Category: Experiencing God

How Well Do You Know Jesus – Better Questions, Better Relationship With Jesus

Jesus on Cross “Why me?”

You hear people ask questions like this all the time. Or…

“What did I do to deserve this?”

Maybe you’re even one of them?  I know I used to be and still lapse back into THINKING this type of thing every now and then when things get really tough.  But after reading a book by Andy Andrews called The Traveler’s Gift and digging into the Word a bit deeper, I’m convinced that the questions we ask ourselves not only set us up for failure or success in any given situation, but they also point to how we view and understand our relationship with God.  Let me explain by giving you some examples from scripture.

Our Questions Reveal How Well We Know Jesus

When Philip asked Jesus, “show us the Father…” Jesus replied…

“Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
(John 14:9)

See how Phillip didn’t fully understand WHO Jesus was and what His relationship to the Father was?  Jesus goes so far as to ask him “Don’t you know me, Phillip?”.  On the surface that seems pretty harsh, but even illustrates this further with “even after I have been among you such a long time?”.  While grace abounds, it’s clear Phillip asked the wrong question here based on Jesus’ response.

So does God expect us to know everything?  Nope.  That’s grace in action.  But knowing Jesus as well as is possible is the point.  Heaven and eternal life is not the point.  Eternal life with Jesus is the point.  Oh how I hope I’m wrong with what I’m about ready to say, but say it I will.  I fear so many people have said a prayer, started going to church, serving, singing and tithing thinking they are all set.  But while all those things are good, if done without seeking to make Jesus the all consuming passion and joy of your life, I fear some of them may be the ones he says “I never knew you” to.  I can’t think of anything more awful than hearing those words on that day and nothing better than “Well done good and faithful servant”.

Let’s look at some more examples.

Consider the woman at the well.

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  (John 4:9-14)

This is such a beautiful picture of so many wonderful things and so much can be said about this passage of scripture, but let’s focus on the questions.  She asks Jesus “How can you ask me for a drink?” thinking why in the world is this teacher even talking to me.  Jesus says [paraphrased] “If you knew who I was, you’d be asking me for eternal life”.  So let’s pause right there.  Jesus says “if you knew…who it is that asks you for a drink…”.

Do you see it?  She’s got the same problem that Phillip had but with a better excuse.  She doesn’t know who she’s talking to.  But notice, even though she’s still not clued in, her questions get a bit better cause she starts asking about who she’s talking to (in the “are you greater than our father Jacob” part).

Our Brains & Questions

Your brain is amazing.  And it’s because it’s so amazing that it does some slightly peculiar things.  One of those things is racing ahead and trying to constantly serve up answers to questions you ask or someone asks you.  But sometimes our brains can get stuck in a rut.  To illustrate this, try this easy test suggested in 101 Ways To Generate Great Ideas, Timothy R.V. Foster:

What do you call a funny story? – joke

What are you when you have no money? – broke

What’s another word for Coca Cola? – Coke

What’s the white of an egg? ——————–

So this is an easy one right?  Well it is if you said albumen.   It isn’t yolk, it’s albumen. Were you tricked? Most people are. The brain likes to race ahead, because it THINKS it already knows the answer.  You see your brain will always try to answer the question you ask it…even when the answer it serves up is wrong.

So when you ask self defeating or God limiting or earthly prospective (vs heavenly perspective) based questions like “why me”, you’re brain is going to work hard to serve up an answer.  But if it’s the wrong question to ask in the first place (and as a christian it most certainly is because of our knowledge of God), your soul, mind and heart don’t really WANT an answer to THAT question.  As a matter of fact, in general, they take your focus completely off God and put it squarely where it doesn’t belong…which is onto you.

Peter asked Jesus in John 21:21 “Lord what about him” in reference to how another disciple would die based on Jesus, one verse earlier, telling Peter how he was going to die.  His focus was completely on himself and not on Jesus and His perfect plan.  By the way, in the next verse Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

How much better it would be if we set our brains on a quest to answer a question with a heavenly perspective…such as, “Lord is there something I need to learn from this”, or “Lord, can you teach me how to make you my all consuming joy and passion in life”?  The brain would be on a quest to find the answer to empowering questions that bring life.  See the difference?

Pilate asked Jesus what is truth when “it” (Jesus) was standing right in front of him.  The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” Martin Luther King, Jr.

So instead of asking the self defeating or God limiting questions like  “Why me?”, train yourself to begin asking “Why NOT me?  Adversity is preparation for greatness”.  Just remember that when you ask Jesus a question His focus is on you fulfilling His purposes and will not your own.  As we live our daily lives as believers I pray your focus and mission would become one with His for your life.  Then and only then will we truly live.

