said, "No sermon today, it would be a SIN to quench this spirit of worship to keep our own agenda and "order of service"..we're going to spend the entire service today simply worshiping!" If the Spirit of God was moving like that in YOUR church service, would you have the humility and the obedience to follow the Spirit like that? I'm not boasting in myself, but in what the Lord can do through us as we humble ourselves and follow Him in obedience.

This is not meant to criticize or judge, as, like I said, I have no one church in mind as I write this, but, as you read this, if God uses this as a means of conviction for you, don't fight it, go with it. I pray the grace, mercy, peace, and shekinah glory of the Lord fill all of the worship services of every congregation, worship leader, and pastor (and other leaders). "If the shoe fits, wear it!"

August 23, 2009

Isaiah 1:10-15
10 Hear the word of the Lord, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the law of our God, You people of Gomorrah:
11 "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?" Says the Lord. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats.
12 "When you come to appear before Me, Who has required this from your hand, To trample My courts?
13 Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies — I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.
14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear.

At first glance, it sounds like the Lord is REALLY angry at the rulers and people of Sodom and Gomorrah. And we think, "Well, they are wicked people, so they deserve the Lord's wrath." But at closer examination, we see the Lord is actually speaking to HIS OWN PEOPLE...the children of Israel! He's calling them names! He's likening them to the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah! But what have they done to deserve this? Look at all of the things they are doing. Are they not the very things the Lord has commanded them to do? Are they not doing them? They ARE doing them! They are doing EVERY ONE of them! RELIGIOUSLY! And that's the PROBLEM! It's not WHAT they are doing but the state of their HEART in HOW they are doing what God commands. They have become so GOOD at sacrificing (offerings), burning incense (praying), keeping new moons (Holy Communion?), sabbaths (going to church), the calling of assemblies (congregational meetings), the sacred meeting (church worship services), feasts (church holidays and special services), etc., etc., but their HEARTS are far from Him. All of these are a TROUBLE to God, and He is WEARY of them! He says that even in the midst of doing all of these commanded things, when His people "spread out their hands" (pray, intercede, petition, worship, etc.) that He will HIDE HIS EYES from them and will NOT hear ANY of their prayers. They will be like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah to Him.

What is worship to you? Do you worship from your HEART? Or, is it a religious exercise for you? Do you notice (and are bothered by) every little thing around you (too loud, too soft, people coughing, babies crying, people dancing, too hot, too cold, etc., etc.), or are you completely focused on the Lord who you are worshiping? Do you get LOST in worship, or are you always "safe", able to "find your own way" and not get lost in the Spirit? Are you so good at worship (or, what you call worship but really is just singing) that God is saying to you that He is weary of what you are doing?

Church, it's time that we let the Spirit of the living God out of the box we've kept Him in for so long. It's time that we let go of what we want and offer to the Lord what He wants. It's time that we stop focusing on the songs we like and begin entering in no matter what the songs are. It's time that worship becomes an intimate experience with the presence of the Lord instead of the routine spectator sport it has been for ages now. It's time that we empty the pews into the aisles, into the altar's time we danced, twirled, laughed, cried, kneel, lay prostrate...not that these are what make worship genuine, but when we follow our HEART in worship all of these WILL occur because God will move us out of our comfort zone and into HIS! Worship will be genuine, unbridled, uncontrolled by the spirit of religion, and instead of being wearied by it God will delight in US.

