Father’s promise… Acts Round 1

I have been reading a book on prophecy written by my friend Ben Dixon. He uses a lot of Scripture references, which I appreciate, many of which are from the book of Acts. As I was reading I felt Abba nudge me to go and read Acts again, which is one of my favorite books anyway. As I have been reading there are different things that He started highlighting to me and started to talk to me about. I also feel that I am supposed to write what He is showing me. So I am going to start sharing these insights as I go. I actually had to go back to the beginning to start there.

Acts 1:4-5 (TPT) … Jesus instructed them, “Don’t leave Jerusalem, but wait here until you receive the gift I told you about, the gift the Father has promised. For John baptized you in water, but in a few days from now you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit!”

Reading this Scripture got me thinking about a conversation I had a while ago with a co-worker. He was concerned that he might need to get baptized again because there is a reference that says to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and other references that say be baptized in the Name of Jesus. As both of these baptisms are baptisms in water, with the same intent and purpose, I did not see any difference in the two. As I was pondering this conversation (He doesn’t bring these things up without purpose), I hear a question. “What is the baptism of Jesus?” Then I hear, “It is different that being baptized in water in Jesus’ name.” This brought me to the gospels where Jesus was about to be baptized by John the Baptist.

Matthew 3:11 (TPT) Those who repent I baptize with water, but there is coming a Man after me who is more powerful than I am. In fact, I’m not even worthy enough to pick up his sandals. He will submerge you into union with the Spirit of Holiness and with a raging fire!

And in Luke 3:16 He says, “I can only baptize you in this river, but He will baptize you into the Spirit of holiness and into his raging fire.”

So it is pretty apparent that the baptism of Jesus involves fire and the Holy Spirit, and that it is separate to baptism in water. Some would call this the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Ultimately it is a gift that is released by the Father. Just in writing this you can see how the Trinity works together in unison, they are not separate but are one. When we receive the baptism of Jesus, He submerges us into union with a raging fire and the Spirit of holiness. The fire burns away what hinders us from entering into the union with the Spirit. In the submersion, we are burned clean at a deeper level, in our spirit. And this fire becomes evidence as we are endued or seized with power (Acts 1:8). This power is a gift for us, in that it puts us in a place to encounter Abba on a deeper level. But, ultimately it is for others, as the Spirit empowers us to go and boldly share the gospel with accompanying signs and wonders. Fulfilling what Jesus told us to do in Mark 16.

Then in Acts 2, we get to see the release of the Father’s promise as His Holy Spirit power and fire are released upon the disciples in the upper room, and today we still get to see His promise released. How awesome is that?

Acts 2:1-4 (TPT) On the day Pentecost was being fulfilled, all the disciples were gathered in one place. Suddenly they heard the sound of a violent blast of wind rushing into the house from out of the heavenly realm. The roar of the wind was so overpowering it was all anyone could bear! Then all at once, a pillar of fire appeared before their eyes. It separated into tongues of fire that engulfed each one of them. They were all filled and equipped with the Holy Spirit and were inspired to speak in tongues—empowered by the Spirit to speak in languages they had never learned!

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Our Gang

This last week we went on vacation to the beach in Alabama. The white sandy beaches and warm Caribbean water were amazing. While down there we had a mini family reunion, which was fun we got to spend some time together that we usually don’t get. My family has quite the history, we have overcome a lot, which has brought us closer. Honestly, we probably don’t connect as much as we should, but when we do it’s like we just talked yesterday. When vacation was over, we had the seven-and-a-half-hour drive home, which allowed time for me to review the previous few days in my thoughts. It always amazes me how even with the distance between us, the family there was from Connecticut, Florida, Tennessee, and Texas, how much likeness there is between different family members. Some of the likeness is in looks, others are in attitude and how we carry ourselves.

While I was thinking about the family Abba started to show me how much family gatherings can be like church. While for many of us we might see our church family more than our actual family there are many parallels. You get a mix of the truth speakers (sometimes with no regard of feelings), the people-pleaser’s, the quiet observers that stay on the fringe, the natural leaders, the grumblers and a couple of the wild and reckless ones. Also, in many church environments many of the people see each other about once a week sometimes more, others less. But there is no connection. The church should be family in Ephesians 1:5 it says that we have been adopted as Abba’s children, and we should function as a family. That doesn’t mean we always get along, or that we don’t have any differences. Our differences are what make us unique and you need diversity in any healthy family or unified group. Having the underlying tie that binds us together which is Jesus.

Ephesians 1:5-6 For it was always in his perfect plan to adopt us as his delightful children, through our union with Jesus, the Anointed One, so that his tremendous love that cascades over us would glorify his grace—for the same love he has for his Beloved One, Jesus, he has for us. And this unfolding plan brings him great pleasure! 

