Category Archives: Spirit

No Resolutions This Year, Just a Better Attitude

A friend asked me the other day if I had set any resolutions for 2019.  I had to respond, “No, this year is marked by three attitudes not concrete goals.” Last year was an amazing twelve months, and I accomplished a lot of my goals. This year I went jogging on the first day of January and felt like I wasn’t supposed to set any resolutions focused on specific goals. Instead, I was drawn to three different attitudes that the Lord wants to develop in me.

But wait? I am an American. Don’t I need a goal? Don’t I need a mission? Afterall, goals without clear steps and a deadline are just wishes… right?

I am not saying that 2019 will a do nothing year. No, it will be marked by three attitudes that will hopefully drive me to God’s best. Sometimes it can be so hard to keep New Year’s resolutions because I try to do things in my own strength and drive. The greatest changes in my life I have found can only come when I yield to God’s strength in the middle of my weakness.

No, 2019 is not a year for complacency. 2019 will be marked by a better attitude based on three key focuses tied to Scripture.

1.) Delight in the Lord – I wonder if many Christians are unhappy because they seek satisfaction in the wrong places and things. Sometimes I seek God out of duty not out of delight. I want to get to the point where I truly delight in God’s Word, in sitting on the deck just listening or worshipping, in telling others about Him with such enthusiasm that others are amazed. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalm 37:4 is quite a promise. So, how does one delight in the Lord? Do I have to fake it until I make it? Does delight start in honestly admitting all the things that I would rather seek than God? How do you truly delight in something or someone? That is what I hope to learn first and foremost in 2019. I will let you know what I discover along the journey.

2.) Rejoice in the Lord Always – The apostle Paul when wrongfully imprisoned and put in shackles didn’t have a pity party or a gripe fest. Quite the opposite, he had a worship party calling on the Lord in thanksgiving. I have so so much to be thankful for. If the Lord never did another thing for me, I should never stop praising. Why can it be so easy to complain about what I don’t have instead of being thankful for the blessings I already possess?

Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say it again: Rejoice!” The apostle Paul learned the secret to happiness is contentment in God not happiness based on his circumstance or situation. Praise and thanksgiving frees up our heart to receive God’s love and to share it with others. Worship is so much more than a song. It is an attitude of hope based in God’s promises. It is rooted in the character of God not the happiness of the moment. In a world where people look for affirmation from likes, retweets and winning social media perceptions, we already have the love that matters most – God’s affirmation, acceptance and love.

One of the few places in Scripture where we see God’s will explicitly detailed is I Thessalonians 5:16-18. It says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

God’s will is for us to give thanks in all circumstances. Wow! That is so hard to do. We don’t have to be thankful for all situations. But we should learn how to rejoice in God no matter what is happening around us.

I now live in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, a vacation paradise. From word-class skiing to hiking, biking and fishing, it is so beautiful. I live where other people come for vacation. It is a great blessing. One thing that I quickly discovered though is the number of truly depressed and even suicidal people in town. How can you live in a place where every season brings some new treasure and yet the suicide rate in my county is among the worst in the state? A friend and mentor explained that people come to paradise thinking it would fix all their problems, but they quickly discover their problems come with them and may even get worse. A change of scenery doesn’t change the emptiness they feel. Plus, living at altitude can be a physical challenge as well impacting one’s emotional health. Thankfully, I have not faced physical challenges living here.

One key I have found in life is that worship can free my soul. Worship focuses my attention on what is good, lovely and true. Worship takes me outside of myself and into a deeper, broader story.  2019 will be marked by more worship, more thankfulness and more gratitude, even when things don’t go as I had hoped. My desire is to praise and pray first, worry or complain less.

3.)  Keep in step with the Spirit – When it comes to misunderstanding God, I believe the Holy Spirit is the clear winner. This means we try to live holy lives without the Holy Spirit enabling our actions. We try to make decisions based on our own wisdom. We ignore the helper who Jesus sent, and this grieves the heart of God. Jesus was the most Spirit-filled, Spirit-led man who ever lived. What was His secret? How could Jesus in his flesh be the amazing person that He was? Jesus kept in step with the Spirit.

