Wineskins

Reading in Luke this morning and these verses grabbed me. It seems in different doctrine circles how the Old Testament/covenant and New testament/covenant are looked at. Some will discount the OT as no longer having relevance and in this they are missing everything that Abba put in place that was meant to prepare His people for the coming kingdom. Then there are some that have allowed the pendulum to swing too far the other way where they are so concerned with the old law and following that, over the grace freedom we have been given in Christ. If you look at Jesus’s analogy of the new and old wineskins. The first group throws the old wine skin away and the second clings to it in fear, sometimes totally ignoring the new one.

Luke 16:15‭-‬16 NKJV And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God. “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.

This verse in Luke shows that there is a point of transition that happened. The law and prophets clearly pointed to the coming Kingdom, but the thing that stood out to me was it says “until John”. You see John the Baptist was the last of the Old testament/covenant prophets. Then Jesus comes and when He is baptized and His ministry time on earth happens, something shifted, the need for pointing towards the Kingdom wasn’t necessary because He brought it with Him. The message changed from repent for what is coming to repent because the Kingdom is at hand. Man is that exciting or what? Jesus opened the gate that everyone before Him could only point to, and we have been given the choice to enter in and be changed forever.

Whirlwind Dream

My Dreams and Visions

A few nights ago I had a dream where I saw what looked like a massive tornado. Normally when one sees videos of tornadoes and the subsequent aftermath they leave usually nothing escapes its fury. However, this was not the case in this present dream. In this dream I saw inside the tornado’s vortex and it was only church buildings that I saw and they were being smashed one against another. When I saw the aftermath, nothing representing a church was seen.

I’ve had similar dreams like the one I just posted.

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They did not recognize Him

I woke up this morning at 1:11. When I looked at the clock I heard remember this number, so I asked “what does it refer to?” And I heard John 1:11. Everytime I awoke through the night I kept hearing John 1:11, guessing didn’t want me to forget. Once I finally rolled out of bed and made some coffee I sat and I looked up John 1:11 which says “He came to the very people he created— to those who should have recognized him, but they did not receive him.” So I started asking what about this verse do I need to see and Abba said “I sent My Son first to the Jews, my original covenanted people, but they were so steeped in the law and their own doctrines to recognize Him as Messiah.” I could sense the sadness He had for that and them. But then He said that Jesus’s mission was to world not just to Israel. He then took me to v12 where it says that those who embraced and believed in Jesus have been given the authority to be Children of God. (My paraphrase).

I then heard Him say “many churches have followed the footsteps of the early Jews, they are more concerned with law and doctrine than love and grace. They have lost sight of Jesus and no longer recognize Him. There is a shaking happening in the church. It’s like He has taken an etch a sketch and turned it upside down and is shaking it so there will be a fresh slate. He is giving the Church a do-over in this season. When we start gathering again in corporate bodies we need to be careful to not go back to the old way of doing things. His desire is not for whitewashed coffins, but for life! He wants His Church to live in the love, power and authority of the Children of God.”

So I pray right now for the Church, His Church, to even now see the old dead things that they need to walk away from, because it has no place in this coming season. It is time to let go of doctrines of man and to start learning the doctrine of Jesus. It is time that we as Children of God gain the heart of the Father and the mind of Christ and let that be how we gauge what is important and necessary. It is time to shake off the brands and titles of the world and function in our God given identities and use the gifts that He created us to use. In Jesus’s mighty name Amen.

John 1:9‭-‬12 TPT
For the Light of Truth was about to come into the world and shine upon everyone. He entered into the very world he created, yet the world was unaware. He came to the very people he created— to those who should have recognized him, but they did not receive him. But those who embraced him and took hold of his name were given authority to become the children of God!

One of only pictures I like of Jesus

It’s almost time… to Push

It has been a little while since I have posted. Right before all of this virus stuff started, the area I live in was hit by a pretty crazy tornado. We were fine and it was amazing to see how the communities all came together. There were actually areas that had to send volunteers to other areas because they had too many already. Then came the virus with stay at home and social distancing, which has literally touched everyone’s lives. It has also changed the way we do things, small businesses are closing, restaurants are doing carryout or delivery only, even church doors are closing causing them to be creative in how they can connect. I am not putting this out there as an excuse for not posting, to be honest I tried several times but couldn’t write all that was going on in my head and Abba has been talking a lot through all of this. Last weekend I was finally able to start journaling again and now this post.

