Jesus Christ the Son of God took up His cross and approached death, pouring out His soul to the glory of the Father, knowing that in His death He accomplished an eternal purpose far beyond what His life could accomplish. His love was stronger than death; it was the very flame of the LORD consuming our sin and our punishment at the cost of torture, death and the agony of the Father’s rejection. In Mark 8:34 Jesus issued a prophetic call to follow Him into this love that is stronger than death, taking up our cross, the instrument of our own torture and death, and follow Him to the place of our own death and resurrection. We are called to exit this world system, to not love our own lives even unto death (Rev 12:11), but to love the life of Christ to such a degree that His image and the image of his death is pressed upon our souls (Phil 3:10).
In Acts 1:8 Jesus promises His followers power to be witnesses through the Holy Spirit. This word “witness” is the Greek word “martos,” a word that soon came to mean martyr as the church faced the persecution and opposition of the world and the enemy. The Holy Spirit fell on the day of Pentecost in a mighty rushing wind. Suddenly, secret believers were flooding the streets proclaiming the glory of God and Christ in languages they had never learned. They made themselves public targets, they were willing to be made fools, they were willing to speak, to fight, to give, to sing, to dance. They were filled with a new Spirit. It was this powerful Spirit of love that compelled Stephen to fix His eyes on the King of Glory, forgive His attackers and die for his faith. He saw and believed the truth that there was greater glory in eternity for being obedient unto death than for preserving himself to minister another day. He understood the Ephesians 3:10 mystery that God’s purpose for the church is an eternal display of wisdom to the rulers and authorities in spiritual realms. It is not about this world. There is a system of spiritual and eternal value so far beyond our understanding and our tiny world: so far beyond what we see. One day it all will be opened to us when Jesus calls us into His glory. In that place those who did not count their lives dear unto themselves will find their witness and their martyrdom, in life or in lifestyle, rewarded in the never-ending love and intimacy of the everlasting God.
The desire of my heart is to give back to the LORD a love as strong as death. In spite of the danger, the risk and the sheer cost of this immersion in the Person of Christ, I fight to know true devotion, to risk all of myself, lay down my own life, surrender all to the LORD and find it all and more in His presence and love. Nothing less will do. Nothing less will give God the glory He deserves. He valued us so much that He gave His Son, shed His precious blood and overcame the grave. If Jesus Christ is the Son of God then no sacrifice is too great. The eternal son stripped Himself of His heavenly glory and came down, humbled as a man, a servant, a slave, to give His life for our eternal redemption. His heart cries out that we follow in His footsteps (1 Peter 2:21).
Read the whole November 2011 Newsletter.
Jesus cried out with a call to discipleship that required an extreme rejection of one’s own life: one’s own pleasures and desires, occupation and interests. This call echoed out into the crowd (Mark 8:34) shaking loose the weak and the half devoted, convicting the hearts of those who sought the Lord and disrupting the thoughts and hearts of an entire culture. Jesus was a man of no half measures; He placed His glory aside to take up the Cross and carry out His own death and the atonement for our sin. In the same way He calls out to us for an extreme response that allows no half measures and calls for a complete effort of the whole body, soul and spirit as grace draws us through the narrow gate and into eternity in the Father’s embrace: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24). Even as we strive in a supernatural effort drawn forth from the core of our being by God’s grace, we are encouraged further by the God and man who assured His followers, “… from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matt. 11:12). God’s grace and love places the violent fire of zeal within our hearts to apprehend and know and love Christ with all of our being. Christ then challenges us with the knowledge that just as it takes the violence of the death of Christ and our own death to come into true life and gain the kingdom of heaven for ourselves, so it takes a violent, no-holds-barred force in the Spirit to declare the kingdom of heaven here on the earth.
Jesus constantly disrupted the culture of His day by declaring the heart of God, condemning the corrupt, religious system and the professional Scripture interpreters and preaching a forceful repentance of human nature itself. He taught to love our enemies, to flee wealth and to forsake all to follow Him. Those who answer His call can only do so by a violent love and an aggressive faith. To fulfill the call to discipleship we must have such a devotion and belief that we sacrifice ourselves to the death and resurrection of Christ, allowing Him to dethrone the idol of self. To fulfill the call to ministry we must have the courage to violently wage war on the powers of this world, eschewing the world’s values to preach the power of the gospel to a perishing people.
As I spend time in the homes of Muslim men, I am distinctly aware that however tactful I am, my presence as a follower of Christ opposes their beliefs, their culture and their ideals. My task is to take courage and in love and grace disrupt culture and speak the saving truth that Jesus is the only Lord and that Muhammad was never a prophet. The Lord came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) and that destruction comes as a result of a war in the spiritual realm between love and hate, truth and lies, the kingdom of heaven and the powers of darkness. Only the aggressive will overcome. Only the violent will take the kingdom by force and enforce it here on the earth. Even as Jesus died, we also must die to ourselves and come to the battlefield as those already martyred, prepared to cling to our sword until the Lord takes us home into eternal triumph.
Read the rest of the October 2011 Newsletter.
