Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Bible Is About Knowing God by Experience

Wood ducks in my back yard

I now see my coffee cup. I hold it in my hand. Lifting it to my mouth, I taste the java. I feel it slip-sliding down my throat. I sense the effects of the caffeine. How shall I describe this, in words? 

The experience of the coffee and the cup is epistemically superior to any poem I might write, or any essay I might pen, about the coffee encounter. In the end, if you really want to know, you must see my cup, hold it, and taste for yourself that the coffee is good. 

Religious experience is the same. To know God, we must experience God. Taste, not theorize, and see that the Lord is good.

We fall short of understanding the stories in the Bible if we lack the kind of experiences those stories describe. “Religion,” writes Wayne Proudfoot, “has always been an experiential matter. It is not just a set of creedal statements or a collection of rites.” 

The entire Bible is about knowing God by experience. God promises experiential knowledge to those who abide in Jesus, and follow.

- From John Piippo, Leading the Presence-Driven Church (Kindle Locations 157-167). WestBow Press. Kindle Edition

- On a correct, experiential interpretation of the Scriptures, see Craig Keener, Spirit Hermeneutics: Reading Scripture in Light of Pentecost.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Trading My Comfort Zone for the Joy of the Lord

I'm trading my comfort zone for the joy of the Lord.

When revival and awakening come to our churches it will not look like something we have come up with. This is because God is infinitely more creative than we are. God's ways are not our ways, his thoughts being vastly higher than our thoughts.

We need something new, something different, if America is to be healed of its sickness. That sickness is not economic or political, but spiritual and moral. And it is in our churches.

As A. W. Tozer said:

"If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference."

A change is coming.

People get ready. 

All will not welcome it.

It means giving up control and power over people in the church.

The coming Move of God will shake the foundations of the Church.

It will propel the followers of Jesus out of their comfort zones.

This must happen, if America is to be saved from its unspiritual amorality.

As Hebrews 11:6 tells us:



Dear Redeemer Family,

Disciples of Jesus never retire.

We never graduate from the School of Jesus this side of heaven. 

Linda and I had parents who followed and served Jesus until the day they died. My parents' church had a large outdoor concert amphitheater that sat 3000 people. During the summer months famous Christian musicians came and did concerts. After the concerts were over the place was littered with waste paper. My parents, who were in their seventies, and other elderly couples, would stay and pick up all the trash. They were great servants!

Linda's father lived with us for seven years. He was in his eighties. Every Saturday morning I would drop him off at the local mall. He would stay in the food court, and approach people to tell them about Jesus. The mall managers heard of this, and asked him not to bother people any more. But Linda's dad was not to be stopped! 

He had a t-shirt made, with the words on it: "Let's talk about Jesus." He kept going to the mall on Saturday mornings, wearing the new t-shirt. After he died we had it made into a pillow. Here it is.

When I enlisted in the Army National Guard, I signed up for six years. I kept my commitment. When I said my vows to Linda on our wedding day, we signed up for life, until death separates us. We have kept our vows.

When I was twenty years old and said "yes" to Jesus, I Told Him I would be His disciple for the rest of my life, and into eternity. This spring I will celebrate fifty years of discipleship.

The Bible presents life as a race, where people run to a finish line that has a prize. Linda and I not only plan on finishing, but finishing well.

Discipleship, like a marriage, is a life commitment. Disciples don't retire from the great race.

You are Jesus' disciples. May you run well, and finish strong!




I am running with Jesus, stronger than ever!

I have placed the cross before me, and the world behind me.

I love You, Lord, and I'll never stop loving You.

I thank God that He has not asked me to retire from following and serving Him!

Monday, February 24, 2020

Sunday, February 23, 2020



Dear Redeemer Family,

I was once physically attacked by a demon.

It happened in 1970. I was a twenty-one, and a brand new follower of Jesus. I had become the youth leader in my Lutheran church. 

I was asked to come to a meeting with our pastor, a few church leaders, and a husband and wife who were long-time church members.

The husband and wife shared they had experienced something new to them. They wanted to share it with us. They had begun to pray in tongues.

I didn't know what the manifestation of tongues was about, but was interested.

As the meeting went on, the atmosphere felt tense. This had never happened in our church. I could see that the leadership was not going to allow this. The pastor said we should stop and pray about this.

That's when a demon attacked me.

I had never felt anything like this in my life. It was as if something evil was inside me. I was sitting in this meeting, head bowed, eyes closed, praying, "Help me Jesus! Help me Jesus!" I had no training for this. What was going on inside me?

The prayer time, and the meeting, ended. I went to a phone and called Linda. I was crying. "Pray for me. I don't know what's going on. I think I've been attacked by a demon."

