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.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Out of Sight and Out of Mind Works of God

This week, we had a costly and much-needed repair project take place at our home. Our old sewer line needed replacing. It was not something we had in our budget, but such is life. 

Our house was moved onto our lot in 1948. It was a small officer’s dwelling from a World War II military base here in southern Oregon called Camp White. When the base was decommissioned, the houses were sold off at auction and moved to various locations in our valley. Over the last seventy years, the sewer pipes had become compromised. Roots from our trees would fill the line requiring a twice-yearly de-rooting. 

We contacted a plumbing contractor who specializes in trenchless technology. They employ something called a bursting head. It is a pointed steel device pulled by a cable through the old clay pipe cracking the pipe and towing into place behind the bursting head a new plastic pipe. It is all done underground and out of sight. No surface trenching is required. Lawns don’t get torn up. Trees don’t die because their root system was severed. The plumbing contractor pulled a hundred feet of new sewer line underground. Our new pipe should last long after Jan and I are gone.

As I watched this unique way of replacing an underground pipe, I thought of how God can work in our lives.  Some of His most profound work is done out of sight and literally, out of mind. We think we need to always be aware of what He is doing or that He only does things we have prayed about or can understand with our intellect. I used to think that way until I understood something deeper about the nature of God.  Many times His love will not burden us with the details of a process of restoration. He just does it - out of sight and out of mind. When these projects of restoration are finished all we can do is worship Him and thank Him.

Like our old sewer line, some of what has worked in the past in your life may no longer be working. Parts of your life might have become clogged. You know God is doing something new and you may see the beginning of that work like I did when I saw the bursting head first enter the old pipe in the trench. I would not be able to see what was taking place underground that would eventually install the new pipe. It reminded me of those times in my life when God did something for me simply because He loves me without requiring my moment-by-moment participation or my understanding. 

These hidden works of God inch along unseen toward the other end of a problem where a new connection is finally made and a miracle takes place. At that moment, we realize all the work was being done under our feet, unnoticed, as we went about the daily affairs of our lives. That is how God will, at times, accomplish a seemingly impossible task just because He loves us.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Passion of a Protector

All my life, I have been a protector. I once protected my little brother from a neighborhood bully. In the 6th grade, I got in a fight defending a Native American friend who was surrounded by mocking white kids who were issuing racial slurs. When I married Jan, I have always wanted to stand between her and danger. The nine years I spent as a police officer, I protected the citizens of each community where I worked. Once, as a SWAT team member, I was assigned to a security detail for the President of the United States. I protected celebrities at concerts who were unaware of my presence in the crowd. For 35 years, I was a pastor protecting God's flock. I don’t know what it would be like to live a life without protecting other people.

Each of us is called to protect the innocent and the unaware. It is easy to get angered at people who have no clue about the dangers of life, both in the natural and spiritual realm. If you are going to be a protector, you will have to deal with these judgments and resulting emotions because they can detract you from the attention needed when you are called into action. Watch a Secret Service agent guarding the President, and you will see a cool and collected demeanor of a person focused solely on the task of protecting.

As I get older, I am no longer able to do the things I did as a young man. As the changes of aging become a reality, protectors have to adjust their thinking and their tactics. These adjustments do not mean a person becomes a less effective protector. It means we must find new and creative ways to protect. A mom must learn how to let go of her immediate protective presence when she sends her child off to school for the first time. A father must trust his daughter to live with the integrity he instilled in her when she goes on her first date. A pastor must put more trust in the Lord’s ability to protect the flock that any theology, warning, or religious structure he or she might put in place.

At the core of any protector who remains effective over time is a deepening trust in God. This trust comes when we are fully assured that God is able to protect the ones under our care even when our abilities or a circumstance of life no longer allows us to protect them up close and personal. 

Trust in God is ultimately the most effective form of protection we can offer our loved ones. Having done all we can do we must learn to trust God with all things, including the safety of those under our care. Trust has the ability to defeat an assault before it begins because trust displaces the fear that empowers and emboldens the very thing we feared.