During our monthly house church this last Sunday, I was pondering the power of yeast. Ryan was sharing out of Mark 8 where Jesus warned his disciples about the yeast, or leaven, of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod. Basically, a small amount of yeast can leaven an entire loaf of bread, just a touch can infect a much larger matter.

The yeast of Herod is that violent, overpowering political influence. You ever notice how someone will read one little online article or hear one thing in the news (that may or may not be accurate) and receive it into their psyche. All of a sudden they’re on a warpath with their political cause of choice and are taking out anyone and everyone that stands in their path? That’s the yeast of Herod. A small influence that has absolutely taken someone over and is now negatively affecting them and others around them. The political yeast of Herod doesn’t line up with one particular ideology either, those on the left and the right, however liberal or conservative, often allow this yeast in their lives.

The yeast of the pharisees is the overbearing, self-righteous religious influence. Jesus came into conflict with the religious elite more than any other group during his ministry. They used religion as means of oppressing others and maintaining their own status in society. For them, it wasn’t about honoring and loving God through His own directives in the Torah, it was about keeping their thumb on everyone else. In recent weeks, we’ve heard controversies from famous pastors that have established a level of control and influence, yet have clearly strayed from God’s word about truth, love and humility. You can be sure that the yeast of the Pharisees has had something to do with that.

As these things were running through my head concerning Jesus’ warning in Mark 8, I couldn’t help but think about Jesus words in Matthew 13:33 where He says that the Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast which a woman takes and hides in the meal until the whole thing becomes leavened.

So yeast isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Small things can make a big difference a lot of the time. We open ourselves to all sorts of yeast in our lives, those small influences that change the entire meal for us. We often have our passions become a bit misdirected because of this. It doesn’t have to be the political tirades or the religious power plays (though it often is). It can be the things that are good, but have taken precedence over the real important things, or over the most important thing.

Get the good yeast going in your life. The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast, just a small amount can profoundly change your entire life. Once your life is changed by the Kingdom of Heaven, there’s no telling the amount of good that’s going to flow through you from God.

Our ministry is on the precipice of expansion. We have five kids right now, but after we return from our upcoming baby furlough we’ll be adding more children into families. Melissa and I were discussing how that’s going to play out and I’d love for it to spread like wildfire if we can handle it, but if we just add one or two kids up front, I’m totally good with that. The reason is because one is a lot of people to receive the Kingdom of God. God does a whole lot through one person that is received by Him.

Just that small amount of one child among three million others in Tanzania, has the potential to do an immeasurable amount of good by the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s the kind of yeast, however small, I want to be influencing that child, that family and this nation.

What’s influencing you? What kind of yeast are you allowing in your life? The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast, just a small amount will take over everything.

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the problem with religion and the reality of the angelic

You ever meet those people that you can tell they spend time a lot of time with the Lord? Like they’re really in love, they really pursue Him and just want to spend time with Him. They take whatever moment they can during the day to steal away and spend a few minutes talking with Him. You get around them and smell His fragrance on them. When they talk about Him, its as though they had just had coffee with Him that morning. I want to be like that.

My problem is religion. Lord help me, I get caught up. I know its wrong, its suffocating to my mind and toxic to my spirit. I recall previous times in my life where I would just spend so much time with the Lord, reading His word, praying, sitting silently, thinking freely and allowing Him to speak. I then say to myself, “yeah, I want that again.” So I set up a time and begrudgingly flip through the word and space out in prayer or fall back on rote repetitions. My heart isn’t where it ought to be.

Yesterday I was feeling a bit anxious throughout the day, for no real given reason. My soul was churning within me. It felt as though my skin was just one size too big and my very being was squirming within my existence. I had allowed my religiousness, including its facets of self-righteous cynicism and empty routine, to bind my spirit and soul. I had to get out of the house so I went for a walk around my in-laws property. My soul was longing to connect with the Creator, as deep cries out to deep.

Night was falling and I walked out of the house as my anxiety persisted. As I headed down the hill towards their flower nursery, I prayed. My spirit sought the Lord in tongues my mind doesn’t understand. I eventually reached the top of a hill that overlooked the nearby highway as well as much of the property. Awake my soul, Lord. I jumped up and down, cringed and confessed. Bring freedom, Jesus. I raised my hands and my voice. Help me, Spirit. I got distracted and had to re-focus. Deliver me, Father.

And then I got quiet.

Head bowed, hands in pocket. I suddenly become very aware of my own heartbeat, pounding in my chest. My mouth begins to water as though I were preparing to vomit. I feel an angelic presence behind me to the left. In the spirit, I sense him place his hand on my shoulder and pray for me. God cares for me, He walks with me and protects me. There is an angelic assignment for my life. Its not fairy tale, its not a children’s story, its not only biblical, its beyond that, its real, right here and now in my life. I raise my hands to receive from the Spirit that which He purposed for me in this time.

Just as I felt the pressure of the gray and all the different ways to look at all the facets of my problems, then critique them and in so doing, debilitate myself from healing, so God my Rescuer went after each different problem.

My cynicism is useless. It misses the point. The problem is sin and bondage in the spirit (Ephesians 6:12). All that physical stuff that I see and critique are only manifestations of the problem in the spirit.

I think God wants to use me in one way, but He wants to use me in many.

Don’t strive to produce or be a certain person, only abide in Christ.

May the Spirit of God stir in me that desire to sit with Him, abide in Him, allow Him to use me how He wants to. Lord, save me from the bondage of self-righteousness and empty religion. May I walk in the light of Your Word and the life of Your Spirit.