Open Your Heart To the Love of God

Open your heart to the love of God“To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.”
–William Temple

I try really hard to not OVERUSE the statement I’m about to make.  I try to not HYPE anything that I feel God is doing or might do and if I’ve ever fell victim to that, then I publicly as God to forgive me, but…

I believe that God wants to do way more than we as Christians are asking from Him and He is going to do some amazing things in the near future.  As I’ve been praying about it, I truly have faith for us to see God in new and fresh ways very soon.

Please do me a favor.  I’m going to ask you to consider doing some stuff and pray about some things below.  I guess all I’m asking is to consider what would, what could, what MIGHT happen if all of us who have laid down our lives to ENJOY making Jesus the all consuming passion of their lives EXPECTED, ANTICIPATED and PRAYED for God to move in mighty ways.  Just consider it.

OK, here we go…

  1. Pray…Seriously Pray. Make a quiet block of 5 to 15 minutes out of your schedule today and for the next week and daily pray about your next worship gathering.  In other words, and I’m going to be bold here, don’t do what I’ve done for so many years which is to intend to pray about something and then not, or just as bad, pray about it without fully expecting what you’re asking for to come to pass.  Let’s pray for opportunities to heal people, let’s pray for opportunities to get prophetic words to uplift the body, let’s pray for teaching to reach deep into peoples hearts and boldly guide them into living with more Holy Spirit power in their lives, let’s pray for our own lives and walks with Christ to be pushed to the next level and that as leaders of the church (if you’re actively praying like I’m suggesting you’re a spiritual leader in your church even if you don’t have the earthly title) that we would be in prayer for more of God in the church and event.  Let’s pray for all these things…and then expect God to act on them.  More on expectancy in a separate post…this one was getting kind of long.
  2. Live & Die On Scripture…All Of It. Words without faith and action is incomplete.  We all need our faith to be increased (I’m speaking to myself too) so we can be more effective at both winning souls to Christ, walking out our faith daily doing all He has planned for us, and living with increased Holy Spirit power!  I would propose to you that there is a point at which things we read in the bible stretch our faith to or even past the breaking point.  At what point do we struggle to believe anymore…Prophetic words?  Supernatural discernment of spirits?  Tongues?  Healing (the blind, lame, deaf, mute, dying and sick)?  Buildings shaking with the overwhelming presence of God?  People being raised from the dead (just lost a lot of you right there didn’t I)?  I believe faith starts with a decision. Let’s decide that nothing in that book is out of reach.  Let’s decide that when Jesus himself said in John 14:12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these,…“ that He really meant even greater things.  Where’s your breaking point for your faith and will you decide to stretch it farther?  If so, go to BibleGateway’s topical search tool and type “raised from the dead” or some other topic that stretches your faith or go here.  Then pray that God would increase your faith in His perfect way and time.
  3. Get Fired Up! If you wanna see God doing some cool stuff, and you should want to, check out these videos with John Wimber doing a Holy Spirit – Signs & Wonders conference in 1985.  There are 4 videos and they show God doing some amazing stuff both with prophetic words and also with healing.  Also, he’s using this as a teaching tool that I think will be beneficial for us all as we step out in faith at our churches.

    Listen in the above video as he talks about how we have westernized and secularized the church. He says that we’ve almost eliminated the supernatural from our perceptions and that we’ve come to a place we don’t anticipate God to operate as God among us. Where we think that study is an end in itself. But word without actions is incomplete. Hearing without doing is incomplete. We need the word and the works. To say that we believe the Bible in it’s entirety and then not operate as such in faith with great anticipation on what the Holy Spirit is going to do among us is incomplete.

The Goal of God’s Love May Not Be What You Think It Is

Do people go to the Grand Canyon to increase their self-esteem? Probably not. This is, at least, a hint that the deepest joys in life come not from savoring the self, but from seeing splendor. And in the end even the Grand Canyon will not do. We were made to enjoy God.

We are all bent to believe that we are central in the universe. How shall we be cured of this joy-destroying disease? Perhaps by hearing afresh how radically God-centered reality is according to the Bible.

Both the Old and New Testament tell us that God’s loving us is a means to our glorifying him. “Christ became a servant … in order that the nations might glorify God for his mercy” (Romans 15:8-9). God has been merciful to us so that we would magnify him. We see it again in the words, “In love [God] destined us to adoption … to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Ephesians 1:4-6). In other words, the goal of God’s loving us is that we might praise him. One more illustration from Psalm 86:12-13: “I will glorify your name forever. For your lovingkindness toward me is great.” God’s love is the ground. His glory is the goal.

