Surviving the Wilderness

WOW Club WellMichele, Judah and I have just returned from one of the best weeks of ministry we have participated in over the past couple of years.  We spoke at the Pulaski Church of God near Roanoke, VA and then traveled with Austen Owens (our summer intern from Regent University) to the Prepare 2016 Conference in Washington, NC.  This was a great conference where the Lord poured out a fresh anointing on me as the band and I led the Morning Glory worship session.  Words cannot express how joyous and refreshing this session was for me as a fresh anointing fell upon us, launching us into this NEW season that God is opening to us.  We then traveled to Virginia Beach to meet with many of our monthly partners and ministry leaders.  We had around 50 leaders that joined us as the Founders Inn where we shared how God has helped us to survive this wilderness season, but also to share what we believe God is saying as we look ahead to 2017. And finally, we wrapped the week at Kingdom Life Ministries in Chesapeake, VA leading worship for their revival.  What a blessing to lead worship with Jason & Kelli Bare, and Jason & Shelly Ratliff, and especially our son Judah, who joined us on the frontline vocals.  Michele and I are so proud of our son and our spiritual sons and daughters.  We are truly blessed!

As I have shared with you in previous letters, we encountered a wilderness experience that began in June of 2014.  It has been a road that I wish we all could avoid, yet one I believe we all will face at some point in our walk with Christ.  Therefore, I believe that the Lord has called me to be as transparent as possible to share this experience with as many as He leads me to, and to impart seven (7) major keys that helped us to survive this dreaded season.  I believe that our sharing this will be one of the keys for our entering into this NEW season of ministry.

II Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  -KJV

As I read this, I feel as though Paul is speaking directly to the worshiper…the one who stands in worship looking into the glory of the Lord.  As we continue our gaze, God transforms us from Glory TO Glory.  From the Best He has created us to be, TO the Best He is calling us to be.  It is this “TO” that I believe marks a wilderness encounter.  It is the place found between two seasons, and because it exists we must recognize what it is and how to survive it to get to our NEW season.

This month, I would like to give you seven (7) themes that may help you define or recognize the wilderness.  These will be markers or indicators for you as to where you may be as you read this, or they may help you recognize they “WHY” for where you are right now.  Over the next couple of months, I will unpack these 7 keys that helped me survive, and I believe will help you during this season.

I’M LOST!
The first theme often portrays the wilderness as a place of threat, chaos and alienation.   It is barren, and nothing is familiar.  There are no markers or indicators or road map to help you know where you are.  All you know is that you have no idea how you got to this place, but even worse….you do not know where to go from here or how to get out!

I FEEL WITHDRAWN FROM EVERYONE
In the developing Christian tradition, the Wilderness is a place or state of withdrawal from the world to face the reality of God, oneself and one’s neighbor, and to overcome the power of evil.  We recognize this as the place where Jesus withdrew to and was tempted of the devil.  We must be careful with this one though to ensure that God has led us to this place of confrontation with God, and not us simply withdrawing as a result of depression or anxiety.

TRANSITION & CHANGE
The wilderness is a place of Transition and Change.  The children of Israel experienced this during their time in the wilderness.  They were being transformed from slaves to a free people in the Promised Land.  Of course, Jesus began his ministry after his time in the wilderness overcoming Satan, the evil one.  It is the place where one season ends and the next begins.

REVELATION
The wilderness is a place of Revelation.  This is perhaps the most prominent theme.  This is the place where God reveals himself in the burning bush, and through a pillar of fire and a cloud.  Of course Mt. Sinai is the central place in the wilderness revelation.  This is the place where EVERYONE saw, felt and heard the power of God on the mountain.

TESTING & JUDGEMENT
Israel faced judgment after pivotal revelation and rebellion at Mt. Sinai.  The church has always known that the desert is a place of temptation.  We must remember that the enemy will try to isolate you and I to get us to fall prey to temptations.  This can be a very dangerous place as you believe that you have lost everything, so you have nothing else to lose and therefore surrender to the lies and temptations that the enemy places before you.  God’s desire is that we overcome the temptation and walk in the power of HIS might, even when we feel we have no more fight within us at that moment in time.

