Thursday, November 30, 2017
If your voice has been threatened into silence by those in authority, you will have no impact in forging a new future. If your voice is overly-defensive, you will suffer a similar fate. Only those who possess the courage to speak the truth in love will be used by God to call forth a reformation in every sphere of culture. Examine the content and sound of your voice. It has been assigned a divine destiny to announce and release supernatural transformation. Steward its sound well.
I was sitting in my writing chair listening to some beautiful instrumental Christmas music. It was a piano solo. As the pianist continued to play a soft melody, in the distance, I heard the wailing song of a siren clearing the way in route to an unknown trauma. The melding of the two sounds was strangely beautiful.
As the two songs played on, I was reminded how much of life is a blend of both joy and sorrow and how both can play at the same time. No one is free from this blending of sound because every life will contain both joy and sorrow.
Finally, the siren song ended, and the Christmas music remained continuing to fill our home with its warmth. This is the essence of a life of faith. Hope birthed in faith helps us believe that our sorrows will eventually fade under the influence of love and in the end, only beauty will remain and our joy will return. The sound of sorrow fades because hope has a greater and more enduring power than any sorrow we will ever experience, no matter how deep and painful. Hope tells us that things will get better and our joy will return.
If you are experiencing sorrow begin your process of healing by choosing to exchange the ash of your sorrow for the beauty of hope. Do this each the overwhelming feelings of loss come to visit. Over time, as you continue to make this exchange, the sound of sorrow will begin to fade giving way to the enduring sound of hope.
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Many of us kneel at our bedside before retiring for the night to ask God’s blessing on our sleep and our dreams. Have you ever thought about doing the same thing before you leave your bed in the morning?
Each morning when I awaken, I have many thoughts running through my mind as I connect with the realities of a new day. In this mix of thoughts, a word from the Lord is always present. Many times you will read some of the words I was given in that waking moment. In fact, at the end of this article, I will share one of those words God gave me this morning.
When we come awake, each of us needs to find clarity beyond the desire to just wake up, get to the coffee machine and begin a day checking off a list of responsibilities.
What I want to share with you has nothing to do with whether you are a morning or evening kind of person. Your mind is being renewed by the Spirit to rise above human biology or a predisposition to prefer a particular time of day. One of the first things I do at the moment of waking reality is to recognize the Lord. Once I steer my mind towards Him, all my other thoughts come into alignment behind that recognition. It is at that moment a word of direction or something to write or the instructions for a prophetic act to be completed later in the day is revealed.
Here is how it happened this morning. After recognizing the Lord, I saw the image of a composite person – you and me and other followers of Jesus – rise from their bed. As this person rose in bed, their head met a hovering sheet of flexible transparent plastic Saran wrap-like material that represented a word from the Lord. The plastic sheet began to wrap around the person’s head surrounding their mind protecting it from outside contamination. Lying in bed for just a moment longer, the Lord spoke to me about what the image represented.
Today, some of you will need to make a decision – a decision that will have ramifications more significant than you realize at this moment. Choosing to recognize the Lord will be an act of faith that will release revelation. The answer you seek will appear among all the other options that are currently swirling around in your thinking. The simple act of recognizing God's presence will open your thinking to possibilities not imagined had you not purposefully recognized God in the first waking thoughts of the day.
God loves you so much that He waits for you to awaken each day so He can have conversations with you not available in the night. Like a loving parent hovering over a child’s bed watching them breathe and make baby sounds, so it is with your Heavenly Father. When we did this with our two children in the early morning hours, and they finally opened their eyes and recognized either Jan or me, a sweet smile would come to their face. When their eyes met ours, we began to talk with them. That is what God waits to do with you each morning when you awaken.
Monday, November 27, 2017
Two believers stood facing each other in a display of mortal spiritual combat. They had become gladiators of a false faith. The arena of their conflict was the public forum. They had trained themselves for this day preparing their weaponized opinions. They sharpened the sword of debate with years of study on the whetstone of a narrow understanding of a much greater truth. The shields they carried did not require faith to lift. They were raised by defensiveness. Under the rules laid down for this lethal sport only one of them would walk away as the victor. The other would have to assume the role of the dishonored one, a loser - separated. This is the promised blood the crowds would cheer once drawn.