This is shocking. The love of God is not God’s making much of us, but God’s saving us from self-centeredness so that we can enjoy making much of him forever. And our love to others is not our making much of them, but helping them to find satisfaction in making much of God. True love aims at satisfying people in the glory of God. Any love that terminates on man is eventually destructive. It does not lead people to the only lasting joy, namely, God. Love must be God-centered, or it is not true love; it leaves people without their final hope of joy.

Take the cross of Christ, for example. The death of Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression of divine love: “God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Yet the Bible also says that the aim of the death of Christ was “to demonstrate [God’s] righteousness, because in the forbearance of God he passed over the sins previously committed” (Romans 3:25). Passing over sins creates a huge problem for the righteousness of God. It makes him look like a judge who lets criminals go free without punishment. In other words, the mercy of God puts the justice of God in jeopardy.

So to vindicate his justice he does the unthinkable – he puts his Son to death as the substitute penalty for our sins. The cross makes it plain to everyone that God does not sweep evil under the rug of the universe. He punishes it in Jesus for those who believe.

But notice that this ultimately loving act has at the center of it the vindication of the righteousness of God. Good Friday love is God-glorifying love. God exalts God at the cross. If he didn’t, he could not be just and rescue us from sin. But it is a mistake to say, “Well, if the aim was to rescue us, then we were the ultimate goal of the cross.” No, we were rescued from sin in order that we might see and savor the glory of God. This is the ultimately loving aim of Christ’s death. He did not die to make much of us, but to free us to enjoy making much of God forever.

It is profoundly wrong to turn the cross into a proof that self-esteem is the root of mental health. If I stand before the love of God and do not feel a healthy, satisfying, freeing joy unless I turn that love into an echo of my self-esteem, then I am like a man who stands before the Grand Canyon and feels no satisfying wonder until he translates the canyon into a case for his own significance. That is not the presence of mental health, but bondage to self.

The cure for this bondage is to see that God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is the most loving act. In exalting himself – Grand Canyon-like – he gets the glory and we get the joy. The greatest news in all the world is that there is no final conflict between my passion for joy and God’s passion for his glory. The knot that ties these together is the truth that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Jesus Christ died and rose again to forgive the treason of our souls, which have turned from savoring God to savoring self. In the cross of Christ, God rescues us from the house of mirrors and leads us out to the mountains and canyons of his majesty. Nothing satisfies us – or magnifies him – more.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Originally published in Dallas Morning News.

It’s Crazy…Isn’t It?

I recently heard about a book that seemed to really speak to the heart of what this site is all about.  It’s called Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  I haven’t finished it yet, but I want to share just a small section of content from the back of the book and one quote from the inside.  Check this out:

Have you ever felt like we were missing it?

It’s crazy if you think about it.  The God of the universe – the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles…galaxies and E-minor – loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love.  And what’s our typical response?  We go to church, sing some songs and try not to cuss.

Whether you’ve verbalized it yet or not…we all know something’s wrong.

  • Why are there are over 350,000,000,000 BILLION galaxies…that we know of, most of which the human race has only seen in the last few years due to the Hubble telescope?
  • Why does a caterpillar have 228 separate muscles in it’s head (that’s a lot for a bug don’t you think)?
  • The average elm tree has approx 6M leaves on it
  • Your own heart generates enough pressure to squirt blood up to 30 feet
  • He didn’t have to put over 3,000 species of trees within 1 sq mile in the Amazon jungle or so many different kinds of laughter (you know…wheezes, snorts, quiet, loud, obnoxious), but he did.
  • Did you know that spiders, when spinning their web can produce up to 60 ft of silk per hr while simultaneously producing a special oil on their feet so they don’t stick to their own web…that deserves some respect!
  • When you get goose bumps, the hair in your follicles is actually helping you stay warmer by trapping heat.
  • Or have you ever marveled at the fact that plants take in Carbon dioxide and produce oxygen?
  • And those same plants started as a seed in the dirt, some watered some not, that transformed and defied gravity and poked their head/sprout out of the ground and into the sunlight.

The rest of the back cover says…

Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo?  Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world in tangible, even radical solutions?  God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself.  Because the answer to religious complacency isn’t working harder at a list of dos and don’ts – it’s falling in love with God.  And once you encoutner His love as Francis describes it, you’ll never be the same.

Because when you’re wildly in love with someone…it changes everything.

And here’s a quote from the book:

“Whatever God’s reasons for such diversity, creativity and sophistication in the universe, on earth and in our own bodies the point of it all is His glory.”