Since that time I've learned more about spiritual beings like demons. I concluded that, yes, I was under a demonic assault in that meeting. Over a spiritual gift. Can you believe it?

I read my Bible and saw that Jesus was confronting satan and demons, all the time. My Teacher believed in demons, and engaged in battle against them.

As an apprentice in the School of Jesus I have been taught that my true enemies are not people, but are demons. I am not to wage war against flesh and blood, but against the dark spiritual agents who are against Jesus.

In my Lutheran church we sang Luther's worship song "A Mighty Fortress." I still love this song! Look what the lyrics say.

For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;

His craft and pow'r are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
And though this world, with devils filled, 
should threaten to undo us,

We will not fear, for God hath willed 
His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
This song was in my DNA years before I became a disciple. When that happened, the words took on rich, new meanings.

My dear brothers and sisters, we are in a spiritual battle.




I do not see people as my true enemies.

Today I am engaging the enemy.

I defeat the enemy using weapons of righteousness, such as love, and truth.

I am a spiritual force that sets captives free.

My mission is to tear down strongholds the enemy has erected in the hearts of people.

The enemy has been defeated! Sin and death have lost their power!

Saturday, February 22, 2020



Dear Redeemer Family,

A disciple of Jesus is "the real thing." Which means, they are the same in their heart as they are in their behavior. Which means, they are as Christlike when they believe no one is looking as they are Christlike in public.

This is called congruence. Also called integrity.

Authenticity is having the character of Christ wherever and whenever we are. 

Years ago God told me, "John, you do not have to be like other people." I wrote this in my journal - "God, I no longer want to be like other people. I want to be like You."

Christ-like; like Christ. Inside and outside.

The desire to be like certain people is not all bad. After all, the apostle Paul counseled his churches to "imitate" him. I have been influenced by other disciples of Jesus. Such people had Christlike qualities I wanted to emulate.

This is not about pretending. A disciple is not a pretender. They are not an actor. Rather, their heart is being formed into the character of Christ. As the heart is formed into Jesus-likeness, behaviors follow.

Jesus has taught me that He is enough for me. And, that one day, I shall be like Him. This has freed me from the heavy burden of trying to be like someone I am not. It has freed me from comparing myself with others. It has freed me from pretending, from acting, so as to be liked by others. 

It has rescued me from hypocrisy, and released me into authenticity.

I have not yet graduated from this class in the School of Jesus. But I have moved deeper into the curriculum. Jesus is the perfectly authentic person. I want to be like Him, inside and out.

I want this for you, too.




I am the same person in private as I am in public.

I am the same person in my heart as I am in my actions.

I am free from comparing myself with other people.

More and more, I find my desire is to be like Jesus.

I don't pretend to be someone I am not.

This thought blows me away: One day, I shall be like Him!



Dear Redeemer Family,

Disciples of Jesus know when to say "yes," and when to say "no."

Disciples say "yes" to Jesus, and "no" to the secular values of their culture.

They do this by establishing godly, healthy boundaries.

Before I became a disciple of Christ, I had few boundaries. When I became a follower of Jesus, He began to teach me about them. 

One week after I became committed to Jesus as my Lord, I was invited by friends to a party. Drugs were there. I believed I had been set free from a daily habit of smoking marijuana. At this party, joints of marijuana were being passed around. My friend, Bob, took a hit, and then passed the joint to me.

I took it, said "No, thanks," and passed it on. A few minutes later I left the party.

I had set a boundary. This was an important lesson for me!

A boundary is like a fence. A fence keeps good things in, and bad things out. Disciples of Christ set a fence around their hearts. They learn to say "yes" to the values of God's Kingdom, and "no" to the falsehoods of the kingdom of darkness.

When the Boundaries materials came out in the 1990s, they were a huge help to me and Linda. Much of our counseling ministry is about helping people understand and apply godly, healthy boundaries.

We have learned that sometimes we even say "no" to things that are, in themselves, godly and good. For example, one of our habits in marriage is having a date night, every Friday night. Linda and I estimate we have had at least 2,400 Friday night dates, spanning forty-six and a half years of marriage! This habit is rooted in a core value: We will take time to invest in our marriage.

One Wednesday night a friend called. He was putting on a conference, and the main speaker got sick. My friend was under pressure as he asked if I could fill in on Friday night. I said, "I'm sorry, but I cannot." He asked, "Why not?"

I said, "Linda and I have a date, and have the evening scheduled."

I could tell this answer frustrated him. I did not feel I had to defend myself. We said good-bye. Five minutes later, he called to apologize. He told me he understood and valued my commitment to my marriage.

