Stilling Storms and Knowing You Are Loved

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Your ability to resist the Devil is directly tied to how resolved you are about the will of God.

If you speak to a storm and it does not comply with your words, do you immediately assume that it was not God’s will for that storm to stop? What if that storm then comes and wreaks havoc in people’s lives? Do you still assume it was God’s will for that storm to have its way? Or do you refocus your resolve, go back and determine what is the will of the Lord?

The Thief comes but for to kill and to steal and to destroy, but Jesus has come to give us life and abundance (John 10:10). So then if the storm begins to kill, steal and destroy what is the source and power behind it? Is it Satan? or has God changed His mind that He now wants to kill, steal and destroy?

In the mind of Satan if he is trying to enforce his will and there is a Christian, a resolved Christian standing in his way, speaking with biblical authority and he senses a slow-down or a halt in his progress, what must his strategy be? How can he overcome a resolved Christian, full of faith, speaking with authority? He must attack the resolve. He must come against that Christian’s willingness to stand. The quickest way for him to do that is through the door of doubt. “Hath God said?” It’s literally the oldest trick in the book. If Satan can seed your thinking with some way to doubt your resolve, to let up on the choke hold that is literally strangling his forward motion, then he can make it past you. Once your resolve is gone, you are gone, as far as he’s concerned.

So, know what you know! Fiercely! Believe what you believe. With unflinching resolve.

Oh, did you feel that? Did you feel your conscience being piqued? Did you sense some guilt that you were thinking anything with absolute certainty? “Who, by the way, are you? Do you think you can just command God around? Do you really think the Devil just bows to your resolve? Your motives are impure!”

Actually, most of the time the Devil won’t speak in the voice of second person, but in the voice of first person: So it will sound more like this: “Who am I? I can’t command anything. God is in charge. My motives are impure!” These weakening signals are not coming from a pure-motived Holy Spirit within but from a fearful Devil trying to intimidate you and get you to back off of your single-minded spiritual authority which to him is a great threat.

Know your righteousness!

To get to this place of single minded authority that is full of faith and effectiveness you must be trained by the Holy Spirit to be guilt-free. Since guilt is a handle with which Satan can jerk you around, you must have that handle spiritually, surgically removed. You must be cleansed from a guilty conscience. This doesn’t mean you are hard-hearted and immovable. This doesn’t mean you have no conscience, it just means you have become deaf to internal accusations claiming your guilt for things Christ has already forgiven and cleansed.

If you are in Christ there is no reason to continue in faith-crippling guilt. You must understand that you are loved by God. If you don’t know that you can’t be effective in spiritual warfare of any kind. Just go back and sit in the Heavenly Father’s lap. Go back and listen to some teaching that convinces you of God’s love for you. Go back and get wrecked emotionally by His overwhelming and unflinching love for you. Get saturated. Get deeply convicted. Get overwhelmingly satisfied of His great love for you. (If you think the last few sentences were excessive or superfluous in describing God’s love, then you don’t know His love yet. You need to get to where these words don’t describe it extravagantly enough.)

After you know God’s love for you and are confident in your relationship with him; when you have that sense of son-ship, where you know He’s your Father, He loves you and delights in you, then and only then comes a time when He points you outward to begin to govern over the creation He has made. This is the manifestation of the sons of God that all creation groans for. The Beloved. The ones who know they’re loved. Walking into this world knowing they own it all. Of course they own it all, this world is Daddy’s and He put us here, in charge, full of His authority. We have the precious name - Jesus. We have power of attorney. Nothing is impossible. All the promises already come with a yes and an amen. If I ask for a promise to be fulfilled He says “Yes”. If I turn toward the world and the spirit-world and command something to happen - like a mountain to move - He just stands behind me with His hand on my shoulder and affirms my command with an “AMEN!” I love it when He says “amen” to what I say. I know He loves it when I say “amen” to what He says. Amen says I’m totally with you on this, our hearts are one about this, we are in full agreement. He likes it. I like it. Being one with God is the deal. It’s the bomb, as they say. Nothing better. So now, after you know all these things, how could you doubt the will of God? If a storm wants to wipe out your neighborhood its easy to stand up and say, “No, you are not from God therefore I have complete authority over you. Stop!” From this position of faith - that storm will stop. I know. It’s happened in my life many times.