VICTORIES ARE WON
In the wilderness, we will face conflicts, but great victories are gained.  Just as the Children of Israel encountered hostile enemies in the wilderness, these battles were only successful when they were obedient to the instruction of the Lord’s command.  And that is how you and I will win our great victories….when we are obedient to the instruction of the Lord.

A PLACE CREATED BY GOD
Perhaps the hardest lesson is to realize that the wilderness was created by God, not by Satan.  All things that were created were created by HIM.  Therefore, since it was created by God for a purpose, it is important for us to know how to survive our time in the wilderness.

In the next few months, I will unpack seven keys that God revealed to me during my wilderness encounter.  It is my prayer that God will use what He has shown me to help you where you are in your journey.

I have discovered in my sharing that numerous ministry leaders hit a wall similar to mine in 2014 and encountered this wilderness experience.  Oftentimes, simply knowing that others are going through what you are can provide a healing realizing that you are not alone.

Today, I encourage you keep your eyes continually fixed upon God.  Take one day at a time, and do not allow this wilderness to overcome you and fall by the wayside.  You are on your way From Glory “TO” Glory.  God’s best season for you is waiting on you, just ahead.  Keep pressing on and answer HIS Call upon your life.

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The Journey

Keith Duncan-8

I believe that we flew past Spring and jumped straight into summer. May was a blur, with a massive flurry activity within the Duncan household and His Call Ministries. I was blessed to celebrate my 48th birthday in May, and Judah completed his sophomore year with straight A’s; allowing him to exempt all of his exams, for which he is extremely thankful for. Additionally, he was able to get his driver’s license, and now is skirting about town on his own. (Pray saints pray!)

May was also filled with ministry opportunity every weekend during the month. We kicked the Mother’s Day weekend off by ministering at Campmeeting Ministries in Critz, VA, and then were blessed to speak at Pastor David & Cindy Bryant’s church in Danville as the keynote speaker for Mother’s Day. We then traveled to Maryland to minister and celebrate with Dr. Caretha Crawford at her 5th Year Gala Celebration for In Pursuit of His Presence Ministries. It was a rather spectacular evening giving the Lord praise for all He has accomplished through their ministry efforts. What a wonderful blessing to sow back into the lives and ministries of these our cherished Kingdom Covenant Partners.

We rounded out the last of the month by pulling together another great team of worship leaders, which I have worked with throughout the years, for a special Pentecost Celebration with Cornerstone Television Network in Pittsburgh, PA. God has given us great favor with the President of that great network, and we have several more weeks worth of ministry coming up throughout the rest of this year, as well as several weeks of taping for INSP with David & Barbara Cerullo. This seems to be a great year for television ministry opportunities.

I continue to be amazed at how God opens doors for me to minister to individuals through the Real Estate opportunity. Michele and I have prayed with many of our clients, and God has often given a word for their lives…and they have received it. God has used this season to help us better articulate God’s plan for people’s lives who are not churched and are not familiar with the Church lingo that we often surround ourselves with.

As I reflect not only over the past year of our life and ministry, I can look over the past 23 years or ministry with Michele and realize that with each step of our journey (regardless of whether it made sense at the time or not), God was teaching us a nugget that would add to the sum total of who we are.

Oftentimes, if we are not careful, we will overanalyze every opportunity set before us and can talk ourselves out of an opportunity that God has placed before us; especially if it is one that does not make sense. Unfortunately, when in pursuit of God’s plan and purpose for our lives, we are not allowed the opportunity and luxury of knowing the

“Why” to each door. It merely requires us to listen to the voice of the Lord at each cross road and move according to His direction.

  • What is God Speaking to you today?
  • Is it hard to hear what He is saying?
  • Does it make sense to you, or are you wrestling with it making sense?
  • What is holding you back from moving forward?

Each of these are key questions for you to ponder and consider as you are earnestly seeking for clear direction from the Lord. So, let me give you four things that may assist your journey.

ASK

First, with each opportunity it is important to ask God if this is an opportunity from Him, or a distraction.

Often, the enemy will use something as a mere distraction to prevent you from walking out what He is calling you to. But when you pray and earnestly seek His will, He will give you a green light to keep moving forward.