August 21, 2009

Worship is not hard thing to do, although sometimes it seems that it is such a difficult "place" to find. In fact, worship is not something we do or find at all. Worship is more of a verb of "being" rather than "doing". When a fish swims, when a bee gathers nectar from a flower, when a mountain is snow-capped and looks majestic, when the waves unceasingly roll in on the shore, all of these are worshiping, because that is what they were created to do. All things were created and called to their own purposes by God. When something or someone flows, lives, exists, effortlessly in that calling, that is worship, an expression of fulfilled purpose, an affirmation expressed back to the Creator of all things. When a husband provides for his household and loves his wife as himself, that is worship. When a wife loves her husband and cares for her children, that is worship. When children play, that is worship. And God says, "It is very good." God is visible in all of the attributes of His created nature, and His creation is ever crying out to get back to its original purpose (most of which was lost in the fall of Adam and the entrance of sin into the world), that of giving glory to the Creator by simply BEING that which it was created to be. Disharmony and chaos indicate an interruption in the flow of purposefulness, pursuing or allowing that which is not a part of God's purpose. That is why it is so very difficult to come to church and START to worship. Worship does not START in church. Yes, it should CONTINUE there, but it should start and be maintained in the very purpose and passion of our very lives themselves. We were created by a loving God who desired nothing more than to enjoy a holy fellowship with us. Herein is true worship...recognizing God not only for who He is, but recognizing who we are in relationship with Him and each other and living in the flow of purposefulness in which He created us, both individually and corporately. Worship is a flow of BEING. Worship is not a's not a's not a posture. It encompasses all of these but is much, much is EVERYTHING about our relationship to and fellowship with our Creator, our Father, our God. If you wait to go to church each week to worship, you missed it by a mile. If you think worship in church was good, just see what it can be when you have worshiped all week long!
August 19, 2009

When it seems that worship isn't "flowing" the way it should, don't be so quick to judge the worship leader, the team, or the songs. There is a spiritual principal and truth that every Christian needs to be living lives of worship to the Lord in everything we do and at all times. It could very well be that the cares and distractions of this world, those which take our mind and heart off of worshiping Jesus, are the culprits in our false judgment of the quality or effectiveness of worship at a service. Rather than coming to church TO BEGIN to worship, worship all week long as a lifestyle. Then, coming to church will not be a "start" and "stop" form of worship but simply a continuation, in a corporate setting, of the worship that has been flowing all week long out of your heart. Nothing will be able to interrupt or corrupt that heart of worship! Come to church "worshiped up" rather than looking to the worship leader and team to get you kick started in worship. It'll make all the difference in the world to you!

August 18, 2009

True worship (in Spirit and in Truth) will undoubtedly invoke the criticism of the spiritually barren. But real worshipers are willing to pay the price and worship anyway! A choice is set before us: we can choose to please man, or we can decide to please God. It rarely seems possible to do both.

Individual thoughts or words from the Lord that just "come to me"...updated as needed.

August. 31, 2009

3 John 1:4 - I have no greater joy than to have news that my children are walking in the true way.

This is so true. While it is written by the Apostle John about those who were his own spiritual "children", it could also be said of God the Father, of pastors for their congregations, and of parents for their own children.  There truly is no greater joy for any parent!  The "other side of the coin" is equally true, however.  If one's children are not "walking in the true way", it is the greatest heartbreak for them.  If you are a parent of a child (however young or old) who is not "walking in the true way", pray...cry out...weep before the Lord on their behalf.  God is faithful and will hear your cries!  Remember, your child was His child FIRST!  He knew him/her from the foundation of the world and is the One who formed him in his mother's womb!

August 31, 2009

"How do you know if something is a sin?"

How do we know when something would be sinful for us to engage in, especially if it's not a "black and white", clear-cut, obvious transgression?

Hear what the Word of God says:

Philippians 3:12-15
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

Hear what else the Word says:

Numbers 32:23 have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out.

There is a fine line between living in faith and mistaking foolishness for faith. Faith seeks to please the Lord in EVERYTHING. If it cannot be done in FAITH, believing it is right before the eyes of the Lord who sees all the hidden things, then it is sin. Our humanity would like to interpret that to say instead that since I am not perfected yet (Phil. 3:12) it is expected that I would sin, so what am I to do about that? That, my dear friend, is "over the line" and is foolishness. It is not for ANY of us to judge (condemn) others. But it is our responsibility (all of ours, not just pastors) to make judgment calls on what is sin in our OWN lives. Many times what I can do in complete faith and is not sin for me may cause someone else to sin because it cannot be done in a pleasing manner before God by them. Hence, we are all called to a higher responsibility...if anything is even questionable, refrain from doing it. Period!

1 Corinthians 8:9-13
9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.
10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?
11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

So, yes, press on in your own life, don't judge others in theirs, but know that God holds us all to a very high standard (not perfect, admittedly, but enabled by the Spirit) of this striving to press into Christ. Let these words sink in to your spirit and let the Lord lead and guide you to the answer that you seek.

