Thursday, April 19, 2018

The King Who Is Always With You by Matthew Guillot BF Prayer Team Leader

Have you ever superimposed your view of a worldly king to Jesus when relating to Him?  I know I have and often times without even realizing that I did.   Our paradigm of who Jesus is during our greatest weaknesses and struggles will often reveal how much of a worldly paradigm we have superimposed over Him as an authority figure in our life.  Do you see yourself walking on eggshells when you think of Him as your authority figure or King?  Do you see Him angry and displeased with you because of sin in your life?  Let's look at some passages out of scripture to gain some insight on how God sees you during your struggles.
In Romans chapter 5 verse 8, the apostle Paul writes:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us
In Isaiah chapter 53 verse 4, Isaiah prophesied about Jesus saying:
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Jesus actually carried our griefs and sorrows and took on the full weight and intensity of emotion that came with it.  In Hebrews 4:15-16(emphasis mine) the writer explains:
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we areyet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Jesus was tempted in every way we are tempted.  As the passage in Hebrews says, Jesus can actually sympathize or relate to our weaknesses and temptations.  He is not angry or displeased and actually encourages us to draw near to Him(His throne of Grace), in our time of need to receive Mercy and find the Grace He reserved for us in the moment.  In fact, Jesus actually increases the Grace in our lives as we need it as shown in Romans 5:20-21:
The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Since God is the giver and distributor of Grace, this should cause us to think about the intentions of God towards those stuck in sin.  What does it say about God, that He would increase the Grace He is giving out when sin is increasing?   The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
The apostle Paul explains to us that God's power is perfected in weakness, and that he (Paul) is actually happy about (boastful) about his weakness.  Paul is obviously not endorsing that we feed into or off of our weaknesses.  He is trying to explain that it doesn't have to be a source of discouragement for us because God wants to fill in the gaps in our life with His overly-sufficient power.  This is good news!  This means God isn't in the least hindered or discouraged by our weaknesses.  This is reason enough to change the way we see and deal with our weaknesses.  Let God fully into these places of weakness in your life and watch God's power be perfected in your life to bring the Kingdom every where you go.
If you are having trouble hearing God, do not be discouraged. A common pattern, that I have fallen into too many times, is to become discouraged or even upset with God I haven't seen an answer to my prayer.  The better way that I have learned is to re-evaluate what I am praying or the question I am asking Him.  God is not One who will allow Himself to be manipulated.  Am I asking Him for something out of my pain?  Do I expect Him to answer in the box I created for Him (my expectations of how God needs to answer my prayer)?  Do I need to be fixed inside before I can have relationship with Him?  Do I need to feel better, happy, or confident independent of Him?  I have fallen into these traps way too often.  
I have learned that the goal of any interaction with God should be to cultivate intimacy with Him without any other agenda.  Since God will not manipulate you into coming closer, He will often speak silently to draw those who are hungry to be with Him.  With all of this being said, the compulsion will be to go into our brains and over-analyze or over-evaluate how we are going to change ourselves to think differently.  However, the real need is for us to silence our minds from any and all distractions and simply just be with Him.  As explained above, He is not waiting for you to get your act together.  He wants you to draw near to Him in your time of need and let Him be your help and comforter.  He loves you and simply just wants to be with you, no matter where you are in life.
                                                            With heartfelt blessings and love,

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Trusting God's Heart Over Our Circumstances by Pastor Susan Fochler

When my husband, Russ, suddenly and unexpectedly became critically ill 7 years ago, every day for the next 64 days brought a storm of constant change.  He started out very sick, but then got much, much worse, and stayed that way for weeks.  Complications came like waves.  Finally one day I was told by the Intensive Care doctor that I needed a miracle…there was no more hope from a medical standpoint.  I can still clearly recall that moment; my thoughts immediately  zoomed in on how grateful I was to know the church was even then praying for Russ’s miracle. 
Trusting God’s Heart, not His Hands
I kept thinking, “if only I know how long this is going to last, I can do this”.  But I didn’t know, and no one could tell me,.  My medically trained brain tried so hard to figure everything out, while my heart fought to dial down and just be with Russ.  It was a journey learning how to not let the tubes and alarms and ventilator sounds distract me from simply being embraced by God’s love.  I had to stop listening to the whirlwind of each day and intentionally focus on His presence.  I needed to rest my heart in God’s heart, and not in what I believed He was doing.  It is a subtle but very real difference.  
God’s Love Does Not Fail
As I travelled back and forth from the hospital every day I listened to a Jesus Culture song: One Thing Remains.  The words spoke directly and specifically into my situation: No matter what is going on, no matter how tumultuous or uncertain the circumstance, Gods love will not fail.  
I clung to those words.  And over time, as my heart surrendered it’s need to predict how this thing was going to go, I was able to relax and receive His love in a new way.

