Recently, an acquaintance asked me, Do you have someone you are training to take over your ministry? Are you planning for your successor? If that question was not enough, they then asked, “What will your legacy look like?”

Attitude of Gratitude and Thankfulness
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Attitude of Gratitude and Thankfulness

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Since the beginning of time, we as His children have been called to offer up thanksgiving to Him for what He has done for us. In Scripture, there were many times when God did great things for the Israelites, and they offered sacrifices of thanksgiving to the Lord. During this time, most forms of thanksgiving presented to the Lord were burnt offerings. They built an altar as a reminder of what God had done for them. Abraham offered up a burnt sacrifice to the Lord after He provided the ram to be sacrificed instead of Isaac. (Genesis 22:3-19)

Another great way to offer thanksgiving to the Lord is through our worship. The children of Israel often offered up songs of thanksgiving. Many of the Psalms, written by David, are songs of thanksgiving to the Lord for what He had done for Israel.

Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” In this Scripture, we see that giving thanks to the Lord is key to being able to come into His presence – to see the Lord move wherever you are.

The Bible says that when Solomon was finished building the temple, everything was prepared. Then, the trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. (2 Chronicles 5:13)

As you worship, remember that it is important to give thanks for the things God has done for you.

One day when I was in college, I was driving home on a major interstate in downtown Dallas. Suddenly, the car to my left veered into my lane. I had to swerve to miss him, but then I swerved to get back into my lane. I overcorrected and ended up turning completely around, crossing four lanes of speeding traffic without being touched!

When my car finally stopped, I was facing the wrong direction in the left lane with a big truck headed my way. I truly have no idea how this truck stopped, other than the hand of God! But it did about thirty feet from hitting my car. The driver then got out and blocked traffic for me, allowing me to turn around and get moving in the right direction.

I took the next exit and found a place to park. As you can imagine, my heart was racing, and I just needed to calm down for a few minutes. You better believe that I was thanking God for helping me through that!!

This is simply one example when God helped me through something, miraculously saving my life. But there were many other times when I asked God for something – healing for myself, healing for my family, or needing direction in a circumstance… and He didn’t provide an answer or a miracle. During those times, it’s important to remember to give thanks to God.

It blesses God when we give thanks and worship Him in ALL circumstances – even in the times where we don’t get the answer from Him that we want. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego told King Nebuchadnezzar that God could deliver them from the burning furnace, but “even if He doesn’t,” they would still not bow down and worship the golden statue. (Daniel 3:16-18)

There have been times in my life when I’ve had to lean into those words – “even if He doesn’t”… I can honestly say that in my life, every time I walked through difficult times, He has always been faithful to bring me out of those circumstances.

Even now, my wife and I are believing God for a child. And we feel like He has given us this desire. We have desired a child since we were married almost eight years ago. We have gone down the long road of fertility treatments and have had four miscarriages. However, when we started to pray that God would change the desires of our hearts to His desires for us (that’s a whole other blog in and of itself), things changed for us. We began to desire adopting a child.

It has been a long road, but we have tried our best to be thankful in every part. Even the tough times. Because we know that God is still faithful. I’ve seen God bring the right people to us at exactly the right times to help us. We are so very thankful to God and our family and friends for helping walk through this with us. And we are thankful for what God still has for in store for my wife, Amber, and me!

I often hear people say that they are “seeking the will of God.” Well, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Paul tells the church in this book that giving thanks in ALL circumstances IS  God’s will for us. God has a direction for you to go and has something in store for your life. But it is also God’s will for us to give thanks in every circumstance we walk through. If we can do that, then we will not only be able to come into the courts of praise before the Lord, but we will also be able to see God move in ways that we may not have seen before.

As we come into this time of thanksgiving and as you go to visit and spend time with family, remember where thanksgiving came from. Thanksgiving is so closely related to worshiping God. And remember to give thanks to God in all the circumstances that you find yourself in now!

Storms on the Horizon
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Storms on the Horizon

The skies are dark. The boat begins to rock back and forth. The waves toss the boat higher and higher. The boat begins to fill with water. The questions begin to consume their every thought. Why are we facing this storm? I thought God had called us to move? I thought Jesus wanted us to go to the other side? The small waves turn into massive breakers that are about to tear the boat apart. Jesus’ disciples look at each other, and the situation goes from bad to worse. They look back at Jesus being tossed all over the place, yet He’s fast asleep. They ask themselves, “Why isn’t Jesus dealing with this storm? Why is He still sleeping?” They say to each other, “I don’t think we’re going to make it out of this one alive!” Then they all begin to scream in unison, “WE’RE GOING TO DIE! JESUS, HELP US!!!”

