Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Re-Discovered History

The farther an experience moves away from our current reality the greater the chance that experience will someday become only a legend to future generations. The first disciples did not let this happen. They lived in the daily demonstration of God’s power and presence and continued in that lifestyle until the end of their days. They had no partitions in their faith that relegated the demonstration of the God’s Spirit to a back room experience in the fear of making someone feel uncomfortable.

As you view the history of Pentecost over the last 100 years, some denominations and church movements that began in a visible demonstration and affirmation of the Spirit’s power now only tell stories of the people who became legends in the initial imprint of their history. Those who study these histories ascribe some of this to a sociological process called Redemption and Lift. 

Redemption and Lift starts when we get saved and begins the process of organizing our lives around Godly principles that will eventually affect our character, finances and relationships. As a result of this transformational process we begin to rise from the pits of social and economic despair and start climbing higher in the social order. In that rise we have a tendency to leave behind the very thing that was present at the start of our journey – a dependence on the power of God. This process, if ignored, can deposit us in a place of respectability that we will use to sustain our newly acquired status in culture. Once our needs have been met we no longer require a miraculous God to show up to meet our future needs because the momentum of our social status has replaced Him. 

The resulting mindset this uplift creates can infect what we do in our private life and in the public display of our faith. Once we arrive at this new place we begin to change our attitudes and language to reflect a god whose primary goal is to help us maintain our new position in culture. Risk becomes the enemy of our newfound status.

As you review the history of revival it is rare to see a fresh move of God rise from within existing denominations or church movements. The reason for this rarity is because, after the first generation of risk-taking apostolic leadership passed, they were replaced by a maintenance style of leadership whose primary role was the survival of the status quo. In the decades following there may be seasons where an external revamping of mission takes place, but at its core nothing has changed. Something still remains in the organizational thinking that makes safety and stability the primary role of leadership versus the kind of leader who welcomes the level of risk required for revival, renewal and a new beginning. As a result, embracing the instability that comes from a fresh encounter with God becomes suspect. 

Today, if you find yourself in this place take heart. There is a way forward. The way forward is discovered when you revisit the beginning of your history and rediscover what you may have left behind. Within the elements of your beginning you will reconnect with the faith required to help you get back on track and finish well. 

A house is always built from a foundation. During the most dramatic remodeling process your faith and practice will remain solid if it is constructed atop a solid and known foundation. Risk will never put a solid foundation in jeopardy. Your rediscovered history will give you the courage required to begin the redesign project of your future that will allow the presence and power of God to take center stage once again.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Prophetic Principles – Standing Between Guilty People and their Accusers

The Lord may ask you to stand between someone who is guilty of a wrong and their accusers who are pointing out that wrong in vivid detail.  In this place some of the most challenging and powerful prophetic statements are delivered without words. Here is where your presence shields the guilty until they can be restored and confronts their accusers until they can come to their senses and eventually drop their stones of accusation.

This is not a popular place to stand.  Many times you will find yourself alone standing against the tide of popular opinion. It will test your relationships. Standing between the guilty and their accusers will actually align you with the guilty party in the eyes of the accusers. This is how Jesus lived.  He took this position with the woman caught in adultery, Matthew the dishonest tax collector and others.  If you are going to speak for God over the long term there will come a day when Jesus may ask you to take a similar stance. It is never comfortable, but it is always beautiful when your obedience allows mercy to triumph over judgment.

Monday, July 27, 2015

An Angel Paid Us A Visit


A few days ago a guest in our home saw an angel. Before I tell you what he saw, I want to lay some groundwork.  After we heard the details about the angel, my wife, Jan, said, “Isn’t it strange how in some parts of the Church you can talk about demons, but when someone mentions an angel they think you are weird?” I am beginning to think we may need to get a bit weird if being weird includes believing and seeing angels since the very scriptures we use in an attempt to keep us “normal” and free from angel worship openly and unapologetically mentions angels and their interaction with humans. Who wants to worship an angel when you have Jesus?

Here is what happened.  Our guests are long-time friends who live in another state.  The husband has been an organizational coach for years.  He has helped some of the largest Christian organizations navigate through seasons of change and transition as well as the individuals within those organizations.  My friend was mentored by some very notable people. The books written by these mentors can be found in the business section of your local Barnes and Noble. In other words if a man were to be labeled as credible and balanced it would be my friend. On top of all of that he really loves Jesus. It’s too bad I had to write the preceding sentences as qualifiers before I mention what happened with the angel because having to write them is indicative of the mindset of some people within the Church where the definition of credibility does not contain the description of anything supernatural – especially the mention of an angelic visitation.

