Friday, May 3, 2019

Return, Repent and be Baptized by Pastor Karena Lout

As elders, we felt God leading us to make our way through the book of Acts on most Sat. nights. It’s been really good as we’re experiencing all Holy Spirit intended us to receive as believers. This past Saturday, I focused on Acts 2:36-41. Peter addresses the crowd, letting them know that Jesus, whom was crucified, was indeed their Messiah. The Israelites were crushed when they heard this. Their pain required a response. So Peter tells them to repent, return to God and be baptized and then they would receive the promised Holy Spirit.

In Matthew 3, John the Baptist’s message mirrored Peter’s, as he announced Jesus’ coming, “Repent, clear the way and prepare your hearts for His coming.” Repentance is simply changing direction. It’s acknowledging that Jesus’ ways are higher than ours. It’s returning to the high place (penthouse) and remembering who you really are as God’s son or daughter. Repentance is surrender and the humility to be led and to follow. It’s not a one-time ritual we do when we say yes to Jesus. It’s something we can embrace daily.  I’ve found in my own life, where I can tend to be self sufficient, there’s so much value in returning to Jesus and inviting Him to change my course of direction.

Peter then tells the crowd to be baptized. He used language the Jews would’ve understood because they were familiar with ritual cleansing. But the baptism that Jesus modeled would forever break the power of sin and death over their lives. Baptism is complete identification with Jesus. It’s immersion into the reality of the Trinity. It’s a prophetic act and the highest agreement with what Jesus did on the cross for us. It’s entrance into our new life ruled by the Spirit of God. It symbolizes a turning away from self-reliance and declaring our need for Him.  It’s death to our old sin nature and life to our new.
“Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection. God raising you from the dead as He did Christ. When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive-right along with Christ! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross.” Colossians 2:12-14 (The Message)

I was 18 years old when I was baptized. I just received Jesus into my life and wanted everything He had for me. I came out of a very abusive relationship for the past 4 years and my heart was finally beginning to feel free again. Todd’s Dad was my pastor at the time so he baptized me. Because of some things that happened to me, I felt dirty and worthless. But it wasn’t until I was baptized and realized what Jesus did on the cross for me that I discovered my name actually means “pure one.” I remember coming up out of the water and feeling like a new person. That’s what Jesus does. He restores you to your original design, washed, cleansed and made whole again.

 Acts 2: 41 “Those who believed what Peter said were baptized, and about 3,000 were added to the church. “ The power of the Holy Spirit drew them in. Jesus extends this invitation to ALL. His message is all-inclusive. It’s the kindness of Jesus that leads us to repentance. Last Sat. night, we spent some time praying for loved ones (and for the whole world!) to know the extravagant love of God. I’ve been agreeing with each one of your prayers all week. I pray that Jesus would encounter them and draw them in like only He can. He’s so faithful!

                                                                  Love, Karena

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Power of Jesus to Transform by Pastor Brent Lokker

Jesus gave his life for me long before I had any awareness of his indescribable gift. I was a portion of the joy set before him when he endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). I gave my life to Jesus when I was 12 years old. I didn’t yet know the joys I would experience by being his but I did know my decision was significant. A camp counselor led me in a prayer of accepting Jesus’ sacrificial gift of forgiveness and at that moment I felt a wave of warmth around the area of my heart and tears welled up in my eyes because of something wonderful that had taken place.

To this day, I don’t remember the counselor’s name, but I can picture his short, muscular, stocky frame and his distinctly red hair. I have thanked God for him on many occasions knowing that his choice to lead me into a deep friendship with Jesus as my Savior and my Lord dramatically changed the course and the quality of my life forever. There will be a day on the other side of this earthly life when I will meet this man again and express my deep gratitude for the transaction that took place that day—Jesus taking from me my old sin nature (Col 2:11) I had inherited from Adam and brining to life his glorious Spirit within me in its place. I know the Bible says there will be no more tears in heaven but whatever the equivalent of joyful tears is in heaven is going to take place that day.