Somewhere in the first round of this dance of death a whisper of truth entered the arena as an uninvited guest. “This is not how I want the world to see you. This combat has been prepared to dishonor My name and destroy your love. Drop your weapons of anger and one-upmanship and walk away from this cheering crowd. They have only assembled to watch your death, not to discover My truth.”
At that moment each gladiator saw themselves as the pawns they had become. Looking at their opponent they no longer saw opposition. They saw themselves reflected in a living and breathing mirror that was standing before them – a shared image created for greater things. Clutched fists empowered by years of angry debate and dishonor released their weapons and shields. It was like this moment was choreographic to perfection as their armament fell to the ground clanging their discarded purpose at the same time.
The crowd went silent in disbelief. Turning their backs to the spectacle, the gladiators walked away, together. The silence of the crowd lingered as disbelief hung in the air. Then something unexpected took place even though the admission price had promised more gladiatorial displays to come.
When the gladiators finally departed, people began to stand in silence one by one and walk out of the arena. Row after row emptied. The false emperor rose from his earthbound throne and started to shout threats, and vile vows of revenge as his audience walked away no longer empowered by his mission. His dark words fell to the ground having lost their power to deceive and destroy and to create an audience. Love had “one” the battle.
Sunday, November 26, 2017
I was awakened this morning by an image that looked like Stonehenge the ancient place of worship constructed of encircled upright stones near the town of Wiltshire, England. It was not actually Stonehenge I was seeing, but a modern version symbolizing something within the Church. As the image developed, the stones began to melt forming puddles on the ground.
The puddles increased in number and began merging together to form a river. Some of the people in the image had chosen to float with the flow of the river while others became frantic and gripped with fear. The latter were using containers of human logic and intellect in an attempt to collect the water hoping to reconstitute what was known and familiar. This effort quickly proved futile as the intensity of the melting continued, and the river rose gaining in both size and momentum.
As I continued to watch this unusual image the Lord spoke. “I am dissolving the assumptions of my Church. What has been erected in the midst of my people as misguided assumptions about my heart and intent will melt under the intense heat of my passion for all people. I will turn your melting assumptions into a river of revelation that will make known to you what your assumptions could not reveal. For those who have attached sacredness to their assumptions, this will be a challenging season. For those who are willing to let go of their assumptions and step into the flow of fresh revelation, I will spread their influence across the globe with a move of my Spirit that will saturate the Earth with my goodness.”
An assumption is formed when we take an opinion for granted and assume it to be true when it is not. Our assumptions are illusions that can blind us to a more profound truth and reality.
We all live with some form of assumption. In the process of growing and maturing as believers, God will help us shed our assumptions by revealing deeper levels of truth and understanding. This revelation takes place when we return to the original intent of God on a particular issue or discover an aspect of the Kingdom not known or experienced in this generation. The process of shedding our assumptions is never punitive. It is an act of love. It is also how God gets us ready to be used by Him in ways our assumptions could never produce. Melting our assumptions is about removing the barriers that have kept us from seeing and experiencing the glory of God.
"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).
Saturday, November 25, 2017
On Christmas Eve in 1971, seventeen-year-old Juliane Koepcke was a passenger on an airliner flying across the vast Peruvian rain forest when the aircraft was struck by lightning. The airliner broke apart 10,000 feet in the air. At the time of the event, Juliane was wearing her seatbelt and remained secured in her seat as she plummeted to Earth. Of the 92 passengers and crew on the ill-fated flight, Juliane was the only survivor. It is believed her landing atop the rainforest canopy was a contributing factor to her survival, but more was at play than just a cushioned landing. One commentator said, “And some people say there is no God!”
As I read the account of this miraculous survival, I thought of some of you whose lives have intersected a tragedy. You are now in a state of free fall feeling like all hope is gone. You are sure you are going to die, but God has another plan. Most people have written you off assuming you will become just another emotional and spiritual statistic. What your detractors did not figure into your situation was the relationship you have with a supernatural God known as your Father.
Your coming landing will not be comfortable and without some injury. Juliane suffered a broken collarbone and cuts and bruises in her ordeal. This is what happens in the tragedies of life. You have been hurt by this situation, but you know those injuries are nothing compared to your survival against unimaginable odds.