August 28, 2009

"Joy in the midst of suffering"

"Joy is My gift to you, but it is not free. It cost Me everything. If it were possible, I would spare you from knowing sorrow, which is the cost of joy, but then joy would not mean as much to you as it does to Me, and the joy in you would be merely earthly happiness which cannot compare to My joy. My joy will follow sorrow ALWAYS because I have overcome all that causes sorrow, even death itself. But only those who know Me and fellowship with Me will make that leap from sorrow to joy. In temporal life joy can be what it is only in contrast to the depths of sorrow that you feel. Know that I Am with you through it all, I see every tear, I hear every cry, and I hold you close in My loving arms. Even in My own sorrow I still rejoiced for your joy yet to come! That is the "secret" of joy (although it's not really a secret, it's just that not many people realize this) the midst of your sorrow look to me and rejoice that I have already overcome what is making you sorrowful. I know that you live in time and this may not make sense to you, but I speak to your spirit now by My Spirit that lives within you, which does not require anything to make sense. I am above all that makes sense, and I bring to pass even those things that do not make sense. In the midst of your sorrow, as I was in the midst of Mine, rejoice for others' joy as I, through the agony of the cross, rejoiced for yours. Rejoice now for the joy that I will bring to you, even before you see it or feel it. I am alive forevermore, I am with you always and will never leave you, and I love you with an everlasting love...your name is inscribed on the palm of My hand and you are the apple of My eye. Rejoice in Me, rejoice in My unfathomable love for you." – God

August 26, 2009

"The beauty of My Kingdom is in its growth. Spend no time thinking of failures. Count lessons learned as rungs in a ladder. Step up." – God

August 18, 2009

"Jesus prays for me!!"

Luke 22:31-32

31 And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.
32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."

This is one of the verses that I find great encouragement in...Jesus praying for me through the trial of even the devil wanting to 'sift me' like wheat!!...and also Jesus having confidence in me that I can make others strong! Talk about incentive to get my eyes off of myself and get on with life and ministry, serving Him completely!

August 12, 2009

"What’s Holding You Up?"

There is an erroneous doctrinal belief among some Christians that God never allows negative or bad things to happen to us, and if we experience these in our lives then it indicates that there was a "problem" on our end, not God's, most likely a lack of faith on our part. Please read on...

When a child is learning to ride a 2-wheel bicycle for the first time, what is placed on the bicycle to help him/her learn without fear? Training wheels, right? But wouldn't it be silly to see Lance Armstrong competing in the Tour de France with a bicycle that had training wheels on it?!! I'm sure that Lance did use training wheels at one time long ago. But there comes a time when we go from training wheels to dad's steadying hand (without training wheels) as he ran alongside the bicycle, then comes the "letting go" when we need to ride all by ourselves without any "props" holding us up. The exact same scenario applies to a child learning to walk on his/her own.

One of the major problems Christians face today is that they think that God is in the business (by FAITH, of course!) of propping them up for their entire lives. This couldn't be further from the truth. God certainly helps us when we're brand new on our "spiritual legs"...holding us up, encouraging us, steadying us, running along side of us, commissioning angels to keep us going, etc., etc. This is not as much a matter of OUR faith as it is a matter of God's love for us and His desire to see us mature. But then the day comes when He says, "It's time to take the training wheels off", or, "I'm letting go now, you can ride this thing, just keep going...just know I'll be here with you, but YOU are doing the riding now!" God lets go of us?!! What?? God forbid!!!! But that's exactly what He does. He sets us free to learn to walk and run, to experience life as we develop and mature in the Spirit. But, we still want Him to hold us up. We get nervous with every faltered step or bump in the way of our bicycle of life. When we don't feel His "training wheels" or direct hand in holding us up, we, out of fear, turn to other "props" that give us a secure feeling. Work, family, friends, money, health, security, hobbies, even CHURCH, and even pastors! We don't want to take the risk of trusting God alone in what He enables us to do or to be, so we prop ourselves up on all sides with props of our own making. Then, when God begins kicking out these props so that we can mature and grow in Him, we blame it on others, on the devil, on ourselves, etc., and miss the opportunity God is giving us through the whole process. We try to pray more, have more faith, read the Bible more, give more, go to church more, etc., etc., to try to get God to restore our "props", but forget about it...He won't do it...He's the one who kicked them out from under us (precisely BECAUSE He LOVES us)!! Not for our harm, but for our GOOD! His purpose is to get us to focus solely on Him, looking unto Jesus, the author and FINISHER of our faith. We don't need to look fully unto Jesus if all these other things are giving us security and holding us up. We don't need to grow up and learn to ride or walk by ourselves if the training wheels never come off! And in so doing we don't ever develop the deep, intimate relationship that God wants with each of us, and we don't ever attempt or accomplish the plan of God for our lives, the greater works that Jesus told us we'd do in His Name.

