Thoughts from Two Trees (Continued)

Still reading "There Were Two Trees in the Garden" by Rick Joyner. Allow me to reiterate what I said before. Buy it! It will be a $8.00 well spent. This book is chock full of stuff that will challenge your previous thinking and introduce you to new ways of thinking. Very provoking.

Here are some thoughts that I found especially interesting:
  • (referring to Babel) We are still trying to build towers to heaven and make names for ourselves. Regardless of how piously we attach the Lord's name to our works, everything motivated by selfish ambition will come to the same end as the original tower...confusion and scattering (James 3:15-16).
  • It IS possible to understand all Christian doctrine accurately and yet not be a Christian.
  • Babylon is not just a physical reality. Babylon is in the heart.
  • There are some who have truth without life. And yet there are some who have life in Jesus but may not understand all doctrine correctly. As Thomas a Kempis reflected in his classic work Of the Imitation of Christ, "I would rather feel contrition than know the definition thereof...what does it avail a man to be able to discourse profoundly concerning the trinity if he is void of humility and thereby displeasing to Trinity?"
  • Of course truth is important. Certain truth is essential and leads to life (Jesus). But there are many doctrines not in this category over which believers through the ages have separated. Christians, who are supposed to be recognized by their love, have demonstrated the uncanny ability to agree on 98% of their doctrine and separate over the 2% on which they disagree. Required agreement on non-essentials is almost always rooted in insecurity. Insecurity among the leadership of the body of Christ has been the source of as much division as any other single factor.
  • Our unity is not based on our doctrines, it is based on Jesus! Focusing our attention on loving God and man is far more important than all of us having the same doctrine.
  • Many Christians seem to have more faith in the Devil to deceive them, than they do in the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth!
There is something on every page of this book. I will stop there for now. Any thoughts on any of this? I hope that you don't find it too boring. I learn by reading, then writing, then teaching.

What is "Anointing"?

Anointing. What is that word? It has always sounded churchy to me. However, the more I walk with the Lord and the more I see the power of godly anointing in the scriptures, the more I want it! A few months back, I read a book ("God Chasers" by Tommy Tenney) that addressed it in a way I had never thought of. Check this out:

When the anointing of God rests on human flesh, it makes everything flow better. One of the clearest pictures of the anointing and its purpose in the Bible is provided in the Book of Esther. When Esther was being prepared for her presentation of the king of Persia, she was required to go through a year of purification during which she was repeatedly soaked in fragrant anointing oil (ironically using virtually the same ingredients of the Hebrew’s worship incense and anointing oil). One year in preparation for one night with the king!

A logical side benefit of all those soaking baths in perfumed oil is that every man who came near to Esther would think or say, “My, but you smell good.” Nevertheless, Esther wouldn't give them the time of day for the same reason that you and I should never be distracted by the pursuit of man’s approval!

The purpose of the anointing is not to make man like you, but to make the King like you. (Esther: Great Example)

It is far more important that the King approve of you than the people. David was anointed by God long before he was crowned by the people. He sought God’s approval over man’s!

Tenney writes: We have prostituted God’s anointing too many times. We prepare for Him and we soak in His precious, sweet-smelling anointing, but then all we do is parade it around for man! We end up flirting on the way to the chamber of the king and never make it. Seduced by other lower, lovers. We need to remember that our Kings is not going to have “soiled goods.” I’m saying that we prostitute the anointing in the sense that we say, “That was good preaching!” or “That song was really good!” and we give man the glory and the attention (or we seek man’s glory and attention). Even our services are structured to please man. The anointing really does do a lot of wonderful things in our lives, and it breaks the yoke of oppression. But that is only a by-product. It is much like when I splash cologne on for my wife. The by-product is that I smell good for everyone. But the purpose of the perfume was for her, not them! The problem comes when we use it to impress and flirt with one another, overlooking the primary purpose of the anointing, which is to camouflage the stench of our own flesh.

This is some strong and vibrant language. I do not always agree with Tenney! However, this is a view of anointing that I have never thought of before. What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

It looks better than it is!

Let me tell you about one of CCF's "strengthnesses" (Strength that is also a weakness).

For some reason, we continue to hear these type of statements from people:
"It looks like you all have all the help you need."

"Everything seems to run smooth, I am sure you do not need me."

"I didn't know that you all were struggling for workers. It didn't appear that way."
I am not sure what it is that we are doing to look effective, but please allow me to tell you the truth:
We need the gifts of every person in the church to really be all that the Lord is calling us to be. No one has been called of God to sit and do nothing.

