Author Archives: Tim Hanley

Gimme, gimme, gimme!

Buck, our parrot

So almost every morning for the past 24 years I have gotten up, gone downstairs, and been greeted by our demanding, squawking parrot, Buck. Buck has not missed a meal for almost 9,000 days in a row! Yet, this morning, again, Buck started screeching like I have never fed him. Even after I feed him, he just keep demanding MORE! In parrot-squawking, Buck screeches, gimme, gimme, gimme!

I am no different than Buck with my faithful heavenly Father. Every day I cry out to Him, “gimme more of the Holy Spirit, gimme more of Your love, gimme more hope, gimme more grace, gimme more power, gimme more patience, gimme more of YOU, gimme, gimme, gimme.”

Just like me with Buck, my heavenly Father, must think, “Tim, why are you demanding what I have already given you. You already have it!”

Galatians 2:20 and Colossians 1:27 state that Christ is in every believer. Over 220 times the New Testament epistles tell us Christ is in every believer, and we are in Christ. Colossians 2:9-10 states, “For in Him [Christ] all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete and He is the head over all rule and authority.” We as followers of the Lord Jesus are complete, or made full, in Him already. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us with resurrection power and the life of Jesus (Romans 8:10-11). 2 Peter 1:3-4 cannot say it any clearer, “seeing that His divine power has granted to us EVERYTHING pertaining to life and godliness . . . so that by them you may become partaker of the divine nature . . . ” I already have everything I need through the Spirit of Jesus living in me. So do you if you are a believer in Jesus.

I do not need more of Jesus. I already have Him. I do not need more of His love, I just need to allow the love of Jesus to flow through me. I do not need more hope. I already have the God of hope in me. I do not need more strength, or grace, or patience, I just need to believe I already have it and allow His life to flow through me (John 7:37-39). In Jesus Christ, He has already imparted to me everything I need for today, tomorrow, and forever!

So what should I do when I start demanding from my heavenly Father, “gimme, gimme, gimme” just like Buck? I need to repent of my unbelief, run to my Crucified and Risen Jesus, and believe He has already given me “everything for life and godliness” in Him. I end up in worship and praise, giving thanks to my incredible Father through His beautiful Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. So should you!

By the way, anyone want a 25 year old squawking, demanding, ungrateful parrot (who is just like me)?

The Ultimate Test

My grandkids tell me “The Ultimate Test” was a Pokemon television show and I thought it was about tracking down weird creatures in the real world using your phone app (I am so confused!). The Infiniti’s “Ultimate Test” would get me arrested or dead since I am legally blind. The Ironman competition is supposedly “The Ultimate Test,” but that is out with my bad back. So what is the REAL “Ultimate Test” — the one we will face at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10)?

In Matthew 22 the religious leaders of Jesus’ day come to Him with the “Ultimate Test.” This is their fourth and final try during Passion Week to publicly “catch” Jesus in a theological misstep so they can try Him as a blasphemer and heretic. Remember the religious leaders of the day believed there were 613 commandments in Mosaic Law plus another 5,000 oral traditions that were also to be obeyed to be right with God. So of those 5,613 commandments, one of the Pharisaical lawyers asks Jesus the ultimate question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” (Mt 22:35-40).

Our Lord’s immediate response (from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18) is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” with the second like the first, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” He uses the same Greek verb for love in both commands. Agapao is unconditional heart, soul, and mind devotion to our Lord and our neighbor. It is love that holds absolutely nothing back.

Our Lord constantly put everyone else on trial during Passion Week. The religious leaders think they have Him on the “Ultimate Test.” He turns the tables on these leaders and shuts their mouths with these two “great and foremost commandments.” He shuts our mouths, too. You see, I believe the “Ultimate Test” of all followers of Jesus is, “Did you learn to love Me and other people?”

I believe the lie that He really will judge me on how I grew a big ministry. Or how my kids and grandchildren turn out. Or how many people did I led to the Lord. Or how many people I discipled. The reality is He does all that stuff. I just need to get out of His way. What He really cares about is, “Am I learning to love Him and people?