I’m sure that day, when the storm was raging, they were sure it was the end. This was no ordinary storm. It was a demonic storm. One that was sent to destroy them. Why was this storm sent on this day? There were unreached people. In particular, there was one tormented soul destined to receive freedom and become a great proclaimer of the Gospel to people who were unreached and lost in spiritual darkness.

This month, our Joshua Nations blogs are focusing on spiritual warfare. The month of October is a heightened time when the world focuses on ghosts, goblins, horror movies, fear, and death. For some, this time of year is a fun time for kids as they dress up as their favorite cartoon character, superhero, or movie star. For others, this is a very dark time full of fear and despair. I’m not here to preach to you about my convictions about Halloween (psst… I hate the holiday! Did I just say that?!) But I want to share about the real spiritual battle we are fighting.

When I was a child, I had a very acute awareness of the spiritual realm. I grew up in a family where the spiritual realm was talked about, and the battle between Jesus and satan, as well as angels and demons, was well-known. For most of my childhood, I was tormented by the dark side of the spirit realm. I saw many demons and lived in terror of the dark; I hated the nighttime. I fought the spirits of depression, hopelessness, anger, lust, rejection, death, and suicide. It wasn’t until I turned to Jesus during my senior year in high school that I found freedom. And boy, did I get free!

Then, my spiritual eyes were opened to the Kingdom of light. It was beautiful! Visions and dreams from God. Encounters with angels. Powerful encounters with the Holy Spirit from holy laughter, losing my ability to stand and having gifts and freedom imparted to me, and speaking in tongues uncontrollably for hours, just to name a few. I stepped into the authority Jesus had given me to cast out demons and lead people to freedom from demonic oppression. Thank You, Jesus, for the Holy Spirit!

Back to our story (See: Mark 4:35-5:20). Jesus had called the disciples to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. He laid down in the back of the boat and went to sleep. As Jesus often does, He didn’t reveal to them the play-by-play plan of what was going to happen. He simply told them to get in the boat and go to the other side. Many of our assignments from God are like

this. They require faith, trust, and obedience. And you can pretty much count on it – there are going to be some barriers, spiritual roadblocks, and hindrances that try to stop us from accomplishing the mission. When attacks come, and they will come, we need to stay faithful to the call and not get off course.

Jesus rose from His deep sleep and rebuked this demonic storm. He also brought a word of correction to His disciples for not taking authority over the storm, because He had already trained them to overcome this type of demonic attack. By this time, He was expecting more out of His disciples. He had removed the metaphoric “training wheels” and was now calling them to do what He had taught them.

When they arrived on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, they were met by a demon-possessed man, a man living among the tombs. He was yelling with hate-filled rage. There were self-inflected cuts all over his body. Through demonic powers, he broke chains people had put on him to try and stop him from terrorizing the community. Jesus and His disciples arrived on the scene with a mission. Jesus knew who He was coming for, and He was coming to set him free!

We don’t have much of the back story on this man. We don’t know how or when the demons entered him. We just know their time was up! It was deliverance time! The man was set free when Jesus commanded the demon (called Legion because there were many demons) to be cast out of the man and into a herd of pigs. A great miracle happened. The man was freed and returned to his right mind. He was found at the feet of Jesus learning from Him. Jesus calls him to go to the Decapolis (a ten-city region) and share with the people his story of deliverance.

This is an awesome story! A story of God’s love for the hurting, broken, and tormented. The man is freed and then sent out. I believe this is a strong representation of what we’re called to do locally in our cities, as well as globally in foreign missions. We’re called to go and free those in spiritual chains then release them into their role in the Great Commission!

There are many lessons to be drawn from this story.

The primary point I want to make is for us to recognize the reality of the spiritual battle that’s going on all around us. The storms we face are meant to be spoken to, rebuked, and cast down. Those who are tormented by demons, maybe even out of their mind, are called to be free in the name of Jesus. Once more, some of those who are in the worst bondage will become mighty spiritual warriors for Jesus when they are freed.

When the man in this story received his freedom and a little training from Jesus, he was then sent out on a mission to bring freedom to ten cities. He wasn’t a seminary-trained, Christian professional. He hadn’t been ordained as a minister. He was simply a man who was freed in Jesus’ name and sent on a mission.

