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.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Absence of Shame

One of the most profound relationships we can be involved in is spiritual parenting. Paul called Timothy his son. Ruth followed Naomi into her destiny. Elijah passed his mantle to Elisha. The Scripture contains many examples of spiritual parenting, the good and the bad.

These relationships are not limited to bloodlines. They are not age specific. They are an issue of the heart. A 20-something can parent a grade school kid. A 60-something can parent a 40-year-old, and in rare cases, a mature younger person can actually parent a dysfunctional person who is decades older.

One of the things a spiritual parent does that is crucial to the health of those they parent is to issue a warning in love. These warnings are not like the warnings given out as a sharp-edged form of punishment in hopes of shaming a child into obedience. God never shames anyone to do anything, nor does He call anyone to represent Him as a shaming voice. These warnings of love are issued so the child will begin to think of something higher, and beyond the potential failure that they are considering. A warning issued in love by a Spirit-led parenting presence will always be driven by a passion fueled by the incredible and unrealized identity the parent sees in the child.

These warnings have an element of prophecy attached to them. They speak as an invitation for the child to let go of the lesser to embrace the greater. A warning offered in love will surround the one being parented with a sense of security. A warning can actually become a warm embrace that gives a child the time needed to reconsider another course of action. The decision still rests with the ones who hear our warnings, bu knowing they are loved and cared for will help them make a decision that shame could never offer.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Heavenly Harmony

It has been a week since the time change when we were asked to “spring forward” advancing our clocks an hour. I actually like this time of year when the evening light lingers in the sky announcing the coming of warm summer evenings.

This morning, I walked into our kitchen at o-dark-thirty and happened to notice the digital clock on our stove had not been changed. This was the first time this has ever happened to me - ever! Each year, I have a clock-changing ritual I go through to make sure I change all our clocks. 

When I passed by the stove and saw a wrong time being displayed on the clock, the Lord spoke.

“An adjustment is coming in your life. It is something only I can do. The area in your life that has seemed out of synch with your destiny and calling is about to come into alignment. What has lagged behind, I will now catch up in a moment of time. I was waiting for you to see this lagging element before I made the needed adjustment. I did not leave this adjustment uncorrected as a form of punishment. You needed to see the issue first before I make this adjustment. Your ability to see is an act of faith that has released Me to do this work for you. Once this adjustment is accomplished, each area of your life will now align to reflect my heart and will in Spirit-led unison. You are coming into a season of divine sequencing where each area of your life will now begin to move in harmony with Heaven.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Gift of a Hope-Filled Future

For those of you who are seen as elders in the Church, either by age or assignment, you offer a significant gift to those who are just beginning their journey of faith. That gift is the hope and possibility of a future. You live in age and experience several decades ahead of these younger ones. They see you on the other side of their current struggle. They know you made it and that is what will draw them to you as a voice of encouragement. One of the most powerful and encouraging things you can say to a younger person who comes to you for counsel and wisdom is this,  “If I made it this far, so can you.” 

These inquisitive ones know you have struggled through some challenging seasons of life. They know you did not do everything perfectly. Honest mentors do not offer perfection. They offer hope. Hope helps a younger man or woman take a step of faith into an unexplored future knowing you will be there to understand and encourage them when their foot lands in an unfamiliar place.

The future a younger generation wants to experience is the kind of future they see you currently living. They know you got here because you responded in obedience to a word from the Lord. As you stand in your current moment, it is seen as the future to those who are just beginning. Because you are modeling emotional and spiritual health, your life has become a living encouragement for people to keep believing and moving forward.

If you are an elder in the faith make sure you continue to live in the same way that brought you this far. Age does not determine your impact in God’s Kingdom. You have chosen to not “arrive” at a static place. Your willing heart and the continued exercise of a courageous faith is what is drawing the younger ones who want to hang around your example of how to live their lives. By the honest model of your life, you have created trust equity in the emerging generations. Your presence has become a living word of hope. That is the gift you are releasing - the hope of a future.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Power of Your Whisper

Yesterday, I shared a prophetic word with the people that filled the sanctuary of the Westside Vineyard Church in Portland, Oregon who were attending the Accelerate School of the Prophetic. The event was a beautiful time filled with revelation and worship. During worship, I saw the image of hundreds of colorful parrots fly into the scene and land in the branches of a large tree. The tree represented our culture.

The parrots began to parrot each other repeating the same message of fear. The sound was intense and deafening. The parrots began to settle into the tree to roost for the night. Just then, something spooked them. The parrots exploded in frenzied flight from the tree like they were trying to get away from something. When the last of the parrots finally left the scene, the tree was empty of any birds except one lone dove. The dove was cooing gently.

