The Opening Act

What can we do to help bring and sustain Revival in Amrerica?

God knew before the foundations of the earth what the world would look like in 2021. Certainly, he is not in heaven wringing his hands nor is he wrought with anxiety. If God’s not worried, I shouldn’t be – but I was. I was concerned about my finances, about my career, about being a “good enough” Christian, about whether or not I was doing enough to be who I should be according to society.

I repented and focused again on who God said I was. I knew he wasn’t stressed about the state of our world (or my life) so I asked him how I could partner with him and thus began a conversation I didn’t expect. We walked and talked for what seemed like hours and in this conversation, he shared many things about the Church, including the intentionality and heart behind our actions.

Without a doubt, God has been moving in the prophetic in ways that are unprecedented. While it has historically been the church relying on one person/Prophet/Pastor to give a word, we are now walking in a place where God is speaking directly to each one of us – and it’s just the beginning. No longer will we be dependent on a specific person to hear from God but we will all learn from God himself, and as initially intended, we will all teaching each other the different things we’ve been learning.

God showed me that the prophetic is what will break open the hearts of this generation. Before we get into the why and how of it, come with me on a quick detour to explore the emotional and mental health of our nation as it stands. I’ve been working in the Mental Health field for over 10 years and I’ve been working on my own mental health for the last 20 years. Without turning this into a research paper, I will simply share a few statistics. In 2019, the United States had 23% of children (0-17 y/o) growing up in single-parent households; highest percentage internationally. Add to this the outrageous impact social media has on this generation. Cyber bullying and trafficking happening over a T1 line and most of us are blissfully (?) unaware of it. Simply put – this generation is CRAVING identity. They want to be seen, known, and valued (hence the copious amounts of social media posts as well as time spent on said social media apps). When you don’t know your identity, you are far more vulnerable to all the things vying for your attention.

The prophetic is used in order to exhort, edify and encourage the hearer. When God uses us to give words of knowledge and speak into the core things of people’s lives, God is saying, “I SEE YOU! I KNOW YOU! I LOVE YOU!” On the other end of the spectrum, we have many people going to psychics, palm readers, mentalists, etc. trying to understand what to do for their future or how to proceed. They are very much the counterfeit to what God has to offer. God wants to break in to this generation with a greater move of the prophetic than ever before because he is jealous for His people and he will take it back.

So where do we come in? Obviously we have our Sunday night prophetic services, we have our Thursday bible studies and now we have our Wednesday nights in person in Pasadena but many of our faithful Practical Supernatural crew are not local. How can we be part of what God is doing in the nation? You are situated exactly where you’re supposed to be (West Coast, East Coast, even across the pond) and you can help usher in this new move of the prophetic right where you are. One of this things we can do is to prophecy every chance you get. James challenges us to do this all the time and I’ll admit, it was a struggle. It wasn’t even a fear of man of getting it wrong, or looking like a fool. 90% of the time, I just couldn’t be bothered to. I was in my own headspace and either I didn’t see them or I didn’t want to. I was more worried about myself and what I was doing/thinking about to make space for God to move. God has been praying for a long time that we would have eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand.

“Their minds are dull and slow to perceive, their ears are plugged and are hard of hearing, and they have deliberately shut their eyes to the truth. Otherwise they would open their eyes to see, and open their ears to hear, and open their minds to understand. Then they would turn to me and I would instantly heal them.

-Matthew 13:15 (TPT); emphasis added

How long have we been walking around blinded TO the glory of God, instead of being reverently blinded BY the glory of God? The prophetic is the opening act. An accurate prophetic word is just a shoe in for God to do the rest. This encounter with the very heart of Love Himself will break down walls and just like that – God has access to a part of their heart that he didn’t before. But He does this with great gentleness and kindness. God will never embarrass you or expose you. The best way I’ve heard it say is that God reveals to heal. I had an experience recently where I was truly terrified that God would reveal this really deep, scary heart issue to someone so they could pray for me. This person prayed for me but did so only in tongues because God wanted to respect my choice for privacy. God’s kindness is almost offensive. If you’ve experienced his kindness, you know what I mean. He is extravagant in his love for us and relentless in his pursuit of our whole heart.

This is becoming a 2-part blog so I’ll round it out here but I will leave you with a few things to consider. The world is starved for identity, attention and belonging and they are finding it in many places but unfortunately the church is not one of the top go-to’s for that in America. They join a club, athletics, or even a gang to validate who they are and their experiences. Why is the Church not a go to? Let’s be honest; the Church in America has been so quick to judge and even in their best efforts, sometimes the Church has hurt more than helped those who are already hurting. By judging them we have invalidated them. We have told them we’re better than them. We’ve told them that they have to be a certain way in order to belong. If this has been your experience in the Church, I’m so sorry. You don’t deserve to be treated that way.

In my next blog, I’ll talk about some ways that the church can be better at loving and healing this generation.

Cancel the Pity Party

The woe-is-me, why-me, victim mentality has consumed the Church for far too long. At some point in history, the Western Church has gotten complacent and entitled. In this generation, we have become so influenced by society which has taught us that playing victim and seeking attention with poor behavior is more effective than dealing with your thoughts/feelings/emotions and moving on. This is not true. In fact organizing said pity party is one of the worst things you can do for yourself. I want to share some insights on how to get out of this mindset, and how to love someone as they navigate through this process of repentance (changing your mind).

As someone who has been through decades of trauma, as well as a therapist and a believer who has been on both sides of the coin, I can say that allowing the Lord to work through the pain is profoundly more impactful than sitting in it. To sit and wallow in self-pity and pain is to come into agreement with the enemy, admit defeat and at some point choosing to walk into a darker place. Please hear me – I understand how crucial it is to be able to feel the pain, but I adjure you, do not stay in this place. An analogy I really like to use with my clients is to remind them that we are walking through this dark place in order to move through it. Remember – we are just passing through (not moving in) so don’t unpack your bags or settle in. I had to remind myself of this very thing this week, and had to ask God for courage to face my emotions and choose not to be a victim to my circumstances. God absolutely answered my prayers but just because he gave me the courage to do so does not mean it wasn’t painful.