Frankly, I hate to flaunt needs. "We need, we need, we need..." I have no interest in leading a desperate church begging people to get committed and freaking out when people leave. Not for me.
I do, however want to lead a church that is living out the every member ministry principles in Ephesians 4.
That said, I am not sure why people think we got it all together at CCF, but I promise you IT LOOKS BETTER THAN IT IS!
The reality is...right now....we are praying for the Lord to raise up from among us:
  1. 10 more AWANA workers
  2. 5 more Capi's Kids and Capi's Babies workers
  3. Club 56 leaders
  4. A drummer
  5. Other worship instrumentalists & vocalists
  6. Production Team members (cameras, sound, lights)
  7. Guest Welcome Team Members
  8. Greeters, Ushers, Welcome Center Workers
  9. More, but I will stop...
If you attend CCF and are not plugged in the way you could be, please let us know and let's make it happen. Lives depend on it.
Pastor Noah

Two Trees (Provoking Excerpt)

My last blog post was triggered by this section in Joyner's "There Were Two Trees in the Garden." Read this concept reflectively:

There are many 'good' causes being championed in the world today that frequently serve as distractions for Christians, because they draw our attention away from our true calling. In most cases, there is no question that the issues are just and right, but they only deal with the symptoms -- they leave the disease untouched. Homosexuality is a flagrant perversion, but it is only a symptom of a much deeper problem. Abortion is a horror, but it too is just a symptom. Even communism and fascism, in their most cruel and oppressive forms are but symptoms of the disease that afflicts the soul of a man. For centuries the church has been offering the world bandaids for a deep, mortal wound. What man needs is more than just behavioral changes. We must stop flailing at the branches and put an ax to the root of the tree...
...Man's nature must change. In every man and woman born, there is a nature which seeks to draw all attention and worship to itself...The good of the tree of knowledge has always been more effective in separating us from the Lord than the evil has been [just ask Adam and Eve]. The goodness of man can be the most ugly manifestation of his pride and rebellion against God. The entire tree of knowledge must be torn from our soul by the roots.
Deep, huh? Thoughts? What does this mean to you?

What is the root?

Far too often, we focus on the fruit, branches and outgrowth of a tree that we ignore. When we examine ourselves and assess the people around us, I think that we have a destructive tendency to spend our energy focusing on the wrong stuff!

There is a root!
What is the root?
What is the real issue?
What is the deeper issue?
Let me explain with a few examples.
Maybe you do not care to be around someone because they are always focused on themselves, so you conclude that they are self centered. Maybe your perception of their self-centerdness is not the root, or even the truth. Perhaps they spent their life being rejected and feeling worthless and now they are trying to compensate for deep hurt. But, all you do is look at the fruit and not the root, missing out on a great chance to really know someone.
Perhaps you have become aware that someone does not "like you" because of something you did or said (and you think that what you said was no big deal). Maybe the issue has nothing to do with what you said, but traces way back to some deep sense of jealousy they have toward you from years ago. If you just stop at the present frustration, you will miss the deeper reality.
Look, if you find yourself puzzled over why someone is upset with you over something so "small", the chances are that the "small" thing is NOT at all what they are upset over. There is something much deeper that they cannot or will not name.
If you are easily agitated by someone over small things, there is probably a bigger thing underneath that you are scared to acknowledge.
It may be your feelings toward someone else. Or someone else's feelings toward you. But, all too often I am seeing people miss the root wile they worry over the fruit.
There is a deeper issue. Stop ignoring it. Ask the Lord for courage and hit head on. It will open up the door to some deep relational healing.

There Were Two Trees (Intro)

About 2 weeks ago, a friend of mine lent me a book to read entitled, "There Were Two Trees in the Garden" by Rick Joyner. When he initially explained it to me, I kinda looked at him like..."huh"? He then said, "it is more profound than I am explaining it to it!" Well, so far, it has been one of the slowest reads of my life. This book is unbelievably profound! I am only 47 pages in and I already know that it will rise to be one of the greatest books I have ever read! Here's the deal...when the meat is this rich, I gotta take it slow. I read, think, write, reflect, read more, etc.

