Man on a Mission

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is the encounter that Jesus has with the Samaritan Woman at the well in John, chapter 4. There are so many reasons why I love this passage. The crux being the interaction between Jesus and the Woman, however there are many little tasty, little nuggets in the chapter, aside from that. I believe it acts as a microcosm of Jesus’ mission and ministry and as a result, it should inform how we approach our lives as it pertains to ministry.

The passage starts with a validation of the fact that Jesus couldn’t care less what the religious folks thought of him and would go and do as He was led by the Father. “He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria.” Samaria is seen as a picture of Israel’s sin and compromise. As Israel was subjected to and endured their captivity with Assyria, the men of the promise took wives from the Assyrians against God’s explicit instruction. The descendants of these illegal unions were the Samaritans of the New Testament. Any “good” Jew wouldn’t be caught dead traveling through Samaria and would, instead, travel far to the East from Jerusalem and up past Samaria to get to Galilee. Jesus defied the religious leaders by traveling through the much maligned area instead of taking the usual route around it.

The way in which Jesus lived his life is so encouraging to me, in that he shed his divinity to put on our humanity and walked this earth as a human being, experiencing the same thoughts and feelings we experience today, down to the nth detail. When he was born he experienced for the first time the pangs of hunger and the need for sleep, as the Savior of the world nursed from his mother and fell asleep in her arms. In John 4:6-7 it says, “(6) Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. (7) There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.” We can note in these verses that Jesus felt the all too familiar feeling of weariness and thirst. Another thought along this line. The Bible mentions later on in the passage that Jesus had no access to a bucket or other means of getting the water himself. He was at the mercy of or dependent on whoever would approach the well. How frustrating that must have felt for the Word who created all things.

I have heard my Pastor tell many times how she felt when she ate with Brother Daniel Ekechukwu, who was raised from the dead. How she would watch the fork move from his plate to his mouth and watch him chew, and marvel. I find myself feeling the same way when the word includes such seemingly unimportant details as this. Jesus, the word who was in the beginning with God got hungry, weary, and thirsty. And just like us, those seemingly menial things can lead to a divine encounter that will change the lives of those around us.

Can you picture Jesus leaning against a raised wall at Jacob’s well, looking at the wristwatch of eternity and saying to Himself, ‘She should be coming any moment now?’ God the Son had an appointment with a woman of the world. She had a blind date with destiny and didn’t even know about it.

Tommy Tenney

I love reading Tommy Tenney. He has such a beautiful way of describing these “coincidental” encounters. In a different message he talks about Jesus’ interaction with Zacchaeus. He talks about the tree that Zacchaeus climbed — how long it had to grow for him to be able to climb it. That angels had been dispatched to guard and watch over that tree, to protect it from being trampled as a sapling, or chopped down when it became larger. What a beautiful testimony of the plan of God!

I know the purposes and intentions that I have skillfully prepared and planned out, utters the Lord, declaring prophetically, purposes and intentions for prosperity and not for evil, to personally hand you a latter period, a future of hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

God has a carefully thought out plan for each of us, as this passage further brings to light and affirms. There is a fairly popular song out right now that I absolutely…well I hesitate to use the word hate…no, if it applies, let’s use it. I hate it. There, I said it! I normally appreciate the music Cory Asbury puts out but whenever this particular song comes on I turn the radio off. To be frank, it makes me mad — “Reckless Love.” In no way, could God ever even remotely be considered anything close to the realm of being reckless. Rash, thoughtless, careless, irresponsible, fool-hardy, unwise, ill-considered. These are all synonyms of reckless whose literal meaning is: without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action. Does that sound like the God that orchestrated this meeting at the well? Yeah, I don’t think so either.

I wonder often about the Samaritan woman. Why was she drawing water at noon, in the full heat of the day when the other woman drew water in the evening? Was she trying to avoid the prying eyes and wagging tongues that would surely assail her? She had had 5 husbands, that can’t have been an easy burden to bear. How did she feel as she walked up to the well — coming to draw her water as she did daily? Seeing a Jewish man, a rabbi there and knowing there was no way to avoid him. Did she dread those final steps to the well? Did she think of turning back rather than continuing on? Surely the man would despise her, a Samaritan. To her credit, she pressed on. Then, he speaks. In John 4:7b, “Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.” I find it funny that Jesus spoke with her and didn’t give heed to the fact that she was a woman and he a man, or she was a Samaritan and he a Jew, yet she is the one to express surprise at his request. “Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” She knew her place as a woman and a Samaritan, it was Jesus that needed reminding, however he did not care. Not even one iota. He saw her as a person for whom he would soon die. Someone who needed the grace and mercy only he could supply. 

”Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” An interesting tidbit in this verse is that he doesn’t offer her this Living Water, carte blanche. She has to be a willing participant in the process and ask. Salvation, healing, forgiveness, everything that God has offered, while free, requires one thing from us and it is found in this next verse, “For everyone that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Our will must submit to his. This free gift of God requires our full participation.

In verse 16, after she expresses her desire for this Living Water, Jesus gives her a command. “Go, call thy husband and come hither.” She could have gone and called for the man she was living with at the time but she opted for complete honesty and answers simply, “I have no husband.” She is rewarded with a prophetic confirmation from Jesus. I often wonder what would have happened if she had lied. Would she have ended up like the rich, young ruler — who walked away sorrowfully? Would this story have instead been a cautionary tale of the importance of being truthful? We will never know because she humbled herself before him and gave him the painful truth about her life. 

As Jesus laid before her the marvelous certainty of who he was, the disciples returned from acquiring their food. Isn’t it interesting how different people’s priorities can be? Jesus was expressing to this woman the importance of the Living Water vs physical water and the disciples were more concerned with their stomachs! As they approached, even they were caught off guard at the peculiar sight of their Master conversing with this woman, this Samaritan. The scripture goes so far as to say they marveled at it! However, they recognized the holiness of the moment and, to their credit, kept their mouths shut. Sometimes our Pastors or leaders may do things we don’t understand. Those are the times where we, like the disciples, need to keep our mouths shut and trust that they are being led by the Father. 

When flying with children you get told over and over, one simple thing. “In the event of an emergency and the oxygen masks deploy, please secure your own mask before assisting your children.” If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard a thousand times! (Well, that’s not entirely true since I haven’t flown a thousand times, but you get my meaning. lol) This woman, receiving her spiritual oxygen mask (so to speak) ran to assist the rest of her city. She had received the words of truth from the lips of Jesus and recognizing their veracity, did not hesitate in spreading the good news. We can do nothing to help this lost and dying world without first humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God. And we certainly can’t help others if we live in constant fear, concerned of what others will think of us. When we have our life in line with the commands and instruction of God, then —and only then — can we help those around us.

I find it interesting that this is the longest recorded conversation that Jesus has in the Gospels. A conversation that, if the religious leaders had their way, he never would have had. As I stated at the beginning, this passage acts as a microcosm of Jesus’ life and ministry. And as such, it deserves careful consideration in the life of every believer. It stands out as an example of how we are to live our everyday lives. As Jesus did, we ought to live in constant search of people who need to hear the good news of the Gospel. We ought to live every day looking for our own “Woman at the Well.” Just as we must follow the example of Jesus we ought to strive to live with the transparency of this Samaritan Woman. Who, with no hint of self preservation or thoughts of safeguarding her pride, she opened her life to the view of the Master and in return she received her salvation and those of her city. 


Anything You Can Do, God Can Do Better

Who remembers that old song, “Anything you can do (I Can Do Better?)” If you don’t, its basically about two people trying to outdo one another. I think sometimes in moments of pure and unadulterated stupidity, we sing it to God. But then God, in His infinitely tender mercy, sings it back to us. Not in the voice of a petulant child, but with the voice of a loving Father who’s desire is for His children to have everything He intends for them to have. “Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you.” What arrogance, that we could think we could possibly plan something with an nth of the grandeur and majesty that God can.

In the Old Testament, God had a plan for Israel. He wanted them to be different from all of the surrounding nations. All the -ites had natural kings. Kings you could see. Kings you could touch. God wanted Israel to stand apart. He wanted to be their king but they didn’t want to be different. They wanted to be like everyone else. They thought they knew better. God’s plan for them didn’t seem nearly as good as the plan they had built up in their minds. Surely a big, strong king would make the other nations around them think twice about trying anything. So they approached Samuel with their demand and in doing so, they not only turned their back on God’s best, they turned their back on God. We all know how that turned out.

There is a popular saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” I will take that one step further. I don’t think it would make God laugh. God wants His best for us and when we choose another path, he doesn’t rejoice or gloat. He grieves. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” When the Israelites demanded a king God gave it to them. He won’t force himself on anyone who doesn’t want him. Not only did He give them a king, He gave them the one they wanted. Saul — a man, literally head and shoulders above the rest. A man who ended up being completely corrupt.

Some believe that God is shrouded in secrecy. Even if you desire to follow His plan, there’s no way you can know it. They quote verses like Isaiah 55:9 which says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” And they spout 1 Corinthians 2:9 which says, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” They make a critical error by stopping there, mid thought. 1 Corinthians 2:10 goes on to say, “But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit.” God isn’t mysterious. He reveals Himself to us in His word.

Psalms 32:8 gives us a glimpse into God’s desire for our walk of obedience. It says, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” God has no desire to prod us or drag us along. In the next verse he says, “Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.” God yearns for us to know Him so well that just the slightest twitch of his eye will bring us up short.

