Let’s start a hope epidemic

Can we start a hope epidemic — an outbreak of hope! Yes! Hope epidemics have happened many times in human history as ordinary people have gotten infected with the power and presence of the living, resurrected Jesus Christ! Our sad, lonely, depressed culture desperately needs a hope-pidemic!

hope epidemic

Too often church is like an orchestra sitting in straight rows with their musical instruments packed away in boxes while passively listening to a conductor give a long, dull lecture. You can’t catch hope when you’re sitting in a crowd of bored people.

However, when orchestra members unpack their instruments and each one begins to enthusiastically play his/her part of an uplifting piece of music as he/she follows an inspiring conductor; hope breaks out and spreads contagiously among them and among others who are present in the room. The living, resurrected Jesus is the world’s most inspiring Conductor and when a group of people sets aside passivity and religious traditions and begins to actively listen to and obey the living Jesus, there is always an outbreak of supernatural hope!

That’s the ultimate hope promotion! “Hope promotion involves helping people develop a positive future orientation, a way of seeing beyond the immediate present to a time that could be better than right now.” –Elana Premack Sandler

Passionate love for Christ can’t be taught through sermons; it can only be caught through being exposed to others who are burning for Jesus. Start a Jesus epidemic — expose yourself to everyday people who openly share their excitement about the living, resurrected Jesus every Sunday morning at 10:45 at The Salvation Army Berry Street, 225 Berry St., Nashville, TN 37207

Posted in better caught than taught, Elana Premack Sandler, hope epidemic, hope-pidemic, hopefullness, hopefully, Nashville, overcoming depression, Salvation Army, Tennessee | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Amazing Salvation Army Open Mic Retreat

open mic1

I’m in awe at what I saw as about 50 people gathered around an open mic at The Salvation Army’s Camp Paradise Valley on Dale Hollow Lake in rural Southern Kentucky for the 7th Annual Kentucky/Tennessee Division Prayer & Fasting Retreat.

Our fast began at 4:00 pm. on Friday. Then we met from 7:00 until about 9:00. We gathered again on Saturday morning at 8:00 and met until 3:00. The meetings were centered on Jesus and people were free to come to the mic and share as they felt led by the Spirit.

It was such a tremendously powerful weekend. We spend time in intimate and anointed praise and worship. People enthusiastically shared prayers, Scriptures, testimonies, exhortations, burdens, tears, and joys. People listened to God and received words for themselves and for one another. People confessed sin and repented. We were so caught up with Christ that I hardly noticed I wasn’t eating.  It reminded me of the most powerful weekends in my life that I used to experience on Lay Witness Missions when I was in college.

I am so excited and so grateful to God for showing up; to the leadership who opened up the mic and allowed the Spirit to freely lead, to the participants who obeyed God and courageously opened up their hearts, and to The Salvation Army for being willing to allow God to work in fresh new ways!

Posted in Dale Hollow Lake, hearing God, Kentucky, Kentucky/Tennessee Division, Lay Witness Missions, one anothers, praise and worship, prayer and fasting retreat, praying, testimonies | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

6 biblical reasons to fast

Fasting is to go without eating any food for a period of time dedicated to God. Here are 6 biblical reasons to fast.

  1. We fast because Jesus expects us to fast. Mark 2: 20 reads: “And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they came and said unto Him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the friends of the bridegroom fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.” We are living “in those days” when Jesus said that His disciples will fast.
  2. We fast to humble ourselves. Psalm 35:18 says: “I humbled my soul with fasting.” Going without food and missing meals is quite humbling. Try it for yourself.
  3. We fast to make our prayers more effective, not by changing God, but by changing us. Daniel 9:3 says: “And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.” James 5:16 reads: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” When you get hungry while fasting, you will notice that your prayers get much more fervent.
  4. We fast to seek God. “Therefore also now, says the Lord, turn you even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.” Fasting is a powerful act demonstrating your need for and dependence on the living God rather than food.
  5. We fast to be set free from habits, addictions, torment thoughts, fears, sins, and anything else that forcible holds us in bondage and to set others free. After setting a young man free from a tormenting spirit, Mark 9:28-29 states: “And when He was come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, Why could not we cast him out? And He said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” Fasting is a powerful tool that can give you and others victory over cravings and compulsions!
  6. We fast to help us hear God’s voice more clearly. Acts 13:2 reads: “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” God is continually speaking to us by his “still small voice” but we often fail to be aware of it because of distractions. Fasting helps to focus us on God and to tune us in to hear His voice speaking in our inner self.

