Spirit (3)

It's What's Under the Hood That Counts

My 2011 Hyundai Sonata looks exactly the same as it did a month ago. On the surface it’s the same 100,000-mile car as it was then.

Yet here’s the strange story of why my car is worth more now than it was several weeks ago…

I got a big surprise when I took my Sonata to the dealer for some routine recalls. “You need a new engine!” the service rep told me, to my shock.

In the seconds that followed, I groaned at the thought of having to pay around $7,000 for a new engine.

But then came the amazingly good news: “The new engine is at our expense, with absolutely no charge to you,” they assured me.

As one more fortunate outcome, they said it would take about a month to get the new engine to the dealership. In the meantime, I got to drive a free, brand-new Toyota Camry from Hertz. And this was great timing, since I was about to embark on a weeklong ministry trip in Ohio.

When I got my car back, I found myself looking for the spiritual lessons in this story…

My Sonata is still a 2011 model, five years old. The body still has 100,000 miles of wear and tear, but overall is in pretty good shape. With a new engine, the car can be expected to run at least 100,000 miles more, probably a lot farther than that.

I think there are some parallels between my Sonata and the contrast between our outer body and our inner spirit, which is the “engine” or driving force of our lives. Although people tend to dwell on outward appearances, it’s really what’s “under the hood” that counts (1 Samuel 16:7).

The apostle Paul contrasted the aging of our bodies with the renewal of our spirits: “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV). In other words, even though we may not be able to keep our body from aging, God can renew our spirit and give us a new “engine” on the inside.

We’ve all met elderly people who are full of youthful joy and vitality on the inside. But there also are many people who have allowed their internal “engine” to age prematurely. Even though their body is still relatively young, they have lost their joy, their creativity, and their zest for life.

Are you a candidate for new engine—a new heart and spirit? If so, God offers a stunning “recall” you should take advantage of: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26 NIV).

That’s an offer too good to pass up, don’t you think? But as with my Hyundai Sonata, the new engine is only offered by the manufacturer. The One who made you in the first place is the One who now offers to renew you (Psalm 51:10-12).

And all you have to do is ask.

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In connection with The Discipleship Network, Disciple Nations International is offering one free chapter from our book, “Journey into the Spirit Empowered LifeA Guide for Personal, Family & Community Transformation”.  This book offers a very practical guide for experiencing God’s Presence transform our personal lives, marriages, families and out into our spheres of influence.   Below we give you a free preview of Chapter 10 entitled, "Fruit of a Spirit-Empowered Lifestyle - Evangelism, Discipleship & Love."

Book Description:

Jesus stated that whoever believes in Him would do even greater works than He did because He was going to the Father (John 14:12). With such solid promises from God Himself, why is it that so many sincere Christ-followers feel confined to a life of spiritual mediocrity? How is it that those who have the Spirit of God living in them are failing to live in victory over sin? Why is there so much lack of love and unity among those called to represent God’s life to the world?

Journey into the Spirit Empowered Life is a book that transcends culture, and taps into the deepest desires that God has placed in the human soul. This book addresses some of the hard questions that many Christ-followers have in their hearts but have not found answers to. Through the pages of this book we will seek to break the status quo and enter into a new reality with God that will transform every aspect of our lives.

Endorsements we have received:

"Transformation" and "revival" have become a part of everyday conversation for those who consider themselves as followers of Jesus.  However, very few of us are proactively growing in the kind of lifestyle that reflects the image of our Lord. Chris Vennetti provides a clear road map to anyone desiring authentic personal revival that will lead to family, community and national transformation.  I highly recommend Journey into the Spirit Empowered Life for such a time as this and to such a person as YOU!

Dai Sup Han, Founder/National Facilitator, Prayer Surge NOW!, Serving with Youth With A Mission

"Journey into the Spirit Empowered Life will help you discover and cultivate a lifestyle that is totally surrendered to Christ and walks daily in the power of the Holy Spirit."

