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Listen to Jesus, Then Do it!

One of the Pastors from the Church Multiplication Movement was telling us a story about the importance of listening to God and doing what He asks. A woman from his church was a nurse at a local hospital, where a friend of hers lay dying of forth stage cancer.

She asked her Pastor if he would come to the hospital and share the Gospel of Jesus with him. He didn’t want to and thought that she should do it, that it was really her job as a follower of Christ anyway and she had built a relationship with the man which would make it more natural for her to share something like that with him. The Pastor did however feel like God was telling him to go, but he resisted and instead decided to clean his office for the next two days instead, (which was very out of character for him). Finally, he could take God’s tugging no longer and decided to go, all the while feeling angry on the way. When he walked into the hospital, his lady friend from church just happened to come around the corner at that very moment. “Oh good, you’re here”, she said. “They just moved him to another room. Follow me, I’ll show you where he is”.

When they got to the room, his friend practically pushed him in the door, closed it behind him and left. The dying man’s wife and daughter were by his bedside crying. “What am I going to say Lord?” the Pastor asked. “I don’t even know the guy”. God said “Just take a hold of his hand, look in his eyes, and share the Good News about my love for him”. So the Pastor did just that, and when he had finished, he asked the man if that was something he was interested in and if he wanted to give his life to Christ. The man shook his head and said yes through his oxygen mask. A moment later, he closed his eyes and took his last breath. The man’s wife look at the Pastor and said, “He was just waiting for you to come”

If we have entered into a relationship with Christ, we are all capable of hearing His voice. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. – John 10:27. We need to learn to trust Him enough to listen to what He is telling us, and then DO it.

Life and Death

Knowing Jesus Christ and letting Him put down stakes in your life makes all the difference between feeling really alive, and not really being alive at all. There is no greater satisfaction than having the presence of God, through Christ in your life. Absolutely nothing compares to it! Not sex, not drugs, not money, not relationships; nothing! Even the greatest feeling of satisfaction on earth feels worse than death in comparison to this life that comes from God. If you have even the slightest inkling to believe this, please read on.

In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” It appears that they didn’t die and that God was lying to them, but in fact, they did die. Let me explain; the life that we now live, from that time until now, is not really life at all. We have become so accustomed to this life that we really don’t know the difference, until we experience it! Sure it seems like we are alive. We have wonderful moments of happiness, we eat, we breathe, we love; but in comparison to the life God gives, this life doesn’t even feel like life at all. In fact, death is a step up from this “dead” life. There exists a larger, out in the open life. Another comparison would be, this life is the clothes closet and the life God gives is the universe. That’s how drastic it is.

This is not science fiction or fantasy. I have experienced this first hand. A life so full and free, that normal life is less preferable to death. As I have quoted before, Jesus gave us His real purpose for coming to earth when He said, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

I feel so emphatic about this to the point that my greatest desire in all of life is for you to know this life for yourself. I have no greater purpose, no greater desire. It’s easy to attain. Ask God to come into your life and to straighten out the tangled mess that this “normal” life has caused. Ask Him to set you free and to give you His Spirit which brings wholeness of heart and mind. You will probably still have grieve and trials, but He will, either quickly or slowly, begin to give you a level of maturity and growth that rivals any negative mind set, attitude or circumstance that you may be facing. Life to the full; as far as I am concerned, there is no other life!

The Lie

I suspect that all of us have believed a lie about ourselves for one reason or another. Not just any lie, but one that goes down to the very core of who you are as person; one that has integrated itself into your psyche so well that you don’t even acknowledge it or think about it. The lie says, “I’m not good enough”, or if it has worked its way deeper, “I’m no good”.

There are many reasons why this lie becomes a part of our lives. It could be that our parents were going through a divorce and in our childlike mind we said to ourselves, “Maybe if I am really good and get everything right, my parents will stay together”. Or maybe you were adopted into a loving home, but there is this nagging question in your soul, “Why did my birth parents give me up? Was there something wrong with me?” Maybe you were abused and the things that were done to you made you feel like you were, “no good” not worthy of anything good in your life. Or it may be a lot more subtle than that. Even if we have the perfect life, the enemy of our soul has a way of whispering lies to us and uses the mistakes we make as ammunition against us until the lie gets slowly integrated into our lives.

