Written by: Joey White, Church Planting Pastor of StoneWater Church
Chapter 16: The Secret Place: Where You Prepare for the Battle
Big Idea: You can build a special place where you spiritually dwell with Jesus so He can teach you His ways.
Can you picture a time in the future where Christians all over the world are hunted down, locked up, and go into hiding? Christians are actually being persecuted and martyred in parts of the world right now. It’s not too far-fetched to imagine that scenario happening in the USA if we don’t see a big revival. What would you do if you have no church, no access to a Bible, or even locked up in prison? How would you grow spiritually?
The answer is: You would go to a secret place with just you and Jesus! In that special place with Jesus, the Holy Spirit would remind you of everything Jesus has already taught you. You would sing songs of worship there. You would quote Scripture. You would ask Jesus how to respond to your prison guards, how to persevere during the suffering, and how to live out the fruit of the Spirit for the other prisoners to see.
If that’s what we would do during imprisonment, why not live that way now? What does the Bible say about this secret place with Jesus that we can build right now for the battles ahead?
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” 3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. 4 He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. 5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, 6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Psalm 91:1-7 (NKJV)
You can dwell in the secret place with the Most High. You can take refuge in Him. You can trust Him. God can deliver you. You don’t have to live in fear during the day or night because He is with you. You don’t have to worry about death because you have been given eternal life. What other promises are given to us as we dwell in this secret place with Jesus our God!
Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, 10 No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; 11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. 12 In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. 13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. 14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. 15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.” Psalm 91:8-16 (NKJV)
Because you dwell with Jesus and have set your love upon Him, He will deliver you and set you on high. You will be able to speak to Jesus and He will answer you. Even if you find yourself in prison, hospital bed, or a hangman’s noose, Jesus will be with you in trouble. He will deliver you in this life or for all eternity, and he will honor you. You will be satisfied with Jesus all your life on earth and throughout all eternity because you have experienced salvation in Jesus.
You have an earthly dwelling. I am asking you to build a spiritual dwelling place with Jesus that you can go at any moment, anywhere in the world, and no one will be able to stop you. Here are the blueprints:
The Blueprints to Your Secret Place with Jesus
1. It all begins with a relationship with Jesus. Give Him control of your life as Savior and Lord.
2. Construct a dwelling place with Jesus that is your refuge. It is a place for you to escape this sinful world with all its problems. This is a spiritual place. It’s not a physical place that you can touch or visit. You may have actually been to this place on earth, but you must be able to immediately go to your secret dwelling place with Jesus at any moment. You should be able to close your eyes, and you are instantly there with Jesus.
3. The goal of life is for you to have a relationship with God and one another. Your favorite places are where you meet with your friends and family. Now it’s time for you to have a spiritual place to meet with the spiritual person of Jesus. What do you think people do in their prayer closets? They meet with Jesus. Go meet with Jesus in a place that is special to you and Him. No one can ever take this place away from you. You can go there anytime.
4. Don’t be weird! I know it may seem weird, but don’t make it weird. It only becomes weird when you tell other people about it. So, don’t tell them. Just go meet with Jesus and keep it private (a secret place).
My Secret Place with Jesus:
I have never described to anyone (not even my wife) about my secret place with the Lord, but I think it is important to tell you. You really need this weapon. You need this place more than you think. Jesus has so much to personally and privately tell you.
I quiet my mind. I normally close my eyes, and I see myself there. Normally it’s dark. (I like the darkness, and I am not afraid.) Lightning is often flashing all around, and it’s completely peaceful, and I am at rest. Jesus is there. I speak with Him. (People call it prayer, but I call it a conversation with Jesus.) I complain to Jesus. I share my fears, my hurts, and doubts. I ask Him to show me what to do in specific situations. I ask Him how to respond to people. I forgive people there. I cry. I rejoice. I laugh. I ask Him to heal people. Save certain people. I can quickly go there, and I can quickly leave. I don’t go there every day. I sometimes go weeks without being there. I am sometimes afraid to be with Jesus there because He expects a lot, and I would rather be lazy and ignorant of the plans that He has for me because I am selfish. All the major decisions in my life over the last 10 years have been made in this place with Jesus. I typically tell Jesus “No” when He asks me to do something hard or that has never been done. Eventually, I say “Yes.” I don’t ever feel condemned or ashamed. I get convicted of things in my life. I give over areas of my life to Jesus. He exposes my sin and wrong motives. I talk. I listen. I sometimes just sit with Jesus and look at a sunset or my kids playing in an old memory. I think of Jesus as a Savior, Teacher, and Friend. When I see Jesus for the first time in heaven, I hope I am not surprised because we have met so many times before on earth.
Is Building a Secret Place Biblical or Just an Active Imagination?
The Apostle John was exiled to an island called Patmos because of His testimony of Jesus. How would you describe where John was physically and spiritually in this passage?