How do I know this is His “Ultimate Test” of my life and your life? Because every mention of the Judgment Seat of Christ in the New Testament is always in the context of loving others. Here are just a few examples:

“But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” –Romans 14:10

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. . . for the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died.” –2 Corinthians 5:10, 15

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ. –Philippians 1:9-10

The reality is none of us love Him or others as He commands. On our own, we are all spiritually bankrupt. This “Ultimate Test” leaves us in utter ruin. The only person I love is me. Not Jesus. Not others. Yet, by His sheer grace and love I get to play Captain’s Choice every day when it comes to loving the Lord and loving others. Due to His death and resurrection for my hideous record of love, I get His perfect record of love. I strike out every day in love, yet, He hits a home run. I can’t get the ball off the tee when it comes to loving Him, yet, I get Jesus’ perfect hole-in-one every day. I throw a gutter ball every day in seeking to love people, but Jesus bowls a 300 every game of love. He took my hideous record of love on that wretched Cross, and He gives me His perfect record of love by grace.

Wow, what a Savior. His extravagant and eternal love for me causes me to love Him and people more every day. It also does not freak me out as I come each day closer to that Day of Judgment. I know He is teaching me to love Him and people because of the perfect love He has for me. I can rest today knowing He has already performed the Ultimate Test for me.

Shalom in Jesus!

The Missing Ingredient in Many Gospel Messages

Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. –– Romans 7:13

So you go to see your family doctor and he tells you, “We are rushing you immediately to the hospital for the surgical removal of most of your digestive system including your pancreas, gall bladder, part of your bile duct and stomach. Then you will undergo intensive radiation and chemo therapy. Your chances of survival poor at best.” What would you say? Most of us sane folks would say, “Doc, you have not even run any diagnostic tests! What do you think I have?” We want the tests and diagnosis before being given the prognosis. That is the missing ingredient in many Gospel messages. Most Gospel messages invite people to come to faith in Christ without ever identifying the sin problem and giving an accurate diagnosis. We may tell people they are sinners, but God has given us the Law to show us how “utterly sinful” we are and to expose our moral depravity. The missing ingredient in most Gospel presentation is the use of the Law to show sinners they desperately need a Savior.

How did Jesus share the Gospel with religious people who thought they were good? He preached the Law to show them how utterly sinful they were (see Mt 5:17-48; 19:16-22; Luke 10:25-28). He always preached Law to the arrogant and self-righteous, but grace to the broken and sinful (Luke 18:18-20; John 3:1-17). How did the Apostle Paul preach the Gospel? He used the Law, then trumpeted the grace of the Cross.  Just look at the most comprehensive epistle on theology we have in the New Testament: the epistle to the Romans.  Paul spends the first three chapters exposing the utter depravity of man.  It is only after he repeatedly points to the Law’s purpose to expose our utter sinfulness before a holy God that he proclaims the grace and mercy and love of God through the life, Cross, and resurrection of our Savior.  The Law is like a mirror that diagnoses the problem of total depravity in our lives. Once the “patient” understands how much trouble they are in before a holy God due to their sinfulness, they will be far more eager to hear of the Cross of the Savior and their need for repentant faith, if indeed the Holy Spirit is bringing true conviction of sin in their lives. As Ray Comfort states in The Way of the Master, “Biblical evangelism always proclaims the Law to the proud but grace to the humble.  With the Law, we should break hardened hearts, and with the Gospel we should heal broken hearts” (pp. 50-51).

Just listen to what the Apostle Paul says about the use of the Law as the mirror to point us to the need for the Gospel:

Romans 2:22-24: You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast [a]in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written.

Romans 3:19-20: Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

Romans 7:7-9: What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died.

The Lord Jesus and Paul both used the Law of God to expose the sinner’s depraved heart and life. God has given us the Law to show His perfect and righteous standard so that we may see our depraved hearts and lives.  Without accurate testing and diagnosis, the sinner has no idea of his desperate need of a Savior. This is the missing ingredient in so many Gospel presentations.  We must again return to using the Law of God if the grace of God is going to truly become amazing!

So where did all the converts go?

It made me cringe when he said it. Tony was teaching a class on evangelism a couple weeks ago that I was attending, and he said, “Yeah, we rarely can follow-up a new convert because we can’t find them.” The problem was not lack of contact information on the new convert. The problem was that the person made a decision but did not want to be contacted again. It happened to me about a month ago with a couple that seemed to make a sincere decision to trust Christ for the first time. However, when I sought to contact them: no response back. So frustrating!