Though I’ve had many moments along the way when I’ve temporarily forgotten this transaction, Jesus never has! He was not only my Savior in a moment when I was 12 years old, but He’s been the Savior I’ve needed every single day of my life!

I think if we all could reflect on how much more destructive and empty our lives would have been without Jesus and remember the umpteen times he has restored us to life-giving repentance through his kindness (Romans 2) so we would enjoy more and more of his peace and freedom, we would more readily step out to be that unnamed, red-headed man to another who’s life will be changed forever by being introduced to their Savior Jesus.

Ask God for his eyes to see those around you who need Jesus. Share your own story of how being loved and forgiven by him has transformed you. Yes, we are all still in process, but your story is more powerful than you know.  Honestly, we’ve often made evangelism a weird, uncomfortable thing because we’ve been thinking we have to say the right thing to get someone to pray a certain prayer. The simple truth is we are inviting people to encounter the forgiving, life-restoring Jesus—to have a deep friendship that will dramatically change the course and the quality of their lives forever!
                                                           With Love, Pastor Brent
In last Saturday’s message, Resurrection Celebration, Pastor Brent demonstrates the reality of Jesus’ resurrection through the testimony of scripture and you will hear Marilyn Ga’s gripping testimony of how Jesus completely rescued and restored her by that same dunamis power.
Click to listen to Resurrection Celebration

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Passion Week / And the Promised Holy Spirit by Pastor Russ Fochler

"Let me make this clear: A single grain of wheat will never be more than a single grain of wheat unless it drops into the ground and dies. Because then it sprouts and produces a great harvest of wheat—all because one grain died." John 12:24 TPT
In last week's email, I encouraged us to walk with Jesus through this week of His life (Palm Sunday through His Resurrection).  With Holy Spirit' help may we behold Jesus' passionfor our freedom and friendship: The way He established the great path from our darkened suspicions and destructive independence back into the arms of our true Father, the one true God.  Jesus became this path by suffering with us and taking upon Himself our sin and death.  Join us this Saturday night at 6:00 PM as we enter together into the awe and joy of Jesus' victory for us over Death and Sheol.

During the elder retreat last January, we received God's leading to engage more intentionally with Holy Spirit this  coming year.  Going through the Book of Acts is part of this.  Last year we focussed upon Jesus as our King.  This included experiencing Jesus inside of us and beginning to explore what it means to be Jesus' ekklesia - His legislative assembly on the earth. 

Now, as we go through Acts, we're looking to Holy Spirit to reveal and impart more to us about being Jesus' Ekklesia (Matthew 16:15-19).  In the current season, we're walking through one of the most remarkable chapters in the Bible: Acts Chapter 2.  The Holy Spirit came in a very dramatic way and then moved through an impromptu speech by Peter to reveal Jesus to the crowd who gathered.  

Last Saturday, I made this observation:
"The keys to Heaven’s Realm come through our relational access to the mind of Jesus about the situations and people Father God desires to help.  This relational access is empowered by Holy Spirit being in us and upon us!   
We experience prophetic words, visions, dreams, and “knowings” through Holy Spirit. We participate in Jesus’ Ekklesia as we agree and declare Father God’s will to be done on earth as He desires in Heaven.  This includes what we agree to be “tied up” and what we agree to be released.

You can listen to my talk last Saturday from Acts 2 here and look at the slides here.   


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Walking with Jesus Through Passion Week by Pastor Russ Fochler

This coming Sunday is the time that most Christians mark as "Palm Sunday". When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on that day almost two thousand years ago, it marked a "point of no return" for him. The coming week was the appointed time of Pesech - "Passover" and for Jesus to reveal Himself as "The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."

I encourage you to walk with Jesus this week.
We often touch upon and analyze passages from the last week of Jesus' life when He was visable to all.   But how often do we just immerse ourselves in this part of His story?

We know Jesus yearned for the hearts of His disciples to stay present with Him when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.

What if we could give Him that gift now?  I believe  we can. Let me explain:

Time and our human spirit
We know that God lives outside of time.  He dwells in eternity.  We are aware of living in the construct of time - and it helps keep things understandable for us.  However, when we're united with the "God of the spirits of all flesh" (Num 27:16); He can take us places beyond the time and space limitations of our physical bodies.