The Lord said the parrots represent those in our culture and unfortunately some in the Church who have parroted a message of fear. A false confidence was rising in this chorus of fear until the dove cooed. The gentle sound of peace and life coming from the dove was so stark in contrast to a message of fear that it spooked the parrots. 

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are that dove. You were never meant to parrot the same fear-based message as the surrounding culture. You are powerful when submitted to the heart of God. No matter how loud the opposing voices are around you, once you speak the truth in love, no sound of fear will be able to drown you out. Every sound you make has a creative potential. It is not our volume on the number of voices that creates this power. It is a voice empowered by Heaven. Just a gentle whisper spoken in love can set fear to flight. 

“And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, there was the sound of a gentle whisper” (I Kings 19:11-12). 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Krispy Kreme the Goal - Siri to the Rescue

I was in a strange city, and it was 5:00 a.m. If you know me, I am already up by that hour. There was anticipation in the air because Krispy Kreme had a donut store just a few blocks from our hotel. I got into our car with a single mission in mind – to bring two large coffees and four Krispy Kreme donuts back to our room to an awaiting wife.

On the drive to the hotel the day before, I had a hard time finding its location in the tangle of streets in broad daylight. In the darkness of the early morning, it would become a lot worse. I set out and got completely turned around – really turned around.

I pulled to the curb and asked Siri, my faithful traveling companion and the voice of reason on my iPhone, for help. Siri finally got me pointed in the right direction and there in the dark distance, I saw the neon sign of my sugar and caffeine delight just a few blocks away. This is a tremendous feeling for an early morning urban explorer.

Returning to our hotel, I got lost again. I did the “pull over to the curb and ask Siri for help” thing for the second time. She sounded frustrated this time and said, “Taking the walking route, your destination is 400 ahead feet on your right.” No joke! She actually said that. I think she had given up on my driving ability. With my red and less than manly feeling face brightly shining in the dark interior of my car, I looked up to see the lights of our hotel glowing in the darkness just where Siri said it would be. This early morning searcher returned home a less than confident road warrior with the treasures of Krispy Kreme in hand.

I have given up trying to find my way when I know I’m lost. Yes, we men at times fail to ask for directions, but when the coffee is hot and the donuts are warm, there is no time to waste trying to find our way when we know we lost. Wisdom demands that we pull over and ask for help.

The funny story of the donut trip aside, some of you need to pull your life to the curb and ask for help. You are like me trying to find my way in the darkness in a strange city. If you continue this way, you will get more and more lost with each passing day. People are in your life that would be honored if you would approach them and say, “I need some direction.” Love is available to those who ask and love will always help you find your way home.

Friday, March 16, 2018

First Apostles...

We are in a unique moment of Church history. The Lord is defining and redefining many things. He is defining the current expansion of His Kingdom that can appear radically new, exploratory and unfamiliar to some. He is also redefining our assumptions and releasing fresh revelation to help us reconsider old ways of thinking.

One morning, while I was processing the idea of defining and redefining, the Lord took me to I Corinthians 12:28. The text reads, “And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.” He then said, “Look at the word 'first.'” I knew He wanted me to unpack the definition of the word to see below the surface of my assumed understanding.

Most of you know the word “apostle” means, a delegate, a messenger, one sent for forth with orders, and most commonly, “a sent one.” That understanding is not what caught my attention. It was the word “first” placed in the text just before the word apostle. That word in Greek is “protos.”  From it, we get our word “prototype.” A prototype is defined as a first, a preliminary model of something. 

The use of the word “first” (protos) in I Corinthians 12:28 in connection with an apostle is defined as first in a sequence of time and place. Apostles were the first to be sent out. The word does not apply to a hierarchy in leadership where the apostle is above the other gifts. I went on to read each instance in the New Testament where the word first is used in connection with an apostle. I discovered there is not a single usage of the word to denote a hierarchal structure of a top-down model of leadership. 

The word “apostle” did not originate with the Church. It was a word used by the Roman government to describe the first ones sent to a conquered nation to set up the government of Rome. These apostles brought the culture of the Roman Empire to recreate the culture of Rome in the conquered nation. This transformation was so complete that a Roman citizen could visit any conquered land and still enjoy the familiar government, culture, and entertainment of Rome.

When Paul wrote in I Corinthians 12 that apostles were first, he was not creating a spiritual hierarchy. He was describing someone who would be the first one in the sequence of events that would venture into new territory, and with the blueprint of Heaven in hand, establish the order of God’s Kingdom.

I remember when the Lord asked me to change how I led our church. He showed me a totem pole and helped me understand a top-down hierarchy of leadership was not His original intent. For that model to grow upward in its narrow structure of leadership, the person on the top had to die, get transferred to a new assignment or fall off in failure. It could only grow upward by addition, not outward in supernatural multiplication.

