Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Our Place of Unity and Our Way Forward

As I travel and minister, I have the opportunity to visit many different expressions of the Church. I was recently in a gathering populated by tremendous thinkers and theologians. In that mix were differing opinions on major topics of theology and God’s Kingdom. The people loved Jesus and had given their life and treasure to Him, but some shared different understandings about truth and how it is applied.

During one evening session of worship, I looked out across the hundreds of people gathered. The worship had reached a point where the glory of God was manifesting throughout the sanctuary. Some of those worshipping were expressive in their worship and others were more sedate and meditative. Then it hit me. I was seeing the only place where the Church will ever have a single point of agreement. That agreement will be in our worship of God, not in our points of theology, or how we should worship or what constitutes an authentic church service. Worship is the only place where each of us makes the choice to focus on the One who is worthy of our love and affection. He is our shared point of agreement.

That night in worship, I saw the Church as one, united in focus on Jesus, not on diverse points of theology or opinions that many times can separate us.  I came away from that evening more at peace about the future of the Church than at any time in recent memory. 

When you find yourself in a place of frustration about an opposing opinion regarding a matter of faith, get to a place of shared worship where those who are creating your frustration are worshipping next to you and choose to focus on the Savior with them. As you worship in the diversity, open your eyes and look around. Like me, you might come to realize the image of that single focus of worship amidst diverse opinions is where the love and oneness Jesus spoke about will have its beginning and its greatest chance of survival once we leave the sanctuary.  

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Witchcraft Must Exit

Jan and I were driving through Spokane, Washington on freeway I-90. Jan was born in Spokane and I did a couple of years at Whitworth University, so the city holds a special place in our lives.

As we entered the city traveling westbound from Idaho, up ahead I saw one of those large mobile digital signs positioned on the freeway to alert drivers. There is only so much space on these signs so the person who programs them must economize the message because they only have so many spaces on the sign to insert their phrasing. 

I was doing about 80 mph (the speed limit is 75 on that section - I like to fudge a bit). At that speed, I took a quick look at the sign in passing. It actually read, “Wtrcraft must exit” meaning watercraft must exit the freeway to be inspected for invasive waterborne insect species. What I thought I saw was, “Witchcraft must exit”. I took a double take. 

On the second glance, I realized my error. At that moment, the Lord impressed upon me it wasn’t a mistake in the Spirit. As cool and urbane as we in the western Church may want to appear, in that pursuit, we can dismiss the spiritual reality of darkness and relegate it to those unrefined folks who handle snakes and dance on sawdust floors in worship somewhere out in the sticks. The folly of our dismissal does not negate the reality of those who work in partnership with darkness to cast spells on human minds and release interfering works of hell against individuals, families, and cultural institutions. 

When I “mistakenly” read the road sign, I believe it was a promise. The works of darkness initiated against you personally, against your family and against our nation are being commanded to depart the roadway of our future. God wants you to know there are dark agendas taking place in the unseen world that you may never come to realize as you go about the normal affairs of your life. These things are at work with an assignment to destroy you and your loved ones. God knows this is taking place. He is commanding these dark influences to remove their grip from the thinking and decision-making of individuals, cultural institutions, and national politics. A witching presence is being told to depart the highway at the next exit. This departure will become exceedingly evident in the days to come.

God does not expect you to see and understand everything that is taking place in the spiritual realm. The roadway of your future is being cleared of a hellish influence by a compassionate and understanding God. He is clearing the roadway into the future for you, your family and our nation. Trust Him and keep moving forward without fear.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Faith Collisions

This morning, I saw two robins flying erratically around a tree just outside a sliding glass door. A few moments later,  I heard a loud thump as one of the birds collided with the window. The window was reflecting a false reality of blue skies and freedom that lured the bird into the glass. The bird hit so hard the collision knocked him out. I was sure he was dead. After about 20 minutes he righted himself and while still trying to gain his bearings. Two hours later, he was finally able to fly off. Not all birds survive such an impact. 

Be careful who and what you follow. Like the bird that crashed from blindly chasing the lead bird, not everyone will accurately or wisely interpret the course of your life. That is your decision. Each of us has to be responsible for taking the lead of our individual life of faith under the direction of the Holy Spirit with the instruction of Scripture. No one should stand between you and the Spirit or the Scripture no matter how gifted or charismatic they may appear. 

