Thursday, March 22, 2018

Heavenly Harmony

It has been a week since the time change when we were asked to “spring forward” advancing our clocks an hour. I actually like this time of year when the evening light lingers in the sky announcing the coming of warm summer evenings.

This morning, I walked into our kitchen at o-dark-thirty and happened to notice the digital clock on our stove had not been changed. This was the first time this has ever happened to me - ever! Each year, I have a clock-changing ritual I go through to make sure I change all our clocks. 

When I passed by the stove and saw a wrong time being displayed on the clock, the Lord spoke.

“An adjustment is coming in your life. It is something only I can do. The area in your life that has seemed out of synch with your destiny and calling is about to come into alignment. What has lagged behind, I will now catch up in a moment of time. I was waiting for you to see this lagging element before I made the needed adjustment. I did not leave this adjustment uncorrected as a form of punishment. You needed to see the issue first before I make this adjustment. Your ability to see is an act of faith that has released Me to do this work for you. Once this adjustment is accomplished, each area of your life will now align to reflect my heart and will in Spirit-led unison. You are coming into a season of divine sequencing where each area of your life will now begin to move in harmony with Heaven.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Gift of a Hope-Filled Future

For those of you who are seen as elders in the Church, either by age or assignment, you offer a significant gift to those who are just beginning their journey of faith. That gift is the hope and possibility of a future. You live in age and experience several decades ahead of these younger ones. They see you on the other side of their current struggle. They know you made it and that is what will draw them to you as a voice of encouragement. One of the most powerful and encouraging things you can say to a younger person who comes to you for counsel and wisdom is this,  “If I made it this far, so can you.” 

These inquisitive ones know you have struggled through some challenging seasons of life. They know you did not do everything perfectly. Honest mentors do not offer perfection. They offer hope. Hope helps a younger man or woman take a step of faith into an unexplored future knowing you will be there to understand and encourage them when their foot lands in an unfamiliar place.

The future a younger generation wants to experience is the kind of future they see you currently living. They know you got here because you responded in obedience to a word from the Lord. As you stand in your current moment, it is seen as the future to those who are just beginning. Because you are modeling emotional and spiritual health, your life has become a living encouragement for people to keep believing and moving forward.

If you are an elder in the faith make sure you continue to live in the same way that brought you this far. Age does not determine your impact in God’s Kingdom. You have chosen to not “arrive” at a static place. Your willing heart and the continued exercise of a courageous faith is what is drawing the younger ones who want to hang around your example of how to live their lives. By the honest model of your life, you have created trust equity in the emerging generations. Your presence has become a living word of hope. That is the gift you are releasing - the hope of a future.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Power of Your Whisper

Yesterday, I shared a prophetic word with the people that filled the sanctuary of the Westside Vineyard Church in Portland, Oregon who were attending the Accelerate School of the Prophetic. The event was a beautiful time filled with revelation and worship. During worship, I saw the image of hundreds of colorful parrots fly into the scene and land in the branches of a large tree. The tree represented our culture.

The parrots began to parrot each other repeating the same message of fear. The sound was intense and deafening. The parrots began to settle into the tree to roost for the night. Just then, something spooked them. The parrots exploded in frenzied flight from the tree like they were trying to get away from something. When the last of the parrots finally left the scene, the tree was empty of any birds except one lone dove. The dove was cooing gently.

The Lord said the parrots represent those in our culture and unfortunately some in the Church who have parroted a message of fear. A false confidence was rising in this chorus of fear until the dove cooed. The gentle sound of peace and life coming from the dove was so stark in contrast to a message of fear that it spooked the parrots. 

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are that dove. You were never meant to parrot the same fear-based message as the surrounding culture. You are powerful when submitted to the heart of God. No matter how loud the opposing voices are around you, once you speak the truth in love, no sound of fear will be able to drown you out. Every sound you make has a creative potential. It is not our volume on the number of voices that creates this power. It is a voice empowered by Heaven. Just a gentle whisper spoken in love can set fear to flight. 