According to most reports from denominations, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and the Luis Palau Association, less than 20% of those who make decisions for Christ end up getting followed-up and in churches (Hell’s Best Kept Secret, Ray Comfort, p 9). Where is the power of the Gospel to transform peoples’ lives? Why is there little brokenness when we share the Gospel? Why can’t we find those who have prayed to trust Christ for the first time? It is like they tried Jesus on for a few days the same way they decided to drink Pepsi or Coke, then thought they would try something else. It it a problem with the Gospel or how we are sharing it?

I am convinced it is the way we share the Gospel. The Gospel I have preached in the past has been far more man-centered than God-centered. I told people that Jesus would make their lives go better. Really? Tell that to the millions of martyrs through the centuries who lost their lives because they “tried” Jesus.

I preached and shared much on the grace and love of God in Christ, but not much on the utter helplessness and depravity of man. Rarely did I mention the holiness of God and the absolute hatred He has for sin. Apart from Christ, God calls the natural man desperately sick (Jer 17:9), a deaf cobra (Ps 58:4), helpless (Rom 5:6), enemies (Rom 5:10), dead sinners (Eph 2:1), disobedient (Eph 2:2), children of wrath (Eph 2:3), blinded by satan (2 Cor 4:4), condemned criminals (Romans 3:8-18) to be cast in the lake of fire forever (Revelation 21:8).

Paul Washer, in his excellent book, The Gospel’s Power and Message, states, “The book of Romans is the closest thing we have to a systematic theology in the Scriptures . . . it is extremely important to note that the first three chapters of this letter, with the exception of a brief introduction, are dedicated to hamartiology, or the doctrine of sin” (p 75).

I am convinced that many decisions for Christ are false conversions because there is no conviction of sin. Too many are just trying Jesus to see if He makes their lives better.  That is why I have changed the way I share the Gospel.

The problem today is NOT with the Gospel. The problem is that we have not properly prepared the soil for the Gospel in the hearts of men and women. People need to hear and be overwhelmed with the holiness and purity of God, the absolute, utter depravity of their own souls, and His coming righteous judgement on sin.

How can we do that? How did Jesus do it? How did the Apostles Peter and Paul do it? How did preachers and evangelists of the past do it? They all used the same weapon to expose the utter sinfulness of man. God has given us ONE powerful weapon to get the job done. This weapon has been neglected for too long in the evangelical gospel presentation. That is what next week’s blog is all about!

Recommended reading:
Ray Comfort, Hell’s Best Kept Secret
Ray Comfort, God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life; The Myth of the Modern Message
Paul Washer, The Gospel’s Power and Message

A Lesson on Walking in Step with the Spirit

I wonder sometimes why it takes me so long to walk in step with the Spirit instead of doing what I want to do. Though we, as followers of Jesus, are repeatedly commanded to be filled with the Spirit, be surrendered to the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, and to not put out the fire of the Spirit (Rom 8:14; Eph 4:30; 5:18; Gal 5:16-17; 1 Thess 5:19), I just think my agenda is better than His. I think I know the next best step better than the Holy Spirit. I would rather lead than follow in the dance called today. Yesterday was a case in point.

For several days I wanted to walk across the street to share the Gospel with my neighbors.  They desperately need Jesus. The entire family was home yesterday and that was MY plan. I had about a two hour block of time and it seemed the perfect time. But the Holy Spirit told me to go for a jog. “But I want to go share the Gospel with my neighbors,” I pleaded. I tested the Spirit to make sure it was the Holy Spirit and not my fears (1 John 4:1-3). So I went for a jog. Now time to muster the courage to go share with my neighbors. Nope. The Holy Spirit said to go for a prayer walk. What about my neighbors???  I tested the Spirit again, and He confirmed to go for a prayer walk through our large neighborhood.

During the prayer walk I cried out to God for the salvation of many neighbors. Toward the very end of the prayer walk I also asked Him to please give me an opportunity to share the Gospel with whom He wanted to share instead of with whom I wanted to share.  As I prayed that prayer, a man, who had been jogging, stopped 20 yards before me. I had never seen him before in our neighborhood. He walked toward me and we began an amazing conversation which led to him inviting me into his home to share the Gospel with his entire family.  There was no prayer of repentance with them yesterday, but a huge cry of repentance for me.

“Lord, forgive me for telling You how to run Your universe and my world. I have grieved your Holy Spirit and put out of the fire of the Holy Spirit too often. I have believed my agenda and my will are better than Yours. Forgive me for my stinking pride, agenda, and self-will. Jesus bore it all on Calvary. Thank You for cleansing me and picking me up again seeking full-surrender to the Sovereign Holy Spirit today. You lead today in this dance called today. May the Lord Jesus be glorified in it. Oh, by the way, Lord, my across the street neighbors still desperately need You! In the Name of Jesus and for His glory. Amen.”

