Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Word For My Single Friends Who Are Waiting

You have wondered when – when will they come. In an unscheduled moment of time a divine encounter will take place. They will appear like a person who has stepped out from within the fog of your unexplored future.  In that moment a seed of hope will be gently planted in the garden of your dreams and before your eyes love will begin to arise, blooming for a lifetime of harvest.

This is the essence of something God-arranged.  Don’t push it. Resist the urge to sell your dream to the highest bidder. Chain your desperate heart to the goodness of God. You are already one.  You will never be more than one even after you meet the other one and become one. This is a Kingdom principle. One Lord. One faith. One Church. One people. Our highest calling is oneness – a gift we already possess no matter our station in life.

Exercise your trust free from the frustrating measures of expiring time. Do not despair over what could have been. Choose to not believe the whispered lies of a deceptive fatalism that wants you to live as though that special person will never come or that joy has somehow passed you by, forever lost. 

Let God have His way and in the days ahead someone will walk toward you holding the same breathless expectation you have held in faith anticipating a beautiful moment of embrace and release that only comes to those who have put their trust in God.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Stepping Into Something New

This morning in prayer, I saw the image of a person stepping off a curb. The picture was a freeze-frame image that captured the person mid-stride with one foot still on the sidewalk and the other foot in the air extended outward ready to step down onto the roadway.  The Lord said, “I am changing the location of their next step. They stepped out expecting to land on the same familiar street, but I have I brought a new place for their foot to land. It will appear unexpectedly under their feet once the image restarts.  They have always thought I would require them to get to the next place in their journey one predictable step after another.  I am about to interrupt their slavery to natural thinking.  When I restart the image they will step into something new and unexpected.”

Some of you have always thought what came your way in life would be the result of being in the right place at the right time.  This is a limited form of natural thinking.  You don’t need God to live that way – you only need to plan and strategize with the natural abilities every human possesses.  This is a word for you to begin believing for something only God can do.  You cannot make plans for what is about to take place. It will happen suddenly and without your planning.

Recently, I have been hearing the word “beyond”. God is releasing events, interventions and solutions that will take place beyond our wildest imagination. When Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians he said God was able “to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think”. These “beyond” works - the infinitely more works of God - will appear unexpectedly under our feet because even in our wildest dreams we could never imagine their possibility.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Fallacy of Measured Success

I have come to dislike the word "metrics" - a word used by organizations to measure people and the success of their efforts. It is a business term that has crept into conversations within the church, especially where organizations need to measure a certain level of visible success to justify their continued existence to a donor base. 

This need to always be measured becomes a slow and corrosive drip in the spiritual stomach of those who live under its open faucet. When the Church begins to measure and validate its existence using the same tools as the business systems of the world we put ourselves in a place of jeopardy. This jeopardy requires that we align only with those who support our desired metric of success. This becomes a masked form of dishonor. In the end, the very ones who may carry the potential to bring breakthrough have been excluded from the conversation because they do not measure up to our predetermined metric.  True significance in God’s Kingdom cannot be measured by the metrics of success.  It can only be measured by faithfulness.

If your significance in any group is determined only by the metrics of visible success you may be working for the wrong people. Ask God to lead you to a group who are not consumed with the production of these metrics and who understand your true value apart from the limits of measured productivity. Jesus Christ and His first followers failed to measure up to the success metric of their day, but in the end, they changed the world.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Crossing Dark Intersections

When I played football for Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, one of my teammates invited me home to spend a weekend with his family and have some home cooking. As a misplaced and lonely California kid I accepted this invitation with great joy.  After our last class on Friday night, we hopped in his car and began the long drive across the eastern Washington farmlands toward his very small hometown out in the middle of nowhere.

We were driving late at night. Off in the distance of this “middle of nowhere” place was a desolate intersection monitored only by stop signs for all four of the converging roadways.  The moment I saw the reflection of the stop sign off in the dark distance my teammate said, “Turn off your lights to see if any other cars are coming and if you don’t see any lights don’t slow down – just blow the stop!” Without thinking I did what my friend suggested and blew through the intersection doing 65 mph with no headlights on and thought nothing of it.  Now, years later with a fully developed brain, I realize the foolishness we displayed that night.

That intersection reminds me of what the future for some in the Church will look like without the illuminating authority of scripture to help them navigate the dark cultural intersections we are now approaching. Psalm 119:105, tells us how to wisely navigate these dark intersections with the words, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

As you approach these cultural crossings make sure you navigate them safely illuminated by the light of God’s truth. Do this because there may be other people approaching the same intersection having turned off the light of truth believing the potentially fatal lie that tells them these treacherous crossings can be made in total darkness.  I shudder to think what might have happened that night had another equally foolish driver attempted to make the same crossing assuming no light was needed to make it to the other side.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Dream About Our Current Battle

A few nights ago, I had one of the most vivid dreams I have ever experienced. I was atop Mount Ashland dug into foxholes with other believers. We were involved in intense combat.  Mount Ashland is a high mountain where I live that overlooks southern Oregon and Northern California. Because of the location of the battle, I knew the outcome of the battle would have regional significance.