Galatians 5:25 says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” I love how the New Living translation renders this verse, “Let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Yes, the Holy Spirit should guide and empower every aspect of our lives. Why do so few Christians truly live in God’s power, I believe it is because we ignore the Holy Spirit. I count myself among those who need so much more of the Spirit in my daily walk. Lord, help me to keep in step with Your Spirit this year and every year.

All three of the attitudes are rooted in a growing, vibrant walk with God. These are not new beliefs or concepts to me. But I think I have only skimmed the surface of delight in God, rejoicing in the Lord and knowing the Holy Spirit.

What is my real goal in 2019? To simply know Him better and let this discovery influence every aspect of my life. Hopefully, this attitude and mindset will lead to my best year yet.















The Holy Spirit Inspired the Dream

If you have ever heard Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech it is impossible not to be stirred and feel that you are listening to something epic. It is as if that speech was not mere words. It was a spiritual experience that broke a yoke off the necks of millions of people.

I always thought that when I heard it I was reminded of some of the most moving sermons I had listened to in my life. King was a preacher before he was a civil rights icon. And he knew what it meant to be inspired by God to action. And when I heard a recent TV show exploring the story behind King’s famous speech, I knew that I was right. Those were not mere words.

On This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Congressman and civil rights leader, John Lewis, spoke about that day. ABC News journalist Byron Pitts spoke with Lewis and former U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young, one of King’s top aids, about King’s speech. This transcript is incredible.
Andrew YOUNG: He was determined not to speak more than 10 minutes. And he did. He finished his prepared address in just about 9 minutes.

PITTS: But he wasn’t finished. Sitting behind Dr. King was famed gospel singer Mahalia Jackson who shouted to her friend, tell them about the dream. It’s a theme he’d used before in smaller settings.

KING: I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

PITTS: Why do you think he made that transition to talk about the dream?

YOUNG: As a preacher, there’s something we, we call being led by the spirit.

LEWIS: The spirit told him to lay that paper down and just go for it.

KING: I have a dream. My four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

PITTS: And it’s a dream that still lives on 50 years later.

(See more on this news discussion at

This transcript clearly shows that the Holy Spirit inspired one of the most incredible political moments of the last 100 years. When people ask, “Where is God with all this injustice in the world?” I can point to moments like King’s speech and know that God’s Spirit stirs mens’ souls. The Holy Spirit moves behind the scenes, and one day, we will realize that the Lord was in those moments after all.

I am not surprised that the Holy Spirit breathed life into words that King had said at other times without the same effect. It was the power of the Spirit that made those words electric. He is moving in history. We just have to see it and know that the Spirit brings the fire that changes history.

I don’t say this in any way to disrespect King’s impact or his personal sacrifice to gain what he fought for. While those were his words, the concept he fought for is deeply rooted in the vision that the Apostle Paul outlined in the New Testament. Primarily, I am pointing out that King was divinely inspired, which should give more credence to his dream.

Praise be to God that we have come so far because Scripture says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.” May we continue to bring God’s principles of love, hope and mercy to those who are not free or struggle due to injustice. While our job is not done, history shows that we have come a far way in establishing liberty and freedom in many places in the world.

Giving Up

“We grow tired of failing. Then we grow tired of trying. And then we just settle.” – Pastor Dwayne Moore

Pastor Dwayne said the above when talking about the Christian’s inner struggle with sin. His sermon focused on the fruit of the Spirit. He talked about the fruit as something that comes out of our life in Christ not something we can produce ourselves.

Dwayne said, “The key to the fruit filled life is surrender to the Holy Spirit…Fruit can’t be produced by the force of our will; it comes out of the work of the Holy Spirit in us.”

This is a great message because it encourages to surrender all to Christ. It sends us back to the cross and calls us to yield to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Less Talk, More Action

I listened to a sermon by Francis Chan tonight while working out. I was struck by the simplicity of his message. He said that for many Christians our problem is not that we need to hear more sermons. He said the real problem is that we haven’t really listened and let those words produce change in our lives.

