Sunday, November 19, 2017

Our Undiscovered History

As a young pastor, everything was new to me. One part of that newness was the fact that we were pioneering a church in Kalispell, Montana. I had never been to Montana. That has been a repeated theme for each new ministry assignment Jan and I have accepted over the last 37 years. We first said “yes” to the call of God and then went, not knowing anything about the place of our calling. Montana is a stunningly beautiful state from the Rockies in the west to the sagebrush-covered open space of the east. I loved it all.

We started our church in September of 1981 and that Christmas I visited the county jail on Christmas Eve to bring some hope to those locked up behind bars on the holiday. During my visit, I met a mountain man - a real mountain man. His name was George. George was at least ten years older than me. He had been arrested after sticking three thugs with his skinning knife who jumped him outside a bar in Columbia Falls. It was a robbery attempt. He was later exonerated of the charges since it was obviously self-defense.

A few days after Christmas, George was released and I got to lead him to Jesus while sitting in a pickup truck in the parking lot of the Kalispell K-Mart. He became one of my best friends and served as an usher at our church. We hunted and fished together. He taught me how to run an open canoe through the rapids on the North Fork of the Flathead River. When we ran our canoes, George and I wore wool pants, red and black checkered wool shirts, Sorel boots and wide-brimmed hats. We carried Ruger .44’s on our hips. Gliding down the river in our canoes, we looked like we were time-traveling explorers from the 1800’s. 

George lived in a log cabin at the end of a dirt road. His property backed up against government land. You would have to hike for miles across steep mountain terrain just to get to the edge of his property if you were not a property owner whose land backed up to government land as George’s property did.

One day, George took me on a hike up the mountain to show me something. After about 15-minutes we came upon an abandoned cabin. It looked more like a stockade. The logs were square cut and the roof was flat. George said this was a stop on the wagon route into the Flathead Valley used in the mid-1800’s. It was built as a refuge from attacking Indians. There were no windows, just slits to shoot rifles through. It was so well built that it looked as if it could still be used today for its original purpose. After looking around, we walked back down the mountain. 

I recalled the memory of that cabin this week. I loved its history and where my thoughts took me as I tried to imagine a wagon filled with passengers and cargo hurrying up to get inside the cabin while under attack.

As I entertained that memory, the Lord said to me He was about to disclose the location of undiscovered histories and heritages. Some of you will be granted access to undiscovered parts of your family history, your ethnicity and your place in history. This has been preserved for you just like the cabin was preserved on the mountain overlooking George’s place. The discovery of this history will be a missing link needed for you to see the larger work God is doing in your life. A settling effect will come with these discoveries. You will no longer feel disconnected with your history. It will become part of your life and your calling.

I was back in Montana a few years ago and drove down the dirt road leading to George’s cabin. He was gone. We had lost track of each other over the years. I was tempted to drive down the entrance to George’s place and ask permission from the new owners to make the hike up the mountain in an attempt to find the cabin. I realized I was not dressed for a hike of that nature so I  just slowed down and let the memories flood my mind as I continued driving. It was a poignant moment. Unless the new owners had made the hike up the mountain it is very possible they don’t know the old cabin is still there looking down on their homestead. That is the nature of undiscovered history.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

One More Flight

I watched a video about a 92-year-old World War II veteran. He was a crewmember on a TBM Avenger aircraft. He was being honored at an airshow and given an opportunity to sit once again in a crewmember seat of a TBM where he sat many times during perilous combat missions. Sitting in the aircraft 72 years later was very nostalgic for the old man. As the video rolled on, you could see him reach out and touch the airframe as if the aircraft was alive and speaking to him.

The old veteran was magically transported back to his 20th year of life. He saw once again the instruments he needed to read and interpret for the pilot while performing his flight crew duties.  He remarked that the TBM was a good aircraft “that always brought us home.” In the next segment of the video, he was invited to fly once again in a beautifully restored TBM Avenger.

As the aircraft taxied out to the runway people lined both sides of the taxiway saluting, waving and cheering the old man who was smiling with wonder and appreciation.  You could hear the airshow announcer drawing the attention of the attendees to watch this special moment of honor and recognition.

When the Avenger lined up with the runway heading and the pilot advanced the throttle, the old man’s face became childlike as the aircraft began to accelerate down the runway. A twenty-year-old in an aging body was flying once again. The moment of liftoff appeared to take the old man’s breath away. I lost control of my emotions while sharing in his joy. I sensed this would be his last flight.

