Leaving Everything for Jesus
(Please listen to Lance’s story by clicking the white play button at the top of this post. You can read the transcript of the story below.)
You don’t need the supernatural until you’re in a situation where your resources are not sufficient. And I think in America, where we live in a culture where you don’t really need the supernatural, we don’t really need God. You have money, you know, you have comfort. You have stuff. What I would say is: go places where there are people that have nothing but God and you will see the miraculous. A lot of men, right, I think women too, but a lot of men, you know, they love action movies and war movies and video games, all that stuff. And it’s, it’s because they’re made to be warriors. They’re made, we’re made to be like–Jesus is the real hero. Superman’s not a real man. Batman’s not real. That’s something someone made up. It’s just a figment of someone’s imagination. But the reason why we love that stuff so much is because it calls out the identity and the destiny that’s inside of us and says that’s who you’re supposed to be. But the Lord doesn’t want us to live retroactively through fantasy characters that are not real. He wants us to wake up to the fact that there are people that are dying all over the world that we have the power to save. We have real supernatural power available to us. It’s real stuff, resurrecting the dead, healing the sick, opening blind eyes, walking on water, trans-portation. I mean, man, Superman hasn’t got anything on the reality of what Jesus has offered to us.
I really believe that this generation is the generation that’s tapping that stuff, is going to walk in that stuff. I believe the millennials are pressing into it. In the boomers, you have these key figures, these key apostolic mothers and fathers, prophetic fathers and mothers who really, and there’s always been a remnant of people moving in this stuff, right. But really, in the boomer generation, there were these fore-runners that began to say, “Okay, let’s tap into this stuff. People like Bill Johnson, Randy Clark, John Wimber, Bob Jones. I mean, there’s a lot of them. Cindy Jacobs, like all these amazing fore-runners, Heidi Baker, her walking and moving in this stuff. They’re saying, now we’re going to pass this down to the next generation. And you have this millennial generation that’s raising up and we’re kind of like this experimental generation of what’s possible. But the next generation that we raise up, these are going to be the guys that are like real superheroes. So I just feel like my whole point in saying all this is, man, turn the TV off, turn the movie off, sell your video game console, go devote your life to this stuff, and be the hero. Be a hero. A lot of my missionary heroes, they had no supernatural training at all–zero. They’d never had a prophecy seminar. They had never seen any of this stuff. They just–the Lord told them to go to China, or go to India, or go to Egypt and they just started seeing miraculous the whole time in their whole lives.
I think Lottie Moon actually was a, I believe she was Baptist, or she was kind of a fundamentalist Christian who ends up becoming this female apostle into China, and her life is just filled with miracles. So it’s like, even in the Baptist church, they recognize this stuff happens on the mission field, but not here. I think that when you’re in a situation of utter desperation, where you have nothing but God, you have to press in. Either He’s real and the stories we’re telling are real, or the Bible’s not true. Because if God is not a God of miracles, then none of the Word of God is true. The essence of Christianity is that we believe that God was born through a virgin, impregnated by the Holy Spirit, literally God in the flesh, crucified, buried, resurrected from the dead. All of Christianity is based on miracles. If we don’t believe in miracles, we don’t, we’re not really, we’re not, we don’t really believe in Christianity. We are way more concerned about living a comfortable life than we are about actually doing what Jesus said to do.
I don’t say that as an indictment on the church; I say it as an awakening to the church because we’ve been told that fulfillment comes from having the right job and having the right degree and having the right girl or boy, having the right house, having the perfect set of kids and having your hobbies and, you know, doing some nice humanitarian stuff that will make you happy. The reality is, the Word of God says eternity has been written in the hearts of men. We long for more than that. It’s never enough. You get that stuff and you just start trying to find more. That’s why people get hooked into drugs and alcohol, pornography, adultery, you know, it’s not actually, I mean, like Christians get into that stuff. And it’s not because they’re bad. It’s because they’re not fulfilled. The world has crept in the church, and the church often looks more like the world than heaven. And, I mean, man, the Bible is so countercultural, you know–give to gain, die to live, serve to be exalted, it’s very countercultural. And it seems like it’s not liberating. But it’s only when we embrace what God says, when we don’t understand and do it, that we discover the wisdom that He has and that enables us to experience true life. There’s a power that’s accessed when we say yes to God, that actually, we don’t experience until we step into it.
