Monday, August 20, 2018

The Never-Ending War of the Worlds

Some people prefer a fear-based message because it gives them a sense of purpose. It also sells books and gets hits on blogs and social media. In some ways, fear, conspiracy, and constant intrigue give people a reason to believe that something important exists beyond their daily struggle as they navigate through uncertain times.

If the classic War of the Worlds radio broadcast of 1938 were performed today, I am certain many who have been primed to believe a variety of conspiracy theories, government deep state agendas and hordes of invading zombies would be a susceptible and attentive audience. In 1938, our nation was nervous in a pre-war environment of uncertainty. Orson Welles was brilliant in his fictional radio broadcast, so brilliant that many people who listened were sure a Martian invasion was actually taking place. Pockets of panicked citizens huddled around family radios and began to exchange nervous glances as the broadcast continued entertaining the possibility of The End. 

When I was a cop, I trained rookies that reaction to a threat was always slower in response than the attack made by a threat. A bad guy only had one mental process to consider - pull the trigger. A cop would have to analyze the threat and plan a reaction. That one added thought process gave the bad guy an upper hand. 

The same is true regarding our faith. When we live in a reactionary mode to all the negative possibilities swirling around our lives, the negative issues will be able to gain the upper hand even though we are supposed to be the ones living from a place of victory. Our minds become occupied with reaction to the threats of darkness, real or imagined. 

Are some conspiracy theories true? Maybe. Could there be a hidden agenda working within the institutions of our culture? Possibly. Hell has always been at work throughout human history. None of this is new to humanity. When I look at Jesus, I don’t see Him reacting to negative stimuli or the latest conspiratorial threat. He only responded to the Father. This kept His prophetic voice from being hi-jacked and making sounds similar to the fear-based culture that lived in a state of constant suspicion. Protect your voice. It has announcements to make that are assigned to bring freedom, not fear.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Sunday, August 19, 2018

In Search of Religious Formulas

This morning, several hours before the sun rose, I walked out of my home and stood on the front lawn. I looked up into the night sky. Stars filled the black of night from horizon to horizon. As I stood in my bare feet looking up, I began to ponder God and His immensity. I was over-taken with awe. 

It is human nature to seek formulas to make life work or attempt to solve the mysteries of our faith. Some natural formulas, like scientific problem solving, actually work. In the realm of spiritual matters is where our formulas lose their consistency. They require no faith to see what has not yet arrived in this realm from beyond the veil. A formula can only work when we have available and visible components. 

People trapped within the confines of various forms of theology can reduce God and His Kingdom down to rational, human concepts. As a result, they produce religious theories that only work if the formula is properly exercised. In the end, this creates an image of God who comes and works only in response to our formulaic way of thinking. Doctrines and theologies are then crafted, and those who live outside the formula fence are considered ignorant to the truth and therefore easy to reject.

When we produce formulas regarding God, it reveals the end of our search of His depths and our pursuit of deeper understanding because we feel we have arrived at a place of final truth. 

I just read part of Psalms 139, and it reminded me of the God we serve who cannot be reduced to a formulaic simplicity. He is beyond the reductive thinking of formula.

“I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there” (Psalms 139: 7-8).

Early this morning, any semblance of formula dissolved under my bare feet as I stood on the dew-laden clover of our lawn looking up into the heavens. I saw no formula that could create the impression I was receiving. Only awe and wonder-filled my heart.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Sound of a New Season

A few moments ago, I heard a flock of Canadian geese fly over our home. They were heading south. To me, this is always the first indicator of the coming fall. Listen for the changing sounds of a new season, not just the natural sounds like geese honking, but the sounds of the Spirit that foretell of change. Those who are sensitive to the sounds of a new spiritual season will be able to position, and in some cases, reposition their lives and resources for the most impact once a new season arrives. 

The In-Between Revival

We talk a lot about bringing Heaven to Earth, and rightly so. That one experience can change everything. But, what are we going to do with Heaven once it arrives? Heaven and its accompanying glory do not arrive on Earth so that we can attend yet another impactful worship service or take part in an information-loaded conference without the goal of employing our transformed lives to the task of transforming culture. 

The arrival of Heaven on Earth in any form is a precious gift we need to steward well and then purposefully deliver that experience into each sphere of culture. The next time you walk into a worship gathering, ask these questions – Where will I take this experience once I leave the building and how can it be applied in the marketplace of my life-assignment? These two questions will break the cycle of standalone worship experiences that celebrate Heaven on Earth without an attached mission. 

Jesus said, “Go into all the world.” He said this to people who were already worshipping Him. They had the passion, but hey needed a mission. Right after uttering these words, this took place, “So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed” (Mark 16:19-20). This “preached everywhere” assignment was literally everywhere, in each sphere of the culture at that time.

Obedience to this “Go into all the world” mandate may actually be the revival many have been looking for – a revival of personal realization that happens in the in-between space when we leave an encounter with God and return to our place of influence in the culture. This revival of our thinking happens when we discover our unique place of partnership with God, “while the Lord worked with them,” to transform the kingdoms of this world into the Kingdom of our Lord. That is what Heaven on Earth looks like when an in-between revival of our thinking has taken place.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Following the Path of Our Wounds

 I remember the first time I responded to a shooting call as a rookie cop. A family disturbance turned into a violent confrontation. A husband shot his wife in the pelvis with a .22 revolver. Upon our arrival, my partner and I secured the suspect and the scene. We went back into service after the detectives arrived to process the evidence. 