When Julaine shared her story, she told her biographers how her father had instructed her to head downstream if she were ever lost in a forest because going downstream would always lead her to civilization. Shortly after the crash, she found a small stream and followed her father’s instruction floating and walking for 9 days downstream until finally coming to a logging camp. Loggers got her into a canoe for the 17-hour canoe trip downriver to medical care. Had she not followed he father’s wisdom she would have died alone in the rainforest and we would have never heard the end of her story. Juliane is still alive today and works as a librarian in Munich, Germany.
Once you experience your landing, follow the instructions your heavenly Father gave you before all of this took place. It will be the key to your survival both emotionally and spiritually. You will survive to live another day because God has promised to never leave you or forsake you.
“I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19:4b).
Friday, November 24, 2017
Early this morning, I received an email with an offer for a Black Friday special sale price on the annual subscription rate for a grammar program I use called Grammarly. The offer included an upgrade to their premium service. I couldn't pass up the deal. About 30 minutes later, Jan came into our living room for her morning hug, I told her about the upgrade and said, "It's like having another wife in a grammar sort of way." We laughed knowing what it is like when each of us is married to a writer and one of us offers the other person a suggestion for grammar or content.
A proofread document checked for errors is a joy to read. The same applies to our lives. A proofread life is a safe life and one that is easily engaged and understood. Whether it is a loving spouse or faithful friend, we all need someone to take a second look at our life to see what we missed on the first draft. Though it is painful, and at times embarrassing, errors discovered early in both writing and life do less harm when edited out before publication of the final document. A healthy, trustworthy and vibrant spiritual life will welcome the process of proofreading and editing.
Thursday, November 23, 2017
God created you to make the sound of Heaven on Earth. Paul told the church at Ephesus instead of sounding like immature believers we are to rise to a place of spiritual maturity where we will “speak the truth in love”. Speaking the truth in love is the evidence Paul used to define maturity to the Ephesians. That same counsel would apply today when we are tempted to join with fellow believers who sail through life without the rudder of self-control and have joined in the dark chorus of the surrounding culture releasing a message fueled by cynicism, disgust, and anger. That is not the sound of Heaven.
Our voice must have three elements in order to reflect the heart of God. We must speak. It must be the truth. And it must be empowered by a love that seeks the highest good for another person. Any other sound will only produce death, not life.
Today, as you give thanks for the many good things in your life, don't forget to thank God for the potential of your voice. Ask Him to help you examine the sound and quality of the message you are releasing to those around you. If you need to make an adjustment, do it and move on without guilt and condemnation.
If you choose to speak the truth in love, hidden doorways of relationship and opportunity will open up before you. As you cross the threshold of these doorways you will walk forward into an unimagined future. The sound of God’s voice created our world. You have that same creative potential. Use it wisely.
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
My pastor, Roy Hicks, Jr., told a humorous story about how his wife Kay got his attention late one night. After many years pastoring the Eugene Faith Center, Roy became the Director of Missions for the Foursquare Church. It was a demanding job. Roy spent many hours at work on his computer connecting with churches in the United States and abroad. During one busy season, Roy was bringing his work home more than usual.
One night Roy did not go to bed at the normal time but stayed up glued to his computer screen trying to complete some last minute work. This late to bed scenario was trying to become the norm in their home. As Roy was typing yet another email, Kay walked into Roy’s study without saying a word and draped her lingerie over his computer screen turned around and walked into their bedroom. Roy smiled, turned off his computer and wisely followed his wife. Message delivered.
There are times when the people we love will send us a message that they need us more than they need our faithfulness to a job or a calling. Roy thought he was being faithful to his calling and as a provider for his family when in reality the greatest measure of both of those roles was his ability to rise from his computer and follow his wife.
In the middle of all that you are faithfully doing, the people in your life have a greater priority than your calling or your life-assignment. Look up from what is currently occupying all your time and has created a place for you to hide behind its demands to see what you are missing. It might be the smile of a child needing the physical presence of a parent. It could be co-worker needing some counsel for a challenging life-crisis or maybe it is the Holy Spirit trying to get your attention to deposit a fresh word of revelation.