Many of us in America are ever hearing and never changing. I was struck by Chan’s warning. He said that we should be scared if we ever get to the point that we can hear inspired teaching and walk away without being challenged to change. At that moment, we have significantly stifled the move of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Here is my prayer. I want to really live for Jesus every day because He has paid the ultimate price.

Holy Spirit, let me know Your will. May I live a life of disciplined action, empowered by You. I don’t want to live a life of regret. Instead, I want to leave a legacy that glorifies my Savior and encourages others to know the sweetness of God’s violent grace.

May I talk less and act more! May I abide in You. Amen!

Lakeland – Revival or Farce?

A friend recently e-mailed me the video clip below and shared his concern about the events taking place down in Lakeland, Fla.

I understand my friend’s concern about people getting caught up in reports of miracles and charismatic services if the Gospel message is being compromised. While I certainly understand concern about focusing on angels and not Jesus, I don’t know if we can look at one part of a sermon and completely judge an entire ministry. Just as sound bites or YouTube clips can be misused in politics, the same thing can happen in discussions about issue of faith. Bentley has a point that many Christians believe in the Jesus of the Bible, but they struggle with believing in Christ’s presence here and now in our world. Many of us struggle with the supernatural. I know that I do. It can be easy to outright dismiss anything that we don’t understand.

At the same time, I am always suspicious of people going some place to here some person to help them in their relationship with God. Mostly, I believe we need to be more abandoned to God right where we are at home. While I believe we need others in Christ’s body, I tend to think that many people go on pilgrimages, visit “anointed” leaders or go to worship/revival gatherings (such as Brownsville, Toronto, Lakeland, etc.) for the wrong reasons. But then, “Who am I to judge someone else’s servant?”

I have known a few godly people who have gone down to Lakeland and claimed to witness real moves of the Holy Spirit. I have also heard things like what you sent that cause me to believe the opposite. I am not sure what to believe other than that real revival starts on my knees more than anything else. Real healing happens as I personally allow God to do a deep work in my soul. And I don’t have to go to Florida for that. All I have to do is have the courage to really trust God and encounter Him at home.

It is our responsibility to test any teaching that comes out of the Lakeland movement by comparing it to Scripture. One thing I do agree with Bentley on is that we can all grow in faith and our ability to experience God’s Spirit work in our lives.

Here are some sites to view to consider what Bentley and others are saying about the ministry taking place in Lakeland. You be the judge. May you learn from it whatever God needs to show you so that you will grow closer in your walk with Jesus.  – Main Todd Bentley Web Site  – Fresh Fire Ministries Statement of Faith – Todd Bentley answers his critics – MSNBC news story on Lakeland “Revival” – Article by Christianity Today

Spiritual = Cool

While in Atlanta’s airport waiting for a ride, I read the July/August issue of Group Magazine. It really spoke to me about the culture’s misunderstanding of what it means to be spiritual. Rick Lawrence, Group‘s editor, wrote about the dangers of confusing the Spirit with religious, mystical experiences.

Rick told the story about how this one student was going to this one university because it was a “really spiritual campus.” When asked to explain what he meant, the student said that the students care for each other and are committed to going to church even if they party on Friday and Saturday nights.

Rick wrote, “When he said the word ‘spiritual,’ the friends who were standing near him nodded their heads with respect and something like gravity – they understood that ‘spiritual’ is part of what makes something cool today.”

The column went on to highlight how spiritual things are increasingly in vogue although many strip God from it. In a recent issue of O, Oprah’s magazine, an article covered the topic of faith. It described faith as a a commodity – as a God-neutral practice for living a spiritual life.

This caused me to pause and ask, “Can you really be Spiritual without Jesus?” I believe the answer is NO. Many people confuse mysticism, positive thinking and evil spirits for godly spiritual experiences.

Rick concluded that the cross is essential for true spirituality as he mulled over his experiences with our culture’s grasp to understand the Spirit. He wrote, “The diabolic momentum of our culture is washing away the core of Christ-following – the person of Jesus – while carefully leaving its outer shell – ‘spiritual’ stuff that can be flexibly molded to any belief ( or nonbelief) system kids choose. ”

Unfortunately, Rick is right that many people favor spirituality as long as they can avoid Jesus and His cross. Spirituality tends to lose its coolness when it comes in contact with the radical message of a Gospel that costs everything to gain Christ.

