Saturday, April 21, 2018

Never Before

My good friend and theologian, Harold Eberle shared some interesting facts about the global Church.

Each day in China, 29,000 people come to Christ. In Africa, it's 20,000 and in South America, 35,000 people come to Christ, each and every day. In the Muslim world, 500,000 people come to Christ each month.

In one meeting in Pakistan, the people gathered for a single meeting measured a mile wide and five miles deep. Imans who have given their lives to Jesus now sit with pastors on the platforms of these meetings. One of the churches in Pakistan has four pastors who do only one thing for eight hours a day six days a week. They baptize people all day long. The line for those waiting to be baptized extends as far as the eye can see. At the end of eight hours of baptizing people, they tell those still in line to come back the next day. This is as Amos the prophet said, “Behold, days are coming when the plowman will overtake the reaper."

Harold went on to say, "Never in history has the Church grown as fast as it is growing today." Never lose hope - ever! God is doing a work on the Earth that far exceeds the greatest measure of our faith.

Learning To Dream Again

Jan and I just returned from an outstanding time at the Leader’s Advance at Bethel Church in Redding, California. Whenever I am in an environment where apostolic vision is partnering with God at the leading edge of revelation, revival, and reformation, I return home challenged to step deeper into my own faith and discover a new word and a new assignment for a new season.

On the drive home from Redding, Jan and I were talking about dreaming. As we processed dreams and vision, I realized in my own life and possibly in yours, that many times our ability to dream with God is pushed aside by a survival mentality. For example, one person tries to survive danger in this life by always being on alert to the threats around them. Another person is consumed with the daily tasks of life just trying to survive another day. Other people move through life in tunnel vision to a life-plan that demands slavish obedience thinking that is the dream. Whatever survival mode we embrace, it will push the pause button on our ability to dream.

Jan said something profound to me as we were talking about dreaming. She said we stop dreaming when are not at rest. In the scenarios I mentioned above, each one robs a person of the ability to rest in God. Rest is the place where dreams are birthed and vision is cast. When we are always trying to survive, rest is not possible. Without being at rest we can miss the words and imagery of a dream because the words and images of a survival mentality are occupying our mind.

Today, ask yourself if you are truly at rest. I have a few places in my life where I am not fully at rest. I need to make an exchange. In those places, God wants me to exchange my survival mentality for a dreamer mentality. In the places where you are willing to make this exchange with God, He will begin to birth dreams in your heart if you will simply trust Him with all that you have been attempting to manage in your own strength and understanding. If you can make that exchange, the dreams will begin to flow once again.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Ride of Your Life

As you look at the picture of this playground ride it is quite possible, as a child, you rode one of these. I did many times. With the help of my friends, we started to spin the ride holding on to the perimeter until all of us got dizzy and were spun off one-by-one by the increasing centrifugal force.                                                                            

With each failed attempt we tried to learn new ways to hold on and not be tossed off the ride. That course of action always proved to be futile. Eventually, we learned to go deeper to the center of the ride away from the spinning power of the ride’s edge. We discovered at the center of the ride it was easy to remain no matter how fast things began to spin.                                                                                                                                                                                 

This is an essence of our life of faith. Whenever God asks us to take a step of obedience, remaining at the edge of the commitment can be filled with the unnecessary pressures of a half-hearted faith. In these times, our only place of security and peace will be found by moving deeper into what God had originally promised.                                    

Look at the picture I posted and imagine the promise God gave you. If your first attempt tossed you off because you thought you could ride at the edge of commitment, jump back on and give it another try. This time move immediately into the center of the promise no matter the cost. There you will find a beautiful peace that only comes when you are living fully committed in the center of God’s will.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Reimagining Breakthrough

Typically, when we think of the word “breakthrough”, we understand it to mean pushing through some restriction that stands before us. This morning, while in prayer, I saw an image of a person walking forward in obedience to a word from the Lord. They were focused on what was ahead of them. The person was walking on hard ground, a crust-like surface. As they took their next step, the breakthrough they had prayed for took place under their feet. 

The person fell down through the hardened crust of their circumstance into a new place not previously realized. The free-fall took them entirely by surprise. The look on their face as they fell was one of shock and confusion. At first, it felt like they had lost all control and were in jeopardy. What they were actually sensing was freedom. When they realized what had taken place the shock and confusion turned into joy and child-like wonder.