There are important messages orbiting around us every day. Most of the time those messages are delivered when we look up from what we thought was so important to finally see what is truly significant.
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
The label the enemy has been trying to place on your life will not stick. It currently has no adhesive ability because you know who you are in Christ and what He has called you do in service of His Kingdom. Because of that understanding, you have chosen to not take offense at the harshness of the label someone is trying to attach to your life. Neither have you tried to justify your calling. This has kept you safe and label-free.
Choose to walk forward in faith away from the label-makers. Keep your heart free of offense and defense no matter who is bringing an accusation against you. Let God alone be your defender and your protector. You have been called to wear only one label and that label reads, "A Child of God". Anything not under that banner heading is a lie.
Monday, November 20, 2017
Since the publication of my book, The Sound of Reformation, I have been talking to people about their place of ministry. No longer does the phrase “going into the ministry” make any real Kingdom sense if it means in order for someone to engage in a life of ministry they must become a pastor or a missionary in a traditional sense.
The moment a person is awakened to the reality of Jesus Christ they will find themselves standing in a place of ministry. They have no need to go anywhere. In that awakening experience, they will be standing on one of the 7 mountains of culture – Government, Religion, Education, Economy, Arts/Entertainment, Family or Media. There is no need to “go into the ministry” since they are already standing in a place of ministry. Yes, some will continue to fill the traditional ministry roles of pastor or missionary, but that number will become smaller and smaller as we discover the untapped potential of the Church when she sees her current assignment in culture as her place of ministry.
We are living in a hinge point of radical transformation within the Church. People are beginning to discover the unique sound and the supernatural potential of their voice – the sound of truth spoken in love -in their current place of life-assignment. There is no need to go anywhere to make this discovery. Paul was no less in the ministry when he was making tents than he was when he traveled full-time as a missionary. You are no less in the ministry if you work at Wal-Mart, run a Fortune 500 company or serve as a retired person volunteering somewhere in your community. The reformation currently taking place will begin with reforming the way we think about our role and place of ministry. Once we come to understand those two things a reformation of culture will be the unstoppable by-product.
You may need to exit a toxic relationship, a financial struggle or a season of wandering without purpose. Until you initiate a plan to walk away from these situations and into a place of peace and provision, you could languish in their pain longer than necessary.
Get practical with the application of your spirituality. The exit strategy you seek requires your involvement. The plan for your exit will include a series of practical decisions only you can make. If you can put aside the challenges you are currently facing and the lies being spoken about your future long enough to delight in the Lord and His goodness, in that place of delighting He will give you not only the desires of your heart but the plan required to make those desires a living reality.
The doorway leading out of this painful situation will begin to open once you make an exchange with God. Offer Him your fear and He will give you the increased measure of faith you will need to believe an exit is possible. Your new level of faith will provide you with the creativity required to develop an exit strategy and take its first step forward into a new future. It’s time!
Sunday, November 19, 2017
As a young pastor, everything was new to me. One part of that newness was the fact that we were pioneering a church in Kalispell, Montana. I had never been to Montana. That has been a repeated theme for each new ministry assignment Jan and I have accepted over the last 37 years. We first said “yes” to the call of God and then went, not knowing anything about the place of our calling. Montana is a stunningly beautiful state from the Rockies in the west to the sagebrush-covered open space of the east. I loved it all.
We started our church in September of 1981 and that Christmas I visited the county jail on Christmas Eve to bring some hope to those locked up behind bars on the holiday. During my visit, I met a mountain man - a real mountain man. His name was George. George was at least ten years older than me. He had been arrested after sticking three thugs with his skinning knife who jumped him outside a bar in Columbia Falls. It was a robbery attempt. He was later exonerated of the charges since it was obviously self-defense.
A few days after Christmas, George was released and I got to lead him to Jesus while sitting in a pickup truck in the parking lot of the Kalispell K-Mart. He became one of my best friends and served as an usher at our church. We hunted and fished together. He taught me how to run an open canoe through the rapids on the North Fork of the Flathead River. When we ran our canoes, George and I wore wool pants, red and black checkered wool shirts, Sorel boots and wide-brimmed hats. We carried Ruger .44’s on our hips. Gliding down the river in our canoes, we looked like we were time-traveling explorers from the 1800’s.