Just before the appearance of the angel we were having a long and enjoyable after dinner conversation. My friend stopped mid-sentence and said, “I see an angel. He is huge.  He is as large as a battleship.”  For the next few moments my friend was staring up and beyond the top of a large tree in our backyard. The rest of us at the table paused our conversation.

My friend went on to say he always thought of angels as just a bit larger than humans, but this one was vastly different.  His dimensions were hundreds of feet tall and wide with a massive set of wings.  As he watched the angel it gently began to move its wings, stirring the air.  The sense was the presence of this huge angel was like the angelic visitations recorded in scripture – his presence was an announcement of something coming.

Our culture is waiting for an encounter with God. We are at a place in our history where we need a wholesale visitation by God, His angels and the supernatural works of His Spirit.  Just as an angel interrupted our evening and built the faith of each person present, God will be sending His angels to other places announcing a stirring of things to come.  How could something like that ever be considered weird, out-of-balance or something to be spoken about in hushed conversations?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Prophetic Principles – When You Said Too Much

There will come a time when you realize you said too much and went beyond the scope of the simple word God gave you to share.  These are great opportunities to discover the depth of your integrity.

Integrity is huge in all aspects of life.  Once you lose your integrity regaining it can be a challenge.  We all make mistakes. Prophetic ministry is not perfect because God uses fallible people to transmit His message.  God knows about our weakness and our propensity to want to look error free. If we find ourselves in a moment where we are contemplating how to sustain the pride-induced delusion of prophetic perfection, the only way out of this predicament is through personal disclosure where we admit our mistake.

Some people think admitting a mistake will cause them to lose their credibility.  This is not so.  Just the opposite is true. Knowing you made a mistake and letting it go uncorrected until exposed by people or a circumstance is where the real damage is done. Disclosure is far more powerful than exposure.

Make a decision early on to challenge your own mistakes.  If you shared a word with an individual or group that went beyond what God wanted you to share, admit it.  You might say to yourself, “Who would know? Why not just let it remain?”  The Lord will know.  He is the ultimate audience for the words you speak. 

Once you realize your mistake and correct it, most people will honor your transparency because it will be refreshing and rare to hear such an honest admission. Speak your words of self-disclosure and move on.  Your life and ministry is not over.  You simply navigated an integrity check that everyone must pass through as they learn to speak for God.  Once God can trust you with His message, you will find yourself moving higher toward new levels of revelation that requires a humble heart of integrity in order to make the journey.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Prophetic Principles – When A Word Makes Hell Nervous

All kingdoms are defined by the territory they possess, control and influence. The kingdom of darkness creates this definition by setting up ruling authority in the territory of human lives, political systems, financial institutions, families or anywhere the Lordship of Jesus Christ has not been established. A prophetic word will breach the border of these dark domains and challenged their authority and right to exist. When this happens there will be a reaction.

When you speak a prophetic word into a place of bondage you will threaten the grip of hell.  In these moments of revelation a prophetic word becomes a spiritual pry bar that begins to release the grip of deception holding people captive. This freedom from bondage can happen with a simple word of hope if hopelessness has been the controlling factor in a person’s life.  A word of promise can have the same effect if someone feels the mistakes of the past are too large and have erased any possibility for a second chance.

When the kingdom of darkness gets nervous it will use any and all means to silence your voice.  Ignore whatever comes your way in the form of dismissal, accusation or threat.  These are simply the desperate tactics of a kingdom in jeopardy. 

Spiritual Pioneers

Spiritual pioneers had no path to follow. They walked in faith along an uncharted course toward a dream God had placed within their heart. Today, instead of following the well-worn course of a known way, choose to follow the unmarked path of faith. The generations who follow in the steps of your obedience will bless your memory.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Have We Lost Our Heart and Mind?

The effectiveness of the prophetic voice of the Church will be measured not only by our ability to release words of encouragement, but in the warnings of love we speak about the evil in our midst. While some believe in the increasing goodness of mankind and have developed a theology and eschatology to support that line of thinking, that preferred future of goodness will only take place if the evil in our culture is brought into the light of day to be evaluated by truth, not politics or personal opinion. 

No matter which side of this issue your politics and opinion fall, invest 8 minutes and 54 seconds of your time to view this video and ask yourself how you will answer to God for the choices you have made on this issue.