Hopefully you’re still reading and I haven’t lost you to offense. In my years of working through my own trauma whilst being in ministry, I’ve learned a few things that I want to share with you: “what you behold you become” and “two inches”. Let me explain. I feel the first is pretty self-explanatory, but whatever you focus your attention on will grow and take up space in your mind (which impacts your behaviors and mood). Too often, we try to warp the scriptures around our situations instead of allowing the scripture to speak into our situations. What has more authority in your life – your situation or the Truth? If you stay focused on the pain and let it overtake your life, well… you know where that leads. It’s exhausting, torturous and painful (despite all your efforts to hide or exaggerate your pain). But did you know it’s okay to express all your feelings towards God? He won’t be offended. He is a compassionate God, meaning he is well-versed in all emotions and can sympathize because he has experienced it all. Scripture says that the Holy Spirit will be your comforter and I pray that you experience this if you haven’t yet. In order to experience His comfort, though, you must 1) acknowledge that there’s pain and 2) allow God to see you in that place. I am aware of how terrifying this is but I promise its worth it. When you allow Him to be your comfort, you will first feel all the pain. You have to let him see the wound, clean it out, put some ointment on it or even do surgery, and wrap you back up. I wish I could say there was another way around it, but there isn’t. There is no time-stamp on how long it will take but He is the great physician and I promise He will give you an anesthetic and tools to help with the pain afterwards. It’s not an exact science but in my experience, the longer you allow the wound to fester, the longer it’ll take to heal. This brings me to my second lesson I mentioned which is “two inches”. Lift your eyes two inches and look at Jesus instead of your situation. As you look at him, you will encounter a depth of love that you could never have known otherwise. You will learn of his character, his kindness, his gentleness towards you.

One thing that God has been doing in this last season is exposing the lies – individually, corporately, even nationally. The more you allow God into every area of your life, the more you will begin to recognize truth versus lies. Anytime I’m upset with God, start blaming him, ignoring him, etc – I know I’m believing a lie. One of the most powerful questions you can ask the Lord is, “Is there a lie I’m believing about you?” Once he shares with you what that lie is, ask him what the Truth is and expect him to fill you with this truth. Friends, please do not feel defeated or ashamed if this is where you’re at. God is not upset with you at all, but quite the opposite. He is thrilled and cannot wait to help you realize your true identity as one who is already whole and perfect. We are all on this path of healing and wholeness, and I can guarantee you that it does get easier. God has a perfect record, He has never failed a soul, and he’s not about to start with you.

For those of you who are in a position to love and walk alongside those who are walking out their healing, the greatest word of advice I can give you is to love them and see them through the Lord’s eyes. In our own strength, it is near impossible to love someone who does not yet fully know or love themselves. However, when you see them in their perfected wholeness, grace will come easier. Another reminder is that you are not responsible for changing this person – nor are you capable of doing so. Love them where they are while challenging them to sit with the Lord and pray for them to encounter the I AM, that they might find everything they need in Him. A word of caution: I would be careful with boundaries and I would ask the Lord for wisdom on how to love them while not enabling them. While it is profoundly helpful to sit with people as they genuinely feel their emotions, we must be careful not to allow them to sit in their own emotions. We must learn to be pastoral and compassionate, while reminding them of the truth of who they are which is difficult to hear when they feel the exact opposite in that moment. If they aren’t ready to hear the truth – you’ll know. But do not give up on them; continue loving them! The only reason I am where I am today, is because I had people who loved the hell out of me (literally).

Tying in with my last post, I believe that this is one practical step of how the Bride can ready herself for the imminent revival that we’ve been praying for. Love, heal, and be whole.

The World is Eagerly Awaiting Us

Revival and reformation will not be manifest on this earth until we (the Church) learn some seemingly hard lessons. If you’ve been a follower of Jesus for any amount of time (particularly in the Charismatic Movement), you’ve heard that “revival is coming”. I’ve been walking with the Lord for about 20 years and no matter what Christian group I was with, we were praying for revival and for the harvest. But after years of praying, fasting, interceding and basically nothing short of begging, I wasn’t seeing the “revival” that we were praying for so I posed the question to the Lord.

I really pressed in to this and had some long conversations with the Lord about what the hold up was and why we weren’t seeing revival happen. I’d heard different leaders share their points of view but I wanted to hear from him directly. He shared a lot of uncomfortable truths about the Church and asked me if I would be willing to share what he told me. I agreed and I did share – but to very few because I didn’t want to offend the Church. I was recently convicted again about this and so I want to share a few things the Lord’s been showing me about revival.

He told me, “It’s out of mercy that I am not allowing the Church to have revival,” to which I responded in shock and confusion. He explained to me that the Church in its current state is not ready. In revival history, there’s always been some kind of a burn out and the Lord doesn’t want this. He doesn’t want just another few years, he wants true transformation on the earth. I asked him what we needed to do individually and corporately in order to become ready for true reformation. His answers surprised me, saddened me, and then motivated me into action – in that order.

The first thing the Church needs to do is stop idolizing revival. Revival should never be the focus in that our hearts must remain aligned and in love with Him first. If we place our focus on revival, we can get incredibly frustrated and even upset with the Lord because it’s not happening in our own timing. When we place our focus on “events” or things other than intimacy we can become disillusioned about our calling and get lost in our need to achieve or “make it” according to western christianity standards. Out of a place of intimacy, reformation will happen. But it has to be corporate – it won’t work if just a handful of people surrender their lives for him. In this place of intimacy, we learn to hear his heart and follow him. I will admit that I’ve known this for a long time and I have actively avoided intimacy with the Lord in the places of pain. Surely, this avoidance is a natural reaction, but the Truth says that these places of hurt are the very things he died for on the cross. In order for God to truly use us, we must allow him to heal us. We have to let go of our insecurities (because they’re all lies) and believe the truth that in Him, you have no lack (Ps. 34:9) and the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in you (Rom 8:11). Everything is possible if you believe him (Mark 9:23). Don’t worry, I’m preaching to myself as much as anyone reading this. The most important reminder he gave me (in my opinion) was the 2nd greatest commandment to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:39).

This brings me to the second point he made. For years, decades even, we have been praying for the lost, praying for a great harvest, and praying for those who don’t know the Lord to change their ways. This is where the Lord is showing his mercy. When reformation happens, the Church will become a hospital. All those who suddenly realize how much they’re in need of a savior will come running. How will we respond? Will we be ready to treat them with dignity and help in the healing process? How will we respond to those who identify as LGBT? Or those who have different opinions as us on things such as abortion? What about those who come to us with a history of substance abuse, criminal records and mental illness? When they come in and courageously share that they’ve been addicted to sex or pornography, would we accept them just the same? As it stands now, the Church has not loved these neighbors well. The Church has judged, shamed and spoken death over their lives and situations. We are supposed to love these neighbors as we love ourselves (hence the importance of first being loved by God).