Dr. Dick Eastman, International President, Every Home for Christ International

Chris has written a gracious but needed challenge; a call to the radical lifestyle we cannot ignore as we read the scriptures. He has summarized this journey well:

A truly Spirit-Empowered person is someone with a lifestyle that is radically consecrated to Jesus Christ, and who has learned to live in a place of wholehearted faith in the character, will and ways of God.

May the Lord use this teaching to transform our view of the Christian life, expand our vision of authentic discipleship, and drive us back to scripture in a way that results in Spirit-led, scripture-fed expressions of God's love in and through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Phil Miglioratti, National Pastors' Prayer Network

Chapter 10

Fruit of a Spirit-Empowered Lifestyle

Evangelism, Discipleship & Love


When we are still bound by our flesh, the world, and the enemy it is difficult to even begin to help others.  We lack real authority to call them to be free when we are still living in bondage.  As God’s Spirit sets us free we are simultaneously released to be used of God to assist others.  As we look at the sphere of influence that God has entrusted to us it is helpful to be equipped in three key areas: Evangelism, Discipleship & Love.


A Spirit-Empowered Lifestyle Prepares Us for Effective Evangelism


Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.    2 Timothy 4:2


But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.        1 Peter 3:15-16 (NIV)

While not everyone is called to be an evangelist, as Peter mentions here, we are all called to “be prepared to give an answer” to those who ask us about the hope that we have.  Paul speaks of a fearless readiness, to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ in every situation at any time (Eph 6:19-20).  This lifestyle of evangelism is more than simply going on a specific outreach to declare Christ to those who do not know Him, but it speaks of a faith that flourishes in every situation from morning until night.  We may share Jesus through our words, as well as through our service.   When we are living in victory in our personal lives, we are positioned to be effective witnesses for the Kingdom of God.  We should experience a desire to seek opportunities to share the reason for the hope that we have in Jesus.    

Living in this way, keeps us from becoming apathetic in our faith, and encourages us to walk in a vibrant intimacy with God that is attractive to those He brings into our lives.  We should always look to make the most of every opportunity.  Whether that be in the area where we live, a business, a school, while we walk along the way, or whether we are among family and friends at home.


Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.   Ephesians 6:19-20 (NIV)


He who is wise wins souls.    Proverbs 11:30


Are we regularly winning souls into the Kingdom of God?  Do we live in the awareness that if the souls of those around us do not come to know Jesus Christ that they will spend an eternity in hell?  What level of urgency do we have towards the lost?  When was the last time we tapped deeply into the heart of God which “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”?


Practical Instructions for a Lifestyle of Effective Evangelism:

-         Consider asking God’s Spirit to give you at least 5-10 names of unsaved family, friends and acquaintances that you can be regularly praying for their salvation.  Write these names down and keep them in your Bible or in a place where you will regularly see them.  Pray for them as regularly as God’s Spirit leads you to.


-         Daily make yourself available to be used of the Holy Spirit by letting Him know each day that you are willing to be used of Him to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others.  As you make yourself available to Him, He will make the opportunity for you to share His message.  If you pray this way regularly, you will find amazing doors begin to open to share your faith.


-         Consider recording answers to prayer.  These big and small victories will serve as an encouragement to keep believing God to use your life as a vessel of His Good News.


A Spirit-Empowered Lifestyle Prepares Us for Effective Discipleship


And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”     Matthew 28:18-20


Jesus did not simply ask us to make converts but to make disciples.  Jesus told us that the way we are to disciple an individual, our family, and our sphere of influence is a process of teaching them “to observe all that I commanded you”.  It is difficult to teach others to observe all that Jesus has commanded us when we ourselves are not yet surrendered to this lifestyle. 


When the Holy Spirit begins to bring us through to the reality of a full surrender to His will and ways, we are being prepared to become an instructor of others.  As we seek to encourage those around us in a lifestyle of radical abandonment to Jesus, we can take courage from His final statement in Matthew 28 where He promised to be with us “always, even to the end of the age”.     


