Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Defining Maturity

It has always bothered me that someone under the age of 21 could serve our nation in combat and come back home to be told they were not old enough to enjoy the same rights and privileges afforded to those over 21. While this bothers me on a cultural level, but it also rubs me the wrong way when it comes to the Church.

Maturity is not reached just because someone has attained a certain chronological age. It is a condition of the heart and defined by how they were able to navigate through the struggles of life with honor and integrity. I have known 18-year-olds who were more mature than some 50 year-olds I know.

Those of us who are older need to become advocates for those who have earned a place at the table of rights and privilege the rest of us enjoy without question. The young men and women who have proven themselves have earned the right to live as fully and freely as any citizen of our nation or any citizen of the Kingdom of God. It is only right to honor them by giving them a place at the table extending to them an invitation to join us in the feast of our shared freedom.

The Roomba

Well, we now own a robot. It is not an R2-D2 version of the cute little robot of Star Wars fame, but something called a Roomba. It is a robotic vacuum cleaner made by the iRobot company. It was a gift from my brother and sister-in-law. Thanks, Stan and Sharon.

Like all things techno, I had the task of getting our Roomba up and running. Jan wanted to name it after our deceased dog, Abby. Since the passing of Abby, the debris from my culinary adventures in the kitchen has become more visible since Abby is no longer with us to eat any scraps that fall on the floor. I told Jan, I want to honor Abby’s memory in other ways than naming a robotic vacuum cleaner after her.

I set up our Roomba and let it charge. Then the moment came we I pushed the magic “Clean” button and the machine came to life. It actually sounded a bit like R2-D2. The robot began to move and vacuum the house like it knew what it was doing. I yelled for Jan to come and see the creature I had called to life. We stood there in amazement. Jan exclaimed, “I will never have to vacuum again!” The last time I saw her that excited was when I asked her to marry me and at the birth of our two kids.

Our joy lasted about 15 minutes when I heard a funny noise coming from the dining room. I got up from my writing chair and walked into the dining room to find Roomba stalled and repeatedly bumping its version of its head against the wall. Roomba had eaten a window shade cord we forgot to get off the floor. In its attempt to clean our house, it met its match with a stray cord.

When I turned Roomba over, I saw the mess of the cord deeply entangled in the cleaning rotor. Like all good husbands do in a moment of household distress, I called out, “Jan!” My patient wife arrived to untangle our robot and set it free to continue it’s cleaning. I remember using that same tactic many years ago when my manhood met its match each time one of our kids produced a nuclear blast zone version of a diaper.

My experience with our space age vacuum cleaner reminded me of something familiar. I have tried to clean up my life from time-to-time, trying to do what only God can do, and in the end, I choked on the cord of my own self-effort. There are some things only God can clean up. Self-effort and personal diligence can never cleanse us from these things. God has to come and untangle us from issues that are too deeply embedded in our soul to be reached by human hands.

We all have na├»vely believed that a Roomba version of faith might work. That misconception lasts for only a short while until we become entangled in things we did not expect to discover in our lives. This happens when we think we can do any of this life of faith all by ourselves and in our own strength, without the help of trusted friends and a good God. We think a solo version of a life of faith will prove to ourselves and others that we are strong spiritually. The real measure of our spiritual strength comes when these attempts to self-clean fail and we call on God to untangle our foolish attempts to do what only He can do. 

While our Roomba is a wonderful addition to our family, it still needs help navigate the most challenging sections of our house. So do we when it comes to living a life of faith.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Purpose of Your Delay

Some of you have experienced a delay in what has been promised. You feel like you have been in a spiritual holding pattern waiting for the promise to manifest. You are beginning to feel restless.

God could be holding off your landing in a place of promise for a number of reasons - reasons that involve the positioning of people, resources and the timing of culture. You may never understand the purpose of the delay this side of eternity. That should not be a problem or hinder you in any way unless you have allowed the need to know to so preoccupy your thinking that you lost your focus.

As I write these words, I heard the Lord say, “Ask them to give me their need to know.” Immediately, I knew what He meant. The need to know the reason why something is not taking place can become our only focus. This becomes a false focus that puts us on a dangerous heading that will lead us away from the safe landing God had originally planned.

One reason for the delay you are experiencing is to give you the time needed to refocus your sight and recalibrate your thinking. When this process is complete, you will be cleared for landing. When you finally touch down in the place of promise, the delay will make sense because you will have landed in a placed prepared by God and you will see the reason why He asked you to wait. Trust Him with the timing. A holding pattern can only become a negative experience if you allow your demands to displace your trust.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

A Change of Mind Releases a Change of Direction.

