He is Risen

Too often I think that we skip over certain things, little details that matter to the whole of a story, in order for us to get the even bigger picture. There was a study done in which a basketball game was being played and the subjects were asked to watch the video. After the video, they were asked to talk about what they had seen. When it was all finished, the person conducting the study asked a weird question, “did you see the gorilla?” Now obviously I’m paraphrasing the story, but the point remains the same. The subjects were so focused on watching one thing that they completely missed all the details that would’ve added to the complete picture. I bring this up because sometimes even in Christianity, we can look at a passage of scripture and miss the bigger picture, solely because we are only looking at what we are conditioned to look at.

We’ve just finished the Easter celebration day this past Sunday, and I was afforded the opportunity to speak at a sunrise service; it was my FIRST one ever! What an awesome time that we had, worshipping together as the mosaic body of Christ that day (you see there is greater unity in diversity)! As I was preparing for that message, I ran across “the gorilla” of the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration. You might say there was no gorilla there, and that’s precisely my point, we’ve heard that story so many times that we have only focused on one area and we miss the bigger picture being discussed! Read Luke 9:28-31, “Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” There is a HUGE moment here, that doesn’t eclipse the Glory of Jesus begin revealed, but it certainly adds to the POWER of it.

It would be awesome to see Moses and Elijah showing up and talking with Jesus, in fact, I could see myself responding in the same manner as Peter, declaring that tabernacles should be built in honor of the moment! BUT it wasn’t who was talking with him that was important or even what Luke was focused on…NOPE…it was what they were talking about with Jesus! They were speaking about “his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem”. Even here, we pause and reflect and think to ourselves “they were talking about his resurrection and ascension” but that isn’t the case! It’s too easy to just talk about that, there had to be more! The word departure here means “exodus”. Wait, what? Exodus? Why whatever do you mean? I’m glad you asked! This is where the characters begin to take shape! When thinking about Exodus, we can only think about Moses leading one million Hebrew children out of Egypt, and 400 years of slavery, through the Red Sea, and into the promised land. But Israel wasn’t necessarily enslaved to Egypt, they were under Roman rule. According to scholars, Jesus would’ve aligned himself with those in Israel who believed in a Redemptive Activism. In other words, Jesus believed in the Redemption of Israel by the hand of the Lord. They believed that the reason that they were under foreign rule was because of sin as a nation, turning away from God and serving themselves as well as other gods. But redemption had to come at the price of repentance by Israel and a return to good works in order for God to bring the sweeping redemptive deliverance that they needed and wanted. Once they were delivered, they could then worship God in Freedom as they had done before the exile. Jesus came to pay the price to begin repentance! He was and is the perfect spotless lamb who was slain for the sins of not just Israel, but ALL of Humanity! They had to be delivered from the enslavement of sin and oppression because of their sin! Thus Moses arrives to talk it out with Jesus! I wonder how that conversation actually went…So then why is Elijah present? Glad you asked again! Elijah as a prophet was one whose main goal was to go throughout the land of Israel and speak on God’s behalf against sin and unrighteous acts, bringing the people to a place of reconnection with God through Repentance and restoration. He has some pretty cool stories to go along with ministry, but the main point is keeping the fires burning through returns to righteous living before God (remember the prophets of Baal?).

Two very KEY figures in the redemption, restoration, and life of Israel, and they both have come to talk about the exodus that Jesus was about to accomplish in Jerusalem! Jesus was bringing an Exodus that would be more powerful and freeing than the Historical deliverances of both Moses and Elijah. Not just because it was for Israel, but because it was for me and you too! Luke is relaying this not to a Jewish audience only, but to a Greek man named Theophilus who most likely commissioned Luke to recount the truth of Jesus’ ministry and the future impact of that Ministry. The fact that Luke uses the word “accomplish” tells us that it wasn’t a work he was starting, it was a work he was FINISHING! This of course leads us to the title of this blog, “He is Risen”. You see Jesus was paving the way for repentance and redemption through His Blood, and he was sealing and finishing the work, by establishing Freedom over sin, death, hell, and the grave by His Resurrection! The accomplishment of Jesus’ Exodus took place with the very first stripe he bore on his body till the stone was rolled away by an angel of the Lord 3 days later!

