Bold Venture for Women 2011

What a great time we had at Impact Church this past week as 145 women of 7 languages came together to celebrate who we are in Christ.

Lee Grady brought these women together along with speakers June Evans of Atlanta, Georgia and Natasha Schedrivaya from Moscow, Russia. The rich humor of June Evans and stories of the village ministry of Natasha filled our hearts with awe, not of the speakers, but of our God.

I was overwhelmed with the God that abided in each of these women and the incredible stories of His faithfulness to us. I was overwhelmed as Natasha spoke of the 47 degrees below zero Celsius temperatures that her team would minister in. I was overwhelmed as June would have us in stitches at her humorous stories of God’s love and devotion toward us. I was overwhelmed as women shared their stories and struggles and how they overcame because of their God within.

There is something about being with 140 passionate women that leaves you spent and never again the same. Lord, let our passion rise for You! Let us never become tired of pursuing You! Let the Holy Fire of Your Spirit burn intensely within us until we look like You!

I thank God that He has allowed me to partner with Him and these 140 women for the sake of His Kingdom!

Fruit or Fruit Cake?

“Have you seen gold dust yet?” a lady asked one Saturday night in prayer. I responded, “We are not looking for gold dust, but His Presence when we come together. ” “Oh, I was at a meeting recently and I was so blessed by the gold dust” she responded. So, I asked her how she was blessed and got religious lingo as a response. As she told me how blessed she was by the gold dust, I thought of how this lady came into our church that night barely able to walk with her cane and in obvious desperate need of a touch from God. I explained that we were seeking God for the salvation of souls and the healing of bodies and not temporary manifestations that do nothing except draw attention away from God.

It is interesting to watch as people seem to be running here and there to experience God. I am amazed at the “manifestations” that have occurred in recent years as “proof” that God is present. People are seeing gold dust, feathers, gems, orbs, rain showers and now even pennies on the wall. I remember 32 years ago when I got saved and the incredible presence of God in my life. I saw manifestations like a changed life…my desires were no longer that of the flesh but the spirit. I no longer desired to frequent the same places, listen to the same music or watch the same movies. My language changed immediately. This was not something I had to work on; it was a complete and instantaneous change in my life. I could not get enough of the Word of God; I could not pray enough: I could not be with God’s people enough. Depression and hopelessness left me immediately as I was in relationship with the lover of my soul and the creator of my very being. What manifestations I experienced! These manifestations were not transient, but fixed and a reality in my life and did not have to be conjured up with hype, emotion, or chant.

I remember Saturday, July 7, 1979 when I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This occurred in my small bathroom (my prayer closet at that time) simply at the request of my heart to have all that God had for me. I remember the flooding in of the Holy Spirit and the flooding out of a language I had never known or spoken. I remember how I was in complete control of all my faculties and not caught up in a trance of some type as we often see and hear of today. I remember the Holy Spirit impressing into my heart that I was in control and not Him; that I could pray when I chose to pray and He would be there. I was over flowing with His Presence. I remember leaving my small “prayer closet” and wanting to just hug everyone I saw. I had such a manifestation of the love of God, something not present before.

So, what are we to think of the manifestations that are being reported today? What is the purpose and why are they necessary? Are they really a sign of God’s Presence? Is God even there?

A few months ago I spoke with a well-known minister who was asking to come to our church for a few days. This request came through a mutual pastor friend that I respect and because of this I considered the request. After speaking with the minister, I consented to his coming to the church. Later that night as I was reading, I felt an unction of the Holy Spirit to check this person’s ministry out more, so I began a computer search and pulled up a few videos of his ministry. The first video that came up was alarming as I heard the minister speak of gold dust covering a person as a sign of the glory of God and then made reference to another minister by showing a video clip of that minister and speaking of the close friendship between the two. In this video clip, the people were worshipping God until a manifestation of manna began to be observed. Immediately, the peoples’ focus left their worship of God and they were clamoring on the floor trying to get to the manna. My heart grieved as I saw how this manifestation was drawing people away from worship.

