Monday, November 30, 2015

The Angst You Are Feeling

Some of you woke up this morning with an unexpected feeling of angst. What you are sensing is what the broader culture is experiencing each and every day.  Angst is permeating our world. God is using this angst as an invitation to make a shift in your thinking to become an agent of change in your family, city and nation. God has allowed you to feel the pain of others for a greater Kingdom purpose.

What you are sensing is a tremendous spiritual battle currently being waged in our culture. This battlefield is not fought with natural weapons, strategy or tactics. Attempting to use natural borders and political rhetoric to define this struggle is an illusion. When we attempt to fight a spiritual battle with the same logic used to fight natural battles defined by the limits and interests of natural, horizontal borders, we end up expending our limited energy and resources fighting in the wrong direction advancing our cause toward the wrong "enemy".

This is a different kind of warfare waged between varying levels of spiritual authority in the heavens. This is why Paul told us to fix our eyes on the things above and to draw our weapons from the unnatural arsenal of heaven. The battle lines of this spiritual war are vertically defined - within the varying levels of authority in the heavenly realm - not horizontally drawn between nations and people groups.

The battle being waged is one whose border will be defined by our renewed thinking. The angst you are feeling is a battle being fought over mindsets. God is reforming and reviving the mind of His Church in preparation for what He has planned. This angst is being used by God to get your attention to refocus your efforts on a different battle being fought on a different plane. The troops in this battle are armed with hope, faith and love. Against these weapons no army of spiritual darkness can stand.

Friday, November 27, 2015

It's Time! Step Forward - Expect a Miracle

It's time to stop hesitating. You have paused in a place of weakness waiting to become strong before you continue to move forward in obedience. When this journey began, God did not send you out because you were strong. He is sent you out knowing it would be in your weakest place where He would do His greatest work. This hasn't taken Him by surprise. It is part of His plan. You would not need God to show up if what He is asking of you could be done in your own strength, will and intellect.

There are good people in the Church-culture who live with the illusion that we should spend our time discovering and developing our strengths. This research seems logical, but it is not truth. This illusion was adopted because people succumbed to a natural model of doing church. Scripture tells us something different - your weak areas carry the greatest potential for Kingdom advancement, not your strengths.

Never let your weakness stop you from moving forward in your calling. Like Paul, celebrate your weaknesses because when you recognize them God will be able to begin doing something profound. A weakness yielded to the healing touch of God carries with it the greatest potential for a display of His power. When you are empty and have nothing left to offer, God has promised to come and fill your weak place with a display of His presence. This is where your life will have the greatest impact. Embrace it and begin to move forward.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Significant Decision

Yesterday, I sensed a nudge from the Lord to post a short video reminder encouraging people to follow the peace of God into this season of increasing cultural uncertainty. Later in the day, someone reminded me that my friends at Elijah List had published an excellent word from Bobby Connor, a trusted prophetic voice, titled, "Peace or Panic - The Choice is Yours!". God is reminding His people to not allow fear to darken the attitude of our heart or pollute our response to life. The choice is ours to make.

In order to be in the center of God's will in this moment of human history, each of us will need to make the daily choice to step into the peace of God. This choice will violate your emotions and the opinions other people have about how to live in the midst of uncertainty.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ and you have succumbed to the spirit of fear, make an exchange. Give God your fear and He will be faithful to give you His peace. This will be the greatest gift you will receive in this holiday season and the greatest contribution you will make during the conversation that will take place tomorrow around the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Moving Beyond Politically Correct Religous Language

Each segment of the Church has the potential to succumb to a version of politically correct language. This is not the same kind of vocabulary as the politically correct language used in the realm of politics, but it is sourced from the same spirit and manifested in the arena of faith. This politically correct language perpetuates the status quo of religious systems through restricting forms of communication.  It is a language of control. Unless challenged it can hold an individual or a group back from experiencing the full measure of their destiny.

When God begins to move in new ways new language is required to define what is taking place. This language will invite its members out of the ruts of a shared history to experience something new their current experience cannot provide. For those in control of the visible power structures this new language can be seen as a threat and must be controlled by a demand for alignment with the party line. If that alignment does not take place fearful leadership may attempt to silence the voice of reformation by removing its platform to speak. At this point change can only come from the outside instead of being internal and organic.

