Monday, September 26, 2016

The Light of a Nation

Jan and I were walking along a country road near our home. On our walk we walked by a familiar flag we had seen many times before. It hangs from high within a large oak tree. As we passed the flag it was just at the right moment to see the rays of the sun shining through the red, white and blue fabric. in that moment, I realized the light passing through the flag was an image of what God wants to do in our nation and in each nation on the Earth.                                                    

This penetrating work of God's light is the hope of a nation. Only the light of God’s presence passing through our divided souls has the power to overcome our division and become a bridge to a new future. Possessing strong and well-documented opinions or holding the reigns of political power do not have the ability to accomplish this challenge. Only the light of God has that kind of power.                                                                                                                                

Turn on His light where you now stand and let it do its supernatural work. It may even penetrate your own soul revealing those places where you stand in unrighteous division with other people. God wants access to your heart to do a work of transformation so that when people look at you they will see His light shining through your life.

The Value of Your History

Removing an archaeological artifact from its original context removes it from its place in history. Archaeologists cringe when someone walks into a museum with a newly discovered piece of history hastily dug up from their latest backyard project. In doing so they removed the piece from the surroundings that actually tell its story. Each artifact requires a precise and measured excavation to properly identify its relationship to its surroundings and its place in history. The context of an artifact reveals as much information as the artifact itself. Without both parts working together the story is incomplete.

Your personal history is what gives your life the distinct character it carries. Paul never distanced himself from his history. He boldly shared his personal history. Don’t try to hide from your past. Use it to show others how God's plan of redemption has worked out in your life. The testimony of your personal history is a gift God wants you to share with others.

There is no place in our lives for the kind of shame that would cause us to live apart from our history only allowing our lives to be displayed on a protected fireplace mantle removed from the very provenance that accurately describes our life. We are God's masterpiece. He wants to display us with all our history intact. 

Allow your history, both the good and the bad, to be known. In that honest representation people will be able to see how the love of God was powerfully displayed in your life. That will become your testimony - the historically complete and accurate one.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Sign of Love

Yesterday, Jan and I stopped to visit Silver Falls State Park outside of Salem, Oregon. We had been on the road for a few days so stopping to stretch our legs and take a hike was a great decision. We walked along a well-marked trail that bordered a steep canyon containing a series of stunning waterfalls that makes this place so famous.

We rounded one turn on the trail and noticed the sign depicted in the photo I shared with this article. I sensed the Lord wanted me to take a picture. Immediately, I got the sense the sign was a message.  As I looked beyond the sign, I saw an unofficial trail made by inquisitive people who walked past the sign’s prohibition to see what was in the danger zone. I wonder who might have been the first poor soul to fall from this precipitous place causing the warning sign to be erected.

As I looked at the sign and the trail, the Lord spoke a word to me. He said, “Some of you need to return to the trail I have asked you to walk. Beyond the sign of warning exists a grave danger I have not planned for your life. I placed this sign of caution before you as an act of love, not as a sign of restriction. What is about to be revealed on the trail ahead is something beautiful and without regret. Keep walking in faith.  Stay on my trail. Something beautiful is just around the next turn.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Portable Vision Statement

“Then the Lord answered me and said: ‘Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.’” Habakkuk 2:2

I used to think the words of Habakkuk were about simplicity. I am sure it can be interpreted that way, but today I see it more from the aspect of portability.

Twenty-five years ago, I was asked to create a vision statement for my life. After prayer and consideration, I wrote, “I want to be found in Him discarding those things that are temporary and embracing those things that are eternal.” That vision statement has proven true and tested over time. I have been able to run with it through the last twenty-five years unhindered by the various assignments of life and ministry. They became a safeguard when I was faced with important decisions that unfolded at incredible speed and had the potential to radically change the direction of my life. In unsettled seasons I found myself asking the question, “Does this sound eternal?” If it didn’t, I did not move in that direction.

Habakkuk does not tell us what to write on our tablet. That decision is left up to each of us. When you write a vision statement for your life write it with the eternal values of heaven in mind. Words like “success”, “wealth” or “position” are not normally found in healthy vision statements.  When God has you scribe a portable vision statement on your earth-tablet you will be able to run with it through every changing season of life and not stumble. The words you have written and allowed to direct the course of your life will be used by God to bring you safely to the end of your days at peace having accomplished all He desired for your time on earth.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Importance of Impression

Jan and I were invited to lunch by our friends, Tim and April Matteson who live in Reno, Nevada. They wanted us to meet Graham Cooke. At lunch we talked about many things. One story really stuck in my mind. When Graham is in his hometown each day he frequents a local coffee shop. Everyone who works there knows him on a first name basis. They love to see Graham come each morning because his presence shifts the environment of the coffee shop.

Graham said he tips well – really well. He does this because he wants each person who works in the restaurant to have a good impression of the God he serves. When Graham goes on a weeklong ministry trip he prepares 7 envelopes addressed to the coffee shop with his normal tip enclosed and mails it so the workers will get his daily tip even when he is gone. I was amazed at Graham’s level of commitment to the impression he leaves behind.

As believers we carry the presence of God wherever we go. Our actions advertise that presence. A cheap tip left for a waitress or a flippant and insensitive remark made in the heat of a passionate discussion can leave an impression contrary to the heart and intent of the One we carry. The impression our lives leave behind is an indicator of how well we understand the heart of God.

Today, go overboard in graciousness and kindness. Learn from Graham. Tip big. Thank well. Speak wise and kind words. Do these things not because you are trying to impress others. Do it because you are forever grateful for the amazing love you have been shown by One you carry.  Do it because you want others to experience what that love feels like.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Prophets of the Pause

We are at a critical juncture in our national history. In these uneasy times knowing what motivates our response to the turmoil that is taking place will be an important discovery to make. Review your thoughts and actions to see if you are living with the mindset of an expired covenant or living and being transformed by New Covenant principles. 

During any time of cultural conflict we need to review the scriptural admonition that mercy triumphs over judgment.  Understanding this truth and walking in a practical application of its reality will be what leads us to the place where solutions to the complex issues we are facing are waiting to be discovered.

Walk with an extra measure of wisdom in the next few days and weeks. Your response will be part of what steers the national conversation. Give each conversation and interaction you have with others the gift of a pause before your respond. In that pause allow the Spirit to present the words God wants to speak through you that will express His heart to a hurting nation.

This morning as I watched the turmoil unfolding in Charlotte, I heard the Lord say, “I am raising up a group of people I will call, ‘Prophets of the Pause.’” He is looking for mouths waiting to be filled with His revolutionary words of love and mercy, not the parroted words of people who speak the same worn and ineffective words of fear currently being echoed in the streets of our nation.

Channel your passion and frustration by exercising self-control. Give God a pause and He will give you a message. Self-control is one of the most impacting fruits of the Spirit in times when uncertainty and fear is fueling the national dialogue. Our nation is a garden ready to be filled with seeds of hope. Plant wisely.