One of the things that Abba has been talking to me (and others) about, is the condition of the church and the changes this whole situation is forcing. Don’t get me wrong I do not believe Abba caused this virus, (that is the work of the enemy), however He will use it and use it mightily. You see, as church building doors are closing the Church is being forced into homes and small communities, which is causing the Church to grow without limitations of getting people to a building on Sunday.

I was reading through Romans 8 this morning and it talks about how Abba walks with us through the good and bad. It then starts talking about how the whole earth is groaning and pregnant, yearning for what’s next. I would like to propose that these “pregnancies” started way before this virus stuff started. For some this has all been a distraction that the enemy is using to get you all wrapped up in fear and unbelief, rendering you useless. For others it is proving to be a catalyst, forcing them to pray and seek God’s face even more. Even in writing this, I get a picture of Elijah straining as if in birth (some call it travailing), to get it to rain again and out of that came a cloud the size of a man’s fist, but he didn’t stop until the full rain came. Just like a woman giving birth you don’t just push till it starts, you push till the end, to when you don’t have to push anymore. I believe we are in a season where Abba has impregnated many in His Church and delivery time is getting close. We are getting uncomfortable and can’t take up the positions that used to be comfortable for us, because pregnancy and birthing aren’t comfortable. We are dealing with all of this as we are starting what is called Holy Week, starting with Palm Sunday (today) where everyone praised Jesus as king, which was then followed by the celebration of Passover where the blood of lamb was put on the door posts to protect God’s people. Then the last supper and Jesus being accused, beaten and crucified, then placed in a tomb. But that wasn’t the end, something new was about to be birthed. The resurrected Jesus was coming out of the tomb to bring new life to all.

It is time to prepare for birth, for bringing forth new life, new ways of doing things, to the leave the old things that don’t make sense behind us and to pick up the new thing ahead of us. And remember don’t stop pushing until you are released.

Romans 8:15‭-‬25 MSG
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens. All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

I have a dream as well…

Since just before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I have had some things stirring in my Spirit, and I even debated with myself whether or not I should write this post as for some it might be a little controversial. Honestly, around this time of year I generally get kind of irritated because instead of honoring a great man of God who was a catalyst for racial equality, there are people that try to tie justifying the acceptance of their sinful lifestyles to the walls that Dr King was trying to tear down. From everything that I have learned and read about Dr King, his heart was not about the acceptance of sin but the breaking of it. While contemplating writing this I felt prompted to go and read his “I have a dream” speech and it is still powerful. I believe he was anointed by God to bring cultural change with a focus on peace and unity for all people. He even cautioned his own people to not get bitter or to lash out in anger, that there was a better way.

Jesus tells us in John 15:12‭-‬13 “So this is my command: Love each other deeply, as much as I have loved you. For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends.

He also tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). Do you notice that whenever Jesus tells us to love others, He doesn’t put qualifiers on who we should love? He only puts qualifiers on how we should love. As I continue to process through all of this, I must say that I have gotten convicted. Partially because I realized that in judging those that were trying to justify their sin, I wasn’t judging them in love. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with them but I still need to reflect Abba’s love for them. In my walk with Jesus I try (not always successfully) to not focus on appearance or mannerisms but on what Jesus shows me about them. Doing this makes it easier to look at them with His love and compassion. In Dr King’s speech he said, “I have a dream that my children will not be judged by the color of their skin but for their character” (my paraphrase).

All of this has made me more aware of how much we prejudicely judge others on a daily basis. We do it when we go to the store, out to eat, sitting in traffic, even when we go to church. Sometimes the church is most guilty. We judge across denominations, and doctrines. We judge folks on how they are dressed or what level of saved we think they are. Many times church can be more like high school cliques than a loving body.

