Visionary. Pioneer. Voice.

The War On Women: An Opportunity For The Gospel

Recently on a flight to Seattle, I got to talking with a woman sitting next to me. In the course of our conversation she asked about the book I had out—The Black Swan Effect: A Response To Gender Hierarchy In The Church. She said she was really intrigued by the title and wanted to know what it was about and what I thought about the topic. Below is a brief excerpt of our chat. I’m sharing with hopes that you are inspired to look for the divine appointments God sets for you. Don’t be afraid to open up to others’ questions about our challenges—even the ones that make us (those in the Church) look foolish. Learn to answer with humility and truth, always pointing to the love, power and truth of the gospel!

Where you see (…) is where we shared more vulnerably from the heart about our personal experiences.

Woman: I am really intrigued by the book title you have. Can you please tell me about it? I’m curious to know your thoughts on the topic as well.

Me: Oh, yes. Absolutely. This is actually a topic of passion for me…

...Everywhere in the world the Christian message (the gospel) has flourished, the status of women on those societies has elevated. And yet, in many churches we still see a hierarchical culture based on gender. People are empowered for leadership and ministry based on their God-given gender rather than their God-given gifts. It’s an interesting and sad phenomena—we are not utilizing half of our talent as result.

Woman: Oh my gosh, you’re right. I’ve never thought about it that way, but it’s true. If we are not utilizing women we are missing half our talent. You know, I’m an educator and I see the inequality of opportunity for female administrators. In elementary education, a job where majority women fill teaching roles, the majority of administrators are still men...

Me: Wow, it’s wild to think that we are in the 21st century and we are still dealing with the conversation about equality.

For the Church it’s a problem not merely about cultural norms; it’s a theological problem. People on both sides of the debate think the are right in their belief—one perspective says we are to empower people in leadership primarily according to their gender. The other perspective says we are to empower people in leadership primarily according to their gifts and abilities. Both ideas are argued from the scripture. However, I think if we step back and look at even the earliest statements of the Bible we would see God’s clear validation of women, an understanding of the war on women, and His desire to use women in powerful and world-changing ways. 

In the earliest chapters of the Bible, chapter 3 of Genesis, the serpent (Satan) he comes first to Eve to target her with temptation. Satan’s scheme has from the beginning targeted women with his oppression. When Adam and Eve rebelled, God immediately rushes on the scene and curses the serpent. One of the things He tells the serpent is that He will put enmity between he (serpent) and the woman and between his offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head and you will bruise His heel. This statement tells us a few things. First it tells us that the great war against the woman throughout human history is actually the result of a cosmic spiritual battle in the unseen realm. Satan has a unique hatred for women. The biblical worldview gives us a clear reason as to why woman have been subjugated and oppressed throughout history. Second, we see from this passage that God is honoring the status of women. God says, “her offspring.” No where else in ancient literature do we see women having offspring—only men do. Even in the midst of His judgment, God is honoring the woman. Then God says, He will crush your head and you will bruise His heel. This, I believe, is the first prophecy of Jesus who was to come. God, because of His love for humanity and His desire to rescue her, would send His son, Jesus, to be born not as the offspring of a man, but the offspring of a woman—a virgin! 

Woman: Woah! 

Me: Right?! It gets better.

The bruising of the heel is a temporary wound—the cross was a temporary wound that Jesus would suffer in order to rescue humanity. But the crushing of the head was a mortal wound—Jesus’ resurrection tells us that He is victorious over sin, death and Satan. The resurrection guarantees Satan’s defeat—a death wound. Jesus' victory and redemption of humanity would come through a woman!

When we come to the New Testament (written after Christ) we see statements like there is now neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free, but all are one in Christ Jesus. In other words, we no longer are to entertain barriers of race, gender or social status—in Christ we are one and we enjoy God’s grace equally.

What God started in the Garden has been fulfilled in Christ and will be 100% finalized when Jesus returns. 

Woman: That is so powerful…

Me: Do you have a faith background?

Woman: Well, both my husband and I grew up Catholic. In our adult lives we started attending a non-denominational church. We were even in a small group for a number of years. We fell away. I think we just saw too much hurt and hypocrisy and couldn’t reconcile what was going on, so we left and haven’t been back. It’s been many years...

