Hey everyone, this is the first post in a series of blogs that share my journey into the love of God and how that journey has not only transformed me, it has transformed the world around me. I also hope that it can serve as a practical guide to help you in living loved and living love. Living loved by God is the point of our existence and living love is our response to His great love. In this first blog I want to share a piece of of how it all began with you.
Never in my life would I have imagined that I would be where I would be at this point in my life. Never would I had dreamed that in the past 15 years that I would have traveled to over 30 nations. I could not have fathomed the miracles nor lives transformed. I would never have thought possible the amount of individuals that have joined my global family, nor would I have believed that I would have a global family, but here I am. Surprised as ever. A midst all of that, I really never believed I would be the "love" preacher either. Preacher of faith, miracles, and revival, sure, but love?! In those early years of ministry it never crossed my mind.
Let me explain. When I started 15 years ago I was a young "know-it-all" stuck-up preacher. I was a sixth generation minister, born and raised for the ministry. Like Jeremiah I believe I was called from my mother’s womb. I had a goal of seeing the world fall in love with Jesus, yet little did I realize in order for our world to fall in love with Jesus she first must come to know how much He first loved her, and I really had yet to experience it for myself. Sure, I had experienced many profound things, including seeing many come to Jesus, witnessing miracles though my hands, and even having visitations of the Lord Himself (which would impress many if I were to share them, I just have no desire to impress anyone today), I still had yet to have an experience with His Love that would actually bring me to a taste of fullness. With all of my passion I had no true substance to give, only energy. But all of that was about to change 14 years ago in the late fall of 2006.
I was in a closed nation in Asia with a group of 20 others from the USA for a conference. I remember the feeling of exhaustion as my flight arrived at 10:00 PM, and after going through immigration, customs, and such I finally arrived at my hotel at midnight. As I was unpacking my good friend Holy Spirit gently tapped me on the shoulder and asked, "Are you here to preach or to serve?" Of course I knew the answer to that one being a studious student of Scripture. "I'm here to serve, Lord," was my reply, even though in reality my heart was that I was there to preach. Thinking I was off the hook from this kind of questioning I went on finishing unpacking.
5 minutes later, there Holy Spirit was again, tapping me on the shoulder. "Daniel, are you here to preach or are you here to serve?" Knowing if the Lord repeats Himself, He must be serious, I searched my heart. I honestly answered that I was in this place to serve Him, but of course I was completely missing His point. I got into bed at this point.
Now finally settling in, all cozy in my warm bed, about ready to fall asleep when Holy Spirit tapped me on my shoulder yet again.
"Daniel...Hey, Daniel...One more question."
"Are you here to preach or are you here to love?"
"I don't know." I answered, quickly rolling over to fall asleep.
Undeterred, 5 minutes later Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder yet again. In the gentle, yet completely cheeky way that only Holy Spirit is capable of actually asking such a confrontational question, He asked me yet again:
"Daniel are you here to preach or are you here to love."
In reality I had no idea what He was talking about. Partly out of frustration and partly out of exhaustion I gave my last reply for the evening: "I really don't know Lord, but why don't you teach me?" One should be careful what they ask the Lord for.
The next day the entire conference that myself and the others had flown over 7,000 miles over for was cancelled, for absolutely no reason given. A lesson you learn early on in missions is to go with the flow, and if you do, you actually might get a glimpse into what God really wants to do. A few days later, we ended up having an incredible opportunity to minister to women in an elderly home.
I'll never forget that elderly home as long as I am alive. It was more of a hell-hole than a place of rest. The smell of open sewage, the dirt and grime, the cockroaches...
The women we found there were there because either their family couldn't afford to take care of them, or their family didn't want to take care of them, or they had no family to take care of them. No matter what way you want to look at it, these women were here because they were rejected. You could see the hopelessness in their eyes.
We had one interpreter for a group of 20 and because of this we were invited to minister to the eldest resident who was 103, at the time, first. We just spent time loving on her, hugging her, singing to her. We found out later that she had asked Jesus into her heart 11 years before. As we loved on her, tears filled her eyes. When asked why she was crying, she said it was the first time in her life that she physically experienced the love of God. When she said that something gripped my heart. I began to comprehend the magnitude of the question the Lord had asked me a few nights before.