I contacted the ministry and cancelled the meeting. This minister then called me to explain that these same manifestations are seen in other very large ministries and mentioned the name of a few of these well-known leaders. I assured him that my concern was not with who was hosting these manifestations, but that they are not in agreement with the Spirit of the Word of God and that I could not afford to have these types of counterfeits in my church. I explained what the Word of God says about lying signs and wonders and especially in these days we are living in. I explained that I never see in Scripture where God has to grandstand to get people to follow Him. Jesus said He came to undo the works of the devil (I John 3:8) and He only does what He sees the Father doing. (John 5:19) There is no reference in Scripture to Jesus performing magic tricks to get people to follow Him, but instead that all He did was to bring glory to His Father.

I am concerned that many follow these manifestations because of the notoriety of some. Jesus said “Matthew 7:13-15 13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in there at: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. 15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

We are living in a day when we must know the Word of God and we must know His voice or we will be following every “famous” voice that comes on the scene. Notoriety and fame are not qualifiers for truth. I urge the body of Christ to get their feet on solid and balanced ground which is based on the Word of God. Jesus told the disciples that we are called to bring forth fruit and fruit that remains. (John 15:16). And, it is in bearing this fruit that God is glorified (John 15:8).

So, is the church of our Lord producing fruit or fruit cakes? Who is being glorified and who is profiting from these manifestations. We know that manifestations draw crowds and crowds draw dollars. If these things are real, let’s sell the gold dust and the gems and feed the hungry and clothe the naked, the very thing Jesus speaks so strongly of in Matthew 25. But instead, the purveyors of these manifestations are selling books and TV programs. I am not opposed to anyone’s prosperity, but not at the expense of the truth of the gospel.

So how can we know?

First, we must ask ourselves is God receiving glory for these manifestations or is a person? Does the manifestation honor God and is it consistent with the works of Christ as shown in God’s Word? We know that God can do anything He wants. We know that He can rain down cats, dogs, silver and gold if He wants. What is the purpose of the manifestation?  Does the manifestation draw the attention and focus away from God and only on the manifestation?  Or does it point people to God?

Secondly, is it consistent with the entire Scripture, in truth and in the Spirit of the Word of God? Satan asked Jesus to prove His deity in the wilderness and throw Himself down and surely the angels would catch Him. Satan used Scripture (Psalm 91) out of context to intimidate Jesus into falling for this scheme. Yet Jesus responded that we should not tempt the Lord God or put Him to a test by these types of reasonings. (Luke 4:12) Signs, wonders and blessings are to follow the believer (Mark 16:17; Deut. 28:1-2), but instead many chase after them.

Let’s pursue God as found in His Scripture. Let’s make His Presence a priority in our life. Let’s hunger and thirst after His righteousness, i.e., His way of doing and being right and then we will not be chasing the fads and fancies of this day.

God bless you!    `

Salt and Light: You Are the Salt of the Earth

Matthew 5:13-16
13 ” You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most well-known portions of Scripture in the Bible. Jesus began with the Beatitudes (as we call them) and reveals to us the “attitudes” the born again believer should possess. It is interesting His choice of order as recorded in Scripture and that He would begin with “poor in spirit”. As Andrew Murray has said “humility is the soil where all the graces take root”. Humility is the beginning point of our relationship with God as He draws us to Him and we humble ourselves, repent and are born again into the family of God.