…I can honestly say, and I’m not blowing smoke, I can say this from what I’ve heard from you and what I feel when you speak: If we had people like yourself leading in our church, I don’t think we would have ever left. I'm grateful that as a man you are speaking to these issues. Thank you for sharing with me; it’s really touched my heart. Tell me, what is the name of the church you previously attended in Tacoma? 

3 'Gospel-Centered' Reasons Many Are Challenging Gender Hierarchy In The Church

We are witness to a remarkable, growing trend: the gospel is (re)taking center stage in the conversation about the identity and mission of the Church. Part of the impact of this movement has meant that the phrase ‘gospel-centered’ has become a popular way of framing dialogue on many issues like preaching, small groups, corporate worship, etc. As the Church consistently follows this internal impulse of the Spirit towards gospel-centeredness, we have new eyes to see those pillars in our midst that fail to align with the truth of the gospel. It seems to me that one of the ‘pillars’ in Church life that is moving to the forefront of the discussion is the issue of governance and gender hierarchy. 

The ‘gospel-centered movement’, in my opinion, is producing a ground swell of Jesus-people who are revisiting the discussion of gender hierarchy in the Church with new found zeal for freedom and equality. I am aware of the irony that much of the ‘gospel-centered movement’ originates from great men of God who do not yet themselves embrace a strong view of women in ministry. Nevertheless, their unrelenting insistence on the centrality of the gospel is moving many in the Church to challenge ministry cultures dominated by male leadership. This a consistent and natural consequence of the ‘gospel-centered’ emphasis. 

Below I have shared ways I see the ‘gospel-centered movement’ causing people to challenge gender hierarchy in the Church:

Missions. The Church is (re)engaging her gospel-centered identity—a people on mission with God. When we consider the gravity and scope of the great commission (everyone-everywhere) we intuitively adopt a philosophy of ministry that prioritizes the empowerment of individuals according to their God-given gifts rather than their God-given gender. The task before us is simply too great for men to accomplish alone. Not surprisingly, the global missions movement is miles ahead of local church modalities when it comes to the empowerment of women in ministry. This is precisely what we see with Barak who told Deborah he would only go into battle if she (a female prophetess and judge of a nation) led with him. Perhaps this kind of gospel-inspired pragmatism is why Paul honored Junia (a woman) among the apostles and Euodia and Syntyche (two women) as ‘fellow laborers in the gospel’? Certainly Jesus demonstrated the empowerment of women in missions when He commissioned Mary as the first witness of His resurrection. Her assignment: go and speak to men!

Justice. The Church is returning to a gospel-centered approach to justice. We are starting to apply the liberating power of salvation to society in a more consistent manner. Our concern for the unborn has launched adoption movements (and, Lord willing, move toward care for teen moms). Our hatred for the sex trade is moving us to confront the pervasive nature of sexual immorality in our own ranks. Confronting the gender hierarchy in the Church is a natural step in the work of justice. This same justice pivot is seen in the life and work of Lucretia Mott, a well-known Quaker and American abolitionist from the 1800s. After attending an abolitionist convention in England in 1840, she redirected her work to focus on women’s rights. Her gospel-inspired writings became the seeds of the early feminist movement and 40 years after her death, women won the right to vote in USA. 

Hermeneutics. The Church is adopting a more gospel-centered approach to Bible interpretation. To many it is becoming more apparent that the ‘one new man’ (neither male nor female) message of the gospel seems to cast a contradictory light on the gender specific prohibitions in the Epistles. Many are concluding that if we are to maintain a consistent, gospel-centered hermeneutic, we must necessarily challenge the notion that the gender-specific prohibitions in the Epistles are prescriptive for every church in every generation. To allow a few obscure epistolary passages about women to trump the otherwise clear and consistent teaching of the whole of scripture is akin to the tail wagging to the dog—it ain’t right! 

I for one am extremely thankful for ways I see the Church re-aligning to the truth of the gospel. I see God leading His Church down a beautiful path. He is leveraging the buzzing interest of the Church in the Great Commission and justice as well as the growing discussion on hermeneutics to accomplish His high and holy purposes. My prayer is for local churches to keep in step with the Spirit and follow the lead of the many missional leaders who have embraced the ministry of women. As well, that the justice fervor among christian millennials would be directed towards the destruction of chauvinism and male dominated ministry cultures. Finally, may our handling of the scriptures reflect God’s handling of us: with foremost concern for what Jesus has done and who we are as result. 


