Tag Archives: God

Happy Birthday America!

Happy birthday America! It’s been 241 years since you were birthed in the revolutionary belief that all men (and women) are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What an amazing experiment our founding fathers began when they agreed on the Declaration of Independence in the summer of 1776 and the Continental Congress ratified it on that first 4th of July.

What a grand experiment indeed! Their decision sparked a war of independence against the most powerful nation in the world at that time. A skirmish outside Boston became a shooting war that bloodied the soil of thirteen individual colonies and galvanized these sundry immigrants into one single nation. Blood may have purchased their freedom, but great wisdom and amazing cooperation secured it for the following generations.

That cooperation has failed occasionally along the way, yet that great wisdom has righted the wrongs and found a way to regain the cooperation. This is nowhere better seen than in the issue of slavery, which ultimately resulted in a great Civil War—a war between those united, yet divided states. Yet somehow, someway—the cooperation was regained and the nation endured and grew.

This nation has readily endured sending her young men and women to foreign nations to fight and even die, so that freedom would not be thing only we enjoy. We have cooperated with allies and have withstood dictators, megalomaniacs, and armies intent on world domination, refusing to turn our head to the plight of those who were weaker. Great wisdom and cooperation have been the resources that have galvanized this nation in the aftermath disastrous events like Pearl Harbor and 9/11.

Yet today, 241 years later, it seems partisanship and utter selfish stupidity has supplanted wisdom and cooperation. We are a nation divided by beliefs, political parties, morality, news media outlets, and a thousand other things. We can’t even agree to disagree. Instead, like little children who can’t get their way, we’ve taken our toys and gone home. Intent of getting what we can, canning all we get, and shooting anyone who gets close to our can. Our laws and our government are not working because neither side is willing to use wisdom and cooperate for the good of the nation. Instead, what’s good for a few tends to overrule what would be better for all.

And in this morass, we have turned away from our Creator. Our founding fathers never envisioned a country without Jehovah God. They understood he was source of the freedom they were willing to die for. He was the fountainhead of liberty that birthed this nation into existence. It is true they wanted no state church to dictate their worship, but read history and you will find they hungered to worship God Almighty. Yet, the wisdom of this age has defied his laws, in a  foolish attempt to legislate him out of power and existence. We have embraced the idols of multi-culturalism, perversion, hedonism, relativism, and socialism—and called that which were never gods, our gods. And in doing so, we have called good evil and evil good.

And wisdom and cooperation have become about as rare as the dinosaurs. The politicians of Washington, the financiers of Wall Street, or the media moguls who broadcast coast-to-coast and around the world have no answer. That’s because the answer is not found in “what I want or the group I represent wants” but rather in wisdom (which can only come from God) and cooperation (which can only come when each of us are willing to see someone else as more important than we are).

Will this nation survive and stick 250, 300 or 500 candles in her birthday cake? I hope so, but this I know—it will not happen without wisdom and cooperation and “me the people” must once again become “we the people!”

Storm Kits for Life

The word “storm” is an adequate metaphor for those moments of chaos we all encounter from time to time as we walk out life. Rough and tough times, unforeseen pitfalls, and uncontrollable situations are common to us all. Trouble is an equal opportunity employer that never discriminates regardless of race, creed, social standing, or sex. At this moment in your life, you have just exited a storm, are experiencing a storm, or should be expecting a storm. It is not if but when.

Natural storms follow weather patterns so we learn to expect them. And so does trouble and tribulation, but our belief system is oddly different. We somehow believe “it will never happen to me.” Therefore it always seems to catch us unaware and unprepared. And boom—the storm hits and life gets turned upside down and inside out. Huddled in piles of anxiety and fear, we put our head in our hands and cry, “Why me!”

Job put it this way: “Man who is born of woman, is short of days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1).Trouble is on its way. The only question is—will it stop at my house today? Perhaps there’s a better way to deal with the inevitability of that trouble tornado or thunderstorm of trials than cringing in dread and despair. Perhaps we should all put together a simple storm readiness survival kit.

First, we need to be weather aware. Good times don’t last forever. The stock market that goes up will come down. You will not be 100% healthy all of the time. And people will disappoint you, disagree with you, disappear on you, and even die on you. There is some kind of storm on your horizon. So—be alert!

