Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Echo of Our Testimony

I awoke in the middle of the night and heard in my spirit, the word "echo." I wondered why the Lord awakened me and had me focus on that single word. When I got up this morning, He directed me to something I wrote in my book, The Sound of Reformation, which I posted below. 

Every sound our voice makes will create a spiritual echo - a testimony. Unfortunately, not all the testimonies we share are positive. Some of these echoes can actually come from a kingdom in opposition to God. This happens when our heart and our voice are not under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

We are in a moment of cultural transition. This transition is deeper than the talking news heads and social commenters realize. It is important for each of us to check the content and quality of our words because those words are releasing a testimony to our friends, family and the larger culture. 

God has a plan to make the Earth an echo chamber - a repeating testimony of His goodness. The Church is the mouthpiece for that testimony. In this time of cultural transition, it is important that the sound of our collective voice creates the right sound. The world is listening.

The following excerpt is from chapter four, The Sound of Reformation:


"These new, Spirit-indwelled disciples came to the Day of Pentecost in obedience to the marching orders Jesus had given them. On that day, a new sound was released: “Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven…” (Acts 2:2).

The word translated as sound here is ēchos: it means sound or noise (and is also the root of the English word “echo”). The same word was used in Luke 4 to describe the sound of a testimony created by the ministry of Jesus when a demon-possessed man was set free. It was also used in Hebrews 12 to describe the sound of a ram’s horn trumpeting the Israelites to attention to hear the word of the Lord. 

That root word ēchos also forms the verb, ēchéō, which means to sound or roar and is found in I Corinthians 13:1 where Paul is defining love to the Corinthians: “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

The Church has been called to make the sound of love that will echo through each sphere of cultural influence."

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Nature of a Spirit-Empowered Upgrade

There are times in our lives when an upgrade from God will break apart our status quo and require that we redesign our lives to carry a new level of empowerment. These seasons of fracture are not the end. They are the beginning of something new.

Last weekend, I was in Salem, Oregon speaking.  Passing through the hotel lobby I picked up a  copy of the USA Today newspaper and read an article about the new and redesigned 2020 Chevrolet Corvette. The engine in the prototype is so powerful it is compromising the chassis of the vehicle creating structural distortion of the aluminum frame. The problem stems from the new engine. The 8-cylinder engine develops between 900 to 1,000 horsepower. The old chassis could not carry the increased power of the new engine. Chevrolet had to take the Corvette back to the drawing board to create a new chassis structure to house the new engine.

There are times when the structure of our lives and our current Kingdom assignment might breakdown under the influence of a fresh outpouring of the Spirit. When the Spirit begins to move, and what is known and familiar to us begins to crack and fall apart don't despair. Instead, begin to worship because only in worship will you be able to see what God is doing. You are being prepared for a new adventure with the Holy Spirit that requires a new level of power and anointing. This is the nature of a spiritual upgrade. 

A new chassis for a new season is being developed for your life. As you yield to the work of God’s Spirit in both your character and your calling, you will be ready to carry a new level of empowerment. When this upgrade is finished, under God’s power, nothing will be able to stand in your way. Your past will be left in the smoke of the burning tires of your faith as you accelerate into the future.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Sponsored Content

In social media, there is something called “sponsored content”. Sponsored content is advertisement space a person or business purchases to push a product or a video repeatedly before a select audience. It is an attraction device. I have come to not like sponsored content because of the clutter it creates. It clutters my social media feed with clickbait ads that make me not trust the product being offered. At times these ads can be just an innocent attempt to honestly push a product, but for the most part, the abundance and repetition of this form of advertising are annoying. 

On my Yahoo news feed, the word “sponsored” appears in small print just below the larger bold title and accompanying photograph. We can miss the sponsored ad announcement if we are not looking. The title and the image catch our attention and we dive in unaware. Most of these flashy titles are nothing more than a multipage “ad” that never gets to the point. As you click page after page you rarely get to the core of the promised content – you simply subject yourself to more ads for a wide variety of products, which was the goal of the sponsored content in the first place. The initial ad was crafted based on data created about you and your buying habits and past activity on the platform.

As it is with clever advertising so it is with life. We need to be able to discern the difference between something legit and something sponsored that uses our relationship to promote an agenda or a way of thinking. 

Who or what is framing your spiritual worldview and your response to life? If it's not the Scripture, the Spirit and a community of faith you are in trouble because someone or something else has created a form of spiritual clickbait that is drawing you into a pre-packaged worldview and response to life. It is subtle and many times it remains unnoticed until we find our selves in a place of jeopardy.

