Sunday, April 22, 2018

A Dangerous Delusion

Someone once gave me the impression, in no uncertain terms, they could not be deceived because they had sat under a particular pastor’s teaching for decades.  While they were trying to give me that impression, they were living in obvious deception in one very important part of their life. The person assumed an attitude of personal pride in the church they attended and the high-profile teacher that led the congregation. Their preferred method of public preaching was a verse-by-verse study with the King James Version as the text. What that dear person did not realize was that for years they sat under one person’s interpretation of the written word. That produced a very narrow understanding of God and His Kingdom.

John said in the opening verses of his gospel that the Word is a person - Jesus Christ. He already existed in eternity before time and creation began. To actually sit under the Word means so much more than a particular Bible translation, study method, and teacher. To actually sit under the Word means that you and I have cultivated a depth of relationship with Jesus that allows Him, under the guiding influence of the Spirit, to teach us all things. The first disciples did not have the written Scriptures that we call the complete Bible, whether bound in genuine leather or contained in a smartphone. They had Jesus and that relationship turned the world upside down.

To think because we have sat under one person’s interpretation of the Word that we will be free from all error is a dangerous assumption. It is the kind of assumption that can actually lead us into a delusion that would have us believe, like the person I mentioned in the first paragraph, that one person’s interpretation or a single translation of the original text is superior to all others. Everything we have is an interpretation of the original. Some are simply better than others. 

John also wrote that the Word came into our world as a flesh and blood representation of the Father, but the world did not recognize Him. John used the word “kosmos” in that section of Scripture to describe the world. In that particular usage, the word kosmos is defined as the human race, humankind, or all the inhabitants of Earth. That means the world comprised of believers and non-believers alike. 

It is possible the Church, like the nation of Israel of old, can fail to recognize Him when He comes in our day with a fresh revelation of an old truth or when He chooses to reveal Himself through a voice that sounds different than our favorite teacher. This failure to recognize Him can happen when we don’t allow Jesus – the Word - to pass through the religious filters of our preference of teachers, translations or methodologies. That’s when we are most vulnerable to a dangerous deception.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Learning To Dream Again

Jan and I just returned from an outstanding time at the Leader’s Advance at Bethel Church in Redding, California. Whenever I am in an environment where apostolic vision is partnering with God at the leading edge of revelation, revival, and reformation, I return home challenged to step deeper into my own faith and discover a new word and a new assignment for a new season.

On the drive home from Redding, Jan and I were talking about dreaming. As we processed dreams and vision, I realized in my own life and possibly in yours, that many times our ability to dream with God is pushed aside by a survival mentality. For example, one person tries to survive danger in this life by always being on alert to the threats around them. Another person is consumed with the daily tasks of life just trying to survive another day. Other people move through life in tunnel vision to a life-plan that demands slavish obedience thinking that is the dream. Whatever survival mode we embrace, it will push the pause button on our ability to dream.

Jan said something profound to me as we were talking about dreaming. She said we stop dreaming when are not at rest. In the scenarios I mentioned above, each one robs a person of the ability to rest in God. Rest is the place where dreams are birthed and vision is cast. When we are always trying to survive, rest is not possible. Without being at rest we can miss the words and imagery of a dream because the words and images of a survival mentality are occupying our mind.

Today, ask yourself if you are truly at rest. I have a few places in my life where I am not fully at rest. I need to make an exchange. In those places, God wants me to exchange my survival mentality for a dreamer mentality. In the places where you are willing to make this exchange with God, He will begin to birth dreams in your heart if you will simply trust Him with all that you have been attempting to manage in your own strength and understanding. If you can make that exchange, the dreams will begin to flow once again.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Ride of Your Life

As you look at the picture of this playground ride it is quite possible, as a child, you rode one of these. I did many times. With the help of my friends, we started to spin the ride holding on to the perimeter until all of us got dizzy and were spun off one-by-one by the increasing centrifugal force.                                                                            

With each failed attempt we tried to learn new ways to hold on and not be tossed off the ride. That course of action always proved to be futile. Eventually, we learned to go deeper to the center of the ride away from the spinning power of the ride’s edge. We discovered at the center of the ride it was easy to remain no matter how fast things began to spin.                                                                                                                                                                                 

This is an essence of our life of faith. Whenever God asks us to take a step of obedience, remaining at the edge of the commitment can be filled with the unnecessary pressures of a half-hearted faith. In these times, our only place of security and peace will be found by moving deeper into what God had originally promised.                                    