When the trouble hits and the winds seem like they will rip you apart, dig your feet in and stand firm. Storms are temporary even if they come in multiple waves. They do not last forever. Hunker down—God loves you and he is bigger than any storm that rages around you. You don’t have to hang on to him, because he has you by your hand and he will not let go. Even though you feel like the wind is tearing you apart—relax. God will not forsake you.Tuscaloosa, Alabama Tornado 2011

Next, find the eye of the hurricane—by that I mean find a quiet place in the midst of the storm and have a genuine conversation with God. For heaven’s sake talk to him. Tell him how you feel. Be totally honest and voice the fear, the despair, the discouragement, or the feelings of destruction or doom you are experiencing. Ignoring those feelings will not lessen their destructive impact. Release them before they have an opportunity to raze your faith. Then use what little faith you have left to thank God for his protection and his provision. Being thankful in the midst of the storm is a sure sign you will be standing when the gale ceases and the sun breaks out once again.

0512-0705-3017-2448Finally, once the wind subsides and the sun pops out, assess the damage, clean up the debris, and get on with your life. Don’t allow trouble to deter you from your purpose or freeze frame you in a place of less than or self-pity. Move forward—don’t live looking back. Find others who have survived similar storms and share your stories together. Learn from their experience, as well as yours. Experience is actually a good teacher if we learn from it. If we don’t learn from past experience, rest assured—history will repeat itself at some point in the futuTrouble is a part of life, regardless of the depth of your faith, the demeanor of your influence, the development of your pocketbook, or the discernment of your wisdom. You can’t avoid it, no matter how well your storm shelter is constructed. But—you can survive it and even thrive from it, if you strive in your preparation for the next one. Just check the radar—at some point another storm will blow in. Prepare now, you will be ready!

Crisis: Religion or Relationship (Part 1)

 

broken_rope2

Crisis (Part 1)

Fasting is tough. I am eighteen days into a 40 day fast from religion, as are many of the members of Eagle’s Wing Church where I pastor. We are driven by a desperate hunger and a passionate desire to experience a genuine relationship with God. Our desire is to know God rather than the facts or things that point us to God. We want to personally experience God and his love rather than live off the past experiences others.

Perhaps you’re wondering—why a fast from religion? Isn’t religion a good thing? Isn’t religion all about God?

Let me define religion. Religion is a system that must be practiced so that perfection can be reached. On the other hand, relationship is a heart-to-heart connection with a real person. You can’t have a relationship with a system. Relationship requires two people (not a person working a system). Jesus came to pay the price of sin so he might restore our ability to walk in communion with God—to have a personal relationship with him. Relationship is pursued,  while religion is practiced. And in this case practice will never make us perfect.

Our hearts yearn for relationship. We are born with a hunger to be loved and to give love in return. God created us that way. And he created a deep craving within all of us that can only be satisfied by a genuine relationship with him. God is relational. It is a part of his nature. Relationship starts in the heart of God.

Humanity created religion because we like systems where we can achieve things on our own. For some reason, we want to do it our way, rather than God’s way. Religion demands a pseudo perfection that is somehow achieved through rigorous practice and good works. The problem with that is we can’t rise to the measure of perfection God requires. Otherwise the death of Christ on the cross was a tragic waste.

The modern Christian church is in crisis. Most preach salvation by grace but then we turn around and try our hardest to achieve God’s favor, love, and blessings through works and activities. That’s religion, not relationship. Most believers attempt to connect with God through religion—through the system. But the only way we can make this heart-to-heart connection is through relationship.

For the next several weeks I want to share the subtle deception of religion and the satisfying depth of relationship through this blog. I encourage you to join us in a forty day fast from religion. If you will commit—God will bless you and set you free from religion’s crushing coils.

How do you start? Simply ask the Holy Spirit to show you anything in your spiritual life that is smacks or smells of religion. That may be a belief, a doctrine, a cherished idea or practice. It could be anything. As the Holy Spirit exposes those hidden things, confess them and move on. Invite the Holy Spirit to examine all your beliefs, doctrines, practices, and way of thinking. Don’t be afraid to invite him in to those things—he should be at home in all of them or that belief is not from God. That’s it!

You may be thinking there’s got to be more to it than this. What are the rules? If you need more rules than I’ve shared, you can start right there with that thought—it’s riddled with religion!

No Plan B: Discovering God’s Blueprint for Your Life (Part 1)

What if you discover that you are working the wrong plan for your life and failure is imminent?

What if the very plan you are working so hard to achieve doesn’t really exist and has never existed as an option in the mind of God?

What if you were to discover there is no Plan B?

What if you are working off the wrong set of blueprints—yours instead of God’s?

The answers to these questions could be staggering if you are willing take a moment and consider their implications. All of us have been taught from birth to plan for the unexpected—to prepare just in case things don’t work out. In reality, we been taught to formulate an escape plan or another option, and call it Plan B.