I do not post this to release the usual rant and hand-wringing. Keep that to yourself. I don't want to hear it. I only want to hear the sounds of our tears falling at our feet for allowing our nation to step into such an insane moment of history.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

¡Viva La México! – Wherever It Is Found

I grew up in Los Gatos, a small town adjacent to San Jose in central California, an area rich with the heritage of Old Mexico.  Many of the city names that surrounded our family home revealed a Hispanic origin. I was raised around Mexican people and their culture.  I learned to eat hot peppers at a very young age.  My developing taste buds were forged on hand-made tortillas and beans. The tortillas were warmed over hot cooking stones during the lunch break as I worked in the orchards that surrounded our home. 

My father hired men known by the culturally offensive term, “wet backs”, a term used to describe those whose backs became wet because they swam across the Rio Grande in search of a better life for their families.  I learned the concept of the siesta was not of Mexican origin, but something imported from a North Africa influenced Spanish culture whose Conquistadors invaded Mexico long before it was Mexico. 

Each summer in my youth, I picked fruit alongside Mexican families in the orchards of the Santa Clara Valley and swung a pick and shovel with Mexican day laborers on my father’s construction sites.  I never met a Mexican who was lazy.   I played in mud puddles made warm by my native California sun with the children of hard working Mexican families. My familiarity and friendship with these good people erased my suspicion of them. One of the greatest compliments I ever received was from a Mexican pastor who said to me, “If I cut your arm you would bleed Mexican.”

Why do I share this part of my personal history?  I share it because I want us to understand the Kingdom of God has no boundaries, politics or ethnic-based restrictions, no matter what the news pundits, angry politicians and their followers want you to believe.  I hope what I am writing is read with an understanding that comes from a place far beyond the cry for reinforced borders and a reformed immigration policy. I am writing about a people whom I honor.  If we get drawn into the frustrated and angry narrative that has infected our culture we will lose our voice in the stormy sea of our cultural debate where no one ever emerges from such debates a winner.

The family of Joseph crossed the border of Egypt in search of food and a better life.  We honor that journey, but somehow look down on those in our day who want a piece of our abundance.  I want to be careful the painful journey of others who seek a better life is not high-jacked by the fear of remote worst-case scenarios or the need to align ourselves with the safety of popular sentiment.  This way of thinking reduces people down to the dismissive status of an enemy instead of a people who, like us, toil and sweat for a better life.

The Kingdom of God is taking advantage of our cultural expansion and offering us new and unique opportunities to love the marginalized.  This expansion may be an affront to the dominant culture because it can appear to threaten the status quo or the memory of an America that no longer exists. God is asking us to embrace something much larger that represents His heart and His Kingdom as the mission field of the world is crossing our borders in search of something more.

Re-purposed Lives

My father was a house-moving contractor.  During the 1950’s and early 60’s when the freeway systems of California were being constructed, an entire track of homes in the path of a coming freeway would be sold and moved to new locations. Each house was raised from its original foundation, cut into sections and moved across town. It looked brutal to the average onlooker, but this was the only way to transport a house on city streets. The houses not sold and moved were demolished.

My father would buy these homes in open-air auctions.  As a young boy, I went with my father to several of these auctions.  The abandoned neighborhoods, where the auctions took place, looked like a deserted apocalyptic movie set.

My father was more in the business of re-purposing houses than he was in simply moving them from one location to another.  New families eagerly awaited the arrival of these re-purposed houses.  Once these structures were reassembled in a new location they would became a home where a new family could create a new future. The re-purposing made it possible for new futures to be created.

As I was recalling my memories of those house-moving days, the Lord downloaded a word to me about this new season we have entered. The Lord said, “I am re-purposing My people.  I am uprooting old ways of thinking and practice that will no longer accomplish the new thing I am about to do.  I am moving My people to a new location of re-purposed potential.  I am disconnecting them from what has been familiar and leading them to a place not yet seen or even realized. I want them to trust Me as I help them make the move.”

For some of you this move has already taken place.  For others the segmented parts of your life are still in transit and you are not sure of your final destination. When your life is in a season of significant transition it is easy to become overwhelmed with the process.  This is a time to trust, rest and choose to enjoy the journey.  When God reconnects your life in the new place He has planned you will understand why all of this has taken place.

Monday, July 20, 2015

When A Man Loves A Woman

As a woman matures and grows older it is important for a man to realize there will always exist within her a beauty waiting to be discovered in each new season of life.  A wise man will relentlessly search for that treasure.

This is how passion remains within a relationship and increases with each passing year.  As two people fall deeper in love with each other they will come to understand the miracle that turned their marriage into a union of oneness.  Thank you, Jan.