Earnest Prayer

There is a place in burdened intercession in which we labor with God, impassioned by a burning sense of His desire in the matter. We are fierce in the warfare because we know the fight we engage is the vehicle God has chosen to execute His will. 

This is not an act of spiritual panic. This is not a religious exercise driven by fear. This is a holy concert in which our hearts play in harmony with the Spirit of Power. To this tune, the Father strikes down His foes and extends His reign of righteousness--on earth as in Heaven. 

So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church (Acts 12:5)".



In the last few weeks approaching the start of another Catalyst Training School Summer Program, I have received several emails and voicemails from various CTS Alumni.  I have been profoundly encouraged by the gracious words and gratitude from these dear friends.  I’ve also been humbled by the reality that so many of our alumni are faithfully pursuing God’s call on their lives and doing such significant work in the world. These messages got me to ponder the question: “What key things to Catalyst students experience in our schools?”  Take a read and let me know what you think!

Community: Immersion into a company of believers in City Central Church; a people committed to the glory of God and pursuing New Testament life.  Enjoying the peaks and enduring the valleys, a beautiful history is built pursuing God together as a family.

Holy Devotion: Daily schedules built around growing in the knowledge of God.  More than becoming smarter, students learn to prioritize their lives around the glory of God and the worship of Him. Long hours are spent in study and meditation in the scriptures, worship and prayer, producing a heart fully alive in God.

Freedom & Restoration: In the same way that the greatest wounds and injustice happen in family, so also the most profound work of healing and restoration occurs in family.  Students walk with leaders and friends who teach them of the strong love of God, call them into their design and destiny and hold them to the anchor of God’s truth. They become who they are designed to be.

Adventure with the Holy Spirit: Enabled by a growing grace to hear God’s voice, students are released into a great adventure of hearing and obeying the Holy Spirit.  They follow Him on the Father’s assignment and learn the ‘go’ of friendship and intimacy with God.

The Gap Closing: Our schools represent a season of life where God closes the gap between the testimony of the scriptures (concerning the Christian experience) and the testimony of their own lives.  It’s a restoration of uncompromising truth, agape love and supernatural power in the life of the believer.

Gods Heart for Nations: Daily hours in the place of prayer combined with raw experience ministering the gospel are lethal weapons that destroy apathy and indifference to lost souls.  Done daily these things work in us God’s great desire for all to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Prophetic Urgency: The revelation of Jesus (the spirit of prophecy) produces in us a pursuit of God that breaks the status quo and sets our lives on a kingdom course.  In our schools students are marked by the word of the Lord to this generation and their lives become built around preparation for the revelation of His glory in the earth, as the waters cover the seas.




“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God”…


Over the years I have seen many gifted people receive powerful prophetic promises, incredible God encounters and real deal anointings of the Spirit, only to later hit EJECT on the purposes of God in their lives. Usually they do not fall directly into overt rebellion, instead they simply settle into a much safer and lesser blessed ‘Christian’ path. They retreat from forcefully pursuing the kingdom and years later find themselves celebrating the status quo. How and why does this happen? Where does it begin?

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

In the midst of crisis and difficulty, if we are not rooted in the truth of God’s character and ways, we will always misinterpret our circumstances. To put it plainly, when we get chucked into a wilderness struggle and we dont truly believe that God always leads us in victory and triumph (2 Cor 2:14) and from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:18), we become increasingly confused about what the heck is happening.  Sadly for many it’s only a matter of time before they then falsely conclude that they must not be in the will of God. When this happens the next bad move (and the enemy’s goal) is to hit EJECT.

Whatever you do, don’t hit eject!


If we want the baptism that Jesus received we better prepare to also endure the struggle that inevitably follows. Below are a few brief insights to Jesus’ wilderness experience; points I trust can strengthen you as the Spirit takes the lead.


