Tuesday, February 25, 2020

False Finish Lines

The Lord is moving your finish line. What your weakness and the condemnation of others have declared as your ending will become your new beginning. Only the Lord has the right to define your life. He is inviting you to step over a false finish line. When you take this step of faith, a new way and a new beginning will appear. This work of God will become your testimony of His mercy and provision.

Monday, February 24, 2020

New Book Cover

I just gave my editor the final OK on the book cover for my new book, BEYOND. When you read the book, you will know why we chose a map of Oregon as the background. The content of the book is transferrable across all life-assignments. 

We hope to have the book ready for purchase in both print and Kindle formats sometime in March. I included the book’s back cover text to give you a feel for what’s coming.

“What is beyond all that we would dare to ask or think? What is it to believe in the beyond? You are invited to press into the realm of revelation, where God’s plans are bigger and better than anything you have imagined.”

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…  - (Ephesians 3:20).

Sad Battles

There are times when the environment of spiritual conflict is more deadly than the weapons wielded in actual battle. Environments, whether social, familial or work-related carry life and death potential.

In II Samuel 18, David’s army entered a battle in the forest of Ephraim against the army of Absalom. 20,000 soldiers died that day. The text reads, “The battle raged all across the countryside, and more men died because of the forest than were killed by the sword” (II Samuel 18:8 NLT).

The forest of Ephraim was thick with oak and terebinth trees limiting the ability of Absalom's army to retreat. If the trees were not enough, the forest was filled with bogs, thickets, and wild animals. It was a dense, hostile place. Perhaps the saddest part of the battle was the fact that the opposing army was David's own people who had rebelled and came under the command of Absalom, David’s son.  Absalom died in that battle when his hair was caught in the limbs of a tree while retreating on the back of a mule. As he dangled from the tree, he became easy prey.

The battle in the Ephraim forest weakened the kingdom. The conflict resembled a civil war. Civil wars are so negative in their outcome that the Romans would never allow a celebration of triumph for a victory in a civil war. They knew civil war only weakened the empire. 

Civil wars between Christians have a similar weakening impact on our relationship with each other and our testimony to the surrounding culture. This weakening takes place when we put each other in places of conflict where death, not life is the outcome. Our negative thoughts, words, and deeds become relational bogs and thickets that catch people and make them easy prey for a loveless expression of our faith.

Of late, the Lord has impressed upon me more and more the importance of the environment of my heart. Any toxic attitude or desire to punish an opposing opinion must be dealt with immediately, or my relationships with fellow believers will become a place of sorrow resembling the forest of Ephraim.  

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Chasing After the Wind of Social Demographics

Chasing after ever-fluctuating social demographics is the work of a political spirit. State and national demographics will always change as people with differing social views move in and out of an area. We can try to redraw voting districts and even state lines, but in the end, these will be futile pursuits. In God’s Kingdom, the most important demographic is the human heart. The heart is where Jesus invested His time and energy. It is also where He wants us to focus our attention. The Great Commission will not be accomplished by adjusting natural demographic lines. It will happen when individual hearts are changed - one at a time. That is the most profound culture-altering demographic.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Blessing of Breakthrough

Jan sent this blessing to me this morning. If you need rest, read this and believe God has something better planned for you than the restrictions you are experiencing because of emotional and spiritual weariness.
Blessing of Breakthrough 
Isaiah 28:12, 20-22 & Psalm 31:7-8; 32; 118:25 & Hebrews 4:1-10
In response to Assyrian aggression, Isaiah’s message of rest in the promise of God’s deliverance triggers mockery. The political and religious leaders have trusted in foreign alliances for protection, but there will be no rest— like a bed too short to stretch out on, with a covering too narrow. Isaiah keeps pointing back to God’s invitation of refreshing rest (28:12).
In the name of Jesus Christ,
I bless your spirit with His refreshing rest,
especially in light of all that is shaking
around you—the wars and rumors of wars,
the radical assaults on the nations,
and the atrocities ravaging its citizens.