With the “beatitudes” we are asked to consider our response to ourselves, to our sin, to others and to God. In other words, we are instructed on how we are to “be” before He instructs us on what we are do. Too often we put the cart before the horse and we “do” first thinking our “doing” will somehow bring into reality what we are supposed “to be”. But the Word of God teaches us that our “doing” should flow out of our “being”. How much time, energy and resources do we waste when we are trying to affect our being by works of righteousness? Could this be why Jesus said to those who did many great works, even in His name, “I never knew you”? (Mt. 7:23)

After the beatitudes, Jesus makes a declaration that believers are the salt of the earth. The true church is the flavoring, preserving and purifying power in the earth. But is there something else we are missing in this metaphor of salt? The scripture tells us in Numbers 2:13 that all the offerings to God were to be seasoned with salt and in Exodus 30:35 that the incense was to be seasoned with salt. In 2 Chronicles 13:5, we find that God made a “salt covenant” with David and this covenant was an eternal covenant. What is a Salt Covenant? In biblical times men carried a pouch of salt on their belts. When two men wanted to make a covenant of loyalty, each would take some salt from his pouch and sprinkle it in the other man’s pouch. Then they stated the terms of their agreement and shook their salt pouches, mingling the grains of salt. Shaking the salt pouches reminded them that the covenant could not be broken, because it was no longer possible to go into the other man’s pouch and retrieve the original salt grains. When someone made a salt covenant with another, they were making a covenant that this relationship was a permanent relationship and that they were in each other’s keeping as friends. Jewish weddings will usually include the “salt covenant” as part of the ceremony to indicate that the union is an eternal union.

I believe Jesus was saying we are in eternal covenant with God in this earth and in that covenant is found the promises and blessings of His Word. It is as we are in relationship with God that we have been “seasoned” with the salt of His covenant, representing the righteousness of Christ in us (I Cor. 1:30). Jesus has made unto us His righteousness, therefore our living sacrifice unto God has been “seasoned with salt” and made acceptable by Christ. It is in this relationship that we can offer up true worship to God and in this relationship that we can offer prayers as incense, seasoned with salt, before the Lord. When we enter into relationship with God through Christ, we have become partakers of that “salt covenant”. And, it is only as we are in relationship with God that we can truly be salt in the earth.

But, we can’t “be” salt in the earth until we “are” salt. It’s not the religious system that is the salt of the earth, but those who are in covenant with God. Salt is one of the most stable compounds in the earth, however, if the compound is broken apart into pure sodium and chlorine, each by itself can be deadly. It is only useful as salt when the covenant is made between the two elements and they join together to become sodium chloride. We are only effective as we have made this covenant with God and stay united with Him in relationship. Apart from God, we can become deadly to ourselves and to others and truly offer no preserving or purifying power in the earth and certainly do not add the savor of our Lord to the earth’s unsavory environment.

So, once salt always salt? No, not really. Jesus said “if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?” We can lose our ability to do what we are inherently called to do. Just as salt found in rock salt can lose its “salting” effectiveness due to exposure to the wind, moisture and other contaminates, so can we lose our effectiveness to be the salt of the earth. When our lives are contaminated or diluted with too much exposure to the world, we lose our flavor and become useless to God. It is important that we remain attached to the Rock, Jesus. As we are close to Him, we will be protected from the contamination of the world and rather than being affected by the world we will be the ones who are adding flavor to those around us for His will and glory.


Road Markers in Your Pursuit of God

If you have traveled much, especially in your line of work, you will be very familiar with the importance of road markers along the highways and roads that you traveled. These markers could come in the form of highway signs, mile markers, mileage signs, or  just familiar landmarks. These markers let you know that you are on the right path and making progress toward your pre-determined destination.

The same is true in our spiritual life. We have a predetermined destination that is revealed to us in Scripture which tells us what our destination in this life is to be. ESV Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, reveals our destination as being “conformed to His image.   And, as with all travels, we have road markers along the way that indicate if we are on the right path and making progress toward our destination.

We once had a friend who got confused on his destination when traveling to a local city. Instead of traveling on the highway leading to the desired destination, he got on the wrong road and traveled for 2 hours in the wrong direction. His intentions were good, but his destination was wrong and he did not end up where he thought he would end up.

