Saturday, February 25, 2017

Where Do You Fit?

Have you ever wondered where you fit in the larger picture and function of the Church? You were wired a certain way by God to do unique things in the Kingdom. If you are one who is called to equip the Church to do the work of the ministry here is a simple way to see the five gifts Paul described in Ephesians 4.

Apostles receive the download of a heavenly blueprint.
Prophets announce the blueprint.
Evangelists recruit people to the blueprint.
Pastors create the environment where the blueprint can grow and flourish.
Teachers expand and teach each element of the blueprint.

Over time you may carry a dominant equipping gift and actually be known in the Church for the function of that gift. In reality, there may be times when you might function in several of these gifts at the same time depending on how God chooses to use you in a particular season of life.

Paul said the functioning of the five equipping gifts matures the Church and allows her to stand in her full stature. As a result of the harmonious function of these gifts, we will no longer be tossed about by divisive teaching and unstable influences.

Paul ends his treatise on the subject by revealing one of the goals of this equipping, “Instead, we will speak the truth in love.” The full manifestation of a group of people equipped to do the work of the ministry is not the mechanics or style of ministry. It is each part speaking the truth of God with a heart of love to each other and to the surrounding culture.  The sound of that united voice will reveal the life of Jesus expressed through a fully equipped and mature Church. That is is how the original heavenly blueprint is supposed to look and sound when revealed on Earth.  Paul described that image as, “growing in every way more and more like Christ.” 

When Jesus gave the equipping gifts to the Church He gave those gifts to help us stand in culture as a flesh and blood representation of His life. That is the ultimate goal of a fully functioning blueprint made possible by the recognition and release of the five equipping gifts.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Creating Fresh Momentum

Each transition of life has an in-between moment. An in-between moment is that space of time between an old and expired season and the approach of something new. The momentum that brought you this far is the result of the faith you exercised in the previous season. Each new season will require the exercise of a new level of faith or your current momentum will come to a standstill. A fresh expression of faith has the ability to create the spiritual momentum required to open the door to your future.

Are you in a time of transition? Are you between seasons?  Fresh momentum is ready and waiting to be released. Its release is waiting for you to believe once again no matter how impossible the way forward may seem. That kind of faith will create the momentum required to deliver you into the new future God has prepared for you.  Belief is your way forward. Exercise it!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Get Out of the Blast Zone!

I was getting ready to begin writing this morning when an image entered my mind. It was the image of a blast zone. This blast zone was the center of a target where an explosion would take place from the detonation of an incoming missile. Anyone or anything within the blast zone would be destroyed once the explosion took place.

As the image developed, I saw a faceless person hear the sound of the incoming missile. It made a whistling sound like a falling bomb in an old World War II movie. The person began to run and moved quickly out of the blast zone to the safety of the perimeter. They watched as an incoming missile struck the target and wreaked horrible destruction.

This image is a warning of love issued to some who find themselves in a place of conflict. It is time to move out of the coming blast zone where a lack of love is creating a target of jeopardy. This place of jeopardy is inviting a work of darkness to come and detonate a loveless act of destruction. For a time love was able to provide a shield of protection for this group, but love has been abandoned for personal agendas and the spirit of control. This has left the participants vulnerable to things God never intended for them to experience.

You still have time to move out of the blast zone. Don’t try to prove yourself right or remain any longer in an attempt to plead your case. Run for the safety of forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Once the devastation takes place God will have you return to the blast zone and work through the rubble to find the victims. Your rescue mission will be to speak words of hope and release resurrection life to the people and institutions that became victims in the blast zone. That is why God is telling you to run, not just for your spiritual safety, but to keep you safe so you can return to the blast zone as an instrument of rescue releasing the healing power of His redemptive love.

“He (Joseph) left his coat in her hand and ran out of the house.” Genesis 39:12

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Can You Feel It?

Can you feel the shift that has taken place? I am not talking about the by-products of cultural change like the results of our recent election or the increasing levels of social unrest.  I am talking about a shift that has taken place in the spiritual environment. An alignment to the greater purposes of God has occurred. This alignment has created a place for the arrival of a suddenly of God.

The suddenlies of God are not planned events. These sudden events get their name from a sudden and surprising appearance. Their arrival produces amazement. Before these events occur, God will stir His prophets to begin announcing that something is coming. Most of these predictions will not contain specific detail. The Day of Pentecost was prophesied, but the actual elements of that day were a complete surprise to those in attendance.

This morning, I was reading about the cycles of culture.  One dictionary defines a cycle as “a series of events that are regularly repeated in the same order.” God’s suddenlies do not follow predictable patterns or cycles. A suddenly is not a cycle or a pattern – it is the sudden arrival of something that exists outside the cycles of culture. The suddenlies of God come with the purpose to interrupt the existing cycle to make way for something new.