You see, the enemy of our souls is jealous of the creation. He does not have the power to create life or destroy it. He wanted to be God and to have these powers, and because he does not, he is jealous of God, who does this power. So instead he tries to steal the creation, and what he can’t steal, he tries to destroy. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; ” … – John 10:10a. He does this by trying to get us to destroy ourselves. His only power to accomplish this is a lie. If he can get us to believe the lie, and he does, then he can control us and get us to do things to harm ourselves. If I believe I am no good, then maybe if a bunch of women (or men) love on me I’ll feel ok. If I use drugs or alcohol, then I don’t have to feel the internal pain of the lie. If I mood alter with porn, then I’ll feel ok. If I buy a bunch of things, then I won’t feel so bad. If I get immersed in video games I can shut out the world and don’t have to feel the pain. You know how it goes. As consequences mount and the no good feeling increases, some of us may succumb to the ultimate culmination and objective of the enemy. “Look at you! Who do you think you are! Nobody loves you! You might as well kill yourself! You’re nothing! You’re a mistake!”

The lie can become a very powerful force in our lives, tainting everything we think and feel and keeping us from the full enjoyment of life. It makes us angry, cynical and critical of others. It warps our whole outlook on life. The crazy thing is that it’s a parlor trick, the whole bait and switch. Look over here so you don’t see what I’m doing over there. The truth is, the lie is totally false and irrelevant. It has absolutely nothing to do with how good we are and everything to do with how good God is. Even religion itself falls into the same trap that the lie sets, believing that we are not good enough for God so why bother, to the point of convincing ourselves there is no God. That way we can relax and breathe easy, not having to worry about measuring up to Gods standard. We reject God and all religion because it just seems too hard. A lot of us, deep down, believe that God exists and want to believe He is loving and forgiving, but religion keep telling us the same lie we believe anyway, “We are not good enough”. The reason that religion can do nothing more is because it is an institution run by humans who all believe the lie about themselves at some level.

The Good News, the VERY Good News, is that God’s love, peace, joy, forgiveness and every other gift that comes from God is just that, A GIFT! It’s there for the taking. We just need to accept the lie is a lie and accept the gift as a gift. Christ made it all available, … “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10b, (the second half of the verse I quoted earlier, in case you missed it J). It is just that simple, but somehow we miss it. There are some of you that, when I mentioned Jesus said, “oh great, I was fine until you said Jesus. I don’t want to hear any of that religion stuff. That’s just it! Jesus didn’t come to start another religion! He says why he came right there in John 10:10. It was to give us life to the full. What a gift that is! Do you see it? Do you get it? I desperately hope you do! I desperately hope that I do too!

Beware Oxytocin

It disheartens me to see how casually and easily we give our bodies away in our world today. I cannot convince anyone anymore from a moral stand point why easy sex is not such a good idea, but I can give you a scientific argument why.

Oxytocin is a brain chemical that could be called a bonding chemical. When a Mother is breastfeeding her baby, it is responsible for creating a powerful and permanent bond between Mother and child. You experience this chemical to some degree when someone touches your hand or gentle brushes the back of your neck. It is especially strong during sexual intercourse. When we have sex with someone, there is a strong bond that is formed chemically, and when we end up leaving that person, or they leave us, we experience a world of emotional pain.

Case in point; I heard the story of a young woman who dated a guy for five years and did not have sex with him during that time. When they broke up, she missed him and was sad, but not devastated. Subsequently, she met a guy and dated for three months during which time, she was sexually intimate with him but not emotionally or mentally. When they broke up, she was devastated and could not stop thinking about him for months and months.

Maybe you have had similar experiences. Sex is a powerful force and should not be entered into without commitment and intimacy (mentally and emotionally). It’s like a fire; in the fireplace it’s a beautiful thing, but in the curtains, it’s a disaster. 724px-OxitocinaCPK3D

The Good News – The Most Important Message Mankind Will Ever Know!