Prophetic Principles – Being Comfortable With Incomplete Revelation

No prophetic word is complete and absolutely accurate because it’s delivery was filtered through a human vessel. A prophetic word is only a snapshot of a much larger reality.  There is a peace that comes when you realize you only prophesy in part. It is important to understand the scope of the part you bring.

This knowledge will set you free from having to create an expanded word that reaches beyond the scope of what God initially revealed to you. You are only an agent of delivery, not the creator of content.  Some words will appear to be fragments of something much larger.  God has reasons why He does not always give you the full picture.  In some cases, He is calling and engaging other people to be part of the process of revelation and they will bring the elements required to create the full picture of what God wants a person to hear.

Resist the urge to expand a word beyond the simplicity of it’s original content in an attempt to make it more understandable.  Your expanded version can actually create problems for those receiving the word.  They may only have a small blank to fill in to complete the content of the larger word God is speaking.  The faithful delivery of your simple and unaltered word will drop into that blank spot and complete the message God wanted them to hear.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Prophetic Principles - When A Word Is Not Received

There are several reasons why a prophetic word is not received.  The content of the word may have been correct, but you simply missed God’s timing. This happens when we get anxious to be heard and speak without asking God about His timing for the delivery.  Another reason could be the hearers of the word may not have the ears to hear what was spoken and they end up rejecting what they do not understand. Finally, the most challenging reason of all - it may not be God.

The last reason is devastating when it is realized.  This happens to everyone who is honest enough to admit it. No one likes to say a “Thus saith the Lord” and realize God wasn’t saying what we so confidently proclaimed. Some people who do not understand the gift of prophecy in the New Covenant context will call out the Old Covenant stone throwers who feel it is their assignment to stone your prophetic mistake.  Try to ignore these requests for the premature death of your ministry.

When a word is not received give God time to speak to you and reveal the reason why.  This is part of the maturity process we all go through as we learn how to speak with a prophetic voice.  As time goes on and you yield to the Spirit in humility, you will cultivate the ability to hear the distinct difference between your voice and the voice of God, His timing and yours.  Keep at it with a humble and teachable heart and God will be able to develop your gift into a trustworthy tool in His hands.

Try to not take any of this personally.  When a word is not received don’t allow your pride to get the best of you and keep you contending for something that is out of synch with God.  Pride will try to make you defensive.  Give your defensiveness to God and let Him have His way with your heart and emotions.  Some of the most profound things that transpire when a prophetic word is delivered is not the impact of the word or a timely delivery, but the work of refinement that takes place in the life and character of the person speaking the word. 

One of the greatest ways to gain the trust of the people to whom you prophesy is to admit a mistake.  They already know you are not perfect.  Trying to perpetuate the illusion of prophetic perfection will only drain way any remaining amount of credibility you have when speaking in God’s name.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Spiritual Puberty

When I was 8 years old, I was convinced babies were created when people kissed.  I had vowed to never let my lips touch a girl.  That vow lasted about 4 years until puberty kicked in and I kissed a girl on the cheek in the 6th grade.

It is interesting what kind of revelation comes as we mature.  When our natural passions first arise they must be discipled by self-control before they are able to possess a practical wisdom. Passion can be present in any life-experience, not just the sexual component. Passion without the discipleship of wisdom becomes directionless and dangerous.  Passion without wisdom only seeks to fulfill its need without considering the consequence of its actions.

It wasn’t long after puberty kicked in that I arrived in Junior High School.  It was there I first heard the distant rumors of kids only a couple of years older than me getting pregnant.  I remember the strangeness and unfamiliarity of those years. They were wonderful and scary all rolled up together.  Most of us did not have the level of wisdom required to help us to make wise decisions or even understand a real life consequence of our actions.

If you have a passion for anything – life, sports, intimacy, success, politics, knitting or whatever - ask yourself, “Has my passion been discipled?” If the answer is, “No”, and you find a passion living in your life that is unrestrained and borderless, invite the Spirit to come with the fruit of self-control and help you direct that passion toward it’s God-intended purpose.

When I married Jan in 1973, I found the beauty of an intimacy and passion that can only be discovered when discipled by the Spirit of wisdom, not by need. Now, 42 years later, I can’t wait to kiss Jan each day because I have discovered the depths of a love that can only be found in a discipled passion.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Redeeming A Dark History

An unredeemed dark history will repeat itself unless interrupted and redefined by a fresh work of God’s Spirit. The cycles of human brokenness we see playing out in the daily news has numbed people causing them to exchange hope in a bright future for a false belief that says pain and suffering is an unavoidable outcome of life on planet earth.  These lies remain active and present because they remain unchallenged.