You are a consumer, both spiritually and commercially. The enemy of your soul knows how you live your life and even some things you think he could not know. He is prowling about looking for those places in our lives where a lack of wisdom and discernment has created a portal of spiritual naivety.  He has prepared just the right clickbait to draw you into a subtle presentation of a lie that will ring with enough truth that you will feel OK clicking its first attraction and step deeper and deeper into a place of well-crafted deception.  

There is a solution to cleaning up the newsfeed of your life. Ask God for help. He will be faithful to help you navigate through al the clutter. God's wisdom and discernment will let you know when you are being offered sponsored content.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Living Open and Free

Normally, when I travel to speak somewhere my host will reserve a room fo me in a comfortable hotel. I really appreciate that consideration. This trip is no exception. The beautiful hotel and its wonderful amenities allow me to be fresh and rested during my visit. 

After driving several hours to get to my destination, I finally arrived at the hotel and checked into my room. The first thing I do when I enter a new hotel room is to pray over the room and the hotel environment. As soon as my prayer ended, I went to the sink to get a drink of water. I grabbed a drinking glass and put it under the faucet and turned on the water. I held the glass under the water flow for several moments and wondered why my hand was getting wet and the glass was not filling. Then I realized my mistake. The glass was covered by a plastic security film. I laughed, took off the cover and drank a couple of glasses of refreshing water and began to unpack my luggage.

After the incident with the glass of water, I began to reflect on how our minds can be like that thin layer of plastic wrap. Our unrenewed thinking can prohibit the arrival of the good things God wants us to receive. We can experience a wounding in a relationship and try to cover the pain with a vow to never again let anyone have access to our hearts. We can allow a religious spirit of control to cover our mind and prevent us from entertaining a new aspect of God or we can let other people determine what comes into our minds and continue to be spoon-fed the predetermined agenda and will of another person or group. No matter what the covering might be when God attempts to pour a new measure of His presence and wisdom into our life that much-needed revelation can pour out into the sink of our lives if we are not an open and willing receptacle. 

Today, examine your life to see if it resembles the covered glass in the photo. God wants to renew our minds. The wrappers of fear, doubt and unbelief must be removed before we can be filled with freedom. Don't fear this openness to God. His only plan is to pour a refreshing drink of His presence into your life. He wants to fill you to a new and unimaginable capacity. 

Take off the plastic wrapping and God's love will begin to pour into your life. The infilling of His love will be evidence that your freedom has arrived. 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Rebranding Our Faith

Back in the 1980s, I remember reading some facts about Christian television. The profiled demographic of the average watcher was a female who lived in the South and was in her mid 50’s. While people from a differing demographic did watch Christian television, the pool of support the broadcasters drew from came primarily from an aging demographic of like-minded people. The perimeter of their ministry did not have sufficient access points to draw in those people who would channel surf past their sometimes garish and outdated presentations. Like Christian television or any outreach of the Church, we need to be willing to rebrand our image as the Spirit leads so that we can say, as Paul said, “I have become all things to all men, so that I may, by all means, save some” (I Corinthians 9:22). 

A business or ministry must occasionally rebrand itself if it is to remain relevant to a customer base or to the unredeemed culture it desires to reach. Rebranding is a process that creates a new look and feel for something that is no longer working at its full potential. The goal of rebranding is to influence a person's perception of a product or service. In matters of faith,  it helps people who are pursuing an encounter with God to not be hindered in that pursuit by an outdated delivery system. When we work with God in this process we will recreate our image to bring us up to date and relevant to the needs of the people we desire to reach.

A spiritually healthy rebranding will never compromise the essentials of our faith or the integrity of our message in an attempt to gain a new image or expand our audience base. Rebranding is simply about adapting and upgrading the vehicle that transports our message. It’s not about changing the core content of the message. 

It is too easy to shut the door to something new, untested and maybe even a bit uncomfortable. We can assume our limited demographic is all we are called to reach when God has another plan.

Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Moving the content of our message from Jerusalem to the remotest parts of the earth will require that we be willing to rebrand the vehicle of our message for each new leg of the journey. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

A Place Beyond

We have a lot of interesting comments, quips, and quotes that we toss around in the community of faith. Some of these are well-meaning, but not always fully true.  We can comment, quip and quote ourselves into strange corners if we take everything we hear or read at face value without seeing it through the broader lens of Scripture and history.

John Wesley said, “God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” While that is an admirable-sounding comment and we should all pray more, it is thankfully not accurate. Groups of faithful intercessors have been created and labored under the burden of that misconception. Paul said in Ephesians 3:20, Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Some of the greatest works God does are not answers to our prayers but a merciful expression of His heart in a place beyond the content of our most ardent prayers - beyond what we “might ask or think."