Know God More – How It Started

Knowing God More

How To Know God More

How I Started To Want To Know God More…And Why You Should Care

A little over 2 weeks ago, this blog came into being and my first post was born.  But if we go back a bit before then, it will help lay the foundation for what God has been doing in my life and how you can recognize it when He does similar things for you.

So about 6 months ago, give or take a month, we had some friends over to the house who were in the mortgage industry and we were discussing business among other things.  Now before I go on, you should know that prior to this point, I have not been one to care about financial matters enough to even know the basics of the markets, industries or anything else for that matter as it realtes to finances.  So given that backdrop, they share these amazing videos that they’ve recently seen and how we should watch them too…right then.

So being a sucker for drama and loving “a good God video” I obliged and hooked the computer up to my TV.  We all sat down and he played me this video (the video is broken up into small chunks to have them on YouTube so the video we watched is made up of the following videos):

Something Amazing Happened To Me

So what’s the short version of what happened to me?  I was deeply affected.  And the reason is because I have always clung to the famous statement in Matthew 24:36 when Jesus was discussing the signs of His “coming, and of the end of the world”: ”

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matthew 24:36)

But after watching this I became convicted not of the date of the return or even so much of the specific teachings here, but rather that God wants us to be watchmen.  He doesn’t want His church to be asleep as I had been.  And that most of all that I needed to wake up and start to treat my spirituality differently; take it more seriously, dig deeper with God and most of all, know God more than I did at that moment.

It was around the same time I started watching Perry Stone and became extremely interested in the Jewish feasts (diving appointments) and how much the scriptures seemed to come alive when you knew the customs, history and most of all the Jewish feasts and their meaning.  I realized how very little I actually knew about my Lord and saviour, the bible and the signs and times we lived in.

Time To Get Serious For God

It was then I made the decision to get serious.  I decided that there was no reason my DVR couldn’t be just as helpful for me to watch 24 and Lost as it was to watch Perry Stone, Sid Roth and John Ankerberg (just three shows I picked out that deal with the supernatural and prophecy).  It was then that I made the decision that set me down the road I’m on now.

Now if I’m being honest, I will admit that I got a tad bit attached to the dates mentioned above in the video and started speculating…not in a serious way but just “what if that’s when Jesus comes back” type of thing.  And it was distracting…mainly cause it caused me to look to Mark Biltz for more answers and Perry Stone and not to the Word of God.  But shortly thereafter I stopped worrying so much about the exact dates and more about being awake with my eyes wide open and that led me to another interesting passion/hunger.

Put simply, I wanted to know God more, to know more of God, to press into the things of the Lord and the Kingdom of God, to seek Him and to Find Him and for Him to find me!

Oh Man Did God Wow Me!

And ya know what I did, He did.  Example?  My buddy Dave and I go to a local festival together and before we get there, we pray for opportunities to pray for people and possibly to pray for physical or emotional healing.  Not more than 20 minutes after that prayer closed, we were at the festival sitting down to eat.  Two ladies (a mom and a daughter) sat down in the only two seats left around us and within 30 seconds after introducing themselves proceeded to tell us that the daughter had just lost her husband to cancer the week before and she was very sad and lonely.  WOW!

So we prayed for her, rejoiced in God and moved on down the fairway…only to find literally 5 minutes later a squad attending to a woman in a wheel chair about 100 feet ahead.  Again, we prayed for the woman and God moved and was powerfully present as we prayed for her physical healing, she was touched and we were astonished at God and how awesome He was to us.  Finally in that one day right after that, we saw a demonstration of a sheep dog hearding  (not sheep but chickens) and how they do it.  Too much to go into here, but suffice it to say, seeing it in action is very symbolic to our faith.

Now this is just one example and a very powerful one at that, but God started to move.  So you would have thought I would press in even harder right?  I wish I had.  Truth is, I let the world distract me and take me away from God, quiet times and devotionals and prayer more than I should have for several months.  My job started to consume me in more ways than one (not so much the actual work, but the stress of dealing with the company).

Finally, on June 5th, during a men’s retreat with my church and several of my close buddies, God worked on some stuff with me (too much to go into on this already long post, but things I will be sharing here).  Not the simplest and most basic of which was a journaling method for my devotional time and bible study time with God.  I LOVE it and have been using it ever since.  In doing the journaling, I started to formulate the idea for this blog and wondered would this be anything anyone else would even like to read or care about.