Do not be surprised if your discipleship of others does not look glamorous in the eyes of the world or even the religious system.  The religious system of our day often displays a hyped up image of what successful ministry looks.  Sadly, this image of being a success in the eyes of other people is often in direct contradiction to the ways of God. 


Jesus modeled for us what a life of discipleship looked like.  With a massive vision to disciple every nation; He made a very interesting decision to invest the majority of His earthy life in just 12 men.  He lived in close relationship with them and taught them His commandments, both through His Words, but most importantly through His Life.  In this lifestyle of discipleship, Jesus laid the foundation for His Church.   


The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.         Philippians 4:9


Paul shared about the need for mentoring and modeling a Spirit-Empowered lifestyle in close relationship with others.  This same pattern of discipleship is just as essential today, if we are going to see Christ’s Kingdom established on earth as it is in heaven.  The discipleship of our families ought to be our first priority (1 Tim. 3:1-2, 12, Titus 1:6-7).  Then we are in a position to disciple every other facet of the sphere of influence that God has entrusted to us. 


Practical Instructions for a Lifestyle of Effective Discipleship:

-         Ask God’s Spirit for His wisdom and timing as to whether He believes you are equipped to begin to step out and disciple others.  If our own lives are still in a position of compromise, we would be wise to wait and allow God to disciple us first before we launch out and start seeking to lead others.


-         As your life is consecrated and living a Spirit-Empowered lifestyle, begin to ask God how He would have you pour your life into others.


-         Trust God to reveal those He wants you to connect with in this way.  Learn to allow His Spirit to disciple others through you.  This is not a matter of attempting to disciple others in your own strength.  It is learning to trust Him to disciple others through you.


The Ultimate Goal – A Lifestyle of Unconditional Love


The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  1 John 4:8


While there are many fruits of the Spirit, the scriptures are clear that none compare to love.  Unconditional or “agape” love has no parallel.  This type of love is the greatest measure of our depth of connection with God.  God has revealed His loving character to us, and if we desire to properly represent Him to the world, we must tap deeply into His love for us and for others.    


But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:13


“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”       Matthew 22:36-40


The Spirit-Empowered Life is a life of faith, of hope, and of love, but the greatest indication of being indwelt with the Holy Spirit is our level of love.  It is clear that Jesus intended for love to be the primary distinctive that caused the people of God to stand out above every other people on the earth.  It was by our love for God and our love for others that Kingdoms would be conquered and nations discipled.  Our love for God was to be far superior to our love for any other earthly thing.


The Gospel calls us to die to ourselves, and live for Christ’s purposes.  In order to live for His purposes and properly represent Him as His ambassadors we must allow His standard of Love to become our standard of love.  We must allow the Spirit of God to remove any root of bitterness that may be there from our past.  We must forgive as Christ has forgiven us, and daily ask the Holy Spirit to take us deeper in our understanding of His love for us, and of His love for all men.


(Jesus speaking) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”     John 13:34-35


We do not need to look any further than the lack of love in the church in order to see our grievous disconnection from The Vine.  God is Love.  Whenever an individual lacks love this points to their lack of relationship with the source of all Love. 


We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).  But what if we have not allowed God to love us?  What if we have rejected His love?  Then it should be no surprise that many non-believers lack love.  They have not received God’s love for them therefore they have no sacrificial love to give to others. 


But what about those who claim to follow Christ and yet lack love?  What about the many believers who are easily irritated, frustrated, and lack love on a daily basis?  Could it be that we too have failed to receive God’s Love for us? 


Do everything in love.    1 Cor. 16:14 (NIV)


The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.   Gal. 5:6 (NIV)


When was the last time that you allowed God to reveal to you just how much He loves you?


Why don’t you take some time right now and stop whatever you are doing and allow the Spirit of God to show you just how much He loves you?  Will you let Him do this for you now?