When Nancy & I were first married, probably the second or third week after the wedding, one night I was awakened by loud claps of thunder and the sounds of a raging storm, Nancy was already awake running through the apartment closing all the windows then she runs back and jumps in bed and says, “Tell that to stop!” I’m barely awake and I just say “Stop in Jesus name.” There was a sudden silence. There were no more claps of thunder. The violence of the storm was gone immediately not gradually. We looked at each other somewhat surprised but confident of the cause and effect we just observed and participated in.

Two weeks later the exact same scenario, middle of the night storm, me just waking up, Nancy running through the apartment closing the windows to keep the rain from coming in, running back and jumping in bed telling me to tell it to stop. Barely awake I said, “I command you to stop in Jesus name.” We heard a loud clap of thunder and then complete silence. I wondered for years why that storm didn’t stop immediately but there was one more clap of thunder? I currently believe as I wrote above that Satan was trying to test my resolve or he was trying to introduce doubt of my authority.

Some summer, about my seventh or eighth year of pastoring there was a serious heat wave going on in Chicago. Temperatures were in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. At our church staff meeting we were planning a church picnic at a local park. One of my staff members said, if the heat is like this you can’t have a picnic. So I asked the staff, what temperature do you want it to be? What should we agree on? We all agreed that for the picnic it should be 82 degrees with a few clouds and slight breeze. Now remember you don’t pray for the weather, you speak to the weather. Too many people want the weather to change but never speak to it. Remember, Jesus spoke to a fig tree, He spoke to the storms, you can too. Imitate God. So we spoke to the weather to comply with what we said: Sunny with a few clouds, 82 degrees with a slight breeze. The picnic was still a few weeks out, so when we announced to the church we were having a picnic we asked who was in agreement that the weather should be such and such. Most nodded in approval. So I led the congregation in prayer and spoke to the weather in front of the congregation, they all agreed and rejoiced. So now the moment of truth comes. If I remember correctly when I woke up the day of the picnic it was around 85 degrees. When it came time for the picnic the temperature was descending from 83 to 79. It was sunny with a few clouds and a slight breeze. Toward the end of the successful picnic I turned my heart to the Lord and said thank you for the great weather, I felt Him bounce it right back to me and He said, “Son, I didn’t do this. You did.” Man, that really baffled me at first. But then we remember how the people were in awe at what Jesus did. They marvelled that God had given such authority to men.

Another time a couple had opened their home for the church to have a picnic there. They had a pool and a beautiful back yard. We had prayed about the weather and spoken to it. But half way through the picnic a storm came. Actually it wasn’t really a storm so much as just a quick rainfall. So people were speaking to it to stop. We had all the food outside on tables. The woman of the house said, “If you’re going to pray, now would be a good time.” I said, “I have been.” But I can tell you that I did not have an internal resolve like I did the other times. This could have been from different factors, but I believe the reason was the same as when Jesus could do no mighty works when He was in His hometown. They all just knew Him as the carpenter’s kid. So there was plenty of doubt about Him. Remember it didn’t say He would not do any mighty miracles but that he could not. When we were in church that Sunday morning taking authority over the picnic weather there was a strong atmosphere of faith. I wasn’t feeling the same level or authority when the rain came. It only interrupted the picnic for a few moments then we were all back outside having fun. So we don’t take any guilt or let any condemning thoughts reside in our thinking. We are not created to carry guilt - it is harmful to us. I could have let the thoughts come, “You’re not a man of faith. You’ve got nothing. All the other times were just coincidences. You sure are prideful to think that you could have authority over the weather.” And on and on those thoughts could continue if we let them. But knowledge of the truth can set you free and it does. Knowing that I’m loved by God. He’s not mad at me. I’m here just like Jesus was, representing the Father. I’m His son. He approves of me. With me He is well pleased. From this place of confidence and God-approval I can face the next challenge that comes to me with confidence.

