If I may…I’m staring at so many papers with so many marks and scribbles and quotes on them that I can hardly read my own notes. Like a doctor trying to read his own prescription. And that’s kinda what Day #2 at the Presence Conference was like…a visit to the spirit doctor. People were rocked and then they rolled. If the first day was a whirlwind, the second was a full on tornado and monsoon rolled into one big mindblow. The events – I think – were as follows…
“Don’t ever give up.” First words that rang out loud like a firecracker coming from worship leader Jason Ellis’ lips as people walked in. Those four words – five if you’re the type to break down the contraction of “do” and “not” – are so often heard, yet typically misunderstood and rarely followed. But, it’s so simple. Literally, don’t give up. Keep doing what you’re doing as long as what you’re doing is doing something to further the glory of God. Right?
So the day took off from the curb with that and mashed the pedal to the metal for the rest of it. Reports of healed feet, fixed shoulders and mended mindsets were announced. Things were most definitely happening in the spiritual realm near and around River this day. And after these testimonies were testified, Mr. Georgian Banov once again graced the stage. But, not before snapping a few pics for Facebook of some of the people in the crowd with kiddos in tow. (He actually got one of April and I – I’m Brennan if you didn’t know. Pleased to meet you . He took a pic of us, our baby Eli and super awesome 5 yr-old, Edan.) Yea, Mr. Banov is very pumped with people bringing their children to worship. Has to do with the whole generational plan we all need to have in place to secure a Holy mindset and future for those who will come after us. He said that children running around and being, you know, child-like, helps keep “less religious people in meetings.” So, yea, that was cool…
Mr. Banov’s message roughed up and tackled many elements that bind us today. One being that we need to move from being passive believers to practicing believers. We need to be set free from our old, sin-happy families…and the only way to do that is to die to them. Luckily – and gracefully – Jesus did that for and with us on the cross. Accepting that fact is a prerequisite.
He told us that we effect those around us in a way that most of us don’t ever seriously consider. When it comes to a relationship with Jesus, there are some that are super tight with Him and others that have seen Him across the room a couple times, but never really made an effort to go over and say “hello.”
“Every one of us brings our own relationship with Jesus.” I would add…”to the table.” Only because Mr. Banov then follows up with, “We can see when someone has been feasting on Jesus.” Okay, not literally feasting, but diving into the Word and into the Man that He was/is/continues to be. Don’t get all Pharisee and think Jesus literally said eat his flesh and drink his blood. That’s just gross.
As we skip around his message like a smooth rock on a still pond, Mr. Banov dropped a powerful word when he said, “If you forget what He did for you, you end up dying for it.” Put that one on the stove and let it simmer.
Like last night, Mr. Banov is a quote machine. Firing off powerful laser beams of knowledge like something out of Star Wars. The man is gifted. Obviously. Here’s a few of his quotes to place under your refrigerator magnets:
“The core of sin is deception and confusion that stems from an individual self-existence.”
“He [Jesus] came to set us free from…you. Each other.”
“Jesus came to turn tears into joy.”
“Heaven is beautiful because God is there.”
“You can’t force yourself to trust someone. Or for someone to trust you.”
“Religion exaggerates shamefulness. It creates crying machines.”
“We did nothing wrong. We were born sinners.”
“We are not called to be explainers, we are called to be believers.”
That last one rules because it was accompanied with the set up of situations where on-the-fencers and skeptics asking questions about the Bible that we tend to want to give answers to, but don’t have. Then we start to get antsy and want to toss a few Bible verses at the person, usually out of context, and hope something sticks. All the while what we should really be doing is saying, “I don’t know why.” We don’t have to have the answers to everything because there are some things we just don’t need to know or concern ourselves with. Do many of us really get how oxygen keeps us alive on a cellular level? No. We just realize that it does and continue to suck up the air and hope for the best everyday. Same thing goes for the heavy spiritual stuff. We just need to accept it. Pleading ignorance is actually very smart sometimes.