So critical to western Christians is this glorious, yet simple truth. Unbridled prosperity, such as we have experienced in the United States, has not well-prepared us to rejoice in  hardship and persevere in affliction, the divine keys to building godly character (Rom 5:3-5). We’ve been cultured to think that if something doesn’t feel good it must not be right…and our feelings are always right! In fact, favoring biblical truth over our domineering emotions feels like a betrayal on the deepest level. Yet, God is determined to have an army who will do what is right and not what’s easy (character). The only way into this is to build our lives on the truth of God’s timeless character and force our fickle emotions to take up the rear. I tell you, live this out for a few years so that when the heavens open and the Spirit leads you into a struggle, you have a history that you can draw from and can guide you through.


When the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness He went on a 40 day fast (similar to Nacho Libre). Somewhere He learned that times of loneliness and spiritual dryness require extra measures of spiritual seeking. This also is anti-American. How quickly when dryness rises, we let off the throttle and hit cruise control into a social media binge, or any other number of dulling pleasures. Jesus however pressed in with spiritual violence. Fasting is spiritual violence against the flesh and it positions us to overcome when the hour of darkness rises. Certainly after 40 days Jesus was physically very weak; but spiritually He was living in the supply of the Spirit! When it comes to spiritual warfare we want to be weak in the flesh and strong in the spirit, not the other way around.


“IF you are the Son of God” said the accuser. Satan came to specifically challenge the prophetic word released at Jesus’ baptism, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I’m well pleased.” He was targeting the seed of revelation. But He was too late. For 40 days Jesus had fasted and prayed and that seed had become an abiding word in Him. The enemy always rises against heavenly revelation. Be it a truth of identity, word of direction or of the future, he works tirelessly to steal, kill and destroy us. He does this by undermining the truth of what God has said. He knows that if He can undermine God’s truth in us he can undermine our destiny (just ask Adam & Eve). So then, when you hear his challenge in your thoughts or through other human voices, know that it’s a sure tell sign that the seed you’ve received is in fact from the Lord. Congratulations, you’ve become a threat to the enemy.


“It is written,” Jesus replied, with holy jealousy for God’s truth. Each time Satan pitched Jesus, the Beloved Son responded with a spoken declaration of scripture. And do you know what book of the Bible Jesus quoted from each time? The book of Deuteronomy. That’s right, Jesus’ choice weapon against Satan was a book of the Bible most Christians just skim through today. What if the greatest heavenly weapons are the ones most neglected on Earth? What if the sword God has destined you to wield against the enemy in the hour of struggle is a scripture you have not yet taken in?!

God’s word is authoritative in us first to the degree that we have faith in the authority of His word and second, to the degree we have submitted to the authority of His word. Jesus had both received by faith His position as the Beloved Son of God and totally surrendered to the Lordship of the Spirit. This made Him totally unstoppable. He did not simply endure the struggle, He conquered it. And such is our inheritance!

ROMANS 8:31-39

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—uwho is at the right hand of God, vwho indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”



“The Lord, your Father, HE is proud of you, Adam.  He is proud of you!” I can still hear the British accent speaking to me those very words as I lay weeping on the conference floor in San Jose, CA in 2000, totally lost in the ecstasy of the Father’s love.  He continued, “Adam, even though your earthly father has been absent, the Lord wants you to know that He, your heavenly Father, has always been there… He loves you.  Adam, He has been with you…Yes, He was with you on ‘sports day’, Adam.  Your heavenly Father was there on ‘sports day’”… This British man, who I had never met before was speaking with incredible insight right to the depths of my heart; I was undone.  How did he know? He wasn’t in my room that morning; he wasn’t at the football game that night, years before…was he?  There was only one explanation: God.

Just 12 hours before that historic encounter I was in my room ‘talking’ with my mom.  Ok, so we were arguing.  Literally, we were screaming at each other.  I don’t remember what we were yelling about but I do remember what happened when my mom yelled out, “What’s really the issue here, Adam?!” I broke down in tears and that moment of weakness pulled out of me some honest words that I had never previously given voice to: “You never say you’re proud of me, Mom!”

At that point I was about 18 years old and had walked with Christ since my conversion in my early teenage years following a life-threatening football injury that required emergency brain surgery (aka ‘Sports Day’).  In the end, the Lord used that nearly fatal scene to woo my heart to Him and save my soul.  Being told I’d never play sports again crushed my already broken spirit.  In the midst of my brokenness, and as a result of my mom’s faithful prayers, the gospel became the best news.  I was born again.