I have no rights to this picture

Tuesday’s Gone…

Yesterday was rather warm here in Tennessee but the humidity was lower than usual which actually made it pretty nice. I spent the first part of the morning mowing and doing some other yardwork which means getting hot and sweaty. Luckily for us one of daughters has a pool and they are only about 15 minutes away. The wife and I have been going there fairly regularly to get excercises in as well as relax. We get the pool vacuumed etc. (Because we’re good parents and free pool boys) and instead of jumping in and starting to excercise we decided to just float for a bit. I had turned pandora on and was listening to the “Carry on my Wayward Son” station which is great pool music. As I am sitting on my flotation device, totally relaxed with my eyes closed working on the tan (well the red will turn tan in a day or two) a Lynyrd Skynyrd song came on. Almost immediately I heard Abba say be quiet and listen to the music. In my head I was like but this is Skynyrd as I am hearing “Tuesdays gone with the wind….” Then He says listen to the music not the words being sung. So I did and as with most Skynyrd songs there was some great guitar playing going on. As I focused on music, the words faded to the background but a concert rose up around me. To the guitar was added the songs of cardinals and other birds, cicadas and the sound of running water. It was so peaceful and beautiful that I could almost fall asleep to it all. As I was in the zone I could feel Abba’s presence and it was like He was just sitting there enjoying it all too.

You know we spend a lot of time being busy, just grinding away every day and we forget to carve out time for relationships and just relaxing. Even when we try to have our “God time” we spend more time on figuring out the right formula to connect with Him. As I have been pondering yesterday’s encounter, I really feel like Abba was telling me that I need to relax more and just be. I got more out of that 15 minutes floating in the pool just resting in His presence than I have gotten out of many other things that I have tried to make work to connect with Him. He is so good and faithful and continues to display His love for us. We just need to slow down enough to hear and see what He is doing and saying.

Chance encounters and luck

Over the last several years, I have come to realize that there really is no such thing as chance encounters or luck. However, there is obedience and blessing that can be connected to how we describe these things.

I travel a fair amount for work and every time I am heading out, my wife prays for me to have encounters with people so that I will have opportunities to share Abba’s love with them. It almost never fails that I will have an opportunity to give a testimony, prophetic word, or get to pray for healing. On my last trip there was a young lady that sat next to me on the plane. As she sat down she promptly introduced herself and we chatted for a bit until the plane took off. As a side note, planes are a great place to be able to share Abba’s love, you have a captive audience and you know others can hear you too. Anyway, back to the story. As the plane takes off I started to watch something on my phone and as I did Abba started talking to me about this gal sitting next to me. When my show was over I started asking her some questions and talking more, and I felt Holy Spirit prompting me to say things along the way. She told me about how she has dreams and that her mom keeps telling her she should start blogging them. I told her that, at a minimum, she should start journaling them and that they were indeed prophetic dreams, several of which she has seen play out. I also shared different Scripture with her around her gifts. At one point she looked at me and asked “are you a prophet or something?” I had to pause. You see, I have moved in the prophetic for many years, and have been called a prophet by others, but this question made me stop, take a breath and ask Holy Spirit “what am I supposed to say here?” You see, I am very careful with titles and labels, as they are quite often misused. The Holy Spirit said “tell her yes”, wait, what? “You actually want me to speak this out?” “Yes” He said. This whole conversation felt like was going on forever, but was literally only a few seconds. When I finally answered her she was like “oh that’s cool”. She then proceeded to say that God set this whole thing up and how awesome He is. Needless to say, He used this situation to encourage me, and I had a few more God encounters over the next 48 hours.

Acts 2:17 ‘This is what I will do in the last days—I will pour out my Spirit on everybody and cause your sons and daughters to prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will experience dreams from God .

Now there is the whole subject of luck. Over the last couple of years or so I’ve heard it said many times that my wife and I are lucky. We’re lucky to live where we do, to have the house we have and for me to drive the truck I drive. But, I honestly don’t believe in luck, I believe in the blessings that come from Abba. He blesses for faithfulness and obedience. He moved us to where we live, He orchestrated the house we were able to buy, and my truck, which was actually the fulfillment of a prophetic word I received from a random guy that a friend and I felt led to pray for at a mall in Illinois. In everything we have…family, friends, house and stuff, we thank Him for these things on a daily basis because we know they are blessings from Him. So, if you ever hear me say “good luck” to someone, there’s always a chance I am being sarcastic, but more often than not, what I am saying is “may Abba bless you greatly and may you continue to have favor in all you do.”

