I went to E58 School of Ministry (SOM) last night. As I approached I heard the worship team practicing last night. I saw a homeless person laying on the ground with some of his belongings around him. I went in. Worship started. About a song into worship the Lord put on my heart to go outside and minister to this person. I did. I went out. He/she (I couldn’t tell) was laying on the ground on his side. Dead Quiet. He was in a deep, deep sleep. I talked to him but he did not respond. I kept talking to him but he didn’t respond. He was either in a deep sleep or had died. Not a muscle twitched or responded to me. So I just spoke blessings over Him and declared God’s love for him and told his spirit that Jesus wants to have a relationship with him. He still didn’t move. I didn’t know what else to do. I did not feel it was my right to disturb him. I felt released so I took whatever cash I had in my wallet – $6 – and laid it next to his face.
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As I was driving to work I was praying for someone particular in our church and also thinking about my message for the week. As I drove I saw two women walking on the bike path. One woman was elderly. She walked with a bent gait. Her back is twisted to the side and she wears a kids pink bicycle when she walks. As I was praying I saw her and I felt God’s compassion for her. I had already driven past by the time I realized that maybe God wanted me to stop and pray for her. But I was long past. I felt I let the Lord down. This is where I’m living…wanting to listen the Spirit and follow His lead. I still miss a lot.
Powerlessness: Unnecessary and Unbalanced – Chapter 10
In this chapter Bill Johnson points out the false piety of powerless Christianity and Faith. He points out many say that they need to have more Christ-like character before they will ready to expect or walk in power. Johnson says that many have settled for spirituality that never requires “divine intervention”. Instead Johnson says that we are called to “become witnesses to another world”. So the “normal” Christian path is that we cultivate a relationship with the Holy Spirit based on Christ’s merits rather than a self-imposed and self-measured christ-like piety. We need to pursue a relationship with the Holy Spirit at all costs. And if we fail, then continue even more until we begin to encounter the Lord. The willingness to take risks is a big part of this. Johnson says that when the Holy Spirit encountered him he realized that “God wanted to make an exchange – His increased presence for my dignity” (pg. 114). And if that is not happening then Johnson says that something is wrong on his own end of faith because the Lord always is ready to encounter and to empower. Lastly, he says that we test every teacher by the power they walk in or not. If they do not have power, then “don’t listen to them”.
The High Cost of Low Power – Chapter 11
In this chapter Bill Johnson talks about the place for Signs and Wonders in the life of the church and communities of believers. He makes many good points about the that signs and wonders play such as authenticating the message and teaching of Jesus and authenticating that Jesus is the Son of God. Signs and wonders are manifestations of God’s glory. Their occurances increase faith and build expectation. Signs and wonders have impact. They bring people to decision and bring conviction because they are confronted with the power of God.
He also talks about how many christians have taught against signs and wonders occurring in the present. Some have even developed theologies to teach believers not to expect signs and wonders at all. Signs and wonders are replaces with religious ritual and a satisfaction with a belief system rather than real encounter with the Lord. I have seen and heard this first hand and I know exactly what he is talking about. It is very sadly true. Thank God that new teaching is being heard and faith is being increased among the body.
Our Debt to the World: An Encounter with God – Chapter 12
In this chapter Bill Johnson talks about walking and minister under anointing. Anointing means to “smear”. The statement of this chapter that really hit me is this “The ones who do enjoy fellowship throughout their day with the Holy Spirit are extremely conscious of how He feels about their words, attitudes, and activities. The thought of grieving Him brings great sorrow. It’s their passion to give Him preeminence in everything. That passion brings that believer into supernatural life – one with the constant activity of the Holy Spirit working through them.” (pg 134) This is walking in anointing – staying constantly smeared by His abiding presence. Ministry to others is simply sharing the presence we are enjoying with others. When we are willing to share His presence we enter into God’s desire for others around us. The presence comes off of us onto others. Ministering is learning “to recognize His presence, cooperate in His passion for people, and invite them to receive salvation” (136). From here Johnson says that this is not or should not be a surprise. We follow in the ministry and life of Jesus who, like Jacob, had heaven open over Him and angels called to minister ascending and descending upon him. We who have the Holy Spirit are all dwelling places of God and we should experience the same.