Another famous phrase tossed around is “God will never give you more than you can handle.” Again, Paul helps us see a deeper spiritual reality. In describing the challenges he experienced in Asia, Paul said, “We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1: 8-9)

This “beyond our ability to endure” seems to be the place where miracles of deliverance and supernatural intervention have appeared throughout the history of the Church. The most profound and awe-inspiring things God does will exceed our ability to imagine or produce. This is the resurrection component of our faith. God raises people and situations that look dead and abandoned and gives them new life and another chance.

I don’t write this to rag on anyone. I have been guilty of parroting half-truths in my own ignorance and I'm sure it will happen again somewhere in the future. God is larger than our quips, comments, and familiar quotes. Because He is bigger than we can imagine we need to be willing to challenge and adjust the smallness of our current revelation.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Thunder of God's Truth is Coming

A great confusion of the enemy and his message is beginning to take place. In the coming days, bizarre and insane-sounding agendas will be exposed and dismantled in the public square. This confusion will take place at a deeper level where the influence of a deluding spirit has worked undetected for generations. 

This confusion will begin to unravel the bonds of deception present within every worldview, no matter how strong and entrenched those worldviews may appear. God is no respecter of persons or agendas, nor does He have favorites. He unravels all forms of deception because He loves all people.

This is a moment in our history similar to the time when Israel felt abandoned by God because the Ark was no longer in their camp. They mourned its absence. In the absence of God’s presence, they began to worship false gods.

Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you want to return to the Lord with all your hearts, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Turn your hearts to the Lord and obey him alone; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.” So the Israelites got rid of their images of Baal and Ashtoreth and worshiped only the Lord” (I Samuel 7: 3-4).

The nation of Israel gathered at Mizpah to fast and confess their sins. The Philistines heard about the gathering and planned an assault. Mobilizing their army, they advanced on the Israelites. Hearing the Philistines were coming to do battle, the people became afraid. Samuel told the Israelites to continue praying to the Lord as he offered a sacrifice.

Right when it seemed all hope was lost and fear was mounting, the Lord intervened.

Just as Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines arrived to attack Israel. But the Lord spoke with a mighty voice of thunder from heaven that day, and the Philistines were thrown into such confusion that the Israelites defeated them. The men of Israel chased them from Mizpah to a place below Beth-car, slaughtering them all along the way” (I Samuel 7:10-11).
The Lord did not confuse the Philistines. It was the manifestation of His presence as a mighty thunder from Heaven that created the confusion.  Truth struck at the heart of the Philistine battle plan and dismantled its strategy. It was the deafening sound of truth carried by God's voice that created the confusion. The enemy did not know what to do when their plan of attack began to fall apart. The confusion allowed Israel to pursue and defeat a powerful foe.
We are living in a similar time. The Church has been called to live a life of absolute loyalty and reverence to God, a life motivated by obedience and worship. Anything less will be a compromise with evil. 
The people held captive by deception are not our enemy. This is an important distinction to make because the enemy wants us to see the faces of those held captive under a spirit of deception as our enemy, not the deceiver himself or the spirits who do his bidding. This misstep will keep us battling in a lesser realm of conflict where no victory is possible. 
It is critical once the confusion begins to take place that we make sure we are moving and speaking under the authority of love, not retribution, payback or succumbing to a lynch mob mentality. Some of those who are under the influence of an evil agenda will wake up when the confusion begins and cry out to God for help.
In that time of confusion, those who minister under a mandate from Heaven will speak the truth in love, not parrot a political party line or allow their voice to be molded by fear-based conversations around the latest hot-button cultural issue. If we are not speaking the truth in love, we need to stop what we are doing and disengage our voice from the cultural conversation. To continue on with an agenda other than the sound of love, we will end up doing more harm than good, all in the name of God.
As a follower of Jesus Christ we are not left, right or center on the political spectrum. We are from above. Our citizenship is in Heaven and so is the source of our message. Our passport to walk the Earth in the name of God has been issued from above – above petty and demeaning arguments, mocking statements and a never-ending series of gotcha pictures or comments taken out of context to prove our point. We are diplomats of another Kingdom. The solutions we bring to the table are not yet on the table. They will arrive in this realm as Kingdom solutions to complex issues that only love can solve. 

Today, reaffirm your spiritual passport. Reconfirm your identity and your place of ultimate allegiance. A message from above will not align with the demands of a religious or political spirit. Every alignment must be examined by love and this love will cause us to step away from assumption. We may be called to go and stand in places of opposition where our loyalty to a party line might be questioned. Speaking the truth in love is dangerous. It was so dangerous it got Jesus killed and most of His early followers. This happened while the Church was in its purest form and living in very corrupt times. 

The sound of God’s thunderous truth is coming. The enemy is about to enter a state of confusion because the truth of God will come and confuse his plan for our nation. Prepare your heart and God will prepare the way.