Breaking free from this politically correct group-speak requires someone courageous enough to speak what the Spirit is saying no matter the cost to their credibility or jeopardy to a position they hold within a particular circle of fellowship or organization. These are voices like David who was rejected by Saul or John who cried out from the wilderness.

God is raising courageous voices within our families, churches and denominations. God has planted these courageous ones in our circles of fellowship to challenge the fear-based controlling filters we have erected as barriers to change. These new voices will invite people to listen to the sounds of a Kingdom conversation that will declare something new instead of orbiting around and repeating the familiar party line of history that has stunted their growth and forward progress.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A New Garment for a New Season

A young woman approached me on Sunday morning just before I was to preach at The Shepherd's Way in Ashland, Oregon. She said she saw an image of a person walking into the presence of the Lord. As this person entered the Presence they shed an old garment they had been wearing for a long time.  They now stood before the Lord naked and unclothed in a moment of transition.  As this young woman shared what she was seeing the Lord continued developing the image in my mind.  I saw the person step forward from a place of naked vulnerability and put on a new garment as they continued to step forward into a new season.

Some of you are about to shed the old garment of what was to put on the new garment of what will be.  You are removing something that served a purpose, but now must be dropped on the floor of your past in order to move forward. The Lord is about to clothe you in a new garment of fresh anointing.

In the coming weeks some of you will become the person in the image.  Don't fear the moment of naked vulnerability before the Lord when the old falls away.  This is part of your transformation.  What you are about to be clothed with will far exceed your imagination and expectation.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Coming Revival of Peace

The real power of terror is its ability to cause an entire populace to live and respond to life in fear – always and everywhere. The greatest weapon in the arsenal of terror is the fear it produces in the minds of people.  God is about to turn this fear into a seedbed for revival, but first the Church must come to grips with her own fear.

While many people gather weapons and attempt to harden natural borders these efforts will not and cannot fully stem the tide of terror. Terror is an enemy without borders. The most significant battle we will engage takes place in our minds where we are being offered an opportunity to harden the borders of our thinking against the invasion of fear. Defining these mental borders provides our minds with the protected space needed to have our thought process renewed to begin thinking like Jesus.

Today, you can do several things to position your heart and mind for this coming revival of God’s peace.  Turn off your television and stop listening to the endless speculation and posturing of your favorite news outlet. Return to the Word and read its pages that are filled with a hope and a future God has created and promised. Direct your daily conversations toward a redemptive end instead of allowing your words to be highjacked by the agenda of fear.

These three simple acts will provide your mind with the space it needs to recalibrate your thinking to align with the mind of Christ. The creation of this space will allow God’s peace to displace the invaders of worry, doubt and fear. As you are being recalibrated you will begin to hear words of hope and destiny.  Hearing and believing these words will be your greatest act of spiritual warfare against the forces of terror.  With a renewed mind you will then be able stand in opposition to what the spirit of terror wants you to believe can only come at the end of a gun barrel or by the election of your favorite candidate. God has another plan and He is inviting you to believe it is possible.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Confront the Bully

Some of you feel like you are being pushed forward in time without your permission. This rude progression of time is like a schoolyard bully who has come up behind you pushing and shoving you forward. At some point you will need to turn around and confront the bully. The lesser authority of time being used by this bullying presence will have to yield to the eternity you carry in your heart.

Eternity has authority over every aspect of time when faith is expressed. Time and all that transpires within its realm does not have an authority greater than the One who created it. On earth as it is in heaven is not a religious mantra. This is the order of revelation in God’s Kingdom.  

God wants to release an invasion of eternity upon the timeline of your life bringing with it supernatural resolution and miraculous intervention. This is the alternate reality offered to those who confront the bully of time and follow Jesus – the One who existed in eternity before the creation of time.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Living Between Realities

It is very difficult to talk with people whose sheltered life has left them with an insulated view of reality. Distance from the sight, sound and smell of horrific violence can produce an unrealistic worldview.