We spread out throughout the elderly home and began to minister, yet the majority of ministry was unspoken, but it was in the language of heaven, the language of love. Tears flowed as we sung and hugged these beautiful souls. For many of these ladies, this was the first time they had experienced the physical love of God. Many of them would not let go when you hugged them because they do not receive much touch or love. I promise you I had to throw out my shirt because it was covered in snot and tears.
As we continued in this ministry, something within my heart changed. There is nothing like it on earth knowing that you are apart of changing a life. Knowing the pleasure of your God towards these wearied hearts, there is nothing that is like it. There is nothing greater that could break you than His great heart of love. I wept much as I experienced His heart. It is here for all to experience! It is here for all to know. His heart is made known to anyone willing to see. He shows us the better way. The way to be true sons. If you want pure religion, love.
In the next months after that experience with actual heartbeat of God, I went through a season where I was being truly consumed with His love. I felt His refining fire burning me. It was a time of refocusing for me. He was creating a new heart in me.
I cried out to Jesus, "Why?! Why did everything have to change?!? Why did I feel so confused, suddenly lacking purpose and vision?!?"
I'll never forget His kind eyes and gentle smile that accompanied His simple answer: "Because I was not your passion. I was not your purpose. I was not your destiny."
If I am absolutely honest, His response wrecked me. I realized at that moment, that my purpose in life was not for the multitudes of souls getting saved. It was not about healing miracles. It was not about visions and revelations. I realized that this was about Jesus. This was about His presence. This was about His love! I realized in that moment that I was nothing. My love, the love that I could muster, it was nothing. It was faulty. It had failed so many people. Oh to see the greatness of His love. To realize my insufficiency was to realize that He is all so sufficient! His grace, His love, it has never failed one. Not ever. I realized that there was a "Greater Love" than what I had experienced, and I knew that I had to walk with it.
Thus began my journey into His love. It's been 14 years of wonder and discovery. It's been 14 years of being immersed in the Gospel of His great love. It's been 14 years of meeting Jesus and really getting to know Him. God is love and He so loved me that He personally came for me. He chose me, accepted me as His beloved, adopted me, and took me home saying to me: "All I have is yours." Knowing the truth has set me free. I am not the same young man that started on this journey.
I didn't start this journey with the intention to become a better preacher. I started it so I could discover Jesus and so that I could learn to look more like Him. It's not enough to have facts, I must know His intimate touch. I must know His voice. I must experience His emotions. I must have an authentic relationship with Him and discover Him. The beautiful thing is He has invited me to His home to have all of this and more!
One of the first things I quickly learned is that true ministry is not pulpit ministry, it is not people falling and shaking, it is not healing and visions, but it is love. I have gotten to the point that I could care less if I preach from a stage another day of my life, as long as I can serve Him by pouring forth His love and causing others to fall in love with Him. To love is the ministry. To love is preaching. To pour out our love on Him because He so deserves it, to experience more of His love for us, and to let it bubble out onto others is the life message.
We are truly successful because the love of God was lavished on the object of His desire. We are the object of His desire. And this is what heaven invading earth looks like. It looks like us knowing Him and the world waking up to know Him.
The truth, the experience, the intimate knowing of this love has compelled me. I'm absolutely not qualified to do what I do, yet He picked me. His love qualified me. And now I go. I've traveled around the world, to slums, red light districts, temples, closed off nations, parliament chambers, alley ways, orphanages, churches, business centers, places where often it is dark and often my life is put on the line to proclaim this great news. As I've gone the result is I've seen countless souls come to know this God of Love through acts of social justice among the world's poorest and preaching the message of the Gospel of Jesus' Great Love with miracles, signs, and wonders.
I don't care what I might suffer in the end (I could die a martyr and I am fine with that), I know I am loved and that is the greatest weapon I yield. There is no amount of hunger; no danger, persecution, nor snares; no kind of supernatural power; nothing in the universe that could separate me from God's great love, nor could they stop the intense flood of that love within me. This love has made me unstopped. I am loved and I live to intimately know this Love and am compelled to share it with you. I live loved which enables me to live love.
Who am I? I am loved by God. I get to be the LOVE preacher.