Holy-wood

This morning I had the distinct honor to lead a set in our prayer room with Hollywood as the topic of intercession. I was not quite prepared for the way my heart started burning for that city and I cannot shake it. All that glitters isn’t gold, all that sparkles doesn’t fulfill, but the fact that there is a whole culture in such search of fulfillment in that way should break us.

I don’t think for one minute that condemning Hollywood in the name of Jesus (oxymoron) is the answer. In fact, I don’t think that Hollywood is this big evil machine scheming to corrupt the souls of impressionable ones everywhere. But I do think it’s time to change that culture. It’s time to take back the land. That territory belongs to Jesus.

We always have the choice to believe the report of the Lord, or the report of the 10 spies. So often the cookie cutter “Christian Response” sounds eerily familiar to the report of the 10 spies in Numbers 13:32And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.”

Man up. Don’t be jolted by what is in the land. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof…so let’s lift Him up in that city and the industry it is built around.

When is the last time you prayed for a celebrity instead of making a mockery of their self-destruction? How about proclaiming the prophetic destiny of the celebrity that is topping the chart or better yet…the one that is topless on the magazine cover. Yeah…I went there. Why…because you and I are called to impact culture and whether or not we are chasing after our big break and feel called to be a star…we can release the Bright and Morning Star over that city in prayer…He never fails to break in and turn the night to dawn.

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Let Hope In.

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This is a little real and a little raw, but its the only way that I know how to be even to the point of discomfort for me. I apologize if this is difficult to hear, I have shared broad strokes of this on occasion publicly and to be honest it is not my preference…but the acuity of the situation in a culture that regards death as the only option requires me to put it all on the line.

Hope, the anchor of my soul was not always easy to find or frankly readily available to me. I struggled in a big way for many years  living in a pit of darkness and torment. There were situations that were beyond my control that made it difficult to cope.

The fact of the matter is, that there is a very real enemy to our souls and for much if not all of my teen years I lived feeling the pressure of Him at my back. I hid it incredibly well…but my freshman year of college it all came to a head.

I kept looking at the next thing like it was going to solve all my problems, and the ultimate “next thing” was going to college…some how that was going to make my life perfect. But…I took me with me. When I recognized I was still so unhappy I made changes to my life my major, my roommate you name it and I was still so empty, so pained, so broken. I remember standing in a stair well looking at my reflection in the window and running through all the “solutions” that had failed me…and I was left to assume that I was the problem. It was an easy default as the roots of self hatred ran deep.

That day as I looked at my reflection, I made a really awful judgement call that not only were there no more solutions left, there was no more hope.

The struggle to stay alive was minute to minute some days. I would repeat the mantra “that’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem” over and over. It was written on sticky notes on my computer screen, pinned at eye level to the wall next to my bed, but  sometimes it wasn’t enough. I thought about telling someone how unhappy I was, how real the struggle was, how pervasive the thoughts of suicide were that raged in my mind…but shame held me. I didn’t want my parents, my leaders, my friends to think poorly of me…after all I had an image to maintain. Many nights the only thing that kept me alive was not wanting to ruin my roommate’s life because she found me dead when she came back to our dorm.

The storm did not let up, in fact it raged more strong every day until  I reached my max. I had sobbed for hours in my bed with only the light of my computer screen filling the room. I had secretly hoped that my roommate would come rushing through the door with each passing moment because I knew the stakes were getting higher as each minute passed and every tool that usually pulled me out or ushered me off to sleep was not scratching the surface. I made the decision…I was done fighting the chips could fall where they may but I couldn’t do this anymore.

I will spare the details that are all so very real in my mind…

BUT GOD….

“Something in me”, that I now know was the Holy Spirit said open that Bible on the shelf…to be honest I was terrified of going to hell so I opened it at random to Psalm 63. ” You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” It was my soul song right there on the page. I read it aloud over and over and over, with tears streaming down my face because for the first time I felt understood. There were words for my pain that I had been lacking and they were disarming. As I sang the words to this Psalm hope started to break in and I encountered Jesus.

He was and is the game changer. HE IS LIVING HOPE.

I resolved from that point on that there was more. I found solutions that were not permanent to my temporary state. I dove into The Word which ultimately lead to me coming out of religion and into relationship with Jesus.

I say all that to say this…

THERE IS MORE. THERE IS HOPE.

There is One that is bigger than your pain. Hope that is stronger than a bullet than all of the armor that you huddle under, piercing through every sequestered cave and the darkness threatening to cover. He gives you breath when the shards of your passed cut so deep all the air flees, and when the walls come crashing down He’s the rescuer that pulls you out. In EVERY bleak moment, there is the promise that He is good and faithful. The one that is never ending love, sings a song of joy over you.