So, God removes the props...oh, not all at once, maybe a few at once, but most of the time just one at a time, until we learn to fill the place of that missing "prop" with our seeking intimacy with Him and Him alone. Where would you be if you got EVERYTHING you ever prayed for? A SPIRITUALLY SPOILED BRAT...that's where. It's true in the world when children have everything just handed to them and made easy for them, it's the same in the Spirit, too. God stretches us, challenges us, makes us uncomfortable, by kicking out the props that we have carefully put in place all around in our lives. When He kicks out one prop we get a bit off balance, so we compensate and rely even more on another prop. When he kicks out another one we find ourselves even becoming lopsided in certain things and void of spiritual maturity in others, until it is painfully obvious that we are trusting in the wrong things in life. It's rare, but sometimes God has to remove all the props at once, an extreme measure to be sure, when we simply refuse to let them go or continue to replace them as fast as God kicks them out from under us. The best place a person can be in (although it seems to him/her like it's the absolute worst place) is to have NOTHING to lean on but God Himself. That's a GOOD place, not a bad place to be.

So, the next time you experience a loss, a difficulty, a breach of security, a feeling of imbalance in your life, DON'T FIGHT IT, GO WITH IT. It might not be pleasant, and you might fall once or twice, even have a few minor injuries along the way, and it may even be extremely painful! What child ever learned to walk or ride a bike withOUT falling and getting hurt in the process? Go with it. The Bible says, "though I fall, I will arise!". The only defeat is when a Christian decides for himself to NOT GET UP and keep going after he/she falls. They wait on the ground, moaning and groaning, complaining that nobody cares about them, nobody is helping them up, nobody is down on the ground with them, God seems to bless others and not me, etc., etc. Here's some prophetic advice that you would do well to heed: "Pick YOURSELF up. Stir YOURSELF up in the Holy Spirit. Encourage YOURSELF with the Word of God and His promises. Then YOU get right back on that bicycle (whatever the challenge is in your life that you're going through at the time). True faith will always say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". Perverted faith (which is not faith at all) says, "I believe God is going to do this FOR me". God can't and won't automatically mature you. Only YOU can do that. God will give you the opportunities and the necessary weapons and strength, but YOU must appropriate them. Accept God's "stretching" you...accept His kicking the props out from under you...turn to Him as your ONLY prop! Then you will find that all the other things will be added back unto you, not as props any more, but as blessings to help you accomplish the will of God and the advancement of His Kingdom on earth.

It's high time the church simply started to GROW UP.


August 10. 2009

"No rocks will ever take my place in praising God!"

Luke 19:37-40

37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen,
38 saying: "'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!' Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples."
40 But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."I am committed to never let the rocks cry out their praises to the Lord because I am silent! Help me in this, Lord. I will praise You even when I don't feel like praising You!

Perhaps this blog is my "congregation", even if a church congregation never opens up for me! I simply can't hold in what the Lord speaks in my heart. I am thankful for the this "outlet" for these things!

August 9, 2009

"Fear of what others will say is lack of trust in Me. Convert all difficulties into the purification of your character." (from the devotional book, "God Calling")

August 9, 2009

"Agree with the devil???"

Matthew 5:25-26

25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.
26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.

One of the stupidest things a person can do is deny his own wrongdoing. God convicts those whom He loves for the purpose of restoring that person to righteousness. As soon as you know in your heart that you have sinned, the accuser (Satan), our adversary, comes in immediately to condemn (notice...God convicts to bring a person to repentance, Satan seeks to condemn a person so that they remain in their sin, place blame, and eventually allow guilt to overcome them). Verse 25 quoted above from Matthew gives wise counsel. Don't deny that you have sinned. Agree that you have...and agree immediately! The longer you wait, the more time you will have to justify yourself and potentially become the recipient of the penalty in verse 26. No matter how much it hurts your pride, confess your sin immediately. Repent from your heart. If you have hurt another person in any way, genuinely ask for forgiveness without any qualifications attached (example: "Well, you really did something stupid, that's why I yelled at you...please forgive me for yelling at you."...that's not genuine, it's not're simply justifying yourself and disguising it in pious "forgive me" language.)