“And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, there was the sound of a gentle whisper” (I Kings 19:11-12). 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Krispy Kreme the Goal - Siri to the Rescue

I was in a strange city, and it was 5:00 a.m. If you know me, I am already up by that hour. There was anticipation in the air because Krispy Kreme had a donut store just a few blocks from our hotel. I got into our car with a single mission in mind – to bring two large coffees and four Krispy Kreme donuts back to our room to an awaiting wife.

On the drive to the hotel the day before, I had a hard time finding its location in the tangle of streets in broad daylight. In the darkness of the early morning, it would become a lot worse. I set out and got completely turned around – really turned around.

I pulled to the curb and asked Siri, my faithful traveling companion and the voice of reason on my iPhone, for help. Siri finally got me pointed in the right direction and there in the dark distance, I saw the neon sign of my sugar and caffeine delight just a few blocks away. This is a tremendous feeling for an early morning urban explorer.

Returning to our hotel, I got lost again. I did the “pull over to the curb and ask Siri for help” thing for the second time. She sounded frustrated this time and said, “Taking the walking route, your destination is 400 ahead feet on your right.” No joke! She actually said that. I think she had given up on my driving ability. With my red and less than manly feeling face brightly shining in the dark interior of my car, I looked up to see the lights of our hotel glowing in the darkness just where Siri said it would be. This early morning searcher returned home a less than confident road warrior with the treasures of Krispy Kreme in hand.

I have given up trying to find my way when I know I’m lost. Yes, we men at times fail to ask for directions, but when the coffee is hot and the donuts are warm, there is no time to waste trying to find our way when we know we lost. Wisdom demands that we pull over and ask for help.

The funny story of the donut trip aside, some of you need to pull your life to the curb and ask for help. You are like me trying to find my way in the darkness in a strange city. If you continue this way, you will get more and more lost with each passing day. People are in your life that would be honored if you would approach them and say, “I need some direction.” Love is available to those who ask and love will always help you find your way home.

Friday, March 16, 2018

First Apostles...

We are in a unique moment of Church history. The Lord is defining and redefining many things. He is defining the current expansion of His Kingdom that can appear radically new, exploratory and unfamiliar to some. He is also redefining our assumptions and releasing fresh revelation to help us reconsider old ways of thinking.

One morning, while I was processing the idea of defining and redefining, the Lord took me to I Corinthians 12:28. The text reads, “And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.” He then said, “Look at the word 'first.'” I knew He wanted me to unpack the definition of the word to see below the surface of my assumed understanding.

Most of you know the word “apostle” means, a delegate, a messenger, one sent for forth with orders, and most commonly, “a sent one.” That understanding is not what caught my attention. It was the word “first” placed in the text just before the word apostle. That word in Greek is “protos.”  From it, we get our word “prototype.” A prototype is defined as a first, a preliminary model of something. 

The use of the word “first” (protos) in I Corinthians 12:28 in connection with an apostle is defined as first in a sequence of time and place. Apostles were the first to be sent out. The word does not apply to a hierarchy in leadership where the apostle is above the other gifts. I went on to read each instance in the New Testament where the word first is used in connection with an apostle. I discovered there is not a single usage of the word to denote a hierarchal structure of a top-down model of leadership. 

The word “apostle” did not originate with the Church. It was a word used by the Roman government to describe the first ones sent to a conquered nation to set up the government of Rome. These apostles brought the culture of the Roman Empire to recreate the culture of Rome in the conquered nation. This transformation was so complete that a Roman citizen could visit any conquered land and still enjoy the familiar government, culture, and entertainment of Rome.

When Paul wrote in I Corinthians 12 that apostles were first, he was not creating a spiritual hierarchy. He was describing someone who would be the first one in the sequence of events that would venture into new territory, and with the blueprint of Heaven in hand, establish the order of God’s Kingdom.