If you struggle(d) with any of the above or any other “bad things”, you know that the only way to wholeness and healing is to let Jesus into that place. Friends, none of the above is ever the issue – these behaviors and thoughts always stem from pain and fear. Not knowing how else to manage, face and deal with this pain, people find whatever means of coping. We often forget our place and try to change/fix those who are hurting around us. As a therapist I have learned the invaluable lesson that nobody can make anyone do/not do something. But we can love. We can listen without judgement. We must start where they’re at. If a new believer comes to us a week after they met the Lord and shares that they’ve quit hard drugs but still use weed, let us celebrate this victory. Our ability to see them, know them, and fully accept them is more powerful. When they feel loved, heard, seen, valued, etc. many of these behaviors will change as a byproduct.

When you have been healed of something or have overcome a struggle, you are much more empathetic and relatable. I pray that you would encounter the Lord and experience his loving kindness. From this place, you will know intimacy and you will begin to love others in the same way. Luke 6:45 says, “For the overflow of what has been stored in your heart will be seen by your fruit and will be heard in your words.” May our hearts be whole and full of love. Revival and reformation is a necessary byproduct of whole and healed believers. When we prioritize our own healing and wholeness, the evidence will be in our words and our actions towards others.

When Leaders Fail

Being a follower of Jesus is hard, being a leader is difficult, and being a Chrisitan celebrity has got to be one of them most difficult positions to be in. Not to understate things, but 2020 has been hard! A threshing floor for our health, our finances, the economy, politics, and especially for the church. In light of the Jerry Falwell Jr sexual scandal, Carl Lentz admission to unfaithfulness in his marriage and removal from leadership at Hillsongs, and the recent affirmation of sexual misconduct from the late Ravi Zacharias’ ministry investigation, I think it’s important to address these issues and how it impacts believers. Obviously, sexual sin is something that leaders have dealt with even in biblical times. No doubt power and opportunity can produce a potent cocktail where leaders permit themselves to compromise and end up in situations that damage themselves and those who they influence. However, what we are seeing in the body of Christ is not just sexual sin, but God is exposing a level of perversion that has crept into Christian leadership. There is no need to recount the details as that can be read with a simple internet search, but what has been exposed in 2020 is very dark and has the potential to interfere and hurt the faith lives of many believers. 

I have been in the ministry for nearly twenty years now and come from a Charismatic background. I remember seeing Jimmy Swaggart’s tearful public admission in his Apology Sermon on TV when I was a little boy. Since that time there have been numerous scandals, sexual, financial, and etc that have rocked the church both Protestant and Catholic. What I have noticed is that many people are deeply impacted by the consequences of the exposure of sin in Christian leadership. In fact, a lot of believers lose their way, lose their passion or in general become disillusioned with following Jesus when major leaders have a moral failure. 

Having leaders who fall is not a new thing to impact the church. Leadership issues have been with the church from the  beginning. Judas was part of the twelve and was brought to a tragic end. I imagine those who were blessed by his ministry, were healed or delivered through him, or had known him personally, were deeply impacted by the outcome of his life. Also Paul had a fellow worker named Demas on his ministry team as mentioned in Philemon 1:24. Demas accompanied the Apostle in Rome as mentioned in Colossians 4:14, however, Demas does not carry on in his leadership role and is again mentioned in 2 Timothy 4: 10, for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world. (NKJV) Paul having the greatest and most far-reaching ministries of his day has a leader abandon the faith for the pleasures of this life. How discouraging that must have been for those who had been blessed by Demas’ work for the gospel. 

How do we stay firm in our faith when our leaders falter?

  1. Make Jesus Central

The church is full of charismatic leaders who are genuinely charming. For many people who come to faith or have a lot of personal growth from ministries like this, their faith in Christ and their faith in the leader are mingled together. As leaders it is critical that people know we are simply humans called by God. We are far from perfect, we have personal issues, and sometimes we fall short and sin, but, at the end of the day, as leaders we must make Jesus central not ourselves. For followers of Jesus, it is unwise to put any human on a pedestal where only God belongs. Our faith must fully be in what Jesus has done and who He has revealed Himself to be in scripture, irrespective of anyone else’s input or personal circumstances. If our faith is shaken by another’s person’s failure, it only reveals the depth to which we have put our faith in people rather than the revealed purposes and promises of God. In short, as followers of Jesus, we must own our faith and own our walk.

2. Our walk must have a foundation on the power of God

Paul write in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5, and my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 

For me, this is a life verse. Having had leaders in my own life make poor choices and been disappointed by local and national leaders, it is tempting to be discouraged. However, Paul instructs us that our faith should be not on human wisdom but on the power of God. Yes, this can mean supernatural demonstration in miracles, signs, and wonders. We should have our faith confirmed by the power of God as supernatural demonstration is the evidence of a true declaration of pure gospel. If the reader is wanting a deeper foundation of encounter to rest their faith on, then ardently pursuing God until we are convinced of His reality is a worthwhile pursuit. We should also have our faith in what Christ has done by the Holy Spirit in our own lives. Do we sense the Father’s affection toward us, do our lives bear the fruit of righteousness, are we more Christlike than when we first were introduced to Jesus, and does the Holy Spirit bear witness that we are children of God as Romans 8:16 declares? These too are demonstrations of the Spirit’s power in our own lives and we can have faith in God’s own faithfulness to us.

3. Giftedness and Character are not synonymous

One of the greatest misconceptions regarding leadership and gifting is that a person’s giftedness is a reflection or somehow manifest because of the individual’s personal character. This is inaccurate. People are gifted, in any capacity, as a result of God’s grace in their lives, full stop. In fact Romans 11:29 reads, For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. This means that the calling and the gifting that accompanies an individual remains and operates on that person’s life irrespective of character. If this were untrue we would not have a Satan. Consider this, the Enemy is a gifted spirit with an original call to honor and glorify God, but he is a spirit with malicious character. God did not remove the gifting or calling on his life just because he rebelled, no, he allowed it to remain. What we experience as spiritual warfare is misplaced spiritual giftedness and calling being misused and applied in an adverse form against God and God’s people. In like manner, we have leaders in the body of Christ that are very gifted and have profound callings, but have the ability to sin and walk in rebellion toward God. It is important to perceive this with clarity so that we can be blessed by our leaders in the church and encouraged by their giftings as they point to Jesus, however, to see that all humans are fallible and can make a misstep, but God is always faithful. 