What would you have said? Maybe you would have agreed to speak. As for Linda and I, we have set a fence around Friday nights. Only weddings, funerals, and medical emergencies may interrupt this.

The first disciples said "no" to many things in order to say "yes" to. I have learned to do this.

I want the freedom of boundary-setting for you, too.




Every day I say "yes" to Jesus, and "no" to the values of this world.

I place the cross before me, and the world behind me.

I have placed a godly guard around my heart.

Having boundaries has set me free to love as Jesus loves.

I walk in the wisdom of knowing what to do, and knowing what not to do.

I often help others establish godly boundaries in their lives.

Friday, February 21, 2020



Dear Redeemer Family,

In 1972 I read, in the Bible, about the manifestation of "tongues." 1 Corinthians 14 says a lot about this spiritual gift. Verses 39-40 told me, Be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

I had never heard about this spiritual gift, or any other, for that matter. I had also never been exposed to the idea that the spiritual gifts have stopped manifesting. That idea would have confused me, since the Bible presents these wonderful manifestations as needed to strengthen, comfort, and encourage the church.

At that time I was the youth leader at Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Rockford, Illinois. This was my home church. One night I could not get away from the idea of this strange Spirit-manifestation called glossalalia ("tongues"). The thought came to me, "I want this."

After a youth group meeting, I went into Tabor's large, empty sanctuary. I lay on my face, on the carpeted floor, and said this to God: "God, if you want me to have this gift, I am willing to receive it."

Nothing happened. But I did not feel discouraged. I sensed that God was pleased that I was asking.  

Almost twenty years later, it happened. In 1991. Linda and I lived in East Lansing, but had driven a hundred miles to a gathering at Redeemer Church in Monroe. This is where we still are. After the meeting, some of Redeemer's people surrounded us and prayed for us. One of them prayed for me, saying, "God, give John all that he needs."

As we were driving back later that night, Linda fell asleep in the car. While she was sleeping, I began to pray in tongues. It did not feel pressured or forced. It felt natural, and beautiful.

This is not how it happens to every disciple of Jesus. It is the story of one disciple, me. I also do not think someone is not Spirit-filled if they do not manifest all the spiritual gifts. Remember: the gifts are essentially manifestations of the Spirit, for the edifying of the people of God, distributed by the Spirit as He wills.

Here is one way I see this. 

Some people, when it comes to spiritual things, are divers. I'm not. I am a wader. I have seen some enthusiastic divers fade away when the initial thrill is gone. Meanwhile, I am still wading, sometimes slowly, even methodically. I have seen all the spiritual manifestations, working around me in the Jesus community, and many of them through me. God has healed through me, delivered people from darkness through me, and prophesied through me, all to my amazement.

I just keep going deeper. Today, I lift my head and observe that I am swimming in the deep ocean waters of the Holy Spirit, expecting more to come.

I want this for you. I want you to pray, 

"Come Holy Spirit. Have Your way in me."




Come, Holy Spirit, have your way in me.

Manifest spiritual gifts through me.

I see You working through me to strengthen, comfort, and encourage my brothers and sisters.

The Holy Spirit is having His way in me.

Breakthrough is always happening around me.

I love being God's Church, the body of Christ.

In my church spiritual gifts are manifesting all the time.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Healing of PTSD & Trauma - Feb. 21-22-23 @ Redeemer

Dr. Mike Hutchings ministering at Voice of the Prophets

Everyone, at some point in their life, experiences trauma. Many walk for years with unaddressed, unhealed trauma. We are addressing this at Redeemer Feb. 21-22-23. 

Mike Hutchings of Randy Clark's Global Awakening Network will be our speaker. Mike spoke and taught at last summer's HSRM conference. Mike's teaching on healing of trauma and PTSD is the best I have ever heard!

On this weekend...  



The Schedule:

Fri. 6:30-8:30 - Intro to Healing of Trauma and PTSD

Sat.10am-12:30 pm - PTSD Seminar Part 1

Sat. 6:30-8:30 pm - PTSD Seminar Part 2

Sunday 10:30-12:15 - Worship and Word w/ Dr. Michael Hutchings

6:30-8:30 pm - Activation Event.

Sunday evening will be an EMPOWERMENT SERVICE.

This is going to be very good!

Come, and bring friends who need healing!

Free admission. Love offerings will be taken.

