Category Archives: Identity in Christ

Overwhelmed by God

Have you ever had a moment when you were completely overwhelmed by God? What happened? How did your spirit, soul, or body react to his touch?

Perhaps you wept…laughed…collapsed…rejoiced…shouted…were totally confounded…or just went silent.  All of us are different and all of us respond somewhat differently to God’s touch. But one thing is for certain, when God touches a person, that person knows they’ve been touched.

Yesterday, as we were ministering to people who came forward for prayer, I saw the touch of God on a shy, blond-headed little girl. The fact that she came forward and waited patiently for her moment of ministry in front of almost a hundred people amazed me.

In fact, when I turned to assist her, I was struck by the matter-of-fact manner in which she stepped forward. No hesitation. No fear. It was as though God himself was escorting her toward her heart’s desire and she would not be denied. This little girl was waiting patiently in line to be hugged and prayed for by a ninety-nine year old lady who had just spoken for about ninety minutes. She carried her burden quietly but confidently, as if she knew somehow she would not return to her seat with it.

Her voice was so soft that the praise and worship music seemed to drown her words out. Ms. Ruby motioned for me and told me she could not hear what the child was saying. So I leaned in and asked her what her need was. She replied very calmly, “My Papa died!” A knot welled up in my gut, and tears flooded my eyes, but I relayed the message to Ruby, who took this precious baby in her arms, hugged her like there was no tomorrow, and began to quietly pray with here. Two people, one ninety-nine and the other seven or eight took a load far too heavy to bear into the very throne room of God and I was an overwhelmed witness of the power of God.

I was transfixed and undone—knowing I was standing in a holy place where all the presence and power of God was being brought to bear on an unbearable burden that was crushing a child. I was afraid to move—it was such a holy moment. I stood still and gazed at the wonder of God’s love at work.

I watched as God embraced this tiny girl because she was his most important treasure in the world at that precise moment. Her burden became his burden as he lifted it off her petite shoulders. Ruby’s arms became God’s arms as he drew her close to his heart. Ruby disappeared, and in her place stood the King of kings and the Lord of lords—the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

I couldn’t think. Or say anything. Or do anything. I was confounded and confronted with the gentleness of omnipotence. I was overwhelmed by God, touched by his power, yet torn apart by the tenderness of that touch.

That same touch carved out the Grand Canyon, dug out the depths of the oceans, and tossed the mountains into place. This touch, that flung the stars throughout the universe and gouged out the pathways of the rivers, had just wiped the tiniest of tears of the cheek of a little girl. His touch had reached deep into her chest and lightened the heavy load crushing her broken heart.

And…I was overwhelmed by God. Overwhelmed…because I know that I know he loves you and me in the exact same manner. He is omnipotence willing to touch frailty and give power to the powerless. He is unbounding grace willing to caress the powerless, the vulnerable, the helpless and the impotent. He is infinite love swallowing up the unlovable and the unwanted.

Oh God, I am overwhelmed by your presence! May I reside here forever more?



On Labor Day weekend, I took a little time to wet a hook in the Warrior River and try my skill at fishing. As I mentioned, fishing relaxes me and when I catch something it’s just icing on the cake.

I baited my hook and tossed it in the water. It barely had time to sink and under my cork went. After a short fight I landed a two pound catfish. Carefully, I reached down to grab the fish just in front of his top fin and his two side fins. Nothing hurts more and ruins a good day of fishing than a catfish fin in the hand. You can’t really blame the catfish, but just the same a little care keeps you from the painful skewering of a fish fin.

Now once I put the grip on the fish, I proceeded to the removal of the hook for its mouth. It was a little difficult due to the catfish’s lip being so tough. I worked the hook back and forth carefully to remove the hook because I am into catch and release. If you catch and release you don’t have to clean fish. I didn’t realize that in my exuberance to get the hook out with my right hand, I was squeezing the catfish with my left one. If you squeeze a catfish too hard it will…how can I say this—poop on you. I know you were probably not expecting me to say that—with most of my blogs being spiritual and all that, but it is what it is!