I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” Revelation 1:9-11 (NKJV)
I believe John was with Jesus spiritually (and physically). I would describe this as John’s secret place with Jesus. He was an exiled prisoner from society but not from Jesus. If one of the greatest fathers of our faith was with Jesus spiritually, we need to be as well. Jesus showed up and gave John his battle instructions for the seven churches in Asia. It’s time for you to build a special place where you spiritually dwell with Jesus so He can teach you His ways. What is stopping you? Go for it. Jesus is waiting to meet with you.
Questions for Reflection:
1. How would you describe what it practically means to have a relationship with Jesus?
2. What are some truths that stand out to you from Psalm 91?
3. Do you think you will have a secret place with Jesus? What fears do you have about it?
Chapter 17: Your Battle Buddies
Big Idea: God will use His people to help you accomplish greater things.
My family and I were in Israel five years ago. My son, Corban, was baptized near the place where the disciples hauled in a huge miraculous catch of fish in the Sea of Galilee. It was on that trip that God started planting an idea in my mind of purchasing a home in Israel that StoneWater could use as a place of ministry. More than a year went by, but I continued to privately tell my wife all the ways we could use a home in Israel to change people’s lives. We finally made the decision to tell other people about this vision that God had given us. I am not sure why we were surprised, but the very first group we shared it with God showed up in a big way. Some of our friends who attended StoneWater during our days at the movie theater took us to dinner. We shared in greater detail how a home in Israel would benefit our people and the people in Israel. The next week, we received a check made out to StoneWater Church for $150,000, and it was designated to our Israel Ministry Center. On September 15, 2022 StoneWater Church received the most incredible home at the Sea of Galilee. It has 8 bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms, and has the most incredible view of the lake from the 3rd story balcony. We have a partnership with the owners of this home so that StoneWater Church can use their home as a place of ministry. I cannot wait for you to be in Israel to see our church’s Israel Ministry Center Home.
Many people gave to our Israel Ministry Center. Each one of them was a huge encouragement. They all continue to propel us to keep sharing the vision and praying for God to do something miraculous. They did, and God did. Everyone wins. The owners of the home in Israel have blessed us, and we are blessing them. God is so good!
God uses His people to help us accomplish greater things than we could ever do on our own. Who has God used in your life? Here are three life lessons that I hope you will add to the weapons that God has given you. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is His people.
1. God’s people will spur you on to greater things.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24 (NIV)
Both of my grandfathers were farmers and ranchers. They raised cattle and farmed peanuts and grain. Pa Beck had a horse named Goldie. She was a huge Palomino horse (mainly huge to me because I was about 5 years old). She was super gentle, and I never saw Pa ride her with spurs. I have always thought spurs were for disobedient and hard-headed horses, but real horse people might tell us differently. When I think of “spurring one another on toward love and good deeds,” I think of hard-headed people needing a good pop to straighten up or to giddy up and go. We all need people in our lives who will give us a hug when we need to be comforted or a kick in the pants when we need to get going or stop going the wrong way.
God uses His people in our lives to get us on the right track. Think back to how God has used people like that throughout your life. Praise God for dads, grandmas, best friends, and coaches. God used those people and many more to spur us on to greater things and stop us from doing the wrong things. Who is doing that in your life now? Who are you spurring on?
2. God’s people will sharpen you so you can be more effective.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 (NASB)
When my boys graduated high school, I gave them a special gift. Every man needs a knife. The best knives are the ones that are made by a professional who forges them in fire. We have some super talented men in our church that have their own forges. These guys take a rugged piece of metal and turn it into a beautiful masterpiece. Sparks are flying. Molten hot metal is beaten into submission and forms into an incredible work of art and tool. These guys are taking something dull and safe and forging into something sharp and dangerous. What about you? Are you dull and safe? Or are you sharp and dangerous in the hands of God? God wants to forge you into someone who is a danger to the kingdom of Darkness. He wants to move you from being dull and not useful to someone who can cut through the lies of deception and know the truth. God uses people to sharpen you so you can be more effective in His Kingdom. Who is sharpening you? Who are you sharpening?
3. God’s people will speak truth in your life and expose lies you have believed.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:14-15 (NIV)
I can’t help it. I sit there and try to mind my own business. I tell myself, “Don’t do it! Just let it go.” I have done this many times through the years, and I know that it will be awkward for everyone in the room, but if I don’t say something, no one will. They continue to speak lies to the small or large group I am in, and I finally blurt out, “That’s not true!” Everything goes quiet. The pin drops, and everyone hears it loud and clear. The stunned look on the person’s face says it all. It’s like they say, “How dare you! Who do you think you are? What a jerk.” Before I know it, I am telling them why what they are saying is a lie from the pit of hell and what the Bible says about it. I try to do it out of love, but it normally just comes across as mean because most people are not used to someone pointing out their lies. Yes, we do it on social media all the time from the comforts of our home. But most people would never say those things to someone in person. Why not? Because we would rather keep the peace than to drop a truth bomb on someone.