TRUST

As you move forward, you need to trust that He will direct and guide you. You need to continue walking forward until He illuminates a Red light, and if He does not, keep moving forward. This is part of the Faith walk required by each of us .

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. –Proverbs 3:5

OBEY

Obedience is a tricky one. This is the place where our thoughts and reasoning often interfere with what God has told us to do. This is what happened when King Saul made a sacrifice before going to war because Samuel was delayed in his journey. Saul thought the sacrifice was the ultimate requirement to victory, yet it violated God’s protocol with Samuel the priest making the sacrifice.

Often, we get in a hurry and try to figure things out and “Make It Happen” with our resources, giftings, and skill sets. Yet God still requires us to obey His plans that He has prescribed for our journey.

ENJOY

When you follow each of these steps on your journey, the Lord promises His provision for you. When you ask for His direction, when you step out in faith and Trust Him to guide you, and then when you choose to obey His voice and direction, then He plans for you to enjoy the fullness of that which He has purposed and destined for you.

Sometimes, especially in the Charismatic circles, we feel it is not OK to enjoy a season. We feel guilty, or we feel that we should not feel happiness. If we are not careful, we will waltz right past the blessing and not enjoy the season of rest that He has provided for us.

This state of enjoyment is not our final destination. Rather, it is the place that He provides to us beside the still waters. A season of rest, refreshing and ultimately re- enlistment for the next leg of our journey.

I have learned that life is not about a final destination, but rather of sequence of life events filled with moment along the journey that make us who we are called and purposed to be. The key is sharing those moments with others along our journey to assist with where they may be on their journey.

Michele and I are enjoying a season of rest from the stress and strain of executing our Throne Zone conferences. For 12 years, we have subjected ourselves to the pressure of raising the budget and executing an event with a great level of excellence. It has been very rewarding, yet very draining mentally, emotionally, and so God has allowed us this year a Sabbath rest for which we are very grateful.

In this season we are learning how to better and more effectively reach people with the message of the good news that Jesus brings to us; how He provides hope for individuals, and how He has a plan for their life.

He is exposing us to new technology to better enable us to reach people, better understanding the times and how to effectively reach and impact lives of individuals in this season on planet earth.

Today, I encourage you on your journey. Ask God what He has for you. Ask Him to begin to open and close doors for your life. As He begins to open doors (and close them), Trust that He is in control and take the first step toward that open door. Listen to His voice with every step, and continue moving forward until you get a “Red Light” or a “NO” from God. When He speaks a word to you, be quick to respond with a “YES LORD” and walk with relentless obedience to the voice of God. And finally, ENJOY the seasons of rest. Don’t push past that season, but abide by the still waters as long as He allows you to, knowing that He will soon be opening other doors to you leading you to the next leg of your journey.

Michele, Judah and I love you greatly and thank God that He has brought you into our lives to journey with you during this season of your life and ours. We believe He has great plans and purposes for you, but we also know that it may be a bumpy ride. Let us therefore covenant to encourage each other along the way. Speaking to one another in Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs keeping our eyes focused upon the prize of the High Calling in Christ Jesus.

Identity Theft

Online stealing credit cardAccording to a recent article released by CNN Money, Identity theft tops the list of consumer complaints. Once again, the number one complaint from Americans this year, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s is Identity Theft.

We have all seen the commercials showcasing their products for protection. Perhaps you even know someone whom has been a victim of this crime. The plot is the same. A criminal will get his hands on some of your personal information, and then begins to strip your identity away while creating his new life as you by securing loans and according to this article from CNN Money, even filing bogus tax returns in your name and getting a refund before you even have a chance to file.

As Christians, we understand that this crime has been going on for centuries. The enemy of our soul will lay his hand on some personal information, and then begin to strip away your own identity in an attempt to confuse you and wreak havoc in your own life.

As my late spiritual father Dr. Myles Munroe used to always share, “The greatest tragedy in life is NOT death. It is going through life never knowing your purpose. It is at that moment that you stop being effective in life because you are preoccupied with chasing after the real purpose for your life.” However, we know that the enemy of our soul operates very craftily in his approach and often the attack is not so straight forward.