Faithfully follow Scripture, and the leading of the Spirit and you will not collide with a false reality interpreted by someone who may not navigate through life with the same integrity and beliefs you hold to be true. To remain airborne and free in your faith, you have the responsibility to make sure your course of flight is free and clear of obstacles.  God will never ask you to blindly follow a person, the vision of a ministry, a political platform or anything else that may be offered to you no matter how exciting the pursuit of those invitations may appear. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Confronting the Demons of Culture

We are at a point in our national history where the hot-button issues we currently face appear like the demon-possessed man Jesus met in Mark 5. The demon was the real problem, not the man who carried the dark presence. The fearful culture tried to chain the demon-possessed man but that natural solution failed. It was not until Jesus arrived and confronted the powers of darkness with the light of truth that real and lasting change took place. Today, the possibility of a demonic element at work in our politics and culture makes some in the Church feel uncomfortable. That uncomfortable feeling may be part of our problem.

Just as the demon-possessed man complained to Jesus that His presence was torturing him, so it is with anyone who holds a position and social posture different than the demonic agenda. We are seeing an increase in bizarre manifestations and confrontations taking place against truth in the public square. This is not just a reaction created by opposing positions and worldviews. Demons and dark agendas are reacting to the presence of light and truth.

Each of the influencing demons affecting our culture has a name. That is why Jesus asked the demon within the man to identify himself. That identification is necessary because it uncovers the influencing presence and identity that is controlling people and helps us see them as victims, not as perpetrators. If this distinction is not made we will continue to fight in the arena of a flesh and blood conflict, not in the realm of the Spirit where real and lasting change is possible. 

When the demons were sent into a herd of pigs and the possessed man was finally set free, he came back and sat at Jesus' feet dressed and in his right mind. I believe part of the reformation taking place in our culture will have a deliverance component. Individuals and institutions will emerge from a season of cultural insanity, delusion and demonic deception and sit before us as someone who has awakened from a nightmare. If you and I have been able to see the conflict as spiritual and not personal, those who eventually come to sit before us, spiritually clothed and in their right minds, will become our allies in the mission of God. That alliance will be the greatest affront to a demonic agenda of darkness.

The Way Forward

Some of the most profound answers to your prayers are waiting on the other side of what appears to be an unrelated question or a random act of obedience. You may find yourself processing something that is so important it is consuming all your time, energy and mental concentration. In the middle of that intense focus be careful to not dismiss what you might prematurely label as an interruption to the assumed process. It is easy to dismiss an interruption, especially an interruption that appears to have no connection to what you are processing. The greatest turnarounds and open doors can appear out of nowhere and may not be on your current list of considerations. These things are not an interruption. They are the way forward. Ask God for the wisdom to know the difference.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Something

Signs announce something. Shadows reveal something. Prophecies declare something. Welcome the signs. Study the shadows. invite the prophecies, but only build your faith on the Something, not the signs, shadows or prophecies no matter how exciting and inspiring they appear to be. 

There may come a season when you will be without any outward indicators to support your faith. In those times, your faith will be strong because you remained faithful to trust only in the One who is your Something, not in the evidence about Him.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

These Boots Are Made For Walking...And More

Recently, while attending the Hub Nation conference in Bend, Oregon, I took a short walk around the parking lot of Eagle Mountain Fellowship where the conference was being hosted. In an adjacent retail complex is a business called The Boot Barn. As I walked by the front entrance of the store, I sensed the Lord say, “Go into the store and buy some boots.” It was an unexpected request. I have not had a pair of cowboy boots in over 40 years. I hung a right turn and entered the store. After trying on a few pairs of boots, I settled on some Ariats and out the door I walked, two inches taller with new boots on my feet. It just so happened that I was wearing a pair of blue jeans long enough to make the boots work and not look like an urban western wannabe with high-water pants.

While still processing the “why” of the boot purchase – they are expensive – the Lord began to download some thoughts to me and maybe for some of you who are reading these words.  

The Lord began explained two things about the boots. One, He actually enjoyed seeing me wear the boots. He was sharing my joy. Secondly, the boots were a metaphor for the needed preparation of our hearts as we enter the coming months. This preparation will need to take place if we are going to be a reforming presence in culture. 

Paul told the Ephesians part of their required armament for spiritual warfare would be to have their feet covered with the gospel of peace. To walk with the spirit of a peacemaker will become one of the most powerful preparations we can make for navigating the increasing turmoil in our culture. Those who choose peace will literally walk over the plans of the enemy crushing division and destruction. True peace is never a compromise to the truth. Peace reveals things that the two sides in a heated dispute may not yet realize. Peacemakers are cultural prophets who reveal what anger, wrath, and malice cannot see. 

It was comforting to walk back into the Hub Nation conference with new boots on my feet. The boots felt strong and secure. Our spiritual strength and security will not come from flowing in and partnering with the turmoil-creating atmosphere currently taking place in our culture. It will come when we yield to the Spirit’s presence and walk in the ways of peace through the battlefields of life. Your spiritual boots were made for walking into the current cultural upheaval to leave the footprints of God’s heart. Get your boots on! You have places to go and people to see that only peace can reveal.