Saturday, February 18, 2017

Dangerous Prayers

One of the most dangerous prayers you can pray is, "Come, Holy Spirit, come!" 
I prayed that prayer this morning at 4:30 a.m. as I drove by a church building in a small Oregon town. Immediately, in the Spirit, I saw the parking lot of the church filled to overflowing and the surrounding streets in holy gridlock. The congestion was caused by the crowds of people arriving from all across the nation who were coming to experience the move of God taking place inside the walls of the church. 
I encourage you to pray a dangerous prayer - dangerous to the spirit of unbelief. Pray a simple prayer of invitation - "Come, Holy Spirit, come!" - over all areas of your life and watch God begin to do the impossible. 
Significant change is in the air. That change is waiting for your prayers of agreement to usher in a visitation of God's Spirit.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Spiritual Crash Sites

When Jan and I were based in Kingston, Jamaica, we learned a lot about the history of the island. One day, I was speaking with an old-timer who told me about the day when the first traffic signal was installed on the island. If you were to visit Jamaica today, you would quickly realize even with an abundance of traffic signals in the cities the driving is very chaotic to this day. I could not imagine what it was like when an unfamiliar traffic light was first put in place.

On that day, the busiest intersection in Kingston was chosen to receive the new traffic signal.  A notice was placed in the paper about the coming change. No one had ever seen a traffic light before. As cars approached the newly regulated intersection many of the drivers simply did not see the traffic light. It was not in their field of vision because it was not yet part of their thinking. Wrecks happened one after another. The intersection became a massive crash site.

The old-timer sharing this memory with me began to smile. He said, “It was so entertaining! Hundreds of people filled the streets watching crash after crash. When a new crash took place we all let out a cheer and applauded like we were at a soccer game.” This crash scene went on for weeks until the drivers finally came to realize what it meant to have their driving regulated.

The day the first traffic signal was installed in Kingston a lack of self-control was present. The traffic signal did not press the brake to obey a red light. That was the responsibility of the driver. It would become a learned skill.

One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control. This is not God or a pastor controlling our lives – it is you and me doing the controlling. That is why it is called self-control. We are the ones in charge of how we speak and how we choose to live. The appetites of our lives need a set of brakes and an accelerator in order to safely navigate the intersections of life. It may not be a positive-sounding message to consider a life lived under the control of the Spirit, but it is the only kind of life that will keep you from crashing.

Here are a few examples that Paul shared in Ephesians 5 that reveal to us what a spiritual traffic signal looks like when installed at the intersections of a life:

“So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” Vs. 25-27

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Vs. 29

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” 31-32

There are other spiritual traffic lights operating elsewhere in Scripture. Find where they have been installed and heed their warning. They will keep you safe in the journey. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Spiritual Surf Safari

God is calling you to step out and explore outside the current boundary of your faith. Good things exist beyond the borders of what you know and understand. An adventure is awaiting your arrival.

I began to surf as a 14-year-old kid living inland in Los Gatos, California. My mom would drive my brother and me over Highway 17 to Santa Cruz on Saturday mornings and drop us off at Otto’s Surf Shop where we would pick out our rental boards. From Otto’s we would walk down to Cowell’s Beach to catch our first wave. After a day of surfing, we would ride the bus back home and mom would pick us up. This Saturday routine went on until I was 16 and got a driver’s license, my first car and a new custom Hansen surfboard. Because I was now mobile, I was able to explore all our local surf spots.

In the summer of 1966 the classic surf movie, The Endless Summer, was released. It spawned in every surfer the dream of going on a personal surf safari. When I graduated from high school a buddy and I planned our own safari. He who owned a 59 VW bug with board racks on top. So we set out with our sleeping bags, a loaf of bread and very little money. Our plan was to surf every break we could find between our local surf spot on the central California coast all the way south to the Mexican border. We were young and broke, but we had a plan. It was a great three-week adventure.