The battle scene in the dream was like video footage of actual combat.  Bullets were flying over our heads.  Each of us fired our weapons at wave after wave of the advancing enemy.  I heard fellow soldiers yelling “Ammo!” and I would see a fresh magazine thrown from one foxhole to another to keep each solider in the fight.  Combatants were screaming orders and warnings. “Incoming” was shouted to announce incoming rounds of dark spiritual artillery.

As the battle finally came to an end a deep and profound silence settled over the battlefield as the cloud of smoke from spent gunpowder still hung in the air above our heads.  We rose from our entrenchments into a post-battle hush to see the enemy lying dead at our feet extending as far as the eye could see.  Our faces were dirty and tear-stained as we began to look at each other with gratefulness that we would live to see another day.

We began to march down from the mountain summit to the ski lodge.  A line of people stood waiting for our return. This line filled the lodge and traced out into the parking lot down the mountain for miles into the valley below. Those waiting in line were people from our community who knew we had just put our lives at risk in a high place battle for the well being of their families and community. One after one, our necks were hugged with great emotion.  Each person in line shed thankful tears of joy at the victory.

As I debriefed the battle, I remembered seeing those who survived the fight raising shields of faith. These were the same shields described by Paul in Ephesians 6 that capture and extinguish the incoming arrows of the enemy. These were not like a solid gladiator’s shield.  We could see through our shields.  When we raised them in battle they did not obscure the battlefield before us.  Whenever we lifted our shields of faith and looked through their transparency the entire image of the battle would change.  If our shields were not raised we could only see the approaching enemy with the eyes of fearful natural sight.  

In faith, we also saw angels in combat with us. These angels were swinging their swords and destroying the approaching enemy with each powerful swing of their powerful blades. Prayers we had prayed in years past arrived like time-traveling mortars exploding on the field of our present battle. 

The enemy became surprised and confused. They began to raise their heads trying to understand the supernatural intervention that was turning the battle in our favor.  As their heads were raised we were able to easily identify them as targets and dispatch their lies with well-aimed declarations of truth.

There is a battle being waged in the high places of the spirit realm over our families, our cities and every region in our nation. These life and death battles are being waged and won with the unnatural weapons of prayer and faith.  These supernatural weapons and tactics will transform how we see the battlefield and the enemy who stands before us.

If you have become overwhelmed at what is transpiring in the world around you it is because your shield of faith hangs limp at your side. Raise your shield and begin to see the battle from heaven’s perspective. Nothing coming against you will be able to gain control of your spiritual battlefield if you see the battle with the eyes of faith. You are always fighting from a place of victory. This reality is what empowers our faith and turns the tide of battle.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A New Season Has Been Birthed

For the last week, Jan and I have been getting impressions in prayer of a new birth.  Jan saw a birth happen where the feet of a child came out first, instead of the head as is normal in a birthing process. When the child was birthed, she saw the child hit the ground and begin to run at the speed of the Spirit.  Later that same week, not knowing what Jan had seen, I smelled the fragrance of a newborn infant. I remember cuddling our two children soon after their birth and smelling the unique fragrance only a newborn gives.

This morning, as I prayed for the nation of Israel, I saw the image of a birth. I saw a mature adult fall through the membrane that surrounds the womb.  As this adult emerged they were birthed fully mature, landing on their feet. Immediately, I knew this was a composite image of the Church and the nation of Israel.  The image affirmed the promise of scripture that neither would not be aborted, as some would hope.  Both would appear on the world scene fully mature, able to walk in the strength and will of God.

In recent months there have been increasing levels of persecution against the Church and the nation of Israel. Both can seem small and vulnerable when standing in the midst of global unbelief.  This is the same faulty comparison Moses warned Israel about when he recounted their fearful testimony as they stood at the border of the Promise Land and said, “The people are taller and more powerful than we are”.  Moses was trying to help covenant people understand a profound truth - with God they are never small no matter what kind of giants they face.

God always does His most profound work with things that appear small in the eyes of the world.  Jesus was described as a lamb. Goliath was brought down with a stone from a shepherd’s sling. The Church was birthed in power in a small group of people who were locked away in an upper room in fear of the surrounding culture.

In the days ahead God will begin to reveal the birthing of something new and strong within the Church and the nation of Israel. Keep your eyes on God. Trust His Word. Live by faith, not by sight. In this new season, you will hit the ground strong, able to run the race set before you without fear of the gauntlet through which you must run in order to embrace your destiny.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Indecent Exposure

(Note to reader: This article uses a graphic metaphor.  It is not my intention to write for shock value. My only intention is to share what I believe the Lord asked of me. Please read what follows with that it mind.)