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains  This one thing remains
Your love never fails, and never gives up  It never runs out on me.

His Love is Always Bigger Yet
If you are going through something that is bigger than you are, remember, His love is bigger yet.  Our problems look impossible when we are looking at them.  But when we look up into His eyes, we will always see Him overshadowing anything that overshadows us.  
I pray that we all, no matter what we are going through, would have the grace to look up-and keep looking up as we lean back into the safe, comforting and ever-present arms of our Loving Savior.  That we would know beyond any doubt that He understands what we are going through more than we do.  We can trust His goodness and how He is going to accomplish the victory we need.  Every time.  
                                                                                       With much love,

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Drama of Holy Week Lasts for Eternity by Pastor Brent Lokker

Next week is Holy Week. It’s the time we remember the events in the last week of Jesus’ earthly life that lead to His death on the cross, his burial in a tomb and His victorious resurrection from the dead. But we also reflect in amazement how those events that lasted 7 short days now span into the vastness of eternity, transforming our hearts and impacting every life ever lived. As you read this poetic remembrance, reflect upon the miracle of Jesus upon your own life and upon the lives of those across the entire world whom God so loved that He sent His one and only son…

Palm Sunday
The King has returned!
The prophecies have been fulfilled.
The years of longing are over.
Now all will be made right amongst shouts of praise and tears of joy.
The pleading of justice.
The cries for our enemy’s defeat.

The King has returned!
The King who was driven from his land as an infant,
Who spent his first years as a refugee,
Who understands pain and suffering.
But this King is not who we were looking for.
This King brings justice,
not over our enemies, but in the midst of our enemies.
He brings peace, not just in our land, but in our souls.
He was the answer to the prayer we didn’t know we were praying.

The King has returned!
Long live the King!

Good Friday
The King is dead.
The hands that once held branches crying “Hosanna to the King!”
now gripped a hammer.

The King is dead.
This King of kings who embraced the very nature of a servant,
This Prince of Peace broken for us,
This commander of angels surrendered to a cross.
This King joins us in our suffering,
empathizes in our weakness,
And calls us to die with him,
To lay down our lives,
To live in surrender that we might be fully alive.

The King is dead.
Long live the King.

Easter Sunday
But this King is not gone forever.
The story has not ended.
There is a twist.
A third act.
There is a third day.
On that third day the King will strip death from its power
And extinguish the sting of Hades.
This King is not defeated.
This King is not destroyed.
This King is the Resurrection.
He is the Life.
He is the Alpha and Omega,
The beginning and the end.
The King has returned leaving death behind,
Destroying hate,
Inviting us all to live in his victory—
In his Kingdom,
In his peace.

Yes, the King has Risen!
Long Live the King!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Return to His Gaze by Misha Quezada - Children's Ministry Overseer

This world is filled with distractions constantly grabbing for our attention. The news, social media, even just everyday life is filled with fear whirlwinds drawing our focus. God is calling us back to a place of hope, a place of gazing solely into His eyes and keeping our focus on the truth that He speaks. This is in no way trying to diminish the struggles, but a reminder that whatever you fear has power over you. Just watch the beautiful imagery of the show “This is Us” where the father calms his son in the middle of an extreme panic attack by simply taking his son’s face into his hands- guiding his line of sight back to his own eyes, and saying, “I’m right here…. stay with me…. breathe with me.”

Let HIS heartbeat for you be louder then the surrounding voices. He’s a loving, tender God who wants the best for us. Proverbs 1:7 and Psalm 19:7-8 (TPT) demonstrates how his commands challenge us to keep us close to His heart! When we know His heartbeat we get to gaze into those eyes and know that His authority is meant to bring consistency in the structure He provides us. We may gain instruction or a nudge from Him and people He puts into our lives, but it’s only because He knows the potential and keys each one of us and our dreams/passions carry! There’s always an open-line of communication, as He will support us through each instruction and challenge.

Bill Johnson says, “When God’s your servant, you’ll be disappointed. When you’re God’s servant, you’ll be amazed! If you’re mad at Him for not doing exactly how you expect you’ll always be frustrated and miss exactly what He’s doing.”  Now is the time to lean in close to Him. Draw near and learn the rhythm of His heart, and in return you’ll recognize the passions and heartbeat of your own heart even clearer! Where will your gaze be? I encourage you to soak in Psalm 23 this week out of the Passion version.
He delights in you!