The Worst Place to Be

“The worst place to be is where the Holy Spirit has been.”– a quote by Chip Grinnell quoting someone else

Many times we are afraid of offending other people. It can be easy to worry more about what other people think than what God thinks. The worst thing we can do is grieve the Holy Spirit. God is a gentleman. He will not push His way into our hearts.

Scripture records times when the sin of the people became so great that God removed Himself from their presence. This even happened to the Holy Temple.

In churches today, leaders should be more concerned about offending God and causing His anointing to be removed than making people uncomfortable. The same goes for our private lives and public careers. 

The pain of losing face and peer pressure is nothing compared to living in a place where the Holy Spirit has been. This means the Spirit left because our actions grieved Him. This is a place where there is no life, just the stench of death.

Christians should never take God for granted or the joy of His presence and Spirit. We should fuel the fire. The Apostle John warned in Revelation about the danger of losing our first love. Jesus warned the church of Ephesus, “Repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove the candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (Revelation 2:5). 

Consider this teaching by Jentezen Franklin at Fire on the Altar:

This just in… The Holy Spirit Is God

While talking about prayer in a recent sermon, Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill in
Seattle said the following, “The Holy Spirit is not an intern. He doesn’t take orders. We can ask, but He will do what He wants to do.”
This made me laugh as I remember all the times that I have heard people talk to the Holy Spirit like he is one to take orders from us. We can’t boss God around, and the Holy Spirit is God. We can seek the Spirit’s help and intervention in a particular situation. The Spirit helps to guide us to the truth.

The above quote also made me cry as I remembered the times that I have treated God like He is a cosmic genie or ATM. It’s not as simple as say my wish and get what I want. I exist for God not the other way around.

Holy Spirit, please forgive me when I have not treated you with the respect and honor that you deserve. Guide me in my prayers. Help me to know how to keep in step with what you are doing. May my prayers be guided by you and in line with the will of the Father. May I have an ear to hear what you are saying to me. May I be slow to speak and quick to listen. Help me to seek first what you would have me pray and then release my faith in accordance with your Word. Amen!

Coming Full Circle

Seeing several youth baptized in the Holy Spirit this past weekend caused me to remember my first experience with the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

I grew up in a number of different denominations, including a Pentecostal church during my high school years. From eight grade up until four years ago, I struggled with my own personal beliefs on things such as speaking in tongues, the baptism in the Holy Spirit and supernatural acts attributed to the Holy Spirit. For a while, I thought my mother was a bit crazy babbling away in some unknown language.

In elementary and middle school, I attended a Baptist school where I heard people talk about tongues as if it is something that had gone away. Some claimed that it was only for the early Christians. But this never seemed to make any sense to me. Why would God give such a powerful gift to them and not to us? Don’t we need God’s power as much now as they needed it back then?

One day, I saw my dad speak in tongues. He had always been so reasoned and calm. My father’s experience led me to believe it was real. Then came the question, “Is it for every believer? Is it for me?”

I struggled with this question through high school, college and even my first couple of years in the working world. I knew that speaking in tongues and the baptism in the Holy Spirit was in Scripture. I knew it was for today. But I was afraid? I was worried that as soon as I let go, the Holy Spirit would come and take over my body. I thought that I would cease to be me. I thought that I would become a spiritual zombie.

Nothing could be further from the truth. But that is what I thought, and nobody could convince me of anything different. I had to reach the point where I just let go and learned to trust God.

Once this fear left me, I had to deal with concerns about wanting to be sure that whatever happened to me was real. I did not want a fake or counterfeit experience. I did not want to conjure something just so that I could say that it had happened to me too. I internally struggled with the whole baptism in the Holy Spirit thing for years.

In college, I participated in a Presbyterian fellowship where the people believed the gifts had ceased. While I never agreed with them on that point, I did learn a lot from them, especially when it comes to God’s sovereignty, grace and discipleship.