Most of us have heard the Gospel or “Good News” as we call it in Christian circles, but how many of us really know its breadth and depth. I suspect that most of us do not. How do I know that? Because statistically, abuse of all kinds is just as high in Christian homes as those who don’t claim to know Christ. Divorce is just as high. Addiction is just as high as well. It seems that Christians, on the whole, live with just as much fear, anxiety and worry as those outside the church. Christ’s coming to this world and the implications thereof is very good news, so why is it not having the impact on our world today that it should?

Why, when there is so much freedom and so much joy to be had? There is a much more enjoyable life waiting for us and it is so close, so easy to access, yet we miss it somehow. Jesus told us his main reason for coming to this earth when he said, “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)” –John 10:10.

So what is the “Good News”, how do we know that full life? To know it, we need a childlike mind of trust. That’s what makes it easy to attain, all we have to do is be like a child. It’s also what makes it so elusive to us, because we are unwilling to let go. Jesus also said, “Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” –Luke 18:17. The Good News is this; God did, and does it all. We do nothing! Our part is to just trust Him. To let go! By doing so, we can do anything; because He can do anything, by trusting Him, we can do all things! Philippians 4: 13” I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who [a]infuses inner strength into me; I am [b]self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]”. Ok, that just sounds way too easy. That’s why we miss it!

Listen to what I think is one of the most powerful scriptures written from Romans chapter 8:

1-2 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved, (the dilemma that Paul is referring to is the struggle with self that he talks about in chapter 7). Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

3-4 God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

5-8 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.

It goes on to say:

It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!

12-14 So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

I bolded and underlined, “instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us” because it encapsulates the main problem and its solution. We constantly struggle with self! We constantly kick ourselves when we mess up! We constantly worry and fear what’s around the next corner. We are always trying to get it right. If you are a person of faith, you probably say, “Well if I just read my Bible more and pray more, I’ll be ok”. It’s all about doing more, redoubling our efforts. You see that word “instead”? How did we miss that; because that’s all we do, isn’t it! Try harder, do more!

Oh, but here it comes. Watch it! “Simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us”. There is real power there! There is grace and forgiveness and love there! See, why do you think Christ placed such a strong emphasis on loving and forgiving our enemies? Because He knows that love and forgiveness are the only things that have any chance of breaking through the hard exterior of pride and arrogance in others and in us. Yes, arrogance has been my greatest nemesis also, keeping me from knowing the fullness of what I am sharing with you today. God’s grace is sooooooo huge! Unfathomably huge! And there is great freedom in that grace. Not freedom to do as we please, although we could, but freedom like a child completely trusting its Dada.

Oh, if the world just knew this, imagine the implications! There are implications here not just for freedom from worry and fear; not just for freedom from selfishness, pride and corruption; not just for freedom from guilt and shame; not just for freedom from addictions and obsessions; but freedom from disease, death, and moral decay as well. It’s a package deal. You don’t get just one; you get it all! A veteran Pastor once said to me years ago, “You know God doesn’t heal and perform miracles any more today. He did that back in the early days to confirm the Gospel, but now that we have the Bible, that’s all we need and God doesn’t need to do miracles anymore”. To which I say, The Gospel IS the power of God! To deny the miraculous is to cut the legs off of the Gospel and take away at least half of its effectiveness. If that is what some churches believe, no wonder the Good News has been weakened over the years. You can’t separate any part of it. That too is arrogance and contrary to childlike trust in God.

Now it’s time to start pulling up some floor boards that have been nailed down for a while. When you hear this, do you feel even the slightest pull on your heart!? Let it in! Trust! Let go! God will increase it! He will most certainly pour Himself into your life, whether it is for the first time, or anew, after years of trying to live a life of faith only to find struggle again and again. You see, a life of faith is just that, faith, not struggle.

God is about to do some great things in us, in His church, and in the world. Can you feel it? I know I can. Start trusting Him today for far more than anything you can even begin to think or imagine. Get ready to be a world changer!

Religion Forbids, but Faith Sets Free

Revival changes people’s desires in such a way that earthly satisfactions, (sex, alcohol, drugs, material possessions, etc.) become much less desirable, in light of the tremendously greater satisfaction that comes from God’s Spirit.