May you overcome the taunting spirit
of mockery and contempt of the day—
a tactic to delegitimize your influence
in culture—to shame you,
to demonize you, to justify shutting you up,
because of your simple belief in God’s promise
to break through for you.

To rely on human capabilities
is to be uncovered, cramped and cold—
trying to rest on illusions:
and if we don’t come clean with God,
our sorrows and frustrations will be many.

In His mercy, God brings conviction
by uncovering self-determination
and self-reliance:
admit rebellion against Him,
confess what corrupts His truth,
and acknowledge any guilty actions:
all is washed away and all pain
disappears—you are forgiven!

When you trust in God’s forgiveness,
He wraps you all around with His love:
He is your Secret Hiding Place,
He protects you from these troubles,
He surrounds you with songs of gladness—
with shouts of rescue, He releases
your breakthrough.

Hear the word of the Lord:
I will stay close to you—
guiding you along the pathway for your life;
I will advise you along the way.
So don’t make it difficult—
don’t resist me when I take you
where you’ve not been before—
just come with me!

Receive His invitation:
I am your Quiet Place
I am your Comfort—
where you are weary,
I will cause you to rest:
This the Refreshing.

I bless you with breakthrough
into believing, refreshing rest.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Don't Forget Who You Are

In and around our lives, spiritual warfare is constantly being waged. While we fight from a place of victory that never gives us an excuse to live naively disengaged from these battles.  That choice will place us and our loved ones in great peril. Disengagement opens the door to things an engaged warrior would never consider.

One of the saddest stories in Scripture records the sin of King David with Bathsheba. One day, David is an honored king. The next day he becomes a rapist and murderer. How did that happen with such rapidity? II Samuel 11:1 gives us some insight, “In the spring of the year when kings normally go out to war…David stayed behind in Jerusalem.” David was supposed to be leading his troops but chose to abandon his role and remain behind at home while his men fought the battle. What followed was the forced sexual encounter with Bathsheba, her pregnancy, and the positioning of her husband, Uriah, to be killed in battle to cover up David’s sin.

David called Uriah back from the battlefront with an invitation for Uriah to  “Go on home and relax” and enjoy a night of intimacy with his wife.  It was David's hope Uriah's one night encounter with his wife would cause people to think it was Uriah who impregnated his wife, not David. Uriah refused to go to his home and slept instead at the palace entrance with the palace guard. David tried again to get Uriah to abandon his duty.  He invited Uriah to dinner and got him drunk, giving him another opportunity to sleep with his wife. Again, Uriah slept at the palace entrance with the palace guards. Uriah refused David’s offer saying, “My master’s men are camping in open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife?

David stayed home disengaged from battle. Uriah remained engaged as a warrior. Even when called back from the frontlines, Uriah slept with other warriors. He kept his battle-ready mindset intact. When warriors forget their rightful place in battle, it creates an opening for unnecessary death and destruction. As believers, we are never without spiritual conflict. If we stay spiritually active and battle-ready, fully armored in Christ, nothing will be able to take us down. An offer of compromise, no matter how appealing and well-crafted, will not have the power to disengage us from our assignment.

Monday, February 17, 2020

A Good Kind of Ornery

I have come to appreciate ornery people – ornery people with a good heart. For some of you who might not know what ornery means, the dictionary definition comes in two forms. One definition describes a person who is irritable, difficult to control, or combative. The other usage describes a person as “having a playful tendency to cause trouble, mischievous.” I am referring to the latter kind of ornery.

What is so appealing about this kind of person is the absence of emotional or relational camouflage. You really know what they think and where they stand.  They tell you the unvarnished truth no matter who is in the room. They do it with a wry smile on their face that lets you know they will still be standing with you no matter what happens. In that honesty, the last thing on their mind would be to abandon you by remaining silent when what you needed most was honesty.