The best way to help someone discover the truth is to first have a relationship with them. In my above examples, I did not have a relationship with the person. That’s why it ended badly sometimes. But pointing out truth and lies to a friend always ends so much better because of the trust that has been built through the years. Think back to friends who have helped you discern the truth when you were believing lies. If you truly loved one another, you received their help. God uses people in our lives to speak truth into our lives. God’s people also expose the lies that we have fallen into. Who are the people that you trust to speak truth into your life? Who did God give you to point out lies?
Questions for Reflection:
1. How has someone spurred you on to do greater things for God?
2. Explain a time when someone sharpened you in your walk with God.
3. Who are the people that God has given you to speak truth and dispel lies?
Chapter 18: A Weapon that Heals
Big Idea: God uses music to touch us in the deepest places of our pain.
Jeremy and I had prayed, planned, and were prepared to move in just a few months to start StoneWater Church in 2005. Carson, my son, was only two years old. A few days after Christmas, my wife Lisa knew something was wrong, but we just thought his swollen tonsils needed to be removed and all would be well. We were in a clinic in Brownwood, TX when the doctor came in with a chair. He sat down and shared with us the worst news of our life: that Carson had cancer. A helicopter was on the way and would take him to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth. We were confused, heartbroken, and afraid. His organs were shutting down, and we almost lost him in the ICU. Three years of chemotherapy followed. A long story short, Carson married his high school sweetheart on June 11, 2022. Hallelujah!
I cannot remember how long it was, but I am guessing that I did not sing one worship song for six months after Carson was diagnosed with cancer. Instead of words, all I could give was tears. Tears would just stream down my face. I was mad at God. At the same time, I was praising God that Carson was alive. I was afraid that Carson would still not survive. I was depending on God, yet I was far from God. God was near to me because I could see and feel Him, but I was questioning why God would allow this to happen to my son. I stopped praying. I figured that God was going to do whatever He wanted whether I prayed or not. What was the point? I needed God to heal my hurts, but I was not willing to move toward God.
The way God began to heal me was through worship music. I could not escape His presence, and I honestly did not want to. I was hurt and needed help. Secular music made me feel worse and only brought up that I had problems. Worship music provided the answer to my biggest need. I needed God to heal my hurt. His music touched me on a deep spiritual level, and I knew that God was right next to me. The tears were me getting rid of my anger, chaos, and feeling like God abandoned us. The music replaced anger with appreciation. Worship brought peace during chaos. I cried out abandonment and words of worship filled me with the truth that God was right there with us the entire time.
Worship is a weapon that brings healing. This world is broken. We needed a Savior and God gave us exactly Who we needed, King Jesus!
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:17-18 (NIV)
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him
with joyful songs. 3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100 (NIV)
Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. 2 Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. 3 He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. 4 He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. 5 He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT)
Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! 2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. 3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. 4 He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. 5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. 6 The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground. 7 Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp. Psalm 147:1-7 (NLT)
We are at war, and sometimes in the midst of war, we get wounded. King Jesus has provided many ways to bring healing, and one of them is worship music. We see this with David playing for King Saul in the Old Testament, and we can see it today in our lives.
We live and worship our King Jesus. As we worship him, he often brings us everything we need at that time, including our healing.
Throughout this study, we have looked with depth into the spiritual war that we find ourselves in as believers. We learned about our King, his enemy, and how to fight with strength in this life. We have added to our arsenal of weapons. Now, it’s time to fight. Over the last few years, the weaknesses of the American church have been revealed through hardship. Our hope is that through this study, we as a church are maturing in our faith so that we are prepared for whatever comes next. You now have weapons to engage and to win in warfare for your King. Go. Fight. Win!
Questions for Reflection:
1. Have there been times in your life where you did not want to sing to God?
2. How can we use worship as a weapon?
3. Describe how God has used worship music in your life to bring healing.
Group Questions (GQs)
1. What is one thing that surprised you about this group (it was a bonus that you didn’t see coming)?
2. Have you ever thought about the weapon of a secret place? How would you describe a secret place to someone from chapter 16? How do you make it not weird?
3. Describe a time when someone spurred you on towards greater works and a time that someone sharpened you.
4. Do you find it easy or difficult to confront lies that other people are saying and believing? Describe a situation where someone in your life is believing a lie.
5. What are some practical suggestions that you have for speaking truth and exposing lies?
6. How have you seen worship used as a weapon for King Jesus in your life?
7. End by taking time to share your spiritual biggest takeaway from this group over the last 6 weeks.
Who is ready to re-enlist for this group? The next group launch is January 29, 2023.