Defining a cycle or pattern of culture is not prophetic, it is academic. Investigating patterns and cycles of culture can be done without God. Announcing a suddenly is the work of a prophet and requires an intimate relationship with the Spirit. As the cycles of culture continue to unwind and create higher levels of uncertainty, listen for the prophetic voices that are announcing the suddenlies of God.  Raise your eyes above the level of natural human response and reaction. What is about to take place will not come from this realm or from our understanding of how the natural cycles of culture function. Something unusual and surprising is coming. A suddenly is about to arrive. Can you feel it?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Jesus Triangle

I talked to a friend who is an accomplished hunter. Each year he successfully harvests both elk and deer. He hunts with a bow and arrow. In order to get within the limited range of his weapon, he must be very aware of how the animals he hunts process a threat. He uses a mental checklist called “The Hunter’s Triangle” to make sure he does not prematurely spook the animal. The triangle consists of sight, smell, and sound. He stays out of sight, downwind and whisper-quiet in his stealthy approach. These three elements working together allow him to get close enough to make a safe and humane shot.

Paul wrote about what I would call, “The Jesus Triangle” in I Corinthians 13:13.  “And now these three remain faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Paul wrote these closing words of I Corinthians 13 – The Love Chapter - after talking to the Corinthians about how we are to live in culture until time ends and only love remains. Paul was describing the over-arching strategy of a kingdom not of this world.

We live in a jittery culture. People are suspicious of religion. The name of Jesus has been hijacked for a variety of purposes like politics, national identity, closing business deals and motivational speeches. I don’t blame people for feeling this way. They feel had and used and like the wounded prey of a spiritual hunter armed with misguided motives. Approaching someone in the name of Jesus nowadays carries with it many warning signs that will spook a person before you can get close enough to actually begin a real relationship.

We need to ask ourselves a question, “Why are we on the hunt?” If our approach is motivated by anything less than the heart of God we will never get within range of another human being. Our shots will only wound because our tactics were not the tactics of God.

If I were to define The Jesus Triangle, here is how I would describe its three components. 

FAITH lets people connect with the substance of things not yet seen in this life. When you approach a person with faith you help them see beyond the pain and struggle they are experiencing to believe in something more. 

HOPE secures what faith reveals. When you approach a person with hope you help them understand that the most valuable things in life are secured for them in eternity beyond the stench of death and decay of this world. 

LOVE fills the cracks of our broken and pain-filled lives. When you approach someone with love the sound of your words will become the spiritual mortar that holds all things together. 

Only a message containing these three elements – faith, hope, and love – will allow us to get within range of another person because these three are honest, authentic and without sullied motives.

When you hunt for broken lives using The Jesus Triangle this selfless tactic will help you get close enough to another person to put an arrow of love deep within their heart. God’s arrows never bring death. They always bring life. Happy hunting!

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Renewed Spiritual Intellect

You can have a developed intellect, but not a renewed mind. The opposite is also true.

I have talked with kind and wonderful people in the Church who have never allowed their intellect to be developed. They parked on the first step of revelation thinking it was a destination. Some rally around this misunderstanding thinking it is somehow spiritual and that anyone outside their limited understanding is suspect. 

I have met highly developed intellects possessed by notable academics who think their accumulated and shared data is the final destination of developed thinking.  This narrow understanding limits them from receiving instruction from those they see as living on a lower rung of intellectual development.

We actually need both ends of the spectrum. This is not an either-or scenario. This is why Paul used the phrase, “the renewing of your mind” when he wrote to the Romans. Paul linked the renewing of our minds to our ability to be transformed while living in a world that demands conformity in thought and lifestyle. No matter where one falls on the intellectual graph, we need our minds renewed and our intellects developed.

This is why I think God chose Paul to write so much of the New Testament. In Paul, God gave us the extreme bookends in the issue. Paul was highly educated – the equivalent of a modern day Ph.D. On the road to Damascus, he was taken past the limits of his intellect when he experienced a supernatural encounter with Jesus. In that encounter, Paul's intellect was temporarily blinded so he could see Jesus. He would later write about things not available to the limited line of sight of his advanced education. These were the experiences where he described the Third Heaven, strange manifestations of the miraculous like placing handkerchiefs on sick and demon possessed people who were suddenly healed and set free or when he shook a poisonous snake from his hand on the island of Malta and lived to tell about it.

While all of this was going on with Paul a band of early disciples stood before the well-educated class of their day. When the elites interrogated the band of rag-tag disciples they commented, “ Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.” Both Paul and the disciples had an encounter with Jesus. That was a mutually shared starting point for the renewal of their minds and the process of personal transformation.

The coming revival, reformation or visitation – no matter how you chose to define it – will begin like it did throughout Scripture and history. An encounter with Jesus will take place that will cause us to think differently about our assumptions.  Our assumptions are created by either our misunderstanding of what it means to have a renewed mind or by an over-estimated value of education without the renewing presence of God’s Spirit. We need both if we are going to move forward as the Church.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Dangerous Prayers

One of the most dangerous prayers you can pray is, "Come, Holy Spirit, come!" 
I prayed that prayer this morning at 4:30 a.m. as I drove by a church building in a small Oregon town. Immediately, in the Spirit, I saw the parking lot of the church filled to overflowing and the surrounding streets in holy gridlock. The congestion was caused by the crowds of people arriving from all across the nation who were coming to experience the move of God taking place inside the walls of the church. 
I encourage you to pray a dangerous prayer - dangerous to the spirit of unbelief. Pray a simple prayer of invitation - "Come, Holy Spirit, come!" - over all areas of your life and watch God begin to do the impossible. 
Significant change is in the air. That change is waiting for your prayers of agreement to usher in a visitation of God's Spirit.