The Lord asked me to lay the totem pole of my leadership model down on its side so that all the gifts on our team would be grounded on the same level playing field of our overall mission. I was still the senior leader, but no longer in a hierarchal model where everything needed to be filtered through me before it could be birthed. 

Then the Lord said, “Now, let your team run at the speed of their faith.” Immediately, I saw apostolic potential released in our team. New ideas and new ministries were birthed. We moved beyond the old model of addition from a top-down form of leadership and began to release outward expansion through supernatural multiplication when all the gifts were getting equal traction. New territory was discovered, and our team entered new places of ministry in our city and began setting up the government of Heaven.

We are in a moment of time when some of our assumptions will be challenged. None of us have the complete picture.  Stay humble and teachable and don't allow a defensive spirit keep you trapped in a place of assumption. Lay down your totem poles and set God’s people free. Once people begin to run at the speed of their faith anything is possible.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Greatest Bully

A friend of mine shared the following on his Facebook wall several days ago, “The child that is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel it’s warmth” - African Proverb.

A lot of wisdom comes from the continent of Africa – ancient, wise tribal wisdom that helps us learn how to live together in close and at times, uncomfortable proximity. In the pursuit of and the demand for personal autonomy, we have created loneliness of the soul and a separation from a sense of community. One result of this separation, are horrific acts of violence we see taking place with increasing frequency in our culture.

A family or a nation can be destroyed when people no longer feel the embrace of love. They will eventually burn down the perpetrators of their pain. 

The heart of God is beautifully expressed in John 3:16. Most Christians know that verse from memory, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” This verse expresses the heart of God and what should be the heart of the Church. God loved the entire world, and so should we.

What most of us forget is the following verse, John 3:17, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” Verses 16 and 17 are a single thought. They should always be cited together. Verse 16 is the heart of the Church. Verse 17 is the mission of the Church. We are called to love, not judge or condemn.

Our mission is to love the marginalized, to seek out those who have never experienced the embrace of love who live in the margins of our culture, both rich and poor, the powerful and the disempowered. Everyone without exception of cultural rank needs this embrace. These discarded ones are those who in their loneliness live on the verge of burning down their village.

The greatest bully in our schools, our communities and our families is the absence of an embrace of love. This bullying presence pushes and shoves people out of relationships and into a place of despair where desperate acts can take place.

Each of us possesses two very powerful assets that turn back this tide of cultural sorrow and separation – our voice and our embrace. As you move through the halls of your school, or walk down your street or engage in your daily activities, ask the Spirit to direct you to that son or daughter who has never felt the embrace of their tribe. They can be young or old. You can tell who these people are by looking into their eyes. They are the ones who move through life staring straight ahead with a hopeless expression that comes from being denied the embrace of love.  When you meet them, speak the heart of God into their loneliness. Embrace them as another human being in need of affirmation. If we all do this we can be part of a cultural transformation that will turn a potential village burner into a village builder. That is the power of love, and no bullying presence can withstand its power.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Reengaged and Restored

God has a panoramic view of your coming restoration. He sees the beginning and the end. He has never seen your situation as hopeless. This restoration will not be a return to what was like someone returning to a painful juncture in life and picking up where they left off. You have become a different person in this process. In the pain of what took place, you were able to see deep into the heart of God. His heart has become your only safe place.  With His heart as your compass, this reengagement and restoration will be vastly different than anything you have experienced before. God is releasing the people and resources, both spiritual and natural, to meet you at the point of your reengagement. They will journey with you into something wonderful as a reminder of God’s faithfulness. Because you have trusted God, He can now entrust you with the desires of His heart for your life.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Preparing for the Arrival

You have been given the strength and authority of Jesus Christ not only to survive but to thrive in spite of whatever comes your way. God has given you a relationship with Him that leaves nothing to chance.

I recently read a comment from an astrophysicist who stated if the sun exploded we would not know it for 8 minutes and 20 seconds. It takes that long for light and the effects of the explosion to reach us then we would vaporize. In those 8 minutes and 20 seconds, we would have no idea what was coming our way until it was too late.

It can take 25 years before a hardened heart arrives with the words, “I want a divorce.” A breakthrough in scientific research can take years of trial and error before a cure is discovered and finally delivered to a waiting patient.  A prodigal child can wander for a decade before returning home to say, "Please forgive me." A disease can hide in a human body for the right conditions to sprout its deadly seed. Everything good or bad has an arrival time. 

You can prepare for the arrival of these unexpected events by doing one thing. It is something each believer can do no matter how long we have known the Lord. Make sure you are living in a place of daily intimacy with God. 