He is the Good Shepherd. Let Him lead you. Don’t be like my dork-headed dog who likes to jerk my arm out of its socket when we’re on our walks or stop in the middle of the path to smell something random so that I trip over her. In order to be led by Him we must meditate on His word. We must commune with Him in prayer. Only then can we know him well enough to ascertain His plan for us. Whatever plans you have for yourself, my friend, trust me — God can do better.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

Romans 8:28


Um…Dude, You’ve Got to Open It First

Those are the exact words I said to my 8-month-old yesterday when I was preparing to feed him. I sat the spoon and the food down on the tray and he proceeded to pick up the tub of pureed veggies and fruit and shove it in his mouth. My first words were, “That’s not how this works.” The next ones were, “Um…dude, you’ve got to open it first.” I thought about how silly it was that he thought he could get satisfaction that way. And then I thought how we do the exact same thing. Maybe not in such an overt way, but how many of us have Bibles that we don’t pick up every day? How many of us require wisdom, understanding and just plain old sustenance, and we don’t seek out our answer in the Word of God? Yeah…me neither. *shifts uncomfortably in my seat*

The Word of God only helps us when we open it. And not only that, it must be consumed. If I opened that tub of food and just set it in front of the tiny person: firstly, there’d be an imminent disaster that would need to be cleaned up post haste. Secondly, he would be super cranky because he didn’t get the nourishment he needed. We don’t just eat once and are satisfied. We must consume our food on a regular basis. Why do we try that with our Bibles? In many places, the Word of God likens itself to food in our mouths.

  • Job 23:12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.
  • Matthew 4:4 states, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
  • 1 Peter 2:2 “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”

One of my favorite verses is Joshua 1:8 and while it doesn’t specifically mention food, it does tell us not to let “the book of the law depart from our mouths.” I for one don’t like letting food depart from my mouth so for me, it applies. Also to “meditate on it day and night.” I like to eat day and night so ipso facto, it also applies. Romans 10:8 tells us, “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach.” So keep the Word of God in your mouth — chew on it, gorge yourself — for when you do that, it has an awesome benefit. It reaches your heart.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.

Colossians 3:16a

In Case of Emergency, Break Glass

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

1 John 2:1 (KJV)

“Jesus Christ, if that’s who you believe in, Jesus Christ, admittedly was not perfect when he was here on this earth.” This ridiculously inaccurate statement was made by CNN Host, Don Lemon during his show “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.” When I heard it I was filled with gratitude for two things. One, I don’t have to go to CNN to learn about, well, anything. Two, that I know from the Word of God that Jesus was, indeed, perfect — and I’m supremely grateful that He was.

If Jesus wasn’t perfect He wouldn’t have been able to be our sacrifice. The sacrifice for sin had to be spotless — perfect. Jesus’ perfection was attested to many times throughout scripture. 1 Peter 1:18-19 tells us, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Again in 1 Peter 2:21-22 we read, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.” Paul, in 2 Corinthians 5:21, makes this statement, “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

Jesus’ earthly sojourn was to show us the way — to walk and to live perfect. He gave us an example of a man walking in the perfect will and authority of God. This was done, not to discourage us in our own imperfection, but to encourage us to do the same. Jesus himself said in Matthew 5:48, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” He was not a cruel man. He wouldn’t have told us to do or be something that was unattainable. We were made in the likeness of our God. We were made to be like him in every way, that includes His perfection.

It would surely blow the tiny mind of a certain CNN Host, that not only was Jesus, indeed, perfect…we are intended to walk perfect as well. The Apostle John, in 1 John 4:17 words it this way, “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world.” As He is, so are we in this world. Wow. That is a mouthful. How can this be? It would be nice if, at salvation, we had no desire to fulfill the lust of our flesh any longer. It would be nice if we just walked perfect and never made any more poor choices, but we have a free will — and that free will sometimes has a very loud mouth. How do we walk perfect? Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation of the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” We have to put off the old man. It’s a choice — a choice many of us have to make several times a day.

So what happens when the old man rears his head? What happens if our old nature begins to scream out? What happens if we make a poor choice? (I won’t even deign to call it a mistake, as a lot of what people call mistakes are actually just really bad decisions.) For that we have 1 John 2:1, what I like to called the “in case of emergency, break glass” verse. You don’t want to have to use the fire extinguisher. If everything goes right, you shouldn’t have to. But if something goes terribly wrong, its nice to have one. 1 John 2:1 reads, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” First of all, don’t sin — but IF you do…if you sin and judgment is sure to follow you have Jesus in heaven at the right hand of the Father as your advocate. He points to the mercy seat, sprinkled in His own blood and says, that sin is paid for, they are made righteous.