Prayer time: God I ask that You would reveal the love that You have for me.  (Take time to wait on Him.)


I hope that you took the time to allow God to saturate you in His Love for you.  This is the most important thing in all of life.  God is Love.  We can only love others when we have a revelation of His love for us.  Love is the most powerful witness to the reality of God.  Therefore, allowing God to love us must become top priority in our lives.


From this place of love, we have the Life of God necessary to impact every circumstance no matter how difficult.  Love covers over a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).  Love breaths new life into places that were dead.  A vast throng in heaven can testify that it was the love of another believer that won their heart over to Jesus. 


“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”       Matthew 5:43-45



In this passage, it is not just any type of love that is being asked for, but Jesus says that we are to have agape love for our enemies.  We are to have unconditional love for those who hate us and we are to do good for them.  Why?  Because God Himself passionately loves those who are His enemies and He expects us to have the same love that He has for those around us.


And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.                                 1 John 3:23


In the Middle East it is love that triumphs and causes hearts to turn to Christ.  In Communist countries, it is love that shines like a bright beacon testifying to the reality of Jesus.  In a cold and hardened individualistic culture in the western nations it is love that cuts through the ice and rescues souls from eternal darkness to eternal light.  Don’t underestimate the power of love.  It is love that compelled God the Father to willingly allow His Son to be killed in our place (John 3:16).  It is love that motivated Jesus to willingly lay down His life for humanity.  It is love that will bring about the exaltation of Jesus Christ in the nations of the earth. 


If we realize that love is the most powerful spiritual weapon, the most effective means of evangelism and discipleship, the most needed and rare resource on the earth, then we would ask ourselves the question: “How do I increase the level of love that I am living in?”


The answer to this question is quite simple.  Enter more deeply into the One and Only Person who is Love.  Unlike our desire for other spiritual gifts, such as the desire for miracle working power, or a deeper understanding of future events, there are sources of darkness and sources of light.  But real, genuine, self-sacrificing, and unconditional love has only One Source. 


If we wish to lay hold of more of the most precious commodity on earth, then we must abandon ourselves more completely to Jesus.  We must allow His Life to so infill us, that it is no longer us living, but Him Living through us.  We must allow Him to love us completely, and allow Him to remove the areas of our lives that are lived in contradiction to His Spirit, so that we are clean and pure vessels.  As His Love consumes us, and as we find ourselves willingly melting into Him, our lives will appear as a blazing inferno of love to show the nations that Jesus Christ is alive.


Will you begin to allow His Great Love to consume you?  Will you allow Him to fill you with a deeper revelation of His Love for you?  Start now and don’t stop until He takes you home to be with Him forever.




Can you envision this lifestyle of evangelism, discipleship and love, flowing from your personal life into your marriage / parenting?  How about your workplace?  What about an entire congregation that begins to embrace this lifestyle?  What if the Body of Christ in a community or city began to be equipped and sent out to bear this type of good fruit everywhere they went?  Could we not see entire cities and nations turned upside down?  Let’s allow God to work this good fruit in our lives so that we can begin to share this with others.


Discussion Questions:

  • Do you presently live as though the only reason you are here on earth is to give glory to God?  If not, what are some of the common ways that you have been pulled away from living for God’s purposes?



  • In what way have you experienced God’s Spirit winning lost souls to Christ through your life?
  • How do you believe God’s Spirit wants to win even more souls to Himself through you in the days ahead?



  • In what way have you experienced God’s Spirit discipling others in the will and ways of Jesus Christ through your life?
  • How do you believe God’s Spirit wants to disciple others even more effectively through you in the future?



  • In what way have you experienced God’s Spirit loving others through you?  Do you see yourself consistently living in the level of love that Jesus loves?  If not, what makes it difficult for you to love others as Jesus loves them?   
  • How do you believe God’s Spirit wants to love others at an even deeper level through your life in the future?


Action Step:

Take time to ask God how He would have you begin to be even more fruitful as it relates to evangelism, discipleship, and love.  Write down any immediate action steps that He asks you to take and through prayer and obedience put them into practice.