Now at the same time, I started attending a home group doing a study on the prophetic with a book and workbook called You May All Prophesy.  Very good book to teach you how God speaks, why prophesy is important and help you understand all the myths surrounding prophesy.  Another guy in the group also attended and was deeply affected by the mens’ retreat and we wanted a way to make sure we didn’t lose momentum with God and also to make sure we could hold one another accountable to some degree.  I told him about the idea for this blog, he liked it and WHALA, Live2Worship.net is born and the How To Find God, But Are You Looking post is up along with the Why Live2Worship.net page?

How Can All This Help You?

So why did I share all that.  2 reasons really.

  1. So that you’ll know, no matter what God chooses to do to me, for me or through me that less than a year ago I was just an average american who was too busy, too stressed, too broke and too passive, but Christian nonetheless.
  2. So that you’ll see how God prompted me to raise it up a few notches, how He blessed us when we stepped out so that you might know if/when He does that for you and what the appropriate response is (and not cause I always chose it).

Ok, this post was really long, but it gives you nice backdrop to all this that’s happening on a daily basis.  BTW, had some REALLY cool things shown to me by God last night, today and tonight.  Will be sharing those things really soon.  Till then..Live2Worship!

How God Speaks To Us…Are We Listening?

How God Speaks...Hearing From God

Hearing From God

Have you ever missed an appointment with a friend or colleague?

I mean, a time when you really blew it; scheduled the lunch with a buddy at 1pm on Wednesday, confirmed on Tuesday and then simply lost track of time and was a no show/no call?

I have.  In fact, I remember such a time when I found out later that I left someone waiting on me alone in a restaurant for over 45 minutes until they finally ate lunch alone and left.  I remember that feeling when I remembered and then again the feeling when I found out how bad it was for them to wait so long, feel stupid, then get mad and finally leave.

In my case I really like the person that I accidentally did this too and it really hurt (and was REALLY embarrasing) to appear that irresponsible and flippant.

Or what about a situation where someone is talking to you but you don’t realize it and you appear like you’re ignoring them until finally somehow they get your attention (usually in an unpleasant manner I might add) and you realize what’s happened.

So have you?  Remember the situation, circumstances and feelings for either or both of those types of situations.  Remember if you can how you felt, and how the other person felt.

Got it?  OK.

Now realize this.  The Almighty God, creator of the heavens and the earth, everything that ever was, is and ever will be, maker of the universe and everything in it communicates with and speaks to you all the time – or trys to.  There has never been a time or point in history when God stopped speaking to His children.  From scripture we learn:

1 Corinthians 2:10-12 (NIV)
10but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.

Now don’t just read over that quickly or skim it…seriously you DON’T want to miss this so read it again, slowly and let the words sink in!  Do you see it?  God has FREELY revealed His mind, His thoughts, “even the deep things of God” through the Holy Spirit (God) living inside us – or put another way…He wants you to know what He’s thinking.  He wants to reveal His innermost mysteries…His deepest thoughts.

Even the definition of the word reveal is helpful to contemplate here.  Here is the definition of reveal, thanks to the good ole Webster’s dictionary:

Reveal
To make known through divine inspiration

To make known (to tell you), through divine (of God or Godly) inspiration (influence).

Also, just to be clear, all who are born again have the Holy Spirit in them working as an “advocate” or “one that pleads the case of another” according to Jesus in John 14:

John 14:16-17 (NLT)
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

Jesus then defines the role of the Holy Spirit living within us as leading us into the knowledge of God:

John 16:13 (NIV)
13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

So let me get back to the question we posed in the title of this post which is this…

Are We Listening To God?

We have clearly seen that the question isn’t does God speak, but rather are we paying attention and listening.  Are we fellow-shipping with the Holy Spirit.  I know I haven’t been nearly enough.  As bad as it felt to stand up my friend, it feels INFINITELY worse to know that God’s been trying to talk to me and I’ve been ignoring Him.

I said in my first blog post that I was going to try to “show up” for God cause He’s always there and that this blog would be a detailed record of my journey as I go through the process of seeking Him like I’ve never sought after God before.

As you can probably tell by the dates of this “day 2” post I’m not doing so hot in my attempt to stay faithful to daily posts, insights and, being totally transparent, even my daily devotional time with God.

But what I cannot do and what none of you can do is to give up.

As Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14:

Philippians 3:13-14
…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

First he says “Forgetting what is behind”…don’t let your past, failure, or sin become the biggest obstacle for your future.

Second he says “straining toward what is ahead”.   AKA, this road isn’t gonna be easy, but Jesus didn’t say it would be easy, just that I wouldn’t go it alone.

So that is what I intend to do…forgetting what is behind, straining toward what is ahead which is Day 3 and more time spent with the Lord learning and sharing.