Aha Moment – really none other than continuing reminder to keep pressing in until we see the heaven invade earth; to live in expectation and faith that God ruling presence is within arm’s reach and about to break through…if we just grab onto it.
I was just thinking how many in modern North American Christianity hold that heaven can or will only be received and accessed….well later on. When you combine this with another failed teaching that God does not inspire people to operate in His Spirit today as he did in the early church, there is no expectation that heaven or the Spirit to intervene or intrude into anybody’s life. Even when they really want Him to!
So when do we enjoy is salvation? Just when we die? And What is heaven? the place we go when we die? And what does a Christian (who believes these things) do while we are waiting for heaven and Salvation? Be a “good” christian the best we can?
The problem is that we are supernatural beings created to be in communion with heaven. But if we a closed view that says that it is not God’s plan that that kind of communion is not possible now, some people will try to create their own vision of heaven on earth in the natural that mimics the reality of heaven . In my humble opinion that is why many christians meld politics and their “belief” systems. They use politics (the natural) as the vehicle to get a taste of heaven now rather than using faith to usher in Jesus’. Just a thought….
The Anointing and the AntiChrist Spirit – Chap 7
I love this chapter. It was the anointing of the Holy Spirit that qualified and empowered Jesus for His ministry. Jesus’ character and knowledge were great but did not enable him to engaged in empowered ministry until his being anointed with the Holy Spirit at His Baptism. It’s the invasion of the Holy Spirit into the natural world that is the breakthrough of the kingdom of God. Just as the Spirit tore through the sky at Jesus’ baptism, so did the kingdom come near. I love how Bill Johnson explains that what the Lord meant by “at hand” is that the kingdom is “available right here. Grab it” (p.80). To deny the invasion of the Spirit is to assign and characterize the works of the Spirit as something not from God -even as something demonic (p. 80). There are many churches and theologians who do not want anything to do with God the Spirit!
Teaching in to an Encounter – Chap 8
As a consequence to Chapter 7, those who are a position of authority in churches must require of themselves that they are anointed with God’s Spirit. We must require of ourselves “to do, with power” (p.88). We cannot be content to just be information dispensers but we need to take on the mantle of being teaching who can do what they are teaching – and also teachings who bring others into encounters with the reality of what we are teaching and profess. Bill Johnson really comes against pastors, teachers, churches, denominations and seminary that only work in the rational and the natural mind. They are only purveyors of information – not knowledge (in the Hebrew sense) of knowing how to do. Bill Johnson argues at length that it is out of pride and spirit of religion that people use knowledge of scripture in order to keep others coming to them rather than to an encounter with God. In contrast, those who do require of themselves that they operate in Spirit power will need to take risks in order to move in power.
The Works of the Father – Chap 9
This chapter is sort of the fulfillment of what Bill Johnson advocations in chapter 8. “Doing with Power” requires knowing the Spirit and being a person where the Spirit abides in order to see the supernatural or spirit realm and being able to operate in it, that is, seeing and doing the works of the Father just as Jesus talked about. There is a marvelous section on page 100 where Pastor Bill brings some much need corrective balance to our seeking supernatural power. We should not be seeking the power for power’s sake, but we should be seeking the heart of God first, and then allow the power of God to flow as demonstrations of God’s love and compassion for the world. God’s love is not an add-on to power, but where the power comes from. Doing the works of Jesus and works of the Father are demonstrations of God’s love. In order to do this, we need to pursue the Lord with “reckless abandon”. Bill Johnson then provides things we can do as means to this end. 1) Prayer 2) Study of scripture (especially the gospels), 3) Read those who teach this, 4) Have those who have anointing to lay hands on you 5) Try to hang around others who have anointing and 6) Obedience.
Ah – hah Moment
I really did have any ah-had moments but enjoyed each of these chapters. It was refreshing to read again what I wrote in chapter 9, viz., that power grows out of love and it is not something you add on or doing along side of power.