Most immature Christians find it unthinkable that we would agree with the devil on anything! This is where they need to grow up and take heed to the whole counsel of God in the scriptures. But agreeing with an enemy (when they are right to begin with) is one of the most effective ways to "take the wind out of their sails". They don't expect that response...they're waiting for a debate, a fight on the subject at hand. But agree none-the-less. Then, when the devil is still dumbfounded trying to figure out what you're up to, repent before God from your heart, ask for forgiveness and make restoration as you are able to for any hurt that you have caused (no matter what the "righteous indignation" you were feeling and no matter how justified you felt at the time), and let the blood of Jesus wash the sin away before the devil can carry the accusation into the realm of condemnation.

Don't have anything with which to agree with the adversary? Start there! "I quickly agree that I have overlooked all of my sins against God and how I've injured others no matter what they did to me." Then ask the Lord to bring to your conscious remembrance anything that HE wants you to remember. Don't worry, the devil will be right there with his, "That's right! Yes, you did that!" accusation! Then, agree with him and follow the steps I've outlined above.

Can you say, "I've been set free!!" ?? Hallelujah!

August 8, 2009

"Waiting on the Lord"

Waiting on the Lord is natural life strenuous activity builds up physical strength, but in spiritual things it is they who wait on the Lord who shall have their strength built up (renewed). spiritual muscles must be working really hard, for I've been faithfully waiting on the Lord for 5 years now, joyfully serving Him the whole time! In fact, I know that the joyful serving is the key to productive waiting on the Lord...for it is not a matter of only idly waiting for time to pass and the Lord to do something.

August 7, 2008

I'm ready for God to do something BIG...Out-of-the-Box...Wild 'n Crazy according to normal "church" mentality...totally sovereign on His part. I know I've posted this before, but...AMAZE ME, GOD! I WANT TO STAND MORE IN AWE OF YOU THAN I ALREADY DO! MORE, LORD...MORE FIRE, MORE HOLY GHOST RAIN, MORE MIRACLES, MORE SWEEPING CONVICTION AND REPENTANCE IN THE CHURCH, MORE JOY, MORE OF YOU, MORE OF YOU, MORE OF YOU!!!

August 6, 2009
"No Lone Rangers in the Kingdom"

I am thoroughly convinced that there are no "lone rangers" in the Kingdom of God. If you are out there doing "your own thing", even in the Name of Jesus, then you're not doing "God's thing". Every person needs to be a part of something larger than him/herself, that's just the way God ordained our existence and our ministries. So, if you are a dismembered body part, you're either dying or you're already dead!

August 5, 2009

Think of it...God has placed all of His resources, His power, His authority, His Word, and His Voice in us, His Church. It is time to run, not crawl, not hobble, but run to Him! EXPECT the breakthrough He will accomplish in us!

August 5, 2009

"Things you never thought of before as temptations!"

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. - 1 Corinthians 10:12, 13

Keep in mind that all of these: worry, fear, doubt, stress, discouragement, hopelessness, bitterness, anger, etc., etc., are all TEMPTATIONS before they become succumbed to in all of our lives! They can have no power over you if you realize this as soon as you sense their attack (and it is a very real ATTACK!) and you engage them in spiritual warfare (not just will power or mind over matter, which will always FAIL), "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but they are mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds!!", and, "...bringing every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of God into the captivity of CHRIST!". These battle plans will always win the day! I left out the biggest temptation, which should have been at the front of my list above: PRIDE. Also keep in mind that entire churches can have a "collective" personality or spirit of pride..."our church is better than your church". This is even more subversive to the Kingdom because "everybody" around you is the same way, and you don't notice it as much as if it were only you by yourself.

August 4, 2009

"A critical, judgemental spirit"

A critical spirit, a judgemental spirit, and a prejudicial (racist) spirit are like poison to the soul. Only a fool would believe that God will actually "take their side" and justify them, no matter how grievous the offense. The end result is having one's name blotted out of the Lamb's Book of Life, for the love of God cannot and will not dwell in the same heart alongside of these.