However, like many kids who grow up without a father, I subconsciously and hopelessly tried to fill my love-deficit with the praise of man.  As a young, gifted evangelist and preacher I very easily found the praise and encouragement I longed for in the church as a result of the many Christian families who loved seeing God work through me in ministry.  Sadly, the gracious words from these dear ones simply could not satisfy my insatiable need for the voice of the Father to heal my fatherless heart and free me from an orphan spirit.  I now know today that those who live by the praise of man die at the criticism of man…and rot at the silence of man.  I know today that even the truest words of encouragement have no lasting power to strengthen the heart that has not yet been personally rooted in the Father’s love.  Of course, I did not know this then and it was this miserable ignorance that made that argument with mom so terrible; and those words from the British man so glorious!

“The Lord, your Father, HE is proud of you, Adam.  He is proud of you…He was with you on Sports Day!”

A dozen years later the glorious work that God began in my heart that day still continues.  I have enjoyed an ever-increasing revelation of the Father’s great love for me; a truth that has anchored me in some of life’s most hostile storms and kept me centered when God has allowed others to encourage and strengthen me with words of blessing.  This love has set me free from the treadmill of striving and performance and daily guards from petty schemes of comparison and jealousy.  Most importantly, this love continually inclines my heart to love Jesus and live before Him in joy and peace.

I have a Father and He loves me.

The glorious truth of the Father’s great love for us must not be relegated to momentary encounters, no matter how awesome they are.  We must not give into the cultural lie that elevates moments of intimacy over daily commitment in relationships for we will then dangerously apply that perversion to our relationship with God.  Though it may be imparted in encounter, the Father’s love is sustained and further cultivated only as we fiercely guard the word of truth given to us, steward our hearts in righteousness and abide in communion with Him.

I have listed below some ways I’ve learned to posture my heart to keep myself in the love of God.  I hope that in practicing them you find your own posture in the Father’s love:

1      Embrace the call to forgive.  Unforgiveness is a terrible master that progressively limits our capacity to give and receive love.  Forgiveness is the divine gift that frees our hearts to walk in love.  Asking the Holy Spirit to reveal areas of unforgiveness in my heart and repenting is often the first step to re-aligning myself in the love of God.

2      Feast on the word of truth.  I have purposed in my heart to see my time in the word of God bring me into communion with the person of God.  Bible meditation and praying the scriptures has been a primary avenue for relating with the Lord and as a result my mind is being shaped by truth of His word and His love for me.

3      Listen for the Father’s tender words of affection.  In times of prayer I will ask the Spirit to speak to my heart and mind His words of love.  In quiet stillness I sit and receive His impressions, simple phrases and pictures that speak of His heart towards me.  I write them down, declare them out loud and hide them in my heart.  So good!

4      Learn to say ‘No’.  Every former striver and performer needs to learn to rest, take breaks and not sign up for every ministry opportunity presented to them.  At times I have sensed that the pattern of performance creeping back in, I will pull away and give attention to my first love.

1 John 3:1 – See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.



After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

At the foundation of every true ministry call on a life is a divine encounter that releases the revelation of heaven and secures the heart in the strong love of God.  As in Jesus’ life the Father often schedules this type of breakthrough to occur before any great kingdom achievement is realized; a most important preparatory measure as it ensures that the child understands a great reality of the Father’s heart: His love is not attached to performance.  Before He preached a sermon, blessed a child or performed any mighty act, Jesus heard the voice of the Father over His life; He was touched by His pleasure and delight; He was rooted and grounded in love.  Jesus would enter into His earthly ministry empowered by the voice of His Father, with nothing to prove—what joy and bliss!

Without the foundational truth of the Father’s love in place, the minister’s heart remains destined for destruction.  Until Abba’s love is secured, the servant of the Lord will continue in his subconscious pursuit, tirelessly working that he might be noticed by God, not knowing that he already has the attention of Heaven by simple virtue of His true identity as a son.  Let me tell you, this kind of labor is exhausting.  It is brutally deceptive.  It keeps you on the treadmill of performance, continually impressed by the mileage you’re racking up until at the end of your work you’re faced with the sad reality that you’re tired, sweaty and you really didn’t go anywhere!  So goes the destiny for the slave who never embraces his identity as a favored son.  When he does well, he’s preoccupied with what he could’ve done better and when he’s failed, he reasons again “perhaps I’ll return to my father’s house and he’ll take me in as one of his hired servants?”  A slave doesn’t see a father; he only sees a taskmaster.