Redeemer Fellowship Church
5305 Evergreen
Monroe, MI


Mike Hutchings has 35 years of pastoral, church planting and pastoring pastors experience in a variety of church cultures including Baptist, Vineyard, Willow Creek, and Mennonite. In Peoria, Illinois, Mike partnered with the leadership team of a Transforming Revival Pastors’ Group where the city experienced significant transformation through the power of prayer and unity.
Mike conducts “Healing PTSD” training seminars throughout the country, training prayer ministers, clergy, chaplains, and counselors to utilize a healing prayer model to bring restoration to those suffering with PTSD

Abortion - What Are We Killing?

(Cemetery, Monroe, Michigan)

The primary question in the abortion discussion is: what is the nature of the inborn entity?

Everything that follows rises and falls on the answer to this.

What is the unborn?

Philosopher Greg Koukl writes, “Whether or not it’s right to take the life of any living thing depends entirely on the question what it is.

If the unborn are members of the human family, then killing them is morally wrong because it treats distinct human beings, possessing intrinsic moral worth, as nothing more than disposable objects.

Scott Klusendorf and John Ensor say, “[I]f the unborn are not human, killing them for any reason requires no more justification than having a tooth pulled.”

(Quotes from Stephen Jordan, "Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs, and Simplifying the Abortion Debate with One Question.")



Dear Redeemer Family,

My Teacher has instructed me that love is the greatest thing of all.

The love of God is a power. It is a weapon against darkness, hatred, and violence.

The love of God is a force.

My life with Jesus began when God told me that He loves me. As much as my parents loved me (which was a lot!), I needed to be touched by the One who is love, whose love is without limits. That moment was transcendent and transforming. 

The School of Jesus is a School of Love. All the power, and all the spiritual gifts and natural talents, are nothing if the love of God does not flourish in my heart.

God's love grows in me. More of it captures me today than ever before. The love of God is a bottomless well of supernatural treasures, to be discovered, by me, one of His disciples.

I'm now thinking of a Promise Keepers event I attended. The main speaker was talking about "success." I have never forgotten what he said: "Success is being on your death bed surrounded by your family that loves you."

I think this way. If love is the greatest, then the end-game of not only my life but of all reality is love. Therefore: people get ready.

I am ready.

Love has a Name.




I love You, Lord.

I walk through the day filled to overflowing with God's love.

I never ceased to be amazed at how much Jesus loves me.

I never take God's love for me for granted.

The love of God, in me, changes atmospheres.

The love of God, flowing through me, brings healing to the people I meet.

I experience the love of Jesus as a force that defeats my enemies!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020



Dear Redeemer Family,

A humble heart is the key to experiencing the grace of God.

One of the first books I read as a new Jesus-follower was C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity. One of the chapters is called "The Great Sin." What, I wondered, could that be?

Lewis said it was pride, or self-conceit. Pride is the complete anti-God state of mind. Francis Frangipane calls pride "the armor of darkness." As I read Lewis, I am sure I agreed with him. I am also sure I did not realize how much pride I had in me.

In 1993 Jesus gave me a lesson about pride. It began with a dream.

One night I dreamed I was driving a tour bus in the Smoky Mountains. The roads were curved and twisted. I could barely get the bus around the corners. Then, after an exceptionally sharp curve, the bus came to a cliff, with a deep drop-off. That's when I woke up.

The dream shook me up inside. Nevertheless, I eventually lost sight of it and went through my day. When I came home in the afternoon Linda had bought a card for me. She sensed I was struggling with things in the church. When I opened the card and saw the cover, I was stunned. It was a drawing of a road, twisting through mountains, that came to a cliff that dropped off into nothing. How could she know? I had not told her, or anyone, about my dream.

God was trying to tell me something! I decided to take some praying time. I opened to a devotional book I was reading. It was on James 4:6: God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. It was like God took a bright highlighter and lit this verse up for me to see. 

When I drove to pick up my boys at school, I was early, and went into the gym. I walked around the gym several times, repeating James 4:6. While doing this I felt led to fast from food until God revealed the meaning of the dream to me.

Two days later, the revelation came. 

I was driving to a leaders meeting at the church building. I was still praying about James 4:6, still stunned by the dream and the card Linda gave me. Another Bible verse came into my head - Proverbs 16:18 - Pride goes before destruction; a haughty spirit before a fall.

That's it! God was telling me if I don't get rid of pride in my heart, I will take this church for a fall.

I felt relieved, and joyful. Every warning God gives contains a rescue. I shared the entire story with our leaders. None of them disagreed.

This was another important lesson in the School of Jesus. It is humble disciples who experience the outpouring of God's grace.

A humble heart is one that is good soil for God's Spirit to plant seeds of renewal in. A humble heart is teachable. 

Humility is the foundational attitude for spiritual transformation. 

May this attitude be formed in you.




Lord, if there is any conceit in me, remove it.

I have a teachable, trainable spirit.

