Question Everything

IMG_20180111_063804_409

I recently read that in all the years that primates have been taught sign language, not a single one has ever asked a question. Think about that. The theory is that if we can give these higher intelligence animals the tools, we can unlock their intellect and yet, all we are finding is that they only do and say what we tell them.

These primates live life lead by their primal instincts. Their excuse is that it is all they are capable of. Humans have far greater resources and yet few take advantage and live above their primal desires as well.

You were created for more. You have been given the ability to shape the world around you through the values you hold dear. When you allow those values to dictate how you make decisions, you manifest your values in your life.

When you live by your base instinct, allowing the cares of the day to dictate your schedules and decisions, the world around you manifests in you.

This amazing ability to question the trajectory of our lives empowers us to live for more than what we see.

Harness this power today. Use it to view your life from the outside. Question the motives of your life. Decide to take charge of it today.

It can get messy, but God cares about mental health

26685334_1760609464245681_4092282022513125837_o

I have been praying about, talking to people about, searching the Bible, and reading clinical texts regarding anxiety. Like many other things, anxiety can originate in the spirit, soul and body.

There are people that need to change their mindset. Some folks need to get right with God. Others have biological factors at the root. The tricky part of mental health is that no matter where the illness originates, it affects the whole person.

I have seen people get better with counseling, deliverance, and medication.  I don’t care how you get better, I just want your quality of life to improve.

This past Friday I was scheduled to speak at the Burning Room and while we were worshiping, God began to remind me of all the times he spoke to me about going after mental health issues.

Like I said earlier, I have been trying to gain some insight on discerning the workings of mental health and I have only discovered that I really don’t have a clue. Except now I know more ways that I don’t know, if that makes sense.

It is in this place of lack that the real strength of God becomes present. God could give me complete knowledge in an instant. Just as he programmed my spirit to discern his voice he could do the same with this but he didn’t. In fact, I have less of a strategy now then I ever have.

In this place of ignorance I found faith.

I made a conscious decision that I don’t have understanding but God does. I don’t know what the answer is but he does. And I don’t know how to pray as I ought, but the Spirit of God inside me does and that he would honor my prayer. So we prayed.

So there in the Burning Room we didn’t pray a little courtesy prayer. We went in. We prayed in tongues, we sang in the Spirit, we declared things, we stretched forth our hands, we prayed over the four points of the compass, we laid hands on each other, we did everything we could do and trusted God that he would do what only he could do.

I felt the room shift.

I knew we accomplished something. I don’t know how to explain it but I knew deep down in my source of faith that something had happened and that the enemy was on the run. Then I started getting testimonies that something was happening.

Sunday morning during worship I felt it again. I realized that the intercessors needed to welcome the rest of the body into the ground we had gained on Friday night.

So we went in again. We went after anxiety and all its evil manifestations.

Praying against anxiety looks weird to the church because for most of the church anxiety looks normal.

So our service went long. It wasn’t neat. We fumbled some things, had some sound issues, had some transition issues. But the Bridegroom received the reward for his suffering and for us, that’s enough.

I understand the need for amazing Sunday services to attract the lost. I get the need for a service plan. I am just overwhelmed with the reality that we have to make room for God’s Spirit in His church.

Dream Big, Aim High, You Are Not Alone

I have heard it said that we insult God with small prayers. I appreciate the faith people are trying to provoke with the statement but I have found most people quit asking for big things because so many of the big prayers went unanswered.

That’s why I think it is so important to craft our vision with God. As we accept the invitation to journey through our faith walk with him, we will find ourselves living in a world of answered prayer. But it does take courage to dram big after disappointment.

God is calling you to steward your faith in a way that it grown in confidence. I am thankful that even if we get it wrong, he is still there cheering us on.

This past Sunday one a day of encouragement. In prayer that morning God spoke two clear words to me.

I am with you.

Tell the people I love them.

I share this not because this is new revelations. In fact, God tells me this seemingly all the time. I share it because it was more than just another love note from God. During worship He wanted to make the point. During the worship set Lillian began to sing a prophetic song I heard her sing before. Here is a clip of it below.

A post shared by Carl Thomas (@_carlthomas) on

I will walk with you
Through the deepest depths
For you are not alone.
So dream big
Aim high
For you are not alone.
You can catch the whole song here.

You don’t need God in your life to set goals. In fact, you don’t need God in your life to achieve goals. You do need Him in your life if you are going to fulfill your purpose. And for that reason we need to hear his voice when defining what success looks like for our life.

In 2018, purpose to get in atmospheres where God is allowed to speak. Get around people who hear his voice. Be sure to honor people who are living out their purpose even if it is not the most popular choice. Eternity is counting on it.

p.s. You can find the whole worship set here. The prophetic part starts at 25:30.

Why Your Resolutions Don’t Work

The reason most people never achieve their goals is because they don’t represent anything more than a passing emotion or a temporal want. If you want to set achievable goals for 2018 they need to be anchored in your values.

The Bible talks of a time when folks did whatever seemed right to them. They did that because there was nobody speaking from a higher value than base desire.

If we want to live lives that accomplish greater things than our natural abilities, we need to set goals that transcend our natural abilities.

20171206_082035It’s that simple.

When we expose our hearts to God we let him transform us and that naturally transforms out goal setting. We go from solving immediate needs to setting goals that reflect the values God has placed in our hearts. And if he births the goals then he empowers to achieve the goals.

Before you can set any realistic goals for your life you need to take a realistic look at your life and get real about where your life does not reflect what you say you believe about yourself and the world.