The truth of the Father’s love for us is consistently contested by the injustice and pain of our everyday experience in a broken world.  Knowing this, God brilliantly wrote into Jesus’ life in the gospels subsequent encounters with His glorious love.  At His transfiguration, towards the end of His ministry, that mighty voice again broke in, ‘this is my beloved Son!’  Again the Father announces His great affection for His only begotten.  In the only two accounts in the gospels where we see the Father speaking directly to His Son, we find Him proudly and unashamedly declaring His love for Him.  Even for Jesus the revelation of the Father’s love could not be limited to a one-time experience.  The love of God must be imparted and secured by continual and numerous encounters that span the course of our history with Him.

A heart that is secure in the truth of the Father’s love is most feared by the hoards of hell, for it cannot be shaken, it does not fear and it has nothing to lose.  Patterns of striving and performance, comparing our gifts to our neighbors, competing with the brother/sister next to us, and even the jealousy and the inner anger that accompanies get totally undercut when we learn to live under the great waterfall of God’s heavy love for us.  When we repent of these slave-like behaviors and return to the simple truth of the Father’s heart, we are closer to the kingdom than ever before.  As the case for Jesus, intimacy with the Father becomes the cornerstone and method of our ministry, “I only do what I see the Father doing” and even in our most desperate and pressing state intimacy with the Father anchors us to the path of righteousness, “Father, let this cup pass from me…nevertheless, not my will but yours be done!”

Have you heard the Father’s voice speak tenderly to your heart of His great love for you?  Have you allowed that truth to take root in your mind and reform the way you think?  Have you asked the Holy Spirit to take that truth and build your entire life around it?

Romans 8:15

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”



“Now the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “The sons of Israel shall camp, each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers’ households; they shall camp around the tent of meeting at a distance.”

Years ago while reading this passage the Lord caught my attention with the special instructions He gave Israel’s encampment in the wilderness. Instead of just skimming through (like I often did when reading the book of Numbers), I actually stopped and pondered what this would have looked like and how it would have impacted the formation of Israel’s community and national identity. The insights that followed gripped my heart and formed in my mind a more clear picture of God’s design for community. I’ve been reaching for it ever since.


The nation was ordered to pitch their tents, in order of tribe, and facing center, a location distinctly marked by the placement of the Tabernacle–the dwelling place of God. The front doors of every family in Israel actually faced the Tabernacle, that simple tent which housed the worship, the prayers, the sacrifices and the Presence. Suspended above the Tabernacle and reaching far into the sky rested the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night–the glory of God.  For 40 years God led this people through the wilderness from place to place. Wherever the glory rested, in that place the priests would set the Tabernacle and the nation would follow by arranging their tents on every side, each facing the Tabernacle. True community is theocentric.*

When God designed community He ensured His own preeminence. He ordered the people to build their lives around the place (literal) of prayer, worship, sacrifice, and of the glory. Even as the throne of God sits in the centerpiece of the heavenly Jerusalem, surrounded by a myriad of angelic worshippers, so the Shekinah glory rested at the center of worshipping Israel. It was ‘Heaven on Earth.’

Imagine for a moment the reality of an entire generation literally building their lives around the Glory. Each morning every man, woman and child from every tribe in Israel who would exit their tents would be greeted by the pillar of cloud hovering over the place of prayer and worship and reaching into the heavens. Each night, as they entered into their tents to lay their heads the light from the pillar of fire flooded their homes.


In late 2007, my wife and I found ourselves in a dynamic season of transition. We had just endured a year of significant trials and testing, from which we had emerged more passionately in love with Jesus and eager to see His kingdom come in our lives. Around that time we began hosting simple gatherings in our home along with the friends who lived with us. We brought together some of our good friends and some of the young adults we had relationships though the high school ministry we led in the years preceding. We had no agenda other than to be together and encounter Jesus. We shared meals and simply learned to linger long in the presence of the Lord together.