God prevails over us that we may prevail in prayer

For the follower of Jesus, every circumstance in life is a God-ordained moment when God seeks to prevail over us so that we may prevail in prayer. This truth is beautifully illustrated in Genesis 32:24-32 where Jacob prevails in prayer with the angel of the Lord. Jacob had left home over two decades earlier after buying his brother Esau’s birthright and deceiving his father, Isaac, stealing the blessing that rightfully belonged to Esau. Now, over twenty years later, God had blessed him, and he was heading back home fearing the annihilation of his family by his brother Esau. In the this climactic moment of Jacob’s life, he spends the night wrestling with God. And it is here that the LORD takes Jacob back to his place of greatest failure in order to prevail over Jacob.

Incredibly, as the dawn is breaking and the angel of the Lord “saw that he had not prevailed against [Jacob], he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him” (Gen 32:25). The angel of the Lord then demands that Jacob let go of him, but Jacob would not let go until the angel of the Lord blessed him. At that moment, the angel of the Lord asks Jacob the same question his father, Isaac, asked twenty years earlier, “What is your name?” (Gen 27:18). Why would the angel of the Lord do that? He was taking Jacob back to the place of his greatest failure–his greatest sin–not to hurt Jacob, but to expose his hard heart.

As Wesley Duewel states in Mighty Prevailing Prayer, “God was doing a transforming work in [Jacob’s] nature. He was being brought to the end of himself, but this position made him bold in faith.  A new Jacob prevails with God because God has prevailed over him.” The LORD prevailed over Jacob so that Jacob might prevail in prayer and gain the blessing to him, his entire family, and to you. For in Christ Jesus, the blessing and promises of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are all yours (Gal 3:29).

So what can we learn from this amazing event? No matter our circumstances, the LORD is seeking to prevail over you to expose your sin and take you to the the Cross of Jesus. That is the place He prevails over us. He will use our present circumstances to take us back to a place of failure to show us our need for brokenness and repentance. God spent over twenty years of Jacob’s life sovereignly setting up the circumstances for Jacob to come to the end of himself and see what a sinner he was in order to see the greatness of God’s grace. What circumstances are you now dealing with that God’s grace might prevail over you?

Jacob prevailed in prayer with the LORD because the LORD had prevailed over him. God calls us to prevail in prayer to gain answers to what is sought. God commands you and me to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16). God invites us to a wrestling match. We have a Great High Priest, Jesus, who is prevailing in prayer right now at the right hand of the Father (Heb 7:25). For what is your Advocate before the Father praying and calling you to pray into reality on earth as it in heaven? Don’t quit praying! The Son of God has prevailed over you through His death and resurrection in order that you might daily prevail in prayer before the Throne of Grace! He reigns by intercession. So do we (Rom 5:2, 17).









House of Prayer (Part 5): Praying the Name of Jesus

The Lord Jesus calls every local church to be a “house of prayer for all the nations” (Mark 11:17).

In earlier posts (Part 2, Part 3), I said the foundational pillars for that house of prayer must be the glory of God, the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom, the Gospel, and divine desperation.

Last week (Part 4), we examined the first building stone to this house of prayer, praying the heart of Jesus. Today we will look at the second building stone, praying the name of Jesus.

What does it mean to pray in the Name of Jesus? If I say at the end of my prayer, “in Jesus’ name,” does that mean my prayer will be automatically answered? If so, why not pray for a million dollars today in the name of Jesus and see what happens? I tried it. Nothing!

Jesus’ name is not a magical coin we put in the cosmic slot machine expecting God to give us whatever we want. He is not a cosmic genie. He is the Holy God who is sovereign Creator and Master over the universe and over you and me.

When we pray in Jesus’ name, we are praying by His authority and power (Heb 4:14-16), for His glory (John 16:14), and surrendered to His divine plan (Lk 22:42).

We can only enter into the Presence of the Holy God in the authority and power of Jesus’ name. That authority and power came through His Cross, Resurrection and Ascension. But we also must pray for His glory, not ours. So often I pray for my glory in my way and in my time. God will only answer prayer that is all about the glory of His Son.