So, I guess in summary, what I’m trying to say is that the church has been incredibly influenced by the world. And what the world says will bring fulfillment and satisfaction–it just doesn’t. It’s just, it’s a wild goose chase. Before you realize it, you’ve done everything they’ve said, you’re so confused, you don’t even remember where you came from. You don’t remember your identity as a son of God. That’s what the devil wants. He can’t drag Christians to hell, but he can definitely, he can definitely trick us and tempt us into aborting our destinies. Destiny is not unconditional. God’s love is. We can blow our destinies, you know, we can, we can trade our destiny for a cup of soup like Esau did. I think that the world culture we’re in is a culture of performance. So we’re brainwashed as little kids. I mean, it’s all conditional love, like it is. It’s all transactional love. For the most part, yeah, our parents do love us with an unconditional sense because God put that in parents, unless they’re really broken. But really, it’s if you perform well, I’m going to love you. And if you perform poorly, I’m going to punish you. That’s the same culture in the church. It is. It’s the culture that most church leadership operates in and they don’t mean to. They’re not bad. It’s what was taught to them by their parents and their leaders. So we have this culture pretty much everywhere except the most Kingdom-minded churches. There are some out there, and it’s not an elitist thing, but I’m just saying it’s quite rare that you don’t have a punishment culture. It’s pretty much everywhere.
So yeah, like I mean, I know I read scripture verses that now are what brings me freedom and that set me free from all that stuff when I got the revelation, the free gift of righteousness. But the overarching paradigm that I was perceiving reality in was a legalistic, law-based, punishment-based paradigm that no one I’d ever met wasn’t in. Literally, no one I ever met, modeled anything other than that to me in my experience. Maybe they did, and I just didn’t see it. I don’t know. I don’t remember ever having a grace-based, unconditional-love based gospel ever preached to me, ever. The first time I heard it was when I was, I guess, about seven years ago, when I got delivered from the stuff. So I believe I had heard part of the gospel that says, believe this, you can go to heaven when you die. Praise God that multitudes of people are going to be in heaven because people have preached that. But the gospel is that heaven gets inside of you now on your earth, and that the kingdom of heaven begins to come wherever you are, and the atmosphere and the culture of heaven begins to invade everything that you are and everything that’s around you, and we begin to become a colony of heaven on earth that walks in freedom, peace, joy, hope, provision, health, dominion, deliverance. I didn’t hear that gospel.
I heard a “hold on until Jesus comes back” gospel or a “life’s gonna really be sucky, and then you’re gonna die and then you could go to Paradise gospel.” I’d never heard the gospel that the kingdom is here. That’s what Jesus says. He said He sent the apostles and the disciples. He said, preach to them and tell them that the kingdom of God is here. Jesus would preach Heaven is accessible. Until you realize you’re absolutely desperate and you have nothing and can do nothing apart from God that you don’t even exist apart from God and that you’re not going to continue to exist apart from God. Until we hit that point, I would say, the natural human bent is to try to be our own gods, which is essentially, I can save myself; I can provide for myself; I can protect myself. I can take care of myself. And unfortunately, religion is one of the worst idols. It’s one of the worst delusions. What happens a lot of time is people try to be their own gods in the world. They use drugs, sex, money, performance, work, college education, you name it. They come to the end of that, and they realize this is going to kill me, I got to stop doing this. They get saved, someone gets on the gospel and then cool, I’m going to heaven. Then they begin a whole new journey of self-sufficiency and self-salvation and religion. Then you get to the end of that road and I think that’s what happened to me.
As I went through the long road of the world where I realized drugs, alcohol, sex, being a criminal, all this stuff–that is not, that is not life. This is going to kill me if I don’t stop. Then I had five years of, Okay, well, cool. Now I’ll do religion and religion will save me. And so I’d say I had that, I had that same, I had to have that realization two times. So yeah, I think until people are at that point, like Jesus said, I think it’s in Isaiah 61. He said, ‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has sent me to preach good news to the meek or to the poor.’ Why? Because they’re the only ones that are ready to admit that they can’t save themselves. Jesus didn’t come to save–He didn’t come as a physician for the well, He came to heal the sick and seek and save that which was lost. And a lot of stuff that Jesus said to the Pharisees was Him rebuking them for thinking that they didn’t need anything, that they were good, that their religion and their traditions–that was what, that was their God. There has to be humility that occurs and I think the nature of what happened in the Garden of Eden was Adam and Eve and then all of humanity, believing that simple intimacy with God, simple dependence upon God, simple, childlike trust in God isn’t enough and we need something more than that. We need more knowledge, more wisdom, we need to work harder, you know, all this stuff.