God wants to move you forward, but He also wants to take you deeper. Breakthrough can take place in any direction. We are talking about spiritual dimensions that are beyond the measurements associated with our natural understanding of time and space. There are times when going deeper is more significant than going forward. Trust God with the direction of your breakthrough. Step forward with confidence. God is directing your steps.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

When To Remain Silent

The depth of our character and the breadth of our compassion are revealed when a noted public figure passes with whom we disagree politically or morally or when a guilty person suffers what some consider a deserved punishment. An undisciplined and unmerciful response in these times reveals that we have yet to understand the fullness of God’s love and His mercy for all people. 

When a death takes place of someone we oppose, let people mourn without adding a comment. When someone suffers whom we find to be distasteful and deserving of punishment, don’t celebrate with their enemies their demise. Our position on politics, theology, and culture doesn’t really matter in these times. What matters is having the courage to remain lovingly silent and allow God the time needed to heal our hearts so that when we do write something or open our mouths to make a comment, people hear the heart of God.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

First Ladies

Today, former First Lady Barbara Bush passed away. What a great lady she was. I just read a brief bio of her life and like each of our First Ladies, I must admit, I find they are more interesting than their husbands. I have been married to a very strong, informed and secure woman for almost 45 years. I would not be able to do a fraction of what God has assigned for me to accomplish had Jan not been at my side. She has offered her unique blend of wisdom and counsel that helped steer my life, in concert with God's Spirit, toward this good place I never thought possible. Every man needs a First Lady.

Baptized Imaginations

Spirit-led imagination functions in a place of unexplored possibilities outside the boundary of what is currently known and defined. This imagination takes place on the leading edge of an expanding revelation. C.S. Lewis described an experience called a "baptism of the imagination." It was in this baptism that his faith began to gain traction. Like C.S. Lewis, our imagination is waiting to be baptized in the waters of doubt and disbelief to rise up and see for the first time what was not previously imagined as a possibility. 

As you read this sentence, stop and lay your hands on your head, just as I did in the middle of writing these words. Ask God to baptize your imagination. Take into that immersion all your doubts, fears and dismissals that any new revelation is possible. When you rise out of this experience your spiritual eyes will begin to see new images, the substance of a revelation not imagined before your baptism. These images will reveal the mileposts God has set before you to guide your steps into the preferred future He has planned for your life. This is your time to imagine, and in some cases, re-imagine that a new day and a new season is possible.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Beyond the Pundits

The prophetic voice of the Church should sound different than the voices of the political and social pundits we hear on our favorite news outlet. When our voice becomes saturated with the same frustration and uses the same talking points as this battling political spirit, we lose our impact and our status as change agents for God’s Kingdom. From time-to-time, step back from the heated dialogue and ask yourself if what you are releasing into the cultural stew of discontent is really transmitting a message that reveals the heart of God. This kind of message will always point to an outcome beyond the limits and promises offered in the latest contentious debate. Once that outcome is seen it can then be brought back into this realm and released as a word of hope. Hope changes everything. Hope is the way forward. Hope is our message.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Establishing Our Authority

Our authority is never established until it is challenged. In the challenge, the condition of our heart is revealed. These challenges can become a gift to us if we are willing to exchange our fear, defensiveness and the need to control the situation for humility. Once humility is motivating our response to the challenge, the supernatural power of God will begin to flow releasing outcomes we never thought possible when the challenge first came.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Looking Through The Veil

The separating veil is so thin. It is sheer and wafting before our eyes like fine gauze. If we could only imagine how thin and close it is to us – the eternal, the other side of all things as we now know them. 

They walk there with Him, our departed loved ones, our faithful and beloved pets, and a cloud of heavenly witnesses looking at our lives unfolding in time. They are smiling at us as we still wait and wonder with some concern what it will be like to take the final step. 

Maybe our perspectives have been too consumed with this life. We need to allow ourselves the opportunity to stop and stare for just a moment at the invisible veil and allow wonder to draw us through its barrier, in faith, to consider what will come. 