Today, we can celebrate that Jesus has led us out of captivity and enslaved captivity (Ephesians 4:18), by His Blood and Resurrection. YOU ARE LIVING THE EXODUS OF JESUS! Let’s rejoice by letting these lyrics be the song we sing as we are walking out of Enslavement and into OUR PROMISE…

“Hallelujah, Jesus is alive
Death has lost its victory
And the grave has been denied
And Jesus lives forever
He’s alive! He’s alive!
He’s the Alpha and Omega
The first and last is He
The curse of sin is broken
And we have perfect liberty
The lamb of God has risen
He’s alive! He’s alive!

Love Is In the Air

It’s not hard during the month of February, to talk about Love. Cupid is constantly working his magic with arrows of love puncturing the hearts of would-be relationships. The smell of candy and roses permeates the air we breathe during this month and it’s always a good thing! The reason is that people are at the very least being cordial and loving towards one another; some relationships will mend, others will end with broken hearts….never mind all that! This isn’t even the subject of this post (well sorta…)

I just finished a series entitled “Love is in the Air”, and while it wasn’t about relationships as many churches and ministers might afford themselves the opportunity to talk about, NO this series circled around one(1) relationship, in fact, it is the MOST IMPORTANT relationship we can have– a relationship with God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

For us, the most important decision we can make is to RETURN to our First Love! For two years now, the body of Christ has been bogged down with concerns over COVID, which has limited our engagement with our community, fractured once-solid relationships, and brought progress to a near-screeching halt. Mostly due more or less, to the reality that we haven’t forgotten our first love, nor abandoned our first love, we have LOST the loving feeling towards our first love. Jesus and our relationship with him are more what we do than who we are becoming; it becomes “old hat”, so common that it is cast aside. I do that with old hats you know…when I get tired of wearing them and they just more or less make my head itch, I cast them aside and look at them every once in a while just determining when I will get rid of them or give them away for second-hand use by someone else! It’s a terrible thing to do and pretty sure Jesus doesn’t feel the love when we do it! John 3:16 (a common thread in this post) is filled with awe and wonder at the power of God through Jesus. The verses around it form a very important notice for us too: We have been saved from ourselves, and the old sinful nature which has so often kept us held down, and even more than that, have defeated DEATH, the one item man continuously attempts to defeat but never is able to do; ALL THIS THROUGH JESUS WORK IN COMING TO EARTH, DYING ON THE CROSS, AND RISING FROM THE GRAVE–NOW SEATED ON THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER IN HEAVEN ABOVE!

Another realization for us is that God’s Love Is…worth living through in this life in the world! Scripture declares that God’s Love is a refuge. Refuge, a place of shelter and help, and more importantly, the writer of Psalms 52 where we find this tells us that his love is UNASSAILABLE; that it cannot be attacked! God’s love for us can’t be attacked? That’s right you heard it here! That means that any attempted attack ends in failure before it begins! It is WE who allow it to be attacked, and in our minds render it defeated at times when it is still standing untouched and undaunted by the enemy. His Love is boundless, strong, and unmoveable! AND it was given to us and according to Scripture is “shed abroad” through us!

The funny thing about Love is that it is hardly ever represented right, and yet it is the KEY to the church making a real impact in our communities today! That Love is “shed abroad” in our hearts, implies that it isn’t for us to soak up like a sponge and hold onto (it is good to walk in and hold to but don’t miss the point…), it is to be shared with others. The reason: the CHANGE that it makes in All of us! This love is the great notifier of discipleship when expressed amongst us as believers, and this Love is THE game-changer when shared in the community at large. The truth is “we all want to be loved

When thinking about February and that Love is in the Air, don’t go into it with thoughts of candy and flowers, rings, hearts, cupids, or cards, GO into it reminded that God Loves You, that Jesus is our FIRST Love, and that we should be sharing God’s love through our hearts because God’s Heart = Jesus’ Heart = Our Heart!