Finally, to pray in Jesus’ name means we are surrendered to His divine plan in His divine time. So often the Lord says “Wait” or “No” when we pray in Jesus’ Name. The Father said “No” to His Son in the Garden of Gethsemane. As we pray in Jesus’ name, our hearts must be the heart of Jesus who was totally surrendered to His Father’s divine plan for Him. That meant the Cross.

It is because of that Cross we remember this week that you can pray freely in the Name of Jesus through His power and authority, all for His glory, and all surrendered to His divine plan.

House of Prayer (Part 4): Praying the Heart of Jesus

The Lord Jesus calls every local church to be a “house of prayer for all the nations” (Mark 11:17).

The last two weeks, I said the foundational pillars for that “house of prayer” must be:

  • the glory of God,
  • the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom,
  • the Gospel, and
  • divine desperation

The first building stone to this “house of prayer for all the nations is praying the heart of Jesus. God will not hear or answer our prayers unless they are from the heart of Jesus.

So what is the heart of Jesus? Jesus said in Mathew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” The heart of Jesus is His kingdom and His righteousness.

Just prior to this statement, He had told His disciples how to pray His heart for the kingdom and righteousness in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). Don’t just recite the prayer repetitively, but pray through it. This praying includes

  • worship of the Father,
  • asking for His Kingdom to come,
  • asking that the Father’s will be done,
  • asking our Heavenly Father for our needs to be met (not our wants),
  • confession and asking forgiveness for our sins and offenses against God and others, and
  • asking God to protect us from temptation and evil.

If you want to pray the heart of Jesus, you will find His heart in that prayer. Pray the Lord’s heart by praying the Lord’s prayer.

House of Prayer (Part 3)

The Lord Jesus calls every local church to become a “house of prayer for all the nations” (Mark 11:17). To become a “house of prayer for all the nations,” a local church must have at least 4 foundation stones and 12 building stones.

Last week we said the first two foundational stones were the glory of God and the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom. The last two foundational stones are the Gospel and divine desperation.

The Gospel of the Lord Jesus is ultimately all we have, and it is all we need. Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, ascension, and seating at the right hand of the Father is the basis for our justification, sanctification and glorification. The Gospel is the door we walk through into the Christian life, but it is also the path we walk every day. It is the basis for our transformation (Rom 1:16-17; 2 Cor. 3:18).

Without divine desperation we are just spinning our wheels. Every major move of God in the Bible and historically has been preceded by someone having this divine desperation. Divine desperation is an intense grief over the status quo and an intolerable burden for the glory of God in a situation or location. This divine desperation drove Abraham, David, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostle Paul.

Business as usual will only lead to the demise of our nation and the continued decline of the Church. We must have this divine desperation. Several individuals with an intense divine desperation for the glory of God and the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom can transform a local church into a “house of prayer for all the nations.” Prayer for these individuals is like fresh air to a person who is suffocating. It is the air they breathe!

Will you ask God for this kind of heart and will to be a catalyst to transform your church into a “house of prayer for all the nations?”

House of Prayer (Part 2)

The Lord Jesus said His house should be a house of prayer for all the nations (Mark 11:17). God calls every local church to be a house of prayer for all the nations. So what does that look like?

There must be at least 4 foundational pillars and 12 building stones. The 4 foundational pillars sustain the entire structure.The 4 foundational pillars are:

  • the glory of God,
  • the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom,
  • the Gospel, and
  • a divine desperation.

The primary pillar is the glory of God. Everything must be for His glory (1 Cor. 10:13). Psalm 96:3 states, “Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.” A praying church will be a church revealing and proclaiming the glory and majesty of God.

The second pillar is the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom. Christ’s will is that His Kingdom may be known on the earth, [His] salvation among all nations (Psalm 67:2). The gates of hell shall not prevail again the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on this earth (Mt 16:18). We advance Christ’s Kingdom on our knees, corporately and individually.

The great glories of God and the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on this earth strangely do not depend on our great programs or our new ideas, but on the prayers of the saints. E. M. Bounds said,

What the church needs today is not more or better machinery, not new organizations or more novel methods. She needs men [and women] whom the Holy Spirit can use – men [and women] of prayer, men [and women] mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men [and women] …. He does not anoint plans, but men [and women] – men [and women] of prayer!

Will you be that man or woman that help to make your Church into a house of prayer for all the nations?

This is the second post of a continuing series.

Special thanks to Dr. Henry Krabbendam & Rev. Al Baker for the ideas of the foundational pillars and building stones above.