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Accustomed

Have you ever grown accustomed to something you disliked or which caused you discomfort? Perhaps like me you have been waiting for the opportunity to patch the walls in your home and the sight of them still causes you to cringe but every time they seem to bother me a little less. If it’s not holes for you, what is it?

 

Is there something that has remained in your life because like me you have been busy with other urgent matters?  Maybe you have been waiting to work on your vehicle or rearrange plants in your flower beds? Perhaps it is a situation God has been calling you to change or address. Although it happens easily, there are somethings we should not get accustomed to.

 

Last week I managed to sprain my ankle and hurt my neck within one day of each other. Had you been over to visit at our home, you could have watched me limp around while turning my whole body in order to look at anything. It was probably a bit comical to look at yet with the pain I felt, I did not have a desire to laugh. I began praying for healing and doing just about anything that would help! Laying down, icing, massages, stretching, magnesium... you name it! I felt trapped and desperate. I couldn’t sweep, cook, or do much of anything else for more than a few minutes. As you can imagine, I was praying! Asking God for help was first on my mind.

 

Have you ever been there where I was - completely aware of your need for God to move? In Matthew 7:7 He says: Ask and you will receive. In the NLT, He says:


Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. [If] You parents … know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. (Matthew 7:7-9, NLT).

 

I have had problems with my foot many times and over many years now. Why have I not asked for healing before? I have limped through the pain but learned to "accept" it as a life long injury. Could you believe that it has never occurred to me that the God of the universe could heal my foot so that it wouldn’t sprain so easily? I am fairly certain that spraining my ankle that day was what hurt my neck.


In this past week, I have been challenged to ask God for healing not just of my neck but of my foot. Is there an area in your life that you grown accustomed to pain or dysfunction? God wants to bring wholeness to your life and mine.


Is there an area of your life that God wants to change? Perhaps like me, you have already given up hope or grown accustomed to it? Our heavenly Father is a good Father who desires to give good gifts to those who ask Him.


I pray that we would know the hope and power of God:

“I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power  that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:18-20, NLT).

 

I pray that your hearts would be flooded with the confident Hope and the knowledge of the mighty power of God. If God is for you, then who can be against you?

 

Keep on asking.

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More Than Religion

5 years ago I came back from a Sabbatical Summer having had the opportunity to think deeply about things that God had been teaching me over the previous 15+ years of ministry leadership and 30 years of following Jesus. I came away convicted by the realization that the area that God had consistently been dealing with me on since I first began following Jesus was actually about having a real relationship with Him. I know that we talk a lot about having a "relationship with God" in Christian settings, but the revolutionary significance of that and how we tend to want to bottle that up into forms that are more manageable really hit me. I realized that over the years God had been speaking to me through His word about areas in my life where I was religious and looked more like a Pharisee than I looked like Jesus. It was a powerful time that summer and it led to distilling those distinctions between a religious mindset and a relationship with God down to seven key differences. I have continued developing those thoughts while also taking the time to teach them in various contexts. Each time I go through this I grow more aware of how truly revolutionary an actual relationship with God through Jesus Christ is compared to our man-made substitutes.

Over the last year, I have written these thoughts down into a BOOK that I want to share with you for FREE as an e-book before it goes to print. We will be sending out the Introduction and Chapter 1 this week and the following chapters each week after that (there are 10 chapters total).

I welcome your input and comments, but more than anything I pray that you will be encouraged and challenged to grow closer in your relationship with God and to break free from the false dichotomies of License and Legalism as you pursue a living relationship with God.

Please click the link below if you would like to signup to receive the e-book:


https://forms.gle/y5u1dSnZEKvtcF418


Here's the Table of Contents:


Introduction: My Adventures in Missing the Point

1. Religion or Revolution?

2. Fearless

3. A New Thing

4. A New Law

5. Inside Out

6. Get It? Got It? Good!

7. Eye Can See Clearly Now

8. Wearing Uniformity

9. Where Are You Headed?

10. Liberating Life



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A Fresh Start?

Recently we started a project that we've been waiting for over 9 years to do on the outside of our house. For years we have "gotten by" with chairs sinking into the dirt when meeting outside or warning people to watch their step over the crack in the concrete or that raised edge. Things had gotten to this place from the wear and tear of time but also because of some trees that accelerated the destruction. Over the years we had to remove a tree that was breaking the driveway and then recently another tree that was beginning to rot down the middle because it hadn't been pruned correctly when it was young (I'm sure there is a good post that could be written with THAT as an illustration). Altogether it had left things a bit broken and empty (even with our pretty little flower bed).



