Saturday, January 26, 2013
Simple. The Secret Code for accessing the fullness of heaven's resources and inheritance is the Cross of Jesus Christ.
The more we tap into the wellspring of Calvary, the more we will come to understand our purpose, our inheritance, and what we offer to the planet. On the other hand, the less we focus on the Cross and the redemptive work of Christ, the more we will be inclined to do ministry "by the books." When we are not tapped into a supernatural plumb-line, it is unsurprising that we start looking to the left and right, and copying what other ministries and churches are doing (that may or may not be focused on the work of Calvary). We need the genuine. We need the authentic. We need the power of God in this hour.
Every crossroads at the Cross has brought paradigm shifting revelation and, as a result, supernatural fruit.
In fact, every contemporary move of the Holy Spirit that has gained some type of notoriety—and is still continuing—was the byproduct of a crossroads at Calvary. Modern revivals, outpourings, and awakenings that are legitimate and God-birthed have everything to do with a company of people returning to the Cross of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit giving them understanding of another benefit that has been made available through His blood.
Toronto Blessing: The Cross is the ultimate expression of the Father's relentless, unchanging, and extravagant love for humanity. No other demonstration is necessary for us to come face to face with a loving Father than the work of Calvary, for it revealed the heart of God to adopt an orphaned planet into His family, and supernaturally change our identity from sons and daughters of wrath to sons and daughters of God. What I love about Toronto is that it was not merely a "revival" in terms of happening during a certain period of time in a fixed location (although it did), but it ultimately birthed an entire movement, Catch the Fire, and has sparked revival fires throughout the nations. Truly, what happened at Toronto in 1994 is a sustained move of God that is producing fruit today in even increased measure than when it was in "full swing." Why? Its sowed into the nations, and the nations are running with the fire.
Pensacola Outpouring/Brownsville Revival: The Cross is the ultimate beckoning hand of urgency, calling forth the backslider to repent and the spiritually dead to embrace new life in Christ. Truly, what happened in the mid-90's through the Brownsville Revival in Pensacola, FL was, I believe, on par with what Edwards, Whitfield, Finney and Wesley experienced. Evangelist Steve Hill certainly follows in the footsteps of those great revivalists of old, and Pastor John Kilpatrick (currently pastoring Church of His Presence in AL) is truly a pastor of revival. Not only has he been able to shepherd a local congregation, but has been able to, Biblically and with balance, navigate multiple outpourings of the Holy Spirit, Brownsville in the 90's and now, the Bay of the Holy Spirit revival which started in 2010.
Bethel Church: The Cross is the gateway into a Kingdom where impossible situations must bend at the Name of Jesus, and every believer is activated to do the works and wonders of Christ. Bethel has been in sustained revival for over 15 years now, and has truly introduced the world to a "revival culture." In other words, they are discontent having a few good meetings and some healings happen in church every now and again. Bethel, to me, is a beautiful glimpse of how God is restoring raw, authentic, organic Christianity in this generation. What we have deemed "revival" is not necessarily out of the ordinary for Bethel; it is normal. The most wonderful thing about the team at Bethel is they refuse to keep it contained. There is nothing special about Redding, CA except a bunch of hungry people who have dared to access everything Calvary purchased and release it into their city. They long to share this message across the nations, that other communities of God-hungry, Kingdom-citizens would arise and take their cities for Jesus.
International House of Prayer: The Cross is the validation that we have a voice before the throne of God. The only reason prayer and intercession have been offered continuously, day and night, since the late 90's is because of this community's grounding in the work of Calvary. They recognize that the blood of Jesus Christ has bought them access to the throne, and as a result, a voice before the One seated upon the throne. I have no doubt that the intercession and worship being offered from this place - and other houses of prayer throughout the Earth - are responsible for darkness being restrained on the planet.
These were just four examples of places and communities that have tapped into the Wellspring of Calvary and all that is available in the Cross. The powerful truth is that there is more still available. The Code? The Cross.
Friday, January 25, 2013
While in the prayer room at IHOP, there was a time of concentrated intercession for those who had fallen victim to sex trafficking in Las Vegas (specifically).