We have been given the ability to live as He lived. Walk as He walked. Do as He did. And in case of emergency, break glass.


The Holy Spirit

To make tongues a moment of ecstasy in God and not the very means by which the Holy Spirit will train us is a mistake.

Dr. Mark Spitsbergen

As I was reading through Dr. Mark Spitsbergen’s book, highlighter poised and ready, I ran in to this phrase: “To make tongues a moment of ecstasy in God and not the very means by which the Holy Spirit will train us is a mistake.” (Side note: I love highlighters. And I love highlighting things. It’s a rarity not to find my books marked up in every color of the rainbow. You know, highlighters are like the Holy Spirit. They illuminate things for you.) I stopped. And not only did I highlight that phrase, I underlined it and put a big, old box around it! That statement sums up both the modern day church’s problem and solution, all in one. A lot of the church sees tongues as merely the initial evidence of the baptism but, it is so much more than that! Tongues is the link to the very power that transforms, and sustains us. Tongues is the process by which we stay connected to the person of the Holy Spirit.

John 16:7-8 says, ” But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And he, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” How does the Holy Spirit convict the world? By people, Baptized in the Holy Spirit, standing up in power and demonstration!

Jesus told the disciples that it would be better for them for Him to go away. How in the world… Because it would go from Jesus being in the midst of one single group of people to the Holy Ghost being able to sit upon and indwell every single person who is Baptized. The disciples must have been so perplexed by what Jesus said. How can anything be better than having Jesus in their midst? Jesus knew that in order for the church to go forward and accomplish its purpose in turning the world upside down, it would need the unbridled power, the uncontainable outpouring that the Holy Spirit brings. 

The disciples couldn’t understand how anything could be better. There is no way in their finite minds to grasp what was about to happen! Jesus walked among them but there would come a day when the God of the universe, the God that Psalm 33:6 tells us, breathes out the stars — THAT GOD — who created everything that we see by the spoken word would baptize them and empower them.

If Jesus knew the Holy Spirit was so important to the life of a believer, why would anyone who calls themselves “Christian” not want Him? And to take that question even further, why does it seem that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not just forgotten, but even mocked and disdained amongst a large part of today’s church? First of all, they have believed the lie that tongues is not for today. It is read Acts 2:38-39. We are those that are afar off. 1 Corinthians 14:1 tells us to “Eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit.” If the church isn’t eagerly desiring the Gifts of the Spirit there’s something very, very wrong.

In Acts 2:1 we find a couple of very important points. “When the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all together in one place.” Fully means complete or entirely. To wait for something to “fully come” requires patience. We know for a fact that the believers in the upper room dwindled in the waiting. What started as a large group, ended up a mere 120 people. People are impatient. We need to learn to wait on the important things. While we don’t need to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit any longer (He was poured out on the day of Pentecost and hasn’t stopped pouring since), there are things we do need to wait on to come to fullness in our lives. Fullness takes time. The initial Baptism in the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues is the beginning of our journey in the Holy Spirit but its also the middle and if we stay with Him, He will give us the power to carry our calling through to the end. They were all together in one place. They were in unity. Unity is the state of forming a complete and pleasing whole, especially in an artistic context. I love this definition as it pertains to art, after all Ephesians 2:10 does say that, “We are His workmanship” other translations use the word masterpiece. We, the church, are a glorious cacophony of brilliant colors and brush strokes that come together to create a beautiful masterpiece! The church was meant to be that way. It was meant to be  unified and complementary and when it isn’t, well… the Holy Spirit cannot stay — if He was welcome there to begin with.

The modern day church values their independence more than the Holy Ghost. If He is going to invade their space, so to speak, they don’t want Him. Much of today’s church cares too much about their image and what the Holy Spirit will do to their neat and tidy services. They care too little for the Gift and the power that He intended for the church to walk in and too much for their agenda.

The church I grew up in was Pentecostal but there wasn’t much emphasis on the Holy Spirit. When a 6th-grade girl (namely me) doesn’t know what the Baptism in the Holy Spirit or tongues is, you’ve got a problem. A church that doesn’t allow the move of the Holy Ghost — better yet — a church that doesn’t treasure and value the Holy Spirit and tongues is in for a world of hurt. (The irony is, I went to the Christian school attached to the church through 5th grade. In 6th grade I went to public school and met a girl who was Pentecostal and I went to her youth group and began my journey with the person of the Holy Spirit.

Confusion and impotence are the inevitable results when the wisdom and resources of the world are substituted for the presence and power of the Spirit.