4. Your life is a message

My father once said to me, “your life is either a testimony or a warning.” For many years God has been exposing injustice, immorality, and wickedness in the church. I find comfort in this, that God cares so much about His children and His family, that He will expose and reveal everything that keeps us from knowing Him. God is willing to have His name bear reproach in order that truth and righteousness be revealed in His kingdom. He is unwilling to hide abuse and exposes us, forcing vulnerability. The fact that Jesus is unwilling to allow the church to walk in compromise and He is willing to have His name dragged through the mud with us, only reveals the depth of His grace toward us. That being said, our hidden choices, the things that are whispered in the dark are not hidden. The Holy Spirit, being a good teacher, will exalt  the humble and lowly and expose hidden sins that keep us from loving Him and loving others well. He will use our lives as teachable moments, no matter what our choices are. It’s important as believers that we absorb the nutrients of the testimony of righteous leaders and be circumspect, considering the lives and outcome of those who make poor choices. There is no need to excuse the bad behavior of Christian leadership as God does not excuse it, but we should let it impact us and propel us toward a deeper walk with Jesus. Pursuing vulnerability is central to our success. The days of the isolated model leader is passing away. The Body of Christ needs and demands leaders who operate at the ground level, walking in humility, and carrying their humanity and leadership calling with transparency.

5. Forgiveness

It is so painful to have your heroes and leaders removed from their pedestals. Holding a grudge is easy, but it can become a barrier to our own personal growth. Unforgiveness against leaders can cut us off from the blessing that fallible human leaders have had in our lives. At the end of the day truth is truth, and just because truth comes from weak and frail humanity does not make the message or the gifting the person has an unholy thing. It takes a mature believer to keep this in perspective, to receive what is true and reject what is evil. However, unforgiveness causes us to throw the ‘baby out with the bathwater’. Ravi Zacharias’ books will continue to be a blessing and are full of wonderful truths about Jesus, but the stain on his character will remain. The church that Carl Lentz helped build will continue, but it will always be known as the church with a past scandal. However, for our own lives and own calls we must walk in grace and forgiveness, knowing that if there is full repentance, we welcome our brothers and sisters without judgement. 

For those leaders who have fallen, we must realize that if they are still breathing air, their story is not yet complete. God has the unique ability to take any difficult situation and bring good out of it. Consider the story of Ted Haggard, the story of his exposure is heartbreaking. I personally know individuals who’s spiritual walk was derailed by the salacious facts of his downfall. Yet, his wife, Gayle, fought for him and his family did not discard him. From my perspective, Ted has repented. He has not excused himself, he owns his failure and he continued his walk with Christ. I remember seeing an interview with him on television and was blessed by his candor and vulnerability. If we are imitators of Christ, let us imitate the faith Jesus expresses over our lives. Let us be forgiving and patient with leaders, even if they hurt us in their frailty. 

I’m not sure if 2021 holds more of the same, but I do know that God is purifying the church and in turn He seeks purity in us. The Father is so passionate about our union with Him that He will break down every barrier that hinders love.

We’re in the 4th Quarter…

All in all, the general consensus has been that 2020 sucks. From natural disasters, murder hornets, Covid-19, BLM Movement, riots, fires, premature deaths and all the political hoopla, it’s easy to see why.

I was thinking about this when the Lord challenged my heart and Spirit. He asked me why 2020 sucked so much. I was quick to entertain his line of questioning: Covid – tons of people got sick/died, it shut down the nation for a hot minute, and it increased the level of stress everywhere. The increased stress got people stir crazy and due to their sudden unemployment, they didn’t know where else to channel their energies. Personally – well, I’ll leave that one just between myself and the Lord but suffice it to say that 2020 also kicked my butt emotionally and mentally (outside of the additional stressors of the state of our nation and world). Then God asked me if I’d ask Jesus what He thought about 2020. In all the hullabaloo of just trying to get through the year one day at a time, I realized I hadn’t really asked him specifically. So I quieted my heart and mind and asked Him.

In one word, he said, “preparation.” In 2020, the pandemic forced the nation to sit and actually face their “stuff”. As a nation, particularly in this generation, we have grown to need instant gratification and have become leaders in not facing our trauma, our pain, our anger but masking it instead. On the one hand, I can look at it as job security for the rest of my life – but that’s not what I want. In the last 10 months, the nation was compelled to come face to face with their own demons (so-to-speak). They’ve recognized that there are issues they need to work through but not all have chosen to face it. Instead, some have looted, raised their voices in protest on Social Media, and done everything with the sole intent to be divisive. It is easier to cause chaos and confusion than deal with your own inner turmoil. They lost sight of the bigger picture and got caught up in the heat-of-the-moment situations. Luckily, there have been others who chose to take advantage of this opportunity to heal. While the healing process can be painful, I promise it is well worth it (preaching to myself).

I’m not saying God caused all the chaos that is 2020 but as always he has used it to His advantage. He’s used it to allow space for a much-needed, forced season of rest. In His grace, he’s allowed us to experience seemingly unsurmountable challenges to give us the opportunity to choose Him above our own comfort and understanding. This is your opportunity choose to fully align yourself with God and His will for your life (wholeness) and live the abundant life He’s called you to. The world has literally slowed down and shut down, leaving you few options to further avoid your pain.

I fully believe that we are at a crossroads where as a body of believers, we have a window of opportunity to be the head and not tail in all the things we are called to be. Whatever your sphere of influence is, this is our chance to tap into His creative Spirit and partner with His heart and mind. But in order for us to do so, it is essential for our Spirit to take lead and not be swayed by our emotions. The Bride of Christ is being challenged collectively like never before to stand firm in our beliefs, to cling to the Bride-Groom and make declarations with the authority we’ve been given. It is time for the dead bones to come alive and become an army once more to take back what was stolen.

We are in the last quarter of 2020 and we serve a God of the “11th hour” (an aspect that I am a little too familiar with -.-) but this gives me so much hope. In the midst of all the pain that we’ve collectively experienced, we have cried out to God in desperation more than ever. I’ve seen a greater stirring over this nation and God has heard our cries. We are standing at a precipice and have to make a choice. Do we sit and complain, or do we leap – knowing that we will soar on wing like eagles? How 2020 ends for you is entirely your choice. I pray that you would choose to lean into Him in the midst of your discomfort so that you can rise up from out of the desert, leaning on your beloved (SOS 8:5)!