We need to remember that Abba loves every person that walks the earth, which is why He sent Jesus.
John 3:16-17 For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life. “God did not send his Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it!

We also need to remember that we all have been created in His image and carry His DNA. If we looked at people more from this perspective instead of a place of judgment, we will be able to realize Dr King’s dream.

When we pause for a moment and ask Abba,”what is the good thing or the gem you placed inside this person?”, so we can focus on that instead of what we see, hear or smell in the natural, it will change our perspective. When we take that thing that He shows us and we begin to pray and prophesy it into them, speaking life, what a great picture of love that is.

Forgiveness a Key to a Joy Filled New Year

As we move towards the end of the year, the last few days between Christmas and the new year, I almost always take some time to reflect on the year behind and start praying into what is to come in the year ahead.When you think about what was started at the birth of Jesus, which we just celebrated, you see Abba’s plan for our freedom from sin, so that we can walk in relationship with Him again. In being able to walk with Him, we are fulfilling what we were originally created for, to live together with Him. Jesus, in His life, was sin free and we have the last three years of His life recorded in four different gospel accounts. While He walked the earth, in His own human form, He taught His disciples (us included) how we should walk out our lives as friends and followers. He showed us how to love ourselves and others; He showed us how to pray and have relationship with the Father; and He showed us how to walk in signs and wonders through the power of Holy Spirit. Many times, at the center of all of this, was the process of forgiveness and healing.So you might ask, what does this have to do with wrapping up the year behind and stepping into the new year? Well this is a good time to look back and ask Abba about anything you need to ask His forgiveness for. I can think of several times when He prompted me to share a word or pray for someone and I allowed my own busyness and distractions to keep me from it. There were some times when I let fear creep in and keep me from it, or as I procrastinated, the opportunity passed. I know there is more that I haven’t gotten to yet, or things that are between He and I. After you get this part figured out, ask Abba to show you if there is anyone that you need to go and ask forgiveness from? Maybe someone that you spoke too harshly to, misjudged or were an inadvertent victim of your own bad day. Then ask Him if there is anything that you need to forgive others for? This could be from the past year or even beyond that. Then finally, ask Abba if there is anything you need to forgive yourself for. Sometimes this can be the hardest one to work through, but is very important.Why all the talk about forgiveness? Well there are a few reasons:1. Jesus told us toa. Matthew 6:14-15 The Passion Translation (TPT) “And when you pray, make sure you forgive the faults of others so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you withhold forgiveness from others, your Father withholds forgiveness from you.”2. We can’t start our healing process without forgiving. Withholding forgiveness allows others to have control of our lives that doesn’t belong to them. It also causes bitterness and can cause physical ailments.a. Hebrews 12:15 The Passion Translation (TPT) Watch over each other to make sure that no one misses the revelation of God’s grace. And make sure no one lives with a root of bitterness sprouting within them which will only cause trouble and poison the hearts of many.3. It gives us a chance to start the new year with a clean slate.One thing to remember when it comes to forgiving others, just because you forgive someone that has hurt you does not mean that you need to let them back into your life. In fact, if they are toxic to you, it is wisdom to cut them out and move on.I encourage you to take some time over the next week or two, to set aside some time to process the past year, work on forgiveness and start your own healing process. That will allow us walk into, not only the new year, but the new decade clean, free and full of joy for what Abba has for us in this next season.2 John 4-6 The Passion Translation (TPT) I was delighted and filled with joy when I learned that your children are consistently living in the truth, just as we have received the command from the Father. Dearest woman, I have a request to make of you. It is not a new commandment but a repetition of the one we have had from the beginning: that we constantly love one another. This love means living in obedience to whatever God commands us. For to walk in love toward one another is the unifying commandment we’ve heard from the beginning.

The morning after… some Thanksgiving pondering

So I spent some time yesterday pondering the obligatory Thanksgiving Day thankfulness post. But the words never came. However, as I went through the day, I thought about different things, mostly people, that I am thankful for. My morning started pretty much like any other, fed the pup and took him out while the coffee was starting. Then he curled up on my lap while I start looking for the devotional for the day (I post an almost daily devotional to a men’s group on FB). The topic for this one was “For Sin Shall Not Have Dominion Over You”. During and after posting, I kept thinking about how thankful I am that Jesus not only provides forgiveness for our sins but has set us free from our old sinful nature.