My whole life I had security, financial security. I had all the money I ever wanted. The only way I was able to walk away from that is I encountered something that was greater than that. I encountered the presence of the living Christ and that was what gave me the strength to do it. Saying yes to doing this and leaving everything for Jesus. Man, I gave all that stuff away and I got a lot of Jesus, And I’d do it, I’d do it 1000 times again. I’d do it over and over again. It’s worth it.
I grew up sitting in my mom’s lap in church, and I had this one Sunday where I just had this like open heaven experience. That’s the only way I can explain it as an open heaven experience. And whereas I would usually sit and sleep through church, it was like I was wide awake and I heard what the preacher was saying and he was sharing a basic gospel message. I knew that I was not saved–that I had not received Jesus and that I was going to go to hell if I didn’t receive Jesus. I didn’t want that. I wanted to be with Jesus forever. So I went home and I prayed that prayer and I literally I remember sitting on my front steps, on the stairs of my parents’ house. And this light beam was just shining through like the glass in the front of the window. And it was just hitting me and I just felt like–I now realize it was probably my first encounter with God was that light hitting me. It was like a heavenly light, and I knew something changed in me. But I didn’t really get any discipleship. So I don’t know how much of that was the church not doing their job and how much of it was me not wanting to engage because my parents would move us around so many times, cities and churches, and I just got tired of being the new kid and I was like, I’m good. I don’t want to do it.
We have real supernatural power available to us. It’s real stuff, resurrecting the dead, healing the sick, opening blind eyes…I mean, man, Superman hasn’t got anything on the reality of what Jesus has offered to us.
I went through a lot of traumatic stuff as a little kid. My dad was in, my dad was just pretty broken–into some really kind of bad spiritual stuff. The combination of those things, I just was really quite broken. So when I was about 12 or 13 I began coping with that stuff. I’d already been using food and video games and movies to try to escape from my pain and escape from reality. But about 12 or 13, I started drinking alcohol, smoking weed, getting into drugs, started doing steroids, performance enhancing drugs as an athlete. I just kind of progressed. I got into hard drugs. I began, I became a criminal. I became one of the major drug dealers at the high school that I was going to and it just escalated to the point where when I was 18, I basically took a combination of drugs that puts you in a psychosis. Now I know I was pretty much like demonically overtaken. I surrendered to the demonic. I pulled a gun on three police officers, and they didn’t shoot me because it was at my parents’ house. I’d crashed a car a couple hours earlier and they came to the house to come interrogate me or talk to me and figure out what happened. I came out of the house with the gun and they were about to shoot me, but my dad was there and they didn’t think they could shoot me without shooting my dad. So they tackled me to the ground.
I woke up in the same jail cell I’d been in two weeks earlier for crashing another car. And I was like, Oh, cool. I just got another DUI, that’s not good. But whatever, I’ll be out of here in a little while. Well my dad calls me on the phone. He says, “You’re not getting out. You committed a felony one, and you’re probably about to go to prison.” And I’m 18 years old, and it’s like, my whole world just falls apart. All my friends are about to go to college, I’m about to go to prison. I just was like, okay, and my dad somehow had a connection with a Supreme Court justice and I was able to get my bail changed. There’s, I believe it was a Supreme Court justice. He was able to get my bail changed to a rate that we could pay and I got out of jail and I went on a several year journey of…I was like, okay, Jesus, I’m done. I repented; I decided to turn away from this stuff and I began to follow Jesus.
I went through a long discipleship journey. I started out in the Messianic Jewish movement. For about five years I was discipled by a Messianic Jewish guy. It was good. I learned the Hebrew roots of the faith, I learned about the Judaic roots of Christianity. I really developed a deep understanding of the Old Testament and the culture of the Old Testament and of Judaism. But I also did not understand the New Covenant. I thought we, I thought we were under the Old Covenant and the New Covenant simultaneously. So I’m trying to keep Jewish laws to be right with God, not understanding. I hated the book of Galatians and Hebrews, totally, and a lot of the people I hung out with did too. After a while, it just got kind of weird. And I was like, I don’t think I want to do this anymore. I ended up going into the Baptist church and got a real good foundation and the gospel and the Word of God, a passion for preaching the gospel and for missions and free evangelism. I was moving in the supernatural. I was already prophesying. And I was mostly in the prophetic and I was speaking in tongues and stuff like that and beginning to start praying for healing and stuff. But uh, I was kind of like a poster child in the Baptist church. And I was on track to become a pastor. And I was doing everything they said to do. I was very influential. I had a, just a lot of impact. And it was like, everything was going good, but I was dead inside because, I would just hear these confusing messages being taught about, the grace of God on one hand, and then like, God, being mad at you, on the other hand, or, you’re not good enough. You’re not doing enough. Whether or not that’s actually what they said or not, I don’t know, but that’s what I heard. And I was just, I felt like I was on this roller coaster of love and you know, not being good enough, like love and law. I was like, if this is Christianity, I don’t, I don’t want it because like, I want Jesus, but I don’t like this. I can’t do this anymore. I literally couldn’t do it.