Years ago, when I was a police officer, I had several people try to kill me and I was forced to respond within the bounds of my training and the law in order to survive and return home to Jan each night. Before I was a police officer, I had lived the insulated man-boy life of girls, sports and my latest car project. When I became a police officer and began to see the horror of death first hand, something changed in me. The manifestation of evil took my breath away and left me stunned with the realization that my life would never be the same again – ever. My wall of insulation had been dismantled.

Some of the current social dialogue is being framed by good people who have never been threatened beyond a push and shove match in a schoolyard. In many ways, I am glad they still live in such innocence, but it is very naive. There is real evil in our world choosing to manifest itself in grossly dark ways.  The evil of terror is its ability to visit our sacred space of friends and family without notice. The impact of this kind of evil is not limited to the shedding of innocent blood at the crime scene, but the bondage of fear it uses to immobilize normal life in the larger culture.

Once, I was lectured by a young man who had boiled down his response to evil to the overly simplistic response of “Turn the other cheek.” I did not want to respond to him in a negative way, but simply made an observation. I said, “I notice you have two eyes and two hands.” The young man looked back at me in confusion and said, “Yes?” I told him the discourse of Jesus he was quoting about turning the other cheek is the same discourse where He said if your eye views something offensive to pluck it out and if your hand does something wrong cut it off. I observed, “I notice you have two eyes and two hands.” I went on to share that Jesus might have been saying something more to His disciples than just an instruction to roll over and let hell have its evil way. When Jesus was arrested, Peter drew his sword and cut off Malchus’ ear. Jesus told Peter to put his sword back into its sheath.  He didn’t tell Peter to get rid of his sword. A first read of anything, scripture included, it not always the most accurate.

Today, be careful about issuing an overly simplistic response to any side of the complex issues we are facing in our culture.  Be careful that you don’t reduce your interpretation of reality down to a single option.  Truth is many times manifest between conflicting realities.  These realities can provide valid arguments for their existence from each side of an issue. The space between these conflicting realities is where we need the wisdom of God to craft a wise response.  Ask for God's wisdom. He promises to give it liberally to those who ask.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Rise of a New Apostlic Gift

The terrorist attacks in Paris have given us a glimpse into a new and unfamiliar future. As our collective head turns looking for direction many solutions are being offered. Much of what is coming forth are solutions sourced in historic remedies that were used in the past, but will not be able to stem the tide of the much larger hydra-headed issues facing our world.

In the last several decades, many in the Church have turned to cultural anthropologists and historians for direction.  While their insight is interesting, they can only offer insight from history – from the known data of the past.  They offer a way forward based only on the predictable and limited database of history.

Historic data has a problem – it lacks the prophetic insight of fresh revelation. Prophecy by its very nature reveals what is not yet known. We are in one of those moments where we need revelation. We are engaging battles without traditional frontiers. Terrorists are not fighting from recognized battlefronts that line the physical geography of a nation.  They can kill in a café or a concert hall. Hunger is no longer “over there”, but down the street behind the façade of what appears to be Middle America. Lives are being sexually trafficked beyond the glitz of Vegas in the small towns once poetically painted by the brush of Norman Rockwell.

In this confusing landscape of a rapidly changing and frontier-less world culture, a new apostolic gift is rising.  This gift will not seek solutions by first going to the records of history or to available research data to find its answer.  These new apostles will first listen to what the Spirit is saying. This will be their first action step. From a place of revelation they will craft a way forward.

What is happening is part of a much larger reformation taking within the Church.  This reformation will require a departure from our dependence on the predictable patterns of history to find a way forward. As this takes place, these new apostles will be revealed to us when they approach what appears to be an impenetrable cultural frontier and are able to step through its restrictive barrier into a previously undiscovered future our known history was not able to predict.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

First Time Ever Events

For the last week, I have been sensing we are coming into what I would call “a first time ever” season in culture, politics and world affairs. There are events about to transpire that will be seen as first time ever events in this generation.

These one of a kind events will have no personal history that we can use as a means to evaluate and determine our next step.  Some of these issues will transpire with such shock and rapidity that faith in what is not yet seen will be our only place of security. That faith will connect us with the only real hope we have – a hope securely set in eternity.