Love for others________________________________________



Prayer Focus:


Father God, I need You.  It is clear that apart from You that I cannot help others to know You more.  You have promised me in Your Word that if I would remain in You that I would bear much for fruit for Your glory.  I ask that You would show me how to let my light shine more brightly so that those around me will come to know You.  I ask that you would teach me Your ways of discipling others so that you can use me to mature other believers.  I believe You to continue to reveal Your great love for me so that I will have an abundance of love to give to others.  I ask that You would give me a greater understanding of Your love for those around me.  (Continue to pray as God’s Spirit leads you.)


You can view the opening portion of the book free of charge on Amazon by clicking here (and then click the "Look Inside" link)  The book is available both as a paperback and in a Kindle Edition.

Contact us if you have any questions and/or if you are interested in sharing this lifestyle in your location.  We host pastors "Vision Conferences" as well as weekend conferences that are open to the general public related to this topic.  Contact: office@dninternational.org or visit us on the web at www.dninternational.org

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A Teachable Spirit

“I don’t understand why I have to learn this stuff!”  If you haven’t heard your kids say this yet, just wait, school only started yesterday.  I was one of those kids.  I just didn’t care much for school.  I was too busy playing baseball, tennis and blowing up green army men with firecrackers.  School was not a highlight for me growing up.  Of course my lack of desire for learning spilled over into my spiritual life as well.  The Bible seemed boring and irrelevant as did most of church and Sunday school.

However, that all started to change after I became a Christian.  It was during high school that I heard the gospel in a very clear way and felt in my heart that I needed Christ and needed to follow Him.  God started working on my heart and changing my lack of desire to learn and study.  Now, I am not saying I didn’t struggle with school.  I struggled all the way through college and really didn’t catch on to the academic study thing until seminary.  Probably because it was then that I felt God calling me into ministry and I had a purpose to study.  But I will say that my desires to study my Bible, go to church and Sunday school, get involved in a weekly Bible study really did change quickly in high school.  I got involved in all those things and started trying to reach out to my friends as well.  To illustrate my point, I actually took notes during the sermons while I was in high school.

Since then I have always felt a strong desire to learn and study God’s Word.  I guess that’s a good thing since I’m a pastor.  But seriously, my prayer for everyone is that they have a “teachable spirit” towards the things of God.  Have you ever heard someone say (or maybe you said it yourself), “I’ve heard this Bible story before.”  The tone with a bit of pride in it that says, “I already know what this passage is about and it’s really doubtful that I’m going to learn anything new here.”   I know I’m guilty of saying it.  But is that the attitude we should have toward the Scriptures, even if we have heard the story a million times before?  God’s Word is living and active, it will always have something new to teach us.  We will never, ever be able to exhaust the riches of God’s grace in the Bible.  That is, if we approach the Bible with a teachable spirit that says with the Psalmist,


“Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. 34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. 35 Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. 36 Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! 37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”                                                                Psalm 119:33-37


There are numerous ways to allow God’s Word to impact your heart and life.  Study and meditate daily on God’s Word, be at church every week and take notes on the sermon, be committed to a Faith & Life class (while your kids and in Sunday school), get involved in a weekly Bible study and Community Group, get involved in the men’s and women’s ministries, listen to a message on your way to work.  I encourage you to do all of the above.  Immerse yourself in learning the things of God and what it means to follow Christ.


What have I been learning lately?  Well, I have been thinking about Philippians 4:6-7 which says,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


I memorized this verse in high school so you would think that I know all there is to know about it by now.  But recently this passage has given me profound comfort during times when I am anxious.  I have been able to meditate on it, pick it apart, listen to each word and understand it in a deeper way that I have never seen in it before. 


Lord, give me a teachable spirit that I may soak in your Word each day, allowing it to wash me with its grace, mold my heart and give me the courage to live it out among the world around me.


All for Jesus,


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