Decade Reflections

As each new calendar year rolls by, I always find myself reflecting back on my spiritual timeline with my Lord and Savior. I am so grateful for the way that He has led me over this last decade – well, the last 3 decades really. I could not have planned any of this if I had tried! While I was pondering the steps that brought me here, some noteworthy events were highlighted to me that happened a decade ago. These decade reflections have a fun way of tying into my more recent journey.

Emigrant Wilderness Reflections -2017

I was thinking about how our recent decision to jump into a 3-month internship at IHOPKC in September 2016 resulted in a significant spiritual shift for our little Atkins clan. This triggered a memory to surface from when I had a similar event in September of 2006 that radically changed the course of my life. As a young 19-year-old I was faced with these two options; art school in Los Angeles, California or “the unknown” in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I had already made my plans and enrolled in the art school and I was a few weeks out from paying a hefty tuition cost when this alternative route popped up on my radar.  I ended up choosing ‘the unknown’ out of a sheer desire to get free from my past…and I was just desperate enough to take a chance on God. It turned out to be exactly what He had planned for me! At the last-minute, I had the choice to go an entirely different direction. Saying yes to stepping out in faith with Him has caused me to hunger for more of His presence ever since.

Young 20 Year Old – Me (2006)

I wish I could cover everything that happened during my 8-month sojourn in the wilderness of ABQ, but I do not have enough time. In a nut shell, I was discipled by an amazing pastor, baptized in the Holy Spirit and then baptized in the Rio Grande.  It was a time when my heart matured in the place of worship while attending the local vineyard church and it grew in love in the context of community with weak and broken believers. But it was there on my 20th birthday (11/7/2006) when Pastor Gerald took me to a Christian book store and bought me a Zondervan (NAS) Life Application Study Bible with black, genuine leather, and my name imprinted on the front. On the ‘presented to’ page he wrote my name with a bible verse, Matthew 5:6. I encountered more of Jesus as I grew in the Word and I became discontent with yesterdays manna.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

 

This has since been one of my life verses. Let’s warp speed exactly a decade later, to my 30th birthday on November 2016. We were a little over a month into our internship and we were really feeling good about our plans.  But it was on that day that I realized I was at a crossroad and God was giving me another alternative route. I could go back to my plan after the 3-months and continue working at my job and continue to develop my skill sets to lock in for the next 30 years at a very successful and enjoyable company; or I could step out into ‘the unknown’ with God.  It was hunger that got us out there and it was His ‘filling’ that was stirring us up to trust in Him. I really felt the Lord leading me to lay down my job and continue to pursue Him in this way with my family.  So, just like I trusted Him to lead me to Albuquerque for 8 months, we leaned into Him to lead our family as we spent a consecrated season of growing in the Word, in prayer and worship and in greater friendship with Him. We ended up being at the International House of Prayer for a total of 8 months, knowing that God would show us what was next!

Our track 2 along with track 1 interns (2017)

It was during that time that the Lord strengthened our dependence in Him as well as our confidence in what He has called our family to. He made it clear that we were to pursue full-time ministry once the extended internship time ended. Ministry was something that both Aimee and I had in our hearts from the beginning of our relationship and we had even pursued it earlier in life. We had thought the door closed for full-time ministry once we had the kids, the house, and the job (yes it was in that order for us). We are now very confident that the Lord opened the door for us again so that we could do ministry as a family. So, in May of 2017 we took 6 months to develop a partnership team so that our family could go into full-time occupational ministry as intercessory missionaries at the International House of Prayer.  We could not do this without the leadership of the Lord and our amazing team that has so graciously partnered with us. We arrived back in KC just in time to celebrate my 31st birthday and wrap up the year.

This last event really triggered this whole ‘10 year train of thought’. In December, our whole family attended the 2017 Onething Conference. 10 years prior when Aimee and I were dating, we attended the same conference. It was at the Onething Conference 2007 that I was first introduced to the message of intimacy, intercession and the global prayer and worship movement. After that conference in 2007 my heart started to burn for prayer and worship. In fact, a month after that conference I had considered applying to IHOPU (International House of Prayer University), I even found my incomplete application form for the school when we were packing up boxes to move to KC! Yes, it would have been easier to transition out here during that time in my life when I was single, but the Lord had my whole family in mind – even before Aimee and I were married! Now 10 years later our family of 5 was able to be a part of the conference. Plus we now get to serve and help others burn in the place of prayer and intimacy with Jesus.