We must know how to recognize the spiritual road markers  on our journey of life. Jesus tells us there are basically two roads we can travel; the straight and narrow road that leads to life and the broad road that leads to destruction. (Mt. 7:13-14).  Which road are you on?   There are only two choices and it is important that we understand which road we are traveling and that we be able to read the road markers along the way and that we also recognize road blocks.   Too often we create our own spiritual road blocks by refusing to follow (pride) the map (Bible); trying to take short cuts; or simply not preparing for the journey at all and finding ourselves broken down along the way.

How often do we find ourselves at the wrong destination?   How often do we head into a journey without taking the time to discover the right path.    We are predestined to “become” not to do, yet how often do we hear things like, “I’m called to be a doctor, or I’m called to be a stay at home mom, or I’m called to be a business man”, or even “I’m called to sing in the choir”.     We recognize these “callings” by what we do, not who we are.    A good or bad person can do any one of these, so “being” has little to do with these works in our life.   All of these are good, but they are not our calling but our vocation and our vocation is always secondary to our calling. We are first called to be conformed to the image of Christ and out of that state of “being”, we are then called to “do” our life’s vocation(s). 

 So how do we know if we are on the right road and if we are making spiritual progress?  Matthew’s gospel records a very popular portion of Scripture called The Sermon on the Mount, found in chapters 5-7. The first twelve verses reveal to us the attitudes important in the life of the believer. The remaining 2+ chapters reveal to us the lifestyle of the believer or how we are to live. Interestingly, He instructs us how to “be” before He instructs us on what to “do”. These first twelve verses are known as the “Beatitudes” or more commonly referred to as the “Be-Attitudes”. This is how we are to know if we are on the right road. Are these attitudes present in your life? If they are, then we can be assured we are traveling the right path. If they are not, then we may need to consider the path we are on and make a change lest we  find ourselves at a destination we had not planned.   I began this teaching last Sunday and a CD if available from the church or through our website.

So how do we begin? We begin with prayer. Join me in praying and asking the Holy Spirit to guide you in the days ahead.

Holy Spirit, I ask that you would guide my journey in life and reveal to me areas in my life that are on the wrong road. I ask that you reveal to me road blocks of my own making. I ask that you guide me and allow me to see clearly what is off course in my life. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen

Jeremiah 6:16  Thus says the LORD: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.

Invitation to a Journey by Dr. Robert Mulholland

During our 40 day fast last fall, I asked the Lord what His church is supposed to look like. Of course, the most obvious and the simple answer I got was “it’s suppose to look like Me.”

I began to seek the Lord for 2011 and to ask if there was a special word or message He has for Impact Church. I heard “tell them to pursue Me like never before….not for the goose bumps, but for what lies ahead”. So, the journey began and as I was again seeking God, He placed in my heart a desire to establish a small group for Spiritual Formation. I am very familiar with Dallas Willard, Stephen Foster, and the classics, but I ran across a book by a man I had never heard of before entitled “Invitation to a Journey” by Dr. Robert Mulholland. I immediately felt drawn to this book and downloaded it on my Kindle and could hardly put it down.

The book begins by addressing the definition of Spiritual Formation which is “the process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others”. The 2nd part of the book deals with the vehicle of personality and, using the MBTI as a standard, explains how different personalities may pursue God in different ways. This has been freeing for some of the staff since they now understand the way they are wired and that it is really ok to pursue God in their own way and not the way the pastor or teacher or even their peers pursue God.

Part 3 deals with the Spiritual Disciplines, what they are and how they are to be a part of our lives.  The final part addresses Corporate and Social Spirituality.

I have now ordered a second time for our church bookstore due to demand. Words I am hearing from staff and others are “this book has undone me”; “I question my previous walk with Jesus after reading this book”; “I read the Scriptures in a differnt light now”; “it has created a fresh hunger to be like Him”, etc.

You can purcahse the book at Amazon and I would certainly recommend doing so. It’s a great small group book and I only wish it had a workbook to accompany it. I may just write one myself.