Sarah and I had looked forward to a day where all of the old broken pieces would be removed and something new would take its place. When we were conceiving the different solutions we considered patching the broken things (my preferred option) or simply replacing what was there (the next easiest thing), but we knew that this was an opportunity for a fresh start. An opportunity to reimagine the driveway and outdoor space as it could be...building off of what had been and even taking some of the broken areas and using those to make something new that could better fit the house, but more importantly, better be used for loving our neighbors, not just by having a more pleasant and spacious area to share meals and evenings together but by making sure that they don't fall on their way up the driveway or when they're sitting outside at the table because they sank too deep into the ground!



This whole thing was both an event and a process. It took us a long time to get to the place where we could do this and there was a lot of activity on the day that the work began to rip things out, and the project even ran into some roadblocks that slowed it down, but it has continued moving forward and it is a new creation and, as grass and plants grow and as we finish other little projects on it, it will continue becoming the new creation it was designed to be:


YOU'LL HAVE TO COME VISIT TO EXPERIENCE THE NEW CREATION 😉


This Summer we will be talking about a "Fresh Start" as we study Genesis 1-12 and look at how God started fresh and how He kept giving opportunities for Fresh Starts as people messed up His good creation. I want to encourage you to join us on Sundays and come ready to share something with others and hear what others have to say too. It's never too late to start fresh! We may be tempted to try to patch things together, but that isn't what God wants for us. We may even believe that God just wants a slightly improved version of what we already are, but the truth is that God is AMAZING and that His desires are to do things that are exceedingly, abundantly, MORE than anything we ask or imagine! We are each invited to experience this new life that Paul refers to as being a "new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17) and we are invited into being this new community as God's people (1 Peter 2:9-10). This ability to live in an authentic relationship with God and with other people is not possible in our old lives and ways, but IN CHRIST, we are a new creation and we can live as a new community.


This Summer is an opportunity to start fresh. There may be some things in your life that need to get demolished so that new things can be built and so that new life can spring forth. Are you willing to surrender those things to the architect who has good designs for your life? To a good Father who desires to give His child what is best? I encourage you to press into the new things that God has for you, and us together, as we keep listening to His word and applying it to our lives!

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Every Opportunity

My family and I recently enjoyed a stay at family camp where we got to worship Jesus, play outside, and connect with friends from the FCA. I am a big fan of camp, God always moves powerfully, and this camp experience was no different. It was the third day of camp, and the worship leader directed all of us to stand up as we were about to engage in our fifth time of worship in

the last couple of days. I felt the temptation to just clap along during the

worship set. After all, I’ve been worshiping all weekend. Is it vital for me to

do it again? I could easily play the part and “look” like I was worshiping.

Then I encountered the Holy Spirit prompting me with, “Don’t waste this

opportunity.” I then got this feeling that I was holding onto something valuable. Something precious.


Using the word “precious” kind of makes me laugh. It reminds

me of Smeagol from The Lord of the Rings. The author depicts Smeagol as a

rather despicable character, but he can illustrate for us what it means to

“take advantage of every opportunity” (Eph. 5:16). Smeagol devoted his

existence to acquiring the ring. He finally does grab hold of it. Unfortunately,

he does so as he plummets to his death, but even facing death didn’t diminish his fascination with the ring. This makes me think, what if we pursued God’s

presence like Smeagol pursued the ring? Indeed, our lives would change

drastically, just as Smeagol’s life drastically changed.


Don’t waste this opportunity.


When God whispered those four words into my soul, I responded with a genuine expression of my love for him. I don’t always respond to God in obedience, but this time I did. The result was an incredible experience with Jesus. I won’t get into what the experience was like; that’s not the point of this post. What’s important is how I responded to the invitation, how I dealt with the opportunity.


John 7:37 says, “37 “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”


How often do we have the opportunity to drink and choose to stay dry? How often do we truly engage with the songs at our worship gatherings? How about our alone time? Are we taking that opportunity to hear the voice of the Lord? I want to encourage us to view these opportunities as they genuinely are: precious. These are times that are to be coveted and treated as treasures. I am not only speaking of our times in corporate gatherings. I refer to our lonely car rides, our early morning wake-ups when the kids are still sleeping, our times of saying grace before dinner. All of these moments are opportunities to drink the living water.