So, I have decided to share some of what I am learning as I am learning it. Maybe you want to buy this book and follow along with me.
Check some of this out:
  • There were two trees in the garden of Eden. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. They are symbolic of two spiritual lineages or family trees. Genesis to Revelation traces these two lineages or themes. Spirit or flesh? Between them lies the focal point of the dichotomy between the kingdom of God and this present evil age.
  • Adam and Eve were told not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, not only as a test of obedience to God, but because of the power that this fruit had to kill and destroy. God did not say, "if you eat it I will kill you." He said, "if you eat it, you will die." There is a reason for the distinction.
  • This is huge! Get this. Evil is evil. We all know that. But, GOOD IS EVIL as well!! And our "good" is what separates most of us from God. In fact, Jesus was much more tolerant of evil than good! Look at the Gospels. He dealt with demons more graciously than the self righteous!
  • Joyner captures it like this: "The knowledge of good and evil kills us by distracting us from the one who is the source of life: the tree of life---JESUS! The tree of knowledge causes us to focus our attention on ourselves. Sin is empowered by the law; not just because the evil is revealed, but the good as well. It drives us to either corruption or self-righteousness, both of which lead to death!"
  • It is no accident that the tree of knowledge was in the center of the garden (Gen 3:3). Self-centerdness is the main product of the this tree. After Adam and Eve ate its fruit, their response was self inspection. Before that time, they were focused on the Lord and his purposes for them. After eating of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, they were focused on measuring themselves.
  • There is no easier way to keep us from the tree of life (Jesus) than to focus our attention on ourselves.
More later...

Antithesis of Jesus

The more I read the gospels, the more I am bothered. Over the last 2-3 months, our Staff has been hanging out in Mark. To steal Pastor TC's words, "I feel further from the Lord, the more I study Mark. I have more questions than answers. I revere him and love him more than ever before." That captures it for me.

Jesus was profoundly mysterious in some of what he said and did in his earthly ministry. At the same time, he was masterfully strategic and thoroughly intentional! Here's a big thing growing in me recently. The more I learn Jesus, the more dumbfounded I become about current "church" practices and tactics. In fact, I want to take it as far as to say, I am seeing places where the church today (yes, my church, CCF!! and many other ones too) are doing the exact opposite of Jesus.
  1. Jesus traveled around from place to place. We stay put in one town and building. (unless we are on vacation)
  2. Jesus talked about the Father and ministered everywhere he went. We rarely talk about the Lord and minster practically nowhere but in the church building 90 minutes a week.
  3. Jesus said go! We say come!
  4. Jesus believed that sacred place was the heart of a man, where God dwells. We seem to believe that sacred space is our church for 90 minutes each Sunday morning, where God dwells.
  5. Jesus cast out demons left and right. Most of us wouldn't know a demon if we fell over one. Much less believe we can cast one out.
  6. Jesus healed with confident authority rooted in the Father. We pray with reserved doubt thinking that the results are somehow rooted in us!
  7. Jesus attracted massive crowds. We beg people to come and are disappointed in our attendance.
  8. Jesus spent his every day focused on the will of the Father. We spend our lives focused on us, our families, our jobs, our mortgages, our, our, our, our...
  9. Jesus took risks and did and said mind blowing things. We play it safe like pros.
Alright, let me stop...I could keep going, but I think you get my point.
Is all this just ok? He was Jesus, we are not, so let's go on with our life? Or should this bother us? And should we look to change it? What do you think?


We revealed a very special announcement at CCF this past Sunday!! About 2 years ago, we discontinued our Wednesday night "Halftime" ministry for some necessary reasons. However, after several improvements, redefinitions, and increase in commitment, we are pleased to announce that HALFTIME is BACK!! Reloaded!!

What is "Halftime"?
Half way through the week and half way between Sundays, we gather together at CCF to reconnect, rejuvenate and renew ourselves as a church. EVERY Wednesday evening from 7:00pm-8:30pm there will be something going on for everyone!
Starting on Wednesday Evening, January 13th at 7:00pm, Halftime will feature...
  • Capi's Kids featuring AWANA (Bible Club Program) for kids 2 years old-6th grade- in Capiland
  • REAL Teens with Pastor TC for the Youth 7th-12th grade- in the Upper Room
  • Bible Study with Pastor Nelson - in Room 110
  • Encore! Q & A forum about last Sunday's Message with Pastor Noah- in Lobby
  • Women's Small Group- in Conference Room
  • Perhaps some other Small Groups as well!
Sign up Sunday!!
And stay Tuned for more!!

God's Hand or God's Face?

Dear Lord, help me with ___________.