Repentance, Forgiveness and Justice

“Where are your accusers?…. then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin” – John 8:10-11

Depending on who you ask, the act of repentance and forgiveness makes one weak. To apologize and admit I were wrong is hard of enough – you want me to ask you to forgive me? This generation was raised in a culture where it’s more important to be right than to understand each other hence the current divisive state of our country. Repentance means admitting we were wrong. But to be more accurate, repentance means to change your mind, to turn around and walk the other way.

On the other side of the same coin is forgiveness. We have the ability to release grace instead of judgement over those around us. An important note here: the other party doesn’t have to repent in order for us to forgive them. When we are wronged and we hold onto that offense, we allow it to enter our mind and fester. It’s no fun, trust me. I spent so much of my life holding grudges and actively being mad at the people who hurt me. Each time this topic of forgiveness came up, I argued the Lord and reminded him (ha) that what they did to me wasn’t fair and I had a right to be mad and hold grudges. In that moment, he gently asked if He could have vengeance for me. I melted. Finally, God was on my side.

He told me that he died so I could have a life abundant – not held captive by anger and bitterness. Where the wages of sins was death, he took my place. I was grateful. June, do you want to join me in having vengeance? 100% yes! I’m in! Great, I want you to forgive him. I’m sorry, what? Let me love him and heal him. June, I died for him as much as I died for you. But he doesn’t deserve it! Don’t you see what he’s done?! I know – that’s why my love is called a gift. Forgiveness is for your benefit, not his. He’s moved on and doesn’t care what he did but it’s tearing you to pieces. Let me deal with him so you can rest.

Forgiveness is pardoning the person of what they did to you, and no longer holding it against them. Forgiveness frees up space in your heart and mind to be filled with things of God again. Forgiveness allows you to take a step back and reevaluate your boundaries – and reestablish them if necessary. If you don’t forgive, you hold onto the pain and you’ve given it permission to permeate your mind, your feelings and your actions.

Forgiveness is a huge part of what God calls justice. His justice looks like love, compassion, forgiveness, mercy, hope. Forgiveness is truly at the heart of the gospel. We cannot (and I’m speaking to myself as well) get so caught up in the supernatural that we make it the main thing. No, the main thing is the gospel that Christ dies for us in order to take our sins, and give us life and life abundant. When you’re holding something against another, you are not living an abundant life. You’re angry, frustrated, and it takes up more brain power and space than you’d probably like to admit.

As important as it is to forgive others, it’s also important to forgive yourself. Anyone else here, their own worst critic? I don’t know about you but I tend to hold things over my own head quite often. Ah, June you shouldn’t have done that! Why would you do that? What makes you think that’s okay? Then I get going into the lovely abyss of negative self-talk. I promise – forgiving yourself and moving on is world’s easier than swimming in that mirky whirlwind of negativity.

As it relates to the supernatural, how much does unforgiveness play in people’s breakthrough? My least favorite answer: it depends. It can be a factor in delaying some healing or breakthrough. The struggles manifesting in your life could be rooted in your unforgiveness, but not necessarily. To that point though, forgive anyways! Even if it isn’t the cause of your struggle, you’ll feel loads better!

God’s justice is kindness, forgiveness and grace. We are called to be his hands and feet of justice. If this was hard to read or made you feel some type of way, I encourage you to sit with the Lord and ask Him why you’re having such a reaction. Let’s repent, let’s forgive, let’s love, and let’s display true justice.

What to do with all the Feels

Who’s feelings am I feeling?!

Ever have the experience where you’re having a jolly good day and then all of a sudden you feel like you’re in a total funk? Think about that time and consider if your surroundings changed. Did someone else enter the room? Did you drive through a specific part of town? Have you been praying for someone? Did you go into a certain store/room/house/etc?

All these things are part of the joys of being a “feeler”. I’ve already written about being a seer (check it out here), and I’m seeing a theme. There’s always been an interest and mysticism about the gifts of discernment. It’s been my passion to demystify the prophetic and I’m learning that part of that process is to demystify the gifts of discernment as well. They’re not weird. They’re not scary. It’s just a way of communication with God.

As a side note before I go further, each gift of discernment (in my opinion) is directly connected to the gift of prophecy. To prophesy is to know/declare that something is going to happen. If we’re to declare something, we’re going to have to get that information somehow and that’s where discernment comes in. To be discerning is to be able to receive this information – typically through one of our natural senses (see/hear/taste/touch/smell). Regardless of how you discern it, the point is – God is trying to get your attention to tell you something.

In regards to being a feeler, it’s a little more difficult to decipher. Don’t stop reading just yet- let me explain. With being a seer, you can tell pretty quickly that it’s something from the Lord because you’re… seeing things. But with being a feeler, it’s a natural phenomenon for every human. The key thing I’ve learned is to be self aware, to notice, and as always, to ask questions. There’s a few different situations in which your ‘feeler’ will be awakened.

One situation is if you’re actively praying for someone. As you’re praying, you may feel a sudden rush of pain, or the joy the Lord, or fear. What’s happening is that you’re picking up on what they’re feeling (pain or fear) OR you’re tapping in to what the Lord is feeling over that person. From this place, you know how to pray/prophecy over the person. “I feel the joy of the Lord over you, and he’s overwhelmed with pride. He’s not upset or disappointed…” and then continue with whatever else the Lord gives you.

Another instance of when you may experience an increase of being a feeler is if you’re teaching or leading some type of meeting. You’ll start to pick up feelings in the room – both good and bad. For instance you can feel an increased level of faith (or doubt), or you can feel apathy in the room. You can also sense a gift of healing or impartation being released in the room. Knowing how the room is receiving what the Lord is doing will often shift the trajectory of the meeting. You might wonder why I linked all of these together (faith/doubt/apathy and healing/impartation). The first few are literal feelings whereas healing or impartation is something God wants to do. As you grow in your relationship with the Lord, you will begin to know God’s heart and how he gets/it feels when he’s about to move in healing or impartation. It’s difficult to separate the different gifts of discernment because when I experience this, it’s often a combination. I’ll get this feeling – a shift in my spirit but I may not always know what it means. So then I ask, and then I’ll know in my knower (instinct) what he’s about to do. Or, I’ll scan the room and start getting waves of words of knowledge or feel physical pain in my own body.