Samuel Chadwick, Wesleyan Methodist Minister 

Why is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and tongues so important? Here is an living example of what the baptism in the Holy Ghost can to do for an individual: Samuel Chadwick. He was born in Lancashire in northern England. His father worked in a cotton mill and at the ripe old age of 8, Samuel joined his father working 12 hour days at the mill. (The cotton mill was not a place that people wanted to work: working conditions, ventilation, breathing in cotton fibers — terrible.) In his early 20s he escaped the factory to become a pastor in a nearby city. Somewhere in his late 20s or early 30s he experienced what he called his “epiphany.” What happened? He came face to face with the person of the Holy Spirit. He was Baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire! The Holy Spirit turned what was once was a way out of the cotton mill to a burning calling. The Holy Spirit became a fire inside of him. A fire that could not be quenched. So much so that he burned up all of his old sermons. He recognized that everything before that point was rubbish and got rid of his old way of preaching and thinking in an amazingly profound way. In his book “The Way to Pentecost” Chadwick wrote, “The soul’s safety is in its heat. Truth without enthusiasm, morality without emotion, ritual without soul, make for a church without power. Destitute of the fire, nothing else counts; possessing Fire, nothing else matters.”

What does the Holy Ghost do for us when we speak in other tongues? We are edified. 1 Corinthians 14:4 tells us, “One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself.” Forget listening to a self-help guru or reading a pointless book, want to edify yourself? Spend time speaking in tongues! We are built up. Jude 1:20 says, “But you beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” To build is to cause to be constructed, to develop according to a systematic plan, to increase or enlarge. Look at the life of Samuel Chadwick. He went from preaching for a profession to preaching from a calling. He went from walking as a mere man to walking in the power and fire of the Holy Spirit! He wrote numerous books and was the principal of Cliff College in England where he was instrumental in educating a young minister who should sound very familiar — Leonard Ravenhill. We are empowered. Mark 16:17-18 says, “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in my name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues, they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them, they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.” It’s not coincidental that speaking in tongues appears in this list of remarkably miraculous things. How do you think those great miracles are accomplished? By charging ourselves up in the Holy Ghost by speaking in other tongues.

The sound board in our old church was gloriously uncomplicated. Flip it on, turn on the channel and you had sound. When we moved to our new building we got a new board. This board had lots of channels. This board had lots of lights. This board, much to my chagrin, required amps. My husband is the sound board guru but when he can’t be there I stumble my way through. When the new board was first hooked up, I had a constant problem. Flip the board on, turn on the channel and…nothing. Nothing except pure, unadulterated panic on my part. I would call Vince at work and the inevitably, first thing that would come out of his mouth was, “Are the amps on?” To which I would sheepishly respond. “Noooo…” The Amps have one job, to give the speakers the power to do their job. We are the speakers. Holy Ghost Tongues are our amp. He give us the power to speak and declare the Word. To walk in signs and wonders.

Here’s another analogy. Have you ever noticed birds on a high voltage wire? Do you know why they can sit there without being electrocuted? Because they are only touching the line and nothing else. Electricity is always trying to find its way to the ground. (You know, theoretically you can hang off of the same wire and not be harmed but I wouldn’t test that theory.) The power flows when you are connected. If you were to touch that same line while touching anything that gives the electricity a path to the ground? Ka-Boom! The power is in the connection. That’s what tongues does for us. It is the connection between us and the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is electricity, then Tongues is the charging cable.

The baptism of the Holy Ghost cannot happen without speaking in tongues and speaking in tongues cannot happen without the baptism in the Holy Spirit. One cannot happen without the other. It’s time for the church to quit looking at speaking in other tongues as a one-time occurrence. As merely the initial evidence of the baptism. Not only is it the initial evidence, it’s the continual evidence. We were intended to be filled and poured out and filled and poured out over and over. It’s a continual infilling. Which happens as we pray in the Holy Ghost. The pitcher is filled up and poured out.

Ephesians 5:18 tells us to be “continually filled with the Holy Spirit.” You don’t need to continually fill something that’s still full. We were meant to pour out! So let’s go for it… Over and over, day after day, moment by moment. Taking in, giving out. Taking in, giving out, through speaking in the heavenly language of the Holy Ghost.


A Matter of Honor

If we are going to attain the life that God wants for every believer we have to develop a virtue almost non-existent in the 21st century. Honor. Honor is key to receiving anything from God. God tells us in 1 Samuel 2:30 “But now the Lord says: ‘Far be it from me; for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”

God’s glory and honor are intrinsically connected. You cannot have His glory without being a person of honor. (What better way to honor someone than to have the glory of Almighty God rest on them?) We will only be honored to the degree that we honor God. If we want to see a greater move of the Holy Spirit we must reverence Him! To reverence someone means to regard them or treat them with deep respect. We must love what He loves. We must hate what He hates. We must disdain what He disdains. And most importantly, we must honor what He honors! Honor is similar to faith, in that there are no degrees. You either have it or you don’t. You either honor or despise. There is no middle ground.