As followers of Jesus Christ we have been called to redeem the painful history we see playing out before our eyes in our families, our cities and our nation. This redemption is accomplished through acts of love and words of faith designed and empowered to interrupt the darkest plans of hell. 

God has called you to be an agent of His Kingdom on earth expressing the ever-increasing light of heaven. This is your promise in the midst of your struggle, “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” (Proverbs 4:18)

Prophetic Principles - Hijacked Meaning

When you know God has given you something prophetic to share, either in word or print, your goal is to bring a simple, clear and uncluttered representation of what He intended to communicate.  There will come a time when someone will attempt to hijack what you said and reinterpret your intent to reflect their spin on the content of your words.  In a world where immediate social media interaction is available this can happen with ease and rapidity.  

There is a danger in trying to correct each and every one of these misinterpretations. If you are not careful you can be drawn into heated and corrective conversations that leave God’s original intent behind as you are drawn deeper into a divisive interaction with those who challenged your words. Paul addressed this when he wrote, “ Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” (2 Tim. 2:23-24)

At first, it will be hard to walk away and leave these arguments alone.  You will want to defend yourself and correct the error and misinterpretation that has taken place. Over time, you will learn the wisdom of silence. As your gift develops and matures and God begins to speak through you with regularity, if you are not careful, you can end up spending the majority of your time trying to correct the misconceptions of others that is fueled by their undisciplined thinking and quarrelsome attitude.  This will cause your ears to be filled with the dialogue of a contrary spirit instead of having your ears filled with the revelatory words God wants to release through your life.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Radical Intervention is Coming

The Lord is about to perform a radical intervention in the affairs of earth.  This radical intervention will be breathtaking because when God moves in these radical manifestations they will literally take our breath away in a gasp of wonder.

Many are worried about rogue nations gaining nuclear weapons.  I heard the sound of a radical and unexpected intervention by God when just moments before evil was ready to launch a nuclear malfunction took place thwarting a secret plan of darkness.  I saw confused people who had mutilated their bodies in rebellion to God’s created order experience a radical release of His mercy when some of these mutilated ones received restorative miracles to return them to God’s original design. I saw elections take place with surprise outcomes because of the radical promotion of those not deemed viable as candidates by popular culture. God is about to radically demonstrate His presence in our lives and culture.

This radical intervention is not a “turning of the tide” of the status quo.  It will be the creation of new rivers of miraculous demonstration that will appear when God supernaturally intervenes in our lives and culture.  God will do this because many have fallen asleep in the expectation that life will continue on as usual, uninterrupted and moving toward inevitable outcomes.

This spirit of inevitability has caused some to let go of their faith and flow with only what their natural eyes can see or their natural ears can hear.  These radical interventions will be used to awaken God’s people and reintroduce them to the God who parted the Red Sea and made a way forward when no way was visible and when destruction seemed inevitable. No threat of evil or predicted decline of culture is inevitable when the radical God of heaven is involved.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Prophetic Principles - Let God Make The Way

At the very beginning of my ministry, I remember receiving an invitation to join a gathering of fellow church planters who had been deployed from our home church, Faith Center, in Eugene, Oregon. Our pastor Roy Hicks, Jr. had sent out 100 of us to plant churches, so this homecoming was really special.  Roy broke the churches up according to size to better address the needs associated with each unique ministry environment.  Since I had a total of 9 people in my church, I was in the group representing the smallest churches who were under 50 in attendance. 

Ron Mehl, the pastor of the Beaverton Foursquare Church, addressed our cluster of small churches.  Each Sunday, Ron had thousands of people attend his church services.  I was blown away that a man of such stature would be speaking to our small group.  I don’t remember everything Ron said because that was 35 years ago, but I will never forget two sentences.  Ron said, “Resist the urge to make a way for yourself. Let God make the way.”  At the time, if I could have made a way for myself, I would have tried, but I was in a survival mode during those first few brutal months of ministry just trying to convince myself to show up again for another Sunday.

Today, now decades later, God has greatly blessed my life.  I have young leaders who look to me the same way I looked to Ron and Roy.  It is a humbling place to be. Over the years, there have been times when I ignored Ron’s advice and tried to make a way for myself.  Those attempts usually took place when I was feeling insecure as I approached a new season of life and ministry where the unknowns outnumbered the knowns. A few times I actually made a way for myself and created embarrassing situations where my insecurity was revealed.  What redeemed me in those times of personal failure, and what kept me from doing it again, were the occasions when I remembered Ron’s wise words.  There is great safety and comfort in allowing only God to be the one who opens the doors of ministry opportunity.