I am growing in humility.

My constant prayer is, more of Jesus, less of me.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Church: It's About Influence, Not Size

(Maumee Bay State Park, Ohio)

You could be one person, or twelve, and influence the world. You could be 10,000 people and mimic the world. When it comes to influence, size does not matter.

As I watched the beautiful twenty-one-minute film with Bono (U2) and Eugene Peterson (The Message, et. al.), and heard Bono speak of how Eugene's writings have influenced him (especially The Message and Run With the Horses), I thought of the power of influence.

Here we have the power of small. Peterson was a small man with a capacious heart for God who pastored a relatively small church. I want to be like him.

I want to be used by God to influence people. I want to be part of a community of influence. Peterson has helped me with this. 

I have slow-cooked through his The Contemplative Pastor at least three times. I see #4 on the horizon. Maybe after I finish reading Run With the Horses. I can't even get past the Preface, because Peterson writes:

"The American church seems to have lost its nerve. Leaders are stepping up to provide strategies of renewal and reform. If the sociologists are right, more and more people are becoming disappointed and disaffected with the church as it is and are increasingly marginalized. The most conspicuous response of the church at this loss of “market share” is to develop more sophisticated consumer approaches, more efficient management techniques. If people are not satisfied, we’ll find a way to woo them back with better publicity and glossier advertising. We’ll repackage church under fresh brand names. Since Americans are the world’s champion consumers, let’s offer the gospel on consumer terms, reinterpreting it as a way to satisfy their addiction to More and Better and Sexier.
The huge irony is that the more the gospel is offered in consumer terms, the more the consumers are disappointed. The gospel is not a consumer product; it doesn’t satisfy what we think of as our “needs.” The life of Jeremiah is not an American “pursuit of happiness.” It is more like God’s pursuit of Jeremiah." (Peterson, Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best, Kindle Locations 58-62)

Everything in me resonates with this. Peterson was a crazy, prophetic, bearded man typing on a computer overlooking a Montana lake. From his isolation came words for the world. Is anyone listening?

In America, masses of people say they believe in God and are "Christians." But in proportion to their size their relative influence seems miniscule. My college teaching experience and research tell me that "church" is not on the radar screen of most of today's young adults. Yet the hype goes on...

You might be small as a person, or small as a church ("church"= a community of persons following after Jesus in his Kingdom-mission). There might only be twelve of you. Yet God could use you to influence the world. Remember the Twelve. 

When I was traveling and teaching in central India I addressed a group of thirty medical students who were Jesus-followers. One of them asked me, "How can you start a revival?" My answer was, and still is: "When revival happens within you, then the revolution has begun." Historically, this is how it always happens. Moves of God begin small. They don't happen in mega-situations. (For the most part, right?) God could do something in you, right now, that he could use to influence multitudes. Remember the mustard seed.

Could a mega-church have influence in proportion to its mega-ness? It's possible, but it would have to be muscular and lean. If a mega-church was the spiritual equivalent of one of the Biggest Weight Losers, then we would have a huge but flabby non-influential church. It is a mega-task to maintain such a church with its massive size and massive couch-potato-ness. Remember the cost of discipleship.

Influence happens underground. God's Kingdom is an underground movement. It is subtle, subversive, revolutionary, and very powerful. This rarely (if ever) happens on TV or the Internet. We spectate and watch "revivals" happen on TV, but televised moves of God are not themselves moves of God (or rarely so). Remember the seed growing secretly.

Leadership is influence. Therefore everyone is a leader. Leaders for Christ are led by Christ. They hang tight with Christ, and the stuff that made for Christ's influence gets into them. Remember that we participate in the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4)

Linda and I were sitting in a Subway eating lunch together. She had just begun to read Run with the Horses. She said, "John, you have got to see this quote from Peterson, who is quoting William McNamara."

My grievance with contemporary society 
is with its decrepitude. 
There are few towering pleasures to allure me, almost no beauty to bewitch me, 
nothing erotic to arouse me, 
no intellectual circles or positions 
to challenge or provoke me, 
no burgeoning philosophies or theologies 
and no new art to catch my attention 
or engage my mind, 
no arousing political, 
or religious movements 
to stimulate or excite me. 
There are no free men to lead me. 
No saints to inspire me. 
No sinners sinful enough 
to either impress me 
or share my plight. 
No one human enough 
to validate the “going” lifestyle. 
It is hard to linger in that dull world 
without being dulled. 

I stake the future on the few humble 
and hearty lovers 
who seek God passionately 
in the marvelous, messy world 
of redeemed and related realities 
that lie in front of our noses.

"The few." I want to be counted among them, don't you?