God has a blueprint for your life. He only has one plan—Plan A. He does not need another option, thus he has no Plan B. He has one plan for all humanity. All of us were created to enjoy Plan A.

What is Plan A?

Good question and one that is worthy of consideration.

Plan A provides the following for every person who has ever lived:

  • A relationship with God.
  • An identity from God.
  • A purpose in God.

Plan A is the blueprint God offered to Adam—the very same deal. But Adam rejected it and fumbled it away. The possibilities that were set before Adam were mind-boggling, but they are the very same ones guaranteed to each of us in Christ.

It gets even better because these possibilities are available right now, not some up-and-coming day in the by-and-by way up yonder in the sky. They can be accessed by any believer who understands his or her identity and believes that God will fulfill all that he has promised.

Do you know who you are in Christ?

Do you understand the implications of your identity as a son or daughter of God and a joint heir with Christ?

Would you recognize God’s Plan A for you if you were to see it?

All of these questions need an answer. And their answers could change the trajectory your life.

It’s your life, but you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by finding and implementing the correct answers. You only have one life to live, why not live it according to God’s plan and purpose?

 

(Nelson’s newest book No Plan B: Discovering God’s Blueprint for Your Life released on August 15. It can be ordered at http://www.amazon.com/No-Plan-Discovering-Blueprint-foreword/dp/1939023343/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1407788387&sr=1-2&keywords=No+Plan+B).

Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice of the Church (Part 4)

Whenever God speaks he speaks truth, whether it is in Scripture or through a personal prophetic word. He cannot lie. If a revelation is from God, it is true and we can therefore put our full faith in it. God is infallible, but we are not. Therefore we must learn to test what we think we have heard.

When God speaks we can mess up what we hear if we are not careful. Every prophetic word has three parts: (1) the revelation—what is said, (2) the interpretation—what it means, and (3) the application—what we are to do about it. We can mess up revelation by not hearing correctly or adding to it. We can also mess up the interpretation by not asking God what he meant, choosing instead to go with what we know from past experience or personal knowledge. And we can mess up the interpretation by a misinterpretation of the action God expects or desires.

Let me illustrate what I mean. I love to teach. I enjoy the research and the process of putting together information to share with others through speech or in a book. Over the past few years, God has given me opportunities to teach in Romania, Germany, and Mexico. Often what I teach is new to my audience or the way in which I present it is different from what they are used to. In a sense, I am revealing something they might not have known, and in that sense, it is revelation. My purpose is for them to hear what I am teaching, understand it, and know how to apply it in their lives.

For this to happen, I have to have an interpreter to put it into the language of the people I’m speaking to. I only speak English, and I do that with a deep, slow Southern drawl. Most of my interpreters speak English as a second language. They don’t always understand the nuances, colloquialisms, and southern idioms I use. In other words, some of the things I say just does not translate well—or at all. So it is very easy to say something that is extremely vital to the message and then have it misinterpreted because my interpreter is translating word for word—not interpreting or making the proper application.

Several years ago, I was teaching a group of German students about having an intimate relationship with God. I made a statement that communicates well here in the U.S., but when they heard it, they fell apart, laughing hysterically in the aisles. It was not a humorous statement. I was confused—I didn’t know what to do. So, I look at my interpreter with that “please help me—I’m dying here” look.

The statement I had made was: “Too often we don’t share God with others, instead we keep him locked in the closet.” The pastor who was interpreting did it word for word translation, but a closet in German is not a place to hang your clothes, it is the potty—the commode—the water closet. The kids were howling—wanting to know why “my God” was in the bathroom. Needless to say, what I was attempting to communicate was missed. They missed the revelation because my interpreter did not hear what I meant, and thus the interpretation was missed and the application lost.

This happens all the time with personal prophetic words. To fully benefit we must hear the word correctly, interpret the word accurately, and apply the word appropriately. If we hit two out of three—we fail and God’s revelation is missed.

Humility and prayer are the essential tools for hearing revelation, discerning the interpretation, and implementing the application. We have to do the work. We cannot accept a word from someone without humbly asking God, “What does this mean and what am I supposed to do with it.” We must pray over the word to make sure it has been heard correctly, interpreted precisely, and the application is exact—or we miss what God is saying.

The apostle Paul, in the very first epistle he wrote, put it this way, “Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise ( don’t look down on, hold it in contempt, or see it as below your status) prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 NASB).

Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice of the Church (Part 3)

God is still speaking but we must learn to listen. Scripture illustrates numerous methods God used when talking with his people with his prophetic people. Prophetic people are the ones who will listen and then speak what God said. In our last blog we looked at the Bible, personal visits, angelic visitations, and the audible voice of God. Let’s consider some other examples found in Scripture.