Letting God open these doors of opportunity will keep your voice pure and unsullied by the manipulative expressions of pride that lurk within our hearts waiting for a moment of weakness to find their expression.  As you develop your ability to speak prophetically let God be the one who open the doors for your voice to be heard.  Let Him lead you to your audience.  When God opens these doors of favor He will be faithful to visit you with a release of supernatural power and honor that only comes when God is the one who opened the door and revealed your way forward.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Prophetic Principles - Keep it Simple and Leave It Alone

The prophetic words God speaks through us can set in motion a season of breakthrough in a person’s life.  These words do not always carry with them the detailed instructions needed to walk out  each step of the journey.  Resist the urge to speak beyond the initial scope of the word you were given because your word is only part of a larger process.

As you prophesy, try to keep the content of what you speak simple resisting the urge to fill in all the blanks.  A prophetic word, when delivered in a simple and understandable fashion, will activate the faith of the hearer. At this point, the person receiving the prophetic word will begin to exercise their faith entering into a partnership with God to bring about the fulfillment of the word. This is where you need to step back and allow God to finish the work He began.

Leave people alone as they struggle with the implications of what was spoken. In the struggle they will learn to hear the voice of God at a deeper level.  The Holy Spirit will be faithful to come alongside and fill in all the blanks once a word has been activated by faith.  Filling in the blanks of how to apply a prophetic word is not the job of those who deliver the word - this is the job of the Holy Spirit. You are only responsible to be faithful in the delivery of a word, not in it’s fulfillment.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Prophetic Principles - Avoid the Invitation to Join the Fight

There will be times when the intensity of certain social issues or the condition of culture will create unrestrained and passionate responses from people - even those who claim to speak for God.  In these intense seasons of social dialogue people will demand a response from those who walk in the gift of prophecy.  These are times to be especially careful.

Human passion and cultural decay does not make heaven nervous. This has been the human condition since creation.  In these times a true prophetic voice will wait for the Lord to provide a message instead of jumping on the latest emotional bandwagon and producing words designed to tickle impatient ears.

Your voice is not yours alone - it belongs to God.  Do not let what you speak be taken hostage by the agenda of others. Avoid the invitation to join a chorus not orchestrated by God.  When the current cultural flap and fervor is over and the masses have moved on to the next battle, you will still have your credibility intact because it was God, not the undisciplined passion of well-meaning people, that gave you the script for your words.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

An Alarm Has Been Set

At some point, in order to effectively love a culture beyond simply matching the well-intentioned acts of kindness offered by a local service group, we must realize we have been called to deal with what Paul described in Ephesians as “spiritual forces of evil in high places”. These spiritual forces are not empowered from a visible place of human influence held by an elected political figure or by the efforts of a group whose self-proclaimed goal is to redirect the thinking of society.   We are dealing with demonic powers that exist and rule from the invisible realm of the spirit world influencing those on earth who either deny their existence or knowingly submit to their authority. 

Something is about to change. God has set an alarm in the heart of His people that will soon awaken those asleep in the slumber of ignorance and deception. When these awakened ones rise they will see for the first time the actual battle taking place.  Like someone receiving a shot of spiritual adrenaline, they will begin to move in a demonstration of great power against these unseen dark powers. They will lay down the natural weapons of human warfare they had previously employed that only sapped their strength and destroyed their testimony. These awakened ones will pick up the superior weapons of God’s Kingdom that have been designed and empowered to destroy the works of darkness.  These warriors will move past the veil of what can only be seen and judged with natural sight and step onto a spiritual battlefield where a real and lasting victory is waiting for those who no longer live in a state of spiritual slumber.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Prophetic Principles - Speak Words Seasoned With Mercy

One of the most profound character traits of God is His mercy. For God to step through the curtain of time and interact with humanity required mercy.  Mercy reveals the deep love of God for people who do not yet love Him and for those who profess to love Him, but do not. Mercy meets people in the place of their greatest brokenness and embraces them with words of hope. 

To be effective in long-term prophetic ministry requires a heart of mercy. This heart is developed in people who have not forgotten the original mercy God extended to them.  Whenever our words become distant from this recollection we can begin to speak in flippant and unloving ways. When this happens our words become verbal hammers that bruise and wound people.

In order to defend against this potential abuse it is important to create a definition of mercy written from within the memory of your greatest failure and eventual restoration.  This will keep you honest and real. Paul never forgot where he came from. The Road to Damascus was not just a road linking cities - it was a place when a self-righteous and unmerciful Paul was introduced to the God of heaven. 

