As so many of you, my heart has felt incredibly heavy and grieved over the pain our world is sitting in right now. Our African American friends are hurting deeply (and have been for many years) from racial injustice. So many are suffering from the effects of the pandemic. Cities need to recover from rioting and looting. Only Jesus can make the wrong things right again. He doesn’t only execute justice; He IS justice. Justice is the restoration of everything that would attempt to violate or hinder love. It’s what Jesus paid for on the cross and He is more than able to take the weight of every heavy burden you’ve been carrying.
I have had some hard, but healing conversations with some of my beautiful black friends and young adults in my life this past week. Recently I heard a pastor say that we need to learn to sit and listen before we take our place and “stand with”. Sometimes we’re hesitant to approach topics like racism for fear that we’ll say the wrong thing, adding further pain to an already deep injury. But for many of our African American friends, silence can be very painful and feel like apathy. I want to encourage you that you don’t have to say everything perfectly. In fact, the best thing you can do is simply listen and offer empathy right now.
Nehemiah wept over Jerusalem. He was fully invested in seeing the wall rebuilt around it to protect the people from enemy attack. If we want to see real healing happen in our communities, we need to invite God to close the distance between our own discomfort and the pain our black brothers and sisters are feeling. We sometimes dismiss others’ pain because we haven’t experienced it ourselves. It can also cause us to look at our own hearts and the blind spots we may have. Let me encourage you that this is a great opportunity to allow God to highlight those areas and bring truth. Taking a posture of humility, laying our defenses down, leaning in and listening to the cries of others is the doorway to the healing Jesus wants to pour out on the earth right now.
"If others are weeping, join with them. Work toward unity and live in harmony with one another. Avoid thinking you are better than others or wiser than the rest."
- Romans 12:15 - 16 -
To our African American friends: We are sorry for the ways we haven’t used our voices enough to speak up against the injustices you experience. We are sorry you’ve had to defend yourself and expend so much emotional energy trying to convince others that racism is still such a prevalent problem. We are sorry your pain has often been dismissed and overlooked. We are sorry for the ways you haven’t felt fully seen or known.
Jesus, we ask that your love would cover every heart. We pray that you would bring healing like only you can. We pray for the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and the many others who suffered injustice before them. Show us how we can be part of the solution that will bring lasting change. We pray that EVERY person on the earth would not be given anything less than the infinite value you’ve placed on them.
I love that Jesus spoke in parables to teach the disciples what holds value and what doesn’t. He encourages us to seek His heart and His nature in these stories. He displays who He is in acton, instead of telling us through only words. In Luke 14:12-24, He uses the example of a man who planned a large banquet. He sent out invitations but when the time came, all the guests made excuses. When the master of the house heard this, he told his servant to forget the guest list and go into the streets and alleyways to “invite the poor, crippled, the blind, the hurting, the lonely.” Jesus wanted His house to be full!
At the time, Jesus was journeying to Jerusalem, encountering people along the way (some became His disciples). He also encountered the sick, blind, lame, samaritans, tax collectors. Here are a few things I believe Jesus communicates to us through this parable:
*Jesus likes food and parties! Heaven celebrates and welcomes us in, which is also expressed through the story of the prodigal son.
*Jesus confronts pride and hypocrisy. Israel’s leaders at the time rejected His message.
*Humility and hunger cause us to recognize our need for Him. Self sufficiency rejected His invitation.
*Jesus is not exclusive. He invites ALL! The social outcasts responded to His call.
*He includes us into the “inviting.” He told His servant, “Go quickly into the streets and alleys and invite them in.” The harvest is here and now!
*It’s important that we have increased sensitivity to know when people are ready to receive Him. The excuses the “elite” made only revealed fear, apathy and hardened hearts.
Let the inner movement of your heart always be to love one another and never play the role of an actor wearing a mask. Despise evil and embrace everything that is good and virtuous. Be devoted to tenderly loving your fellow believers as members of one family. Try to outdo yourselves in respect and honor of one another. Romans 12:9-10 (TPT)
One of my favorite things that Jesus shows time and again throughout the gospels is that He wasn’t afraid when things got messy. He loved people more than He cared about protecting His reputation. He didn’t yell down from the mountaintop to the woman caught in adultery. He got up close and personal, in the dirt, challenged the religious leaders and brought love and healing to her heart. Jesus built relationship and gained favor. His starting point was not, “Go and sin no more.” He made sure He defended the woman BEFORE He challenged her.