Some friends even pointed to my struggle and said that my agonizing over it proved that God could not be in it. While it is true that complex issues, such as the baptism in the Holy Spirit, can be tough for youth to process, our struggles also help make us who we are.

A big part of growing up is learning how to deal with doubt, questions and problems. What is life except a constant struggle to grow closer to God and know Him? Sure, the whole baptism in the Holy Spirit question can be a stumbling block for youth who seek it and do not receive it right away. But it can also be a vehicle that God uses to shape us. Everything must be looked at from a long-term perspective not just the crisis of the moment.

Finally, my time came when as a youth leader I went on a Royal Rangers camping trip. I had been in Royal Rangers, a Christian camping organization similar to Boy Scouts, as kid. While hanging out the first day, I hear Steve Hughes, a fellow commander and Christian brother from my church, playing his guitar and singing in tongues at the same time. I felt almost drawn over to watch Steve worship. I could tell that he was lost in another world. He seemed so at peace with God and life in general. I wished that I could have what Steve had. Suddenly, Steve notices me watching him. He turns and asks, “You have a good voice. Do you sing in the spirit?” Caught off guard by his question, I say, “No I don’t do that sort of thing.”

While strumming his guitar, Steve looks at me with a big grin and says, “That’s a shame because you’re missing out.” He turns and continues to praise God, sometimes in English and at other times in his prayer language. Steve wasn’t mean about it. He was not trying to rub my face in the fact that he had something special. He did not accuse me of being less of a Christian than he was or try to coerce me to seek the baptism. By how he lived and worshipped, Steve provoked me to get beyond my own hang-ups.

He later talked with me, and I shared my concerns and questions. He encouraged me to search the Scriptures and see for myself. He said that God would reveal to me what I needed to know when the time was right if I would just diligently seek God with all of my heart and be open to whatever He wanted to do in my life. He was right.

The next day during the council fire, I prayed for boys and worked at the altar. Then it happened when they turned the tables on us and had the boys pray for the leaders. While a bunch of the boys that I had worked with over the year gathered around me and prayed, I suddenly knew it was time for me to let God do something special. I turned to Steve and said, “Brother, it’s time.” He said, “Bless God, brother it’s time.”

While I was on my knees praising God, I asked for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I asked God to give me a prayer language and give me whatever spiritual gifts He desired. With many of the leaders that I had known as a boy praying for me and the boys in my outpost praying for me, God broke through a hard heart and stubborn mind. I let go. And God did the rest.

Out of depths of my gut, words came forth that I had never spoken before. I had to open my mouth and speak it. But God gave me what to say. I felt such a divine connection that night. I was on a spiritual high the entire night. I couldn’t sleep. It was the best spiritual adrenaline rush of my entire life. I knew it was real. I knew it was from God. And I knew it could lead me into greater depths of living as God had intended all along.

As I look back on it, I had to get to the point that I simply let go and stopped trying to figure it all out. Some things are just too big for my small brain. I knew it was in the Bible. I had to learn to trust God.

Not only was my heart receptive to it, but this moment in time marked me coming full circle. I had strayed from God a bit the previous year. While living in another state a year before that I had tried to live a dual life. I partied on Friday and Saturday and did the church thing on Sunday and Wednesday. But the night I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, I was living for God. I was surrounded by men I trusted and boys I had recently spent time serving. God timing showed me that He was there all along. Slowly, He was leading me back to where I should be. He brought me full circle. Ever since that night, I have never doubted God’s sovereign hand in my life. I know that God has a plan for me, and I know that I can trust Him with everything.

If you are struggling with receiving the baptism, maybe it is just not your time yet. Keep on seeking God, He will make all things beautiful in His time. Maybe you are like how I was – you can’t let go. Maybe you are not willing to take a leap of faith.

Maybe you have sin to confess or unforgiveness in your heart toward another person. Maybe God wants to try and test your faith just to see if it is pure. Maybe God is developing in you the gift of faith by leading you to press through doubt, questions and fear. I don’t know why God does what He does all of the time.

