The Last Days, Part II

Hey! So, you probably figured it out by now. These blogs are less about dystopian tragedies and more about our heart. Good!

Here's the rest of the list, it gets deep toward the end!

This list comes from 2 Timothy 3, imagine Paul writing this to Timothy with the belief that Jesus was coming back any day! I can see Timothy looking down this list and thinking, "WOW! (or some greek derivative) This is exactly what the world is dealing with!"

It's so much more applicable today! Read through this and you'll see what I mean. I hope that you are encouraged to reach out to Jesus to become more like Him. AND that you are filled with a fresh passion to reach out to those who need Jesus.

  • Without self-control - given over to our desires with no control.
  • Brutal - abrupt, rude, angry, harsh; all things God is not.
  • Despisers of good - imagine actually hating and despising good things? We live in a world that actually despises righteousness and goodness.
  • Traitors - no allegiance to anyone or anything but their passing feelings.
  • Headstrong - plowing in the wrong direction, with no desire to hear correction or direction.
  • Haughty - always thinking their way is the right way. Even though it leads to destruction.
  • Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - we value fun, entertainment, and pleasure over becoming like God, having our faith stretched, crucifying our flesh. The tree was and is pleasing to our eyes. We think it brings pleasure but only God can satisfy and fulfill us.
  • A form of godliness but denying its power - monasticism and syncretism both are extremes of the same problem, thinking that we know how to do God’s will without Him. Monasticism assumes that by our separation from the world we will be more like Christ. Syncretism assumes that by our assimilation with the world that we will show them what Christ is like. Both are error-prone. To be like Christ is to lay down our will and be conformed in His image. Daily, casting off our assumptions and experience to allow His word to transform us completely.

No matter what we are dealing with or going through, Jesus Christ is ALWAYS the answer! Let Him in, let Him shape you into the person you are designed and destined to be...IN CHRIST.

The Last Days, Part I.

I love the word. I love reading it everyday. There is so much that applies to our daily life and the current situations that surround this world. Anyone who says the bible is outdated, must have never read the bible!

The bible is the mirror that reflects what is in us. The things that are Christ-like and the things that are not. When we look in the mirror of the bible, we can see our flaws, but we can also see the One who removes them by His grace. 

I was reading 2 Timothy, and this list came up in chapter 3. It paints such a graphic picture of our day and the need for us, His disciples, to rise up and share the Good News!

Read on!

The things men will love in the last days:

  • Themselves - first and foremost we will be so focused on ourselves that God will fade in the distance.
  • Lovers of money - they always have and always will, believing that money can bring them true fulfillment.
  • Boasters - they love proclaiming their greatness, celebrating themselves at every turn. 
  • Proud - arrogance flows naturally from self-love/worship/
  • Blasphemers - from arrogance comes blasphemy
  • Disobedient to parents - respect and honor are thrown by the wayside.
  • Unthankful - entitlement and victimhood will take the place of gratitude.
  • Unholy - no longer consistent with the nature of God or His will.
  • Unloving - without a desire to become like God, we cannot love people the way we should.
  • Unforgiving - unrelenting, not allowing for others mistakes all the while continuing in our own.
  • Slanderers - constantly talking bad about others.

Maybe you have a few of these qualities working in your own life. Take the time to allow God to remove them from your heart. We will all be better off as we become more like HIM!

P.S. Did you know I wrote a book? Get your copy here: You will really enjoy it, it will help you find your MISSION here on earth!

Part II comes out next week!

Laying it out before the Lord, Part II.

In our last post we saw that the words/threats/lies of the enemy are able to be defeated! No matter what has been said or is being said, Jesus wants to throw all those lies down. Hezekiah, King of Israel, was on the verge of war with Assyria. Assyria had launched a campaign designed to scare the Israelites into submission via threats and propaganda. Isaiah told Hezekiah and Israel not to fear the words!

Hezekiah then went another step and spread the letters/threats that he received from Assyria before the Lord and prayed. Sometimes you have to lay it all out before the Lord. The good, the bad, the ugly; lay it out and pray until you get an answer. And God did answer Hezekiah!