Look at the picture I posted and imagine the promise God gave you. If your first attempt tossed you off because you thought you could ride at the edge of commitment, jump back on and give it another try. This time move immediately into the center of the promise no matter the cost. There you will find a beautiful peace that only comes when you are living fully committed in the center of God’s will.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Reimagining Breakthrough

Typically, when we think of the word “breakthrough”, we understand it to mean pushing through some restriction that stands before us. This morning, while in prayer, I saw an image of a person walking forward in obedience to a word from the Lord. They were focused on what was ahead of them. The person was walking on hard ground, a crust-like surface. As they took their next step, the breakthrough they had prayed for took place under their feet. 

The person fell down through the hardened crust of their circumstance into a new place not previously realized. The free-fall took them entirely by surprise. The look on their face as they fell was one of shock and confusion. At first, it felt like they had lost all control and were in jeopardy. What they were actually sensing was freedom. When they realized what had taken place the shock and confusion turned into joy and child-like wonder.

God wants to move you forward, but He also wants to take you deeper. Breakthrough can take place in any direction. We are talking about spiritual dimensions that are beyond the measurements associated with our natural understanding of time and space. There are times when going deeper is more significant than going forward. Trust God with the direction of your breakthrough. Step forward with confidence. God is directing your steps.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

When To Remain Silent

The depth of our character and the breadth of our compassion are revealed when a noted public figure passes with whom we disagree politically or morally or when a guilty person suffers what some consider a deserved punishment. An undisciplined and unmerciful response in these times reveals that we have yet to understand the fullness of God’s love and His mercy for all people. 

When a death takes place of someone we oppose, let people mourn without adding a comment. When someone suffers whom we find to be distasteful and deserving of punishment, don’t celebrate with their enemies their demise. Our position on politics, theology, and culture doesn’t really matter in these times. What matters is having the courage to remain lovingly silent and allow God the time needed to heal our hearts so that when we do write something or open our mouths to make a comment, people hear the heart of God.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

First Ladies

Today, former First Lady Barbara Bush passed away. What a great lady she was. I just read a brief bio of her life and like each of our First Ladies, I must admit, I find they are more interesting than their husbands. I have been married to a very strong, informed and secure woman for almost 45 years. I would not be able to do a fraction of what God has assigned for me to accomplish had Jan not been at my side. She has offered her unique blend of wisdom and counsel that helped steer my life, in concert with God's Spirit, toward this good place I never thought possible. Every man needs a First Lady.

Baptized Imaginations

Spirit-led imagination functions in a place of unexplored possibilities outside the boundary of what is currently known and defined. This imagination takes place on the leading edge of an expanding revelation. C.S. Lewis described an experience called a "baptism of the imagination." It was in this baptism that his faith began to gain traction. Like C.S. Lewis, our imagination is waiting to be baptized in the waters of doubt and disbelief to rise up and see for the first time what was not previously imagined as a possibility. 

As you read this sentence, stop and lay your hands on your head, just as I did in the middle of writing these words. Ask God to baptize your imagination. Take into that immersion all your doubts, fears and dismissals that any new revelation is possible. When you rise out of this experience your spiritual eyes will begin to see new images, the substance of a revelation not imagined before your baptism. These images will reveal the mileposts God has set before you to guide your steps into the preferred future He has planned for your life. This is your time to imagine, and in some cases, re-imagine that a new day and a new season is possible.