God’s ways are sometimes just too high for me to figure out. But I do know that He gives His Holy Spirit to those who ask for it. You have to ask in faith. If you ask in doubt, do not expect to get anything. God gives gifts when the time is right. But you will never have more of the Holy Spirit in your life if you don’t ask.

Discerning the Voice of God

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it takes to develop spiritual discernment. After all, how does one really know that the voices playing over and over in his head are really from God? You may be thinking, ‘He’s hearing voices. He must be crazy.’ But if you honestly look at the world around us, you would have to admit that we are surrounded by a plethora of voices. From the TV blaring in the background of life to peer pressure to the still, small voice speaking to our inner man, we have to decide which voices we will listen to on a regular basis.

Jesus said that His sheep know His voice. But how do I know that the ‘gut feeling’ or off-the-wall thought I have is really from God? Couldn’t it be caused by rotten meat from a fast food meal? Or the idea could be the result of years of TV and commercials creating a false reality and warped priorities? Or maybe it comes from my own desire to do something special for God? Yikes!

I just want to get to the point that I know when to wait, when to act, when to run and when to pray. Jesus seemed to always know what to do. Consider the time that Jesus learned that one of his close friends was very sick (John 11:1-46). Most people would rush to the scene but not Jesus. He waited two days until his friend, Lazarus, was dead. Jesus waited to make a point. Jesus waited because by doing so it would bring maximum glory to God. Jesus waited because He knew the spiritual significance of the situation. I want to be just like that. Part of my problems is that I want the revelation without the process. But there is no shortcut here.

You may be thinking, ‘Hey pal, give yourself a break. You’re not Jesus. You can’t every expect to have His level of discernment.’ And while that may be true, I do believe that the Spirit will reveal “all things” to us as Jesus promised before His crucifixion. I believe that most true Christians, including myself, have just begun to reach the outer edge of what it really means to be Spirit led.

Slowly, I’m starting to figure out more of the picture. Yesterday, I ‘felt’ compelled to stay at home instead of go to the Sunday service. While I don’t make a habit out of this practice, it is certainly nothing new either. I spent fruitful time in prayer and personal Bible study. Then I listened to a teaching tape by Clay McClean on the “Idols of Envy.” As I listened and asked God to show me the areas of envy in my life, I experienced a breakthrough. God delivered me from worrying about my physical attributes that aren’t necessarily what I would like for them to be. So what my hairline is receding? So what I’m not very tall? So what I don’t have muscles like a body builder? For years, I had allowed images of the perfect guy to haunt me.

While this could have happened anywhere, I believe that I was right where God wanted me to be. I might have never listend to that tape had I not taken the time on Sunday. Later on in the afternoon, I knew that I was supposed to go to the home fellowship gathering even though it was snowing and the roads were slick. Despite a half an hour trip taking more than an hour, I trudged on ahead to the gathering. I was the only one there except for my friend and his family. Yet, God used me to confirm something that was going on in the family. I stayed only a short time and then left. I had done my duty by bringing the confirmation needed for my friend to address the situation.

While coming back home from the meeting, I thought that my cell phone had fallen out of my pocket into the snow. I couldn’t find my cell phone anywhere. I looked all over the car several times and even called my friend’s house where the meeting was held. I almost went and bought a new one. But as I prayed about it, I decided to wait to replace it. I ‘knew’ that God was going to bring it back to me. Sure enough, I looked underneath the seat one last time a day later and discovered that it had gotten wedged underneath the seat where I couldn’t see it. These little situations are starting to build up my confidence in the spiritual discernment that God has given me.

The key seems to be staying close to God. Praying about anything and everything really does make a difference. Taking situations back to the Bible helps because the Holy Spirit will never contradict the Word.

As I things over to God and just wait, the answer comes at the most awkward time. I’ll be driving down the road or going to the bathroom or eating lunch and then all of a sudden, ‘BAM.’ The Holy Spirit impresses a thought or action on my heart.

The more I tend to love being with Jesus instead of simply getting the answer to my problems, the easier it becomes to discern what is God’s will in a situation. If we see first to know God, then everything else just has a way of falling into place.