I remember when the Lord asked me to change how I led our church. He showed me a totem pole and helped me understand a top-down hierarchy of leadership was not His original intent. For that model to grow upward in its narrow structure of leadership, the person on the top had to die, get transferred to a new assignment or fall off in failure. It could only grow upward by addition, not outward in supernatural multiplication.

The Lord asked me to lay the totem pole of my leadership model down on its side so that all the gifts on our team would be grounded on the same level playing field of our overall mission. I was still the senior leader, but no longer in a hierarchal model where everything needed to be filtered through me before it could be birthed. 

Then the Lord said, “Now, let your team run at the speed of their faith.” Immediately, I saw apostolic potential released in our team. New ideas and new ministries were birthed. We moved beyond the old model of addition from a top-down form of leadership and began to release outward expansion through supernatural multiplication when all the gifts were getting equal traction. New territory was discovered, and our team entered new places of ministry in our city and began setting up the government of Heaven.

We are in a moment of time when some of our assumptions will be challenged. None of us have the complete picture.  Stay humble and teachable and don't allow a defensive spirit keep you trapped in a place of assumption. Lay down your totem poles and set God’s people free. Once people begin to run at the speed of their faith anything is possible.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Greatest Bully

A friend of mine shared the following on his Facebook wall several days ago, “The child that is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel it’s warmth” - African Proverb.

A lot of wisdom comes from the continent of Africa – ancient, wise tribal wisdom that helps us learn how to live together in close and at times, uncomfortable proximity. In the pursuit of and the demand for personal autonomy, we have created loneliness of the soul and a separation from a sense of community. One result of this separation, are horrific acts of violence we see taking place with increasing frequency in our culture.

A family or a nation can be destroyed when people no longer feel the embrace of love. They will eventually burn down the perpetrators of their pain. 

The heart of God is beautifully expressed in John 3:16. Most Christians know that verse from memory, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” This verse expresses the heart of God and what should be the heart of the Church. God loved the entire world, and so should we.

What most of us forget is the following verse, John 3:17, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” Verses 16 and 17 are a single thought. They should always be cited together. Verse 16 is the heart of the Church. Verse 17 is the mission of the Church. We are called to love, not judge or condemn.

Our mission is to love the marginalized, to seek out those who have never experienced the embrace of love who live in the margins of our culture, both rich and poor, the powerful and the disempowered. Everyone without exception of cultural rank needs this embrace. These discarded ones are those who in their loneliness live on the verge of burning down their village.

The greatest bully in our schools, our communities and our families is the absence of an embrace of love. This bullying presence pushes and shoves people out of relationships and into a place of despair where desperate acts can take place.

Each of us possesses two very powerful assets that turn back this tide of cultural sorrow and separation – our voice and our embrace. As you move through the halls of your school, or walk down your street or engage in your daily activities, ask the Spirit to direct you to that son or daughter who has never felt the embrace of their tribe. They can be young or old. You can tell who these people are by looking into their eyes. They are the ones who move through life staring straight ahead with a hopeless expression that comes from being denied the embrace of love.  When you meet them, speak the heart of God into their loneliness. Embrace them as another human being in need of affirmation. If we all do this we can be part of a cultural transformation that will turn a potential village burner into a village builder. That is the power of love, and no bullying presence can withstand its power.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Reengaged and Restored

God has a panoramic view of your coming restoration. He sees the beginning and the end. He has never seen your situation as hopeless. This restoration will not be a return to what was like someone returning to a painful juncture in life and picking up where they left off. You have become a different person in this process. In the pain of what took place, you were able to see deep into the heart of God. His heart has become your only safe place.  With His heart as your compass, this reengagement and restoration will be vastly different than anything you have experienced before. God is releasing the people and resources, both spiritual and natural, to meet you at the point of your reengagement. They will journey with you into something wonderful as a reminder of God’s faithfulness. Because you have trusted God, He can now entrust you with the desires of His heart for your life.