- JESUS CLOSES THE DISTANCE -
On Saturday night, I encouraged our church family to get to know someone this week who looks, believes and thinks completely differently than you. Listen to truly understand their heart, their story. I encourage you to do the same. I truly believe that listening and extending empathy flings the door wide open to the lost so they can find their way home to Jesus. Let Holy Spirit lead you. We weren’t meant to save the world. Jesus already did that. We get the honor of listening to His heart, hand out the invitations and allow Him to provide the banquet.
When Jesus started His ministry, one of the first things he did was to encourage his followers to“change your hearts, for the Kingdom of Heaven has arrived”Matt. 4:17. He started talking to them about this new Kingdom he brought with Him, what it looks like and the principles upon which this Kingdom is based. Things like humility, love, kindness, hope, joy, peace. This was not what they expected! They had thought their long-awaited Messiah was going to come in as a warrior king and overthrow the Roman rulers!
Instead He described the importance of having a new heart that could contain this “new wine” because their old way of relating to God through rituals, performance and tradition wasn’t going to work. In Matthew 9:17 He asks the question, “And who would pour fresh, new wine into an old wineskin? Eventually the wine will ferment and make the wineskin burst, losing everything—the wine is spilled and the wineskin ruined. Instead, new wine is always poured into a new wineskin so that both are preserved.” This new wine, this supernatural river full of life and transforming power, was something so different they had no way to comprehend it with their old mindsets.
That “new wineskin” is ours, the instant we say yes to Jesus. We no longer belong to the Kingdom of this world and in some wonderful, supernatural way we become part of the Kingdom of Heaven. When we engage in whole-hearted worship, when we lay our hands on the sick to heal, when we prophesy or speak a word of encouragement or a extend a simple act of kindness we are accessing this Kingdom and bringing heaven to earth. We can’t always see what is happening with our eyes, but with hearts of faith we can believe transformation is happening and light is overtaking the darkness.
Often this transformation comes in seed form, but it is transformation nonetheless. The more we focus on what is eternal and what is“true, right, noble, pure and kind” (Phil 4:8), the more our thought life will align with God’s heart, and the more we will see His Kingdom manifest in and through our lives. It’s a reality beyond our understanding, and not limited by how we might be feeling on any given day.
May your heart be blessed to know that you: “can soar with joyful gratitude when you think of how God made you worthy to receive the glorious inheritance freely given to us by living in the light. He has rescued us completely from the tyrannical rule of darkness and has translated us into the kingdom realm of his beloved Son.” Col. 1:12,13 TPT
Jesus told Nicodemus: “Unless you are born of water and Spirit-wind, you will never enter God’s kingdom realm. For the natural realm can only give birth to things that are natural, but the spiritual realm gives birth to supernatural life!” He went on to say: “I speak an eternal truth: Unless you are born of water and Spirit-wind, you will never enter God’s kingdom realm. For the natural realm can only give birth to things that are natural, but the spiritual realm gives birth to supernatural life!”*
“For the Spirit-wind blows as it chooses. You can hear its sound, but you don’t know where it came from or where it’s going. So it is within the hearts of those who are Spirit-born!” *
* All quotes above are taken from John 3 verses 3 -8 in The Passion Translation.
I recently watched a wonderful example of someone who was “Spirit-born” in the movie “Harriet” about Harriet Tubman. As a child, Harriet’s skull was split open when a slave“owner” threw a heavy metal object towards another slave - but hit her instead. “The injury caused dizziness, pain, and spells of hypersomnia, which occurred throughout her life. After her injury, Tubman began experiencing strange visions and vivid dreams, which she ascribed to premonitions from God.” She spoke of "consulting with God", and trusted that He would keep her safe. Thomas Garrett once said of her, "I never met with any person of any color who had more confidence in the voice of God, as spoken direct to her soul." Her faith in the divine also provided immediate assistance. (from Harriet Tubman Wikipedia article)
Jesus declared people who were simply begotten in the natural way — cannot perceive the motivations nor access the supernatural influence given to those who born of water and God’s Spirit. I understand this means to identify with Jesus’ death and resurrection via water baptism and to be begotten from above by God’s Spirit.