Intimacy with God is more than warm and tender feelings. It is a place of refuge and resistance. This is not some dishonest version of intimacy where we become an unthinking and unfeeling person immune to pain or sorrow. Intimacy with God is brutally honest - a David writing the Psalms version of honesty. It will demand submission of anything that would attempt to supplant its place of importance in the life of a believer.

Paul said, “ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Intimacy allows us to filter the pain of the unexpected events in this life through Jesus and His authority. A relationship of daily intimacy with God is our only safe place when a part of our life explodes, and the debris of that explosion arrives without warning.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Beyond the Edge of Endurance

The edge of your endurance, where you can go no farther, has the potential to become the ledge of your next launch. If you accept the invitation to step into an unknown future in obedience to a word from God, you will have to trade the false security of the ledge for a flight of faith. That choice will sever you from any ability to measure or predict the consequence of your choice or determine the final destination of your journey. At that moment, when you finally step into the unknown, you will step into the hands of God. To those who have come to their end and choose to take this step, they will find themselves in the most secure place this life has to offer.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Next Big Thing

At this stage in my life and ministry, I am in a place where, over time, I have been given an increasingly panoramic view of the Church. I preach in churches whose history is not known for the miraculous and in churches that are full-on signs and wonder churches, and everything in between. In each of these settings, I move primarily in a prophetic gift and try to release its blessing and benefit appropriately.

Prophetic ministry is not always the spectacular prediction of a world-changing event or the release of hidden facts known only to the person hearing a word. I have had a number of the latter over the years that truly amazed me, but for the most part, I have a ministry of releasing hope. I remember when God clarified this for me. He said, if I was willing,  I could be part of stemming the tide of cultural despair if I let Him do the judging, the Holy Spirit do the convicting, and me simply loving people (thanks, Billy Graham).

There is a danger if you carry a prophetic anointing. That danger is feeling like you always have to produce a word that announces the next big thing. Part of the danger that comes with that mindset is the compromise that any of us can experience from being driven to produce something spectacular and awe-inspiring.  If you do just a basic study of Scripture, you will come to understand the life of a prophet was not a day after day release of something amazing. Some of the prophets only said a few things of significance over the course of their lives. That historic reality helped me relax a bit when I was younger and really wanted to have my ministry validated.

I am so grateful to Paul who wrote I Corinthians 14:3, “But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.” This is the pure essence of the ministry of a New Testament prophet. I think I have this on my mind because over the next few weeks I will be teaching in several venues where I will be speaking specifically to people about the gift of prophecy.

Instead of living for the release of the next big thing, try to season your world with daily words that strengthen, encourage and comfort people. Maybe that prophetic simplicity is what Paul was trying to convey when he opened up I Corinthians 14 with the following verse, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” He was writing to the Corinthian church and any believer in the future who would follow the way of love.

No matter if you have just begun to sense the first inklings of something prophetic or if you are known as an established prophet, your primary function in that gifting is a ministry of strengthening, encouraging and comforting. If you can wake up each day and commit yourself to the way of love, God may from time-to-time release some spectacular revelation through you, but that is not the goal. The goal is to walk in the way of love.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Flying by Faith Through the Clouds of Failure

There are times in our lives when the failure of a relationship or a dream will take us by surprise. When this happens, we think that part of our life is sure to crash. Crashing is not God’s plan. He has trained you to successfully navigate these difficult moments if you have learned what it means to live by faith.

When I was a young flight instructor, I remember the day I passed the check ride for my multi-engine rating. The examiner put me under a black plastic hood that restricted my vision and allowed me to only see the instrument panel and nothing else. The check ride with the hood was done to simulate flying in the clouds under instrument conditions. I had trained for this moment and knew what to do. 

At one point during the flight, the examiner “failed” one of the aircraft engines requiring that I feather the propeller of the failed engine and adjust the aircraft to fly with only one engine running. The simulated engine failure had to be corrected while still flying the intricacies of an instrument landing. If I could not manage an engine failure during the ILS approach, I would have failed the check ride.  I successfully passed the exam and was awarded my multi-engine rating.

In real life, if a pilot cannot manage an in-flight emergency and continue to safely fly through the clouds they would eventually crash. The same applies to our life of faith. In this life, if you live long enough, you will eventually experience the failure of something you thought would last forever. When this happens, we need to maintain a safe emotional and spiritual status just like a pilot with a failed engine needs to maintain a safe altitude, proper airspeed and a correct heading that will lead to a safe landing.

If you have been flying along in life and something failed in route, you know what to do. Yes, it is painful and knocked the wind out of you, but you have been trained to live by faith. You can still fly your life if you keep your eyes on the instruments of faith and trust God to get you through the murky darkness of this painful experience. God knows how to deliver you safely to a new season. He has a safe landing planned. You just need to keep flying.