Mr. Banov was big on relationships between God’s children – and the problems that lay wherein. Like one of his quotes laid out, we are all from Adam who sinned thus we are born sinners. He then likened Adam’s family to The Addam’s Family (you know, the creepy and kooky old sitcom about an extended family of monsters. You, know… Lurch was their butler.) Anyhoo, Adam had it all, but loosed himself from God by disobeying Him and therefore messed up all of creation for generations. Thankfully, Jesus rectified that and we are now seated with Him. But, for a while there, for those Old Testament peeps, it was looking pretty grim…
But, God had a plan. As always. “The human problem had to end by something bigger than a human,” Banov said. It was sanctification. We went from “the worst of the worst to the top of the world.”
“The self-problem has been nailed to the cross. It sets us free from self.” The me, me, me can be gone, gone, gone…
Sin’s effect after the cross has been nullified. If you are a follower of Christ then it no longer has any hold on your life. It’s back there with all of your past experiences and unwanted, mix-matched baggage. Sin is no longer any fun for the true disciple. Banov said it like this, “You know you’re not a sinner anymore when you can’t enjoy it.”
And when we are made new, we follow a new leader: Jesus. And “Without God,” Banov remarked, “You don’t know what’s going on.” And why would we want to? If God is the answer to everything then why search for clues elsewhere? So with God, we do know what’s going on because we know WHO’s going on.
About this time, Georgian Banov dropped another knowledge cluster bomb in the form of this statistic: “95% of people stay in church because someone took the time.” Took time to what? Time to minister? Time to preach? Time to course correct? Nope. Time to listen.
God gave us ears yet our mouths so often cut in line. A good listener is hard to find. Talkers? Close your eyes, spin around and point. There’s one. There’s one. There’s one. Not you, of course. Somebody else. Sometimes we need to be a sponge and soak it all in, saying nothing in return. Sometimes the only thing that we should offer – besides our opinions and suppositions – is a shoulder to cry, laugh or simply lean on.
Relationship leads to friendship. With Jesus, sure, but with others as well. That “listening” thing will go a long way concerning friends. Mr. Banov had a lot to say about friendship. He told us that, “Friendship is not definable. It’s unexplainable. You like them, they like you.” Makes us wonder why we wrack our brains trying to prove the sky’s not blue. Just deal with the fact that its blue and pretty and neat. Here are some of his other pearls:
“Friendship has to do with eternity.”
“Friendship is not religious.” (Print this out and hi-lite that one!)
A part of friendship deals with trust. As a matter of fact, there can be no friendship if trust does not exist first.
“You don’t make someone trustworthy with your effort.”
Trust and friendship come together to help create family. Mr. Banov said, “The Kingdom of God is family. A father-son relationship.” He seriously emphasized the trust notion when he stated, “You can’t believe in the Lord without trusting Him.” Wowsers. And while we’re on the subject of wows…
The super popular (apparently) misleading phrase “I die daily” originally taken from the Apostle Paul and Twizzler’d into some sort of “I’m gonna deny what I want and go God’s way but I’m gonna let God know that I’m going out of my way to not be fleshy and worldly” type of theology is, well, wrong. So wrong, apparently, that Mr. Banov gave this illustration: “How many times can you kill a dog? Boom. Oops, he’s still alive. Boom. Oops, still alive.”
This notion of dying to self should really be switched up to “I live daily…thanks to Jesus dying.”
And then there’s problems. With us. You and me. Because of religion’s religious ways. Religion tells you “the more miserable you are, the more spiritual you are,” says Mr. Banov. That doesn’t sound like anything Jesus was a part of. The Pharisees however…now they could get down with this logic. But, our Lord, He was about peace, love and joy. Hence the difference between religion and true Christianity.
If we drink from the cup of religion we “are not seated in Heavenly places.” Rather, “we are down crawling on our knees trying to figure everything out.” Mr. Banov didn’t like that and said, “That’s not the look we’re going for.” Definitely the wrong outfit for sure.
But, we are reminded that “seated in Heavenly places” does not mean we can be “couch potato Christians.” We have to own our problems. Mr. Banov was making a peanut butter sandwich out of his issues. He talked about having a Heavenly point of view of your problems and seeing that what we see on earth as a giant, is really just a little peanut. Now, go get some bread and bon appetit!
There is so much potential for awesomeness in all of us that its uncanny. To gain what has already been offered to us means we must be fully “relying on the Lord of everything,” he continued. And he double-stressed “everything.” God can offer us “so much love you’re not going to know what to do with it so you’re going to have to give it away. You will be brimming over.”