God heard and responded to his faith. God sent an Angel of the Lord who killed 185,000 Assyrians. God will defend His children, you and I. He wants to hear our prayers, requests, pains, fears, thanks, blessing, etc. 

It's worth noting, since it's in the bible, what did Hezekiah say when He prayed? How did He frame up his prayers? Whenever I see prayers written down in the bible I like to observe what they said, there's usually some pattern to them. 

Here's what Hezekiah prayed: (Full text in Isaiah 37:15-20)

  • Lord of Hosts - the One with the largest army
  • The One who dwells between the cherubim - the Glorious One, the Shekinah Glory
  • You are God, You alone - there is none like You or equal to You
  • You have made…- the creator of all.
  • Incline Your ear and hear - He is the God who longs for the voice of His children
  • Open Your eyes - see the injustice against Your chosen Ones
  • Truly Lord - we see the situation here, it’s dire. The enemy has defeated everyone else completely.
  • Now therefore - save us from his hand that everyone may know what we know - You are the Lord and there is none like You!

Hezekiah opened and closed with the idea that he had his faith in God and God alone. He knew that God is bigger than Assyria, but He still laid it out and said, "The Assyrians have beat everybody else. They could beat us too. HELP!"

It's okay to tell God how you feel, but it's better to declare His word in faith back to Him. "I feel this way, but I know Your words says.... and I trust in that more than my feelings. HELP!"

Lay it out. You have feelings. Now add your faith and believe that God is listening to you and wants to help you...because HE DOES!

Laying it out before the Lord, Part I.

I was reading the daily reading plan, in Isaiah, when I came across this interesting passage/turn of events. Hezekiah and all Israel was being attacked by Assyria. Assyria was rampaging and destroying everyone in their path. One of their primary weapons were threats and manipulation. They would send a representative to speak harsh words and tell of the destruction that Assyria was inflicting on other nations. They would write propaganda papers and deliver them to the citizens to strike fear into their hearts. They were quite good at it.

They did the same thing to Israel. Yet, here is the response Isaiah gave to Hezekiah: "Thus says, the Lord: “Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard…” Is. 37:6

This is one of the best reminders and statements we can put in front of ourselves: "Don’t be afraid of the words." The words come flying in from all over. The devil is the propaganda master! He throws lies at us (fiery darts) from within and without. He is relentless. 

He never stops. He is constantly telling us that we cannot do it. That God doesn't love us as much as someone else. He is telling us we won't make it. He is telling us to draw back.  

Don't believe him. They are lies from the enemy! Take Isaiah's not be afraid of the words which you have heard or are hearing. Later on in Isaiah, he tells us that: No weapon formed against you will prosper. Every tongue (words) which rises against you in judgement, YOU shall condemn! 

You are blessed. You are loved. You are more than an overcomer through Him who loves you. Overcome the words today.

Part II is next week...we'll see what else Hezekiah did to stop the words of the enemy!



Hearing the Voice of God - Part III

The last surgery that you need is heart surgery. Hebrews 4:12 talks about a dividing line between the soul and the spirit. This has to be the finest line of separation on earth. How many times have we thought something was the spirit and yet it was our soul (mind, will, emotions)? Conversely, how many times have we thought something was our soul and yet it was our spirit trying to relay us something? The answer is probably, too many! This is why the word of God and knowing/understanding God is so crucial. You can have a great relationship with God, a renewed mind, and yet still miss what God is saying. Nobody ever wants that to happen, or at least they shouldn’t.

The word of God in this instance isn’t sifting through or removing bad parts. The word of God in this surgery is acting as a dividing line. It is a boundary to your soul and spirit. It says, “this is where the soul ends and the spirit begins.” The word is what helps us define our boundary between the soul and the spirit. You may be asking, why is this important? Because God can only be pleased in the Spirit! Anything we do outside of the Spirit–no matter how good our intentions may be–it won’t please God.

If you have ever read your bible and it felt dry; or perhaps, you were praying and didn’t experience a breakthrough. Or you were in a service at a church building and you ended up just singing some songs, rather than really worshiping God. All of this is the result of just a soul-ish manifestation, rather than a truly spiritual connection to God. Let me say this, if you are not hearing God’s voice or you are not overcoming the way you know you should . . . perhaps you have been going through the motions in your soul. What you need to do, the remedy, is to get in the Spirit. God has poured out His Spirit on all flesh. Now’s your time to get in the Spirit and hear the voice of God! Pray in the Spirit, find some music that will enable your spirit to worship and connect with God, listen to some preaching that will stir your faith . . . whatever you need to do to get in the Spirit, do it!