Later that week, as the woman was recovering from her gunshot wound in the hospital, she unexpectedly died. During an autopsy, it was discovered the bullet had entered her pelvic region striking a bone and then glanced upward into her chest. When the bullet hit her pelvis, the impact chipped off a piece of bone pushing the bone fragment out of her lower back making it appear it was the exit wound for the bullet. A larger X-ray scan would have revealed the totality of the bullet’s path and where the bullet was actually lodged, but it was missed. A fatal assumption led the attending physician to believe the bullet had exited her body. The bone fragment was false evidence.

The assumed path of pain is not always the cause of emotional or spiritual death. A harsh word is like a bullet fired in rage, it enters the human soul and moves around looking for a place to create the most destruction. It requires Spirit-led discernment to discover the deadly course of these projectiles and the final destination where they are embedded in a soul. Undiscovered, they will attract lies that will create an infectious slow bleed that can lead to the death of a marriage, a dream or a person’s spiritual health.

Today, as you meet wounded people, make no assumptions based on natural sight or physical evidence. The first evidence is not always the most accurate evidence. Allow the Spirit to reveal the deeper wound paths that your natural sight cannot see. Like a skilled spiritual surgeon, once you see the hidden reality, the Spirit will guide your hand to make a gentle scalpel cut by speaking the truth in love. This incision of love will cut through the assumptions and false evidence to reveal the location of a deadly lie embedded in a person's life. Truth and the reality of God's love will dislodge these projectiles of darkness and allow the process of healing and recovery to begin.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Breaking Free

As I was praying, I saw the image of a pendulum swinging back and forth in long measured arcs. The metronomic sequence was limited in range by control barriers set at both ends of the pendulum's movement. 

As I continued to watch and pray, the pendulum approached the end of one its sweeping motions. When the arm of the pendulum touched the barrier, it broke through the restriction shattering the barrier into fragments. Bits and pieces of the barrier flew through the image in detailed slow motion allowing me to see each piece as they passed by. Once free, the arm of the pendulum became airborne like a hammer tossed by an Olympic hammer thrower. Off into the distance, the pendulum arm flew disappearing from sight. 

Restricting barriers are being crashed. Your pendulum mechanism is being dismantled and decommissioned. What was once a predictable barrier on both ends of your life-spectrum is about to be shattered by an unexpected work of the Spirit. You have lived and planned your life inside the restricting arc of this pendulum and been faithful to its measured vision. All of this will catch you by surprise because while you knew it was possible, you thought that possibility was for someone else. This is your time to break free from restrictions and limitations.

As you fly forward, you will land in a new space emotionally and spiritually. New instructions will come at the place of your landing. In your time of flight into the future, enjoy the ride. This is a work of God. He will determine the course of your flight and the place of your landing. You are in the hands of Goodness. He is delivering you to a good place.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Merging the Fires of Revival and Reformation

On July 15, 1,700 lightning strikes occurred in our region sparking fires that will most likely burn into the fall with no immediate end in sight. Two huge wildfires have now merged to create a conflagration of great concern. Our valley has experienced only a handful of clear skies, literally just a few hours each, over the last month. 

As I read the news account about these two merging wildfires, the Lord began to share with me about a coming merger of revival and reformation. Someone once said, “Revival is for the Church. Reformation is for the culture.” I have parroted that phrase myself without thinking it through. While it is correct on one level, it needs to be examined on a deeper and more critical level. 

Revival and reformation are not two separate things. A revived Church will become a reforming presence in culture. Until these two join forces, there may not be a fire of significant size to bring the kind of change required for cultural transformation. The revivalists need to move out of church buildings, conference halls, and stadiums because the culture that is waiting to experience transformation does not live within these structures. Those pursuing a reformation need the heart and passion of a burning revivalist, or they will not have the spiritual energy required to bring change to the controlling summits of the 7 mountains of culture. 

On July 15 when the 1,700 lightning strikes took place, some strikes found a fuel source and became a wildfire. Others struck bare ground where there was no fuel and petered out before they got started. So it is in our spiritual life. The Spirit can “strike” a life, but if that life does not offer God the tender of submission to a greater Kingdom agenda, no fire of revival or reformation will ignite. 

This is how a revival leading to a reformation takes place. Individuals burning for God come to realize they are not burning alone. Once ignited they seek to join with other burning ones to become a Spirit-empowered move of God, similar to the two large fires that merged in our area. Before the fires merged into something more substantial, they remained isolated without the potential of a major, region-wide conflagration.  

We are at a point in time when we will begin to see the merging of two fires sparked by the Spirit - revival, and reformation. This will be an indicator of a new season for the Church. When these two groups are burning toward each other, in the region where this burning merger takes place, something explosive will transpire.

The fire of God is cleansing His people from the underbrush of lesser things that occupy our time, energy and resources so that we will be ready to accomplish more than we ever imagined. Once this fire of revival leading to reformation begins to burn, the wind of the Spirit will move the fire into the streets of our cities and into the boardrooms of corporations and media empires. This fire will be so powerful it will jump the fire lines created by restrictive and fearful thinking and begin to burn in love within the cultural institutions that have remained untouched by the fire of God’s presence.