There is still time for Him to change your story.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Heb 6:19

 

 

 

 

 

Whatcha gonna do about it?

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This weekend I had the incredible opportunity to volunteer at iMatter Festival. I’ll be real…hardcore music not my scene….wearing jeans and a t shirt not my scene…loving people and sharing Jesus with them…totally my scene! 

I woke up with this sense of awe on Satruday morning thinking about the prep and the planning that went into this year’s festival as well as the ones of years past. Then it hit me…this whole concept is pretty simple, some people saw an issue of violent teen suicides in their county and decided to do something.

You and I are made in the image of God, therefore we were born to HATE injustice. It doesn’t take much to hate injustice, and to be honest the “Christian World” does a pretty poor job in comparison to the secular world on this one…mostly because it is messy (that’s another blog for another day). It is really easy to get riled up about a cause especially injustice BUT we absolutely have to do more than complain about it. 

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17 

What is your cause? Who are you called to? Until you know serve someone else’s vision, get equipped…but PLEASE by God don’t sit and do nothing…do something!! You’re the someone that you mean when you say someone needs to do something about this…or they should  blah blah blah… Next time you hear that fly out of your mouth say…what am I doing to change this situation, how am I contributing to the solution.

The things that move your heart…you know the ones that make you really mad or leave you weeping for what you think is no reason…are there because you were born to do something about them. When we exercise our right as citizens of heaven and bring solutions to the injustices of the world we are not just pleasing the Father’s heart we are representing Him for who He is. 

 

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” James 1:27

 

Elemenopee

I think everyone that speaks English has heard a child recite the alphabet or done so themselves. It starts off strong A…B…C… it gets pretty muddy in the middle leaving LMNOP to have many variations typically followed by an abrupt Q,R,S then a fade out until the grande finale of W,X,Y, and Z. 

Our walk with the Lord is similar; there are ebbs and flows, but sometimes it reaches elemenopee status. I love luke 5 it is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. Jesus comes upon some fisherman that have been up all night they must have been exhausted and to make matters worse they have not caught a thing. I would imagine that the disciples were feeling a bit deflated and discouraged; and then Jesus comes on the scene. I am taking a little poetic license, but I would not imagine that this is how any of the men thought that they would encounter our Lord. In fact, I would wager that as they toiled through the night not one of them said man, I think today is the game changer…we are going to be called into ministry by Jesus today. 

Jesus got into one of the boat’s belonging to Simon. The adventure begins when we let Jesus in our boat; when we say, have all that is mine. Simon not only obliged Him, he submitted to Jesus and did what He asked. He was tired…He had been up ALL night, but he sat paddling a stupid boat the entire time that Jesus taught the multitude keeping Him from drifting away providing a platform for the Lord to be heard. Your obedience even in the mundane, the elemenopee moments create a platform for who the Lord is to be on display and be heard, by the multitude. Keep paddling. 

The scene plays out in Luke 5:4-7, 

“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.”

 

Was Simon Peter any less fatigued then when he started? Probably not, however he exercises that simple obedience again. The effects of Peter’s obedience changed His life and the lives of many he knew not. Peter had a choice, his yes still resounds; saying despite circumstance, ALL the valid excuses, what has proven to be true, and what I feel “But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 

We all have those moments in the Lord where we aren’t feeling it. Situations come, hardship comes, rehearse what you know to be true about who our Lord is and continue to submit to him in obedience and humility. Cast your nets. But I’ve been doing this for 10 years…cast your nets…I don’t know what else to do I keep hitting a wall…cast your nets…No one understands my call…cast your nets…I’m so far from my destiny…cast your nets…this just isn’t the vision that I had for my life…CAST YOUR NETS. 

The remedy for the elemenopee days is submitting to the Lordship of Jesus and continually walking in obedience. Your breakthrough moment will come, I promise your nets will BURST with blessing. The faith and obedience that you walk in today, is opening the doors of your tomorrow. 

 

Hey there young leader…

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I have learned a lot of things the hard way in life and in ministry. It can be difficult to steward the call on you life when so much around you looks completely opposite of what your end destination is. I know what it is to get antsy in the waiting, to  slay the self promotion dragon, to battle insecurity. and I could share at length on all of them…but I wanted to pass on some hard learned tips that will help young leaders navigate that are not often addressed.

Submit. You don’t know everything. I know that is shocking to you because you have had a revelation of your purpose and want to run into your destiny. You want covering…it comes by submission. You will be covered to the degree that you allow yourself to be. That means forsaking your preference for a hot minute to submit to the vision of another Follow them as they follow Christ(1 Cor 11:1). You can’t follow if you don’t submit. When you submit to healthy Godly authorities you reap all the benefits of being a son. Furthermore, you have blind spots, you need leaders that point them out in love and call you up higher.