Emigrant Wilderness 2017

I will just throw this in for fun. I found a journal entry in January of 2008 when i was considering doing IHOPU and moving to Kansas City.  Aimee and I had been dating for 5 months and I  was at another fork in the road. I was in a serious wrestle with this decision! My prayer was, “Should I be here (Tuolumne) or Kansas City, also give me clarity on Aimee and our relationship.” Well, it turns out that the answer was yes to all of it, the Lord answered my prayer!  I don’t know if I was able to clearly connect all the dots. But it reminded me that the Lord is faithful to lead and He has a much better plan for our lives.  I love looking back at those marker points to where the Lord actually pursued me by interrupting my plans in order to  bring me closer to Him. Having a history in God brings me great joy and it teaches me to feed on His faithfulness. He truly is the one that satisfies those who hunger and thirst for His righteousness and He satisfies that hunger with Himself. 

Family Picture – Pinecrest Lake, CA 2017

Can you look back over the last decade and see the Lords hand in your life? I know He has great plans for your life!

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Zach & Liz: When God Remembers His Oath

In my study on the book of Luke, I have come up with some thoughts that I wanted to process.  First of all, I enjoy reading the gospel of Luke because of the insightful details that are highlighted in it. The main theme of this study is for me to take a deeper look at the life of Christ. However, all of the extra looks given on the life of John the Baptist have me fascinated with this little narrative.

Luke gives us more detail on the parents of John the Baptist than the other gospels. We find out that he is from a long family line of rich priestly heritage.  His father Zacharias is a faithful and devout priest from the division of Abijah. Zach must have made his dad proud when he diligently trained and worked to enter into the priesthood. I believe his entire family was pleased when he found a wife from the daughters of Aaron. It was a requirement for a priest to marry from a pure Jewish lineage and Elizabeth being of priestly decent, was the ultimate catch!  

From the start, things were looking really good for Zach and Liz. They were the ideal couple; young and giving themselves to the work of the Lord. He had a wife that came from a long line of ministers and understood what ministry life was to look like. I presume they were well liked in the religious community and were excited to raise a family and pass on these strong bloodline traditions to their children. They served whole heartily and probably expected for things to continue on just as it did before them.

However, it must not have been long after a year into their marriage when the rumors started swirling around.  People in the community eventually started to question if Zach and Liz were really living righteous and holy lives before the Lord. What were they doing wrong? How could Zach bring such a bad name to his family line? Why is Elizabeth still barren? A few years became 10, then 20 and then 40 years, all the while this ‘curse’ was testing their marriage, ministry and social standing. I can only imagine the heart CRY from Zach and Liz as they walked down a road that was different than they had pictured.

The Lord had a superior plan in mind for this couple, He wasn’t looking to resume comfortable, ‘business as usual’ religion for them or His people. He promised deeper intimacy with His people and He was looking for a family that He could birth a forerunner to. He was looking for a family that could withstand the pressures on the outside and the pressures from within! He was watching their heart response over the decades in the midst of the trial and accusations. Would they still be obedient? Would they still serve? Would they still relate to the Lord? Would they still believe in His promises? He was looking for overcomers that could persevere and run the race with endurance.

We see that even when they were well advanced in years, “they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” They overcame!  They held fast to the faith! And just like Abraham and Sarah, in the midst of advanced years and bareness, God breaks in with His promise. He moves on the scene of impossible circumstances and brings forth life!

 

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Quick pause – I found some significance in the meanings of their names – As they are intricately tied into the prophetic word!