"Knowing Joseph"

Exo 1:8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.
To speak metaphorically:
“Knowing Joseph” could stand for the world being familiar with the anointing and importance of the gifts and abilities that rest on God’s children.
“Knowing Joseph” they would have been partakers of the saving graces that God can provide to the world through his church.
“Knowing Joseph” they would hold God’s children in reverence and awe with a reverent fear that behind these people was some omnipotent power whom they did not know personally but it seems that these people do know this power personally.
“Knowing not Joseph” led to bondage for the people of God, because the world feared them because they as a people seemed blessed for some reason.

When there was a man who wore the anointing and had been proven in integrity by fiery adversity, God was able to place a mantle of authority on him that He couldn’t on one untried and unproven.
Joseph was positioned by God and exalted in the eyes of the world because of his extraordinary (God-given) endowment of ability. His work made a marvelous impact on the world because his abilities were extraordinary. Through all this his integrity never crumbled, as was normal for the world. Joseph was a good man. The world knew it. God knew it. He could be relied upon. He was faithful. Thus “knowing Joseph” is a healthy thing for the world. It brings blessing and order. But there must be a Joseph available for the world to know.

Are you a “Joseph” or maybe a “Joseph in training”?

Are you being prepared to bring solutions into this earth that answer man’s deepest problems, not just sacred but secular?

God is looking for someone he can exalt. God is looking for a man who he can lift up into a position of prominence, strength and authority who will work blessings into the fabric of society. Could it be you? Could it be me?

Let’s submit to the training, the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Let’s allow the refiner to complete His work. Let us wait patiently as He lets us sit and wait for the proper timing and positioning of our target.

Ps. 127 says, “like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”

Rest

Did you know it takes patience to rest?

I’m on a sabbatical right now and when you are used to doing, doing, doing then rest is not an easy process to yield to.

Resting is a process.

It allows your body, mind and soul to do things that couldn’t happen while you were so busy. 

Activity inhibits some critical processes. Rest is not really rest in the truest form, its simply a change of processes. 

Constant activity requires your body to stay in a constant state of defensiveness so that you can continue uninterrupted in your constant busyness. But this constant state of defense requires that other processes be reduced in their priority. Some never happen. Some healing processes never happen when we stay busy. 

 

Rest is where you tell your body, “I’m going to slow down now and give you time to catch up, heal up, regroup, re-assess, regenerate, reinvigorate.” There’s so much work that needs to be done inside us. If we think its unimportant we will never give time to it. Rest is more important than we know.

 

Did you know it takes faith to rest?

I know there is a God.

I know that I am not Him.

I know He’s bigger than me, more capable, more loving.

I know that He knows that I need rest.

So within His creation, His system, He has made room for me to rest, time for me to take a break.

When I rest I must trust Him for all the things that I was relying on myself for.

I must rest. He is good. He will take care of all those things. I need not worry. I need not fear. God is good. Good night! Time to rest.

Transition: by Natalie Barlow

You know that feeling when you’re at the top of a roller coaster? You’ve gone up the steep incline, you see the exhilarating drop that is about to come, you’re nervous, excited, scared out of your mind, ecstatic, and peace seems like it’s completely out of your reach. It’s transition time. Yeah, that’s pretty much where life has been at lately… moving out of the home 3 months ago, getting engaged 2 months ago, most of the girls that I’ve mentored have gone off to college, so God has begun to bring new ones, my family is on a Sabbatical from ministry for the first time ever, I'm running the church with the rest of the team while they're gone, and my brother just moved to California today. I feel so many things right now. Some good, some not so good. It’s not a common occurrence for me to just feel emotions but I know it’s a healthy time to do so. So here’s my processing. 