He who has ears to hear . . . let him hear what the Spirit is saying!

Hearing the Voice of God - Part II

In Part 1, we looked at the thoughts and the intents of the mind. This is manifested in our attitudes and motives. In Part 2, we are going to look at Bone Surgery. The next portion of Hebrews 4:12 says that the word of God “pierces to the division . . . of both joints and marrow.” This speaks to us about our structure and DNA. Joints are our flex or bending point. Using Peter again as our example, look at this verse:

“When those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, 
they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword ?” And one of them
[Peter] struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 
But Jesus answered and said, “Stop ! No more of this.” 
And He touched his ear and healed him.” 

Luke 22:29-51

Peter, in an extreme situation or bending point, shows his true DNA. He whips out a sword and (randomly) cuts off Malchus’ ear. This is totally against what Jesus wanted to happen, but Peter was reacting to what was going on around him rather than living in the Spirit. Zealous people wield the Word of God with reckless abandon! Instead of people being cut to the heart, the zealous cut off ears. This impairs the hearing of the gospel to those who are unsaved or immature. Jesus’ response is that He picks up the ear and heals the man. He repairs the man’s hearing! We need to be repairing the hearing of people so that they can hear what the Spirit is trying to say to them.

That was the joints. Now, what does the marrow represent? DNA. If the joints represent structure, DNA is what you’re made of. Let’s look at an example of Peter’s DNA: “then the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, ‘Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.”Luke 22:61-62

Marrow is your entire make-up. It is the deepest parts of your being; your DNA is found in the marrow. When things are going bad, that’s when we see the strength of your marrow–-your DNA. Will you deny Jesus or will you stand? When it comes down to it, are you serving Jesus out of religious duty or a ravishing, insatiable love? Your DNA determines your conviction and your witness!

The word of God, like a surgeon in this instance, is actually passing through the joints and the marrow. It’s not cutting or dividing them; it’s passing through on its way to the damaged area to repair it. God wants to give you bone surgery. He wants to repair your joints and DNA so that you can stand firm in your faith and be willing to yield to His Spirit!

Stay tuned for Part 3 – Heart Surgery!

Hearing the Voice of God

Communication with God is essential. God wants to communicate with us. It was His design, from creation, that He and man have a relationship and communicate with each other. God is the perfect communicator. He never miscommunicates. If there is ever a problem hearing God, the fault is squarely on us and our sin nature. We are the ones who hear what we want to hear, or disregard the voice of God entirely. Jesus says, “He who has (spiritual) ears to hear, let him hear.” This is God’s desire for us: that we hear what He is speaking to us. To do that we need some surgical work done in our life so that we can properly hear God.

In Hebrews 4:12 it reads, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” This verse has a lot of hidden meaning in the original Greek. Much of its original description is based on surgical precision to remove, expose, and analyze our brain, bones, and heart. Throughout the New Testament we see that the word is likened to a sword. We are, as disciples of Christ, to wield this sword effectively. Jesus was the master of sword-wielding. Paul was a skilled swordsman, as well. Peter, well, he is easier to look at and draw examples of what most of us would do and have done with the word. So, let me give you 3 surgeries that will repair your hearing and help you to wield the sword more accurately.

Surgery #1: Brain Surgery

Mark 8:33 – “Get behind me Satan! You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Jesus just referred to Peter as Satan. He equated Peter’s human perspective to that of the guy who originated sin. The guy that introduced mankind to sin and its horrible effects on humanity. Why did He do that? Peter’s thoughts and intentions were not God’s. They were Peter’s. Jesus is looking for disciples who will accept and proclaim the mind of Christ. He is looking for our thoughts to be as close to His thoughts as possible. He wants our intentions to be His intentions. His intentions are holiness, purity, salvation, discipleship, Kingdom, etc.