Perhaps you might try fasting. You can start by missing one or two meals and using meal time to pray and read the Bible. Let me know how it goes!


Posted in Bible verses fasting, Biblical concept, deliverance ministry, hearing God's voice, praying, reasons to fast, seeking God, The Voice, what the Bible says about | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Karaoke-style church, anyone?

Spiritual karaoke anyone?

People love karaoke because it releases spontaneity and joy. The open mic frees people from being passive spectators and lets them be active, enthusiastic participants.

Karaoke is really an act of faith. People set aside their fears, their concerns about how well they are going to perform and how people are going to perceive them. Then they step up to an open mic and express what they are feeling inside. Rob Sheffield puts it this way: “To enter into that karaoke mindset, you have to leave behind all your notions of . . . in tune or out of tune. The kara in the word karaoke is the same as the one in karate, which means ’empty hand.'”

Let’s open up church meetings like karaoke on Sunday mornings and let people go to the mic and share what God puts on their heart. When people in a church meeting step up to the open mic with ’empty hands’ (no agenda and no desire to control the meeting), God does amazing things.

berry street chairs A

Come and experience karaoke-style church with us every Sunday at 10:45 am. at The Salvation Army Berry Street, 225 Berry St., Nashville, Tennessee 37207.

Posted in church karaoke, definition of karaoke, empty hands, karate, meaning, open mic, open mike, Rob Sheffield, Salvation Army, Tennessee | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

There is none so bland as he who will not see . . .

Let the bland eyes see!

Society hypes up the bland while suppressing and holding down life’s most exciting aspect — the splendor, magnificence, and creativity of God that surrounds us in nature and is suppressed in our minds and souls.  There is none so bland as she/he who will not see the glory of God.

Scottish philosopher, Robert Adamson (1852-1902) put it this way: “Everything seems to be repeated endlessly — not so much the good things but the bland things — the ordinary things — the weaker things get repeated — the stronger things get suppressed and held down and hidden.”

For 5 1/2 years I worked with more than 1,400 men as the counselor/chaplain in The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Nashville. Although those guys had tried almost everything they had wanted to try, ignoring moral restraints and seeking to fulfill all their cravings; rather than excitement, they discovered a sense of bland sameness in all their forms of rebellion and self-destructive activities. They felt compelled to continually up the dosage of destruction in their lives, to violate more of their moral principles, to expand their experiences of evil, in an endless struggle to try to stay one step ahead of blandness, boredom, and depression.

However, there is a lifestyle that is never bland — the daily pursuit of a relationship with the living, resurrected Jesus Christ.  I’m not talking about religion, for it is loaded with boredom. Many people can’t even sit through one hour of religion without getting sleepy and/or bored. The difference between religion about Jesus and an ever-increasing relationship with Jesus is the difference between watching grass grow and riding a world-class roller coaster.

If you will read the stories (testimonies) of people who have spent their lives pursuing the living, resurrected Jesus Christ, you will find them to be the most exciting, passionate, and fulfilled people on earth. Why not google a few of them and see for yourself: John Wesley, Mother Teresa, William Seymour, George Fox, Catherine Booth, Augustine, Catherine of Siena, Francis of Assisi, Dorothy Day, C.H. Mason, Watchman Nee, William Booth.


Why take the road to bland, when instead you can be filled with the presence, power and excitement of the living Jesus?  Two early Christ-followers, Peter & John, put it like this: “As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Posted in Nashville, Jesus Christ, John Wesley, William Booth, rehab, Catherine Booth, testimony, Watchman Nee, Augustine, George Fox, Mother Teresa, William Seymour, Robert Adamson, Peter & John, We cannot help but speak, alcohol rehab, drug rehab, Catherine of Siena, Francis of Assisi, Dorothy Day, C.H. Mason, Salvation Army ARC | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beyond laid back lectures to lively one anothering!