Many years ago, I was a police officer.  One of the tools I worked with was the California Penal Code. This code of laws contained the various violations of law from the simplest to the most gruesome. Our ability to arrest and detain was found within the pages of that code of law.

This morning, I rolled over in bed to check the time.  The lighted digital clock read, “3:14” indicating a time in the very early morning hours, but immediately I heard in my spirit, “Indecent Exposure.” As soon as I heard those words the Lord began to speak to me using the California Penal Code designation for a lewd act as a metaphor for what He was about to reveal. I tried to get back to sleep, but rose shortly thereafter still carrying the following word.

Our culture stands at a significant crossroad in its history.  How the Church displays itself before the culture at this crossroad will be critical in our ability to affect change in the coming years.  For several decades, some within the Western Church have left behind the magnificent history of their supernatural birth and picked up a form of godliness that, by its comfortable expression, denies the power of God. While there are some positive aspects to the current model, it has become an indecent exposure of the Church to a world in desperate need to see the power of God.

Years ago, a man familiar with the intricacies of the Greek language said to me when Paul wrote to the Corinthians telling them that all things must be done in “decency and order”, he was not making a prudish appeal for an orderly church service.  The words in the original language actually mean to do what is appropriate to the working of the Spirit in the moment – that is what Paul meant by decency and order. Paul’s writing was not a restriction of the Spirit’s manifestation in our times of worship, but a release.  Paul’s words were not written as an appeal to not offend a seeker.  Paul wrote to ensure that we never get to a place where a powerless presentation of the Gospel is displayed on the streets of our cities or within the walls of our church facility.

As I processed what I was hearing, I realized if we continue to reveal a powerless model of the Church to our culture we will be found guilty of indecent exposure.  This is not the vile violation of a criminal code, but the exposure of a model of life and ministry that gives no one the tools needed to confront the darkness that has settled over our land.

We have been called to stand with confidence before demons and all the powers of darkness with the supernatural weapons of God’s Kingdom. We are assigned to confront the darkness that prowls our culture freely attacking and consuming the lives of innocent people. Most of those who attend our churches come away from that experience not knowing this kind of power exists because they have not been exposed to its reality. That is indecent. The decent and biblical exposure of the fullness of God’s love and power is the most powerful weapon we possess. This is a time in our history to display that power once again without fear or reservation. That is the most decent thing we can do.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Industry of Religious Fear

It seems every so often dear people within the Church become consumed with fear. They have been afraid of various things, Y2K, asteroids, The DaVinci Code, the color of the moon and so on. This fear has become a market. When a market emerges some religious entrepreneur will greet that market with a product to support its dark promise.  There is a problem with all of this fear – it is not a product we are supposed to consume.

If we teach doctrines of fear about this life and the future when people finally come face-to-face with truly desperate life-situations they will only know how to respond in fear. Jesus taught a message of love, hope and the expectancy of goodness. If His message is ours, when true darkness does appear, we will have the courage to respond in faith because our faith is anchored in a hope held secure in timeless eternity above all the pain, sorrow and turmoil of this life.

Titus said while we live in this world we are to “look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” (Titus 2:13) This is the same hope that allowed Stephen to do something contrary to the fear of those who were about to stone him to death for his hope. “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand.” (Acts 7:55)  Maybe the reason we don’t respond like Titus or Stephen is because we have allowed people to sell us fear instead of hope.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Accusing Season

We have entered a season of increased accusation. The devil is nervous and he is increasing the intensity of his primary ministry – accusing the saints of God. This is nothing new. The devil has done this throughout history when he sees situations taking place in individual lives and culture that indicate a fresh move of God is about to take place. He brings these accusations in an attempt to convince you to move away from your calling and destiny by focusing on your brokenness instead of God’s goodness.

The Greek word used to describe the devil is a word from which we get our English word, “diabolical”.  The word “devil” has two parts.  This first part of the word means “through”. The second half is “to throw”. The devil is a person who throws his lies through the portal of accusation.  These accusations have no real target because your sin is no longer present before the eyes of God. Your sin is covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. The only target the devil has for his accusation is our disbelief.

I want to suggest another response when you begin to hear the accusations of hell.  When you hear them begin to dance with joy because these hellish accusations are one of the greatest indicators God is about to release something fresh and new in your life. Joy and the expectancy of God’s goodness is a target hell is unable to hit.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The God-Grid

All of us interpret what is happening around us through the grid of our individual perception. These perceptions are formed by the experience of life, both good and bad. The longer we live the more grids we accumulate. These grids can cause us to misinterpret what is actually taking place in the world around us. As a result, we fail to properly examine the events of our lives with the discernment of the Spirit. At some point we trade reality for a false interpretation of the facts and assemble our lives around that misinterpretation.