Dear Jesus, heal my ____________.
Dear God, I need ____________.
Dear Lord, please help me accomplish _____________.
Dear God, I need money for _____________.
I've been thinking a lot recently about this question:
Are we more interested in seeking the face of God or the hand of God?
The hand of God are the things that he has for me and the things that I want him to do for me out of his great power and grace.
The face of God is his presence, his majesty, his telling the Lord how amazing he is with no strings attached. Praise. Worship. Adoration. Thanksgiving.
Here's my theory for what it's worth:
The more that we seek the face of God, the more we will receive what's in his hand.
And the more we seek the hand of God, the easier it is to forget about his face...which may lead to him closing his fist.
I'm not saying it is wrong to present you requests to God. It's biblical. But, do not neglect the first thing...
"Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name...." (Start with praise.)
"...give us today our daily bread." (Then, ask for your bread.)

Thankful and Not so Thankful

A friend of mine, TJ Reid, blogged today about what he is NOT thankful for. I thought it was a neat perspective.

Here are a few things that I am NOT so thankful for today:

  • Senseless violence in our cities.
  • People that are going hungry while others overfill.
  • People who have kids, abuse and neglect them and today they are lost and unwanted.
  • The many people still in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • That people I love continually choose flesh over spirit.
  • Brokenness, sin and the evil attacks of the enemy on people's lives.
And here are some things that I AM thankful for this Thanksgiving:
  • Jesus, my Savior, my King, my Friend. I would be totally and utterly lost without Him as the leader of my life!
  • Tricia Kaye! He that finds a wife (like this) finds a really, really, really, really good thing.
  • Davis Kaye! This young man is filling our heart and home with joy like we could have never imagined.
  • All our family. Blessed beyond measure.
  • Capital Christian Fellowship!! What a fantastic community to live with and serve the Lord with. Awesome church!!
  • The increase in spiritual intimacy with the Father in 2009. Greater closeness to the heart of God than I have ever felt before in 3 decades of life!
The Lord is an amazing God! Won't you take time to thank him today?

The Myth of More (My Message 11/22/09)

1. Having more will make me HAPPY. “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income…” Ecclesiastes 5:10

2. Having more will make me IMPORTANT. "Then he said to them, be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

3. Having more will make me SECURE. “The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall.” Proverbs 18:11

Exploding the Myth for More:

RESIST comparing what I have with others. 2 Corinthians 10:12

REJOICE in what I do have. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

RETURN the first ten percent back to God. Malachi 3:7, 10

RELY on God for my daily needs. Proverbs 30:8,9

REFOCUS my life of eternal things. 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Skills with the Bills (My Message 11/15/09)

Principles to help develop skills with bills (dollar bills and/or bills that come in the mail that you you owe, but feel like shredding):


“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33


“The wicked borrow and do not repay.” Psalm 37:21

--The principle of COTENTMENT: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.” Hebrews 13:5


“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with very much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 16:10

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9


“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35


“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22

“I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.” Psalm 119:60

Cheap Grace

Pastor Nelson really brought some provoking material to our Small Group Training this morning. This week I will blog some of it. Here is one segment. Check this out:

In his attempt to bring a balance between two realities in the life of a Christian, Dietrich Bonheoffer talks about costly grace versus cheap grace. He writes, "Grace is represented as the church's inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost!" The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of us using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap? Bonheoffer concludes that cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the incarnation of the Word of God.

I am more and more convinced that true discipleship is VERY expensive and more and more concerned that people think it is cheap. God help us take walking with you seriously!

Intense Seasons

Ministry is intense. Really intense. Life is intense! And it comes in seasons. When it rains it pours. This week has been one of the most intense weeks of ministry that I have had in a year or two. Emergencies, late nights, heavy stuff. I am sure that you can relate to this, but, I feel overwhelmed sometimes when I have to juggle it all. The very fact that there is a lot to deal with forces you to neglect other important things (like God and family) making life even more stressful.

Here are some of the things that I am learning about intense seasons that I wanted to share with you mid-sentence:
  • They often sneak up on us. We usually quickly find ourselves carrying a heavy load and wonder how much more we can handle.
  • And since intense seasons sneak up on us, they can rarely be prepared for.
  • So, you take into these tough weeks, that which you have gleaned from the previous lighter weeks.
  • WHICH is why it is so important that we are seeking the Lord at all times and spending time in his word and in his presence. In doing so, you are carrying with you an anointing and a strength that without it, you may snap.
  • During an intense season, you need to put off everything that can be put off. Do not create false deadlines for yourself that only add to the pressure you are already under.
  • Finally, create a "light at the end of the tunnel" for yourself. DECIDE that you are taking 2 days off the next week. Or go on an overnight trip. Or separating from your pressure points for at least 48 hours. Form a goal or a break to look forward to. Personally, I need that right now and am planning to take off the first 3 days of next week leading up to Thanksgiving. Next week, I'm about to get missing! I need the break.