I miss my family. It’s finally been setting in that I’m an adult, living away from home, times with the family are no longer consistent, goodbyes have become more difficult and it’s really rough when I think about the fact that I won’t get to be a part of the daily life at home, watching my siblings grow up, and hearing and seeing every ridiculous and adorable thing that they do. Yet at the same time, I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I love living on my own. Times with the family are now more intentional and “full”. My roommates are wonderful, no crazy stories here! I’m so blessed by each one of them… they are a true gift from God and I love doing life with them. 

I’m so thankful to have the greatest fiancé in the world. For real, I know I talk about him a lot, but I will never fully be able to express the love and appreciation that I have for Danny. I’m so blessed to do life alongside this man, he challenges me, cares for me, he knows me. They say to be loved is to be known. I have never felt more known by somebody in my entire life, and yet loved so fully. Last night I finally let the tears flow, this week has been full of a lot of heavy things and big changes with my family and friends, and as I cried, he sat there and chose to just “be” with me. And after my face was swollen and I had used about 20 tissues, he then encouraged me in who I was, in the season I’m in, I think he saw that I was fearing the drop on this roller coaster, that I was looking at all the scary things that could happen, yet, he grabbed my hand, told me that we’re in this together, and showed me that this new season is good, that it’s okay to face reality, it’s a big change, but none of these changes are bad…they’re actually some of the most wonderful things that could happen! I began to realize that peace isn’t out of my reach. 

It talks in the Bible about how God gives us a peace that passes all understanding. The truth is, that’s what I need right now. There’s uncertainty, there’s sadness, there’s joy, there’s fear, there’s heaviness, there’s A LOT of change, and it’s easy to think I have to carry all of this, but when I take a step back and look at it all. I see that His plans are good and they’re not supposed to weigh me down. All those negative things I feel are just feelings. They don’t define truth. They don’t define my life. It’s okay for me to identify that they’re there, but the minute that I step into letting fear control me, is the minute that I resist the peace that He has for me…and that’s all I truly want right now, so why hold onto fear? Why hold onto doubt and uncertainty when I could let go of those things and grab onto peace! The peace that passes all understanding, it's mine, and I choose to operate in this peace allows me to throw my hands in the air, smile and laugh and enjoy the ride. Bring on that drop, I’m ready for this roller coaster! 

It's all about the business plan.

Hey! You wanna start somethin’?

You get an idea. You see the world could be different if they all used your idea. If your idea was out there. If people were using it. If your organization was up and running. If it was full of employees producing your product or serving people. You see people coming by the masses. As you imagine, your visions get more and more detailed. You begin to play out scenarios in your mind and you see how you would handle them. Its getting exciting.  People are going to love this and I’ll be rich or I’ll be influential or I’ll be significant! Aahh! This flood of thoughts during this creative process is so exhilarating! But then…

Frustration sets in…

  • You see where you are…
  • You see how things are…
  • You see the distance from where you are to how they could be…
  • You see how far you’ve got to go…

But, my friend, let me tell you: I believe that what you’ve received or conceived is a gift. It could be a gift to the whole world. Let me encourage you. The world doesn’t have enough thinkers like you. There are not enough people who will lead others in making significant and lasting change.

New ideas create new products create new industries create new jobs create new strength in the economy brings reduced poverty strengthens families...well I think you get the idea. Your idea could really change things. Do you have the strength to bring it about? Remember, you can’t do it alone. You’ll need help. Find some people who could encourage you. Someone who is willing to take part in that creative process and believe in and work for the vision that you see.

Next it's time to go back and capture the thoughts you had in that creative process.

  • How did you see this happening? Write it down!
  • What would you do in this scenario? Write it down!
  • What would you do in that scenario? Write it down!
  • What if the economy did this? Write it down!
  • What if you succeeded tremendously? Write it down!
  • What if you failed miserably? Write it down!
  • Capture all these scenarios. Write them down!

Now get a spreadsheet and start laying out the numbers.

  • How big will this be?
  • How many employees will you need?
  • How much will you have to pay them?
  • How many employees will you have to hire to manage all the employees you hired?
  • Will you do profit sharing?
  • What will you personally do with all your newly acquired wealth?