Some of you are the old veteran aviator. You may have thought no one would remember your sacrifice and service in God’s Kingdom. Just as the old veteran experienced a special moment of honor and recognition, God has a plan to invite you back to what you considered lost in the pain of your history. 

A moment of honor is approaching. You have one more flight to experience. It will be a very special flight. This flight will be a flight of honor to thank you for your service to God, family, and friends. 

The Lord has not forgotten what you did in moments of great risk and peril with your acts of sacrificial love and service. Choosing the righteous path has given the following generations of your family line the gift of spiritual freedom. Your victories in spiritual battle made a way for those you love to live a life of peace and their gratitude is about to be expressed. Just as it was when the vintage WWII aircraft taxied out and the crowd of people stood to salute the old veteran, many of us will stop what we are doing to stand to honor you and your service to the King. You have not been forgotten. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Refuse!

Refuse to battle people and institutions. The real battle for the soul of a culture is a warfare empowered by love. It is always waged beyond the most visible and heated battle lines drawn by sensitive social issues like cultural diversity, race, gender, sexual orientation, personal politics, packaged news broadcasts, fear-based advertising and everything else that wants to divide people against each other.

When people of faith join a movement of refusal they will step into supernaturally empowered solutions that can never be achieved when we fight and struggle with the same failed weapons and tactics of battle employed by the world around us.

Refuse! is a resistance movement that will change everything. Most importantly, it will change the way we think enabling us to accomplish infinitely more than we could ever hope or imagine had we remained hunkered down in the fruitless trenches of natural battle firing off the weapons of anger, wrath, and division.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).



Brave Leadership

A limited, and sometimes shrinking demographic can become your loudest voice of support. Those who want things to remain the same are not always happy with the possibility of change. Many times this group will sense a change is coming and will increase the volume of their support in hopes that you will cement the bricks of the status quo permanently in place with the mortar of their support. The noise of their affirmation is not always the best indicator of the effectiveness of your message.  This is why we occasionally need a pair of eyes from outside our current demographic to view our lives and ministries through an unbiased lens.

The sound of support made by an overly affirming group can actually begin to drown out the gentle nudges of the Spirit that have been trying to get our attention.  The Spirit of God has an assignment to let us know when a change needs to take place. If we cannot hear this instruction we will not be able to move past our familiar and personal Jerusalem to reach the uttermost parts of the Earth.  The book of Acts records the story of these nudges and the effectiveness they released when engaged by brave leadership.

This not only applies to churches and ministries. It applies to all our endeavors if we are living for a Kingdom purpose.  How we run a business, raise our kids or involve ourselves in local politics will be affected by how willing we are to move beyond the status quo and the affirming sound of those who do not want to make the changes required to move forward into new territory. This is not a human concept or strategy limited to the resources and empowerment of the natural world or human talent. It is actually a Kingdom concept birthed and sourced from the Spirit. If you embrace this kind of thinking, it will change how you deal with your kids as they grow and mature. It will change the marketing plan of a wise businessperson who adjusts the presentation of their product to reach a wider consumer base. It will change how you love your spouse as the relationship grows and matures.

The expanded audience of those whom God has prepared to hear your message may be hidden in the wings of culture deaf to your current presentation. They are waiting for you to retool your approach and your presentation so they can hear your message. The Early Church did this when they made the shift from only speaking to the believers in Jerusalem with concepts and language familiar to the Jews. They needed to expand the reach of their voice and the geography of their mission. In that expanded presentation, they were led by God to Gentile people groups scattered across the known world and since they took that first brave step, nothing has ever been the same.

“Your ears will hear a word behind you, 'This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right or to the left” (Isaiah 30:21).



Thursday, November 16, 2017

I Am Here To Protect You

A friend of mine, Keith Jenkins, shared a story on his Facebook wall that was so poignant it arrested my heart and my emotions. Fifty-eight years ago today, a little black girl named Ruby Bridges was escorted into a segregated school by federal marshals. Her beautiful and innocent presence was not welcomed by a vile crowd of protesters who hurled insults and projectiles at her as she walked forward with great courage into her destiny. Her small and vulnerable stature needed others to protect her from an evil and unrestrained hatred based only on the color of her skin. A new teacher at the school, Barbara Henry, welcomed this fragile yet powerful little human being with open arms teaching her in isolation when others openly shunned her presence.