Chance encounters and luck are actually Abba setting us up to engage people with His love and Him freely blessing us. Also never underestimate the power of a praying wife.

Father’s Day Pondering

1 Corinthians 15:58. So now, beloved ones, stand firm, stable, and enduring. Live your lives with an unshakable confidence. We know that we prosper and excel in every season by serving the Lord, because we are assured that our union with the Lord makes our labor productive with fruit that endures.

Sitting here this morning pondering Father’s Day. You go through your Facebook feed and see the multitudes paying homage to all their awesome father’s, but then have to wonder why so many don’t post anything about their dad’s.

Which got me thinking, first about my dad. I would have to say that all in all my dad could be rated as less than awesome, but there are some very valuable things that he taught me; the value of hard work, the joy of splitting firewood (sounds crazy I know but as a teenager it was a positive way to vent anger and frustration. Nothing like swing a 9lb splitting maul for that); how having a few too many didn’t keep you from your responsibilities (not a problem now, but there was a time); how to fish and the importance of taking your birthday day off to go fishing. There are some other things too, but there were also many things that he taught me that I never wanted to do. Don’t need to go into details, but that was also a learning process for me.

I then got to thinking about my 3 son-in-law’s. They are not only great husbands to my beautiful daughters, but also the father’s of my 6 grandchildren. They are all gifted differently and come from very diverse backgrounds, but they are awesome dad’s. It is interesting watching them figuring out how to be dad’s themselves, running through some trial and error, making their own mistakes and gaining victories along the way. All this while learning life lessons. One is working on his degree while working fulltime. Another is in the midst of launching a promising career in the music industry, and the last one is serving our country in the Air Force and is adjusting to coming home after being deployed and having a one year old. I have to admit I find it easy to brag about all of them and the men and father’s they are becoming.

I then started to look inward and while I would like to think I earned the dad of the year award for the last almost 32 years, I wouldn’t be being honest with myself. I had to learn and make mistakes along the way. My wife and I often apologize to our eldest daughter for being our practice child. Also I eluded to not always having the best example of what a dad should be, but had a baseline for things I didn’t want to do. There is a big difference between knowing what you don’t want to do and knowing what to do. Honestly, I really didn’t start to figure it out until I became a Christian a little over 20 years ago. I figured out that the things I was missing Abba would teach me. I still don’t always get it right, but the biggest things He has taught me is how to love well and the importance of grace and mercy. As I raised my girls, my desire was to be an example of the man they should pick to be their husbands and fathers to their children, and I think I did pretty ok judging by who they picked.

Ephesians 5:15‭-‬17 So be very careful how you live, not being like those with no understanding, but live honorably with true wisdom, for we are living in evil times. Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for his purposes. And don’t live foolishly for then you will have discernment to fully understand God’s will.

So to all you dad’s out there, biological, step, foster, adopted and spiritual, have an amazingly blessed Father’s Day and thank you for all you do.

Do the right thing….

So if you know of an opportunity to do the right thing today, yet you refrain from doing it, you’re guilty of sin.

James (Jacob) 4:17 TPT

This is what I call “one of those ouch scriptures”. It makes me think of all the opportunities to do the right thing that we are presented with in our day to day that we overlook or ignore because it might interfere with our agenda or our busy schedule. For me, doing the right thing isn’t just about not stealing, murdering, and the rest of the ten commandments. It’s about living a life of integrity and strong character. Its about creating a culture of honor that you carry wherever you go.

I was travelling the other day and while I was in line at one of the little stores getting a water and snack, the lady in front of me was on her cellphone and totally ignored the cashier. You could see in the cashier’s face and body language that it bothered her. When it was my turn I, in not so many words, apologized for the customer before me’s behavior, acknowledged the cashier and thanked her for serving everyone that comes through the store. If a line wasn’t forming behind me I may have prayed for her. When I brought up the customer prior, the cashier blew it off like it was no big deal even though you could see that it affected her. As I engaged her she said no negative things about the customer, she held her tongue which to me revealed strength in her character. She chose to do the right thing.

Romans 8:12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.

We have too many Christians running around proclaiming they have a “sinful nature” as an excuse for their poor behavior. When they proclaim this they negate the work Jesus did for us on the cross. We have been set free from the old sinful nature.

So what should we do about this? Do the right thing! Hold a door open; smile at people; say hello; put your call on hold; if Holy Spirit prompts you to, pay for someone’s meal or groceries; pray for people. We need to remember that no matter what our agenda or schedule is His is greater. When we are quickly obedient to what He is guiding us to do we will be blessed. When we align our agenda with His we will find it’s easier to get things done.