Stop what you are doing. Look up from this page into the open space before your eyes. Imagine what is there. Never lose the wonder of the other reality. It makes this life a poem, a living recital of hope only available to those who wonder.

Pioneers, Prophets and Forerunners

If you are a pioneer, prophet or forerunner, you will see and hear things long before they appear in the cultural dialogue. You may even write or speak about these things, but at the time you shared them, there seemed to be no widespread understanding or acceptance. 

When the time comes for the fulfillment of these insights and others reveal them as words unique to them, be careful. It is too easy to demand a personal footnote be placed on their insight noting you as the originator of the thought or prophetic word. 

Never forget these revelations were a gift to you as they are to those who may seem to now be parroting your original content. These moments are integrity checks. Pass them in humility and the Lord will reveal even deeper secrets of His Kingdom to you. In the end, no one should ever claim originality because everything we have comes from the hand of God.

The Memories of Our Life

I was listening to a YouTube video of an old rocker (Peter Frampton) to see if I wanted to invest the money in a concert he is doing this summer. As I listened to some of his old familiar songs, I was transported back in emotional time. I could feel the rumble of the engine of my 69 VW Bug under my seat and hear the music from my 8-track tape player filling the car with the sounds of my youth. I was taken back to certain moments and relationships now long gone. That is the power of memory.

These memory triggers, like the sound of a favorite song, a taste or a smell, can produce a variety of emotions. Many times the Spirit will use a memory to remind us of something we need to deal with that we parked in time hoping it would go away. At others times, like when I listened to the YouTube video of Frampton’s performance, I was reminded of how far God has brought me in His great love and patience.

Today, embrace each memory that comes, the joyful ones and the painful ones alike. In each memory, a revelation from God awaits your visit. Unpack the content of each memory. Enjoy the joy of recollection if the memory is happy and healthy. If the memory is painful and filled with sorrow, put any lie, fear or regret associated with that memory immediately in the gracious hands of God. Only there can a memory, whether one of joy or pain, find a proper and healthy perspective in the history of your life.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Opening Deaf Ears

There are some relationships where you are not allowed to ask the most important questions because the negative assumptions of the hearer have deafened their ears to the truth. In these situations, you are not left without recourse. You can pray, act with kindness and speak words of honor and affirmation. Over time, these loving responses have the power to unclog the ears of the most strident person and prepare them to receive the answer to a question they were initially not willing to hear.

The Echo of Heaven

“Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven…” (Acts 2:2).
The word translated as sound here is ēchos: it means sound or noise (and is also the root of the English word “echo”). The same word was used in Luke 4 to describe the sound of a testimony created by the ministry of Jesus when a demon possessed man was set free. It was also used in Hebrews 12 to describe the sound of a ram’s horn trumpeting the Israelites to attention to hear the word of the Lord.
That root word ēchos also forms the verb, ēchéō, which means to sound or roar and is found in I Corinthians 13:1 where Paul is defining love to the Corinthians: “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
The Church has been called to make the sound of love that will echo through each sphere of cultural influence. The rest of Acts 2:2 reveals more of that sound: “Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm.”

It was not a windstorm. It was like a windstorm. Those present described it as an otherworldly event. It was similar to John on the Isle of Patmos trying to use first-century language to describe futuristic events. At some point, words will fail to describe the new thing God is doing. Even in our day, what is coming will be described as something familiar to us, but it will actually be beyond our ability to describe.
The wind of Pentecost created a noise so loud, it got the attention of an entire city. Acts 2:6 tell us, “When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running….” This is the value of unusual phenomena; it gets the attention of culture. If you want a suddenly of God without phenomena, you may keep yourself from receiving your promise. You might actually distance yourself from the very thing God wants you to receive.
On the Day of Pentecost, those who were uncomfortable with the unusual events ridiculed them. The critics of Pentecost said, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!” If we choose to not experience God beyond our familiar and restricted understanding of Him, we limit ourselves with the equivalent of “that’s all!” Disbelief parks us at the border of our dismissive reasoning and leaves us unchanged—even while change is taking place all around us. God never promised that reformation would be comfortable or familiar or fully definable.