It wasn’t long before we recognized the special life in our gatherings. The presence of the Lord was profound and often rested heavily among us late into the night. The worship was uninhibited. Often when the guitar began to be strummed the whole room would begin lifting their own song to the Lord. The scriptures were illuminated to us as we prayed, worshipped and soaked in the word of God. One would sing out their spontaneous chorus and everyone would join them. Then another, and another. The designated ‘worship leader’ almost didn’t have to ‘lead.’ Dynamic ministry one to another brought strength and joy to our hearts. Our cups overflowed.

The Lord taught us many things during the year that we gathered in that manner, in our home as well as the homes of our friends nearby. In fact I believe much of the DNA of what is now Catalyst Training School originally seeded in our hearts in that season. A number of the training series I teach today came during that year. Evangelistic outreaches and other kingdom exploits were birthed as the Holy Spirit spoke to us in prayer and sent us out. More than anything we were simply introduced (or reintroduced) to the ecstasy of fellowship when Christ and His glory is supreme. It was our season under the cloud and fire.


I believe God is restoring the Church to true community. He desires a company of believers who order their lives around the glory of God and the worship of Him. This has always been His design for community; if has never changed. When the church returns her focal point to the glory of God, she rediscovers her own identity and purpose. Historically whenever she has deviated from the centerpiece of God’s glory, even in the name of ‘meeting needs’ and ‘loving people’, she has lost her balance in the current of the world. True community revolves around the Presence of God, not simply the interests of man. Our best efforts, even in ministry, can lead us astray when lose sight of His glory. A wholesale return to the supremacy of God’s glory in the church is our only hope. This is the birthplace of true community.

Let My people go, that they may worship Me in the wilderness.  Exodus 7:16

to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:21

*Theocentric means God-centered.



“Neck, shoulders, back, legs and feet, HEALED!” A simple, yet authoritative faith pronouncement. And she was totally healed. It took all but 3 seconds.

The woman was brought forward after the service at “Overflowing Church” in Seoul Korea by her husband. He told me through my translator that his wife had been suffering severe pain in her neck, back and shoulders due to some special vertebrae thingy I can’t remember. She was in obvious discomfort and her countenance reflected that.  Everyone who has ever endured back pain knows how debilitating it can be.

After the pronouncement of healing the woman rolled her neck a few times, rotated her arms and did a few hops, testing out her body, searching for the pain.  But it was gone.  The kingdom came, the pain went and she was healed. Immediately she threw her hands up, like she been listening to Beyonce. Of course, I interpreted her gesture as initiating high fives. I was like, “Yeah, what’s up; amen; Jesus!” and I too threw my hands up and slapped her some skin, straight up. I soon realized by her response that she was not in fact offering high fives but was lifting her hands in worship to the Lord for her healing.

I desecrated her offering of worship with my tacky American celebratory gesture.

She and her husband just laughed at me, thanked me and then walked away.

Holy Ghost high fives.



MATT 3:16-4:1

“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’ Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”


Almost without delay, following Jesus’ heavenly encounter with the Fathers love, Jesus is led by the Spirit into what would be the greatest trial of His life to date. 40 days and nights without food or water and a toe to toe bout with Satan himself! Consider for a moment that the same Spirit who descended upon Him and baptized him with heaven, is very same Spirit that is now leading Him into a month-long lonely struggle culminating in a personal encounter with the angel of hell.

Seriously?! Either this was a cosmic mistake or the genius of God’s leadership.

Work that one into your pnuematology*.


True Holy Spirit encounters can serve to acquaint you both with the person of heaven and powers of hell. In Matt 3:16-17Jesus was both immersed in water and in the person of the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit baptism would ultimately stand as the very foundation of Jesus’ ministry (Luke 4:18-19) a ministry with a specific objective: to destroy the works of Satan (1 Jn 3:8). The open heavens, the Father’s declaration of love, the Holy Spirit’s descent–this whole dramatic prophetic experience wasn’t some flash in the pan conference moment; it was a real-deal heavenly encounter that made Jesus a great threat to the kingdom of darkness. The anointing of the Holy Spirit resting on Jesus did indeed mark Him with heaven–however, this is a reality which ultimately meant He would soon be marked/targeted by Hell. In short, Jesus’ experience/relationship with the Holy Spirit placed Him on the ‘hit list of hell.’