Let’s overcome every demonic storm!

Let’s set the captives who are tormented and lost in darkness free!

And let’s send those people out on mission to free others!

Check out this video from the land of the Gadarenes now called Kursi in Israel:

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A woman’s husband plus three strong men brought Pamela tightly bound in chains to my house for prayer. Pamela had lost her mind and had become violent. When they entered the house, I told them to undo her chains. They were hesitant because they knew the condition under which she was suffering. I insisted they do this because I knew the Name by which I spoke… It is the Name of Jesus! A few minutes later, I declared to Pamela that she was freed. Jesus had destroyed the chains of bondage inflicted against her by the enemy, satan. She knelt down and started to praise God.

This is spiritual warfare.

The importance and value of spiritual warfare is to understand and recognize the enemy is fighting against us relentlessly. But there is good news! The enemy is no match against our spiritual weapons, which are mighty in God to pull down all forces of darkness (1 Corinthians 10). The Bible says that the devil roars like a lion seeking whom he may devour. Did you notice that he roars “like a lion,” but he is not one. That means he is a cheater and a liar, portraying a deceptive picture that he is stronger than the child of God. And this lie rings in the minds of Christians as if true.

Let’s look at the values of spiritual warfare in order to gain our rightful position of victory over the enemy in Christ Jesus our Lord. From the book of Ephesians chapter 6, we learn that we have been given the armor of God that we put on to stand against all strategies of the devil. You may ask, “Why do we have to fight or stand against the enemy?” The devil has been jealous of you as a child of God since your inception.

In Isaiah 5:1, it shares what the Lord has done for you:

Now let me sing to my Well-beloved
A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard
My Well-beloved has a vineyard On a very fruitful hill.

Do you think the enemy will be happy with you when the Lord showers all these blessings on you? In his rage, he comes to steal, kill, and destroy all that the Lord has for you. The visible world and the spiritual world are parallel to each other. The spiritual realm is not made up of flesh and blood, but spiritual forces that we contend with. Here are a few things we need to know and remember.

We have superior fire power.

The Bible says the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but powerful in pulling down the strongholds of the enemy. Pamela, who came for prayer, was in bondage. But there was a stronger power that set her free. The one who has bigger fire power wins the war. We submit ourselves under the mighty hand of God, resist the devil, and he will flee from us. We cannot look for non-spiritual solutions when the battle is in the spiritual world.

Praise is power in the mouth of a child of God.

The enemy puts people in chains – all manners of bondage. Lives are tormented in the mind, in their bodies, including circumstances that surround them. You are in prison. Paul and Silas were thrown in prison for preaching the Gospel in Philippi. At midnight, they lifted their voices in praise unto God, which actually was spiritual warfare. What follows is mind blowing! God sends an earthquake that shakes the

foundations of the prison, and it breaks the chains of all the prisoners who were with Paul in that prison house. Doors that were tightly shut, flung wide open. They were set free! Spiritual warfare sets prisoners free. Jesus said, “I came to set captives free.” (Luke 4:18)

The enemy trembles at the Name of Jesus.

When the Lord Jesus went to the cross, was buried, and rose again from the dead, he was given a Name above all other names. His Name has power over that which is in heaven, that which is on earth and everything under the earth. This is the very Name that has now been conferred upon us to engage the enemy in spiritual warfare. In Luke 10:19 Jesus said, “I give you power over all the power of the enemy and NOTHING shall by any means hurt you.” In giving us His Name, Jesus said in Mark 16:17, “In my name you shall cast out devils.”

The values of spiritual warfare bring freedom to our lives and our beloved ones. We are not trying to win the battle. We have superior power over the enemy that gives us victory all the time. Stand up, strong child of God! You have the Name of Jesus! Victory is ours when we engage in spiritual warfare!!

Spirit Sensitive

Spirit Sensitive

How do we honor the Holy Spirit? Do we honor Him fully in all aspects of our lives?`

There is one area where I have a burden that I don’t know how to communicate well enough or have the right words to say, I’m sure that these thoughts and my heart could be twisted or taken out of context, but I hope I communicate this out of love.

I believe we’ve made an idol out of reaching the unsaved too often in our lives and churches. Or perhaps sometimes it’s fear of man – twisted to look like we’re putting the “point-of-view” of the unbeliever first.