(This was an excerpt from my book, The Sound of Reformation)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Popping the Bubble of Our Assumptions

I have had the opportunity to travel to many nations. Each time I returned to the United States, I felt thankful that I lived in a nation that offered opportunity and stability. Maybe, like many, I lived in a bubble of time where rapid, unexpected and culture-altering change on a national level was not considered. Many of us have thought things would always remain the same. That is a dangerous naivety. I have walked the streets of cities in the developing world that were not stable. The citizens of those nations did not have a bubble available to them define to define their reality. 

I used to think rapid change, like the overthrow of a government and widespread revolt in the streets of our nation, like what the first citizens of America experienced during the founding of our nation, would ever be possible. That is the problem with a bubble mindset. It removes all uncomfortable possibilities from consideration. Reality and history can become a rude pinprick that can pop our illusion of a never-ending security.

This morning, I arose to a sense that we have entered uncharted waters as a nation. Prophetically, I sense unexpected change is on the horizon. I heard the words, “take over”, “rapid change” and “unprecedented events” as definitions that will be used to describe what is coming. Some will herald the change as needed and timely and submit to any and all proposals. Others will see it as an overthrow of something they consider righteous and sacred. Those in between will wait to see which way the tide turns and follow that change without offering a challenge.

The biblical record of Israel’s history reveals the breadth of human interaction that can take place in times of unprecedented change on a national level. It would be wise for all of us to re-study the narratives of Scripture to see how the Godly and righteous navigated seasons of rapid and sometimes violent cultural change. 

Only one thing remains the same, yesterday, today and forever and He is not a thing, He is a person, Jesus Christ. When change begins to unfold around you at a dizzying pace, and you feel overwhelmed, never forget that you have an unchanging refuge in Jesus no matter what kind of turmoil and upheaval may be surrounding your life. He will be your place of security.

“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1).

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Returning Home

If you are returning home after a season of wandering, like the prodigal son, your only hope of restoration will be found in the love of the Father. The environment you left has not changed, the spirit of the jealous older brother is still present, and those who saw you leave and shook their heads in disbelief at your decision will continue to judge you through the lens of your broken history. 

When the robe, ring, and sandals are given to you and you become the guest of honor at the feast honoring your return, don’t take your eyes off of the Father. His loving and welcoming presence will be your only place of security in this time of transition. 

Those who opposed your restoration may someday find themselves in need of the same love, acceptance, and forgiveness you are now experiencing. On the day of their return, you will run with the Father to welcome them home.  You will be free to extend that kind of welcome because you experienced the embrace of the Father’s love in the place of your greatest brokenness. Because of that embrace, you are forever changed. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Kalifornia Kristallnacht

There are several bills under consideration in California (AB 1779, 2943, 2119) that would prohibit the church from freely ministering to those in same-sex relationships and gender identity issues, who want to seek help as they process these life-altering decisions. These bills would affect mental health professionals, foster care and eventually, local churches. Offering books, conferences, study materials and any form of counseling where money is exchanged for these services would become illegal. 

I have a friend who speaks at conferences on the subject of same-sex attraction. He is kind, honest, gifted, and loving. God has given him a voice that should be heard in the national discussion. Those who don’t want to listen to him would have a choice to not attend his meetings. Under the laws currently in consideration, he would be prohibited in California to speak or sell products if any monies were given to him as an honorarium or to help defray his expenses.

When I lived in Berlin, Germany, I studied the history of the nation and learned that a disturbing event took place when Hitler was rising to power. On November 9-10, 1938, the Nazis executed a nationwide pogrom against the Jews. Rights were violated and the property of Jewish families was burned in city streets all across the nation. The shattered glass from the broken windows of Jewish businesses and synagogues littered the streets defining that night as Kristallnacht, “Night of the Broken Glass”. Not only were shards of glass lying in the streets, so were the rights of the German Jewish minority who were conveniently blamed for the problems of the nation.

No matter which side of the issue currently being processed in California that we find ourselves, we are entering dangerous territory as a nation. We should all be concerned. Some are now demanding that all Californians move in a goose-stepping union with their worldview, or suffer the full force of the law to silence their dissent. History is littered with the broken glass from these attempts to control any dissenting voice in culture.