A Story in Jerusalem
A few years ago, a group of folks from Blazing Fire went to Jerusalem to help one the houses of prayer (Succat Hallel).  During our breaks, we explored the "Old City" and the country side.  On day, we visited the house (palace) of Caiphas the high priest at the time of Jesus' trial.  At the lowest level there is a dungeon pit hewn out of rock.

As we entered this pit, we were given time there by ourselves. And a spirit of intercession gripped us.  Kelly Rashe, Susan, and Karena in particular - sensed strongly the presence of Jesus as he waited in this dungeon pit.  We all felt a supernatural grace to express our love, gratitude, and compassion to Jesus - believing that He was receiving our expressions as He waited there almost 2,000 years ago.  I would say this was the most significant experience of that trip for me.

Jesus' Last Week (plus a bit)
A surprising percent of the Gospel texts focus on these days:
The Gospel of Matthew: ~34%  (Starts Chap 21:1)
The Gospel of Mark: ~ 39%  (Starts Chap 11:1)
The Gospel of Luke: ~ 23%  (Starts Chap 19:28)
The Gospel of John: ~ 47%  (Starts Chap 12:1)

I encourage you to "Journey with Jesus" though His last week by inviting the Holy Spirit to read with you - and empower you to "enter into" His journey.  I suggest that you read one of the first three (synoptic) Gospels and then the Gospel of John.

It is my prayer; that as you do this, that your heart will connect even more deeply with your Savior, King, and Betrothed Bridegroom.


P.S. I originally wrote this in 2013.  It felt right to post it again for this week.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Why Holy Spirit is Not Optional - by Pastor Brent Lokker

Being a follower of Jesus was never meant as an extra bullet point on your life job description or as any kind of an “add-on” to your own life. When you said yes to Jesus as the One Savior who died for you on the cross to end the tyrannical reign of sin and supernaturally transport you into His Father’s Kingdom of grace and freedom, you died to your own life. Now the only life you have is one with Jesus and co-seated with Him in the heavenly places(Ephesians 2:6).

Everything about our new grace-life with Jesus is supernatural, meaning we don’t work it up or make it happen through the self-efforts of our soul, but instead we are filled with God’s Spirit and we make a choice to yield to the One who journeys with  us into the truest version of ourselves that looks more and more like Jesus.

Intimacy with and yielding to Holy Spirit can lead to many outcomes:
  • A greater depth of intimacy and passion for God
  • Power to pray for the sick and see them healed
  • A creative idea or brilliant solution at work
  • A desire to forgive another and work out your differences
  • Unusual inner peace even when circumstances are crazy around you
  • Seeing or feeling angels in God’s heavenly Kingdom realm
  • Feeling great compassion for another person
  • Acts of generosity and kindness
  • Having great wisdom in a particular situation
  • Sharing a word of prophecy that relays the true heart of God with someone to encourage them
  • The desire to share the Good News of Jesus with others

These are all equally supernatural because the Kingdom of God can only be lived out in the supernatural realm. This is what we call the Spirit-filled life.

This is why Jesus told his followers not to go share about him with others until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:4-5) And then, Pentecost happened! When I say happened, I mean they had a dramatic, completely life-altering encounter with the Spirit of the Living God!  (Acts 2:1-4) And now, over 2000 years later, we are still having powerful encounters with Holy Spirit that are dramatic and life-altering. You can hear my message from last Saturday, The Promised Gift, here:
The Promised Gift
Asking if we need Holy Spirit in our lives is like asking if we need to breath air in order to live. Jesus said Holy Spirit was vital to our existence, our abundance, our freedom, our wholehearted living and our happiness.

I encourage you to talk with Holy Spirit in your own way right now. Just express your love and how it’s your choice and desire to yield your life to Holy Spirit’s sweet and powerful influence.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Healing in His Presence by Pastor Susan Fochler

Bill Dew has come to Blazing Fire a number of times; and it has always been wonderful.  But there was something very special last weekend.  Worship went deep, hearts were opened up and tenderized.  God’s presence came with sweetness and heaviness…love, power and glory merging together.  Knees, backs, necks healed; laughter and tears pouring out in abundance.     