Before we speak for God we need to remember what it was like to feel abandoned and then redeemed.  We need to recall what if was like to live trapped in sin and what it felt like to finally be set free.  A prophetic voice that forgets these realities will eventually become unkind and unloving in their content and delivery.  Unmerciful words spoken “in the name of God” create confusion in the hearers and grief in the heart of God.  Words of mercy will always triumph over words of judgment.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Prophetic Principles - The Voice of Humility

Over the years, as I have served the Lord in various forms of prophetic ministry, I noticed something.  The most accurate and life-impacting words come when spoken from a heart of humility.  Humility works as a spiritual filter straining out the grit of our human pride that can so easily attach itself to a prophetic ministry and plug the flow of its effectiveness.

Pride is fueled when spiritual elitism or a delusional image of our own prophetic importance is allowed to run rampant. Humility on the other hand speaks the truth in love from the heart of a servant.  A prophetic ministry that lacks this heart of humility will eventually become brutal and unloving. The most powerful prophetic voices I know speak with a tender yet powerful voice that sounds like a merciful father running out to welcome home a prodigal son.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Prophetic Principles - Dealing With Push Back

I write every day. Not all of what I write ends up on social media. Some things I write are on-going writing projects that could someday become a book or an article for publication. God has allowed some of what I write to occasionally gain a wider audience than I would ever have imagined. This always amazes and humbles me.  In this widening audience some of what I write will cross existing lines of relationship and connect with people I would never know had it not been for social media. This can also create awkward and unfamiliar responses.

Recently, I got some push back for something I wrote.  This happens from time to time. The push back came from a person I do not know and someone so distant from my current circles of fellowship that I am free to use their response as an example for what I want to share.  This person felt that everything we write has to be backed up with scripture.  He wanted chapter and verse.

To some this request might sound noble, but it actually revealed a problem.  I could have provided numerous verses and examples from scripture to “back up” what I had written, but as a personal policy, I don’t respond to these requests on social media because I would spend the majority of my time responding to questions and have little time left to write.  I have another reasoning behind this policy. I feel if people would simply take a moment to think instead of react they might actually understand the heart and intent of the author.

This brings me to the principle I want to share when it comes to writing or speaking words of prophecy.  Not everything we write or say needs a chapter and verse to be God. Yes, the essence of what we communicate should align with scripture, but even the people we read about in scripture did not constantly quote bible verses back and forth to each other every time they spoke. 

If you are going to speak, write or simply talk as a representative of Jesus Christ, make sure you know His heart as well as you know His word.  There will be times when you won’t have a scripture verse to back up what you say, but you will know what you are saying is reflecting His heart.  When all is said and done it was God’s heart that motivated Him to write His word. That order of revelation is important to remember when we speak in His name.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Unlikely Heroes

God is raising up unlikely heroes.  These spiritual heroes have remained hidden and undiscovered in times of peace.  God reveals His heroes in the middle of conflict with darkness and deceit when they choose to walk in truth and righteousness against the tide of popular culture. 

God will call these unlikely heroes to rise up and perform unusual deeds of renown in His name. They will employ spiritual weapons that appear weak and underpowered in times of peace, but will prove powerful and overwhelming in times of spiritual warfare.

These unlikely heroes will become leaders in the Church of the future.  They will lead because they proved themselves faithful to the word of the Lord in times of spiritual conflict when obedience was not considered popular or desirable to those still trapped in fear. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Same Old Dance

An old and familiar false promise has appeared once again.  It’s hand is extended inviting you to resume a dance from your past. You gave yourself to the false promise of this music once before and it led you across a glittered dance floor away from your true self and your God- designed destiny. 

You promised yourself this would never happen again.  It is time to keep that promise. As you hear the familiar pick-up line something is different. The music is the same and so are the promises, but you have changed.  This time you can see right through the shallow charade. Because you endured the pain and sorrow of the past with humility, God has been able to transform you and set you free.  You can now see what is true.  You have danced the dance of grace and the music of deceit no longer moves you with its false rhythm.

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Dissatisfied Soul

It is possible to lose interest in a human interpretation of the Church, but not in God. If you have lost interest, allow God to refocus your vision. This refocusing will carry with it a new infusion of life and purpose that will help you see your circumstance with new clarity.