Not at the end, but somewhere near the beginning of Georgian Banov’s message, he gave us this word: “If you don’t get Romans 6 down, you’re going to be messed with by religious people. It tells you what it means to be Christian.”
Hm. Maybe time to brush up on some Romans 6 then…
We broke for the morning after this barrel full of revelations. People left to go do their things and were told to be back at 2P for some worship followed by the breakout sessions. Oh, the breakout session with Pastor Carol Speed. To do another Banov quote: “Ay, Ay, Ay!”
There were two sessions actually. Everyone got back from lunch and did the worship thing for a bit before Pastor Randy parted the waters and people went to either the session led by Pastor Jeremy concerning human instinct which sounded pretty cool, or they stuck with Pastor Carol and heard her message on planning. That’s the one this will report. In short: Christian Stratego.
At first, Pastor Carol brought everyone up to speed from her previous sermon about her visions concerning a 100-yr plan for multi-generational use. Gotta say, the review was revelating. Things were caught by the listeners – at least this listener – that were not the first time around. She spoke of her download from God saying He was “a God of generations.” That He wanted us to have a plan and strategy that goes beyond the generation that effect us today.
“Wisdom poured down and love mingled with it” in the room she told us. (As Pastor Randy would put it, “Come on!”)
She told us that “the days of knowing Him [God] in a book, in a teaching, were over.” There was to be a “new releasing of Jesus” to fall upon the people at River and beyond. We were going to be “superheroes of the faith” living in the “day to day download of wisdom.”
An instant classic part of Pastor Carol’s message came when she told us to “Be like Johnny Appleseed planting seeds of hope, love and joy.” She illustrated us setting up the fields of the future where people could come up and eat the grapes and bananas and never have to wonder where they came from or how to make more. They would only know this and never know hunger – spiritual or otherwise.They would be “sowing wisdom to perpetually bring seed.”
And speaking of harvests and gardens, she reminded us that “fertilizer makes future ground more fertile.” In this case, the fertilizer is hard times that we’ve aced with God’s guidance. Now, the land is tilled up and ready to rock.
She spoke a bit about old mindsets versus a mind set with Christ. “The old mindset of the church and its four walls is a coffin,” she said. It was like “protecting their turf was protecting their funeral plot.” Old mindsets “relegated God to a building.” And this same mindset is what makes us focus on all the laws and things not to do that we become so fixated on them that we actually start doing the very things we were against in the first place. That’s what them psychology types call “self-defeating behavior.”
But, never fear, the Spirit is here. Giving us “dynamite power” to “blow up the natural mindset” thus allowing us to experience things beyond what Moses experienced. This demolition will allow us to get a “new hard drive replacing the old one” in our heads. New info. Updated. Streamlined. And with this new hardware in our brains, “vision is downloaded as we commune with God.” Pastor Carol then mentioned things like “a healing flow” and “answers to problems” and “creativity.” Sounds like a value meal right there.
We are “wired for dominion,” she told us. “Dream big dreams” and :”hug the un-huggable.” Why you ask? Because “the oxygen of Heaven is love” and if we’re supposed to be dwelling in Heavenly places right now on earth then love should be what we hand out like business cards.
In closing, Pastor Carol asked of us a few things. One, she asked that we be the church wherever we are. Step out and make a difference. Second, she asked/suggested/advised that we spend more time with God.
Both requests are on the money – as was Pastor Carol’s message. Make a plan. A strategy that goes beyond you and what you can readily see. Look past the horizon.
After people picked themselves up off the floor from Pastor’s message, they filed out only to return a bit later for that night’s worship. This one was a doozy. John Paul Jackson spoke and the man can whip up a tasty sermon. But first, Pastor Tommy stepped out and gave us a wisdom nugget of his own: “Revelation is birthed out of friendship.” Yea. Let that one marinate. He also spoke of a vision he had just gotten prior about angels “dive bombing the room with presents.” What kind of presents? Only time will tell… and judging from the healings taking place during this conference, maybe time has already told.
After this mini-prophesy session, John Paul Jackson took the stage and held on tight for a solid chunk of revelation-generating time. He opened up his message with a mention of a time where he was taken up to God’s throne room – yep, you read that right – and beheld God with his very own eyes. Without going into too much detail because surely he has a book about this that he’d like to sell, he said the face of God was too bright to see, but he could pretty much make out everything else. On His chest, the Lord had two fiery stones the color of which no earthly eye has seen. There were rings of light around God and each ring of light had a texture to it. As the light rings swirled in every direction, it reminded him of the nucleus of an atom. God was the nucleus and the rings were the electrons.
Well, that right there is crazy awesome. God created atoms so it’s pretty cool that His presence on the throne is the original atom model. Just way bigger. Back to the story…
Also swirling around the throne and God and intermingling with this light rings were angels. He had a lot to say about angels actually. And not just regular angels, but other beings that people misinterpret as regular angels. Like, for example, Hosts. Hosts are like the butlers of the Throne Room. Watchers are the beings that observe, report, pass judgment and process sentencing – all at God’s command, of course. Seraphim are 6-winged beings that circle the throne and cry out “Holy! Holy! Holy!” apparently all the time like clockwork. Then there are the 4-winged Cherubim, who stand on either side of the throne of God and who guard the gates of Eden.
Mr. Jackson said as he stood there before God’s throne that he was freaking out. He was no Arthur Fonzarelli in that room apparently – and for good reason! He said he was terrified. He explained that, yes, God is love, but He’s also straight up power. Like, the source of all power. That sounds terrifying written down on a blog, let alone standing ten feet from it all.
After this icebreaker story, Mr. Jackson had everyone’s attention. He spoke of the 3 keys to understanding God (which are pretty much essential if you want to live a Kingdom lifestyle and know your Creator intimately.)
The first key to understanding God is that you have to understand the eternal nature of God. He’s outside of time and therefore not bound by it. He’s past, present and future at once because He’s not pinpoint-able in one single area.
“Time exists within God.”
There are 5 ways to qualify Deity, and therefore determine God’s characteristics.
1.Eternal: Outside of time. Check.
2.Immutable: Never able to gain or lose anything. Unchanging. Check.
3.Omniscient: All knowing. Check.
4.Omnipresent: Everywhere at once. Check.
5.Omnipotent: Unlimited power. Check.
Analysis: 5 checks. God is deity. The end.
The second key to understanding God is that you have to understand the co-existence of the physical and spiritual worlds. There is an unseen dimension happening alongside what we can readily see and grab. And it is in this invisible – yet very real – world that major things are happening that effect us at every turn.
And now back to angel talk for a sec…they are everywhere. Invisible unless commanded to have us see them, but they’re all over this place. And they aren’t here for their health – they’re everlasting. They don’t get sick. Nope, they have an agenda given to them by God and we are to let them carry it out without a peep. No words from us in edgewise. Plus, according to Mr. Jackson, they wouldn’t listen to us anyway.
The third key to understanding God is that you have to have what Mr. Jackson calls “above the line” thinking. Essentially, having a Heavenly mindset. “Off the earthly plain and into a Heavenly plain.” Walk away from what society tells you is right and listen to what God has to say about things. It’s Him we need to concern ourselves with. He gives us the power to do what we do in the first place. And it’s that fact that freaks some people out and landslides their way of thinking until it hits bottom and they end up believing the lie that we’re just puppets on a string. Well, that’s just crazy talk.Pinocchio.
“God’s knowledge does not constitute our lack of choice.” We have the ability to choose. Jesus or satan. Life or death. Steak or chicken. Just because God knows what we’re gonna choose doesn’t mean we didn’t choose what we wanted to when we chose it.
Emotions shouldn’t rule the roost. Spirit is not moved by it. Our souls, on the other hand, are emotional basket cases. Our spirits though…“Our spirituality is not predicated by how we feel.” Hallelujah for that, right? Now if we could just get our souls to take a back seat…
If we walk as we are supposed to walk, as die-hard, or live-hard, Christians with a purpose, then times would be a lot sweeter. Mr. Jackson reminded us that “we are bearers of God’s light. You can change God’s creation when God dwells in you.”
But.that’s only if your thinking in “Heaven’s terms.” Which, of course, is the $64,000 question.