I believe that it was the wisdom of God for the Spirit to lead Jesus into the wilderness struggle. Following every great heavenly encounter is a struggle which God can use to test the affections of His servant and prove the efficacy of His anointing. In the wilderness Jesus’ loyalty to the Father was tested as the enemy did his best to compromise God’s plan for His Son. As well, the anointing of the Spirit would prove sufficient for destroying the works of Satan and His evil schemes. In the end the Father’s word to His Son was tried and tested.  As a result, the word could take root in His  heart and serve as a living and abiding word in Him, an anchor to His soul.

A glorious end to what I call the ‘blueprint’ for true heavenly encounters.


It is critical for this Heaven-hungry generation to learn the ways of God in Holy Spirit encounters. Impartation of the Spirit without an education in the ways of God is a fire-cracker blast that ends in a brief moment and sets nothing a blaze. Life in the Spirit is less like a fire cracker and more like a forest fire!

There is a call today for the church to marry encounter and discipleship in the training of the next generation. We must know both prophecy and process, anointing and administration, intimacy and exploits, etcetera, etcetera. For far too long we have emphasized one or the other and perpetuated a broken model that won’t truly make a people ready for King of Glory. Choosing between the two is like choosing between a river and it’s banks, a flame and it’s burning, wine and it’s wineskin. It’s not that we don’t any longer have to choose so much as it is we cannot any longer afford to choose.

May God raise up a generation who can receive the full anointing of the Holy Spirit, pass their test and overcome every evil devil that rises against them because of that glorious anointing, in Jesus’ name.

*Pnuematology: the study of the Holy Spirit



Of the 3 revival centers in the book of acts (Jerusalem, Antioch and Ephesus) I am particularly fond of Antioch. To me, the distinctives of the move of God at Antioch represent, in a prophetic sense, some of the realities the Church must recover in order to see her apostolic witness restored in the Earth.

One of the most notable features of the Christian community at Antioch was the profound missionary spirit this church carried. In fact, the first 2 official ‘mission trips’ in the early Church were sent out from the Antioch community. In both instances young apostles were sent out by the church in response to prophetic revelation received in the community from the Holy Spirit. For the church at Antioch, missions was a natural expression of their supernatural community.


Today we are seeing a strong tide of missionary zeal beginning to rise in the Church, especially among the youth. Many are receiving the call to GO into the nations for gospel of the kingdom. As one who works both with young people and global missions, I can honestly say, these are exciting times!

Below I’ve shared 5 reasons I’m convinced true community is THE launch pad for missions.

1) The Godhead Model. Jesus was the first ‘sent one’ to ever go into the world. The Apostle of our faith enjoyed perfect community with the Godhead (Father-Son-Spirit) before He was sent into the world on His Father’s mission.

2) The Early Church Practice. In the book of Acts we find the work of missions is a natural expression of the supernatural life of the local church. The move of the Spirit in a local fellowship must eventually find expression in Great Commission exploits.

3) True Missions Cannot Exist Apart From Community. “Missionary” and “Apostle” simply mean “sent one.” Missions is more than simply GOing, it’s sending and being sent. Only a community can ‘send’ and one can only ‘be sent’ from a community.

4) DNA Multiplication. We can only reproduce what we are, both in the physical and in the Spirit. An independent ‘missionary’ cannot reproduce a true community–only a ‘sent one’ can do that.

5) The Great Commission. The call to make disciples of all nations can only be fulfilled as churches/communities SEND messengers into all the world. The mandate Jesus commissioned us with requires we act as one, in unity.



I thought I'd share with you a few helpful questions that I use as I'm preparing to teach and preach.  I hope these help you in your journey with the Holy Spirit as you have opportunity to proclaim His word!

  1. Is the message solidly based on Scripture?
  2. Does it exalt the Person and work of Jesus Christ?
  3. Can I reduce my message to a single, concise statement? 
  4. What are the core truths/values that im calling the ppl to embrace or steps to take?
  5. Is the message organized so that I can preach it clearly and the people understand it easily? 
  6. Are all Scripture references and testimonial facts accurate?
  7. Have I contextualized the message in the prophetic context of what God is doing in the life of the body?
  8. Does the message complement the work of the Spirit in the body in this season?
  9. Have I discerned the spirit/manner in which I am to deliver this message?
  10. Is the Holy Spirit asking me to take any specific steps today in order to more personally embrace the truths I am calling the people to?