The Lord dropped a bomb of a burden in my spirit in that moment to pray for a release of signs and wonders, and supernatural deliverance for those girls. Hear me out for a moment…
I am so grateful… no, beyond grateful… for the many ministries and organizations that have poured themselves out to see this horrific industry done away with. Immediately, I think of the wonderful Christine Caine and the A21 campaign. What began as a dream and a vision has become an unstoppable force, setting captives free in some of the darkest places on the planet. I believe we must continue to go full force with everything that is currently being done to rid the world of this hideous blemish and rescue His daughters, His beautiful ones, out of this pit.
That said, we need to also remind ourselves of the power released through prayer. Not everyone can physically travel to these places where these heinous crimes are being committed. Yes, we need to support ministries that are going, but we also need to target our prayers at these places, for these young women, girls, and (sickeningly enough, children).
How do we pray? I'm going to come out and say it, regardless of the controversy it may stir. We need to pray for a release of signs and wonders, specifically but not limited to the following areas:
- Supernatural deliverance and means of escape for these girls.
- Dreams and visions that strike the fear of the Lord into the hearts of their captors.
- Miraculous healing (physical and emotional) for victims of this industry.
- Restoration of innocence for the girls coming out (and who are going to be coming out) of this darkness.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Recently, I had this thought: If praise can break two guys out of jail, imagine what it can release over entire geographies as it is continually offered up from God’s people?
I’m not talking about fast songs that you can clap to. I’m not referring to catchy music and an enthusiastic praise team. Tons of churches have these things. The lights are getting brighter, the smoke is getting thicker, the songs are getting catchier… and yet, when is the last time you saw the praise and worship of a particular church physically release breakthrough over an entire geography?
That said, there are houses of worship across the Earth (and throughout the United States) that are producing this type of supernatural reaction upon their communities, where darkness is actually subdued and breakthrough is released. I believe God wants this to be the norm, not the exception. The secret? It starts in the pews, with the people of God. We need to enter into praise and worship with expectation that what is happening is so much more than spiritual gymnastics or a Christianized rock concert.
We worship Him for Who He is, period. That said, we also must be filled with expectation that authentic praise and worship releases His Presence into our midst.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
During my time at the International House of Prayer, in my heart of hearts, I was asking God, "What's the point? What does 24/7 prayer and worship REALLY do?"
God's response was indeed powerful, not simply referring to the power and authority of corporate, continuous prayer, but also, reminding me of the power that our individual intercession and praise releases.
I felt as though the Lord was saying that the prayers (and praise) of the saints is like a sword being released over geographies, regions, cities and yes, even nations. And yet, the sword is not one of judgment on people as so many would-be "prophets" would proclaim. No. It is a sword that subdues and restrains the powers of darkness.
As the church of Jesus Christ, we have the propensity to be either lukewarm, or be so "high-gear," next-step focused, we forget to consider the implications of what our prayers and praise are doing right now. I know we have work to do. That said, let's take this moment to simply thank the Lord that He has sovereignly given us the ability to both partner with Him in prayer, and release His Presence through praise. Let's thank Him wholeheartedly, because I guarantee you, what we are doing is producing fruit, restraining darkness and subduing the powers of the enemy.
Even though it's easy to become disappointed and discouraged over what we see happening, in terms of the work of sin and schemes of the enemy, we must learn how to praise God for empowering the church to restrain what could have happened.
Truly, your prayer and praises unlocks and releases God's power over nations!
Monday, December 10, 2012
As was the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him (Zachariah) by lot to enter [the sanctuary of] the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
—Luke 1:9, AMP
Even though Zachariah slightly missed it when it came to actually believing what the angel Gabriel was telling him (his barren wife conceiving a child and all), the undeniable fact remains—the guy was set up for a supernatural encounter that changed everything. It is there in black and white in Luke 1. How did this happen? Whether he knew it or not, Zachariah was positioned for encounter by appropriately engaging custom and tradition: As was the custom of the priesthood…
The very essence of the Christmas season is an invitation to supernatural encounter through engaging customs and traditions… with expectancy.
Why, then, do we seemingly get caught up in mechanical tradition and holiday hooplah? Simple. We remove expectation from the equation.
We must expect that on the other side of our spiritual customs, disciplines and traditions, is a Living God who desires to manifest to His people, from a still small voice to a weighty glory that sprawls you out on the floor, facedown.