What is an idol? It is simply something that sits in the place that should be reserved for the Lord. The top place of our hearts, the most important, our focus and our gaze. “Idol” sounds like such a strong word and many think that it is inherently an evil thing – but even good things become idols if they reside in the area of our lives that should be for our God.

We cannot diminish, hide, or reserve the Holy Spirit in order to be more approachable.

Who convicts sinners? (John 16:8) Who brings the revelation of who God is? (Ephesians 1:17)

Why do some believe they will be MORE effective at reaching the lost when they ask their church members to stop inviting the full depth of the Holy Spirit? That’s ministering with both arms tied behind our back. We are not salesmen. Let God the Holy Spirit work on man’s heart – and then present the simple Gospel! Don’t you remember getting saved? Why did you say yes?! Take a minute and honestly remember and contemplate it. Where were you, what was presented, and what was happening in your heart and soul leading up to your yes?

In your personal life and ministry, you absolutely won’t be as effective if you believe you can talk someone into salvation.

Pursue depth in your personal life to uncover and search out more and more of the heart of God. Fall in love with the bridegroom and I promise that you will fall more in love with the bride. In my life, I need more hunger. I want more passion, more zeal. I have tried to love my neighbor more, I have prayed for more love for my fellow man. But I find that as I fall more in love with my Father, my Friend and my Comforter – that I have more love for man, my community and even my family.

Don’t put the Holy Spirit on a shelf – especially during church. Worship, pray and be fed from a house that pushes you into deeper love with Jesus (in all His fullness). Let our character exude the fruit of the Spirit. Let our lives be marked by answered prayers, the testimony of His faithfulness and even miracles.

“If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” – John 10:37-38

Our gatherings ought to look like something. Our lives ought to look like something. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control are all yours if you will live life out of the Spirit.

I’m speaking right to my own heart: stop replacing the Holy Spirit with knowledge, charm or charisma. Stop thinking you know better how to love the lost than the One who died so they could be saved. Stop dishonoring the Holy Spirit by placing him on a shelf or ever viewing Him as anything less than fully God.

I’m working to fall more in love and pursue depth with the bridegroom – and I’d encourage everyone else to as well – for from that relationship we will discover love for the lost. God is actively working to call the unbeliever home – let us not think we know better than Him or that we can put a prettier face on Him first. Let’s be sure to carry the Holy Spirit boldly and give the unsaved soul the opportunity to recognize what it is longing for – both in church and in our everyday lives.

When things don’t go your way

When things don’t go your way

The question proposed is the following, “What do I do when things don’t go my way?” Or I guess it could be rephrased as, “What should I do when things happen in a way that I didn’t expect?”

Grappling with this question is at the heart of the Christian’s life and struggle. Through faith we accept the promises of God, however we do not always see the promises fulfilled in the manner that we prefer. Sure, we love seeing miracles happen in our lives. Unfortunately, we don’t always see them happen; and we don’t always see them happen when and how we want.

Personally, I have seen hundreds of miracles over the course of my life. Blind eyes opened, deaf ears opened, tumors shrink, withered arms unfold and more. I don’t see this all the time when I minister, but it definitely is not surprising when it does happen. That being said, I still don’t see all of the miracles that I want to see.


I wish I had a good answer, but I don’t!

This season of life for my family has been fraught with challenges. My father, Dr. Henry Holland, is battling cancer. My 13-year-old son Judah was recently diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. These two diagnoses are not in line with our hopes and desires. In both cases, things are not going our way.

At this moment I do not have any answers for the mountains that we are facing as a family. Perhaps I will not have any answers on this side of the grave and eternity. Of course, once we reach eternity the answers will not matter.

On this side of eternity our options are to be bitter, angry, resentful, depressed, etc. We can allow the challenges to become our focal point of attention and to take our eyes off Jesus. Or we can place our eyes on Jesus and praise Him in the midst of the storm. I am reminded of the song by Casting Crowns, “Praise You In This Storm” and these lyrics.

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am

Our response as believers should be rooted in faith and praise. Sometimes our faith for a miracle wanes, but our faith in who He is should not. When we meet Him with our faith in who He is, often He meets us with the faith to continue on in the midst of the storm.

  • When things don’t go your way – do not forsake Him.
  • When things don’t go your way – lift up praise to Him.
  • When things don’t go your way – trust that He will work things out even if it is not the way you want.