This week, I heard the words, “It is time for a spiritual surf safari.” Though the words sounded a bit unusual, I knew it was the Lord. It is time for some of us to expand the borders of our faith. Like a surfer who has never surfed a new break and always stayed local, we can settle for only what is known. There is a risk involved for those who step beyond the bounds of what is familiar, but that step of faith will always pay great dividends.

While surfing Rincon one afternoon, I paddled out to catch a wave.  When I finally caught the wave, I began to slide down the face. At the bottom, I made a hard right turn throwing a fan of spray in my wake. On the paddle back out my friend, Bill, yelled to me, “Man, that was the best bottom turn I’ve ever seen you make!” It was not that I could not have made a similar bottom turn at Cowell’s Beach back home, but something was different here. I really was going for it because I was on an adventure. The mindset of exploration and adventure caused me to step outside my personal boundaries and beyond my normal skill level. The whole trip was just like that - radical.

Maybe it is time for you to pack up your spiritual VW. Grab a friend and put your boards on the rack of your calling and set out to discover something larger and unknown. God will meet you in that new place with expansion and acceleration for the anointing on your life. In that place of newfound joy and wonder you will make the best bottom turns of your life because risk was no longer something to be feared.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Damascus Road of Media

God wants us to see through and beyond the obvious. He has given us the ability to see through the prepared script of the natural world into the realm of the Spirit. Without this dimension of sight, we will come to the same conclusions as an unredeemed mind. 

A.W. Tozer wrote,  “The man who has been taught by the Holy Spirit will be a seer rather than a scholar. The difference is that the scholar sees and the seer sees through, and that is a mighty difference indeed.” I believe Tozer was prophesying to the Church throughout the ages, but his words ring especially true in this moment of history. Change is in the air.

God is raising a cadre of seers from within the camps of entrenched social bias that exist on both sides of each cultural issue. Significant voices in the media are about to experience a supernatural transformation giving them the ability to see through the deception they have created. These newly transformed media seers will be used by God to dismantle the megaphones of darkness that carried their voice. The sounds of reformation will be released from the point of this revelation.

These events will be as stark in contrast and effect as Paul’s experience with Jesus on the road to  Damascus. Paul’s sudden transformation was viewed with great suspicion in the Church. The same thing will take place today. As events unfold, hold your final verdict until God has finished His work. God will ask you to believe what appears too good to believe to the natural mind.

Ask God to give you ears to hear and eyes to see what the Spirit is doing. You cannot assume the opinions you currently hold fully reflect the heart of God unless you have been able to see through the current issues instead of just seeing the issues. There is depth and dimension to this revelation. Revelation is never one-dimensional. It is always deeper than our current understanding. When this revelation comes it will bring unusual transformation to our media and that will be a mighty difference indeed.

Monday, February 13, 2017

When The Lights Go Out

Jan and I are staying at the beautiful Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, Washington. The lodge overlooks the majestic Columbia Gorge. We are gathering here with a group of pastors and spouses for a three-day retreat.

The power just went off a little after 5:00 a.m. Most people are still asleep at this hour, but as our normal routine, Jan and I have been up for an hour. It is an uneasy feeling having the power go off in a strange and unfamiliar place. The darkness was sudden. It came as they say, “In the twinkling of an eye.” I am writing these words using the stored power of my computer. Our computer screens are producing the only available light in our room. I always bring a small flashlight in my travel bag so we will not have to stumble around in the darkness if we need to move about before daybreak.

The moment the power went off, the Lord began to speak to me. This temporary power outage is an illustration of our spiritual reality. You and I live in a darkened world no matter how alive and illuminated it may appear. Sin has darkened its beauty and potential. Only the light of God’s truth expressed in Jesus Christ can restore our world to the brilliance of God’s original design.

