Thursday, March 21, 2019

Walking Through Mountains

There are times when navigating a mountain-sized obstacle is not about removing the obstacle but choosing to walk through its fear-based imposition. At some point in the passage those who choose to walk at this level of faith will turn around and see the mountain is still there but now it has a human-shaped portal cut through its hindering slopes. These acts of faith will become the biographic portals of a personal testimony that will encourage following generations to keep moving forward and not allow a mountain of fear to deter them from the call of God upon their life.

Walking Through a Rough Patch of Life

For almost 20 years I have hiked the section of a trail depicted in this photo. It has never been rutted like this in all those years. A combination of weather events, poor trail maintenance and just life in the wild produced these deep ruts. The beginning and the end of the trail are smooth and easy to hike. It was just this part of the trail that was damaged and challenging to negotiate.

The photo of the trail depicts the realities of life. Some sections are smooth and appear to be well maintained. Other sections are rutted with sorrow, personal failure or the poor choices made by other people that can affect us in a negative way. These ruts are not the definition of the entirety of our life. They are only seasons of time we need to walk through to get to the smooth part of the journey that is always present if we choose to keep moving forward with hope in our heart. 

If you are going through a rough patch of life it is important to understand this is not your forever trail or some form of punishment. It is simply part of life. Life washes out. It has ruts and potholes.  When you come to a rough patch, hold on to your faith and most importantly hold on to your love for God and people. Love will always win and your trail will eventually smooth out. 

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.