These seasons of dissatisfaction will not last forever if you are spiritually healthy.  They are times of readjustment and realignment, not abandonment.  There is a positive side to the dissatisfaction you are feeling. Your dissatisfaction with the status quo has made you hungry for something new.  That new thing is not always a change of location, but a change of heart.  Once God has your heart anything is possible.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Releasing the Song of the Spirit

This morning, as I listened to a powerful moment of worship on my Pandora account, the worship leader shifted to a spontaneous song and then led the people deeper into an unscripted song of the Spirit. This song was in heavenly tongues that sounded like many waters coming together creating a beautiful harmony.

As I continued to listen, I felt the Lord say our worship is about to enter a time of expression where these unscripted songs of the Spirit will be released once again in our public worship gatherings joining us with heaven and lyrics too powerful to find their expression in human vocabulary.

As this shift in worship takes place it will be bring an announcement of the new thing God is about to do in the earth.  These songs will open doors the key of human logic cannot open.  These new songs will also carry with them the promise of interpretation in the form of signs, wonders and miracles. Step out of from the predictable tracks of fear and what others might think and begin to sing as the Spirit leads and a new season will unfold in the house of God and in the streets of your city.

Your Next Step

Your way forward resembles a stormy path filled with wind, rain and uncertainty.  The promise you are holding is like a single candle flickering in a protected place. 

You have hesitated to leave the comfort of this protected enclosure because you think the candle of promise will be extinguished in the storm.  God ignited this promise and He is the one responsible to keep it alive and burning, not you.  He knows the way forward is stormy. He also knows you are hesitating waiting for things to calm down. This is the time to step out.  The time of waiting is over.

The way forward will require a childlike faith.  This innocent faith does not worry about the consequence of its obedience.  The natural conditions will never be right for the steps of faith you are being asked to take.  This candle of promise you hold is far more powerful than the storm you are about to enter.  Focus on the One who lit the candle, not what you are about to walk into.  Step out and you will see the miracle the promise has been announcing. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy theories surface from time-to-time in our culture. These conspiracy theories need enemies in order create their narrative.  They require the seeds of fear and doubt to be planted in the garden of our mind. A conspiracy theory has the power to convince it’s adherents to view with suspicion any rational evidence presented that would debunk the basis of the theory.  Conspiracy theorists create a culture of distrust and invite people to depart from reality to live on islands of suspicion. This is why the suspicion that drives these theories is so dangerous to our faith.  They isolate us from people and create a culture of spiritual survivalists. 

Conspiracy theories develop most rapidly in times of rapid cultural change when people want to know what will take place in an uncharted future. Within these theories insecurity and fear create ways of thinking that lack reality and rational thinking. Fear-based conspiracy theories will eventually displace the faith of those who chase after their illusions.

Anything that enters our minds not sourced in faith is an illegal thought and must be dealt with as an unwanted invader.  The evidence of faith is hope, even when natural evidence to support the existence of faith is not seen.  If you are feeling uneasy about the future and have thoughts of uncertainty, you are dealing with a liar who wants you to trade hope and promise for the fear and despair created by the spirit of conspiracy.

God is confident about your future because He has plans for your life that reflect the words of the prophet Jeremiah when he wrote to those who had been exiled to Babylon, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Stockpile God’s goodness and hope in your heart in preparation for the future.  These are the only supplies that will help you survive the famine of hope that always exists in uncertain times.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

God Knows What He Is Doing

I remember the first time I heard someone address the futility of a culture war when my pastor Roy Hicks, Jr. said, “You can put a Christian in every position from the local dog catcher to the White House and you will still only have a world system.” I went away from that conversation asking myself what I was missing in the larger scheme of things.

Roy’s comment helped me realize the primary work of the Church is to expand the Kingdom, not to regulate the lives of those in culture.  Vote your conscience and your understanding of scripture, but never allow a set back to that understanding rob you of the peace that comes when we realize God knows what He is doing, no matter what takes place in culture.

For the last 35 years, I have watched some within the Church attempt to fight a culture war.  This call to arms has been an alarm sounded under the tone of patriotism and biblical integrity. Patriotism and biblical integrity are good, but only when aligned with and in submission to the heart of God. The Pharisees were patriotic to their concept of nationalism, but they missed the heart of God.  They thought they had God and His word all figured out and any understanding of scripture apart from their narrow interpretation was a lie.  This made them want to kill Jesus and the message He proclaimed. Jesus never fought a culture war - ever.  He did challenge those in the religious community who felt their version of truth was the only one worth believing. 

It is time to return to the simplicity of the Gospel because fighting these never-ending culture wars will drain us of our limited energy and resources and have us frantically shooting at the latest hot-button target within the culture.  In this kind of battle the Church can appear desperate instead of triumphant.