Where is the Power?

Acts 9:33-35 Peter found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralysed. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

The Apostle Peter was on the move, preaching the gospel and ministering healing and freedom in Jesus name, wherever he went. In the town of Lydda, Peter encounters a paralysed man, bedridden for eight years. The reality of the situation is intimidating for anyone of us but Peter doesn’t appear to miss a beat. He pray’s a simple but powerful prayer of faith in Jesus name and commands the man to get up. The bible records the man immediately rose up from his paralysed state and started to walk. I’m challenged by Peter’s faith and simple prayer. I’m confronted with the fact that although, I too have seen miracles in other’s lives through the power of the Holy Spirit in Jesus name, and yet I hunger for more of God’s love, grace and power to flow through me into the lives of other’s, helping them to be restored into a place of freedom, healing and purpose. Where is the power of God? God’s power is found in a revelation of the name of Jesus Christ. God’s power is found in the expectation of faith that believes God will move in any given situation, no matter how intimidating the circumstances. God’s power is found in the daily pursuit of relationship with Jesus where a greater portion and awareness of his presence grows with each prayer and step of faith. I encourage you to not settle for the comfort zone of your life but to seek God and step out in faith, releasing God’s power into the lives of the people around you. Explosive Insights!

Pursuing a lifestyle of JOY!

Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Happiness is overrated but JOY is underrated. JOY is beyond happiness. Happiness is circumstantial, JOY is an intentional posture of the heart that the Holy Spirit works into our nature as we abide in him. JOY-filled people are a pleasure to be around. We generally want to hang out with a person genuinely JOY-filled. JOY releases strength into your heart and body. Research has shown the medicinal effect laughter and JOY can bring to a sick person. I’ve heard of a terminally ill patient stopping his treatment in hospital, checking himself into a hotel room and watching comedy after comedy, laughing himself towards wholeness and well being. As a communicator, I’ve observed the power of laughter to open peoples hearts to your subject matter and release tension in the room. Nehemiah says, “The JOY of the Lord is your strength.” JOY releases strength and confidence in your spirit, soul and body for you to live your life to the fullest. There are many tribulations in life that attempt to steal our faith and JOY but we’ve got to guard our JOY and feed it with the life of the Spirit dwelling inside of us. JOY is connected to our faith in God. A heart at rest in God, trusting his goodness and love will be able to access JOY. God is in a consistently good mood and He’s always full of JOY. Run to his presence, drink his cup of JOY and allow it to heal your wounded heart and lift up your crushed spirit. A life saturated with JOY is not only possible but it’s a necessary pursuit of life and is only truly found in the presence of God. Explosive Insights!

Is there any hope for Lance Armstrong?

933378-lance-armstrongI, along with millions of others have followed Lance Armstrong’s career quite closely through his books, video footage and media reports. I have always admired his focus, ‘fightin’ spirit, dogged determination and commitment to hard work. His contribution both on and off the road has been remarkable. His brand has become iconic. His results, unbelievable. In short I was and still am a huge fan.

I have also been watching closely the events of recent months and days, particularly his candid interview with Oprah. As I watched, I sat there devastated for him, his family, his brand and his cause. I don’t personally feel let down as much as I feel for what he and many people close to him are going through right now. Like his cancer diagnosis, I guess it could feel like you are passing through the valley of the shadow of death.

We live in a world that is very harsh and schizophrenic. One minute they worship you like a ‘god’ and the next minute they want to stone you to death. As quickly as the world embraces a winner, they even more quickly outcast a ‘liar’ found out. Yet, in the midst of the chaos that surrounds Lance, his family and his career, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Firstly, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone” (Jn 8:7). If you’re reading this and feel justified in your anger towards Lance, your missing a fundamental point. While you are pointing your finger of judgement at Lance, you’ve got several fingers pointing right back at you.