George lived in a log cabin at the end of a dirt road. His property backed up against government land. You would have to hike for miles across steep mountain terrain just to get to the edge of his property if you were not a property owner whose land backed up to government land as George’s property did.
One day, George took me on a hike up the mountain to show me something. After about 15-minutes we came upon an abandoned cabin. It looked more like a stockade. The logs were square cut and the roof was flat. George said this was a stop on the wagon route into the Flathead Valley used in the mid-1800’s. It was built as a refuge from attacking Indians. There were no windows, just slits to shoot rifles through. It was so well built that it looked as if it could still be used today for its original purpose. After looking around, we walked back down the mountain.
I recalled the memory of that cabin this week. I loved its history and where my thoughts took me as I tried to imagine a wagon filled with passengers and cargo hurrying up to get inside the cabin while under attack.
As I entertained that memory, the Lord said to me He was about to disclose the location of undiscovered histories and heritages. Some of you will be granted access to undiscovered parts of your family history, your ethnicity and your place in history. This has been preserved for you just like the cabin was preserved on the mountain overlooking George’s place. The discovery of this history will be a missing link needed for you to see the larger work God is doing in your life. A settling effect will come with these discoveries. You will no longer feel disconnected with your history. It will become part of your life and your calling.
Saturday, November 18, 2017
I watched a video about a 92-year-old World War II veteran. He was a crewmember on a TBM Avenger aircraft. He was being honored at an airshow and given an opportunity to sit once again in a crewmember seat of a TBM where he sat many times during perilous combat missions. Sitting in the aircraft 72 years later was very nostalgic for the old man. As the video rolled on, you could see him reach out and touch the airframe as if the aircraft was alive and speaking to him.
The old veteran was magically transported back to his 20th year of life. He saw once again the instruments he needed to read and interpret for the pilot while performing his flight crew duties. He remarked that the TBM was a good aircraft “that always brought us home.” In the next segment of the video, he was invited to fly once again in a beautifully restored TBM Avenger.
As the aircraft taxied out to the runway people lined both sides of the taxiway saluting, waving and cheering the old man who was smiling with wonder and appreciation. You could hear the airshow announcer drawing the attention of the attendees to watch this special moment of honor and recognition.
When the Avenger lined up with the runway heading and the pilot advanced the throttle, the old man’s face became childlike as the aircraft began to accelerate down the runway. A twenty-year-old in an aging body was flying once again. The moment of liftoff appeared to take the old man’s breath away. I lost control of my emotions while sharing in his joy. I sensed this would be his last flight.
Some of you are the old veteran aviator. You may have thought no one would remember your sacrifice and service in God’s Kingdom. Just as the old veteran experienced a special moment of honor and recognition, God has a plan to invite you back to what you considered lost in the pain of your history.
A moment of honor is approaching. You have one more flight to experience. It will be a very special flight. This flight will be a flight of honor to thank you for your service to God, family, and friends.
The Lord has not forgotten what you did in moments of great risk and peril with your acts of sacrificial love and service. Choosing the righteous path has given the following generations of your family line the gift of spiritual freedom. Your victories in spiritual battle made a way for those you love to live a life of peace and their gratitude is about to be expressed. Just as it was when the vintage WWII aircraft taxied out and the crowd of people stood to salute the old veteran, many of us will stop what we are doing to stand to honor you and your service to the King. You have not been forgotten.
Friday, November 17, 2017
Refuse to battle people and institutions. The real battle for the soul of a culture is a warfare empowered by love. It is always waged beyond the most visible and heated battle lines drawn by sensitive social issues like cultural diversity, race, gender, sexual orientation, personal politics, packaged news broadcasts, fear-based advertising and everything else that wants to divide people against each other.
When people of faith join a movement of refusal they will step into supernaturally empowered solutions that can never be achieved when we fight and struggle with the same failed weapons and tactics of battle employed by the world around us.
Refuse! is a resistance movement that will change everything. Most importantly, it will change the way we think enabling us to accomplish infinitely more than we could ever hope or imagine had we remained hunkered down in the fruitless trenches of natural battle firing off the weapons of anger, wrath, and division.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).