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Spirit of the Fear of the Lord by Pastor Russ Fochler

Isaiah 11:1-3a (NKJV)
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. 

His delight is in the fear of the LORD,

In our relieved and hope-filled embrace of Father God's love for us, what are we to make of "the fear of the LORD"?   Many people I know believe it has to do with awe and reverence towards God. 

What does awe and reverence towards God mean to you?

For some of us, it means we desire to go deeper into the reality Jesus is our King.  So, as we feel moved by Holy Spirit or when it simply seems right, we're posturing ourselves to honor Him literally by kneeling and even lying facedown before Him.  We seek to do this in our hearts as well.

For some of us, the beauty and wildness of creation are invitations to enter into the awe, wonder, and reverence of God.

What if the Spirit of the fear of the LORD started affecting how we live our regular lives?  Many years ago a good friend named Mark married Carrie.  They both loved each other, but they were needing to adjust to each other and learn more about what marriage actually means.  One day, Father God started "talking" with Mark while he was taking a shower.  Mark had this strong impression Father God wasn't happy about some of the ways Mark was treating Carrie, His beloved daughter.  From that moment on, Mark started seeing Carrie as not only his wife, but Father God's beloved daughter.  And Mark knew Father God was watching how he cared for Carrie.  To me, this is a beautiful example the Spirit of the fear of the LORD making a deep and life-giving impression upon a young married man.

A few weeks ago I was looking at videos of beautiful water springs in Florida.  Large amounts of water flow from these springs and feed significant rivers in Florida.  They are remarkably clear and host wildlife like fishes and turtles.  People are drawn to visit these springs and they've become very popular.

Here is a brief underwater video of 
Ginnie Springs.  My favorite part is a bit after the 2 minute mark. 

I learned a bit later that sometimes crowds of people come to Ginnie Springs to drink, "party", and leave a lot of trash around.  I felt deeply grieved.  Suddenly, I found myself wishing these heedless, trashing people would allow their hearts to reverence the beauty and glory in this aspect of God's creation.  And it hit me; their attitude and behavior would change if the Spirit of the fear of the LORD fell upon them.  And I started to see more of the blessing and importance of what the Spirit of the fear of the LORD could bring.

I suggest to you that if the Spirit of the fear of the Lord fell upon our society things would change in dramatic ways -- at least for a time.  How people who are poor, sick, wounded, weak, and imprisoned are treated -- would change.  How women are treated by many men would change.  How many children are treated would change.  The amount of gossiping, lying, cheating, stealing, lusting, slandering, bearing false witness, hatred, and even murder would decrease significantly!
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Proverbs 15:33 The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Note: the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge.  It's a good start.  It is a like a guardrail or a tutor.  The Apostle Paul called the Torah (the Law) a tutor in his Letter to the Galatians:

Galatians 3:23-29 NKJV
"But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise."
When we trust in Jesus as our Savior, and King we live beyond simply relying on the righteous and clean fear the LORD to warn us when we're about to do something destructive and dishonoring to God's heart and to His creation.   Now we're empowered to receive the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit of Sonship; able to be loving, life-giving, joyful, creative, honoring - becoming more and more like our Dad.

It's one thing to be warned with the emotion of fear that we're about to run off the edge of a cliff.  It's another to have the Spirit of Life empowering us to truly live.

Yet, even when the Spirit of Sonship is fully dwelling and acting within us, the Spirit of the fear of the LORD will still influence us.  This will always be aspect of the Holy Spirit's work.  Awe, reverence, wonder -- and growing in our capacity to honor and obey King Jesus is a precious gift.

Paul Cain recently shared a brief prophetic word about a greater manifestation of the Spirit of the fear of the LORD coming soon.  You can read it by clicking below.
A Resurgence of the Fear of the LORD by Paul Cain
There is much more to say about such an important subject.  I encourage you to explore it for yourself.  And if you notice the Spirit of the fear of the LORD affecting people near you, rejoice!  Then ask Holy Spirit what your part is in perhaps explaining what is happening and helping the ones affected.  The answer (as always!) is meeting the real Jesus and receiving the Holy Spirit through whom we are adopted into Father God's forever family.