The goodness of the Good News is beyond understanding, beyond reason, beyond qualification or explanation. It is an all-powerful expression of the infinite goodness of God. The goodness of God is the glory of God (see Exodus 33:18-19) and the manifestation of His glory is the power of the Gospel, the person of Jesus. The goodness of Jesus knows no bounds. In His grace and kindness was the power to meet every need, to free every captive and to tear down every stronghold of the enemy. Goodness overcame the power of sin, the power of the flesh, the power of the world and the power of the devil. The goodness and raw glory present in Jesus the messiah was the power to overcome evil.
The power of Jesus has not changed. The gospel still holds the power it held when it captured whole cities, overthrew idols, broke bondages and turned the world upside down in the book of Acts. The power of the gospel sets the captives free; it delivers from the power of the devil; it heals the sick; it cleanses the lepers; it raises the dead. The blood of Jesus still washes the worst sinner clean. The stripes still provide healing. The cross of Jesus still ends the sinful life. The resurrection of Jesus still gives new birth and the ascension and current ministry of Jesus still sends and immerses us in the Holy Spirit. There is power in the Gospel. I am not ashamed of the Gospel. It is the power to save!
So many are bound in the shackles of addiction, poverty, sickness, bondage, torment and false religion. The world is entering eternity unprepared. The skeptics remain unconvinced and the lost aren’t experiencing the power of the Gospel. But there is power in Jesus to save them and set them free. The power of the gospel today has made us kings and priests before God and world revolutionaries, with all the power of the Holy Spirit available to demonstrate God’s goodness and apply God’s will upon the earth.
The burden of my heart is to see the power of the Gospel released in Spirit-filled men and women. Not just to know that there is power and goodness available but to proclaim and witness the supernatural manifestation of the gospel’s power in the radical release of the captives, the healing of the sick, the resurrection of the dead. God does not desire that any should perish, and yet so many in Hamtramck are perishing, in spite of the fact that the power is present in the risen Savior and His Gospel to save and to save completely. My burden and desire above all ministry goals and visions is to be able to emphatically declare in the mighty name of Jesus the completion of God’s will and the full manifestation of the power of the Gospel here in Hamtramck. “Your will—BE DONE! In Hamtramck as it is in Heaven.
Read the rest of the July 2011 Newsletter.
God’s goodness, His kind and merciful dedication to seek every soul with His love and power, renews my mind as I walk the streets of Hamtramck. The growing knowledge and reality of God’s heart desire to reach every lost sinner with His love and to demonstrate His goodness before a world soaked in evil changes my ability believe and hunger for God to work. God does not desire that any should perish. He desperately wants the fellowship and glory of the souls He created and bought with the precious blood of His Son. Today He is extending His mercy, grace and love to the world, displaying His goodness through the work of the Holy Spirit, the manifestation of His presence and the lives of you and me. Though judgment is being stored up for those who reject His goodness, today is the day of salvation. Today God wants to speak words of truth, love and comfort to a lost and dying world. Today God wants to bear the pain of the lost and hopeless. Today God wants to break the chains of bondage and touch the broken and the sick with His healing hands. Today God wants to show His goodness to the world because today is the day of His favor (Luke 4:19). We are the ambassadors of this reconciliation, the doorway to God’s goodness and power. When we really know and feel the blessing that is in the heart of God for the eternally important souls of this world, it becomes impossible for us to believe that He won’t use us to accomplish miracles in His name.
I have longed and hungered to stand in a place of abiding where I knew that God would use me to reach people and heal the hurt of the world in His name. In the revelation of His goodness, I know He will. Not because of my worth or my power or knowledge or skills in ministry. But because of the burden of His heart to reach every soul. And because I believe. As a lost sinner on my college campus, I believed in God, but I didn’t believe in His grace. I didn’t believe in His goodness and love. When He spoke to me and shed His love abroad in my heart, I believed. As grow in my knowledge of the Father, I grow in my faith in His goodness, kindness and His desire to bless the world with the knowledge of His love. When you believe in the goodness of God, life gains a new logic that enables you to touch the world with God’s good, perfect and pleasing will.
Read the rest of my September 2011 Newsletter.
The enemy is completely void of this power and he cannot defeat the goodness of God: the kindness, gentleness and love of Jesus. At Acts 29 we can walk through the city as more than conquerors because we live and move and have our being within the one who loved us (Rom 8:37, Acts 17:28). That love is so explosive that it destroys every barrier, overcomes every obstacle and conquers every enemy. We have been accepted in the beloved (Eph 1:6) who has crushed the devil beneath his feet, and delights in using us to enforce His victory here on the earth: here in Hamtramck.
For the Muslim fundamentalist, the drug addict, the prostitute, the greedy, the proud, the downtrodden, the religious and the scattered, Jesus pours out His love and mercy. The bondage, drugs, false religion and powers of darkness may prove a challenge for our plans, our strategies, our pride, our flesh or our activities, but they pose no threat to the character and goodness of Christ released through Spirit-filled men and women. We are called in holiness to apply the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony to continue Christ’s destruction of the devil’s work (Rev 12:11). We are not alarmed by our opponents (Phil 1:28), because the Holy Spirit has poured His love into our hearts and there is no fear in love (Rom 5:5, 1 John 4:18). Love destroys the works of the devil. Please pray for me as I desire not only to enter the enemy’s camp and take back what he stole from me but to take the captives with me in the mighty name of Jesus.
Read the rest of the June 2011 Newsletter.