I was unaware of what had happened until I pitched the catfish back into the river. And then to my horror I saw the catfish poop on my shorts and worst of all, on my favorite tee-shirt—the faded, soft tangerine colored Key West one. There I stood on the pier with dark colored fish stuff dripping down my shirt and shorts.

What did you do—you might be wondering? What every fisherman would do, I scooped up a handful of river water and washed the fish fecal material off my clothes and proceeded to bait the hook for another cast. Heck…the catfish are biting!

Later the next day when I returned home, I squirted some stain remover on my tee shirt and washed it. When I took it out the stain was still there. I did the same thing again with the same result. So, I went to the next level and saturated it with a Clorox concoction my wife makes up and let it sit for several days. At this point I’m not sure the fish poop stain will ever come out, but my fingers are crossed.

I have learned a lesson—not about fishing but about life. When you get squeezed hard enough—when the pressure is on—something is bound to come out. Whatever is on the inside will always ooze out. We may pretend to be this or that, but when pressed hard enough by a situation of circumstance—who we really are comes to the forefront. We may try to hide it but it will eventually surface.

That’s why God is conforming us into the image of Christ from the inside out. He’s pressing us into the mold of Jesus Christ (that’s what conform means), and everything that’s not like Christ gets squeezed out. It squirts everywhere and often it is embarrassing because we were unaware of the mess still hiding within our hearts. Hopefully at some point, when the pressure is on, Christ will gush out and the conforming process will be complete.

But until that day dawns, be prepared to clean up the mess. Like that fish poop, a harsh word, an angry reaction, or a bad attitude can leave stains on those around us that are extremely hard to remove regardless of how diligent you are or how much time passes. Hopefully the next time you find yourself in a squeeze, you will remember this little fish poop story and be careful with your aim.

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

Reclaiming Biblical Healing (Part 9)

Everything Jesus purchased on the cross was accepted and validated through the resurrection by God the Father. The resurrection is God’s eternal signature on and stamp of approval and acceptance that the death of Jesus was enough—it made atonement. Atonement is a biblical term that means reconciliation (the full restoration of fellowship and relationship) was restored between God and humanity as the effects of our sin were removed through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.

Every believer is at-one-ment with God. Jesus satisfied God’s law that demanded the death of a righteous and perfect sacrifice for sin. Christ’s atonement cleansed the sin debt and brought release from the eternal consequences and effects of sin, and the restoration of God’s blessings and favor.

Sin entered the physical world through Adam ‘s disobedience, but it’s origin was in the heart of Lucifer when he rebelled against God. Sin brought sickness, disease, and ultimately death. None of those things were God’s will for humanity—then or now. We were not created to endure sickness or disease, to be tormented in soul and mind, nor experience death. That was never the will of God for any of his children. If it’s not God’s will, then his will must be that we enjoy and experience wholeness, life, health, and prosperity of spirit, soul, and body. That concept is contained in the Jewish word shalom—which is the fullness of life Jesus died to give each of us.

Few people would argue that Jesus died to save us, as long as by that you mean spiritually speaking. But the word sozo (Greek) from which come the terms “saved” and “salvation” means far more. Salvation is the redemption of forgiveness of sin, deliverance from torment, and healing of the body. The death of Jesus purchased all three. That’s right there is sozo in the atonement for the spirit, soul, and body.

Jesus did not come to die for a partial salvation. He came to bring complete and total salvation. When Adam and Eve tasted the fruit, death invaded and ultimately claimed their spirit, soul, and body. Jesus came to redeem, deliver, and heal all three. Salvation in Jesus Christ is complete, even though most Christians are only accessing one third of what Jesus paid for.

Isaiah prophesied about this amazing and complete atonement in Isaiah 53:4-5. “Surely our griefs [our sickness] He Himself bore, and our sorrows [pains] He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten [struck down] of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through [wounded] for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being [shalom—peace] fell upon Him, and by His scouring [stripes] we are healed.” This passage promises one who would come and bear the punishment for spirit, soul, and body. Jesus fulfilled these promises as he was beaten and crucified.

After Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law and others in Capernaum, Matthew said, “He Himself took our infirmities, and carried away our diseases” (Matthew 8:17). Peter quoted the same passage in 1 Peter 2:24: “And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds [by His stripes] you were healed.” When God emphasizes something once it is important, but when he does it three times it is essential and something we must pay attention to.

Let me sum up what I’m trying to say. The body of Jesus was scourged with a whip, his body broken and ripped—so we could enjoy physical healing. “By His stripes we are healed!” He was pierced through his hands, feet, side and forehead and his blood was spilled to pay for our sin debt. Total salvation—forgiveness of sin, deliverance from torment, and healing of the body—was purchased that day. Jesus came to reverse the curse of sin and his atoning work disempowered the devils hold over defilement, disease, demonization, and death. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil.

The atonement of Jesus is complete. Are you experiencing the totality of that atonement in your spirit, soul, and body today? If not, why not?

Wordless Worship


I am a wordsmith by birth and by calling.  As a child, I was a talker. My grandmother once remarked, as I burst through the door at a family reunion and unashamedly introduced myself, that I would one day become a preacher. Now as a pastor and a writer, words are my essential building blocks in the construction of concepts, ideas, stories, illustrations, and the unfolding of deep biblical truths that must be communicated.

But there are moments when I don’t have words, or for that matter need words. This happens most frequently for me during worship. Often I am speechless when I consider the wonder of God and his grace. No matter how skillful I might be in using descriptive adjectives or action verbs—I find no adequate words to describe his glory. In his presence I stand speechless—dumb and mute—unable to speak or convey the depth of my love for my God.

It is in those intimate moments of frustrated inability that my spirit must find some form of release that requires no words. Tears fill my eyes, chills clamor up my spine, my hands lift with palms upraised, or my feet begin to dance. Inability gives way to capabilities that are often hidden and closely guarded—yet available if I choose to release and use them.

My all-time favorite picture of worship and the one I often retreat into and emulate in my dreams is found in Luke 7:36-50. It is the story of the woman who anointed Jesus feet with her tears and the precious ointment of an alabaster vial. There is a great deal going on in that story, but in my visits all I can see is “go-for-broke” worship, yet not one word is spoken.

There is emotion. This is a once broken woman who has been restored through the grace of Jesus Christ. She has received worth and value through his ministry and now has a future. She cannot hold back the tears, though it seems they pour out in silence from a heart overflowing with joy. She does not hold back the emotions, yet without words she worships. True worship is filled with genuine emotions.

There is boldness. Once she realizes her tears are falling on her Lord’s feet, she steps out of the shadows from against the wall and quietly kneels while unpinning her long hair and using it to wipe his feet. She is exposed now—she has stepped from the safety of the crowd and courageously released the love of her heart without regard for what other might think or say. She is unashamed in her devotion and confident in her pursuit. True worship is always bold in its expression and sometime brash in the eyes of those who witness it.

There is surrender. This woman prostrated herself on the floor and gave the intimate gift of a kiss to the feet of her Savior. Not just once—but over and over and over. Her gratitude poured out like an uncontainable stream driven out of its banks by an unstoppable rain storm. Her position and her actions are the immutable signs of submission. True worship is characterized by total surrender.

And ultimately there is a cost. Sincere worship always carries an expensive price tag. It is never cheap—or if it is it ceases to be worship and becomes an empty religious ritual. This woman shattered her nest egg. She cashed in her retirement account—her only means of financial security—when she broke the seal on her alabaster jar of perfume and dumped the precious contents on Jesus’ feet. Her most precious possession was poured out as an offering of worship and thanksgiving—a sacrifice of faith. True worship always comes with a cost most are unwilling to pay.

This is what wordless worship looks like, yet its voice speak loud and clear!

The Lord of the Dance (Part 2 of 2)

imagesIt blows my mind to think about the fact that God is extending his hand in search of a partner who will accept and step out on the ballroom floor with him in this relational dance of life. Likewise, it boggles my mind to image what style of dance we might be doing.