I had the opportunity…

To watch “The Chosen-the Messengers” this past Wednesday and WOW, is all I can say. The musical part of the feature-length film was wonderful, great songs, both new and old, that were equally anthemic and celebratory of the time of year that we are in; The Christmas Season.

But what was most appealing to me was the four monologues that were given by actors from the series, the powerful words they spoke concerning the HOPE that we have in the Birth of Jesus. With each word, they expressed the wonderment and awe of just how miraculous and special the Advent of Jesus into this world and in our lives is. I sat speechless in realizing how the “God who sees me” has never allowed me to be lost in His all-powerful vision. I was grateful for the revelations that each speaker presented that gave me a greater appreciation for God’s Love, culminating in sending His Son as an announcement that he is “WITH US”.

Of course, the pinnacle was the actual film expressing the angles that we don’t normally consider when thinking through the details of the story of Our Saviors Birth–The youthful zeal and faith of the young Mary, whose Psalm she declared by the Spirit served as the comfort and supernatural enablement she needed to complete the mission of birthing the Savior; the bumbling of Joseph as he worked feverishly and faithfully to ensure that Mary and Baby Jesus in her womb was taken care of even to the positive and yet “green” look on his face as Mary’s labor pains began. I have to say I had never thought about the angelic announcement to the Shepherds in the fields being simultaneously happening in the moment of Jesus’s birth (We always look at it in chronological terms, but was it?).

It was truly a celebration that made me even more excited for the RETURN of Jesus who came to save you and me and is coming again to take us home to be with him in the not-to-distant future. My eyes were opened to increased awe and appreciation of my Lord and Savior! Surely, Christmas is a more special time than we give it credit for, and that is something that we in the church MUST change!

I have to say I was hooked Wednesday night and will be binge-watching “The Chosen” in the days to come.

The Kingdom Imperative!

Something amazing happened on the way to the end of service this morning! People heard the call for becoming evangelists!

This is so important, because it is vital to churches to be more evangelistic in their intentions; especially in this hour that we are in! Gone are the days of passivity. We must be as adamant about seeing people restored or won to the Kingdom of God, as we are about voicing our opinions regarding political issues…EVEN MORE SO!

Our new Evangelist of the church, gave a story at lunch today that makes the necessity of evangelism paramount to the church(es) thriving. He recalled the story as follows:

At the age of 90, Billy Graham underwent surgery to remove his gall bladder. This is hardly ever done to any person at that age, because of the stress of putting someone under anesthesia and the concern of what it would do to their heart. During and after the procedure, the doctor came in to talk with Bro. Graham. They told him that they had been giving him blood transfusions. What they had seen was that the new blood that they were giving Graham, was helping to bring healing to his body. In other words new blood was causing his body to begin healing itself! Immediately, Billy Graham testified that the Lord spoke to him that “new blood heals the body”; his understanding was that new blood (new people coming into the church and being saved by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ) that the church in its excitement over new people would literally begin to find growth and healing through it. WHY? Because God IS up to something, when the church is up to something.

This solidifies the importance of fresh life being brought into the atmosphere, through fresh people coming into the church and finding Jesus! We NEED to heed this for sure! Let’s go into the world and fulfil the Great Commission, by being more militant in reaching people with the Love of God and the power of the Gospel, and in turn watch the Kingdom of God BLOSSOM and Explode upon the earth!

True Lessons from Daniel

So last night we finished our journey through the book of Daniel and WOW what a ride! So many things that we read and even discussed are so relevant today it’s alarming. Well…check that, not really alarming so much as making more sense given todays’ climate in the world. I found it absolutely fascinating how REAL prophetic ministry came to life here. With every passing “word from the Lord” that was given, we see so many times its fulfillment in history; especially in the “dark” or “silent” years of scripture–those 450 years in between the old and new testament for which we have a lot of extra-biblical writing that sets up the cultural context for Jesus life and ministry.

Anyways, back to Daniel…

Daniel teaches us two lessons that are important for us to grasp today, and if I were to give a one-phrase theme for the whole of his writings, I would say it is “How to Survive in Babylon”.