August 4, 2009
"Get right with God right now!"

I am thinking that when we are reunited with loved ones after a long absence there is hugging, kissing, even tears of joy. Are you anxiously looking for Jesus' return the same way? If not, don't be surprised when He comes back as He promised and you find yourself "left behind"! Get right with God now...repent of unforgiveness, bitterness, prejudice, immorality, etc., and with a clean heart eagerly look for His coming!

August 4, 2009

"Amaze me, God!"

I can't wait to see how You are going to amaze me again today, Lord! I anxiously wait with childlike anticipation, like a kid on Christmas morning, to see the wonders of Your love unfold before my eyes today. I want to stand back and just watch You move, working Your miracles of grace and power. Use me mightily for Your Kingdom purposes today! I find my satisfaction, fulfillment, peace, and joy in serving You!

August 3, 2009

"God's timing"

If your prayer is consistent with the will and Word of God, yet it still seems to be unheard and unfulfilled, there may be a matter of timing...God will do nothing before its time, and that is for our own good. Another possibility is that there are other people in the way blocking what God desires to do as He prompts you to pray. Remember...all people can be moved at God's discretion. Rest in this certainty.

August 3, 2009

"Bothersome people"

Do people make you mad all the time? Do they disappoint you? Do they not listen to you or live up to your expectations? Does it drive you into a moody "funk", and then you blame it on them because they didn't listen to you or do things your way? The corrective and prophetic Word of God comes to you now and says "Get your eyes off of yourself and stop being the center of the universe...that's MINE, says the Lord!"

July 31, 2009

"Safety in the multitude of counselors"

When you are seeking the will of God for your life, or asking for divine direction, and God seems to be leading you in a certain way or to do a certain thing, very rarely will it be so urgent that you must "jump on it" immediately. Rather, there is "safety in the multitude of counselors". Talk it over with another Godly, mature person or two. If it still resonates in your spirit, you now have confirmation and peace!

July 29, 2009

When your life and the world around you seem to be crumbling and control is lost to you, look up into the face of God to feel a sense of security and a thrill of joy at His nearness. Somehow, needing to be in control loses its significance and impact on your life when you realize that you are held close and loved immeasurably by the One who created and still controls every minute detail of the entire universe.

July 28, 2009

"Forget all sense of failure and shortcomings, all the painful jolts, just trust Me, Love Me, call upon Me." This is certainly great advice from the Lord, who does not want His children to live under mountains of stress and worry. He is the God who provides everything that is needful, enables us to overcome shortcomings, and stand fast in the "evil day" that we live in. Yes, call upon Him while He is near!

July 27, 2009

Look on every fear, not as a weakness, but as a real temptation to be attacked and overthrown.

July 25, 2009

Lord, speak to me today. Encourage me today. Make me more aware of Your love to the point that it overflows out of my heart today. Reveal to me what steps you have already ordained for me to walk in today. As I worship and adore You draw me into Your throne room and be intimate with me. Never let it be said that the rocks and trees had to cry out because I neglected to shout Your praise. I love you, Lord.

July 22, 2009

Do everything as unto the Lord. Nothing is ever futile, nothing wasted. God will bring good out of everything that is done in His name and according to His purposes to those He calls and who love Him!

July 21, 2009

Jesus, You are my hope. There is never any disappointment when total trust is placed in You. Please show me more and more how to keep my focus on You and You alone. It is my joy to serve you, and I wait at your feet for You to speak Your words of life into my heart and soul. I just want to be where You are and to do what You call me to do. Reveal Yourself to me now even in my dreams as I rest in You tonight.

July 18, 2009

"Seeking counsel only from those who agree with you?"

Those who seek and accept counsel only from those who are themselves searching for the answers to the same life-questions will undoubtedly find that they will soon become quite comfortable in the company of fools, yet their quest for the true answers will never be satisfied. At least they will have many friends and won't be lonely!

July 18, 2009

It is never My true Peace if it is attained through even the smallest truce with that which is is never a true Harmony with Me if it comes through the means of singing even one refrain of the song of your life to the mood and music of the world.

July 18, 2009

"Overcoming is never overcoming of the one who troubles you, but the overcoming of the weaknesses in your own nature aroused by such a one."

July 18, 2009

"Go back into silence to recover calm. You accomplish more by this than by all the activities of a long day."