Peter the Apostle wrote about the blessings of being “born again” in 1 Peter 1 - especially in verses 3 and 23. In verse 23(TPT), Peter explains: “For through the eternal and living Word of God you have been born again. And this “seed” that he planted within you can never be destroyed but will liveand growinside of you forever.”
Life in the Spirit Notes: Last Saturday night, while "in the Spirit", Brent spoke briefly about a big seed of joy God was implanting in our hearts. Brent understood this seed would continue to grow! I believe this “seed of joy” is related to our being begotten by God’s Spirit. Also from last Saturday night, I know of two people who entered deep experiences with God. One of these experiences seemed to be in part about birthing something. The other experience started when Brent (by Carla Duncan’s encouragement) when back into an impromptu riff on his double flute. I encourage each of us to give room to movements and prompts of Holy Spirit - whether they feel strong or barely noticeable. To live as Spirit-Born and empowered daughters and sons of our Abba in Heaven.
God has a multitude of ways to communicate with us—His Spirit interacting with ours because we are one, according to Him! He shares His heart through whispers into our very being, through “God-incidences,” through nature, through songs, through numbers, through dreams, through prophetic messages from others, and through certain Scriptures that jump to life right when we need them, just to name a few.
The Lord has clearly and increasingly been communicating His heart that He loves all of his children around the world, that He wants His house full and that there is a Harvest of souls coming into His Kingdom right now!
It’s easy for us to say that this harvest will happen some day when…
But Jesus said, “Why would you say, ‘The harvest is another four months away’? Look at all the people coming—now is harvest time! For their hearts are like vast fields of ripened grain—ready for a spiritual harvest.” (John 4:35, TPT)
Jesus’ impassioned statement was directed towards His disciples after he had a God-drenched conversation with a woman at a well—a woman who was disdained by her community because of her life choices, a woman disdained by Jews because she was conceived as a half-breed (half Jew/half Gentile), and a woman who was deeply scared with the wounds of life and of others judging her to be “unworthy.”
Jesus looked at her with compassion and was the face of our heavenly Father. He valued her. He saw her intrinsic worth. He had time. He cared. He offered her real life to replace the shell of a life she had known to this point. His word of knowledge that she had five husbands and that the one she was living with now was not her husband, wasn’t intended to shame her—Jesus would never do that in a million plus years! No, in that moment, Jesus was was putting a loving finger on the core of her pain and presented the only answer that ultimately heals everything: the Father’s love and acceptance. God is not distant. God is your Father! You are His daughter! You belong!
This woman was so impacted that she ran to tell the townspeople. Wait…she ran to the ones who hated and judged her?? Only a genuine encounter with transforming love would have had this impact! She couldn’t help herself. She had to share about an encounter with one who “could very well be the Messiah we’ve been waiting for.” Because Jesus took time with one seemingly insignificant person—according to that society—this woman(who is traditionally named Photini, which means “enlightened one”)will go down as the first New Testament evangelist to win an entire city to Christ!
That’s right, the whole town listened to this woman and came out to meet Jesus! That’s what one genuine encounter with the author of Love can do!
God’s Spirit is moving…
A huge harvest is coming…
Sons and daughters are looking for and longing for the Father’s love and acceptance. They are needing to know a Savior who forgives them and sees their intrinsic worth. Revival looks like lives being shared in love. Are we ready? The time is now!
Please read this remarkable story in John 4 and ask the Father to give you His heart for everyone you meet today.
Here is our job description, as clear as day, communicated to us by the Lord through the Scriptures:
“God has made all things new, and reconciled us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God. In other words, it was through the Anointed One, Jesus, that the Father was shepherding the world, not even keeping records of their transgressions, and he has entrusted to us the ministry of opening the door of reconciliation to God. We are ambassadors of the Anointed One who carry the message of Christ to the world, as though God were tenderly pleading with them directly through our lips. So we tenderly plead with you on Christ’s behalf, ‘Turn back to God and be reconciled to him.’” 2 Cor. 5:18-20 (TPT)
Two weekends ago, the elders of Blazing Fire got away to worship God and listen together to His heart and direction for us. I will be sharing some of what we experienced this Saturday night during our Blazing Fire worship service.