So how do we survive in Babylon? Faithfulness and Perseverance!

From the very beginning of Daniel, through to the end, we see the faithfulness of Daniel! His faithfulness has an impact not just on his friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, but on the kings of Babylon and Persia as well! His faithfulness to God paved a way for him to become an influence in the entire empire, opening doors that wouldn’t have been opened especially as an exile under bondage to a heathen ruler. The implication here is that our faithfulness to God unleashes HIS faithfulness towards us; in ways we can’t even imagine or fathom in the midst of our situations!

The final exhortation of Daniel at the end of the final prophetic revelation is to Persevere in spite of the circumstances. The times will be tough (even now, they are not exactly peachy), and those who overcome will do it through persevering over those tough times; relying on the faithfulness of God and living a life of faithfulness TO God. Perseverance is rooted in TRUSTING God’s faithfulness in times of chaos and trouble. We can see through the example of Daniel that the heart of God is to be trusted in by his people. The faithfulness of God is revealed in the promised Deliverance of the people of God. It is in this that we can trust and find HOPE to persevere.

God’s final encouragement to Daniel to “go your way till the end” is His way of telling Daniel to not worry about things, but to remain faithful and presevere in hope, knowing that rest is coming and VICTORY is sure. I believe that for us it is the same encouragement!

SO STAY FAITHFUL AND PERSEVERING, TRUSTING GOD!

A Spiritual Dynamic

Did you know that Darius the Mede, written about in the writings of Daniel(ch. 11:1) in Scripture, had an angel of the Lord appointed to be his support? The writings of Daniel peel back a layer of reality and inform us that the spiritual realm indeed has an impact on the physical realm. In chapter 10 of Daniel, we see that the angel of the Lord (possibly the angel Gabriel who also had come to Daniel before, to bring revelation about visions he had received from the Lord concerning Israel and Babylon) had to battle against the “Prince of Persia” in these particular writings, the word prince is used not just as a royal term, but to indicate that there was an angelic being (whether angel or demon) which had been appointed to be a protector or guardian or even stronghold over not just leaders, but nations!

There is some spiritual significance here; that God had placed an angel to support a heathen king whom He was using as a part of the judgment of God against Israel for their transgressions.

If you can, and are willing to consider, this means that ALL authority on earth that has been given and appointed by God according to Romans 13:1-2 has support from God as His appointed authority AND may have a ruling principality that is also sent. Put simply, there is a war that wages above man that we don’t see but MUST acknowledge…especially in today’s highly charged climate. This explains why Romans 13 continues with the concept of honoring those authorities; that in turn, this honors the Lord himself. NOTHING WRONG WITH DISAGREEMENT WITH THEM, BUT EVERYTHING WRONG WHEN OUT OF YOUR OWN MOUTH (and mine too) WE DEMEAN, DISHONOR, and DESTROY THOSE AUTHORITIES. We are instructed to pray for them even in the midst of disagreement, not blast them all over Facebook and every other social media outlet we can find. The simple fact is that it is a TRUE DISHONOR to God when we dishonor those he places over us or allows to be placed over us as a country, state, city, etc. The bottom line is PRAY for those in authority! #WhenGodsPeoplePray

God can then bless, change, and rearrange the nation…BUT HE WON’T if we bite and devour and complain. #MaturityMatters

Everything!!

This one is fairly brief…lol! I woke up this morning with this question on my mind, that I believe the Lord dropped in my spirit…”what did I give you that pertains to life and godliness?” The obvious answer we can all think of – EVERYTHING. So I answered the same, and the Lord followed up with “so what exactly is everything?”

It’s interesting to note that most of the time when I began to list off what everything covers, I realized that what I was listing was attributes rather than answers. In fact, those are attributes of the 2nd and 3rd persons in the Trinity; Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. So let’s briefly break this down…

Firstly God the Father gave us Jesus! We needed to reconnect with God since the sin of Adam and Eve separated us. Jesus paid the price for that connection, through the blood (HIS OWN BLOOD) that he shed upon the cross. Jesus’ blood gives us the victory over death, hell, and the grave! He is the LIFE that we have been given. Paul says “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) John 1 tells us that Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ. That grace, according to Paul, “It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,” (Titus 2:12)This means that through Jesus’ death and resurrection, that we’ve been given everything that pertains to LIFE.