God is different. He has no grid except love. Nothing clutters the space between God and humanity. This is impossible for us to fully grasp because the possibility of a life without these grids is beyond our ability to imagine.

Today, examine your grids. We all have social, political and relational grids that have been put in place by our response to their influence in our life. As you examine these grids ask the Holy Spirit to test their credibility and truthfulness. This will be one of the most challenging assessments you will ever make because as you remove these grids you will put in jeopardy some of your existing relationships. The current status of your life will be threatened with change and fear will attempt to halt the process. These jeopardies and threats take place because in the eyes of others you will be seen as a challenge to the interpretation of their shortsighted grids – the same ones that had previously held you captive.

Friday, October 9, 2015

A God-Resolution for Roseburg, Oregon

The shooting at Umqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon has filled our hearts with sorrow.  I live in Southern Oregon and know many of the pastors and churches involved in the healing process that is now just beginning.  One of these selfless servants is a young pastor who is a chaplain for the first responders.  He was there when bodies of the victims were first removed from the scene.  He saw things no one should ever have to see.

This week, after I talked with some of these church leaders, I needed to get away and process what I was feeling. I took a long walk along a country road and began to pray. As I walked, I felt the Lord remind me of something a young man said to me years ago.  What made Christianity so appealing to him was the resolution it provided for the pain and sorrow we experience. Christianity provides resolution for the most challenging and painful things we will encounter in this world – painful events that take place without reason or explanation.  Evil has no good purpose. The enemy comes only to steal, kill and destroy.

As I pondered the wisdom of the young man’s words, I realized how right he was. Jesus is God’s resolution for all the pain and sorrow of humanity. With Jesus the resolution for death is resurrection. The resolution for moments of deepest darkness is the brilliant revelation of truth. The resolution available in pits of despair is hope. Each painful thing we experience has a polar opposite resolution of goodness sent by God to every grieving heart. These resolutions are something only God can provide because they are miraculous in nature. 

Every action of Jesus demonstrated the love of the Father. Jesus never attributed untimely death, murder or tragedy to God. Our responsibility is to believe in God’s higher reality of love when the natural evidence speaks to the contrary.  Our life then becomes a response in faith to the promise of God’s goodness in the midst of sorrow.

The Church is a prophetic community. We see things not yet present in our world and speak them into existence. When Paul said he desired that all of us have the ability to prophesy, he was making an invitation to every Christ-follower to live this way in every circumstance of life.  Each of us has the ability to prophesy the hope of a Kingdom resolution into the pain and heartache that overwhelms our cities and our nation. 

Our calling is to prophesy Heaven upon the earth. In these moments of revelation our voice becomes part of the redemptive process. Our words of resolution are not to be couched in some insensitive need to always have something to say.  These prophetic resolutions must be spoken with a wisdom and tenderness that partners with a Spirit-led sense of timing. 

In moments of human tragedy, God wants us to listen first for His voice before we begin to speak.  Jesus modeled this for us when He spoke only what He heard the Father saying.  When God begins to reveal His heart you will know it is His voice because His message will be one that, “Gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.” (Romans 4:17) His voice will carry resolution.

When John shared his revelation from the Isle of Patmos he described a voice shouting a new reality from Heaven for the earth and its inhabitants, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’” (Revelation 21:4-5)
John’s words will someday be the ultimate resolution for the pain and sorrow we have seen in places like Roseburg, Oregon and in many other cities across our nation when senseless acts of evil are thrust upon its citizens. God’s resolution of goodness will be the ultimate reality for every hurting heart in every circumstance of life. Those resolutions are the message we carry. Speak them in faith and trust in the goodness of God to prevail.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Releasing Spiritual Reservoirs

Some of you have felt like you are being forced to live inside a motionless spiritual reservoir when you know God has asked you to be a mighty river of His presence. You have allowed the expectations of people and religious organizations to become a dam holding you back from experiencing the flow of God's presence. God is about to break the dam releasing you to begin a new journey downstream.

It seems like these embankments have the power to hold you back. They don’t. It is the attitude of your heart in the waiting that is more powerful than any restricting presence. These enclosures and their restrictions are not your enemy, nor are those who have erected them thinking that gathering is greater than going.

The enemy you will face in these reservoir seasons will be a stagnating negative attitude that attempts to increase its presence when the water is not free to flow. This stagnation wants access to your heart to bring with it the growing presence of pollution that will eventually affect you and the people who surround your life.

These restrictive enclosures will not stand forever against the increase God is bringing as His presence rains down. Soon the dam will break. Position yourself to move with the first flow of God’s Spirit by choosing to have a right heart attitude that only comes when you allow forgiveness, trust and honor to be the purifying filters of your thoughts and actions. When the embankment finally breaks you will be ready to experience the coming release of God’s presence and power.