Romans 3:23-24 says, “For, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Everyone of us is broken and every one of us needs to repent of something. Apart from Jesus, the brokenness of the human condition is without hope. But because of Jesus and the cross, Lance Armstrong and everyone else on the planet can live with hope in the love and grace that is available to us through a relationship with God.

The difference between Lance and you is that you don’t have your selfishness, brokenness and lies broadcast over every single network across the world in one of the greatest media frenzies the modern world has ever seen. Truth is, one day we will all see what dark sins have been boxed up and hidden away in our own lives. Jesus said in Matthew 10:26 ‘For nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known’. There’s coming a day for all of us where if we don’t repent, what’s been done in secret will be shouted from the rooftops. Be sure your sins will find you out.

Be gracious with your comments of fallen heroes because each one of us needs to swallow a dose of humility when we consider our own shortcomings.

From God’s perspective, the most important issue in Lance’s life isn’t the money, winning, brand management or helping people through ‘Livestrong’ (as great as this is) but the condition of his own soul. God loves Lance and from the very beginning has been trying to get his attention regarding his relationship with him. His ex-wife Kristen, a supposedly devout believer has been one of the greatest blessings God has given to Lance and continues to seemingly provide great emotional and spiritual support.

20130117-onc-lance-armstrong-14-318x408Towards the end of the interview, Lance commented that his ex-wife Kristen would say, ‘The truth shall set you free’ quoting a part of Jesus Christ’s famous words from John 8:32. When asked by Oprah at the end of the interview, ‘What is the moral of this story?’ Lance responded with an answer that is still in the process of forming but Oprah responded with her own ‘moral of the story’, ‘The truth shall set you free’.

To be honest I don’t think Oprah really understood the weight of even what she was saying. It isn’t just about being honest with Lance’s past actions of cheating that is the great moral of the story. The moral of the story is that only knowing the truth found in the person of Jesus Christ can truly set Lance and every one of us free from the brokenness of our own lives that drive us to behave and act in ways that are destructive to ourselves and others. 

No matter how talented you are, what dreams you have or how successful you are in your career, nothing will bring freedom or fulfilment like believing in Jesus and walking with him on a daily basis. Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No man shall come to the Father except through me.’ Eternal life and present purpose are connected and intersect most poignantly in a personal and living faith in Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus, no true freedom can be found!

Is there hope for Lance Armstrong? You better believe there is. In fact, could it be that he is about to enter into the greatest and most significant chapter of his life, far greater than 7 Tour De France Victories. Why? Because with Jesus Christ there is always hope!

The Oracle!

Breakthrough doesn’t come at Bargain Prices!

Numbers 13:30-31 ‘Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are”.’

Fashion is one of my hobbies and I don’t mind the odd shop for some quality clothes. I’ve observed the higher quality the product, the higher price you must be willing to pay for it. You can’t have a BMW experience with a Ford Escort mentality.

Breakthrough in life and ministry operates the same way. The bigger the breakthrough you need, the bigger the price you must be willing to pay for it. Breakthroughs don’t come at bargain prices.

Problem is breakthrough is often disguised as hard work. The 10 spies who reported to Moses the state of the Promised Land looked at the giants, fortified cities and obstacles in the way and said, ‘Too Hard’. Most people want breakthrough, they’re just not willing to embrace the hard work required to get it. There’s a difference between a desire and a conviction. A desire is a surface level feeling that disappears when hard work is required but a conviction is a revelation in your heart that you will possess what you are believing for regardless of the hard work involved.

Breakthrough is inhibited by a bad report. 10 out of 12 spies brought back a bad report and it stopped nearly 3 million people from entering into their Promised Land. I’ve discovered, you can hear 100 words of encouragement but one negative report will be the thing you take away with you. I bad egg can mess it up for everyone else. We’ve got to guard our hearts and watch the report coming out of our mouths.