As you ponder, study and work through all these things it makes it easier for others to see what you are trying to create. Then they can begin to invest in it. They may invest time. They may invest money. But the clearer your vision...the clearer you are when you write this down...the more you think through and explain all the various scenarios then you are leading, and others will follow. They’ll see that this vision that you have is one that is worth working for.

Be encouraged my friend. The success of your vision is all about the business plan. And its a lot of work. But just like a mother giving birth to a child, what she’s been growing on the inside has got to come out. Write it all down, my friend. Get it all out. Then ask for help. Ask people to read your plan and see what they think. Let their comments help you refine what you’re seeing. 

Let them sharpen you but don’t let them stop you.

 

Vengeance and the Jaded Heart

I’ve been concerned lately about the battle heating up between mostly young African American men and police officers. I’ve seen several videos posted online of police brutality. Videos of young African American men walking around and somehow getting into an altercation with the police and within moments the young man is dead. It hurts me to see it. What were those police officers thinking? Why such brute force when it seemed from footage leading up to the altercation the man seemed out of touch or “lost” in some way? This is so grievous.

On the other hand, my son is a police officer and I’ve seen him post pictures of young police officers who took a bullet and never got to go home again to their families. Police officers who daily and voluntarily walk into the line of fire to help the community and maintain peace. This also is grievous.

I hear the rhetoric from each side, swear words and foul language that they use to relieve the pressure on the inside of them caused by these grievous situations. These words they use to label each other are vengeance.

There’s a storehouse in each of us. A storehouse of unforgiveness and offense. When that storehouse get’s full, Watch Out! It's got to come out. It's full of frustration, anger, bitterness, hatred, resentment, etc.

We’ve got to judge what’s right and wrong as best we can. It’s a built in human mechanism. When we see injustice we have to categorize that event in our memories as injustice.

But when we move to vengeance we’re in trouble. All the weight of justice does not rest on your shoulders. If you are a young African American man on the street who’s seen injustice from the police officers, you have a responsibility to work toward justice but you cannot carry the weight of vengeance.

If you are a police officer who has lost a comrade to the actions of an African American man on the streets, you may have the weight of justice vested in you as you wear that badge but you don’t have to carry the weight of vengeance.

Both sides please keep your hearts clean. Please, work for justice but take up no vengeance. I see that when that storehouse of offense fills up it could be the weight that tips the delicate balance on the trigger finger on either side. That my friend would just bring more injustice.

A jaded heart is just an offended heart that becomes increasingly inaccurate in its judgments with each additional offense.

For me the best remedy is in the old adage, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay. says the Lord.”

We can work for justice, but let’s leave the vengeance in His hands.

Jealous Perspectives

So, you’ve heard the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” So, here’s my question: Is that true or false? Is the grass always greener over there? My answer might surprise you, but hopefully it will give us all something to think about.

The answer is: TRUE! The grass IS ALWAYS greener on the other side of the fence.

If you’re looking down at grass you see grass with dirt around it. You’re seeing from a perspective where the blade is not getting its best showing. However if you change the angle at which you are viewing the grass, perhaps from the other side of the fence, you’ll notice that you don’t see much dirt and you see the full side of the blade of grass. Things are definitely greener from this angle. Now if you walk over and stand on the greener grass you were looking at, then look back at where you were standing before, now that grass looks greener. It’s all a matter of perspective. You may be jealous of someone, but you might not be if you could see the dirt in their life that they put up with daily. You were given the perspective you have so you can change things that need to be changed, not so you could be jealous of someone you think is better off than you.