The beauty of all of this is how accessible it truly is. Smeagol had to scheme, lie, chase, run for his life, and live in complete desperation to grasp the ring. We have it so much easier. Jesus made himself so accessible that we don’t even have to leave the place we are at to commune with him. The truth is, he wants us to be in continual connection and communication with him. He desires us like nothing else; that’s why he made himself so near to his children.


So, let’s be encouraged, let’s take hold of every opportunity to connect with our friend Jesus that we may walk in manner worthy of the life he has called us to carry out! He is not stingy with his benefits; he is a willing Father and a faithful friend. My prayer for you (and for myself) is that you begin to recognize these opportunities and that the Holy Spirit will awaken your soul to surrender to him in those moments.


John 14:16-18 “And I will ask the

Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you

forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."

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Have you ever noticed how people introduce themselves?

Since we moved to Minnesota, we have introduced ourselves a good handful of times! And with so many introductions, naturally I have been pondering what it is I share about myself, how I share it, what I ask about others, and how to better make connections with those I meet. So let me ask you… what do you say when meeting someone?

 

I have found that usually the first couple of sentences seem to be the hardest. Once a common interest surfaces, connecting gets so much easier, right?! As you are probably well versed in introductions, it helps to listen and look for common interests. But what do you do when you can’t find any? What do you say when there are no dogs or kids running around to comment on?

 

One thing that has helped me in connecting has been to do the risky thing and offer information about myself in hopes of creating a bridge. For example: We just moved into the neighborhood (obvious… right?!), talk about our family, or our latest projects around the house. Has it ever happened to you that you share different things about yourself depending on who you are with?

 

I had not thought about it until just recently when I pondered that in the USA, I might share about growing up in Mexico or about speaking Spanish to our kids. On the other hand, when I visit Mexico, people usually want to know where I live in the USA or if we speak Spanish in the home. With those who garden, I tell them I enjoy gardening. Unless I am with an expert gardener… then I let them know I am just starting out!

 

I have noticed that most conversations are a gateway for relationship building but occasionally with some, I walk away more focused on the things I am not good at or have never even tried. Has that ever happened to you? Where moments of interactions with others can seemingly point out my many imperfections and great need for God.  

 

I am reminded of 1 John 3:1-3 which says: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure”.

 

There will come a time when introductions will not be necessary for we will be known as we truly are: sons and daughters of God utterly loved by God. In His presence, your identity as a Son and Daughter take center stage – not what you have but WHOSE you are.

 

You are loved by the one Who Himself is Love; the same one who desires you to be FULLY His and places his name on you that the whole earth may know who it is that greatly loves you.

 

“No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads” Revelation 22:3-4.

 

As you seek to bring his Love and presence to all those you meet, may you be reminded of your identity in your Father. You are so truly loved today.

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Ready for Judgment

It seems that everyone is ready to judge these days, doesn't it? You can't go more than a few minutes without hearing or reading someone's opinion on someone else's actions or character. We're surrounded by judgment all the time in a society that is quick to say that they're not judgmental. It's interesting how that works, isn't it? It's a world where everything is constantly being judged by mostly subjective standards yet when any claim to objective standards is made the world is quick to reject that. In fact, we can do the same thing being ready to judge everything and yet rejecting the notion of ourselves being held to judgment. Jesus said that the same measure that we use to judge others will be used for us too (Matthew 7:2). This is probably why some people start arguing for a complete absence of judgment or standards for anyone because of their own desire to not be held to any...but that quickly falls apart when the things of life get real (accidents, bodily harm, evil intent, death, etc.): Suddenly there are accusations, charges being pressed, lawsuits being filed, and boycots being called. It's funny how quick "non-judgmental" people are to judge others. Yet, we can see the hypocrisy but we quick to do the same thing.


Clearly, this is not the life that Jesus was calling His followers to when He reminded them that their focus should be to love God with everything that they are and to love their neighbors (and enemies) as much as they loved and cared for themselves (Matthew 22:34-40).


This is why Jesus addressed this quickness to judge others with the picture of someone removing a speck of dust from their neighbor's eye while having a plank of wood in their own eye (Matthew 7:1-5). It wasn't that they should not help someone get something out of their eye, but that they should make sure that they were actually able to see well before attempting to do such a thing.