Zacharias means: Yahweh Remembers

Elizabeth  means:  Oath of God

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In an instance, there is a swirl of angelic and prophetic activity! It was like God broke in and said, “I REMEMBER, ZACHARIAS and I HAVE REMEMBERED MY OATH ELIZABETH”, “for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son.” This was to fulfill their prayer and to continue to fulfill His oath. Then after 9 months of pregnancy, Elizabeth with John and Zacharias with the prophetic word, (remember Zach could not speak or hear for 9 months!) John is born and Zacharias speaks forth this word –


68 
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them…

and to remember his holy covenant,
73     the oath
he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75     in holiness and righteousness before him all our days
. (Luke 1:68,73-75)

 

 A great shift in history had taken place and Zach and Liz discerned this transition. They laid down their old dreams of raising a son in the religious environment that had been passed down to them. They laid down their reputation and stepped out into the deeper calling that the Lord encountered them with. John the Baptist was still going to be a priest unto the Lord but his parents brought him to the wilderness to intentionally fashion him to be a forerunner. Not so that he would be anti-social, estranged, or a mystical maniac – he was brought into the desert so that he could be focused on God –“to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all of (his) days.” We don’t know how much longer Zach and Liz lived after the birth of their son – but we do know that they made this radical decision so that their son would be able to recognize the Lamb of God when the time came.

 

I believe we are entering into another shift in history – will we see the signs of His coming? How will we recognize the Lamb of God? And what are we doing now to prepare for His second coming?

 

 

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Old Ben

Old Ben? I know what you are thinking…. (first 40 seconds)

No, No, this post has nothing to do with Obi-Wan Kenobi or Star Wars. I just felt like it was time to start sharing some more of my personal HISTORY with you guys – watch out! One of my earliest memories happens to be a very significant marker in my life.  I was probably between the age of 4 or 5 years old, close to the age that I asked Jesus to be my Savior (which I only remember because my mom reminded me of that night).  I remember this encounter as it was unique and a little out of the ordinary. I was with my mom in the local grocery store, Tuolumne Market, which hasn’t changed very much in the last 25 years! We were in the check out line and standing in front of us was an older man buying his groceries (I think someone was with him, helping). I still have a fuzzy image of that memory, partly because of the way this man was dressed.

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Before I share this gold of mine, I want to give a little background on this man who made a living from a mine of gold –

Benjamin Earl Fullingim, also known as ‘Old Ben’, was one of the last gold miners of his kind.  Ben was born in 1904 in Oklahoma, got married and took up farming like his dad. He found his way to Tuolumne after a bad divorce with his wife of 12 years. That’s when Ben said, ‘I started running and never stopped till I found this mountain.’ (source)

Obviously Ben was not an original ’49er, but he came to Tuolumne in 1953 and was the last ‘hard rock’ miner of a once popular yet not always successful occupation.  As a Gold Prospector he had 4 claims up on Mount Elizabeth, which is near the back side of Tuolumne City. When he wasn’t diggin’ for gold or sleeping in his small rustic shacks, he was traveling to California Fairs and teaching kids how to pan handle. Many Summerville Elementary School students of that time probably remember seeing Old Ben walk by the campus with his Mule in tow.

Benjamin Fullingim was known for being kind and hospitable.  I was told by an old friend of his (via email) that, ‘he had a wonderful sense of humor and was a good story teller.’  The Union Democrat did a short write up on him after his passing and said, ‘his cabin was a popular haunt for children and their parents, who accompanied Ben on hikes and gold-panning trips.’ (source)  He passed away at the good age of 99!

Source

 

So, back to the Tuolumne Market check out line.  Old Ben must have been 87 or 88 years old when I encountered him that day.  He turned around and looked at me and said, ‘You are going to be a mighty soldier in the Lord’s Army’.  I don’t recall the rest of the exchange, but that word stuck like a pick axe in the side of a hill!  I have carried that treasure with me for all these years and I am thankful that he took that moment in time to give that word to me.  In reality, what he said to me is worth more than a gold nugget, which he probably could have given to me instead!

It turns out Ben had a rich vein of christian heritage in his family.  His dad was a song leader in the church and both his grandfather and great grandfather were  influential pastors, ‘reverends’, in the Methodist Church.  I will always remember what Ben passed on to me and I am thankful that he wasn’t afraid to share what was passed on to him.

 

119876758_138379299538There is something powerful about the prophetic word of God.  It reminds us of His Word and let’s us know that He cares about us.  This word of encouragement and piece to my destiny has helped me in my walk with Christ.   I can take this and line it up with Scripture as I know that the Word of God says that He is the, ‘Lord of Hosts’ and Paul tells us to ‘put on the full armor of God’, just like a soldier would in the natural.  The second letter of Timothy reminds us that just as a soldier pleases his commanding officer that we too are to do the things that are pleasing to our Lord and be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

I hope you enjoyed this piece from the particles of my past. Tune in next time to see what else I feel like sharing.