Romans 6:14 Remember this: sin will not conquer you, for God already has! You are not governed by law but governed by the reign of the grace of God.

Throughout the day I would randomly reflect on different people that have come into our lives. There have been many new connections made in this last year, also old friends, and our spiritual kids that we have picked up along the way. It is such a blessing to be able to be a part of all of their lives in different capacities. I am thankful for all of them.

Then there are the things I am most thankful for, my wonderful wife who takes care of me, our family and anyone else who happens to come under her wings. Then there are my three beautiful daughters who are all gifted in their own ways and are also a blessing to those around them. I am also thankful for the husbands that Abba provided for them, all of which I am proud of. Then there are my super amazing grandkids six bundles of joy, love, hugs, sass, and entertainment. Abba has blessed them with so many gifts of talent, creativity, and huge loving hearts. Then there is rest of my family…sisters, brother, nephews, nieces, cousins and of course my aunt Jeanne.

Philippians 4:4-8 Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One ! Let gentleness be seen in every relationship, for our Lord is ever near. Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ. So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.

All of this to say that I have much to be thankful for in the good and the bad, Abba has made me a rich man and this isn’t even close to being the whole list. Not as the world would describe rich, but as the kingdom of heaven would. I need to remind myself on a regular basis of all that I have been blessed with and to be more like Paul and be content in whatever season of life I am in.

Philippians 4:11-13 I’m not telling you this because I’m in need, for I have learned to be satisfied in any circumstance. I know what it means to lack, and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. For I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty.

What if?

I have been having some “what if?” questions bouncing around in my head recently. Yes, I know that can be scary sometimes. Here is the first one:

What if we focused more on Jesus than sin? I know, blasphemous right… But seriously though. I can’t find one Scripture that tells us to focus on sin. It says to avoid it, forgive it, repent from it, that we are no longer obligated to it, and to go and no longer do it. We really need to stop focusing on our nature prior to Jesus, it is no longer our identity.

2 Corinthians 5:17 AMPC
Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!

At some level focusing on sin is agreeing more with the enemy than with

Jesus. Hebrews 12 says that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith and I really don’t want to take my focus off of Him.

Hebrews 12:2 TPT
We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!

I’m not saying that we don’t have any sins in our lives that need to be dealt with. Because we all have our stuff. What we need to do though, is wait for Him to guide us through and address what He tells us to address. No one knows what we need more than He does. He is the one that has provided victory over sin and death. If you have particular areas of sin that you have been struggling with, ask yourself if you are focusing on the sin or the One that can help you overcome it? What is the enemy whispering about that is causing shame? You have the right and ability to silence the enemy in Jesus Name and then say “hey Jesus what do you want me to work on?” In Him there is freedom and victory.

Truth… can you handle it?

This morning I was reading through Acts 3 and 4. This is where Peter and John healed the cripple at the gate of the temple. The man jumped and danced and praised God, which of course caught the people’s attention. They recognized this man that had been healed and knew that he had been a cripple for over 40 years. As they started to ask about what happened, Peter started to preach a gospel message, that was actually pretty rough, but it opened doors for people to receive Jesus. The religious leaders showed up, disputed their teaching(ineffectively), and ended up arresting Peter and John.

In reading through this, it got me thinking about the state of a lot of churches out there today. They have been so caught up in the religious spirit, which is often fed by the doctrines of man instead of what Jesus actually taught us and told us to do. Jesus said that when we do things in His name, signs and wonders will happen, and the sick will be healed. There is nothing in Scripture that says these things will stop.

Mark 16:15‭-‬18 And he said to them, “As you go into all the world, preach openly the wonderful news of the gospel to the entire human race! Whoever believes the good news and is baptized will be saved, and whoever does not believe the good news will be condemned. And these miracle signs will accompany those who believe: They will drive out demons in the power of my name. They will speak in tongues. They will be supernaturally protected from snakes and from drinking anything poisonous. And they will lay hands on the sick and heal them.”