Secondly, God the Father sent us His Promised Holy Spirit! Jesus said in John 16:13, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” Jesus also prayed to the Lord for us in John 17:17, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” His prayer was that the Holy Spirit would set us apart by teaching us the truth; the truth that the Spirit was receiving from Jesus. On the day of Pentecost, Jesus asked the Father, and the Father poured His Spirit out upon the believers in the upper room. That empowerment is the fuel needed to carry out the mission, and has been the continual source for ALL believers since! Truly the Spirit ensures that we have been given what we need for maintaining and growing in godliness!

With gifts like these, what more could we possibly need?

Today let’s rejoice that we’ve been given EVERYTHING that we need that pertains to life and godliness!!

Watch What You Say!

If you missed Wednesday night, I want to offer you the opportunity to participate in blog form…lol!

One of the keys to Revival in a community is to check the way you speak about that community! Revival doesn’t deal with temporal secular issues, it deals with Spirit and eternal issues. There is a HUGE difference between giving a critique and being critical, and the truth of it is in the spirit by which the words are spoken. Giving a critique points out an issue whether of strength or weakness and seeks to make them better; whereas being critical only points out a problem and never offers a solution. When looking for a good source on this subject in scripture, look no further than Proverbs. remember that King Solomon wrote these to his son. We also as we read them, look at them as tips from God to his children. Solomon was writing to his son to express how royalty should behave, how they should rule, how they should live with others. In the same way, God is writing to us, how to be princely in our journey through this life. Solomon says the power of life and death is in the tongue, and those who love the words they speak will eat the production of those words; Literally, you will eat your words…but let’s look at the matter at hand.

Proverbs 11:11 By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown.” 

We can be sure that Solomon’s writings are based on his intimacy with God as he was drawing from the wisdom of God to govern the people of God (remember being princely). This isn’t just about the community of believers, but the community at large that doesn’t believe as well. You can tell from this verse that the words our mouths speak play a very big role in affecting not just ourselves, not just our families or churches, but CITIES! In fact, the word here for “city” means “to build” and it refers to building up. The word for exalted means to be raised up; it’s straight and tall, not only this but fortified or reinforced. Apply this to people, families, children, churches, and to communities, and you will see that words that are spoken by the upright ONLY build up and fortify. The words of the wicked that overthrow is the exact opposite, what is being built is being torn down, which is almost the same as idle words that have no effect. But in this case, it’s destroying what is being built so that the finished product is only the ruins. 

James 3:10From the same mouth comes out blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so!

The meaning of the word Blessing in both the Greek and Hebrew carries with it the ideas of- words spoken which captivate the hearer, that bring consecration, that cause to prosper or to make happy; that bring benefit; a benediction-to invoke (inspire) wellness. In other words, to bless is to catalyze a destiny. Its to seal the possibility into someone’s hearing and possible affecting of actions to meet the words spoken. That they captivate the hearer means that they give off HOPE.

For the believer, this commands that you cannot speak in this manner, carrying both pure and bitter words within you, and in actuality, why would you want to? The words we speak either come from uprightness in our lives with God, or from a life of wickedness and rebellion against God. you are either catalyzing wellness or you are catalyzing destruction, but you cannot speak both! In fact, if you take a source of purity and combine it with a source of bitterness, eventually the hearer will only experience the bitter. Bitter words can permeate an atmosphere and become the main influence that flows from you when allowing two sources, existing within you.

How do you change the way you speak? 