It’s more important that we get the message (what He’s doing or wants to do) than how we get the message. I’ve often shared that the gift of discernment is like having different channels on the radio. He’s talking to us on one of the pre-set stations so we don’t have to worry about missing it, we just need to tune in. When I started growing in the prophetic, I was more a seer. I’d see numbers which related to scriptures, or I’d see words written over people (i.e. “producer” or “musician”). Then, it became more of a knower experience where I’d look at a person and just know things instinctually. Then we moved on to being a feeler where I’d look at someone and immediately feel their heart. But those were all different seasons. I would say that I am primarily a seer, and then a feeler.

But what do I do with all the feels?! Pray. I know, such a cliché Christian answer but it’s true. I ask a few questions: who’s is it? Is it my own stuff that I’m feeling and having to deal with or am I picking up on someone else? What do you want me to do about it? Sometimes the Lord would have me literally drop what I’m doing and pray for them – either just on my own or call them. Other times it would be a more general word of intercession (there’s fear hanging over this city). Either way, we ask the Lord to remove it and to come in the opposite spirit. Instead of fear, declare peace and joy over that person or city. When you’re feeling something in your spirit, it’s always a call to prayer or some kind of action. Utilizing your discernment to it’s fullest is one of the best ways we can partner with God. He is always inviting us to do things with Him – we just have to realize it!

Someone asked me if being a feeler was predominantly a female gift. Before I answer, I want to say that I am poignantly aware of the generalizations I’m making in this paragraph. As such, I also know there are exceptions to this generalization. I took some time to think about this and realized that it’s not so much that women are called to be feelers more than men, but men are typically less in tune with their emotions to begin with. This isn’t a jab at men, it’s just a reality I’ve seen (I feel like I’m qualified to say this as a therapist). Also, when it comes to emotions, women are just more likely to ask the questions, while men tend to ignore them a bit more easily. In the last decade or so, more and more people (male and female) have been seeing the fruits of being in touch with their emotions, going to therapy and getting healing. I whole heartedly believe that as we mature in emotional health as a society, we will also see an increase in men being feelers as well.

Acknowledge your feelings, talk to God about them and either 1) be healed of some hurt/trauma or 2) partner with God in what He’s about to do. Either way, it’s a win-win situation! ❤

Dealing with Chronic Illness as a Spirit-filled Believer

THE BACK STORY:

When I was first diagnosed, I was 22 years old. I had seen 6 different doctors that year alone – 5 of whom told me that my symptoms were “within normal limits”. Finally, I went to a doctor who diagnosed me and gave me a solution. Let’s pause here for a moment. Most people who have been healthy their whole lives or have never dealt with chronic or life-altering illnesses, they think that being diagnosed is terrifying. On the one hand, it is absolutely terrifying because whatever the diagnosis, it’s heavy and will likely change your life. On the other hand, I couldn’t have been happier when I got my diagnosis because I could NAME it and there could be a plan of action. For most people, dealing with chronic illness starts long before the diagnosis. 

I had surgery on December 11 and was given a more accurate diagnosis on December 24 after they sent everything off to pathology. It was a good news, bad news type of deal: We got the pathology report back and it’s not cancerous. However, we were wrong about our initial diagnosis and with this condition (which could only have been diagnosed accurately through surgery), there is no cure – just pain management. I’ve also never seen this in someone so young – women are usually diagnosed in their 50s. I was stunned. I was at the doctor’s appointment alone and felt numb. How am I supposed to respond? How do I tell my parents?

When I was diagnosed with this, I was at a time in my life where I was also coming to terms with a life-time of abuse. When it rains, it pours my friends. I had to juggle all my emotions – as a human, as a woman, as a Christian – in that order. I was overwhelmed and chose to be very intellectual about the whole diagnosis and went immediately into how I could manage it since there was no fixing it. At the time, I didn’t know about all the gifts, miracles and healings that God was capable of. The stories I’d read in the Bible were just that – stories. So I accepted this diagnosis as true, and as my new normal. 

I was eventually introduced to the gifts of the Spirit and I was elated. You mean God can heal me? I don’t have to deal with this forever?! I’m in. What do I need to do? That’s when I got hurt by well-meaning Christians. I started receiving prayer from people at church, and each time I came back with the same, negative report, I was told, “Just have more faith”. I didn’t know better at the time and I blamed myself for not being healed. I must be doing something wrong. God, what must I fix to be healed? Whatever I did, I’m sorry! 

THE DISAPPOINTMENT: 

I went through a season of outrageous disappointment and anger. Just as I had done with the rest of my life and everything else that had happened, I blamed God. I went through all the uncomfortable, difficult questions: Why am I not healed? Does God not want to heal me? Is this my destiny? I must’ve done something to deserve it. I also believed (half heartedly) that my healing would come in some miraculous way because God wants to use me as an example of his miraculous power when there are no options. But in turn, that also meant that God was intentionally making me suffer, which I later learned, God does not do. 

Having been part of ministry in some shape, way or form since 2007, the same year I was diagnosed, you can imagine how many times I’ve been prayed for. I’ve fasted. I’ve prayed. I’ve gone to healing conferences. I’ve been to Bethel for their healing rooms. I tried changing my diet. I got acupuncture and drank disgusting herbal supplements. Nothing worked. Then I met James Peddie and heard his story. Instead of being encouraged, I was OFFENDED by his faith for healing. My finite, carnal cognition could not comprehend this level of faith. Instead of being inspired by his story, I was irate. This fueled my anger – God, why would you do that? Eventually, I was given revelation on this level of faith and was challenged to adopt it as my own as well. 

Whenever I’d ask God why he wasn’t healing me, he said “I love you” – which, is wonderful but seemingly irrelevant to the conversation at hand. One of the things I had to do was let go of this diagnosis as my identity. I am not mainly a person with chronic illness. I am a woman, a daughter, a priest, an overcomer, etc. who also happens to have an illness. I had to change my perspective on my life. I’d spent so much of my time looking at the diagnosis, being mad at all the medication and side effects and forgetting that God had bigger things for me. Once I had this paradigm shift of who I was, things started to change. My illness didn’t. I was still going 4-5x/yr for regular checkups and monitoring. In order to live and move on, I had to choose to believe that God is fully capable of healing me but had to let go of the need to know when/how. 