Healing comes in Different Ways
Many were completely healed, but some only in part.  We always want to know why.Why wasn’t I fully healed?  When I pray for someone, my heart yearns to see total breakthrough, and I have to remind myself to focus back on God’s goodness if that doesn’t happen.  There is no simple answer.  I’ve been healed three times in dramatic ways, but more often it has been a process.  We know God is faithful and we choose to continue to press into Him for more.

We come back to Him, again
I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like trials.  When things don’t turn out the way I think they should, I often need to check my attitude and run to Jesus in a new way with deeper humility.  I need Him so much more than I know..  As Jesus says in John 16:33:  “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  Our only answer is in looking to Him, again and again.  He is the One who has overcome all things, and pours out His victory into our lives with unbridled generosity.  My left brain cannot wrap itself around His goodness, but my right brain helps me to just enjoy receiving it.

His Presence is What We Need
A Bethel song called I Will Exalt has been playing in my head this week.  After Saturday night I was reminded, once again, of how vital God’s presence really is.

Your presence is all I need  It's all I want and all I seek
And without it….Without it there's no meaning

Your presence is the air I breathe   The song I sing, the love I need
And without it….Without it I'm not living

I pray that for whatever is going on with your life, His presence would surround you, sustain you and meet you right where you need Him…He is everything we need!

With love,
Pastor Susan
Bill Dew's Talk

Friday, March 15, 2019

A Beautiful, Simple Way of Partnering with Jesus by Pastor Russ Fochler

A Beautiful, Simple Way of Partnering with Jesus 

Pastor Russ Fochler
Last Week
Jesus Awakening provided 6 organized opportunities around the Bay Area to communicate the love and goodness of Jesus.  I'm so thankful to Chuck McCallum and the team of people who provided these opportunities.  I went out Thursday afternoon to U.C. Berkeley and Friday afternoon to Pleasanton.  For both venues I received the gift of being equipped by a remarkable man named Scott McNamara.  I needed to be taught a second time for it to really make sense and "sink in" for me.  Holy Spirit must have known that ; )

Scott McNamara
Has a deep passion for others to receive the same life changing encounter and relationship with Jesus he has.  Like many of us, Scott started out with offering prayers for healing or giving prophetic words.  And he will still include these things as Holy Spirit leads him.

Scott found these approaches were primarily "planting seeds".   However, Holy Spirit started to work in Scott's heart that the fields are ready for harvest now: 
"Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.  John 4:35-16 ESV
And, as Scott continued to seek out people in his native Ireland, Holy Spirit began to give him phrases and questions that would often lead to people inviting Jesus into their life.  As a result, Scott saw the power of the Gospel bringing a harvest every time he went out.
Scott demonstrates this interactive approach. (Just 5.5 minutes long)
Here are 3 keys that really helped me:
1)  While many are ready for reaping or harvest right now, not everyone is.  So, we approach someone and ask them if we can ask them a question (about the graphic of Jesus knocking on the door of a heart -- and whether they ever pray).  If the person is not interested, we can assume they are not ready.  Then, we just thank them and move on to find the "apples" who are ready to be "picked" today. 
2) While we're engaging people by asking questions and explaining simple analogies of the Gospel, our trust is in God's power to save through this simple message.   We don't need to push to make it happen.

3) When people do experience God and ask Jesus to be the Lord of their life and fill them with His Holy Spirit (see the image below), it's very important to get their contact info and follow-up with them.  This is where they will need our prayers, our encouragement, and our help with discipling.

This Saturday night, I'll have some of the cards (shown below) available for those interested in trying this out yourselves.

May we all get this truth into our beings: Father God is at work drawing the hearts of people to Jesus.  Our part is to seek for them -- and ask them.  For the ones who aren't ready yet, we'll be planting seeds of His love along the way.

For our King Jesus and the preparation of His Bride.

Pastor Russ Fochler
More About Jesus at the Door