What happens when you don’t get your way? Or when you don’t agree with other believers? What about when God doesn’t answer a prayer or do something on your time table? Where are your thoughts and intentions then? Do you see things from a human point of view? Or can you still accept God’s thoughts and intentions?

The word of God in this first surgery is like a surgeon taking his scalpel and light to shine into the dark crevices of your brain. He is searching for cancerous tumors that need to be removed before they spread. He is looking to remove man’s thoughts and put His in their place. (Note: He’s not looking to lobotomize you; He doesn’t want mindless robots. He wants to remove the doubt, unbelief, and error.)

So, are you seeing things from a human point of view today? Or from God’s? Let God remove the wrong thoughts and intentions today!

Stay tuned for Surgery #2, Bone Marrow Transplant!

A Vision for Fruitfulness - Part II

Let’s continue our discussion about fruitfulness and vision with the thorny and the good soils!

3. The thorny soil is similar to the rocky soil. Both soils are not really even ideal for sowing. Yet, Jesus was clear to say that the word fell upon that ground. Since we have no idea which soil each person is, we sow the seed to everyone. The thorny soil represents the soulish person. They are entirely governed by their mind, will, emotions. They seek after temporal pleasures and possessions. They worry because they have no faith. They pursue wealth because they don’t see eternally. The word becomes choked out by the earthly desires. The picture here is literally of the world system drowning out the Spirit with worries, lusts, and the desires of this world. The result: no fruit is produced.

  • Note: both the rocky soil and thorny soil are deceptive because there is a “potential” for fruit. In other words, they have the appearance that they are actually going to produce fruit. The ultimate sign of fruit is . . . actual fruit. I would go so far as to say this is the soil of the lukewarm. They grow fast, they grow through the rocks and the thorns, but only to wither away due to shallowness and carnality.

4. The good soil! Thank God for the good soil. Whereas 75% of the soil the seed is thrown on represents zero fruit, the good soil represents 30-, 60-, and 100-fold returns. They hear the word. They accept the word. They patiently produce a harvest!

  • The word “accept” or “receive” literally means to take on as one’s own. That is the essence of the Gospel. Take this Gospel on as your own. Go and make disciples like it depends solely on you! The interesting part of the good soil is this: it may have rocks in it, it may have some thorny plants, it may even be located near a pathway. The good soil, however, has been tended well by it’s owner. Somebody has made sure that the rocks and thorns didn’t overtake it – this is a continual job! Somebody has made sure that the soil was in a place to receive the right amount of sunlight (basking in the word) and water (saturating in the presence). The good soil is the result of focused work! The result is 100x fruit.

The bottom line of this parable is this: qualify the soil. Ask yourself this question, which soil am I? If you are producing fruit, in the form of disciples, you are good soil. If you are not producing any disciples, what changes can you make in your life to produce fruit?

A Vision for Fruitfulness

Vision begins with God. It is seeing Him for who He is. Once we see Him, we then should learn to see us as He sees us. Vision is the response we have after discovering our life in Christ. Vision motivates us to connect value to other people. True vision is not motivated by self, but led by the Spirit. Vision is always about bringing people into deeper relationship with Jesus. It’s about Jesus!

When we look at the Parable of the Sower, this passage reveals God’s vision for us in the realm of bearing fruit. Each of the soils represent the fruitfulness of man. The seed is the Word of God. The fruit is the result of what each person did with the seed. In other words, it is the quality of the soil that produces good fruit.

What kind of soil are you? What is the state of your heart right now? Is it able to receive the Word of God? Is your heart fertile ground for God’s vision to take root in your life? Has your heart been hardened by life? Has the devil stomped all over it and the “birds” snatched away the seed? What is the condition of your heart?

If your heart is soft and honest, if it’s willing to receive the seed, then you WILL produce a harvest. Fruit is the only way to qualify whether or not the soil is good and your vision lines up with God.