And since we are looking at treasures from time gone by, here’s an ‘oldie but a goodie’.

1 Onward, Christian soldiers,
marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
going on before!
Christ, the royal Master,
leads again the foe;
Forward into battle,
see his banner go!

Refrain:
Onward, Christian soldiers,
marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
going on before!

2 At the sign of triumph
Satan’s host doth flee;
On, then, Christian soldiers,
on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver
at the shout of praise;
Brothers, lift your voices,
loud your anthems raise! [Refrain]

3 Like a mighty army
moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading
where the saints have trod;
We are not divided;
all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine,
one in charity. [Refrain]

4 Onward, then, ye people,
join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices
in the triumph song;
Glory, laud, and honor,
unto Christ the King;
This thro’ countless ages
men and angels sing. [Refrain]

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Benjamin ‘Old Ben’ Fullingim with his donkey Nugget. – Onward Christian Soldier!
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‘Mary’ Christmas

Merry Christmas Friends and Family –

 

I purposely titled this post ‘Mary’ Christmas because of the content that I am about to share.  My wife and I decided to watch The Voice this year on NBC and we are really glad that we did!  We know that TV is not the place to go to get positive Christian songs or public’ thanks to God’, but there was a lot of that this year on #TheVoice.

We were really impressed with how many of the contestants acknowledge that they were singing to God and thanking Him for the opportunity.  Also, the ‘judges’ responses on the show were very encouraging and supportive of who the contestants were from the inside out.  Jordan Smith, the Finale winner, chose to sing, ‘Mary, Did You Know’ for one of his final performances on the show.  IT WAS VERY POWERFUL! Of all the Christmas songs written in the last 30 years, this one breaks out of the commercialized fluffy (often annoying) ‘christmas songs’ and brings it back to the meaning of why Jesus, the Christ, came to earth. The lyrics to this song share the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ!

I can honestly say that this is the best rendition given to date.  I am thankful that this special performance has aired all over the world and I pray that it softens hearts and opens eyes to the truth of the Gospel.  Here is the full video clip from Jordan Smith’s live performance. Enjoy and Merry Christmas –

 

 

 

 

To check out two other great songs from Jordan Smith – click the links below.

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Hallelujah

 

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Psalm 150

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Happy Wednesday! Hope you are all having a good week so far!

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

 

Enjoy this worship clip from Cory Asbury: All is for Your Glory

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Is He Coming With the Clouds?

“BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.” Revelation 1:7

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To continue this Walk Through Revelation (Click for past posts) I wanted to dig into this verse. This passage to me is an anchor in Revelation. HE IS COMING! The man Jesus, the One that we are all longing for is going to appear for all to see. The book of Revelation is wrapped up in this Man and we are given the hope that HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS!

Or is He?

Until recently I did not know that there was another interpretation of this passage. I had just read a book about it and then had someone tell me, in a very matter of fact way, that this has already happened. Apparently it all took place in 70 A.D. when the Jerusalem temple was destroyed and it is obvious that the word ‘clouds’ simply means judgment. I try not to let other peoples viewpoints cause a reaction from me, but that interpretation completely wipes out the importance of the Book of Revelation as well as the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

I guess it all comes down to, has this happened or not?

There are two main Old Testament references to this passage and they are both “end-time” prophecies.

1. “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him.” Daniel 7:13

What Daniel saw in his vision was unthinkable, but it was real. This heavenly encounter did not reveal the judgment of God, it revealed the glory and splendor of Jesus, the Son of Man, coming before the Ancient of Days and receiving His full inheritance. Daniel saw a physical Man (Jesus) on tangible ‘Clouds of Heaven’; He was not riding on a metaphor that means judgment! To get Revelation 1:7 you must understand this vision that Daniel saw and you need to know that it speaks of a time when, “The court will sit for judgment, and his (satan) dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him” (Daniel 7:26-27).  Another note, if Jesus could walk on water while on earth in His un-resurrected body, how much more could He ride on the clouds in His glorious resurrected body?