Be Quiet. Sssssh… This fire has risen up in your bones and you want to scream from the roof tops. You don’t have to tell everyone who you are or what your call is. No one has to know the things you have seen and done in secret or in public. If you humble yourself, he will exalt your exalt you in due time. I know everything is full throttle (that’s not a bad thing) including your opinions. You have so many thoughts, ideas, new approaches running through your mind, you see things clearly not through tainted religious glasses, but as Proverbs 18:2 says “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. Be quiet. Listen. Take it all in. Be thorough…try to understand the approaches, methods, and motivation of others; wait for the moment the Lord gives you the go ahead to speak. Being quiet does not mean being mousey or compromising who you are; when you speak, come with boldness and confidence.

Know you you are. I know, I just said you don’t have to tell everyone who you are and what your call is, that is ALL still true. HOWEVER, sometimes you have to remind yourself of who you are.  Have those key scriptures handy when things seem too daunting, read them and declare them over yourself.

If you don’t know who you are, you won’t know who you are not. You are unique and so is your call. You do not have to look like everyone else, talk like everyone else, or fit into a mold. When you know who you are,you won’t compromise or shave off pieces of yourself to come in line with someone’s perception of who you should be. Submission is not you giving away pieces of yourself, you must stay true to who you are and the call that God put on your life There is a freedom that comes in knowing and being able to express who you are in the earth. Your destiny is you coming into who you are, and being free to walk in it.

Know the mission. Proverbs 29:18 tells us “Where there is no vision, people perish”. When you are gifted there are a lot of things that you could do, and do very well with; don’t lose sight of the vision he gave you. Know the mission, continue to submit that vision the Lord, let him add to it, tweak it along the way, but keep it ever before Him. When you know the mission you are not swayed by ups and downs, naysayers or well meaning people that try to change your course to fit their comfort level.

Have boundaries. Have boundaries. Have boundaries. I think boundaries are important…can you tell?  Boundaries are the gift that keep on giving! Burnout is high in leaders, not just those in full time ministry. I didn’t have a boundary to my name for most of my time in ministry. I loved Jesus and I loved people so naturally that meant that I should give everyone access to me to my heart…WRONG!!! To say that I learned that lesson the hard way is the understatement of the year. Boundaries keep you safe, they keep you healthy. I thought that I had great boundaries and had learned so much in this area, until a few months ago one of my pastors called me out and said strengthen those to keep the suckers away. The suckers bucked, but man it helped me keep my peace and made me a better leader. Boundaries keep me from giving me to people when the Jesus in me is what they need.

Once you know who you are, set boundaries that keep you free to be that person. Know your limts, don’t compromise who you are, your personality, the things that make you unique. Make your boundary lines known and let people know respectfully when they have crossed them. Being assertive does not make you mean, it keeps you healthy.

I can not stress the importance of boundaries to maintain integrity and the character.  I’m all about living free, but be free within your boundaries. Boundaries keep you from stupid situations and stupid decision. Ask Holy Spirit what your boundaries are…He sets your boundary lines in pleasant places. (PS If your breathing then should read the Boundaries book by Dr. Henry Cloud)

Just keep swimming. If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. Every season looks different, and progress can look very different from one season to the next but keep making progress.Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Gal 6:9  Keep running, don’t quit, don’t give up!! Days are long and nights are short. Opposition comes from all angles even if you have to crawl refuse to back track at all. If you do mess up…keep swimming. If you fail…keep swimming. God isn’t afraid of your failure or your sin. He knew exactly what He was getting into when He called you. Too many people have forsake their destiny because they didn’t get back up. Read the Bible…the Lord was never too afraid of someone’s mistakes to use them.

Rest. You don’t have to do everything. You’re a human being not a human doing. Let God be God…ask Him what things he wants you to do and let Him do the rest. Let Him prioritize your time, let Him set your agenda. Rest in His vastness, His goodness and His timing.

Stay Challenged. Surround yourself with people that are better than you and let them sharpen you. Find a few good mentors that are running in what you want to run in and glean everything that you can from them. Give the leaders in your life free license to push you, pull you, make you stand on your head…whatever you need to do to grow!  Fill your life with podcasts, books, leadership teachings that continually build your knowledge base and develop your gifts and character to carry said gifts.