After Peter and John are arrested they are brought before the religious leaders, which gave them a chance to rebuke them for not recognizing what Jesus did in healing the cripple, but also for their part in the death and ultimately the resurrection of Jesus.
At that, they were scolded and told to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. I really believe that His name scared them, they knew what they were responsible for and saw the power associated with His name. I think their biggest fear was that it was going to upset their own control and power. After being warned, Peter tells them no, we’re going to keep doing what God tells us to do.

Acts 4:18‭-‬20 So they had them brought back in before the council, and they commanded them to never teach the people or speak again using the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “You can judge for yourselves—is it better to listen to you or to God? It’s impossible for us to stop speaking about all the things we’ve seen and heard!”

After they were released, they went back to the other disciples and shared what happened, which caused them to start praising God for what He had done and the Holy Spirit dropped on them again.

The correlation of this story to today’s church both saddens me and gives me hope. The saddness comes from all of the people I know that have fallen into the religious spirit and ultimately deny the power of the name of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit that He sent to us as a fulfillment of His promise. People that have been healed and question, young men who grew up in a Spirit-filled environment who now deny His power.

But then there is the hope. Seeing folks walking away from mega-churches and forming small communities of believers who are seeking Jesus and His truth without the confines of man’s church. When I see people who are not afraid to go out and pray for and minister to people outside of the church walls.

The Kingdom is growing and the truth of Jesus is being revealed. We need to choose if we are going to follow the “Way” of Jesus or the doctrines of man? In case you’re wondering, I am choosing the Way of Jesus.

Wondering not wandering

I was reading a book yesterday morning that teaches on prophecy. The book was talking about giving prophetic words in different scenarios like a corporate word vs. personal word. It was really good and a lot of references were made about how we need to be like Jesus and reflect His servant heart. There was also the mention of being discipled and discipling others.

As I was reading something in it, it got my mind to wondering. Let me explain something about me, there is a difference between wandering and wondering. If I am bored with what I am reading or doing, my mind begins to wander. This can sometimes be bad and when I was younger might have led to some mischief. But, when I am engaged and interested in what I am reading, an idea can make me stop and wonder, ponder, and process what I have read. This process often leads to me taking twice as long to read a book than someone else. Many times these times of wondering lead me into a time of conversation with Abba.

So I started thinking about my discipleship experience as the prophetic gift started to come alive in me. One of my first mentors, while believing in the gifts of the Spirit, tried to steer me away from the prophetic. I came to find out that he had been hurt in the past by some potentially bad prophetic ministry, which jaded his opinion. I later was able to connect to other mentors who were able to teach and guide me, however, my main mentor was the Holy Spirit. He had me spend a lot of time studying and reading the prophetic books of the Old Testament. Already having an understanding of the differences between Old Testament and New Testament prophets and how they function.

As I thought about this in the morning, I asked Abba, “why did You have me study them?” The reply I got was, “I needed you to see and understand what they did, how they lived and how they are connected to Me.” He wanted me to look beyond what they said. This was a “wow” moment for me as I was yet again amazed by His wisdom. He then started showing me how Jesus is the ultimate prophetic example. Throughout His ministry on earth, He was constantly prophesying words of strength, hope, correction, life, healing, and many others; and He always did it from a heart of love.

So when we take the obedience and desire to serve God, no matter what, with the example that Jesus set for us. We get the true picture of what a modern day New Testament should look like, live like, and love like.

Romans 12:6 TPT God’s marvelous grace imparts to each one of us varying gifts and ministries that are uniquely ours. So if God has given you the grace-gift of prophecy, you must activate your gift by using the proportion of faith you have to prophesy.

1 Corinthians 13:2 TPT. And if I were to have the gift of prophecy with a profound understanding of God’s hidden secrets, and if I possessed unending supernatural knowledge, and if I had the greatest gift of faith that could move mountains, but have never learned to love, then I am nothing.