It’s O.K. to daydream—to imagine —and allow the right side of your brain to run a little wild here. God created the dance as a passionate expression of worship, love, and joy. It was humanity that perverted it into a sexual exploitation and manifestation of self. So relax a little here—we’re setting that aspect aside and allowing our minds to imagine what it would be like to dance with God—the Lover of our soul. That fantasy might become a genuine reality if we can somehow click off those Victorian religious do and don’t systems we have wrongly saddled ourselves with in an attempt to define holiness. (Holiness is growing in maturity—becoming more like Christ, not ceasing to be human). Instead of exploring what God thinks for ourselves, we often allow others to interpret it for us through their restrictive lenses and filters.

Someone asked whether I thought this dance might be a waltz, a tango, or a rumba? I thought about this long and hard, and finally arrived at this place—whatever dance you can envision participating with God in is likely the dance you would be willing to do. If we can’t see it through the eyes of faith in our imagination, then it is highly likely it will never become a reality.

Perhaps you can conceive an elegant waltz spinning around and around the floor with fluidity and grace. Perhaps it is the precision and the passion of a tango in rapid tempo that leaves you with a shortness of breath and a flushness of the face. Or, perhaps is the slow, rhythmic movement of the rumba. Each of these requires an intimate partnership and a graceful flow of two becoming one in purpose and step. Any of these dances could be a beautiful metaphor of what our relationship with Christ was designed to be (a bridegroom living life with his bride). What your spirit can conceive here pales in comparison with the depths of Christ’s love for you (just read the Song of Solomon).

Forget about the crowd surrounding you. Clear your mind for a moment of all the portraits you’ve allowed others to paint of God.  Step away from the negativity and step into that quiet place where it’s just you and Jesus. Take his hand, close your eyes, and allow his selfless love and grace to embrace you.

And then…dance.

Settler or Explorer!

imagesFaith is far more than trusting in God for your eternal salvation. Faith is the currency of the kingdom of God, the key asset for living a supernatural lifestyle. Which, after all, is the only lifestyle Jesus called us to live.

God is forming for himself a people of faith who are comfortable living more in the unseen world than in the tangible world. The unseen is just as real as the tangible, but without faith we cannot believe it, much less conceive it and walk in it. If we have to see it first with our eyes we will never reach the levels God has destined us to walk in. The paradox of the supernatural life: believing is seeing!

Most Christians are unbelieving believers. They are saved by grace but refuse to buy into the supernatural job description of what it means to be a Christian (a little Christ). Oh, we say we believe God can do what he says he will do (his promises) but we are terrified of stepping out into the unseen and proving it. We are not shy in talking about our faith. The problem arises when we are forced to demonstrate that level of faith. If we are unwilling to demonstrate what we say we believe, we really don’t believe what we say we believe.

Instead of pressing into God and pushing the boundaries of our beliefs to the extremes in our pursuit of fully realizing his promises, most have settled for far less than God guaranteed. We have become settlers. Settlers move into an area and occupy it. They build towns and live out their lives in fortified, secure settlements. They refuse to venture too far past the boundaries of what is considered safe, acceptable, and orthodox. They settle for what is rather than what might be or what God says is.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things no seen.” These things that are hoped for are the fulfillment of God’s promises not our own selfish hopes and dreams. In other words, faith is the title deed (the assurance) and the proof (the conviction) that his promises are ours even though we have not seen its fulfillment. Faith is making the journey to establish ownership and the process of exploring what you have been given—what is already yours.

Settlers don’t explore—settlers settle. God is seeking a people who will become explorers—men and women that will push the boundaries of what is known or deemed safe and acceptable. Explorers always believe there is more around the next turn or beyond the next hill. They have an insatiable hunger for more. They believe God has more, and thus they refuse to settle for less. Explorers exert their faith by taking one more step into the frontier—into the unknown—when everyone else decides to stop…and settle.

Faith grows as we hear and act on Christ’s words. Explorers act and pursue what they’ve heard, while settlers build monuments, museums, shrines, and stick brass plaques on what they’ve heard. Settlers never taste the supernatural lifestyle, but the supernatural becomes the natural life experience of an explorer.

Which one will you choose to be—an explorer or a settler?