Take time now to consider and commit to a response of faith.  Do not allow your self to become so shocked that you are unprepared to respond in faith. Without this determination you will be in a similar place with those who will stand paralyzed in shock when things take place for which they have no paradigm of faith. A paralyzed life will be overrun by fear.

What is coming will be so unusual that no earthly plan will be able to solve the dilemma it produces. These “for the first time ever” events are part of the Kingdom process of displacing darkness with light and error with truth. Each generation where God has moved in great power has seen this take place. None of what is about to transpire will take God by surprise. Abide in His presence at all times and you will be fully prepared for any contingency.  When these “first time ever” events begin to take place, wait, listen and trust Him to lead you forward. This will be your act of faith and your place of security.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A 2,000 Year Old Word Of Caution

There are times in Church history when we discover the way forward by rediscovering a truth that was present in our past. Jude wrote a short letter describing the "salvation we all share”.  He said this shared faith was “once for all delivered to the saints”.  What struck me most in Jude’s letter was the phrase, “once for all delivered to the saints”.

This package of truth was a deposit made 2,000 years ago when God birthed the Church and gave us everything up front – “once for all”.  God gave it all to us at our beginning and we have spent the last two millennia attempting to unpack that original deposit in each new cultural context. This is the nature of God’s inheritance to His people. We work from a place of a possessing all we need.

Some think our understanding of truth is a progressive journey – like a form of theological evolution.  In this line of thinking God seems to have left out some important details that we will discover through a process of human intellectual development. While we all can see the same truth from many different perspectives, it still remains unchanging truth. In a journey that is compassed by a developing theology a danger exists. When we attempt to redefine truth we begin to drift across dangerous reef-infested theological waters where we begin to redefine issues like morality and more importantly, the way of salvation.

Jude mentioned this in his letter.  He told his readers that some people were present within their churches saying God’s grace allows them to live immoral lives. Jude even connected that dangerous license to a denial of Christ.  These are heavy words for Jude to share and words that could have been written just this week describing some in the Church today.

We strike these hidden reefs of error when we are tempted to believe we might be discovering something so new that it was not part of the original deposit once delivered to the Church. The scriptures tell us there is nothing new under the sun. We don’t progress toward a newer version of truth. We simply discover or rediscover what we already possess. In each new season of life we are invited to go back to that original deposit and recalibrate our direction so we can move forward into safe waters and not shipwreck our faith.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Your Call Of Joy Is Coming

Yesterday, when the terrorist attacks in France were taking place, my daughter, Anna, was in Paris packing to return home the next day from a month abroad.  Anna was part of a literary team who were teaching others how to tell stories. Anna’s trip took her to Morocco, Portugal and finally to Paris. Paris was to be a time of rest and refreshment. Anna was staying with friends in an apartment across the Seine River from where the acts of terrorism took place.

I had not heard of the attacks until a short email from Anna came unexpectedly letting us know she was safe.  I immediately went to the news to see what was happening. Jan had to leave for a women’s retreat. For the rest of evening, I sat alone and watched Sky News broadcast from Europe as the horrible events continued to unfold. As a father, I wanted to reach out and take hold of the situation to ensure my daughter’s safety, but in these kinds of situations there are no handholds.  It is like most of life – the only thing you can really take hold of in situations like this is faith.

Jan and I went to bed late at night offering up prayers for Anna, her friends and for the nation of France.  It was hard to get to sleep. In the middle of the night my cell phone lit up our bedroom with the words, “Boarded!!!”, which meant Anna was able to make it to the airport and was on her flight home.  In the darkness of our bedroom, Jan and I offered prayers of thanksgiving that we would see our daughter the next day. Many in Paris were not so fortunate.

This morning as the various news outlets processed the terror attacks in Paris, I heard the Spirit whisper, “Tell them their call is coming.” Immediately I had a sense of what the Lord was saying to me.  Some of you are in the middle of very terrifying life-situations.  You do not know the outcome.  You are trying to rest and it has been a challenge. God is about to send a message in the dark night of your painful experience.  Your message will resemble the joyous text we received from Anna letting us know she was heading home.  God wants you to know what you have been praying for in your desperate situation is in route and will arrive shortly safe and sound.