Take out some paper. Set aside some time. Begin to list the most important things to you (God, family, health, having a place of belonging, honest relationships, etc). The get in the place of prayer and ask Holy Spirit to help you see which of those areas don’t really reflect what you say you believe.

Here are three examples from the fist post in this series:

  • We might say we value our marriage and family but we sin in ways that destroy them.
  • We say we want our children to understand that decisions have consequences but then we shield them from any consequences to their decisions.
  • We say we want real friendships with people who aren’t fake but in every friendship, we hide authenticity for fear of rejection.

Instead of making a new goal to quit watching porn, set a goal to love your wife in every area. Walk with the question, “Does this reflect the love I have for my wife?” Date her more, adore her more, cherish her in your heart. If anything begins to take her place it will be foreign and collide with the value you have placed on her.

Don’t waste your life focusing this year on a magic number on the scale or or a number in your bank account. Get with God, find out why those things are so important to you, and live a life that reflects your values.

Stop Dreaming of Goals Start Living from Vision

Do you really want 2018 to be better than 2017? Would you like this to be the year you scratch some things off your resolution list instead of dreaming about it be liftedagain in 2019? Then you have to start doing some things different.

I am convinced that most people never reach their goals because they never articulate the values they represent. You are a whole person and your goals should reflect the whole person God has called you to be. Your goals should be a manifestation of your inner man.

This year, instead of vowing to change something about yourself, take some time in prayer and decide the values you hold in your life. Then look and see if your lifestyle reflects those values. Let me give you a few examples.

  • We might say we value our marriage and family but we sin in ways that destroy them.
  • We say we want our children to understand that decisions have consequences but then we shield them from any consequences to their decisions.
  • We say we want real friendships with people who aren’t fake but in every friendship, we hide authenticity for fear of rejection.

All too often, we set something as a higher priority than the values we claim to hold dear. In each of these examples we allow the fear of discomfort to erode our values.

In 2018 decide what is important to you. Don’t make a vow to be skinny. Figure out what values overeating and under activity is violating. Then do whatever it takes to honor your value for that.

In 2015 I decided that being overweight was an outward manifestation of my lack of care for my body. It was my body telling the world that I was not exercising self-control in eating. When I had a hard time finding any clothes that looked good on me I decided that I could not live that way any longer.

I wanted to look on the outside the way I viewed myself on the inside. I lost 35 pounds, got in good shape, and it changed my life. Embracing my values brought a ton of more fruit than just beating myself up for being overweight.

Take time this week to start articulating your values. Then see where in your life you are not honoring them.

photo credit: Corey Pagano

My Favorite Books from 2017

I finished up 2017 with a few really good books. I read a bunch but don’t always read books all the way through. Some books have a few good chapters. Some don’t have any.

Here are some of the best books I read in 2017 in no particular order.

Keeping the Fire: Discovering the Heart of True Revival

Rolland Baker

If you don’t know who Rolland Baker is then this book probably is not for you. If you are familiar with him, his wife Heidi Baker, and Iris Ministries, the ministry they run together from their base in Mozambique, then this book is a must read.

This is not the book that compels you to give. It’s not the book that forces you to dream of miracles and will cause you to move to Africa to seek them. This is the book that answers the question of why they do what they do.

The Bakers have a set of beliefs or core values that govern all they do. The folks who adopt them as their own see the fruit they see. The folks who try to do what they do without the ways they are doing it for the reasons they are doing them will not see the same fruit. It’s that simple.

In a day and age where people are hiding their core beliefs for fear of rejection, Rolland puts them front and center for all to see, judge, reject, and receive. I am not saying his beliefs are mine. But I will say I would sure love to see more of the fruit he is producing in my life.

God Secrets: A Life Filled with Words of Knowledge

Shawn Bolz

The gift that is in Shawn Bolz is amazing. There is no denying that. But people having gifts don’t impress me. Gifts are the manifestation of God. Its what they do that is impressive.

What impresses me about Shawn is how he displays such an amazing skill in the prophetic and then sets a new paradigm for its use. Instead of being the divine broker of knowledge, or using his ability to flow in words of knowledge to God-Stamp his teachings, he directs the reader to become a conduit of God’s love to the world.

Past teachers tried to convey the importance of the gifts. Shawn uses the gift to convey the importance of the heart of the giver of the gift. He then directs the reader to long to display God’s love knowing God gives seed to the sower. It really is amazing.

American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant

Ronald C. White

I Insta-blogged about this book here (you can follow me on Instagram at @_carlthomas) so I won’t completely rewrite my review.

A few things to note:

This book is huge. These types of books normally are. Its over 800 pages.  They spent lots of time on the Civil War which I really enjoyed.

This book is comprehensive in a way that these types of books normally are. That means certain parts of his presidency really dragged on to me.

This book unravels some of the current rewriting of the civil war narrative. The Civil War was about slavery. Anyone writing differently has an agenda that needs to be refuted.

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

Brené Brown

Allow me to let you in on a church secret. You know your current favorite preacher who shares amazing revelation on how to love people and better your relationships? They get their meat from Brené.

Now to be fair, most church folks need advice to be wrapped in church lingo before they will swallow it or they are skeptical that it might be worldly or secular or God-forbid liberal teachings. So they are doing a service. But rest assured, they are repackaging Breneé’s teachings.

The church needs this. In Braving the Wilderness she frees people to be themselves. At the same time she guides them into understanding that hating others and being mean are not a part of who they really are and they should avoid the pull to be those characters out of self defense.

This book is sure to have language, opinions, and conclusions you will disagree with. It’s ok. you are strong enough to handle it.

These four were my best of 2017.  I have on my task list to create a reading list for the first few months of the year but so far it is empty. If you have any recommendations let me know.