Learning by lectures while leaving out supervised, hands on experience, leaves learners unable to effectively do in real life what they learned in the lectures. Examples: Would you trust?

1) A doctor who make As in all her lecture classes, but never actually touched a human body or medical equipment?
2) An auto mechanic who excelled in lecture learning, but was never allowed to see or touch a real engine?
3) A Christ-follower who heard a sermon every week, but was never given the opportunity to apply any of the sermon material in actual, supervised interaction with other people?

–“There are 59 ‘one another’ statements in the New Testament. That’s right, 59. That’s just under 60 exhortations in Scripture to actually ‘do’ something towards another person. Many of them have been taught by the church in the Sunday pulpit but few of them have the opportunity to be lived out by believers within the context of most church programming.” –Andrew Mason
–“The primary activity of the (early) church was one-anothering one another.” – Andy Stanley


When ordinary Christ-followers are allowed to actively “one another” in church meetings, the living, resurrected Jesus Christ, living in them, is then free to speak out through them! They learn by hands on activity, not just by passive listening. They learn how to flow in the Spirit, not just in a church meeting, but in everyday life. They become effective at hearing God and obeying His promptings in their hearts. They develop the confidence and courage to minister to one another and also to minister to the people they meet in day to day life.

Come and experience a church meeting line none other in Nashville at The Salvation Army Berry Street, 225 Berry St. 37207 on Sundays at 10:45 am. There you will experience:
–Many tiny sermons instead of one big one;
–Lots of Scriptures from various people;
–Unprogrammed but beautifully organized;
–Spontaneous sharing but led by the Spirit;
–Open hearts with love overflowing.

Posted in Andrew Mason, Andy Stanley, Bible, How many one anothers are in the, Nashville, one anothering, Salvation Army, sermons, simple church, Spirit-led, unprogrammed meetings | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Godviously (With Respect To Those Who Don’t See God)

God is obvious

Some things are obvious. To me God is Godvious!
–Nothing makes nothing. It takes a someone to make something. I believe God is Godvious!
–A painter puts his name on his paintings. God puts His name all over Creation. He’s not hiding from you; God is Godvious!

As long as I can remember I’ve had a deep awareness of God. My nonreligious, non-church-going parents said that when I first started talking, I would frequently talk to them about God and ask questions about Him. Although no one taught me about God or encouraged me, as a child I talked to God every night before I went to sleep.

Eventually, partially as a result of my consistent asking, my parents stated taking our family to church. However, I found church extremely boring. Still, I went through classes, joined the church, and was baptized by sprinkling into a Presbyterian church when I was about 12. As a result of joining a Christian church I thought that made me a Christian.

Then one day, while sitting through a dull sermon, a question came to my mind: “If you were born a Hindu, what would you be today?” I thought about it and realized that I would have been a Hindu. Then another question ran through my thoughts: “Why do you think you’re a Christian?” And I suddenly realized that I only believed in Christ because church had taught me about Him. So I rejected Christianity, Christ, the Bible, Jesus’ resurrection, and all religion. However, I couldn’t reject what was obvious (Godvious) to me — the reality of some sort of creator. I wasn’t sure that the creator was a personal God, but I still believed that there was some kind or rational entity behind our existence. So I began to call myself an agnostic. However, I continued to talk to the unknown god.

Then one day I walked into a dorm meeting where ordinary people were talking about Jesus Christ like He is a living, personal being and actually in the room with us. Their words, their passion, their faith, their experiences, stirred me deeply and made the unknown god Godvious to me! I’ve never been the same since — never not felt God’s love, God’s presence — even in my most painful and confused times and my most difficult trials.

So if God is Godvious, why do so many people deny that they see Him? I believe it’s because God is like a window or a windshield or a pair of glasses or contact lenses. He’s right in front of our faces, but we look right through Him. We are distracted by and focused on things in the distance, so we look right past God and we fail to see what is Godviously right in front of our eyes.

Posted in Christianity, conversion story, Creator, God is like, Hinduism, personal testimony, salvation | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments