“In theory only” is called religion. It’s form, no function. It’s form, no fruit. Jesus hates that. In John 10:37, Jesus said “if I don’t do the works of my Father, don’t believe me.” That’s the standard. The Holy Spirit is wanting to convict you of things in the Kingdom that you haven’t seen yet. But, if you are not bearing much fruit, the Father’s heart is to lift you up - not to cast you out! (Jn. 15:2) Fruitfulness is actually natural for a believer. Fruitfulness consists of both fruitful “works” (Eph. 2:10) and fruitful “ways” (Galatians 5). "Every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” There is only one reason God prunes you - that you would bear more fruit.
Peter is a husband to Megan, and a father to Peter (III), Andrew, and David. His background is in education, having served first as a science teacher and later as an assistant principal for his high school. Peter’s wife, Megan, led him to the Lord while they were both in college at Ohio State, a time where Peter mostly rock climbed and sometimes studied. Peter has since enjoyed freedom after freedom in the Lord as he has experienced more and more of God’s great love for him. One of Peter’s passions in life is speaking encouragement to the body of Christ. Whether with a couple in the DeWitt’s living room or from the pulpit, Peter loves to encourage, exhort, and equip his brothers and sisters in Christ! In addition to serving as an associate pastor at Agathos, Peter continues to work in education as a consultant for schools in Columbus and Ohio. Peter and Megan view their ministry as a joint effort and also enjoy woodworking together in their well-equipped home woodshop.
Promotion Through Pruning
The Value of Fruitfulness
When you expect more, you get more! Jesus expected His relationship with His Father to make an impact in the lives of others, but a religious spirit tries to replace fruit with just words. 1 Cor. 4:20 says “for the Kingdom of God is not in word but in power!”
Life and Life Abundantly: More Than Theory
Jesus came to give us life, and life abundantly. (Jn. 10:10) But the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The abundant life the Lord has for you is not in theory only! When we are willing to know God in theory only, the enemy can steal from us in reality. Jesus had no value for words without works (see Jn. 10:37). Likewise, James had no value for faith without action. In Luke 18, the blind man put action behind his faith when he cried out to Jesus. The crowd tried to silence him, but he cried out all the more. Jesus recognized and responded to his faith: "what do you want Me to do for you?" And that's the question for you today as well. What do you want Him to do for you? What part of your walk with God do you want to promote from theory to reality?
Being Known by God (Part 6)
Good students ask questions. We all have questions on our heart to ask God. The Lord today is saying “what do you want to know about?” Jesus said "Ask and it will be given to you … for whoever asks receives.” (Mt. 7:7-8) We need to go to God with our questions! Our experience as a student is determined by our initiative. If you sit in the back of the class, you cannot expect to have a front row experience with God! If you are not asking questions, you are not a student. Disciples are students. If you are not asking questions, you are not playing the role of disciple. In the New Covenant, you can go straight to God to ask Him questions for yourself! God wants to be the instructor in every area of your life! Be specific -phrase your questions to God in such a way that you can do something with His answers. Start asking Him questions about something - with the expectation of being changed by His answer. If you are willing to turn at the Lord’s direction, He will make His words known to you. (Prov. 1:23) Raise your hand (and your voice); He wants to make His secrets known to you! (Jer. 33:3) God does not want to just to puff up your heads without changing your life. God has prepared special revelation, special inventions, special innovations, special insight for you – with your name on it – in Heaven. Do you realize that you are God’s #1 choice to bring impact in certain areas of this world? When you are a friend of God, He tells you more! (Jn. 15:14-15) You are His friend if you do whatever He commands you. The Holy Spirit wants to teach us in every area of our lives! When you are obedient to the insight and direction He has already given you, He will give you more. Faithful with little … given much! Engage with God, inquire in His temple. Ask Him questions!
Being Known by God (Part 5)
God doesn’t want a one-way relationship with you. He wants us to be known by Him, but being known by God is not a relational auto-pilot experience.One of the keys to being known by God is we have to have time with Him. The Lord wants to have a thing, a special thing, with you. He doesn’t want the new testament believers to stand back from His presence while one believer is in front of the Lord face-to-face. The face-to-face relationship is available for each of us! One of the best ways for God to get to know you is that He will ask you questions. When God asks you questions, He invites you to discover the answers with Him. The process of discovering answers with God actually causes you to own the answers once you’ve received them. God will ask us questions but He wants us to ask Him questions too! When you read the Word, ask God questions about what you are reading! God also wants the experiences that you have day-to-day to provide opportunities to develop understanding of Kingdom principles … but in order to develop that understanding, you need to ask “why.” When you seek the Lord in your day-to-day life He develops understanding - because you have been crying out for understanding. (Prov. 2:1-7) You literally become a pillar of understanding that people flock to in order to hear what you’ve heard from the Lord. This understanding comes from asking Him questions! When you ask Him questions, it invites Him to be a teacher in your life. And what a blessing it is to you and others when you are His student!
Being Known by God (Part 4)
Our relationship with God is a two-way street, but you do not want to be the foundation of your walk with God. He’s the Rock, not us! Being known by God is wonderful, but it is not a relational auto-pilot experience. As it relates to our personal relationship with Him, God, Our Father, as omniscient as He is, generally chooses to make Himself dependent upon our invitation to be known by Him. We have to invite Him in! Allowing God to ask us questions is a great way for Him to get to know us. The Lord’s questions in our life cause us to reflect or self-assess. The Lord's questions will also challenge us, test us, and encourage or draw out our faith. Great teachers ask transformative questions. When God asks you questions, it causes you to own the answer. God’s questions invite us to be a student. And then our questions invite Him to be a teacher.
Being Known by God (Part 3)
If you are one who follows Christ, there are two central things that you do: you hear His voice and He knows you. (Jn. 10:27) When you hear God’s words, you Know Him; when God hears your words, He knows you. If you want to be known by God, the first thing you should do is to ask Him to know you! The reason David was so well known by God was because David had asked God to know Him! (Ps 139:23-24) "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." When the Israelites were in the wilderness Moses pitched a tent outside the camp where people could go to meet with God. This is a key point in knowing “how to be known by God”: go on dates with God. He wants you to have your own thing, your own history with Him! He does not want you to somehow become vicariously satisfied in living through someone else’s intimacy with Him. God wants to know you personally. Talk with the Lord. He wants to make history with you!
Being Known by God (Part 2)
Who, according to Jesus follows Him? People that hear His voice and people that He knows! Knowing God and being known by God is a 2-way street, a 2-way relationship. How can we be known by God? We see in Ps. 139 that David was known by God because he asked God to know Him! We see in Genesis 3 (from the story of Adam and Eve) that while God always knows all things, we can still choose to hide ourselves from Him relationally. In other words, as it relates to our relationship with Him, our omniscient Father generally chooses to make Himself dependent upon our invitation to be known by Him. We see from Ps. 138:6 that God develops deeper relationship with those who have a humble, honest heart towards Him. Finally, we see in James 4:8 that we can be known by God by drawing near to Him. And praise God, we have access by faith to do just that! (Rom. 5:1-2)
Being Known by God (Part 1)
Paul, perhaps the greatest discipleship story of all time, had given up all of his personal righteousness, all the standing he had as a Pharisee for one reason, for one thing . . . in his own words, “that I may know Him.” (Phil. 3:10) That’s the ONE THING - to know Him! Knowing Him is one thing, but what does it mean to be known by God? God doesn’t respond to “a lot of words”. God responds to honest words. We see that with Abraham, Moses, and David . . . God chooses to empower those whom He knows! We see in Mt. 7:21-23 that being known by God is an expected aspect of salvation! We see in 1 Cor. 8:3 that we actually love God by allowing Him to know us! Finally we see in Jn. 10:27 that being known by God is the other half, the cooperating partner to knowing Him!
The Lord wants us to baptized - to be in over our heads - in changing our minds according to the Word! The mind that is set on the Spirit (on the Word) doesn’t just produce life, it produces life AND peace!Being discipled is as simple as being in the Word and letting the Word naturally do the work that it does in our hearts to transform us. But, motivation can be an issue. There are the natural stages of discipleship. We never stop learning about identity in Christ, and we never stop learning about the power that resides within you and the provision that God has for us. But, there is one motivation, one thing, one focus that will never fail you. And that’s to know Him!
God-Referenced vs. Man-Referenced Thinking
God’s great plans are going to require me (and you) to change! Our old ways of thinking need to be shed in order to experience new growth. Changing our mind is the process of discipleship. All discipleship hinges on not having any righteousness of your own. Rom. 8:5-8 shows us that for all of human thinking, there are 2 different reference frames that people can go through life with: the flesh-focused reference frame and the Spirit-focused reference frame. Jesus said that His Words will abide (rest, dwell) in the heart of His disciples, but the carnally minded are actually at war with God in their thinking. As born-again believers, we have 2 minds, but we are not called to be double-minded. As long as we have our own thoughts, we won’t have His. Col. 2:18-19 shows us that if we have a fleshly mind, we will cheat ourselves of our reward. But, let no one cheat you of your reward - including yourself!
Changing Your Mind
If you are not ecstatic about the next 4 or 5 months - and what God wants to do in your life - you are not thinking about those months like He is! You have an opportunity for growth, right now, that is greater than any growth that you have ever experienced in the Lord! How will that growth occur? Through changed mindsets! That process of renewing your mind, according to the Word of God, is discipleship, and we need to embrace discipleship as a process. The mindset we approach discipleship with will either make the process of discipleship a joy and delight, or a not-so-fun sequence of emotionally harrowing events. Listen to this message to learn more about about how discipleship can be a really fun process in which we are simply able to seek Him and learn from Him!
Making Way for God to do Something New
“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:22) In order to make way for new growth, sometimes you have to shed old structures. John the Baptist preached “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand . . . Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’” (Matthew 3:1-3) Repentance is “changing your mind.” When God wants new facets of the Kingdom of Heaven to be expressed in your life, He will send a messenger to you as well - to minister to your heart ahead of time about a change He is wanting to make. Be sensitive to what He’s asking you to change in your mind. You don’t yet have to know what He is asking you to do. You just have to know that He is asking you to get ready – to make that place supple again.
Finding Your Niche
As members of the body of Christ, we are all called according to the same purpose (Rom. 8:28), but we are all called to express that purpose somewhat differently. You are fearfully and wonderfully made and God wants your soul to know that well (Ps. 139:14). When we realize the purposes of God for our lives in the general sense, we are invited into a process of exploring with Our Father what the expression of His purposes can look like through us. "God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?" (1 Cor. 12:18-19) Each of us is called to express a slightly different facet of the brilliance of God to the world. Ask the Holy Spirit how He wants to show Himself strong through you. Create space (i.e. prepare) to do something new, and be responsive to His lead. There are territories in the Kingdom of God with your name on them. God has called you according to His purpose. Will you follow Him into your calling?
Operating in Declarations Will Cause You to Live a Blessed Life!
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for. (Heb. 11:1) You cannot operate in faith with out a hope! But how do you measure hope? You can measure your expectation (your hope) by measuring your declarations (your words). If our declarations are "low" or negative, it because our hope in that area is low. If our hope is low, it means we are believing a lie. Therefore, we can increase our hope with truth! Revelation --> Expectation (hope) --> Declaration. Declarations are like seeds we plant in our lives - promises of God that pull the necessary resources to themselves until they take physical form. Declarations are specific, pro-active, and purposeful. Operating in declarations will cause you to live a blessed life!