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Filtering by Category: Ways of God




“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.



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