Earlier this year, my symptoms worsened and the meds I was on were no longer effective. My doctor was concerned and suggested a biopsy to rule out cancer. Waiting in the unknown for a week was gut-wrenching. I played the dangerous what-if game and dreamt up scenarios of what life would look like if I had cancer. Gratefully, pathology came back negative again but I am now on my last option of medication (unless the medical field comes up with something else). And yet, this has no bearing on God’s goodness. 

MOVING FORWARD:

I share all this to say that I am not immune to the struggles of anxiety and unbelief. It’s okay (and healthy) to have and acknowledge all the feels – but we cannot stay there. I spent years in unbelief and it got me no where. I still have my moments of doubt, but I look back at my life and consider how faithful God’s been to me. My life has been spared countless times, and each time I fear for my life for any reason, I am reminded that I have too much destiny left to die – of cancer, illness or any other means. One of the things that’s helped so much in overcoming my doubt of God’s goodness when it comes to healing, was surrounding myself with people who had faith in God’s ability when I didn’t/don’t. James and Scott, for one, are so helpful in this season of my life. My spiritual parents are also relentless in loving me (even when I don’t want it). We need to be in community and be vulnerable in order to receive the help we need. 🙂

When I speak to the Lord about my healing journey today, I realize how far I’ve come. For starters, I’m calling it my healing journey and not my frantically-trying-to-survive journey 🙂 I used to threaten that if God didn’t heal me I would no longer follow him (ok – that was a bit dramatic, but hey, it happens). But now, I have come to terms through my own process that God is good – no matter what. Even if I’m never healed, or healed through medical means, God is good. My life circumstances do not get to dictate the goodness of God. I chose to form my situations around the word of God, instead of warping the word of God to fit my situation.

If you’ve been in this place of frustration, anger and feeling so unsettled in your heart, it’s okay. Sit with God and allow him to minister to you. He’s not mad at your thoughts, your feelings, your judgements, your disbelief. When we bring our pain to the Lord, it’s a gift and in a sense, we’ve already won. Hiding in shame and fear is what keeps us stuck. As such, being vulnerable and in community is what keeps us healthy, whole and safe from the labyrinth of our own worries. 

Reach out when you’re in pain, and allow yourself to receive the love, prayer and comfort you deserve. You are loved, no matter where you are in your journey. 

Seeing in the Spirit-Realm

They say that hindsight is 20/20 – only because we have understanding and language for what we’ve experienced. As a child I was afraid of the dark and I would often wake up in the middle of the night from a bad dream and “see things” in the room. Of course, I never shared this with anyone because I didn’t want anyone to think I was crazy. While I grew up going to church, I didn’t have a (good, healthy) relationship with God until I was in my 20s. It’s a long story that maybe I’ll share in another post one day, but for now it’ll suffice to say that God was with me all along. 

As I grew in my understanding of the gifts of the spirit, I stepped into the prophetic and understood what it meant to be a discerner. I began to finally get some clarity about my childhood – but only when I asked the Holy Spirit specific questions. I honestly believe it was his grace to allow me to experience being a seer, without understanding it. I love to understand things but with most things God-related, I was quite skeptical that it could possibly be a good thing. When I first spoke in tongues, it scared me because I didn’t know what it was or what the point of it was and so I refused to use it for years – it was a choice. However, seeing in the Spirit didn’t seem to be a choice for me, it just happened.

Like most seers I’ve talked to and learned from, my journey started with seeing the dark, ugly, negative things. I’d see black ‘blobs’ in the corners and get creeped out. I’d see them moving towards/into a person and watch the person react. I thought this was normal – wait, you don’t see black blobs on the daily? You don’t have conversations with them in the middle of the night? Eventually I learned that they were not the best things to be talking to, but by that point, they became close friends of mine. Insecurity, Depression, Suicide, Self-Loathing… I didn’t know I could have a life without them. Then one day, I met some people who told me that I could ask God where the “good things” were – like angels! To be honest, I was still in my healing process at this point and didn’t really trust God but I thought, why not? What do I have to lose? So I finally asked God to show me where the angels were. I had ZERO faith for it. But lo and behold,  in the following weeks and months, I began seeing angels and all the good they were doing, instead of the demonic. Once I discovered that I could choose what I wanted to see/look at, I very rarely saw the demonic. Not because they weren’t there, but because seeing the behind-the-scenes of what God is planning is much more interesting and fun to watch and partner with. Don’t worry, I’ve since broken up with my old friends. Freedom is a wonderful thing. 

One of the most commonly asked questions I get is, “what do they look like?” Well, when I first started seeing, they were more like sparkles in the air that I’d see from the corner of my eye, and then when I looked right at it, it’d disappear. With much coaching and conversation with the Lord, I learned that (for me) this was one of the ways God tried to get my attention. As time went on and seeing the sparkles no longer terrified me, I had an encounter with angels in the throne room that wrecked me. The first thing this angel said to me was, “Do not be afraid.” When I read this in the Bible, I wondered why they always said that because I imagined that it would be anything but scary. I have never been more wrong! When you’re in the throne room and in the presence of the Uncreated God and his angels, it can be terrifying. Your humanity becomes painfully evident and you forget everything you said you’d ask God or angels if you had the chance. (Side note for someone out there: when you’re in the throne room, or anywhere in heaven for that matter, you’re not actually talking. Your thoughts are just out loud, as if on a mega-phone. You cannot hide any thought from them). After this encounter about 4 years ago, I started to see angels take on more of a physical form instead of just sparkles. I’d see them standing behind a person, or on the stage during worship, or where they were stationed in someone’s home or room. After asking them a million questions, I was soon discerning what God was doing in the room both by what  I was sensing as well as recognizing a specific angel. Some angels came with a grace for healing, others for prophetic, salvation, etc. Every angel I’ve seen (so far) has had a duty – they are never there just “hanging out”. 

It’s quite difficult to explain in words something that happens in the mind’s-eye. I have not seen any angels in the physical/natural nor do I feel it necessary. If He decides to allow me to see in that manner, I will be more than grateful to steward that. But just like with the prophetic and never having heard the audible voice of God, I feel it’s just an honor that he’d allow me to draw so close to him. 

Over the years, and in order to accept that these gifts were something I could have, I had to unlearn a lot of what I thought I knew about God and the gospel. I expected to have to strive, and work hard at being a “good Christian” (whatever that means) to earn his gifts and struggled to understand this concept of just receiving as a daughter. Being a seer is so intertwined with being a discerner and the gift of prophecy. They all go hand in hand. I believe that anyone who wants to see – can! 