With Love and Great Hope,

Pastor Russ

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Billy Graham's Passing has Opened Up a New Era in the Church by Pastor Brent Lokker

"America's Pastor" (2 minutes)
When I heard that Billy Graham had gone home to be with Jesus, I watched this 2 minute video and my spirit was deeply moved as I sensed the Holy Spirit highlighting several keys to me of how Billy Graham’s passing has opened the doors to a new era God is now ushering in:
  1. I believe the spirit of evangelism that rested upon Billy Graham (the desire to share the exceptionally good news of Jesus coming as the Messiah to die for us and be raised to life to bring restoration, freedom and health to our lives and our society) has been released upon the earth. His graduation to glory has opened the door to a worldwide boldness in proclaiming the truth that Jesus is the One who everyone is ultimately searching for. Somehow the gigantic mantle that was upon Billy Graham has now been parceled out all over the world!
  1. I believe the greatest harvest of souls the world has ever experienced (sons and daughters recognizing Jesus as their true Savior and running back to the Father’s embrace) is not just around the corner, but is upon us.
  1. I believe the lifelong integrity of Billy Graham’s life that gave him unprecedented favor and access to presidents and kings of nations around the world—not to mention the fruit of millions of lives saved and set free by Jesus—is now causing within us a much greater desire to welcome the Lord’s purging fire in our lives. This is for the purpose of living with genuine integrity where the truth of our being matches the ways of our being. As I mentioned last Saturday, in answer to our cries for more intimacy with Him, our heavenly Father is revealing places of complacency and compromise that have caused a sense of boredom to replace the adventure of life with Him. He’s bringing these areas of our hearts to the surface because of His great love for us and so that we will experience the fullness of the freedom Jesus purchased for us. He fully intends for the Church—His family—to be ready to welcome in the sons and daughters who are coming back into His heart. This necessary purging isn’t something to fear, but to ask Him for and to embrace. If you are curious to read more about this, Suzanne and I found this prophetic word to be very helpful and inspiring:
God is Purifying the Prophetic Wells by Lana Vowser
Billy Graham once said, “When we reach the end of our earthly journey, we will have just begun.”  He is now experiencing that new beginning face to face with his Savior, Jesus—just as our journey will take each one of us one day. In our longing to be with Jesus in heaven one day, let’s embrace the joy of our journey with Him where we are right now on the earth and let’s willingly give him permission to bring the fire of His love to bring about His glorious purity. We’re heading into the greatest era the Church has ever encountered!

With Love and Great Hope,

Pastor Brent

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Journey of Surrender by Pastor Karena Lout

Todd and I felt God leading us to move to Missouri early in our marriage. It was a big decision and the first time I realized I needed Him to guide and lead me. I was 20 years old, Josiah was a newborn and I had only known Jesus for a few years. I knew Him as Savior because He rescued me from a really dark pit, but I wasn’t familiar with Him as Lord. I had taken care of myself for so long that putting my trust in someone who wanted to lead me was foreign. Control felt easier than trust because it had this false illusion of protection. It’s been a journey to learn to surrender my heart and my life to Jesus over the years. It’s been scary at times but also a huge relief to know I don’t have to do it all on my own.
David may have understood the importance of knowing God as Lord and King because he was a shepherd himself. I’ve been reading Psalm 139:23-24 in the Passion Translation almost every day lately:
“God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares. See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on, and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways- the path that brings me back to you.”
What kind of vulnerability and courage does it take to open your heart completely to God like that? In order to invite that kind of leadership in your life, it’s vital that we know the true nature and heart of God. If we don’t know His nature, we can’t be certain how He will use His power. Jesus never uses His power to control or injure us. He uses His power to heal, to love and to make all things work together for our good. We may not fully understand His ways, but when we know His heart for us, surrendering becomes much more inviting.
For a long time I felt like I never measured up so if I received correction, I’d crumble. But as Jesus began to heal me, I started to invite people to speak into my life. I knew I had blind spots and my pain wasn’t always allowing me to see myself or situations clearly. Self-sufficiency is an enemy to growth. We were never meant to live in isolation. When you’re part of a healthy family, you quickly find out that you’re no longer living just for yourself and that what you do matters and impacts those around you.
Give yourself grace. Trust takes time. Surrendering areas of your life and your heart that still feel “in process” doesn’t happen overnight. It’s okay to have questions. In fact, they can be just as important as the answers you’ve already gotten. I pray for courage as you grow in trusting God and those you’re in close relationship with. Even though there aren’t any short cuts to learning to surrender, the journey is going to be so worth it.
                                                                                                                Love, Karena