So let’s look at the 4 types of “soils” and the fruit they produce:

  1. The Footpath: This is the worst type of soil! Satan has come quickly and snatched the seeds. This is a hardened, calloused person. It is someone who has been walked on over and over again. The seed (the Word) was stepped on and ruined before it ever had a chance to take root and grow! This picture represents those who are under the foothold of the devil. As they are getting to a place of reception of the seed, the devil comes along and stomps it out of them or his demons come to snatch away that Word! The interesting part is that Christians, as much as unbelievers, can represent each of these soils! There are too many Christians who never allow the Word to sink deep into their hearts.
  2. The Rocky Soil is next and it is deceptive! It represents someone who receives the Word with great joy. As fast as they receive the Word, they wither away due to shallowness. These people jump from one thing to the next, never understanding their true shallowness because they have “heard” so many different things. When problems hit, or persecution arises for believing God’s Word (specifically), they fall away. The reason this is deceptive is that everyone loves to see God’s Word received so joyfully. But it’s equally as painful to see someone give up so easily. Notice that the plant wilts and dies for lack of moisture, or metaphorically a lack of time in God’s presence. This is the place where “burn-out” and wilting happens. Believers need moisture – the Holy Spirit is represented as rivers of living water! Believers need the presence of God. Who have you brought into the presence of God lately, if ever?

There are 2 more people that we are going to look at in part 2. But notice that so far 50% of the soils that the seed is thrown into results in n0 fruit! The question we need to ask ourselves is this: what fruit are we producing?

Take Courage!

These are just some thoughts from my daily readings today. Apologies if they aren’t complete or grammatically perfect.

Acts 27:7 – It’s interesting that Paul was resisted heavily by “acts of God.” Many would have taken these signs as a word from God that they should turn back. Paul was resolute on the word God had spoke to him, not on the circumstances that tried to limit him. This is the importance of having faith come by hearing and hearing by the RHEMA of God. If you do not have a rhema (spoken, in-time verse from God) you will get driven off course by the circumstances and false signs the enemy will throw at us.

Look at the phrases Luke uses to describe their journey:

    ◦    encountered strong headwinds

    ◦    difficult to keep the ship on course

    ◦    several days of slow sailing

    ◦    after great difficulty

    ◦    the wind was against us

    ◦    We struggled along

    ◦    with great difficulty

    ◦    finally arrived

    ◦    We had lost a lot of time

    ◦    weather was becoming dangerous

    ◦    There is trouble ahead

    ◦    shipwreck, loss of cargo, danger to our lives

    ◦    the weather changed abruptly

    ◦    a wind of typhoon strength caught the ship and blew it out to sea

    ◦    They couldn’t turn the ship into the wind

    ◦    They gave up and let it run (out of control)

    ◦    With great difficulty

    ◦    They were afraid of being driven

    ◦    Gale-force winds winds continued to batter the ship

    ◦    They threw the ships gear and more cargo overboard

    ◦    the terrible storm raged for many days

    ◦    Blotting out the sun and stars

    ◦    All hope was gone

    ◦    No one had eaten for a long time

In the darkest hour, a rhema word from God comes to Paul. Take courage! None of you will lose your lives. God in His goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you. So take courage! Stay in the boat. Hold fast to your courage found in the word God gave you.

Own It.

I know, I know it’s been a long time since I posted. But I have been kinda busy with this: To add insult to injury I am actually just reposting a Seth Godin insight. Hey! It’s that good. Especially in an era of waffling, grey lines, blurred perspectives, and overt tolerance he raises a great point. You will not make it very far if you don’t own it. Owning it has to do with accepting full responsibility for something. When you don’t own something you don’t get disappointed when it doesn’t work or it fails. And it seems in this world, disappointment is a far greater fear than not getting what you want.

In other words, not getting what you want is far safer than trying and crashing and burning in front of people. When you don’t own something you can just cast it off and say, “Well it wasn’t mine to begin with. I don’t really care.” I think that’s the root issue: APATHY.

Jesus has called us to be stewards, which is His way of saying, “Own it until I get back. Take your talents and give Me a return. Use them like you own them and when I come back, if you have been faithful with them I will give them to you. If you don’t own it, I will take them away.”

Here’s what Seth has to say about it:

On owning it

If you announce what you want, if you are clear about what’s on offer, if you set goals…

    •    the chances of accomplishing your goal go up, and so does…

    •    the chance that you will be disappointed

For many people, apparently, it’s better to not get what you want than it is to be disappointed. The resistance is powerful indeed.

