Monday, October 22, 2018

Navigating a Life-Transition with Hope and Trust

As Jan and I were walking into town, I noticed a line of trees still carrying the fullness of color in their fall foliage. Most of the leaves on the other trees in town had already fallen, but this line of trees was still in the fullness of its colorful display. 

As I walked by the trees, the Lord impressed on me that some of you fear the end of this season and the approach of something new. Don’t fear the new and the unknown. It's all in God's hands. In this transition, the Lord will allow the goodness of what was to linger longer than expected to get you through this change before the promise of something new appears. 

You will always have a representation of God's goodness in each season of your life. Look for the color and beauty in the middle of your doubt and concern. You are not alone. We all have to deal with these things at some level. Learn to interpret each transitional season with an outlook of hope in the goodness of God. Hope will give the promises of God a place to assemble and manifest the future you are about to enter. Hope will also open up a new level of trust for you to see with the eyes of faith what God has planned for your future.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Filtering the Cultural Dialogue

With the mid-term elections in full swing and emotions running high, it is not too late to allow God to transform the sound of our voice and the impact of our lives to align with the greater purposes of God’s Kingdom. 

We all need a filter through which to process what is taking place. Each of us has Scripture, insight from the Spirit and the availability of wise counsel. These resources can mold our voice and direct our actions for the good if we are willing to engage the balance and wisdom they provide. Through these filters, we can sift the voices and images we are being asked to believe to see if they contain the heart and message of God. It is our individual responsibility to sift religious leaders, newscasters, cultural pundits, and even our friends to determine the quality and integrity of their message. If the input we are receiving is not able to pass through these filters we have not yet heard the voice of God.

Voices once prophetic are now announcing conspiracy theories, intrigue-laced political maneuvering, and solutions available to the basic inquiry of an unredeemed mind. These things sell and capture an audience, but they do little to advance God’s Kingdom. In this time of critical national importance, we need Heaven to speak a depth of wisdom not found when our voice sounds like the fearful and frustrated culture. None of this is new. It has been repeated in history and sadly plays well in the Church and the wider culture when unresolved frustration is allowed to lead the charge.

Here is what Paul wrote to Titus of his responsibility as a leader in the Church. It seems as if Paul’s instruction was crafted for this moment in time:

“Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone”(Titus 3:1-2).

To some, this approach will appear na├»ve and simplistic. It will ring of a narrow intellectual bandwidth or worse, a weakness of character. It does not sound hot-button enough to enter the bloodthirsty ring of our pugilistic cultural debate and win the fight. To those who fault the instructions of Paul, facts, gotchas and putdowns are what will carry the day. These shallow and Spirit-less solutions will end up replacing a message of truth spoken in love and eventually rob the Church of its prophetic voice in each sphere of cultural influence. 

If we fail to filter the sound and content of our voice in response to the constant barrage of emotional stimuli we are receiving, we will miss the downloads of Heaven sent to reveal God's preferred future. These downloads are only discovered if our alignment is with the heart of God, not the informational waste found floating in the cesspool of anger and dishonor that is filling some of the conversations and opinions currently being offered as the way forward.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Be Prepared To Stop

I was driving around town completing some errands and noticed an abundance of “Be Prepared To Stop” signs. Several road projects are being completed in our community so the bright orange signs are very present. After passing the fifth sign, the Lord began to speak to me.

Many prophetic words have been issued about advancement and acceleration. These words have a sense of motion attached to them. I agree with the encouragement provided by these words, but not everything the Lord speaks is about moving forward. 

There are some instances when standing still and waiting is the instruction of the Lord. Just like the signs in our town announcing roadwork ahead, in the Spirit, there are times when we need to wait while the Lord prepares the way for us. Some have kept moving forward when a way forward was not yet prepared. In their impatience with the Lord’s timing, they experienced a premature arrival. This prematurity has caused them to get stuck in an unprepared place. Others ran off the yet-to-be-made-ready road of their calling.

In an impatient world where bravery and courage are typically assigned to those who take charge and do something, waiting can appear to be a lesser choice. Never allow the pressure of a circumstance, the counsel of another person or your own need to appear in charge push you past a sign from the Lord to wait. In the waiting, the way will be opened in the perfect timing of God. Trust in His signs. They will never fail you.