The right to free speech, no matter if you agree with an opinion being contested or not, is a sacred foundation stone of our nation. No one I know wants cruel, demeaning and draconian tactics to be used when speaking with anyone regarding their personal sexuality. These bills are not about preventing such things from happening. Their ultimate goal is to silence the voices of an opposing opinion in matters of human sexuality. Whenever a government uses its power to silence any voice within its populace, we are all in danger of inviting the brutality of a cultural Kristallnacht to visit our nation, one state at a time. 

You have options. Pray. Become informed. Act with wisdom and grace and let your voice be heard. If you choose to speak, speak only the truth in love or remain silent. Unbridled frustration, unrighteous anger and unfiltered comments made in the public square will only further divide our nation. Engage those who oppose you, not as enemies, but as people loved by God. In our struggle to become a healthy voice of influence, you and I will need to dig deeper than the issues being addressed to discover the heart and intent of God. Only then will our voice accurately represent the Lord and His Kingdom.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Crossing No Man's Land

In our increasingly entrenched world of opinion where we have individually or as a group defined what is true and right according to our preference, familiarity, and bias, it has become increasingly difficult to find common ground. In these opposing and combative scenarios, it will be in the gray areas of disputed territory where the wise will venture forth to have Spirit-led discussions that will find a less complicated version of the truth and discover a way forward into the future. 

Breaking this impasse will require an act of spiritual and intellectual bravery to step out of our battle trenches where we are surrounded by the false security of a hardened shared opinion to walk across the gray expanse of no man’s land. This perilous journey of vulnerability is where you will meet those equally brave souls from opposing trenches of opinion who have also ventured forth in search of something greater. The bonds formed in these tedious moments of engagement are some of the most enduring and culture-changing relationships you will ever experience. They have such value because making such the journey will have cost both parties a great deal of relational capital in the trenches they left behind. The future belongs to those willing to pay the price and take the step. 

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Newsreel of Our Lives

Recently, I watched a vintage newsreel depicting San Francisco in 1939. It revealed a beautiful city with a magnificent bay. As I watched the black and white images unfold of people walking up and down Market Street and Fisherman’s Wharf, I realized somewhere in the thousands of people being shown in the newsreel, were my parents. 1939 was the year they met and fell in love in San Francisco. I was strangely and wonderfully drawn to that possibility and looked intently as the film progressed. I did not see them, but it did not matter. They were there, and I was now somehow connected to that part of my family history. 

At the time, my father was a construction worker. One day after work he walked into a business operated by my mother and my grandmother.  He fell in love at first sight. After several weeks of visiting the store each day and continually asking my mother out for a date, my mother said yes. The date was allowed as long as my grandmother rode in the rumble seat. They were married a year later and spent almost 50 years together before my father passed away in 1989.

Neither of my parents could have known their first date would eventually produce two sons and a lifetime of devotion. As I continued to look intently at the images playing out on my computer screen, my awareness of the goodness of God increased. Maybe that was the reason why I stumbled upon the old vintage film.

Some of you reading these words are about to discover a missing piece of your history. This is a part of your history you did not know even existed. It will be a missing piece of your life-puzzle. When discovered, so many things will begin to make sense. The missing piece will carry with it a vital contribution to the greater revelation of God’s intent and purpose for your life. It will help you move deeper into your destiny and calling bringing with it a more profound understanding that God can truly make all things work together for good. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Checking Our Life Status

This morning, I awakened to check the flight status of my daughter, Anna. She is returning home from a month away hosting writing teams in both Spain and Morocco. For the last week, Anna and some of her friends had some downtime in Paris. As I slept, Anna boarded her flight home.

When I checked on Anna’s flight status via Delta Airlines online program, it depicted a tiny graphic of an airliner imposed on its flight path from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to SeaTac in Seattle. Anna’s cartoonish looking little aircraft appeared so small as it was flying past Iceland. I found myself reaching out and touching my computer screen praying for safety and blessing over my daughter as she flew over the vast expanse of the cold north Atlantic.

Those of us who watch our loved ones in a time of personal transition can appear like a father checking the flight status of his daughter. When they seem so far away, we need to learn how to trust God. We want to add to their process, but cannot. They are out of reach. Just as I have to trust God and the Delta pilots to get Anna home safely, we need to learn how to trust God more deeply in times of transition for those we love. It felt strangely vulnerable to me seeing the little moving cartoon of an aircraft on Delta’s flight status map knowing that in that small image flying over a dark and cold ocean was my daughter. In our place of vulnerability, we learn how to trust.