Chapter 4 – Summary – Faith – Anchored in the Unseen
Bill Johnson calls Faith the eyes of the soul. Faith allows us to see in the supernatural and see with heaven’s vision. Faith allows us to see what is reasonable or ‘realistic’ in God. Faith is a “mirror that reflects” what is possible from heaven’s points of view. When we decide what is reasonable or possible apart from God, we operate in unbelief. Fear is the result of a heart “broken” by unbelief. Faith is not just a mental attitude, but faith actually grabs onto what it understands in the supernatural and pulls down to earth. Bill also talks about a “cluster bomb” effect when a community is in agreement in faith
Chapter 5 – Summary – Praying Heaven Down
I love this chapter. This chapter is about grabbing onto heaven and pulling down what is in heaven. In this chapter looks at the “Lord’s” prayer from Matthew 6 the focus of which is to pray down to earth what is in heaven. I love how he speaks about binding on earth what is true in heaven. Pulling heaven to earth is the result of living as citizens of heaven. The more we live as citizens of heaven and in heaven, the more we bring what we are citizen of to earth. I also love his prayer strategies he revealed here: especially where he says that he prays “until he reaches a place of faith” for a situation. He then prays from that point from that place of faith.
Chapter 6 – Summary – The Kingdom and the Spirit
The kingdom is result of the movement of God’s Spirit. The kingdom is the realm of the Spirit. In this chapter Bill Johnson makes a radical statement: Jesus did not come only to release us from the bondage of sin in order that we may receive grace and salvation; but he did that so that we could filled with God’s own Spirit. We are filled with the Spirit in order to be empowered as we share dominion with Him. This is God’s ultimate purpose: not only to take dominion rightfully back for heaven’s purposes but also to share that dominion with His church.
Something that Bill Johnson said hit me in a new and fresh way that was very powerful. In chapter 5 he talks about a woman who set up a booth at a local faire who was going to read tarot cards etc. He did not engage her in spiritual warfare but he engaged in the spirit realm against her activity. And in doing so he prayed binding her to the Word of God that the the spirits influencing her had no power on the ground where he stood and he claimed the area for the kingdom. I like the binding to the Word. The truth of the Word is more powerful than the lies of the enemy and we can declare the Word and hold ground. It just hit me in a new and powerful way.
Chapter 1 Summary – The Normal Christian Life
In this chapter Bill basically states his thesis for the book; that it’s normal for Christians to have an appetite for the supernatural; to just live in expectation of the kingdom. He tells a story about how a person was miraculously healed of multiple conditions at a wedding. He says that these kinds of things are becoming more common place or “normal” happenings in their community. Powerless Christianity is not normal. Normal Christianity is when believers move in God’s power.
At the end Bill argues that for this to happen a transformation of our minds needs to occurs when the Holy Spirit comes upon desperate people. Bill then says that our mandate is to raise up a generation that will understand normal Christianity as moving in God’s power.
Chapter 2 Summary – Commission Restored
This chapter is about our commission as humans to co-labor and co-create with God. The Lord’s plan has always been to share dominion with us over the creation. The Garden of Eden was the original area where God and humans would share the dominion over the earth. Eden was where Adam was to learn how to co-labor and co-create. The plan was for Adam & Eve to procreate and extend this arrangement of shared dominion. But of course this was lost by the Fall. Not only was it lost but now dominion over the world was given over to the satan. From that point on the Lord determined to take dominion back from the satan. Jesus came and did just that. But Jesus did not come in full divinity. But came as a man just like Adam (Romans 5) in order to win back the place of humanity to share dominion with God again. Even though he is 100% divinity, he emptied himself of the right to use His divinity. Instead He depended on the Holy Spirit’s guidance and empowerment. In so doing Jesus reclaimed humanity’s right to share dominion with God on earth again. His concluding point is that believers hold the Key of David, that is, that when believers declare the gospel to others we allow others to “see” the Father. When we fail to declare we prevent others from seeing the Father.
Chapter 3 Summary – Repent to See
In this chapter Bill talks about the need to have a repentant mind. By repentance he means having a changed mind and heart – a mind that has been changed to think differently and go in a different direction. The repentant mind believes for the kingdom to breakthrough. God has brought His dominion close to us again and made it available to us again. The kingdom is “at hand” for us to lay hold of again. We have to learn how to do this. It starts with having a transformed or new mind that understands and expects to be able to do this. The best description of a repentant mind and heart is in fact the sermon on the mount in the beatitudes. He says on pg 40 “This is how the repentant mind looks.” The beatitudes describe the “desperation” for God and see heaven and have earth be changed to be like heaven. Hearts and minds that are desperate, broken, mourn, are pure are most apt to see and lay hold on the kingdom.