Hebrews 13:17 tells us, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves.” That is a command, not a suggestion. We cannot be forced to honor our submit. It is something we must choose! All we have to do is obey His word and His word is very clear on this subject. Honor is very important to God. How we esteem or honor Him will differentiate us from other people and will even directly affect whether we get a full reward, partial reward, or no reward at all!

Lack of honor can happen is so many ways. We can, even through ignorance, fail to honor Him. Imagine you’re driving down the road. A police officer pulls behind you and turns on his lights. You pull over and he walks up to your window. “Ma’am, do you know how fast you were going? 55 in a 35.” Do you think he cares if you missed the posted speed limit sign? Yeah, no. He expects you to know the laws of the road before getting behind the wheel. In the same way, God expects us to know how to operate our “motor vehicle” of life. He expects us to know what to do and especially, what not to do. It’s the same way with honor. He expects us to know how to show honor. Ignorance isn’t an excuse!

1 Thessalonians 2:12 tells us, “That ye would walk worthy of God, who has called you unto His kingdom and glory.” So, how do we walk worthy of His calling? Through honor. And how do we show honor? First, through reference: How do we refer to the person we are seeking to honor. If we call our Pastor, “Hey, you!” Then we get “Hey you’s” anointing. But if we refer to our Pastor as Pastor, we benefit from the Pastor’s anointing. Second, through preference: Romans 12:10 tells us, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.” Thirdly, through deference: Deference is the esteem due to a superior or elder. Do we honor those above us, in both age and anointing, by deferring to them? We certainly ought to. Always, always defer those who are your elder by either age or position! Back in the day, deference was just known as common manners!

We are working hard to instill honor in our children. To get up and give an elder their chair when they come in the room, to allow an elder to go ahead of them in line, to address their elders appropriately… It is so important that our children know how to honor their fellow man or woman. If they can’t honor those they see, how can they honor God, who they can’t see? (I think I read that somewhere…) 

We certainly don’t want to be like Eli, who didn’t discipline his sons. Eli’s lack of discipline seemed to stem from pure laziness. But nowadays it seems to come from the belief that if we discipline or chasten our children we don’t love them. Whatever happened to “spare the rod, spoil the child?” Divine love doesn’t ever mean giving in to people. Proverbs 3:11 says, “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of His correction.” And again in Job 5:17, “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty.” Love will do what’s best for you, even if you don’t like it. Honor must be taught!

Honor can be difficult. Especially when the person we must honor is irritating or is honorless themselves. We don’t treat those in authority differently because of who they are in the flesh. 2 Corinthians 5:16a says, “Wherefore, henceforth know we no man after the flesh.” What YOU do in the flesh affects your spirit. If you don’t honor someone who is an irritant or honorless, it doesn’t affect them, or their spirit. It affects you and yours! It’s not worth the damage to your spirit to try and prove that point.

Honor and respect is a selfless act. It moves us from center stage and puts Jesus there, where he belongs. When Jesus is in the center of our lives — in the place of honor — everything goes the way it should. Honor should never be something we “do,” honor should be who we are! In the same way that God doesn’t love, He is love, so should honor not be something we do but who are we are! To honor isn’t an external thing. It’s a matter of our heart. We can choose to be people who are honorable or we can actually be a person of honor. I choose the latter — I hope you will too! 


A Walk Through Psalm One

This year the kids and I have been working hard at memorizing more of the Bible. There can be no exaggeration to the importance of hiding the Word in our hearts. If you have the scripture hidden in your heart it’s a lot easier to meditate on. We don’t always have our Bibles in front of our faces but if we have as much of the Word memorized as we can, we can call it up at a moment’s notice to chew on. I’ve heard people liken it to a cow chewing its cud. We can feed on the Word, swallow it, let it sustain us, and then bring it back up to chew on some more to bring more of the nutrients out of it. But unlike the grass a cow eats, the Word never ceases to offer live-giving insights.

The first one we tackled was Psalm 1. This passage offers us a beautiful snapshot of the contrast between what our lives should and shouldn’t reflect — the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. The teaching in this Psalm enforces that there is one way to life and that is through obedience to God and His Word.

Psalms begins with a very dangerous progression for the believer. Psalm 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” It speaks of a deepening involvement with the world and its all-encompassing wickedness. First, we find ourselves in the company unbelievers — we all have unsaved friends, family, acquaintances. It’s unavoidable, really. Should we take counsel or solicit advice from them? No. 2 Corinthians 6:14b says, “What fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness?” Then something we see or hear causes us to stop. Something pricks our ear — we entertain what has been said. Alistair Begg wrote, “The challenge is always this: Are men and women going to allow the Word of God to sit in judgment on their puny minds, or are they going to make their puny minds the judges of the word of God?” Ultimately, we end up sitting in the seat of the scornful — that is a dangerous place to be.