In a way similar to me reaching out and touching the computerized image of Anna’s aircraft to pray and bless her journey home so it can be with you if you have a loved one in the middle of a life-transition and you choose to exchange your fear for trust and your worry for rest. Maybe the person you are concerned about is not a daughter returning home from a wonderful trip abroad. Maybe yours is a prodigal child coming home after making some unwise decisions, or a spouse who left you but is now returning home or a friendship that went sideways now transitioning toward restoration. 

When prayer and blessing are your only options, God will use those two disciplines to test your willingness and ability to rest and trust Him in a more profound way. Rest and trust will be what God uses to prepare you to welcome people home when they finally complete a season of transition. That preparation will be part of a miracle of the reunion that will come when we learn how to rest and trust God to accomplish the impossible 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

It's Almost Harvest Time

Your waiting time is almost over. The wait has become intense in recent days. You have reached up wanting to harvest the fruit of a promise but wisely held back knowing it was premature. You are so close. The self-control you exhibit in the coming days will be more important than ever before. Wait for the voice of God to call you forward to take hold of what He promised. Waiting for that perfect moment will release the full potential of what you harvest.

As a young boy, I picked fruit in the orchards of the Santa Clara Valley in what is today known as Silicon Valley. Mr. Dardanelli, the orchardist that hired me, would wait for the perfect moment to harvest the sweet apricots from the orchards in the foothills surrounding Los Gatos, California. To the untrained eye, an apricot can actually look ripe, but it is not yet ready. If you bite into an apricot too early you will taste a tart edge on your tongue instead of the full, sweet flavor of the mature fruit.

Some of you are ready to harvest the fruit of your faithfulness. It is almost time for the harvest, but not yet. There is a temptation to pick the fruit now, but you will not experience the fullness of the flavor God has planned.  You have been patiently faithful thus far, so you know you have the discipline to wait just a little longer. The goal of this harvest is to share its bounty with others and not toss it aside as a sour and immature harvest. A sweetness is coming that can only be produced in the waiting. Be patient. Trust God with the timing of your harvest.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

What Remains

As I grow older, so much of what I pursued as a young man no longer matters to me. In the course of my lifetime, as the desire and drive for recognition faded away, I found myself left holding only the simplest of life's treasures. Songs that did not register with me in my youth now create an unfamiliar and sweet emotion. A glance from my wife without an exchange of words can say more than the most eloquent romantic script. Those I once walked by in the hurried fulfillment of a personal agenda now catch my eye. All the dreams I pursued have now coalesced and have become a single dream, a dream of simplicity found only by living fully in the moment. It is the gift of being.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Fragrance of Your Life

A few days ago, I bought an Easter lily and brought it home to Jan. She put it on a table in our living room next to my writing chair. I am looking over at the lily as I write these words. Each morning for the last week, when I walk into the dark living room before I turn on the light, I catch the fragrance of the lily. Its sweet fragrance is a reminder of the special meaning of this day.

Some of you will go to church today and return home to situations in your family or workplace that have been emitting an unhealthy odor, the smell of a painful and loveless circumstance. Something else is taking place that you need to recognize. This recognition will come when you choose to interpret your situation through the filter of faith, not fear. 

Like our Easter lily, your presence has actually changed the fragrance of your surroundings because you have carried Jesus Christ, the Resurrected One into the stench of human brokenness. He has authority and dominion over everything in this life. His resurrected status has the power to change how you perceive and reinterpret what some have defined as a hopeless situation. 

You have been called to walk in the beautiful fragrance of His victory, not in the stench of defeat that can permeate our human struggles. This realization of Christ's victory carries a heavenly fragrance that can turn the foulest stench of human failure into the beautiful perfume of redemption.

“But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume” (II Corinthians 2:14). 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

This Can't Be Real

Last night, I had a fitful night of sleep. In the restless night, I had a dream. I was in a restaurant. A man seated at a table near me turned around and said he knew I was a writer. He asked if I would meet with the leadership team of his organization to consider writing for them. I was invited to follow the man to a large corporate office complex and asked to take a seat. The people milling about were ordinary everyday people you would meet in any business. The races were mixed, as were their sexual orientations and political affiliations.