Breakthrough requires you to see through obstacles. 10 spies couldn’t see past the obstacle and they got intimidated by it to the point that they saw themselves as grasshoppers. When you see yourself as a grasshopper, you don’t see yourself as capable of overcoming great obstacles. When you can’t see through the obstacle you compare yourself to it and get intimidated by it. Get your eyes back onto Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. When you get a revelation of whom God is, He will give you a revelation of whom you are.

Joshua and Caleb modeled 4 key actions (V30) that we need to take note of as we head towards our own breakthrough:

  1. Unity – We are stronger together than we are alone
  2. Urgency – Seize the opportunity before you
  3. Faith – God was their source of strength
  4. Sacrifice – You can’t go up, if you don’t give up

God wants you to breakthrough but there’s a few hard questions you need to ask yourself. What hard work is in front of me that I am trying to avoid? What bad report have I brought to the table that I need to repent of? What obstacles in front of me intimidate me?

The Oracle!

The Power of Praise!

Acts 16:25-26 “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison was shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.”

This is a great picture of what the power of praise does in our lives. Paul and Silas were in the middle of a ‘midnight’ season. They had been imprisoned for delivering a young girl of demonic oppression, whom had been used for commercial profit in the city of Philippi. As a result, Paul and Silas had been placed into shackles in the inner prison and left to rot BUT at midnight, what could have justly become a pity-party became a praise party.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 says, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet will I rejoice in the Lord. I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

Anybody can praise when there is money in the bank, opportunities on the go and there’s nothing but daylight ahead but it’s another thing to praise God at ‘midnight’ when nothing is going your way. This is the situation Paul and Silas find themselves in and instead of complaining about their midnight season, they do directly the opposite and PRAISE God instead.

The word PRAISE means to give thanks. Praise is your confession and declaration of thanksgiving for who God is. Paul and Silas’ example teaches us powerful insights into the dynamic of praise in our lives:

Praise is always VERBAL – Praise is a confession, not just a thought. The bible doesn’t understand praise apart from opening your mouth and declaring the greatness of God. Our God is a speaking God. He said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light.’ We have been made after the image of God and therefore, like God, have creative power in our words. When we declare the praises of God, we are affecting change in the atmosphere of our lives. Paul and Silas were praising God in such an overt way that the prisoners around them were listening to them. Paul and Silas didn’t care what anyone thought of them because they knew that the best thing to do in light of who God is and the circumstances they were facing, was to praise God anyhow. There is no power in our praise until we declare it out of our mouth. Praise isn’t a personality thing, it’s a bible thing. We don’t sing, clap, shout and lift our hands because of our personality but because it’s in the bible.

Praise is a CHOICE – It doesn’t have anything to do with your feelings. Midnight in the dungeon of a prison isn’t exactly conducive to feelings of peace and relaxation and yet Paul and Silas chose to assume the posture of praise. Psalm 34:1 says, ‘I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.’  Whatever circumstances you are facing, choose to bless the Lord and fill your mouth with continual praise. Your problems aren’t going to change by blaming God for them but your attitude will change towards them when you start praising God in the midst of them. God inhabits the praises of his people, not the problems of his people. God cares about the things you face but he is not essentially moved by them. He is moved by your faith because without faith, it’s impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him. Praise is the birthing position for breakthrough in your circumstances. God draws near to praisers, not whingers. Choose to become better, not bitter by choosing PRAISE.

Praise will set you FREE – As Paul and Silas praised God, all of a sudden, the foundations of the prison was shaken by an earthquake and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. The power for freedom comes through praise. Bishop Jakes says of this passage, “The earthquake wasn’t God getting them out, it was God breaking into their praise. God had to get into where the praise was.”  Praise gets your eyes off your midnight hour and onto the presence of God. Praise just doesn’t set you free, it has the corporate power to set others free as well. In your life and calling you will face challenges and issues that will feel limiting and burdensome but when you choose to verbalize your praise, you will experience freedom in your life and the lives of others.

Insight! (My close friend Ps Andrew Newbold has graciously contributed some key thoughts to this blog post)