I think that it's really important to keep a few things in mind when we think about Judgment:


  1. As I shared last Sunday there IS a Judgment Day coming for all of humanity and that our choices in this life determine the experience and the outcome of that judgment. We don't have to live afraid of it but can have the confidence to stand before God on that day as we live this life with eternity in mind.
  2. Deciding and Defining right and wrong is not our job but God's.
  3. Accusation and Condemnation are not our jobs either. That's actually what Satan does and we probably should avoid doing his job for him.
  4. Discerning and Distinguishing are elements of judging that we ARE repeatedly called to practice throughout the entire Bible. Paying careful attention how we apply God's desires, designs, and decrees to our life and to our expressions of life together in Christian community is important.
  5. GOD is the only one with all of the authority, wisdom, and knowledge necessary to truly judge impartially. Because of that, He's also the only one able to determine the earthly and eternal consequences and punishments for the crimes (sins) against Him and others. It is NOT our job to be judge, jury, and executioner (AKA punisher, canceler, enforcer).


So, with those things in mind, I want to invite you to consider the role of judgment in your life:

  • Are you ready to stand before God on that final day because your name is written in the book of life? If not, I encourage you to go HERE and spend some time considering Jesus and the gift that He offers you.
  • Do you find yourself wishing, praying, or advocating for judgment and punishment on others who have wronged you, or those you love, rather than praying for God to have mercy on them and for them to repent?
  • Are you quick to see the faults of others and point them out but resistant to receiving correction yourself?
  • Are you "just" entertaining yourself listening and watching to the Accusations, Condemnations, and Punishments of others in your media diet?


Jesus said that we would be judged with the same measure that we use to judge others and this isn't about Discerning and Distinguishing but about the Accusation and Condemnation that seeks Punishment and Payment for wrongs done. I want to be someone who says to God "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24). I want to encourage us to be people who open ourselves up to God and to others to help us Discern and Distinguish so that we can see clearly and be better able to love God and others with our whole lives. May our conversations and actions be always filled with grace and mercy so that those around us may know the LOVE of God and may also be able to stand before God on that final day (Colossians 4:5-6)!

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Persevering Traffic Jams
Traffic, construction zones, rerouting, getting lost are par for the course when we commute or take a trip. This past Tuesday, I had my short 15 minute commute to work turn into a trip just a few minutes shy of an hour! It all started when I prayed and asked the Lord which route I should take to work. I was cutting it close, but knew I would have time to spare when I arrived. I also knew that all of my current routes have a construction zone and an opportunity for delay. After pausing to listen, I felt lead to take the highway. As I entered the highway it was smooth going for the first minute and then traffic came to a stand still. I had time to spare and was hopeful things would begin to move, but after 10 minutes of not moving, I realized this quicker route wasn't going to look how I had hoped it would. As I began slowly moving, I remember saying, "Lord, I really thought you told me to go this way." It wasn't until a bit later in my trip when I heard him reply, "I did." 

Have you ever stopped and questioned if you heard God right? Perhaps things didn't turn out how you thought? Or maybe the thing you're waiting for is taking longer than expected? Or the route feels more scenic than direct? Whatever it might be, these places can evoke certain emotions in us such as disappointment, frustration, confusion, fear, maybe even doubt?

James calls us to a reframe when he says,

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4 

He calls us to consider it pure joy. Pure joy? Consider traffic jams, medical reports, job loss, relational tension, you name it, pure joy!? Why pure joy? The answer is right in the verse. When our faith is tested, stretched, put into practice it builds perseverance in us which ultimately is a part of the process to bring each of us to the abundant life Jesus calls us to, being mature, complete, not lacking anything. The Faithlife Study Bible states that “Joy is an extended state of being” and is rooted in salvation. In other words, we have been given the ultimate victory through Jesus and living out of this place is a choice. This joy reminds us that life on earth is not our home and though things may come and circumstances may change they don’t have the final word, God does. Remembering this allows us to keep going as we choose to daily follow Jesus in each space he leads us to.

Where do you need a reframe this week? Where are the places you need to shift your view from a temporal experience to an eternal perspective and consider it pure joy? One simple way to do this is to start by thanking God for whatever the trial may be. Another way to do this is to change our question from "God did I hear you right?" to "God what are you doing and how can I partner with you?" As James points out trials aren't an "if", but to be expected. Living out of a place of gratitude and connection to God empowers us to experience pure joy whatever may come.


Persevering with you,
Mishawn
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Just Surviving?

As of late, life for us has had a lot of twists and turns. There have been many phone calls informing us of loved ones either in severe medical states or passing on the news that some have passed on. There have been moments of miracles and hope, but also moments of great stress and uncertainty. It's hard to find steady ground with so many changing circumstances. Can anyone else relate to this?