Last weekend we reveled in a glorious time with brothers and sisters from many other churches who took part in the Prophetic Worship workshop and the outpouring of the Father’s pleasure during was palpable!
We are living in a special Kingdom time in history—one that is ever-increasing! I love the following word from Bill Hernandez, the overseer of our School of the Prophets, who has a vital message about how to steward the times we are living in. With Love, Pastor Brent
When a child is conceived, the first few cells are not recognizable as a human being and yet any new parent, family and friends would greatly rejoice over the news, “We’re having a baby.” As a great outpouring of God’s Spirit on the world in the form of revival is nearly upon us, we are truly close to birthing something beautiful and amazing. It’s already here in small ways! He is saying the beginning of revival is just as glorious as a full-blown revival. It’s the same with a child where the conception is just as glorious as a full-grown man or woman. He is calling us to celebrate the beginnings as a precursor to the celebration of the birthday of a newborn. Every time we gather let it be as it were a baby shower!
There have been many prophetic words and dreams about the coming outpouring for many years. In 1995, a year after the Toronto Blessing or Renewal, I gave a word about this and since then many others have prophesied the same. Over the years without much happening it was not easy to hold on to these promises and there has been frustration. However, the atmosphere has now shifted and anticipation is rising. Our hearts are recognizing the winds are changing just like the winds begin to change in the seasons. A new season is upon us. We clearly have a baby bump that cannot be hidden.
I believe the Lord is calling us to revisit words spoken about the coming outpouring and to bless and acknowledge them, welcoming and thanking the Lord for His announcements through prophetic utterance. We have learned in the natural that for health and spiritual wholeness it’s important to bless the baby and love on it as it grows in the womb. In the same way in the spiritual realm, He is calling us to bless the seeds of revival that are getting bigger and bigger in our midst. This is so very important and cannot be stressed enough. It’s time for intercessors to bless with sincere earnestness what is here. It’s time to focus our minds and hearts on this as we worship and thank Him. It’s time to dig deeply in intimacy with Him.
Every time we gather and sense His presence and also see the enthusiasm in others, we are called to thank Him for it and to acknowledge that He has come in new ways. Bless the glow and the afterglow. Bless the joy. Bless the shaking and baking. Bless the increase in healings and salvations. Bless the increase of spiritual gifts. Bless the unity, friendships and seeing eye to eye. Bless the coming together of generations. Bless the inspiration rising in the leader’s hearts. This is all inspired by the Holy Spirit as He increases His grace. A global revolution is upon us! At the ocean’s edge, the influx of a trickle here and there in the sand is the announcement of the rising tide of eventual glorious waves that come again and again.
Bless the small beginnings of revival here and there because it is surely upon us. We aren’t just a little bit pregnant. The birthing is around the corner. How very precious this bundle of joy!
- 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 Amplified Bible - Do not spurn the gifts and utterances of the prophets [do not depreciate prophetic revelations nor despise inspired instruction or exhortation or warning]. But test and prove all things [until you can recognize] what is good; [to that] hold fast.
The Lord is above time always seeing the past, the present and the future. When He looks at us, He sees it all. Recently I gave a prophetic word about this in the fact that He sees each of us as victorious, crowned in holiness and purity.
Though we are presently in various situations that don’t seem perfect, nevertheless from His perspective He sees that all will be and has been resolved. All that we are going through ends in victory and joy. He sees us standing before Him with a crown of victory. He sees us full of happiness, peace, calm, resolved, relieved, assured and that the battle is over. He sees us full of wonder over the new world, new friends and reunions with loved ones. Most of all He sees us deeply connected with Him, seeing eye to eye and celebrating our eternal union with Him. He sees us proclaiming His goodness forever and exalting Him forever.
“I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my enemies rejoice over me. LORD my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. O LORD, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit. Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning…You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” Psalm 30
Though our hearts may fail us in the areas of faith and hope for our futures from time to time, He is fully confident in our glorious future. He is fully assured that this will all work out for certain. He is fully expectant and positive of how perfect our futures will be in the comfort of His loving arms.
Call upon His confidence and hope. Throw yourself into His arms. Make a trade. Give Him your cares and take in His courage and strength. Give Him doubts in exchange for His certainty. Exchange your thinking for His thoughts and believe Him instead. Ask Him to banish fears and doubt.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
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