Sometimes God speaks one word or through fragmented words in a sentence that seem to have no clear meaning. He did that with Isaiah and told him to write down the words in a scroll. Isaiah was forced to pursue God to find the meaning. These kinds of words draw us closer to God.

A word from God often has no voice—it is simply something you know all of a sudden that you didn’t know a moment ago. God puts the word in your head and you know that you know without any rational explanation.

He also speaks through impressions. Impressions are a bit less certain than that inner knowing. They are feelings that we should do or say something. God used impressions numerous times throughout both the Old and New Testaments.

God also employs dreams, visions, and trances to speak. Dreams occur when we sleep and our defenses are down. Visions are similar to dreams, but they normally occur when we are awake. Scripture makes no real distinction between them. A trance is a vision in which the person loses the use of their physical sense. Peter and Paul fell into trances. God has promised in Joel 2 and Peter testified that this Scripture had come true in Acts 2 that in the last days all God’s people would speak prophetically. Some would dream dreams and others would have visions. These are commons means by which God speaks.

The Lord also uses nature to speak to us. The analogies he can draw from between the natural and the spiritual world are endless. Those things happening in the natural often mirror what is happening in the supernatural.

God can also use physical manifestations in our bodies to share insight. He often does this when he wants to heal another person. You might feel something in an area of your body that another person is suffering with. Through a word of knowledge—a prophetic word—God may use you to be the conduit for his healing presence and power, if you are tuned in and turned on.

God also speaks prophetically through music and songs. He has even scratched messages in plaster walls.

You may be thinking, “But…but…but…but.” But nothing—God does not change. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and yes—tomorrow. If we want to hear God speak we have to understand how he speaks. He even wrote these methods down for us so we would not miss the prophetic word when it comes.

Reclaiming Biblical Healing (Part 13)

Based on the previous twelve articles, we now have a biblical foundation from which to reclaim biblical healing—the same type of healing Jesus practiced and passed on to his disciples. But the gathering of information without the implementation of that knowledge being put into practice is useless. We have to practice what we learn to bring about change in the body of Christ.

How do we do that?

First, I challenge you to examine the truth. Is what you’ve read in these blogs what the Bible teaches? Is this what Jesus did? Did he authorize and empower his followers to do what he did? Get your Bible out and study the passages for yourself. Compare what has been written and what Scripture teaches. If they do not agree—disregard what I’ve said. But don’t disregard it because it questions what you’ve been taught in the past or because you have unanswered questions. Toss it only if goes against the biblical record. Examine it for yourself!

Secondly, if it is true—embrace the truth. Don’t be afraid of it or hold it at arm’s length. When you embrace something you wrap your arms around it and pull it deep into your heart. It becomes a part of your belief system and what you believe you act upon. As you embrace truth it becomes a part of who you are—far more than a belief.

If you examine and embrace the truth, the third step is a natural progression—you will experience that truth. To experience truth means you must appropriate the faith you have in what God says he will do and believe it will (not may or might) happen in Jesus’ name. If you embrace biblical healing you will pray for it because you have faith in God—the kind of faith that believes it is the will of God to heal. Experience is nothing more than stepping out in faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Once you experience it—you are hooked. It becomes real.

If you are willing to experience the truth then you will experiment with the truth. By that, I mean you will listen to the voice of God and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. What if nothing happens? What will you do? Most people throw their hands up and chalk the failure up to the sovereignty of God—it must be his will. Our question should be why God? How do I pray or minister in such a way that you will is not hindered? What is the source of this sickness or torment? What is the root and how do we get at it? How do I bring your healing power fully to bear on this issue? When one way doesn’t work, we don’t quit—we find another way to pray. We keep asking, seeking, and knocking until the will of God is brought to bear on the issue. We experiment. We keep trying until victory comes.

The final step comes out of this experimentation—you must express the truth. We have to transport this truth outside the safe and secure walls of our churches and take is to the world. God did not authorize and empower his body with the anointing, authority, and gifts of healings to create a circus event inside the church building. He did it so his people would take his presence and power into the darkness and bring light and deliverance to those who are in bondage. God has called us to search out the aisles of the grocery store and Wal-Mart, to set triage care centers at the gas station and the work place. He has called us to take the truth to the places where people are. We are to go—that is Christ’s mandate.

To reclaim biblical healing requires we must do all five of these things—not three or four—but all five. Only then will we walk in the manifest presence and power of the living Lord. And only then will we reclaim what has been lost.