Think of the implications of this, the shear power to change the world. Crime would be reduced, people wouldn’t feel the need to satisfy the flesh as much through substances, sleeping with their neighbors, accumulating goods, or whatever it may be. People would be far more loving toward one another. Lives would literally be transformed. People would feel more alive, more content, more at peace. They would smile a lot more, give a lot more and generally be less self serving.

Is the vision of revival such a foreign concept, so hard to believe or hope for? Yes it is a foreign and vague concept for most of us, but it is not without precedence; (Greatest Revivals)

Maybe if we pray and hope, we will see God’s Spirit poured out again in our life time as it has before.

There have been instances in the history of the Church when the telling and retelling of the wonderful works of God have been used to rekindle the expectations of the faithful intercessors and prepare the way for another Awakening.
J. Edwin Orr

The Love Triangle

Years ago, when I worked for the street mission in Hamilton, Ontario, I met a man one day standing in front of the mission. He said he was a Pastor from another city and that God had told him to leave his church and come to Hamilton because God was going to bring revival, in part, through Hamilton, and through something called a Love Triangle with Buffalo and Rochester making the other two points of the triangle.

I have heard the same prophecy from at least three other sources on both sides of the border. It was said that this revival would be different than the one Toronto had experienced starting in 1994. During that time, as many as 5000 people every night came to experience what a British newspaper called the Toronto Blessing. About half of those people had flown in from other countries to experience the phenomenon in which participants reported healing, incidents of personal transformation, uncontrollable laughter, tears and a greater awareness of God’s Love. The next revival, it was said, would be different in that instead of people coming here from other countries, this one would go out from here to other parts of the world.

I believe this to be true and have been waiting, hoping and praying for some time now. Please join me in praying for this to occur; you will never know this kind of intensity of Love from anywhere else than you will from the heart of God. It has been shrouded from us for far too long.

The Original, The Best, and The Yet To Be

The first Church, the one we read about in the book of Acts (a history of the original Church) turned half the world upside down in under a century. It was a dynamic, loving and miraculous group that met from house to house, shared meals together, encouraged one another, and no one was in need of anything because everyone shared everything. The sick were healed, the dead were raised and God’s Spirit drove the whole thing. No wonder half the world was changed. Something happened to drastically slow down the progress of that early group. 20 more centuries have come and gone we still have not yet reached the other half of the world. We have been too busy with buildings, budgets, programs, doctrine, and dogma. We have lost sight of what was and so much time has past, no one really knows what it should be, but many of us have this burning in our hearts for something more, something we can barely define, but something we know is real. We got a taste and now we long for more.

I believe that God has showed me that everything that the Church once was and everything that it was meant to be will be realized through the next generation, those who are now in their teen and early twenties. That is why I decided to work with young people. It’s not something that I wan’t to do, but God showed me I needed to do, to help to usher in a new era of Church. One that will begin to change the world once again. One that will be miraculous, dynamic and on fire with God’s love and power. This needs to happen! It will happen! It’s just a matter of when. Oh, Lord help us to get out of our own way and to realize our real lives that have been waited in the shadows for a long, long time!

Let’s Not Call it Christianity

It was not the followers of Christ who started calling themselves Christians. It was those outside of the church in a place called Antioch. I am sure the term was used in a derogatory fashion. The believers referred to themselves as “The Way”.

That is not what most concerns me however. Names matter little. It’s the categorization that worries me. What happens when the Jewish people come to a realization that Jesus Christ truly is the Messiah that they have been waiting for. Are they to start calling themselves Christians? Their Jewish heritage is richer than ours. The Jewish believers in Christ’s day were just that; Jewish believers in Christ. You were either a Jewish follower of Christ or you were a Gentile follower. Now we have this new designation that I think is a barrier to those who might otherwise embrace Christ.

We had a couple a Muslim foreign exchange students with us two years ago. We had some amazing conversations because they were fairly familiar with the Old Testament. By the time they went back home they were calling themselves Messianic Muslims, seeing how Christ connects in their faith. As I said in the previous post, Christ didn’t come to start a new religion. He came to save the whole world. Let’s not put up barriers with our institutional mind sets.