Until the text came from Anna, my sleep was fitful. Once I knew she was safe, I fell into a deep sleep that only comes when we know God is taking care of what we love. This kind of rest is what God wants you to experience today.  There is nothing more you can do now but rest in His presence and trust Him with the outcome.  Let go of fear and worry and allow God to care for the people you love and resolve the situations that time and distance has removed from your ability to control.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Blind Judgments

One of your greatest acts of love will be to extend mercy to those who refuse to see you as a transformed person. You need to extend mercy to these people because their opinion of you is based on a person who no longer exists. They are judging the shadows of your past. You have moved on, but these blinded ones are stuck. They are only able to see you through the lens of their judgment.

This is a blind judgment because it does not see the new reality of your life, yet attempts to define your present status with the expired evidence of your past. This kind of blindness requires your mercy until new sight is gained. Mercy will eventually triumph over these blind judgments. Until that time, learn to rest in the faithfulness of God to bring healing and new sight. In this painful process God is doing a profound work in your heart. He is helping you see your accusers with His eyes of mercy.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

This Ending Is Your New Beginning

Some of you are at the end of a season of life. This ending can be the end of a relationship, a circle of fellowship or a ministry. It is like you have watched a motion picture through to the very end and now the credits have begun to roll. You know “The End” is coming.

As you sit through the credits you are trying to determine your next step. You are waiting for the inevitable “The End” to scroll up the screen. You know its over, but you want to be faithful to ride this thing all the way to the end.  You are steeling yourself against the final credits that will tell you and everyone else it is finally over.

An image began to unfold. I saw you alone in a movie theater. Everyone else had departed because they felt it was not worth their time to remain for the final credits. In their minds the end was a foregone conclusion.  As you sat there not knowing what to do the last credit came up as expected with the words, “The End”.  You began to rise from you seat, but something happened on the screen.   The word, “End” was crossed out and the word, “Beginning” was written in as a replacement. The final credit now reads “The Beginning”.

You have faithfully sat in a relationship or circumstance all the way to the end.  You have not abandoned what God asked you to do.  You have come to the end and now sit alone with your decision. In this moment of solitary closure, God wants to replace your disappointment and loneliness with an expectation that something new is about to be revealed.

It is time to get up from your seat and leave the theater of your past. This ending will become a doorway into something new. The Lord is the only one who has the authority to write the final credits to your life.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Spiritual Archaeology

As we grow in our relationship with God we establish filters around our body, soul and spirit to filter out the negative things that want to enter our lives and pollute the pure deposit made by God. What caught in these filters will tell the story of how we chose to live.

Jan and I live in a small, historic Gold Rush town in southern Oregon.  In the 1850’s this area was booming with the discovery of gold.  People from all over the world descended on our area and left behind traces of their lives and civilization.  Today, when a new sidewalk is installed or some form of excavation takes place, archaeologists from our local university will appear and set up screen filters to sift through each pile of dirt to discover our buried history. Much of what is found is discovered in the garbage heaps where the refuse of life found a home. These bits of refuse are skillfully assembled and become parts of a developing puzzle giving us a glimpse into the past. You can learn a lot about a person’s life when you sift through their history and discover what they chose to leave behind.

Someday, when you depart this life and we set up a spiritual archaeological dig to sift through the remnants of your history, it will be interesting to discover what you chose to leave behind. Like a small shard of glass or the broken handle of a Chinese teacup discovered under the surface soil of my small town, each discarded piece of your life will someday tell a much larger story of how you chose to live your life.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Strange Things People Say

Well-meaning people will occasionally say things that are not true.  One of those phrases is, “God will never give you more than you can handle.”  These phrases are not evil or malicious – they are simply not true. We repeat them without thinking. They become like a cheesy greeting card slogan inserted into the blank spots of our conversation when we don’t know what else to say when we see someone suffering.

If we believe God will only give us what we can handle why would we ever need to call upon Him to solve the issues we face?  If the solutions we seek can be discovered by the simple exercise of human intellect or will, we will have effectively removed the need for a supernatural component from our life for the impossible situations each of us will face in the course of a lifetime.

