Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Stirring Your Passion

When I awakened this morning, I began to think of what would happen if the masses of people who follow Jesus Christ became an active part of the reformation currently taking place in our culture. Today, many believers feel distant from the subject. They think discussions about reformation take place in the rarified air breathed only by theologians.

When I wrote the book, The Sound of Reformation, I did not write an academic treatise on the subject. I wrote a concept book. Many excellent works on the subject of reformation already exist. What was not present was a simple publication that could be approached by the everyday man and woman who has stood at a distance from what appeared to be such a heady subject. I wrote it for the busy church leader who has considered the topic too complicated to take on amidst an already strenuous ministerial calendar.

This morning, I received a kind and affirming email from a man in Europe who picked up a copy of my book from our European distributor. He wrote, “The Sound of Reformation, which I have just finished, touched so many areas of my life that God has been speaking into. It has stirred a passion in me, and it is already swirling around with excitement for my part to play.”

My newfound European friend expressed precisely my desire for anything I write, but especially the goal I wanted to accomplish in writing The Sound of Reformation. Much of what we have tried to convey about reformation has been too complicated and unapproachable by the masses. As a result, many in the Church have not had their passion stirred and have yet to discover their unique part to play in the reformation taking place in each culture on Earth.

This is your time to discover and engage your part. You have amazing things to do with God. Discovering that calling and engaging its possibilities will stir a passion you did not know you had.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Courageous Example

Martin Luther King, Jr. has always been a man I admired both as a statesman and a fellow pastor. He was a man of courage who made choices many of us would hesitate to make. I want to pause and remember his life and sacrifice on this day when we as a nation honor his life and ministry.

The following is an excerpt from a speech titled, I Have Been To The Mountaintop. King gave this speech the day before he was assassinated. The words have always struck a deep place in my soul. His speech was prophetic of the tragic events that would unfold the next day on our family's black and white TV.

"Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I’m happy, tonight.
I’m not worried about anything.
I’m not fearing any man.
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

On this day when we remember a great man and a brother in Christ, I want to become more like him, a man of courage when courage was a dangerous choice.

Thank you, Martin.

Breaching the Realm of Heaven

Breach / brēCH / to make a gap in and breakthrough (a wall, barrier, or defense).

I researched the word “breach” after watching a video of a whale breaching. The whale swam half of its body out of the water into thin air then crashed back into the ocean with a huge splash. I have always felt whales had to be smiling when they put on such spectacular displays.

Watching the video of the whale, I thought of the many times in the summer when I dove into a lake or the ocean to enter the realm of the underwater world. My experience was like that of the whale. We each entered realms not our own for a temporary visit to experience awe and wonder.

I also thought of a movie I once watched. An unexplored realm hung before an explorer like a vertical wall of water held in space by a supernatural force. The explorer pushed his face against the shimmering substance and pressed through the barrier into another world to see what was not visible to those who stood behind him.

Yesterday, at Living Waters Church in Medford, Oregon, we breached the barrier between this world and eternity. Our worship team always does an excellent job using their musical gifts and worship leading ability to honor God. It is never a performance. It is pure and powerful worship. What was profound yesterday and became a breaching moment was when Ryan Rhoden stepped up on the platform and pastored the moment we were experiencing. 

At the end of worship, Ryan asked us to linger because something was taking place in the Spirit. No longer was the clock defing our time together, neither was the worship team or Ryan. The Spirit was inviting us to breach realms. In the wait, we stepped into the realm of Heaven and received what could not have been experienced had we not allowed the time for people to take a breaching step of faith. This moment came because we heard the words, “Let’s wait here for a moment.” In the waiting came the breaching.

For years, many of us who have led the Church believed our primary task was to center our gathering around a sermon or the latest expression of worship. At other times, we thought if we could just gain another skillset or another academic degree we could somehow move our churches past a limiting barrier of growth when all along, the most powerful thing we could have done was to help people breach realms.

In recent years, many of us learned that hosting the presence of God is the primary task of Spirit-led leadership in both the church and in culture. Each time we gather for a church service, a business meeting or when two friends meet for coffee, there will be an opportunity to breach realms. It is in these moments of breaching where something supernatural is released that we will bring back to our natural realm to change how we see and live this life. Breaching always precedes breakthrough.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Cloud of God's Glory

People have different reactions to the unexplainable events of God. A person can respond with joy, suspicion or outright dismissal. These responses come for a variety of reasons. Something took place several years ago that could create one of those responses as you read what I am about to write.

My daughter, Anna, was one of the stage artists at Bethel Church in Redding, California when a glory cloud formed in the sanctuary. It was a beautiful and unusual event. I have watched the video and felt joy and amazement. In the video, you can see specks of gold swirling inside the cloud as it moved across the sanctuary. 