When Bill Johnson explained about the Garden of Eden as an area under the dominion of both God and Adam. Eden represents God’s plan and dream of shared dominion over His creation with us. I don’t know that I thought of Eden that way.
Daily Impact: I just finished reading Heidi Baker’s book “Compelled by Love” – wow! If you haven’t read this book, move it to the top of your list. Seriously!! This whole book is a mediation on the Beatitudes and how she has seen them in her ministry in Mozambique. She shows over and over how a person who is in daily desperate need for the Lord to break through and believes for the kingdom being “at hand” (just right there in reach), are the people who see the Lord break through. I think that Bill Johnson is coming from the same place. The Lord has been calling me to “dispossess” and divest more and more; to let go of things, my own abilities and resources and to live in dependence upon him; to put myself in situations where I can only depend on Jesus breaking through; also to totally re-arrange my finances to make more of what he has given me available to him. Also reading what Bill Johnson says increases faith. right? We are co-inheritors with Christ. Christ has won back our rightful identities as those who share dominion with the Father over the world. The kingdom is “at hand”! The implication is that Father’s will for us is to always be able to access his dominion on earth. So pray until it happens. right?
I guess I should explain the term ‘chesed’ or ‘hesed’. It’s the word found in biblical Hebrew and is all over the Hebrew scriptures. It is often translated as simply “love” or “lovingkindness” or even “mercy” depending upon the translation and the context. But it’s real meaning is more like “steadfast love” and even “enduring love”…and even “loyalty” and “covenant faithfulness”. It is the word used to describe God’s persistent loyalty and compassion for us. His compassion springs from His commitment to us; and conversely, His commitment and loyalty spring from His unmovable compassion for us. They are dimensions of the same thing: His steadfast love! Most places you see “steadfast love” in the Psalms, for example, this is it. It is also found in Micah 6:8. This is the term David used to describe to describe who God is and His character. It’s the way God has relationship with us and how He wants us to have relationship with Him and with each other – ‘steadfast love’ – ‘faithful/loyal compassion’. It so shaped David’s thinking that he extended ‘chesed’ to others. It was the basis of his relationship with Mephibosheth (2 Sam 9:7) and Hanun (2 Sam 10:2). Our Lord Jesus carried this understanding forward as the model of relational community. In Matt 9 Jesus went to Matthew’s house where there were tax collectors and “sinners” (you fill in the blanks!). When the religious folk complained about Jesus hanging out with them, Jesus responded “I wish you understood this. ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice'”. This comes from Hosea 6:6. The word that is translated “mercy” in Matthew is you guessed it, “chesed” in the Hebrew. When Jesus said that I’m sure that the Pharisees understood the full dimension (at least intellectually) of what Jesus said to them. Jesus was reminding them of God’s steadfast love for us just as He had for Matthew and his friends. The only thing that would “heal” them was for the Pharisees to cross the threshold into Matthew’s house and show them “chesed” – compassion that is absolutely committed and loyal to them – and loyalty that springs from unrelenting compassion. I am so, so thankful that this is who my Lord and Savior is to me. Thank you Father for your love; thank you Jesus for crossing the threshold into my dirty life and sacrificing yourself even to death to heal me; thank you sweet Holy Spirit for living with me every breath. With all my strength I will try to “chesed” you in return.
The gospels (Luke 5:16 e.g.) record that Jesus frequently drew away from the crowds to “lonely” or “deserted” places to pray. I guess this would qualify. I love this picture – it’s a trail I took in 2011 for the 3rd time that took me to the top of Whitney. Whitney is that big flat-top in the distance. Just look at it! It’s desperate! and it’s dry! In some ways it depicts my path now. I am desperate for a new touch from the Father while thankful for every previous one. Paradoxically I am in a season of deeper growth than I ever thought I would experience while knowing my path to this point is leading me to the precipice of a glorious break-through realization of His presence.
I am so thrilled to have this season at E58 SOM and the possible answers to prayer it presents!