The Scripture says, “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn that grows brighter and brighter until the full day.” The light from my computer screen reminds me of the reality of those words. Our only true and trusted source of light comes from the Spirit of God that we carry. Its power flows from heaven to earth and remains independent from the temporary expressions of false light empowered from earthly sources of human wisdom and intellect. This is an ever-increasing illumination carried within every believer. As each new soul enters God’s Kingdom through Jesus Christ that growing presence of truth-holders increases the presence of Light upon the earth. The darkness cannot withstand the increasing presence of Light.

No matter what happens in the days ahead, you will never be left in the dark. You always carry Light. If your surroundings suddenly go dark the Light you carry will shine brightly in the ink-black darkness. It's amazing how bright and reassuring the glow from my computer screen is in this darkened lodge. It is amazing how brightly you shine in a dark world.

“I am the Light of the world.” – Jesus

(Postscript: Power back on at 6:40 a.m. - J)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Living with Heaven in Mind

In order to be used by God to the fullest measure while living on earth, we must constantly keep heaven in mind. Without the concept of heaven filling our thoughts we will not be able to live up to our full Kingdom potential because desperation and fear will drive our labor. This takes place when diminishing time, not timeless eternity, directs our actions and creates our emotions.

Our view of time can be an enemy or an ally. All time is a diminishing commodity. It will always compress and become smaller the longer one lives. We can see this diminishing time in two ways – with desperation or delight. The only way to navigate the compression of time without striving and unrest is to keep our eyes fixed on heaven.

Raise your eyes above the challenges you are currently facing and fix your eyes on the reality of heaven. That perspective will give you the ability to press through whatever challenge has crossed your path. It will also infuse your life with a peace that only comes when we keep our eyes fixed on the realities of heaven.

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” Colossians 3:1-2

Saturday, February 11, 2017

It is Time to Fly Higher

Just a few years out of high school, I began taking flying lessons in a glider. About thirty minutes from my home was an excellent glider school called Fremont Sky Sailing located in Fremont, California.  The school had a fleet of older Schweizer 2-33 gliders used to instruct students and rent to licensed glider pilots. Flying a full-size glider was like sitting in an easy chair thousands of feet up in the sky hearing only the sound of wind passing over the airframe. It is my favorite kind of piloting.

 The city of Fremont was also home to a Ford Motor Company assembly plant. Huge buildings housed the assembly lines where a thousand vehicles were produced each day. The buildings were surrounded by acres and acres of asphalt parking lots. One day, after we were towed to altitude by our Piper Cub tow plane I pulled the release knob to free us from the towline. It was a cooler day and very little thermal heat was being generated. We needed those rising thermals to take us to our practice altitude. My instructor taught me a valuable piloting skill that day. He said, “We need to move. See the Ford Motor assembly plant? Head to the parking lot.”

In route to the parking lot, my instructor said on days when no lift is taking place there are always heat thermals rising from the black asphalt of the assembly plant parking lot. The black asphalt attracts the rays of the sun and releases waves of heated air skyward. These columns of rising air are called thermals. Thermals rise like invisible hands, pushing a glider to a higher altitude. 

When we arrived, I was told to circle over the parking lot to gain the additional altitude we would need for our training sessions. I will never forget the lesson I learned that day. Later, I would come to understand the importance of that lesson when applied to spiritual matters.

Some of you may have wrongly assumed the decline and decrease you are experiencing is somehow God’s plan. You have made plans for a life of descent, not ascent. This is not about gaining more possessions or acquiring a new level of prestige. It is about rising higher in your experience with God and from that higher place seeing a wider expanse of God’s Kingdom. This is a humble rise to a new altitude. It is a humble rising because once you arrive at a higher place you will know it was the lift of God's Spirit, not your striving, that brought you there.

You will need to gain a higher altitude in order to learn the next lesson God has planned. It cannot be learned at a lower altitude where disbelief has put a ceiling on revelation. Just as my flight instructor told me to move and fly over the large parking lot, it may be time for you to move.  Ask God to show you where the lift of the Spirit is taking place. Change your heading and begin to move in that direction. Make this change and you will gain the altitude required to navigate through the next season of your life.