The only 3 things that only you can do!

There are many things that we all balance and juggle in our lives. The big question is this: how many of the most important things are being neglected or short changed for things less important things?
Yesterday, while I was at the Catalyst One Day Conference, I heard Craig Groeschel share this thought. I think that it's pretty powerful.
There are ONLY 3 things that ONLY you can do:
  1. Only you can be the husband to your wife or the wife to your husband. You cannot appoint or hire anyone else to do that job!
  2. Only you can be a parent to your child. Sure, they may have another parent or guardian, but only YOU can be Mom or Dad to your kids.
  3. Only you can seek God for you. No one else can learn the word for you, say your prayers for you or develop intimacy with the father on your behalf. That is all you!
Everything else that you do...someone else can do it. Someone else can do your job. You are replaceable. Someone else can do almost any other thing that you do...those things that seem so important to you.
Here's the problem: we get this twisted, think more highly of ourselves than we ought to and we forget the most important things in our lives while we stay busy trying to get ahead. I don't know about you, but at my funeral, I want to hear you say that I loved me wife like crazy, loved my kids like crazy and loved my God with an undying love. Honestly, I could care less what else is said, what church I built, what ministry I did, what books I write or what degrees I hold.
Are there some things in your life that need to become lower priorities so that family and God become the priority they are supposed be?

Decide or let them decide?

While attending a seminar today, the leader, Mervin Charles made a profound point about parenting. Here is the key statement:

“It takes a very different skill set to be a good parent of a small child than it does to be a good parent of a teenager.”

Now, read that again.

I personally know people who say, "I am good with babies." I know other people who say, "I am terrible with teens." And vice versa! You know, this may be old fashioned, but with a baby or toddler, the main priority is the outcome. You care about development. But, you tell them what to do so that the outcome is safe and best for the child.

As children grow and become older, outcome still remains important, but the value of their development really rises! There may be times when you have to dictate the outcome, but there are many times when they need to try, make mistakes, learn and develop the ability to make wise decisions that you are not dictating. Development involves them making some decisions on their own.

Some people are better at telling kids what to do than they are at letting them figure it out. As with all things, finding the balance is so important.

How do you get the word out?

One of the things that I love about my role in ministry is that I get to hear about it. It. Whatever it is, I often get to hear about it. The good, bad and the ugly. Well, there is no ugly at CCF. Ahem. the close our Executive Board meeting tonight, Pastor Nelson and I just took some time to share some ministry wins. As we shared, it dawned on me again...
How do we get the word out?
How can we start to let more stories be heard.
There IS stuff happening. There IS life change happening. There ARE powerful stories all around us. I hear them. We see them. Some can't be public for various reason. But, many can! We need to get the word out.
How do we get the word out? In what meaningful and creative ways have you seen churches effectively tell the stories of life change happening among them? Leave a thought if you have one.

Pastor Dave

Today, I had the privilege of sharing the officiating of a funeral with my predecessor and friend, Pastor David Eshleman. Pastor Dave served as the Senior Pastor of CCF before I did. Every time I am with him, I am challenged to grow. Tonight, I just have to thank God for him.

If you know Dave Eshleman at all, you know that he is the polar opposite of self seeking. He is meek, humble, gentle and caring. He will not be thrilled when he finds out that I wrote this blog. But, he'll forgive me. Pastor Dave has qualities that all by themselves remind me of my need for more of Jesus!
  • He leaks scripture all the time. He has hidden it in his heart, but just deep enough that he can dig it up and quote it...text, chapter and verse with relative ease.
  • He drips Jesus. The brother is as Christocentric as anyone I have ever met. Jesus is clearly his first love.
  • He loves people. He cares about anyone he knows. I watched him "Pastor" people all over the place today in the few hours he was among us. Remembers details, follows up on things you have told him, asks questions, listens and actually cares about what you are telling him.
I don't write these things to score any brownie points. I have nothing to gain here other than to honor one of the leaders in my life that I am thankful for tonight. He has made a difference in me. It is not every day that a current and previous pastor can share the type of relationship that we do. So beautiful.
But the main reason that I share these things is to issue a challenge to each of us to strive for a pure heart, a passion for the scriptures, a love for the Lord Jesus and an intentional love for people that leaks out you walk in a room. If you fill up with Jesus, you will leak Jesus. If you fill up with other stuff, then you will leak.....well.....other stuff!
Pastor Dave is also an author (book pictured above) and church consultant. You can click HERE to buy his book.