The record of the God's Kingdom has always been a story about a people who were taken past the point of their talent, resource and endurance.  These people found themselves deposited in places of impossibility where if God did not show up nothing would happen.  For most of their lives they lived with the reality that God had asked them to do things well beyond their ability to handle by sheer will power.  

In the overwhelming situations of life, where your only remaining option is God, you will find all you have to offer will be an expression of faith the size of a mustard seed. This offering will appear small and dwarfed by the impossibility of the problem you face, but that seed contains tremendous potential when touched by God. By itself it is only a little seed. When touched by God it becomes a miracle. The moment your seed of faith sprouts it will release a supernatural harvest you had previously thought impossible. That kind of experience will change your vocabulary of faith.

Monday, November 9, 2015

It Just Makes No Sense

Making it hard for people to know God has never made sense to me.  The barriers we put between people and God seem so out of touch with His heart. God is much larger than the seeds of fear and exclusion we plant in the garden of our relationships. This is why the Father sent Jesus – The Way – to simplify our approach to Him. He knew we would clutter that approach with our preferences and misinterpreted tribal-like religious regulations.

Think about this for a moment. Our universe is estimated to be 156 billion lights years wide and it continues to expand in size. Light now reaching us has traveled from galaxies we are just discovering and that light has taken 13 billion years to reach us.  God created these unexplored dimensions of space with just a word. Just a word! A God this immense and all-powerful would have to be very merciful in how he deals with humans who appear as nothing more than ant-like creatures crawling around on a small planet called Earth out in the middle of the nowhere of space.

The next time you want to judge another human being and create a merciless response to their brokenness look up into the night sky and ponder the unbelievable vastness of God.  In that moment you will come to realize none of this works without God’s mercy. Those who are able to ponder these realities and not become fussy, uptight religious people will be the ones God uses to usher in His presence upon the earth.  That possibility is worth pondering.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Call To Arms

For the last few days, I have been hearing the words, “a call to arms". The Oxford Dictionary defines the phrase as a call "to defend against a takeover".  When I heard this call to arms, I saw a soldier in battle firing shots at an approaching enemy. The bullets fired were going right through the enemy without any visible effect.  In the heat of battle the soldier stopped shooting to examine his weapon to see what was wrong. He came to realize the bullets being fired were powerless because they were cast with human logic and fear. The enemy kept advancing and the firefight intensified. No weapon being used was able to repel the advancing attack.

One of the soldiers in the battle released his magazine and loaded another. This new magazine was filled with the love of God. He took aim at the approaching darkness and shot. Each round fired found a target and vaporized the enemy. The other soldiers noticed what was taking place and dropped their old magazines and loaded new ones filled with the same love.  They began to reengage the enemy dropping each one in their tracks as love found its mark.

Too many of God’s people are responding in fear to the rapid changes taking place on both the national and world stage.  Fear is not one of our weapons.  Any strategy or weapon of spiritual warfare sourced in fear will have no affect on the enemy of truth. The Word says only the perfect love of God has the power to cast out the fear we carry into battle. That same love is our weapon during any spiritual conflict.

When you respond to a call to arms make sure you draw your armament from the arsenal of weapons supplied by God, not from your emotions or from the consensus of a fearful and frustrated culture. Only God's perfect love has the power to bring down the invading horde of loveless lies that are advancing on you, your family and our nation.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

It Many Be Time To Change Your Location

When Jesus got into Simon's empty boat and asked him to go out into deep water to put down his nets, his partner's boat remained on shore. When Simon's boat took on a miraculous haul of fish his nets began to tear from the weight of the catch. Simon shouted for his friends to come and join him to help haul in his overloaded nets. The text in Luke 5 says, "Soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking."

This is the nature of revival. Some will stay on shore and form their life and theology around an empty shoreline experience. Others will cast off in faith and sail out to a place where God is filling empty boats to overflowing.

Whenever you hear God is moving in a different location you have a choice to make. You can remain on shore or you can cast off and sail out toward His manifest presence. Remaining on shore will always leave you with the regret that you did not follow the invitation to come and take part in something supernatural God was doing away from the predictable shoreline of your current reality.