Keep your eye on the prize. Jesus, is the treasure that you’re after, without Him nothing else matters. Your first ministry is to the Lord; your first call is to be His. Don’t let all the demands on your life keep you from growing in relationship with the Lord. Spend time with him…everyday! When you feel chaos internally, get in the presence and return to your first love. The worst place to be is where the Holy Spirit was, walk in communion with Him.

 

 

 

Break on through to the other side…

How do you spell breakthrough…PRAY.

Prayer is the bed rock, the foundation, to a life of holiness and intimacy with God, however it is most often the first thing that goes out the window in the life of a believer. Even culturally, upon a tragedy or a mass casualty event in our nation prayer vigils will pop up everywhere, but those devoted to intercession are certainly few and far between.

You show me a breakthrough believer and I’m sure that they are one that has a secret life with God in prayer. Any move of God is preceded by a people who pray. My guess as to why prayer is the first thing to go in the midst of ministry and the  busyness of life is because there is not a lot of instant gratification. Those that are disciples that long for and live for Jesus, rather than fans looks for a fleeting moment of pleasure, recognize that destiny is birthed in the womb of prayer. In Matthew 6 Jesus outlines prayer. I love that the opening line on the subject in verse five say “WHEN YOU PRAY”, it’s not a suggestion..it’s a command. Jesus says in verse six, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” We don’t pray because He rewards us…there just are rewards… there is fruit of prayer.

Everyone wants an impartation and I’m all about impartation, if someone can give me something they have, making their ceiling my floor I’m the first in line asking for them to lay hands on me. However, history with God cannot be imparted. The results of travailing with Him cannot be given away.  When you plow in the Spirit, truly colaboring with Him in the place of prayer you know Him like few do.Only the humble will pray and press because they recognize their utter dependence and need for God.Pride is the antithesis of prayer, the two just do not mix. Jesus warns in Matthew 6 to not be like the hypocrites. I would be so bold as to say, don’t call yourself a Christian if you don’t pray certainly don’t call yourself a new testament Christian because all they did was birthed in prayer.

I get it…life is crazy busy, but I’m here as a PSA to let you know praying a few routine lines as you fall to sleep or drive in the car will not get you very far. I used to be in the camp that prayer is just talking to God and we do it all day…that’s relationship. When we dig wells in the spirit in the prayer closet we become power filled, effective Christians. We start to look like Christ as He is formed in us.  I will be honest, I was missing it for a long time…but when you know better, you do better. Now I know that I can’t live a life that is more than mediocre if my prayer life looks like every “normal Christian” I’ve known.

Today I encourage, urge, and challenge you to get in the place of prayer.  Force yourself, God will honor your obedience to His command to pray and your flesh will get used to not being instantly gratified. There are gains to be made, in the spirit and in the natural, you will make them in the place of prayer.

“I have joyfully dedicated my whole life to exemplifying how much may be accomplished by prayer and faith”- Mueller

 

Nothing but the Truth

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Truth.

Truth is a relative term, depending on who you ask you get a totally different definition.

Webster’s definition: the truth : the real facts about something : the things that are true

Bible’s definition: Jesus. “I am the way and the truth and the life.” John 14:6 

We have half-truths, partial truths, white lies, fibs, stories, jokes…but so often we don’t have pure unadulterated truth. I know the reasons, I’ve said them myself….I don’t want to offend people, I don’t want to be pushy, I don’t want to ram my religion down someone’s throat, I don’t want to make people uncomfortable…and the list goes on!

Paul said in Acts 20:26-27 “ Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you.  For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God”  

Who’s blood is on our hands because we fail to obey the great commission? The fact of the of the matter is Jesus didn’t mince words. In the great commission Jesus said to teach them to obey EVERYTHING I have commanded you. Not the parts that are easy to swallow or fit into the PC boxes that are acceptable “American Values”, everything.

I’m not sure where “If you love me you’ll feed my sheep” and “Go and make disciples of ALL nations” get lost in translation, but my guess it is somewhere between Comfort Ave and Cozy Blvd. The real talk on this one is, if I love people I cannot care that they might get offended if I ask to pray for them, or they feel convicted when I walk an upright path. I MUST MUST MUST walk in love and humility AT ALL TIMES, but just like Jesus I can’t stop advancing the Kingdom based on who is jamming me up. The fact of the matter is there are people that are not lost…they’re perishing each and every moment. Like Paul I have to be sure that I do not hesitate to share the whole Truth, Jesus; the real one, not the blue eyed fairy tale or the PC God our culture refers like robots…THE ONE THAT IS ALIVE!!!

The Truth hurts; it kills flesh, striving, and good intentions all the while birthing wholeness, healing, and life where death has ruled. As ones with the Holy Spirit, let’s lead people in our sphere into ALL Truth.

We owe it to them, their life depends on it.