2.  “So that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” Zechariah 12:10

The context of Zechariah 12 all the way to the end of 14 are set in a day that is yet to come, in that day, a day when, “The Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one.” (14:9). To my knowledge this has not happened yet! Zechariah is prophesying about a day when the LORD will destroy ALL the nations that come against Jerusalem (12:9), not that day in 70 A.D. when Titus sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. He is talking about a day when Christ returns to Earth and every eye will see Him! Well, what does that really mean? It means that every eye will see Him and it does not mean that this will be a televised event, unless you think God needs Bill Gates and Direct TV to help with His glorious return.

I find this passage in Revelation to be very important to every believer and non-believer for that matter.  If this is an actual future event then what does that mean for us today?  It means that we have a Man (Jesus) that has approached the Ancient of Days (God the Father) and this ‘Son of Man’ (Jesus) will return with the clouds of heaven with the fullness of His inheritance.  If this is a past event, how it will cause us to read the rest of the book?  If this has already happened then I would say the rest of the book has no real relevance to our lives.

Here are some other Old Testament scriptures that ‘hint’ that the LORD moves in the clouds.

•  “The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way.” Ex 13:21
•  “Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud.” Ex 19:9
•  “The Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord.” Ex 34:5
•  “For I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.” Lev 16:2
•  “He makes the clouds His chariot.” Psalm 104:3

Here are a few questions to ponder:

Does this verse sound impossible? Does it sound like a metaphor? Does it sound like something Jesus would do?

Next post I will address the New Testament scriptures that are linked to this verse. In the meantime let me know what you think. And if you want an extra blessing, read the book of Revelation for yourself.

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A Kingdom of Priests

31118_000_025_04Previously on: “MY WALK THROUGH REVELATION SERIES”

A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS

 

“And He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Rev. 1:6

 

HE HAS MADE US: Do you see the craftsmanship of Jesus here? This takes me back to the Garden of Eden, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule” (Genesis 1:26).   We must never forget that we exist for Him, ultimately to give Him glory. “Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made(Is. 43:7).

TO BE A KINGDOM: This is not a New Testament revelation; God revealed this to Moses and the Israelites in Exodus 19:6, “And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Some translations use the word kings instead of the word kingdom. I prefer the translation that says kingdom, because I believe that the collective saints make up His kingdom. In the same way that heaven is God’s kingdom because He dwells there; it is true that jointly we are His kingdom because He dwells in us through His Spirit. We are a living extension of His kingdom.

To further this matter a little bit more, Peter gives us some great insight.

“You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1Pet. 2:5).

 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1Pet. 2:9).

Collectively the saint’s make up a kingdom, a spiritual house, a chosen race, a holy nation and a people for God’s own possession. Do you believe that you are chosen? Do you believe that you are holy? Do you believe that you are God’s possession? Start believing! As His Kingdom, what is our individual function? We are told to pray for His Kingdom to come and He is telling us that this will not fully come detached from our priestly calling.

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PRIESTS TO HIS GOD: Every saint is in this priesthood and this great work is not separated from Christ. We have all been joined into this, thanks to our forerunner, Jesus the High Priest. “Where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 6:20). This is our eternal calling; I pray that this excites you. This is not for the super saints, because there are none; this calling is for every believer today! Art Katz, a great American preacher said, ” You don’t earn priesthood, you inherit it.”

Isaiah 61:6 says, But you will be called the priests of the LORD.” This is the will of the Father and of Jesus who lives to make intercession for us forever. This great calling of a priest is glorious in its New Testament context. We don’t have to slaughter lambs, and calves, or goats. He is the perfect lamb that was slain for us! Now we can offer our spiritual sacrifices to Him, such as prayer, worship and proclaiming the Excellencies of Christ.  Let us go before God as the priests of old did, into the Holy of Holies offering up a pleasing aroma of incense with our prayers and adorations. May we find ourselves partnering with Him, to plead for man before God and plead for God before man. We must allow our hearts to be the altar that is consumed by the will of the Father.

 

May we not forget the creative order of God. He has made us to be a kingdom of holy and royal priests to rule and reign with Christ and give the Father glory and dominion in all things forever. Revelation 1:5 is what makes this reality possible, “To Him who loves us and released us from our sins, by His blood.” His love and pure blood has ushered us into being a kingdom of priests for His glory.

 

“And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” Rev. 5:10

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