So I actually made a decision to go back into drugs and alcohol and to begin to search alternative paths of spirituality with Jesus as a foundation, because I knew that I had encountered Him and I knew that He had saved me and delivered me and all this stuff.
I just was like, I’m basically just gonna, either I find the answer or I’m going to commit suicide partying, drinking, and you know, doing drugs and all that stuff. So after about a year, year and a half of that, I was literally on my deathbed. I had gotten into some pretty dark spirituality, which I had renounced and turned away from. The Lord sovereignly delivered me from a lot of it. But I was just drinking myself to death because I’m like, Christianity doesn’t have the answer. Judaism doesn’t have the answer. All these weird world religions, New Age, none of them have the answer. My parents don’t have the answer. The corporate world doesn’t have the answer. Like, no one has the answer. I was laying on my deathbed, my liver was shutting down and I was like, “Jesus, like you gotta show me the answer!” And He connected me with a guy’s ministry that basically taught the free gift of righteousness and absolutely transformed me.
I began to realize that I was righteous because of what Christ did, not because of what I do and that all I had to do is believe and confess that and it will manifest in power. I began doing that. I quit drinking alcohol, it was easy. I didn’t, it wasn’t even hard. I quit smoking weed. God delivered me from a lot of the demonic stuff that was remaining. And I actually fell in love with God because of how good He was. Not because I was supposed to. And I began to prolifically preach the gospel, because I was won by the reality and the revelation of God’s love and His goodness. There was still some religion and stuff going on, but I literally was like, Dude, this is like the gospel. This is the real stuff that changed me and everybody needs to know this.
Naturally, when my ministry began, most Christian missionaries are going places that the gospel already is broken into. But we have over a billion people that are in unreached people groups that have no access to the gospel whatsoever, and they’re not gonna have access to it, if we don’t go. Like, we have certain regions of India where our partners have done statistical, they’ve actually gone in these regions of India and they’ve actually they’ve actually researched these different districts of where there’s Christianity, and some of them have zero Christians. They’re all Hindus; they’re worshipping demons. So I guess part of my personal message is, God wants to awaken the church to something bigger than themselves. There are billions of people that are waiting for someone to come and tell them, and if we don’t go, nobody may, you know. It’s easy to think, oh, if I don’t go somebody may. Maybe not. So, I guess in conclusion, the Lord has made us for something that’s bigger than ourselves and it’s only when we lay down our lives that we actually discover the true life that the Lord has for us.
I’ll be real, I’ve paid a massive cost. I have, I’ve lost a lot. I’ve had people that thought I was nuts. I’ve given up a lot. I’ve suffered a lot. I’ve been through a lot of hard stuff. But the reward that I have received is infinitely greater. I mean people’s lives, like I mean, we saw in India, we saw 40 to 50 Hindus in a Hindu village in the middle of the jungle, experience a chain of miracles, and then all receive Jesus. If we hadn’t gone, maybe no one would have. So if, if that’s all that I have going into heaven is I have some people that are there because I’m there, I’d pay it all again. So, yeah, it’s worth it. Yeah, I really want to, I really want to see what God has done over there touch people here, because there’s so much more. You know, there’s just so much more.
I have a real heart for young people that are chasing the best, like the right job and the right spouse and purpose and fame and stuff. It’s like, Man, you don’t need any of that stuff, dude, like you don’t. Like maybe God calls him into some industry or something, but it’s like, getting that missional heart is the core of what we’re trying to do. It is showing people like, Dude, don’t waste your life. He’s the Prince of Peace. He’s the Prince of Shalom, a holistic blessing over your whole life. He wants us to prosper and abound. That doesn’t necessarily look like having a big house and a bunch of money, and maybe it does, but it looks like having souls whose destinies have been altered because you said yes to God. Paul said, the joy that was set before or that the crown, his crown of boasting was actually the people that he had brought in the kingdom with the Lord and had discipled and raised up. When we stand before Jesus on the day of the, at the, the judgment seat of Christ, which is a judgment of reward, it’s not a judgment of sin. It’s where our sins are already judged. It’s a judgment of our reward. It’s in the works–not necessarily the things we did but the people that we poured into. And that’s going to be our crown on that day. So I would just say that, I just want to see everyone walk in the fullness of everything God’s called them to, not to miss any of it.