As I waited for the meeting to begin, I listened to the conversations taking place around me. It became shockingly and glaringly apparent to me, this was a hate group. As a boy, I had seen the black and white photos of this group and the hatred they spread. Just the way they dressed created terror. My thought was, “How in the world would these people ever think I would write for them!”

When the time came for the leaders to make their pitch to me, we left the office area and went into a smaller meeting room. To my utter shock, the room was filled with people from every race on Earth. Those who historically had been a prime target of this group’s hatred represented at least half of the group. I looked hard to find a white person.

As I listened to my introduction given by the man I met in the restaurant, I asked, “Lord, why do you have me here?” Immediately, I knew I was not sent there to confront the obvious sin and gross nature of the group’s mission. I also knew I would not be writing for this group. My only reason for being there was to prophesy hope to the people trapped in a lie. I began speaking one-by-one to those present about their true destiny and then the dream was over. 

I believe I have a broad interpretation of the dream. In the dream, I could hear the Spirit tell me not to confront the obvious sins of racism, hatred of certain people groups and the murderous acts embedded in the group’s history. I was placed in this meeting by God to speak to the individuals who sat before me created in His image now living in a perverse and distorted interpretation of that reality. The diversity sitting before me was meant to help me understand the uniqueness of the human spirit and to look beyond labels and natural indicators. I would miss the purpose of my mission if I did not see into the human heart.

In the coming season, God will put some of you in places of influence you never thought possible, nor would you ask to be there. In my dream, I knew I would only have one opportunity to speak. I stepped over what my flesh wanted to scream out and allowed the Spirit to become the only voice making a sound in the room. 

This will be your assignment when you find yourself in one of these unusual places. You will know you are hearing from God when His love and passion for the people sitting before you will have more influence on what you say than your disgust and distrust. If you are willing to be used by God in this way and not default to the failed over-reactive response of a religious spirit, you will see the miracle of an individual transformation take place. Only a personal transformation has the power to dismantle a group or organization whose mission is contrary to the heart of God. God transforms individuals to transform culture. The individual will be the intended audience for your voice.

Friday, March 30, 2018

All Your Tombs Are Empty

Yesterday, I was driving across town surfing through some radio stations when I came upon pastor Chuck Swindoll who was preaching a sermon. Swindoll said in essence, “The stone was not rolled away so Jesus could get out. It was rolled away so we could go in.” That comment hung in my mind throughout the day.

Jesus is recorded in Scripture appearing in locked rooms and moving through time and space without hindrance. He did not need the stone to be rolled away to resurrect. He merely stepped from this realm into eternity and back again as easy as you or I would walk from one room in our house to the next.

We needed to have the stone rolled away to remind us that the Jesus we serve is not another formula for success or a list of handy life-principles to make our lives more interesting or comfortable. He rose from the dead to tell us that if we follow Him we will experience life beyond death in this life and in the life to come.

He is the God who works miracles and stretches human thinking to the breaking point of comprehension. He is Lord of all realms of existence and all things existing within those realms. His resurrection was given to us as a gift of recalibration that can scrub from our thinking a concept of a miracle-less, trapped-in-our-limited-way-of-thinking-Jesus and the accompanying weakened theology that mindset produces.

Every dead and sorrow-ridden place in our life already has had the stone rolled away if we look with the eyes of faith. Everything in this life has been put in subjection to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Ask the Lord to help you see with His eyes the empty tomb of your greatest challenge. His sight will become your place of faith.

The stone has already been rolled away from every challenge and each heartbreaking situation in this life if you choose to see with the eyes of faith. The gift of the empty tomb was given to us as a reminder that nothing – no thing – can entomb Jesus and those who call Him Lord. That is why the stone was rolled away.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

When We Choose To Forgive

No offense is greater than the potential of reconciliation. It does not matter if you were the perpetrator or the victim. If you are willing to invite God into an offense He will set in motion the miracle of forgiveness. Even if it appears for a time that the forgiveness is only one-sided when the reconciling presence of Jesus Christ enters a relationship everything begins to change.