If you desire to be on the side of Heaven’s redemptive history, stand with those who are not able to fully represent themselves in a world that many times can be so divisive and hate-filled. This is the truest essence of a prophetic heart that expresses the love of God. Jesus came to stand with those who feel alone and without an advocate. 

Jesus always made a place for the rejected and the demeaned. He spoke hope to their wounded hearts and stood between them and their accusers. Because this was the ministry of Jesus, it is also our ministry. You can always discover where Jesus is at work. Just follow the sound of Heaven that says, “I am here to protect you.” Move toward that sound and reproduce its hope. That is your place of calling.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Discovering Hidden Blessing in a Place of Sorrow

In 1968, at age 60, my father had a heart attack. For a man who was a carpenter and had to work with his hands to make a living, this changed everything.  After his heart attack, my father took a remodeling job in an adjoining city with a plan for a house to become a pre-school. The work was not heavy labor so in my father’s post-heart attack world, it was doable.

My parents knew my father’s work history in manual labor was drawing to a close. A couple of years before all of this happened, my mother inherited my grandmother’s home in Los Gatos, California. It was a beautiful older home on a third of an acre. The home was being rented when my father’s heart attack took place.

One day, after working the first week on the remodel job, my father returned home to tell my mother, “Lavert, you could do this.” He was referring to my mother opening her own pre-school. My father knew he could not work much longer and wanted to set up a life for my mother where she would have an income in case something happened to him.

My father finally quit working and devoted all of his time to remodeling my grandmother’s home to become a pre-school. He turned a separate garage into a small cottage for my parents to live in as my mother readied her school to open. The school finally opened in the fall of 1968 with only three students. Over the years credentialed staff were added as new students were enrolled. When the yearly graduation took place and all the children were wearing little caps and gowns and marching across the campus to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance, it was truly remarkable to see the level of excellence and joy being displayed. It was a happy place for children. The school always had a waiting list for new students.

A local college that granted degrees in early childhood development used Green Hills Pre-school as their laboratory to help train students. It became known as one of the premier pre-schools in the state of California. A few years ago, I did a Google search and found a website listing the “The Best of Los Gatos” and up popped Green Hills Pre-school.

What began with a heart attack and looming financial ruin for our family became an unforeseen and unimagined blessing. After founding and directing the pre-school for eleven years, my parents were able to sell the school and reap a full retirement income that would serve them the rest of their days on Earth.

Every tragedy of life has hidden within it a blessing from God. Some of these blessings do not just appear, they require a partnership with God to discover their reality. My parent’s blessing began with the words, “Lavert, you could do this.” That simple statement of faith set in motion a beautiful piece of our family history that I tell today with a mixture of amazement and thankfulness. I was able to see ashes of sorrow and disappointment transformed into something of beauty.

Today, walk through the ashes in your place of sorrow and listen for a word of hope and faith. When you hear that word speak it into your situation. That word has the ability to set in motion a miracle you never imagined could be possible. Somewhere in the uncertainty and confusion of your circumstance is a God-plan waiting to join itself with your faith to produce something truly wonderful. Speak a word of hope and faith and watch God do something beyond your ability to imagine. 


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Connecting Revival Silos

A significant step in the reformation currently taking place in culture will be the connection of revival silos. In agricultural terms, a silo is a tall cylindrical container that stores grain for future delivery. These silos are huge. Many of them are several stories tall. Alone, they have a limited capacity and potential. Linked together with other silos they have unlimited capacity and potential.    

God wants to bring together silos of revival for a supernaturally multiplied impact in the nations that a standalone silo of ministry cannot attain. For too long we have allowed our lives and ministries to be separated by the non-essentials of our faith and by the narrowness of our preferences. God wants to do a John 17 work of oneness in His Church that will release a supernatural harvest of souls only attained when we work together.    

The connection of these silos will take place through relationships formed in humility, not by an affiliation created by the limitations of a preferred style of ministry, a shared denominational history or the need to be seen as the predominant leader of a movement. God wants to connect our diversity and our uniqueness to express His heart to the world.    

This connectivity will come as the result of the intentional steps taken by those who lead these revival silos to connect with other silos for the greater good. New levels of increased Kingdom influence will come to those willing to link up in relationship to deliver together the grain of revival that will become the bread of Heaven for the nations.  

“I pray that they all will be one, just as you and I are one” (John 17:21).