Yesterday, Michele and Judah had left the house to go to the school to prepare for Judah’s upcoming Spring production of “Mary Poppins”. Michele is working on the sets using her design skills, and Judah had rehearsals. (If you would like to see this amazing production, please inbox us or email us to find out about tickets being sold.)

While they were gone, I went to the piano and started to play. It was nothing really particular, but rather just began to play. Within a few short moments, tears began to flow and the presence of God settled into our dining room which is where we have the piano. I began to sob almost uncontrollably as I had now suddenly revisited a place with God that I had discovered many years ago. Although this place was very familiar, it was also very different. This time, it was filled with many wonderful memories of God’s presence, and at the same time I found myself discovering a new dimension of His presence yet one more time.

In this moment of divine exchange, it was as if my entire world disappeared and it was just me and God. Time stood still, and I simply did not want to move from this sacred place and moment in my life. It was that moment in time that I have often spoken of to others. It was that Throne Zone dimension, but it wasn’t happening in the convention center, nor in a sanctuary, but rather in my dining room. And my only response was a stream of tears that continued to flow down my cheeks onto the very keys of my piano.

It was during this encounter that God began to show me that I had become a victim of Identity Theft. I began to question, “but Lord, how can this be?” And as only the Lord can do, he began to roll a series of videos across my mind.

For 17 years, Michele and I served in the local church as Worship & Fine Arts pastors. For the past 12 years, we have served as the directors of His Call Ministries hosting our flagship ministry event, The Throne Zone. We have watched countless lives being transformed, church worship programs revolutionized, and young worship leaders mentored and placed on staff at a church or even helped to facilitate the birth of their own individual ministries.

Unknowingly, I had allowed what I “DID” to become my identity. Yet in this Kairos moment, the Lord reminded me very clearly that is NOT who I “AM”. These wonderful ministry results are merely what I “DO”. These are two very different things.

Why is this such a powerful revelation for you and me?

Often, we encounter road blocks with our jobs, our lives, or even our ministries. When we encounter something that prevents us from “DOING”, we travel the gamut of emotions from disappointment, to discouragement, to a cycle of questions that leave us in a turmoil of frustration or guilt. Without allowing the Holy Spirit the opportunity of healing us, or reminding us of who we are in HIM, we can then lose our identity and believe the lies of the enemy.

As I sat at the piano and transcribed this information from the Lord into my journal, I began hearing the father remind me that who I am is a Child of the most high God. I am one who uses my giftings not to lead others into the presence of the Lord; but my chief goal in life is to release that worship unto God. Just me and Him in the quiet place. I am thankful for all that we have DONE….but today I look forward to what we will do in even greater dimensions and capacities. Yet the fact remains, all of that is a direct result of who I AM while BEING with the Father.

Today, I want to encourage you to not allow Satan to steal your identity. I know that sounds cliché and superficial; yet for me this has been very revelatory. Let us not allow what we DO to define us. We must be deliberate in our BEING with the Father, and realize that our “DO” will be an overflow of our “BEING” in His presence.

If what I am sharing confirms what you are going through, please realize you are not going through it by yourself. There are countless leaders and pastors that have been sharing in this same scenario simply because we have focused on DOING more in the Kingdom for God, and we have sacrificed our time simply BEING with God.

Identity Theft!

If you feel as though I am sharing where you are at this moment in your life, please reach out to me through Facebook, the phone, text or email. I would love to chat with you and pray with you. You must know you are NOT FINISHED, you are simply in a season of REST. A time for God to pour forth His healing balm into your spirit; a time of refreshing and renewal. You work is NOT FINISHED, you are just getting started.

Know who you are in Christ!
Know whose you are through Christ!
You are NOT defined by what you DO.
In your time spent BEING with God, you will be restored & refreshed.
Your DOING will be a direct overflow of your BEING with the Lord.

Michele, Judah and I continue to pray for the Lord to reveal what He has for you and us in this new season of our lives. One thing that we know for certain is that we are His, created in His image to do His work and show forth His glory! That is who we are, not what we do!