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Spiritual Parenting

A spiritual father or mother must be secure enough in their calling to let their offspring play unsupervised in the real world. This release will reveal if what the parent placed in their children by wise counsel and a loving parenting presence will actually work when the child is alone with God and takes responsibility for their own decisions. Without this release, the relationship will not have the depth of maturity and joy God desires for our intergenerational relationships in the Kingdom of God.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Harvesting the Fruit of Forgotten Faith

God has been working on your behalf without your knowledge. What He is about to do in this season of your life was originally set in motion by an act of faith from your past. You forgot about it, but God hasn't. What is about to take place will come as a surprise to you but not to God.

A few days ago, I set the stopwatch setting on my iPhone to time a task I was doing. I got diverted and forgot about it. The next morning, I went to set my phone to time another task and realized the stopwatch had been running for over 18 hours continuing to measure what I set in motion the day before. The stopwatch continued to run as I slept through the night.

The smallest acts of faith in our past can have a significant impact on our future. Just because an act of faith was small and forgotten does not mean it lacks the power and authority to accomplish the most profound things. God does not measure our faith by the limitations of human measurement. He measures by the condition of our heart. The Lord never forgets the seeds of faith we plant in love and obedience to His will.

Your act of faith was planted in the soil of God's heart. It will produce the harvest of a much larger spiritual reality than you could imagine from just a single seed. Your seed of faith will become a field of miraculous provision. When this field of harvest becomes a reality, you may be like me when I looked at the stopwatch on my iPhone and realized I had set the timer the day before and forgot about it. At that moment you will remember your act of faith and the promise of God that kept the potential of the seed alive. When this happens, you will give Him all the glory and honor when the fruit of your faith is finally harvested and remembered.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Our Gate-Crashing God

A fresh encounter with the presence of God is coming. Our theologies, our cultural barriers, and our personal opinions will not be able to stand in His way. Time is compressing under the weight of His passion. An explosion of His presence is ready to fill the Earth to accomplish things not imagined without a renewed mind.

In 1979, I was a young man running away from a commitment I made to Jesus as a child. The denomination I was part of in my youth loved God but did not believe in a present-day charismatic expression of the Spirit or the gifts. They said that all ended with the first apostles. In the middle of the night in 1979, Jesus walked into our bedroom and stepped through all my prohibitions and baptized me with the Holy Spirit and gave me the first syllable of a heavenly language. He could do this because He was God. He did not need my permission or a belief system that agreed with His approach. That night, I was wrecked and remain wrecked to this day because of God’s invasive love.

If you do even a cursory read of Scripture you will find my encounter with Jesus in the middle of the night was not an odd occurrence. From Genesis to Revelation, nothing has been able to stand in the way of God’s love. On the road to Damascus, Jesus met Paul and turned his life and theology around. Immediately, he began to love what he wanted to destroy. Peter went back to fishing after miserably failing Jesus three times. He would have an encounter with the Lord over an early morning shore-side breakfast that would restore him and reset the trajectory of his life. I could make a list of people in my own life who the Lord had to come and get because their current understanding of theology, culture or personal opinion did not have a gate through which the Almighty God could enter and begin a process of transformation. Jesus does not need a gate. He crashes through our puny little gates of objection and ignorance because His love knows no boundary or restriction.

God is coming to encounter His Church in a new way for a new season. When He arrives, He will crash through our foolish little barriers of sectarianism and our ornate gates of religious opinion. When God crashes through our opposition it will happen because He has arrived as God – the sovereign, all-powerful, loving God who can do anything He wants at any time He chooses. He can even violate our idea of who He is or how He should conduct His Kingdom business. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Warm, Wind and Leaves

I sat in the morning light,
in a red plastic Adirondack chair,
my back to the cool winds of fall,
my face toward the sun.
Leaves fall all around me 
like crackling red-orange potato chips
shaken from maple tree limbs.
They cartwheel across the lawn,
then catch for a moment,
on blades of grass.
Released again,
they tumble together with the wind
toward the fence.

The chair back formed
a lee from the breeze,
a calm around my face.
Sun rays reached down,
solar hands extended touching me
one more time in these
last days of Indian summer.
My face bathed in the waning warmth
for the longest time.
I sighed a sigh of goodness
and peace,
of God-things.