When the cloud first appeared, and the gold began to manifest, specks of gold rose in the cloud like it was rising to Heaven in concert with those worshipping. A few moments later, the gold specks began to fall all over the sanctuary. No one prayed the glory cloud into the sanctuary. It was simply a gift from God. Of course, as with anything that could rock the boat of a religious spirit, some have criticized the event thinking it was man-made. 

My daughter was painting a piece of prophetic art when the cloud released its gold. The gold specks fell into the wet paint of Anna’s artwork. The piece Anna was working on had to do with hope. Anna sold the original at the conclusion of the service and was commissioned to do two more of the same.

The God you love and serve is not one who lives in the box of our fear, disbelief or doubt. He lives beyond. He is beyond our fear of death and beyond our thoughts of lack. He is beyond the next step of faith we will take in our life-journey. He is beyond all things, yet near. He works in both dimensions because we need a God who is living beyond the limitations of this world, and yet always close enough to embrace us in our time of need.

Today, as you worship God without demanding anything from Him but the joy of His presence, a cloud of glory will swirl around your life. You may not see it, but it is always there when He is lifted up. For reasons unknown to any of us, occasionally that glory will manifest in this realm in a very tangible way leaving us with a hope that far outweighs any sorrow or trouble we may be experiencing. Miracles, hope, and glory are always embedded in the artwork of Heaven. Faith is the admission price to enter God's gallery to view His magnificent work. Pay that price and you will be amazed at what you see.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Current Cultural Frustration

This is a very emotional and adrenaline-driven time in our nation. People are feeling frustrated with the current state of affairs. Every clickbait button on our computer screen, each controversy of faith or culture, foolish, and the foolish and demeaning words spoken in private or public are immediately thrust into our face. It is like we are trying to take a drink from a fire hose running at full blast. It is an impossible task. 

Frustration is an interesting word. The first half of its definition describes a person who is upset or annoyed with something. It is in the second half of its definition where we discover what actually fuels frustration. It describes a person who feels unable to achieve or attain something. Frustration comes when we feel helpless to bring change to the things that annoy or upset us. 

The feeling of helplessness is what empowers our frustration. This state of emotion is a critical juncture that must be navigated carefully. It is here where sin lurks waiting to find an opportunity to reveal itself in the justification of our frustration. Revolutions have fed on the feeling of helplessness since the beginning of time. 

If you are feeling helpless as the result of an unchecked frustration, confess it to the Lord as a sin. As a follower of Jesus Christ, you are never helpless - ever.  Feelings of helplessness that open the door to sin are disempowered in the light of confession. The simple act of disclosing to God your feeling of helpless frustration will take the rough edge off your emotions and help you realize something greater is at work than just an unbridled display of human emotion. It is at the point of confession where you will discover how to respond to people who live trapped in theirvfrustration. Your words will then become supernaturally empowered because you will have rediscovered your only true source of hope.

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (Proverbs 10:19).

Friday, January 12, 2018

Lead With Your Head

I watched a video of a motorcycle cop riding his bike through a set of narrowly spaced cones in a riding competition. It was amazing to see his balance, discipline, and timing. He was trained to do these maneuvers. It did not come naturally. When you train to ride a motorcycle, you will hear your instructor repeatedly tell you to lead each turn by first turning your head in the direction you want to go. The motorcycle will follow you into your place of focus.

This is a perfect example of why we need to continually yield to the renewing work of the Spirit when it comes to our minds and how we think. We will lead the entirety of our lives by how we choose to think. The next step you take today will be the result of the direction in which your thinking is currently focused.

As long as you and I continue to live on this Earth, we will never arrive at the final destination of a fully renewed mind. It is a life-long process. We are always having our thinking challenged by the Spirit. That challenge is part of a growing and vital faith. Once we think we have any aspect of this life or God’s Kingdom completely figured out, we would be like a motorcycle cop who forgot to lead a tight turn with his head. When this happens we can run off course and miss a vital turn of faith.

Keep turning your head toward the things of God. If you do this, you will make the tight turns in life you never thought possible had you kept looking straight ahead.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Protect Your Voice

From time-to-time, any of us can wander away from the fountain of fresh revelation. We can replace the content of a life-giving message with the stale flow of a substitute – a word generated by our frustration with the current state of gridlock in politics or the dishonor we see taking place in our culture. There is a problem with this kind of message. It does not possess the same supernatural potential contained in a Spirit-empowered prophetic word. These stale and lifeless words become nothing more than a revised version of the evening news dressed up in religious clothing.

This kind of detour typically begins in a season when we become frustrated with the slow pace of change. Somewhere along the way, as our frustration mounted, we failed to deal with the eroding condition of our heart. When change and transformation take longer than we hoped, our patience and trust levels are challenged. In these moments, we can release a word unprotected by the discipline of the Spirit. Resist this urge. Your voice is a valuable treasure empowered by Heaven. Protect and honor its content at all costs.