As I was reflecting over the week, I realized how detached I've felt from all the emotions and stress. It's probably a coping mechanism so that I can keep going and accomplish the necessary weekly tasks, but I don't think living detached from our feelings is the healthiest response. Sure, in extreme situations like if a hungry animal is certain you would make a nice meal and is chasing you through the woods, would it probably be ok to not tune into your emotions and work on staying alive. But living out of a place of survival isn't what we are called to as God's people.


How do we as God's people move from solely surviving to thriving even flourishing in the midst of every circumstance?


Psalms 84:4-7 says, "Blessed are those who dwell in your house;

    they are ever praising you. Blessed are those whose strength is in you,

    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.

As they pass through the Valley of Baka,

    they make it a place of springs;

    the autumn rains also cover it with pools.

They go from strength to strength,

    till each appears before God in Zion."


This Psalm is significant as it's written by the sons of Korah. Korah, their father, led the Israelite community in the time of Moses into rebellion. Korah and about 250 others were killed for this. But we can see from the Psalm that the sons of Korah were spared. We can see from this Psalm that they deeply loved God. And not only that, but they most likely were speaking from experience when they talked about passing through the Valley of Baka (aka valley of mourning) and making it a place of springs, moving from strength to strength. What's their secret? I think we can find the secret in verse four when it talks about dwelling in God's house and ever praising him. This makes all the difference because when we look to God, when we choose to know Him more in every circumstance, we are strengthened, gain understanding (proverbs 9:10) and new perspective.


How do we practically do this? Declare Scripture over a situation. Write out your prayers for those you're praying for and watch how God moves in their lives. Sing songs that declare the truth you need to hear and remind you of who God is. Acknowledge the feelings you have, tell God about them and wait for Him to meet you in those places. Fast and wait on God.


As we continue to seek His face we will find him. As we keep waiting on Him our strength will be renewed. As we set our hearts on pilgrimmage we will be blessed and able to move from strength to strength as we experience his presence, goodness and nearness with us along the journey until we each appear before God in Zion.



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Yet I Will Rejoice In The Lord

I really appreciated Pastor Mishawn's encouraging word on Sunday on how to follow and trust God when life doesn't look how we think it "should" and it is instead marked by discomfort, discouragement, or disappointment.


This last week DEFINITELY did not look like I thought it "should." We had to make a bunch of changes for things that I was supposed to be leading on Sunday and Monday because our whole family was in quarantine since last week. Our planned moving day didn't look like it "should" and even turned into 3-4 days as we cleaned and rearranged rooms at the Snyder house (previously known as the White House) to be able to move everything back, emptied the Cortes house (aka the Gray House), and then cleaned it to prepare it for the Cortes family without any help...let me tell you that many hands really DO make light work and we missed all of the hands that had offered to help us on Saturday but couldn't do so because of Covid precautions. That didn't go how we thought it should go! 😂


But, we were able to navigate that ok. It was tiring, but we're all ok and so far doing fine as far as Covid goes (all tests negative on Monday and will retest tomorrow to confirm that we can end quarantine with a family of this size). But in the midst of that, there have been other things weighing on my heart and mind. Things like knowing that my brother Jessy is losing family and friends to covid back home in India and my brother Ivan lost family in Ecuador as the country is going through another wave of cases. I have also been thinking of friends and members of our church family who have been praying, hoping, and waiting and yet the answer to prayer seems too far away. I have been burdened by the sadness of seeing people cut short the work of God in their lives by choosing the broad way that leads to destruction rather than receiving correction to grow and mature. The sadness of seeing people compromise the truth and conform to the patterns and systems of this world. The sadness of seeing others facing persecution for their faith or for their ethnicity.


All of these things make me cry out with Habakkuk (1:2-3, 5):

How long, Lord, must I call for help,

    but you do not listen?

Or cry out to you, “Violence!”

    but you do not save?

Why do you make me look at injustice?

    Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?

Destruction and violence are before me;

    there is strife, and conflict abounds.


He had other things to be discouraged and distressed about but then GOD answers Him:

“Look at the nations and watch—

    and be utterly amazed.

For I am going to do something in your days

    that you would not believe, even if you were told.


How long oh Lord??? Whenever we find ourselves facing problems, pressures, persecution, pain, or perplexing circumstances it's tempting to quit, to be overwhelmed, to lose hope, to even walk away from God, but the invitation is to TRUST Him even when it hurts. To trust God even when, like the church in Revelation and much of the church around the world today, there is pain, persecution, and pressure to conform or to compromise!