Every time you use waffle words, back off from a clear statement of values and priorities and most of all, think about what’s likely instead of what’s possible, you are selling yourself out. Not just selling yourself out, but doing it too cheaply.

Own your dreams. There is no better way to make them happen. (Emphasis mine)

The Better Part

Social Justice and mercy/compassion ministries are really popular and trendy right now. As well they should be. We are called by Jesus Himself, to love our neighbor. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a wonderful example of compassion and mercy ministry in action. Through this story Jesus rebukes us for our lack of compassion on understanding the concept of “our neighbor.” Everyone one of us should reflect on the concept of “our neighbor” and how we are helping them and loving them. We are to serve others tirelessly and out of the abundance of the Spirit.

Yet, immediately after this parable we go straight into a story of compassion gone wrong. Martha is serving tirelessly and with compassion. It’s also becoming a major distraction for her and others. (Distraction in that her serving has pulled attention onto her and her great service and sacrifice. Rather than the focus being on Jesus.) Jesus politely rebukes her by pointing out that her sister Mary has chosen the “Better Part!”

In the midst of serving, showing our neighbors compassion and great mercy; we can never miss out on the better part. That better part is sitting at Jesus’ feet to receive more of His Spirit. It’s not enough to serve. It’s not enough to sit at the feet of Jesus. It’s our pleasure to sit at the feet of Jesus till we have His compassion to serve our neighbors. This is the better part! This is what our neighbors need from us.

How much are you trying to lose?

Barista: “You look like you’re going to the beach?”

Me: “Ha! I just got done working out. I’d like to go to the beach though.”

Barista: “How much [weight] are you trying to lose?”

Me: “None. I workout [crossfit] as a lifestyle.”

Barista: “Cool. I got two months till May, I can lose my weight by then.”

That’s a random conversation to have with a barista, but it’s an interesting look at how we view life. This particular person has a binge and purge lifestyle. Workout for 2 months before going to the beach and then slide back into bad habits. I think this is a good illustration for how most people live out their faith. They view their walk with God as an amount of sin to lose rather than a lifestyle to live.

A lifestyle is something you do for…wait for it…LIFE! It’s week in, week out living for Jesus. It’s daily bible reading, praying, and hearing the voice of God. It’s gathering with believers in small groups and in services. It’s discipling, evangelism, and spiritual disciplines. You cannot possibly do all that in 2 months! Nor should you. God knows that we cannot sustain a binge for a long time and that’s why He gives us 70+ years to work into a healthy lifestyle.

Don’t take the next 2 months to figure out how much weight [and sin] you are going to lose. Take the rest of the year to build a lifestyle of gaining more of Jesus. And here’s the best part of a lifestyle: you will organically (fruit as a result of proper gardening) lose the weight and sins that so easily ensnare you when you fix your eyes on Jesus. So, get in shape spiritually and naturally. Build a healthy lifestyle that feeds your body, soul, and spirit!

Don’t worry about losing, focusing on gaining!

Silver Platter Problems

“Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.”

Sometimes we want our problems delivered to us on a platter. We want it to be easy. We want them to go away without a real battle or a real fight. What does that ever prove? How does that really benefit our growth? How does that shape us into Christlikeness? In this instance, Herod was being held accountable by John the Baptist. John told Herod that his marrying of his brother’s wife was wrong. Which is entirely true on many levels. So, Herod, “silenced” John by putting him in prison. Herod didn’t hate John. He just hated accountability and that someone would call him out on his transgressions.

Herod was rash, in everything. On his birthday his new daughter (the daughter of his former brother’s wife) danced before him. He was so pleased with it, he offered her anything. Her mother had already set the whole thing up. She asked for John’s head. But not just his head, his head on a silver platter.

Herod was weak, in everything. Because of the people who were around him (weakness) and his oaths (rashness) he commanded it to be so. He got his problems fixed. His problem handed to him on a silver platter. Yet, did he change at all? No. The battle, the trial, the tribulation, the struggle–it’s so that we change and become more like Jesus. Herod wasn’t like Jesus at all, now he’ll never be. He got someone else to deal with his issue and take care of his problem.

Whatever you fail to confront, you will become disqualified to overcome.