July 17, 2009

Lessons cannot be learned without difficulty. Not to him who walks on with no obstacles, but to him that overcomes is the promise given.

July 17, 2009

Lord, I am completely Yours, purchased by the precious blood of Jesus. This is the day that the Lord has made, so today is completely Yours as well. Draw me closer to You today and use me this day to reflect the love of Jesus to all I encounter today. I rejoice in you and my heart is at peace. Your Kingdom come on earth, even as it is in heaven. Amen!

July 16, 2009

"Conformed to the image of Jesus"

God's real purpose for us is that we be continually formed (conformed) into the image of Jesus. I believe that while all of the fruit and gifts of the Spirit are wonderful and important, if asked to choose, God would say that the fruit (which indicate spiritual maturity) are way more important than the gifts! For without the fruit, the gifts are simply ecclesiastical magic acts that puff up rather than build up!

July 16, 2009

"God allows problems!"

Christians like to think (erroneously!) that God's purpose is to bless us and making things easy. That couldn't be further from God's purpose and character. He allows us to experience persecution, doubt, uncertainty, discouragement, rejection, loss, etc., so that when His time is perfect He can speak to our hearts and turn everything around, revealing to us His abiding love, and we then 'understand' and are AMAZED!

July 16, 2009

"Desire the Lord above all else"

Desiring the Lord is primary...all other desires, even good ones, are worldly unless they are filtered through the intimate fellowship we have with God. That is the ONLY way to defend against self! "One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. ~ Psalms 27

July 15, 2009

OK, I am. Amaze me! My anticipation is overwhelming! I love you so much.

July 15, 2009

"Shepherds and Sheep"

I am pondering why I'm so introspective and profound on the subject of shepherds and sheep right's way past my bedtime!

It's not the shepherd's responsibility to reproduce sheep...that's the sheep's job! Shepherds reproduce shepherds by mentoring them and pouring into them all that they have, and it is the sheep who are to reproduce sheep, which is the most basic work of the ministry of the Gospel.

Church shepherds (pastors) who do not smell like the sheep (people) from being intimately involved in personally ministering to them are really impostors in shepherds' clothing! We concentrate so much on looking for the "wolves in sheep's clothing" that we forget that the same holds true for pastors/shepherds!

July 12, 2009

I am thoroughly convinced that many times in life we are called upon to do that which we would rather not do...this is meeting the need wherever we are confronted by it. However, I also am convinced that until we flow in what gives us the most joy, in what comes from our hearts, in what we are most satisfied in, we will never be happy. These are the gifts of the Spirit and call of God on our lives.

July 11, 2009

My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them and health to all their body. - Proverbs 4:20-22

July 9, 2009

"When God began to create..." (that's the literal translation of Genesis 1:1) If that's all the Bible said, that would be 'nuff said! Amen.

July 5, 2009

Lord, my heart cries out to you for those who, in the midst of intimate congregational worship and a powerful move of Your Spirit, simply stand there watching as spectators, hands at their sides, hearts unstirred. Draw them to Yourself, Lord. Show me, show us together, if there is anything we can do to help them to know You more.

July 3, 2009

Lord, send true shepherds to lead your flock. We've had enough of professional preachers, ecclesiastical corporations, endless programs to be propped up, and ministry department heads that are all "playing church" but lack the compassion of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

July 3, 2009

"Lord, send revival!"

I pray for true revival to sweep through your Church, Lord! Open the windows of heaven and let it rain with Holy Ghost rain! While I pray that you revive all of the leaders of Your Church, if there are any who refuse to cooperate with your Spirit of Revival and the flow of Your Holy Spirit, remove them from hindering the rest of the Church from flowing in You!

July 3, 2009

"Lord, send the breakthrough"

Lord, let this be a 'breakthrough' weekend, not only for me, but for all who have been faithfully serving you as we wait on you. Show us the next steps you have placed in front of us, as we are confident that as the righteous of the Lord You have truly ordered our steps, and as we trust you completely You will guide our path.

June 29, 2009

"Listening for God's voice"

I long to hear the voice of God speak with distinct clarity within me. When it seems that I have not heard that voice in a long time, I become aware of the convictions of my heart during times of stress and internal struggle, and I realize that God is speaking to me through His Word that I hid there long ago and through the character of His Spirit who lives within me!