James 4:8a (TPT) says “Move your heart closer and closer to God, and He will come even closer to you. But make sure you cleanse your life, you sinner, and keep your heart pure and stop doubting.”  

As we’ve been hearing from so many of our guests on the Supernatural Q and A’s, most everyone shares the same sentiment that if you are hungry for it, and pursue it, God will honor it. But, as the verse above reminds us, we must have pure hearts. Be honest with yourself and ask why you desire the gift? I promise, being a seer does not make me any more holy or spiritual than you, it’s just a gift. As a reminder, when the Lord gives us a gift, he expects us to use it – not just sit on it. He gave each of us a set of gifts to share with those around us and re-present Him to the world (present again, not just act/speak on behalf of). God’s ultimate goal with gifts, callings and any journey He takes us on is deeper intimacy with Him. Truly – the journey is more important, if not just as important, as the destination. One of my life goals in doing ministry is to demystify the prophetic and what it means to be a feeler/seer/discerner. 

I want to add that if you are not a seer or feel like you’re not prophetic, don’t stop pursuing him. He will give you the desires of your heart. In 1 Corinthians 14: 5 (TPT) Paul says, “I would be delighted if you all spoke in tongues, but I desire even more that you impart prophetic revelation to others.” Pray, seek the Lord, and allow Him to guide you through your process of hearing his voice and seeing in the Spirit. There is no right or wrong way, but remember that the goal of any spiritual gift is to edify the church and to glorify Him. As you grow in intimacy with him, you will become more and more like him.  

Unlocking the Mysteries of His Heart

Let’s get practical, shall we? 

Too often, believers are told to “grow in intimacy” with Jesus but the conversation ends there. How? What does that mean? What does it look like? How do I become “intimate” with an uncreated being that I can’t see? Just talk to him? That’s weird. No thanks. 

I’m not saying any of you have felt or thought this way but if you do/did, that’s okay! When I was introduced to the gospel, it was by a very conservative, not-quite-cessationist group of loving believers. They believed in the gifts of the Spirit but they were for “other people”, for people “over there”. I didn’t know for almost a decade that I was allowed to experience the power and person of the Holy Spirit. All I knew was that there was a God who expects perfection from me. I was told that God was good, but that I had to follow all these rules; I was apparently doing everything wrong – doing all the things that make God unhappy. Being the perfectionist that I am, I wanted to make sure I was “really saved” so I tried my hardest and changed my behaviors, but that never lasted very long. Whenever we do anything out of a place of obligation instead of purpose, the end results are a bit skewed or nonexistent. I still struggled with addictions, believed lies about myself and God, and ended up twisting the scripture to fit my faulty beliefs. 

Every person has 3 aspects to them: spirit, body and soul (mind/will/emotions). My spirit knew that there was a deeper truth and though my mind could not comprehend it, I knew God was good and my spirit yearned for intimacy. My soul, though, needed a lot of convincing. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to allow my Spirit to lead and bring my body and soul into alignment with my Spirit. Our life is this journey of alignment. 

To put it simply, we have to invite God to come into our painful places. As James Peddie so eloquently said in the most recent Q and A, the Lord receives our pain and sorrow as a gift. This is a gift that can only be given to Christ on this side of heaven. The gospel is that Christ died and rose again so that we could live an abundant life. An abundant life means living as a whole person – thriving, not surviving. As I alluded to in my last post, I am well acquainted with pain and suffering. I spent the majority of life (yes, even while doing ministry) striving and barely surviving. I was teaching, prophesying, and sharing with others how good and faithful he was but didn’t believe it for myself. I only grew in my intimacy with the Lord when I fully let my guard down and let Him take over. 

See, I’d done it all and nothing satisfied the emptiness and pain I felt inside. I had a broken record in my mind telling me that I was worthless and dispensable. I tried to take my own life and it was in this moment that I cried out in angry desperation, “God, I dare you to stop me”. Wouldn’t you know it, He actually did. This moment was the beginning of a real relationship with God. For the first time, I encountered the power of his love in a tangible way. Up until this point, I used God as a punching bag: yelled at Him, blamed Him for everything and then walked away. I never stayed to listen to anything God had to say because in my experience, He wasn’t trustworthy. But how can someone gain your trust if you’re never vulnerable with them? Intimacy takes vulnerability and risk.

After this encounter, I entertained the idea that God might not be so horrible. In the years to come, I would have different experiences that led me to believe that I was worthy to be loved, valued, cared for. It sounds cliche but when you reach your mid-20s and realize that your entire life was nothing but one trauma after another, this is shocking news to you. I had lived a lie in the church for so long that I no longer knew who the “real me” was. In a twisted act of defiance, I said, “Fine. I give up. You let all this **** happen, you fix it.” Come to find out, God had been waiting for nearly a decade to hear those words. God is not offended by or afraid of our emotions – he is an ever compassionate God.  

I grew in intimacy with the Lord by sitting face to face with him in the pits of my despair, throwing my tantrums, and letting him love me. I didn’t know what I expected healing or intimacy looked like, but it wasn’t this. The first half of my journey into intimacy was learning to let Him hold me and literally love the hell out of me. Sitting in His presence, miracles just happen. Pain intensifies for a moment but only because it’s on its way out. There’s a partnership in intimacy – it’s a two-way street but our job is really simple: allow him to love you and then join Him in whatever he’s doing. 

When you’re in relationship with someone, you know them well; you know their little quirks and idiosyncrasies, their likes and dislikes, and you can look at them from across the room and know what they’re thinking. That takes time! Intimacy is not a big, scary word. It’s actually the one thing we were all created to desire and it was meant to first be satisfied by Him. Without intimacy, there is no true relationship. So sit with God and let him love you. Ask him what he thinks of you, and if it’s not a positive thing, it isn’t true. Intimacy with God isn’t so much a process (steps 1, 2, and 3) but intentionality. Whatever you’re doing, as long as your intentions are to be closer to Him and get to know Him, he will honor that. Don’t get so caught up in formulas. 

Intimacy is the goal – not signs, wonders and miracles. The latter is a result of the former – and should lead back to the former. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34) I believe this is true of every word that comes out of our mouths – encouragements, declarations of healing, teaching, prophetic words, tongues. Having intimacy with God helps ensure that your heart remains healthy.

Do whatever you do that makes you feel close to God. Ask him a million questions. Learn from Him and be intentional about doing so (yes, you’re allowed – encouraged, even!). Do it because you want to – not because you “should”.