  1. See your city, the people, your church, through the lens of Jesus Value. John 3:16, we all know by heart, but do we realize that it speaks of how God the Father showed how he valued humanity through his Son? Jesus died for the entire world, in order to reconcile them to Him. YOU MEAN EVERYTHING TO GOD AND SO DOES EVERYONE ELSE, BELIEVER AND NON-BELIEVER ALIKE! If you cannot speak words according to Jesus’ value, then you don’t know Jesus or the valuation he has put in place.
  2. We prophecy what we want to see as we align with what God already sees. We can learn from the Valley of Dry Bones. When God takes the prophet out to see the valley, we have to remember it was a valley OF dry bones, not a valley filled with dry bones. It was a valley that was made of them, piled high with them, as far as the eye could see. God knew the current condition, but he also knew the possibility. When asking the prophet if the bones could live, the prophet chooses wisely by differing to God’s view rather than sticking to the reality of what he saw. In the prophet’s mind, the bones are dry and dead and hopeless and if he had spoken “wickedly” or faithlessly those bones would’ve stayed that way until God found a prophet who dared to believe in what he didn’t see. The prophet chose to listen to God’s vision and speak from there. He chose to declare God’s Hope over those bones rather than continue to tear down using words with no life. This also implies a connection with God that goes beyond morning services, the occasional Wednesday night, and a 2-3 minute devotional on the way to work. It’s established by prayer! The latest statistics show that the average church attendee prays 1 minute a day, and sadly the average pastor doesn’t fare any better, praying on average 5 minutes a day! Definitely not the way to influence people through inspiring hope or catalyzing a proper destiny! The bottom line is that GOD has a word for EVERY person, place, and “City” that we should be building and we can only hear those words through CLOSENESS to Him!

I’m calling ALL BELIEVERS…It is time for the UPRIGHT to be UPRIGHT through the words they speak, having been called to build and exalt rather than build through destroying.. Will you heed the call today?

Stronger Together!

This week I attended our District Council for the North Texas District of the Assemblies of God.

WHAT. A. COUNCIL. IT. WAS!!!

The theme was stronger together, and it was on full display as ministers and churches from various cultures and cultural backgrounds gathered under the banner of JESUS, and in the POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT!!

The underlying premise that was spoken time and again was that you are valuable to the Lord, and valuable to one another. This should not just be our mindset, but our action and activity; our mantra and our heart. The valuation system is filtered through JESUS DEATH and RESURRECTION. John 3:16 is the power of the gospel and the PERIOD on the statement of your absolute value!

Second to the value you have is the value YOU bring! Scripture tells us that we are a body that functions together! This means that we are the same in body but different in approach, gifting, talent, and function. But what you bring in those areas is not a detraction or a subtraction it’s an opportunity of MULTIPLICATION! When the corporate body brings their gifting(s) together, they can multiply the effectiveness of the church.

In short you mean more than you think! Don’t sell yourself short!

Memorial Day 2021

As we gather around bbq’s all around the ol’ US of A, we remember those who gave their lives and spilled their blood, and the blood of enemies, to preserve or create freedom in lands throughout the world.

I’m reminded that while we celebrate freedom from tyranny and oppression in the natural, there is also an unseen world with vastly more important freedom that we celebrate; freedom from sin! As much as there are men and women who gave their lives in our nations history, there are men and even women who gave their lives because they dared to speak of a Savior– the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ the Son of the Living God!

Hebrews 11 often called the “faith chapter” of Scripture gives us the price many paid to tell of what they never saw in person. And chapter 12 follows up with calling all of them a GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES.

What this speaks of, is foundation. Just as Every generation that gave their lives for our country, every generation of faith that has gone before us is the foundation of faith! Both are the foundation upon which we build; beginning with Genesis to the year 1776 and through til May 31st 2021 and beyond!

How you celebrate is…YOU BUILD! So the question is what are you building? Is it ready for the next generation? We build by celebrating what’s been done, talking about it, living in the sureness of it, renovating what needs to be (the climate of our country needs some renovation) fixed and walking out the truth in realtime. The GOSPEL gives us the right configuration for building.

Jesus is the sure foundation of faith and practice for us to engage in! His life, his death, his resurrection, His Spirit, the supernatural; IT IS ALL WORTH LIVING IN RIGHT NOW!!

So the challenge is to live and build. Start today, its never too late!