With every Spirit-led shift in your thinking will come an alignment to a new direction. Hidden along the pathway of that new direction are the sudden works of God that would remain undiscovered had you not allowed God to shift the way you think and ultimately change the direction of your life. Those who offer God a pliable mind will be the ones He uses to discover and release what will remain hidden to those who have hardened their minds to change. A mind under the renewing influence of the Spirit belongs to the people God will use to usher in a revival of the Church and a reformation of the culture.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Gift of Normalcy

Notoriety can change your life in ways you would never expect. Not all change that comes with increased visibility is pleasant. The greater the public footprint your life has the greater will be the attacks on you, your family, and your ministry.

T.D. Jakes shared a story of meeting an older pastor in an airport at the time when T.D.’s ministry began to explode in its impact and audience. The old pastor said, “You lost it.” To which T.D. said, “What do you mean?” The old pastor said, “Normalcy.”

When notoriety came to the life of T.D. Jakes, then just a country pastor from West Virginia, so did the cruel and unfounded slurs and attacks the enemy knows how to craft and deliver with profound impact. Through tears of emotion, T.D. described some of those attacks. T.D. did not seek to be known. It only came because He was following a call from God.

Be careful seeking notoriety. It is a lustful seductress. Only allow God to open the doors of opportunity. Give audience to His voice alone, not the praise of people. Even if you have lived with the purest of motives, the challenges will still come, but they will not be empowered by your pride and a desire to be known. You are already a person of great value to God. Nothing you do will ever add to your value in His eyes. That knowledge is your only safe place of normalcy.

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Release of Prophetic Writers

The dream I had last night was an announcement followed by a word of encouragement. In the dream, I was standing in front of our bathroom mirror getting reading to go somewhere. I turned my head to the side and saw inside my ear the tip of a pencil sticking out. The image shocked me. My first thought was, “How could a pencil be inside my ear and not kill me?” I reached up and grabbed the tip of the pencil and began to pull it out. When I finally pulled out the pencil it turned into a writing pen that I held in my hand, and then the dream as over.

Immediately I knew the interpretation and purpose of the dream. God is calling and releasing a previously unknown cadre of prophetic scribes. These are people tasked with releasing a fresh understanding of God’s heart, the mission of the Church, and the interpretation of unfolding events that are coming, but not yet seen. These writers will write what they hear and see in the Spirit. Sight and sound will be the delivery systems for their revelation.

The prophetic revelation some have wanted to share has remained hidden because they have approached writing in a traditional way – through the use of human intellect and a reliance on the development of professional writing skills. They thought their credibility as a prophetic writer would be established from these two sources. There is nothing wrong with our human intellect or learning how to become a more proficient writer, but that is not the starting point. 

The writers I am describing will have enough faith to override the fear of thinking their undeveloped writing skills would somehow hinder the impact of what they write. At the start of any journey in writing,  there will always be the need to become more proficient, but that cannot be a barrier you continue to live behind if God has called you to write. It will keep you from sharing what others need to hear. Write it even if what you write is raw and needs work. Let the rest of us figure it out with the help of the Spirit.                                            

If this word resonates in your heart, it is time for you to take a step of faith and put before the Church the revelations you are hearing and seeing. The days of sitting in front of your computer and trying to figure out the first sentence or what people want to hear are over. You are hearing words. You are seeing images. These are your starting points. Begin to write about what you see and hear and then your intellect and any writing skills you have will join that sight and sound and a word will emerge. That is what happened to me this morning when I awoke from my dream and put into word what I saw in the Spirit.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Leaving Behind Your Yesterday - Stepping Into Your Tomorrow

I was on a phone call with my friend, Bobby Haaby, when he said something so profound that it startled me and caught my attention. Bobby said in reference to his ministry and the larger ministry of the global Church, "We are not establishing a new yesterday." Immediately, I knew the Spirit had created, empowered and released those words to an audience beyond our phone call.

Too many times we try to establish the future on yesterday’s revelation. God is not calling us forward to repeat more of the same. He invites us to step into new places where the audience of culture is waiting to hear the message of the Gospel of the Kingdom. God’s kingdom is always expanding and in that expansion, our faith must also increase. This increase of faith positions our lives to become a working partner with God for the release of what He promised.

God is calling you forward into uncharted territory. There are no established paths leading to this new place. You are leaving behind the tracks of a pioneer. You are stronger and more equipped for this journey than you realize. You carry with you both the plan of God and the power of the Spirit. God is not calling you forward to only experience yesterday once again. He is inviting your forward into a new tomorrow that will only exist if you step forward in faith leaving behind your yesterday so you can be free to step into your tomorrow.