Supernatural encounters and experiences vary from person to person, season to season, but the dramatic nature of one and the quiet expression of another mean nothing when evaluating their significance. The playing field is level. He is a personal and relational God who knows what you need, when you need it.
Tradition and custom are not evil. They only become problematic when they replace a vibrant, experiential relationship with the Lord. As we go about certain customs, and engage various traditions—with expectation of the supernatural on the other side—we position ourselves to experience what Zachariah did.
This is not an attempt to deliver some type of speculative theology. Zachariah’s encounter with the angel Gabriel is undeniably unique, carrying a very strategic assignment for his generation.
That said, you and I were never created, born again and destined for some mediocre blend of diet Christianity.
The tendency to turn back from “Jesus” is only birthed when we buy into the lie that custom and tradition is all there is to this Christian life. The fact that you are saved and a part of God’s family affirms that your life is meant to be a setup for divine encounter.
Christianity is not going to church week after week, reading your Bible daily, praying, going on missions trips, going to Bible school, being part of a small group, singing some songs on Sunday, making a dish for the church potluck, faithfully tithing, etc. The sad reality is that when supernatural encounter is divorced from the definition of normal Christianity, than this is all it becomes. Good customs and traditions actually “nullify the word of God” and blind us to the power of God. This is the one dimensional demonstration of the Christian faith that causes people to easily “look back” at the world and become like Lot’s wife.
My Christmas prayer for you, and for me, is that we become like Zachariah (in the right ways, of course). I pray that we would be faithful to keep our respective traditions and customs. Whether we are talking about the context of the Christmas season, or specific activities you, your family or your church engage to connect with God, spiritual customs are actually life-enhancing when we grasp their meaning and approach them with expectation.
Expectation of what? More like an expectation of Who.
Allow your respective customs to be the breeding ground for divine encounter, ever keeping a watchful eye and attentive ear for the supernatural invasion of the Holy Spirit. Oh how He longs to manifest Himself in power and glory—and yes, use our customs and traditions as vehicles for divine visitations that change everything.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
“And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:33)
When Mary is given the impossible assignment of carrying the Savior in her virgin womb, I love the decree the angel Gabriel makes concerning the Coming One. Read the entire announcement in context,
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Let’s be true to the Scriptures. As Gabriel introduces Mary—and you and I—to the Messiah and His forthcoming work, there is no depressing speculation of end times catastrophe.
Odd as this statement sounds, many people’s perception of Jesus’ present-day work is marred by an unbalanced perspective of the end times. To them, Jesus really has no need to do anything today because He is waiting for the day.
Healing, signs and wonders, deliverance, supernatural restoration—anything that involves present conditions being impacted by the invasive reign God’s Kingdom—is frowned upon because their perception of Jesus is One who will, not one who is. If Gabriel’s job description of Jesus was different, perhaps I would be more inclined to go with that particular flow. I’m not.
At some point, through a sovereign means, yes, the end will come. Scripture makes this abundantly clear. It is foolish for us not to love His appearing, as there is a crown of righteousness reserved for us as we do (see 2 Tim. 4:8).
That said, we would do well to pay attention to how the angels responded to the disciples after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Even when the disciples began to question Jesus about His return, He—in essence—told them not to sit around “gazing into heaven,” but rather, engage a very proactive assignment. This is how we must observe Jesus ministry, otherwise, we will live constantly putting off what He wants to do now to another age.
Truth be told, Jesus wants to take another age and release it into the now! This is what On Earth as it is in heaven is all about. This would not be part of the Lord’s Prayer if Jesus did not envision an increasing reign of His Kingdom.
All the proof we need of this is in the Holy Spirit. If heaven was the ultimate goal of our salvation, the moment we gave our heart to Jesus would have been our last breath and bam, up to heaven we would have been beamed. Not the case though. As Bill Johnson often cites, “Heaven is my destination, but Earth is my assignment.” In fact, the Kingdom of God is actually contained in the Person of the Holy Spirit (see Rom. 14:17).
We’ll wrap everything up with this interesting bit of dialogue between Jesus and his disciples. Just before He returns to the Father, He answers a question that defines our commission and puts everything into appropriate perspective:
Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
—Acts 1: 6-8
It’s not God’s will for us to sit around, speculating about when and how the end of the world is coming.