Today I am making this passage from Habakkuk 3:17-18 my prayer of trusting and rejoicing and I invite you to make it yours too:

Though the fig tree does not bud

and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails

and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen

and no cattle in the stalls, 

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will be joyful in God my Savior.


I encourage you to check out Mishawn's message if you haven't done so, or go back and listen again if you need to.

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Praying for Power

I've been having a lot of problems with power lately. Not the kind of power you were thinking though, battery power. I don't know if you've found yourself running out of power lately, but I keep having my battery die on my phone, computer, and even on the van! It's not that I don't charge my laptop or phone, but I am going too long between charges and putting in a lot of work on them. There are certainly times that we lose power because we left something on that drains the battery, like happened with the dome lights with our van. It drained the battery so completely that it took a lot of extra work to get the battery to take a charge again.


We have a lot of things going on in our lives that can drain our energy, but I am so glad that I don't have to live on my own energy. In fact, I don't even have to live on outside energy that I store up in some sort of spiritual battery from Sunday to Sunday! God promises us POWER (dunamis = dynamite kind of power) when the Holy Spirit comes UPON us (Acts 1:8 and 2:1-4) and lives WITHIN us (John 14:16-18, Romans 8:11, 1 Corinthians 12:7-11). The power of the LIVING God dwelling in us and working through us. This is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and enabled all of the apostles and prophets to do signs and wonders...that same power is available to each of us...every day...all day long! Wow! I don't know about you, but the fact that there is a personal God who not only allows us to know about Him and worship Him but in fact desires us to be WITH Him and HE IN US (John 14:23-27) is mind-blowing! The God who cannot be contained by all of creation desires to make His home IN us and do His work THROUGH us by His powerful personal presence (Philippians 2:13, 2 Peter 1:3)!


Like I mentioned on Sunday, there have been many times that the pure and undefiled work of God has been confused for the fake worldly power, priorities, politics, or spirituality, but what God has is SO MUCH BETTER! Like a lot of things, you don't know the difference until you've tried what's best. Like, imagine having a battery that would never run out of power or a cell phone that always had a signal...Once you had experienced such a supernatural thing you would never want to go back to having to plug in and recharge or wander around trying to find a signal!


It's that way with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It's something that's so powerful that Jesus and the early church likened it to baptism because it was transformative and memorable, but they also talked about the indwelling element of this new relationship by talking about the Spirit being IN us and using pictures like wind, fire, and temple to describe this new relationship that the Spirit would have with the people of God.


We are less than 21 days away from Pentecost Sunday, which was the day that the Holy Spirit first came to be IN the people of God to fill them with His Power and Peace to live for HIS Purposes...As we look forward to celebrating that day I want to invite you to take time to ASK for more of the Spirit. Jesus said in Luke 11:9-13 that we are to ASK for the Holy Spirit (Ask, Seek, Knock). Maybe you haven't experienced that fullness before or maybe you've treated this more like plugging-in to recharge once or twice per week rather than an ongoing relationship of fullness and empowering...wherever you're at with that, I want to invite you to take some time to fast and pray for more of the Holy Spirit in YOU and in US between now and Sunday, May 23rd.


  • Maybe you join us in our weekly day of prayer and fasting on the next 3 Fridays or pick other times to get away and be in God's presence.
  • Maybe you join the Prayer call with the Amenumeys on Fridays at 7 PM.
  • Maybe you plan to linger in the presence of God after our worship times on Sundays or join us beforehand from 4:45-5:15 for prayer in the Fireside room.


Whatever you do, I invite you to be Intentional in ASKing for more of God's presence and power to be at work in and THROUGH your life! Another step of praying for power that I would like to invite you into is praying for the Muslim community of the Twin Cities, and around the world, who are coming to the end of Ramadan. Most will usually spend extra time in prayer during the last ten days seeking to have spiritual encounters, even having one night that is known as the Night of Power where they expect that their prayers are worth 1,000 times more. This year most are counting May 8th as that night, so I would invite you to be praying from May 7-9 for Jesus to reveal Himself to the Muslims in your life and community by the Power of the Holy Spirit! We know that prayers are not "works" that earn us the favor or forgiveness of God, as we just saw, He WANTS to be with us and in us! So, I would ask that you would join me in praying for God to water the seeds of His truth and to break bonds that keep people from the light of the knowledge, glory, and grace of God that is in Christ Jesus!


The world needs to see a church community that's filled with the living presence of God and is committed to living for the purposes of God...we can't do that without HIS power!

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