Living Free From The Fear of Death

A few weeks ago I spoke at church about living without fear of death. I thought I would unfold a few thoughts for you here that might help:

I gave my life to Jesus Christ when I was 11 years old, I got filled with the Holy Spirit at age 13, but because of bad theology and lack of teaching there was a void in my life. You see I had a great relationship with the Lord. I prayed regularly, got into the word not as regular, went to church as much as I could, I was filled with the Spirit and had wonderful things happening in my life, even hearing the voice of God on occasion and also as I journaled,  but I knew nothing of any eternal assurance. I didn’t know where I was going when I died. When I was 19 I began to hear the word preached on a regular basis. In my old church they would read the scriptures but no one had any real understanding of them. At the new church there was teaching coming from the pulpit that really made me come alive. I found out that for a Christian, a child of God, heaven is promised. Its not a ‘wait and see’ proposition. I was astounded, really amazed; not only did I get this great relationship with God, but I got to go to heaven too.

Knowing Where You’re Going

Once you know your eternal destination, you’re not just hoping now, but the Holy Spirit has taught it to you internally then you come into a place where a base fear, a primordial fear can be released. The fear of death is a haunting thing. But when you know what’s on the other side of death’s door then it doesn’t look so daunting.

Now self-preservation is a base instinct. We have a natural, built-in tendency to do whatever we can to stay alive. This is good and wonderful. But the fear of death gives place to some rational fears and some irrational.

Why So Afraid?

Most people only know what they can see with their physical eyes. Heaven is not a reality to them so they must hang on to the only reality they know. Death is a door way that leads to eternity. Obviously its a pretty big question: did you get your eternal accommodations worked out? If you didn’t there is a default but its not heaven. If you haven’t chosen Jesus Christ as your saviour and given the Lordship of your life over to him then I recommend you do. If you haven’t, you have great reason to fear death, because on the other side of death’s door is eternal judgment. But if you’ve got this eternity question worked out then death should be avoided but not feared.

Integrity Test

So imagine you are the head of a non-profit organization that raises money for some terrible cancer research. Let’s say you are very successful and build an organization with hundreds of people working for you and you are able to bring in millions and millions of dollars towards this precious and wonderful cause. Now here’s the test: what if they find the answer? What if the research is successful? Now your organization and all the work of your hands has no more meaning! Now you don’t have a job. Would you have the integrity to shut down your organization? Would you be willing to admit to donors who are willing to give you millions of dollars that their money is not needed anymore?

 

Vengeance Is So Heavy

Over a week ago I was turning left in front of the Glen Ellyn Library to head North over the tracks. I was waiting while three cars were heading south toward me then turning right. The last car looked like he had his blinker on so I pulled out  to turn left. After I pulled out he slowed  because he apparently was not planning on turning and I was now in his way. He yelled out the window at me some unrepeatable curse words.  Well I’m not around people much who talk like that so that stuff hurts my ears; especially when it's directed at me. I then started to feel offended and the chemical reactions in my body started to rise up with how to handle this. All kinds of imaginations flooded my head. Then I remembered the scripture verse that said, “Bless those who curse you and pray for those who spitefully use you.” So, I started praying for this guy, to bless him. I prayed that he would get a raise in his job and maybe even a promotion and that God would bless his marriage and finances and all his relationships. That the goodness of God would overtake him. It was such a relief to take this position, because before I thought of this scripture, some of my imaginations toward him would not necessarily be classified as Christian. Later I remembered the scripture that says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” When I thought about that I realized the heaviness of the burden of wanting to pay that guy back for yelling curses at me. When I compare that to the light feeling that I had when I was praying for blessings on his life there was a stark contrast. Now I understand why God says that vengeance is His. It is too heavy for us as humans to carry it. I love God. His wisdom really makes things easier.

Hang On To Your Favorite Scriptures

Hey Friends, I just wanted to share a quick thought with you as you’re attempting to lead a good life. There are sayings that guide you and shape you. There are scriptures that feed you and keep you on track. This is a just a quick reminder, go back and read those sayings and scriptures again. It’s amazing how refreshing it can be. For me, I like to just page through my Bible and read the verses that I have underlined. I also love to read through my journals and see what scriptures I wrote in there and what sayings I wrote or copied down. Visiting these sayings and scriptures will fortify you again, help you get back on track or stay on track. It may be the fuel you need.