The disciples merely asked a speculative question, wondering when the restoration of Israel was going to take place. Jesus’ response is very interesting. He tells them that it is not for them to know the times and seasons that have been assigned by the Father. However, what it is important is the power they receive when the Holy Spirit comes. Jesus was indirectly answering their question, as a time will come when history culminates as God has intended, and the fullness and physicality of His Kingdom will be established in the Earth.
On the other hand, we have received the power of the Holy Spirit, in essence, to continue the Kingdom work that Jesus inaugurated during His ministry.
Remember, the Kingdom is in the Holy Spirit. When we see impossibilities yield to Jesus’ authority, and the supernatural take place in our midst, we are actually releasing the Kingdom of God and the reign of God into a situation, a region, an atmosphere, a geography, etc. Wow. That is your assignment and mine.
This season, reflect on these realities that are so poignantly captured in Gabriel’s announcement to Mary. This Jesus Who possesses you and I is the One Whose Kingdom is unending and increasing. Increase Your Kingdom in and through our lives, Lord!
Monday, December 3, 2012
And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”
Mary’s “Magnificat” begins with the two essential ingredients of genuine, authentic, supernatural praise—soul and spirit. For transformative praise to erupt, both of these dimensions of our being must collide.
I am amazed at how many passages I read throughout Scripture that come back to really overwhelm me later on. Why? I guess you could call it a sovereign setup, where God intends specific revelation to “pop out” at certain seasons. On the other hand, I am guilty of being a speed reader when it comes to familiar portions of the Word. I think we can all plead guilty to that. Verses and stories that we have read one hundred times and can quote verbatim tend to not receive the treatment others do.
How do we become vessels through which heaven can release the impossible? We model Mary, the ultimate catalyst for bringing heaven to Earth. She received a supernatural assignment that was not only impossible, but far beyond her natural ability to comprehend. Her soul (mind, will, and emotions) wrestled with what was spoken by the angel, Gabriel, on a spirit level. On the other hand, her spirit “rejoiced in God my Savior” (Lk. 1:47). How is this possible? Are soul and spirit different things?
Some quick basics on the relationship between soul and spirit. Your spirit is the very core of who you are. It directs and navigates every other sphere of your life, including your soul. Before you come to Christ, your spirit is dead. Period. As a result, your soul caters to what reigns in your life—the flesh. Your soul includes the mind, will, and emotions. Before Jesus, your spirit is dead, and your soul is mainly directed by selfish appetites, sin, desires, ambition, etc. All of that said, your spirit is the core that serves as the rudder that directs your soul. If your spirit is dead, your soul will pursue dead things. If your spirit is alive to God, energized and transformed by the Holy Spirit, your pursuit will be His Kingdom.
Returning to Mary’s song of praise. She received an impossible assignment that computed with the part of her being that was touched and quickened by the Holy Spirit—her natural spirit. Remember, even though Mary was living in a day and age prior to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, God in His sovereignty released the Holy Spirit upon her: Gabriel told her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you” (Lk. 1:35).
This is why her spirit was able to truly rejoice in God in response to a supernatural assignment. She had an encounter with the Holy Spirit, and He was in the process of awakening her spirit to the reality of her divine assignment.
God is doing the same for you. Whether it involves your calling, future, or assignment, or whether it involves a problem, situation, circumstance or impossibility you are currently facing, you must lead with your spirit, not your soul or flesh. Your spirit has been transformed by the Holy Spirit, Who is the very Spirit of transforming the impossible. Anything you are dealing with is subject to change, for the Creative Agent of Heaven lives inside of you and He wants to transform everything in your world that is not in agreement with God’s world and Kingdom. The key is standing upon realities and truths that resonate with your spirit – the core of your being – but your mind, will, and emotions may reject.
What happens with many believers is that their spirit receives truth like this, but it is not long until their mind starts going every which way, they begin to allow feelings to go crazy, and as a result, they willfully choose to elevate their soul’s response above that of the truth deposited in their spirit by the Holy Spirit.
Mary is a wonderful model to us. Her spirit rejoiced in God, and her supernatural assignment. Result? She chose to magnify the Lord with her soul. We will explore the soul level in the next entry.