When you forgive the other person, you set in motion the potential of a complete restoration. Once you have made a choice to forgive, begin to cultivate the fruit of forgiveness by blessing your opponent each time they come to mind. This spiritual resistance in the form of a blessing will keep your heart tender and the door open for future reconciliation and restoration. It will also destroy the plans of the enemy who wants to create in you a hard heart and a perpetually offended soul.

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Overly Corrective People

From time-to-time, I get some interesting feedback from what I write. It goes with the territory. The vast majority of the comments I receive are very affirming and kind. There are times a comment will come through not birthed out of a relationship, but from what I call a spirit of correction. Some folks live in environments where spirituality is measured by how corrective a person can be with what is perceived by them to be an error or at least, a view not in agreement with their opinion on a given subject.

We all live in certain orbits of faith. We circumnavigate matters of faith with people of like opinion not realizing another orbit is possible around the same truth. Those who launch spacecraft into orbit around the Earth launch satellites into three orbits – low, medium and high orbit. Each orbit has a value based on the mission. To think only one orbit will serve all missions is not realistic. The same is true with matters of faith. We don’t all see the same truth from the same spiritual altitude.

One challenge each of us will face is thinking we understand everything about what we so confidently proclaim. It can be our opinion on the function of a particular spiritual gift or how a local congregation should be structured or the mission of the Church in culture and so on. We might consider ourselves experts on a single orbit and think the rest of the Church needs to come in line with our orbit. If we discover a differing orbit we assume it needs our correction.

Before you harden your stance on any subject and pull out your red corrective pen to mark up another person’s life or their opinion, stop and think for a moment. Could it be that from your orbit you only see a small part of a much larger picture? Here's a thought - maybe we actually need some of what we are too quick to correct.  

Before we correct another person's opinion, we should take time to explore their orbit. In the end, we might actually come to appreciate the view from a different altitude.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

You Are Not Forgotten

Some spiritual battles were so intense that in the heat of combat we lost connection with people. Some never returned home. God is about to reunite those who were taken captive or who have been missing in action. A beautiful reunion is coming.

Last week, I was in Winston, Oregon at The River Church. Harold Eberle and I were doing a conference together about the Father’s heart. Before the meetings began, I took a walk to pray.  Behind the facility where the conference was being held is a city park. Within the park, I discovered a POW-MIA memorial.  The memorial flew three flags – the flag of the United States of America, the flag of the State of Oregon and the POW-MIA flag. Surrounding the memorial were short walls made of brick, many of the bricks bearing the names of soldiers. It was a somber and poignant reminder of the price some have paid for our freedom.

On the POW-MIA flag and inscribed on the memorial wall were the words, “You are not forgotten.” Those who created this memorial and others like it across our nation want those who were taken captive during war or who are still missing in action to know they are not forgotten. Hope always keeps a candle burning in the window.

The same is true in a spiritual battle. In the heat of conflict, some were taken captive, and others are still missing in action. God is bringing these lost ones home. Imagine a soldier who was once a prisoner of war or considered missing in action walking into that POW-MIA memorial in Winston, Oregon after years of thinking they had been forgotten. What would it feel like for them to read the words, “You are not forgotten.”

Today, inventory the seasons of spiritual battle in your history and do a head count. Who is missing? Build a place of memorial for them in your heart and mind. Talk about their memory with words of love and honor. They fought the same battles with you. You got to come home. The pain of their experience has delayed their arrival. When these returning ones arrive, be the first to run out to greet them and welcome them home. The embrace of that reunion will bring great joy to you, to the returning ones and to every person who chose to stand with you in that place of memorial.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Receding and Revealing

The situation that created a flood of emotion in your life is beginning to recede. Just as Noah had to trust the plan of God when the rains came, so it has been with you. Continue to wait in His presence with expectant trust. The mountaintops are beginning to appear all around you even though you cannot yet seem them because you have been enclosed by God in a place of safety. Your arrival is being prepared. The remnants of your storm are disappearing from the landscape of your life. Relationships and hidden opportunities are drying out in preparation for your arrival. Soon, the dove will be released and bring back to you the evidence of new life in a new place. God has saved you and He will be faithful to deliver you. The door to your future is about to open.