When I think of sitting in the seat of the scornful, it makes me think of a message I heard Steve Hill preach. He was talking about believers pitching their tents toward Sodom. (Genesis 13:12-13) Lot did that and without going into detail — since I think we all know the story. It cost him dearly. How in the world does a believer end up sitting in the seat of the scornful? It’s not an intentional thing. It’s a gradual thing. It’s a series of unwise decisions. It’s a series of small, seemingly inconsequential compromises. Genesis 4:7 says, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” I don’t believe Cain started out his life as a homicidal two-year-old wanting to kill his brother. It was a gradual, little by little, kind of thing. There is nothing the enemy likes more than to corrupt a son or daughter of God. It is his singular aim.

In order for us to keep verse one from happening to us we have to move on. Psalms 1:2 reads, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” What happens to the believer when we delight in and feast on the Word of God? Certainly not verse one — verse three happens, that’s what!

“He shall be like a tree, planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper.” A tree planted by the rivers of water has no lack of sustenance. A tree planted by the rivers of water is productive and a blessing to others. (A tree doesn’t eat its own fruit.) A tree planted by the rivers of water is able to offer shade and shelter to others. A tree planted by the rivers of water is prosperous. Much like most promises in the Bible, verse three is conditional on us doing what is stated in verse two.

Psalms 1:4, “The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away.” The ungodly are no so, what? They are not anything mentioned in verses two and three. The ungodly are dead. The ungodly are dry. Chaff is what’s left over after the grain harvest. The farmer has processed the wheat to remove what is useful to them and has left the rest. The chaff, which then dries up, is blown away by the wind. That is not to be us! We are not to be like the chaff — dried up, blown away, useless. We are to be like the tree — rooted, grounded, fruitful, productive.

A lot of people love verse three, but I have to tell you, verse 6 is my all time favorite.“For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Knows in this verse is the same word that is used in Genesis 4:1 where it talks of Adam knowing his wife, Eve. It’s not just a general knowledge or awareness of, but speaks to a deep level of understanding — an intimate personal knowledge. If I am the righteousness of Christ, and 1 Corinthians 5:21 says I am, then God knows me. There’s no more beautiful thought than that!

The passage concludes with a goal that ought to be the goal of every believer. The enemy’s aim, like I said in the beginning, is to corrupt and draw away that which is God’s. Our goal? To know Him and be known by Him. We know we cannot know him if we stand in the counsel of the ungodly, or stand in the path of sinners, and certainly not if we sit in the seat of the scornful. His word must always be before our face, before our eyes, in our mouths, buried within our hearts.

We are here for a purpose. To know God and be known by Him and if we know God, we know his heart — His heart is to be known by people. 


O Magnify the Lord

O magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.

Psalms 34:3

I’ve been pondering lately on what it means to “Magnify the Lord.” He is most certainly and without doubt worthy to be magnified and exalted. To be praised and glorified. But how do we magnify God? The obvious answer is through praise and worship. We exalt Him with our words — our lips. But even praise and worship serves as a greater purpose which we will get into a little farther down.

Let’s start with the basics. What does it even mean to “magnify?”

Magnify (v):
1. To cause to be held in esteem or respect.
2. To increase in significance: intensify.
3. To enlarge in fact or appearance.

Going off of the first definition, how do we show God that we esteem and respect Him? I don’t know about you all but when my kids do what I’ve asked of them I feel very esteemed and respected. But do you know what feels even more amazing? Not having to ask. My daughter Grace, is an expert at knowing what’s expected of her. She sees the need and without me having to say a word, she just does it. (What a kid!) As our kids show us respect through their obedience, so we can magnify God through our obedience.

The second part of the definition tells us that to magnify causes something or someone to increase in significance. Someone of significance should affect a great portion of our lives. Father God was of such significance to Jesus that while He went through the torture of the crucifixion He said very little. What He did say gives us an idea of how significant the Father was. Most of what Jesus said was ministerial in nature. “Father forgive them” to His torturers. “Today you will be with me in paradise” to the thief. “Woman, behold your son” to his mother. But there was one phrase that rose above all the rest. One phrase that epitomized what Jesus found to be the most tortuous of all. “Father, why have you forsaken me?” The Bible doesn’t record a single word of complaint from Jesus about the physical pain he was going through. Father God was so significant to Jesus that separation from Him was more agonizing than the physical pain of crucifixion!

Would we feel that way? I hope so. Does God occupy such a significant part of our lives that we would cry out in such a way if we felt God depart from us? Or would we be like King Saul who didn’t know when the Holy Spirit departed? I think a lot of the church today wouldn’t notice — for this terribly tragic reason,  they do not know Him. But we can show God through our lives how we Magnify Him by giving Him our all. Every part. Even the ugly bits.

The final part of the definition — to enlarge in fact or appearance is a bit abstract. Can we make God bigger? Yeah, that’s a no. He’s without measure and we are not that powerful. In the natural we make things appear larger by looking in a magnifying glass or a microscope. Why do we do this? So we can see better. I have a magnifying mirror and a pair of tweezers in my purse because well, I’m part German and there are hairs where there aren’t supposed to be — but that’s off topic. When we use a microscope. It brings things from the realm of the unseen to the seen — from the unknowable to the knowable. That’s what worship does for us. Worship is our microscope, bringing that which we cannot see clearly, into focus. We magnify Him when we allow ourselves to gaze upon Him. To study Him. To know Him until what surrounds us becomes insignificant.

There’s an old chorus that says it beautifully:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace.”

Saints, let’s magnify him through our obedience. Let’s magnify Him through giving Him everything we are. Let’s magnify him by allowing our worship to illuminate who He is. Because as we do, He doesn’t just become magnified in our lives. He becomes magnified in this world. 

And oh how this world needs Jesus.


A Year for a Suddenly

I know you’re just itching to know what word I picked for this year. For those of you who are like, whaaat? Its grown in popularity over the years for people to pick a word — or words. Words that speak to them. Words that they want to see develop in their life over the coming year. I don’t often pick one (There are so many, how do you choose?) but when I do, its something that jumps up at me strongly. Words like: perspective and intention, are ones that I’ve had in the past.

A few weeks ago as I was getting ready for church I had Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne on, as I often do. I call it my pre-service service. He was talking about “suddenly.” It’s not first time I’ve heard a message on that subject, as my Pastor can preach a message on suddenly from Acts 2 that will blow your hair back! As I listened it just grew stronger and stronger. This was my word. We have been believing for some specific things over the last couple of years and while the answers have trickled in I felt God say, “This is your year for a suddenly.” And I am holding on to that with every ounce of faith within me.

Now you may say, suddenly, that’s a strange word to choose. First off, I didn’t choose it, it chose me. And secondly, that word appears in the Bible many times — not always in a good context — but we’ll just focus on the good this time around. Here are a few examples:

The shepherds in the time of Jesus’ birth had a suddenly. In Luke 2:13, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God.”

The early church had a suddenly in Acts 2:2, “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind.”

Paul certainly had a suddenly when he was knocked off his donkey in Acts 9:3.

The woman with the issue of blood had her suddenly in Matthew 9:20, when she pressed through the crowd and received her miracle.

The suddenlies of God are powerful, transformative and, dare I say, SUDDEN. The shepherds were innocently herding their sheep when suddenly, their eyes were opened to the Messiah. The early church was on the defense, when BAM! Suddenly they received the power of the Holy Spirit and became those who were known to have turned the world right-side up. Paul was transformed suddenly on the road to Damascus from a man who persecuted the church to one who built the church. The woman with the issue of blood was suddenly changed from a desperate social pariah to a woman who was praise by Jesus for her faith.

Our suddenlies are no different. We’re all believing for things — and if we’re going to get God involved, let’s make those things big! Let’s stand this year. And having done all to stand, let’s stand some more. For our suddenly is surely coming.


Know Your Place

When I was a little kid I was as timid and shy as they come. When I was introduced to new people I was the one who would literally hide behind my mother’s skirt, hiding my face. Of course, I was never in any actual danger but my little brain certainly thought I was! That shyness and fear continued until God got a hold of me in my early 20s. Something happened to me then when I learned who I am and more importantly WHOSE I am.

When I became a mom I understood what it meant to protect my children with everything within me. And to this day, there is nothing that will touch my kids if it’s within my power to stop it. I can’t imagine in my wildest imaginations that God would be any different. Matthew 7:11 gives us an excellent comparison between earthly fathers and our heavenly father. “How much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask him?” How much more, indeed!

What is our natural inclination as parents when danger comes sniffing around? We protect our kids. We push them behind us and put ourselves between them and whatever would seek to harm them. Let me say again… How much more, our heavenly Father? But God doesn’t just push us behind Him to put Himself between us and danger. He surrounds us. Deuteronomy 1:30a tells us “The Lord your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf.” Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 58:8b “The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.” He goes before us and follows behind us to protect us from all directions!

If you can believe it (and you should), it gets even better than that. Not only does He surround us. He literally places us within Himself! Colossians 3:3 proclaims “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” We are veritably hidden within Him and there can be no better hiding place than that! So dear friends, when you feel temptation whispering in your ear or see the enemy coming at you –know your place. It’s in Him!

Psalms 55:22b “He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”