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. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Repurposing a Place of Offense

What appears to have been suspended in time in a place of offense is about to change. A new future with a fresh start is being released. Something you thought was closed forever will be reopened, healed and restored.

In the 1920’s, an exquisite home was built atop Carpenter Hill overlooking our valley. The owners were a wealthy young couple from the east coast.  The home was the social hub of southern Oregon. To be invited to one of these exquisite parties was seen as the pinnacle of social status.

At one of these famous parties, a guest made a comment that upset the wife of the host. In her offense, the party was abruptly ended, and everyone asked to leave. Within days, the couple locked up the home and returned to the east coast. The home remained boarded up and suspended in time for 80 years until a long process of probate was finished and the home and property finally went on the market and sold.  

There have been events in some of your lives that resemble the party on Carpenter Hill. You were told to leave a relationship without any hope of reconciliation. You have wondered what happened that day to have caused such an offense. God is initiating a plan to bring you back to repurpose that abandoned place. You will walk into a musty experience that remains trapped in time. You will discover a suspended history, but no life. God is bringing you back to speak life, hope and to release a new future.

Today, the Carpenter Hill area is home to several beautiful wineries. The original home is now filled with life and laughter under new ownership. A place of offense has been transformed into a place of unusual beauty. 

This is what God wants to do for you when you return to your place of offense and rejection. You will find remnants of the past still there. The lingering sounds of that last painful party will hang in the air of your memory. Don’t let these relics of your past define your future. Clean out the old and invite the new to come. The spiritual wine of restoration and redemption is waiting to be produced and served at the future gatherings in this repurposed place. The parties God has planned in that repurposed place will overshadow the sorrow of the past. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Prophetic Content of Your Voice

If you want your voice to make a difference, let it become a consistent sound of hope. Many people misunderstand the nature of prophecy. The highest form of prophetic ministry is not revealing undiscovered facts about someone or making a dramatic proclamation about a coming event. These words do get our attention, but the real impact of prophecy takes place in another context.

The most significant impact we can have takes place when we release words of hope that begin to influence the way people think. From time-to-time, God will share with me a hidden truth known only to the hearer or something that is about to happen, but these are rare. Don’t pursue those kinds of words as the single proof of your prophetic validity. Some have held this assumption and in doing so have tried to make the next word more dramatic than the last one. That pursuit can put you in a place of potential compromise.

Perhaps, the most precise definition of prophecy in the New Testament was shared by Paul, “But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them” (I Corinthians 14:3).

If your words strengthen people when they feel week; encourages them when they are discouraged and comforts them when they feel discomfort, you are moving in the prophetic flow of God’s Spirit. If the dramatic words given by any of us do not accomplish those three things, we need rethink what we are doing in the name of prophecy.

God did not call us to be dramatic. He called us to be a faithful – a faithful sound of hope to those in need. That is a life-long investment. In that long view of prophetic ministry, don’t be surprised that occasionally God might give you something dramatic and amazing to share. Whenever that happens, immediately get back on track with hope. That choice will keep the content and delivery of your voice pure and usable by God.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Six Hours Until Impact

Recently, an asteroid passed so close to Earth that it flew within the orbiting ring of existing satellites. According to NASA, the asteroid was only detected six hours before it arrived. While the asteroid was small, only ten feet across, it still raised concern that it was not be discovered until it was just a short distance away.

Life can change in a blink of an eye. Some will interpret that reality as a reason to always live in fear of the unknown. God wants something better for us. He wants us to interpret these events as a reminder that we should live in trust, not fear when undetected circumstances come our way at the last moment. Death, divorce, and disaster don’t always announce their arrival.

The only real preparation we can do for the undetected catastrophic events in life is the preparation of our heart. If the asteroid NASA failed to see was a huge one and it was able to slip past our best ability to detect its presence, we would have no time to prepare or escape. What would our lives look and sound like in the six hours until impact?

There will always be fear mongers both in the Church and without that want to sell you a message of fear as the primary motivator for how you should respond to the unforeseen events of life. To these dispensers of doom, everything of life is filtered through fear and distrust. If you don’t turn it off now when a real disaster comes, you will respond to the coming event with the dark elements of their sorrowful message.

If it were announced that an Earth-ending asteroid was inbound and we had no hope of escape, I would take Jan in my arms and tell her I loved her again for the 10 millionth time. Together we would spend our remaining hours thanking God for all the goodness He let us taste in this life as we waited to enter eternity together. The peace we would share at that moment be overwhelming. For some, the possibility of that kind of peace sounds incredibly naive and in some cases, insane. Such is a life of faith.

Never waste a catastrophic life-event on fear. Fear is a thief who wants to steal, rob and destroy your hope. Hope births peace and peace give us the ability to confront our greatest fear with a supernatural trust. Against these things, no catastrophic event of life can prosper.

Monday, March 5, 2018

God is Un-Muting Your Voice

You are speaking, but you are not being heard. It is like someone has pressed the mute button in a vital conversation. Don’t worry. God is about to unmute your voice. 

Yesterday, I released a Facebook Live broadcast. I am early in the learning curve of this platform. I prepare as best as I can, and after each broadcast, I try to remedy the mistakes made in the previous ones. I am doing a series of videos about leaving behind a legacy that will honor God. I have looked forward to sharing these videos because I love to help people discover what it takes to finish well in their life calling.

When the broadcast began, I felt good. About 1:40 into the broadcast it was brought to my attention that there was no sound. The problem was simple. The mute button on my microphone had been activated. I was embarrassed at such an apparent oversight. I also felt terrible for those who were giving me their valuable time and only watching a talking head with no sound. I pushed the mute button and viola the sound came on. I retraced my steps and began once again.

This morning, I began to sense there was a purpose behind my broadcast error with the mute button. My Facebook Live experience might be similar to certain relationships in your life. You have prepared the setting for a meaningful conversation. You have prayed. You announced what you wanted to share. You did everything you could think of to make the conversation a success. When the conversation finally began you looked like me on the Facebook video, you were talking, but no one could hear you. That is about to change. God is getting ready to unmute your voice. Those who were not able to hear you in the past will now listen to you and understand what it was you were trying to communicate.

We don’t always know why our voice was muted. This is why we need God to intervene on our behalf and give our voice the sound of Heaven. If you discover your conversation was muted don’t lose heart. Like I had to do on the Facebook video, once you realize you were muted, start over again when the sound comes on. God has something important for you to say and He will make sure your voice is heard no matter what human failure hit the mute button and created the silence.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Taking Inventory of Our Lives

Your life may look full and in synch with God, but only when you put all of it on the table and take a closer look can you see what is missing. Taking inventory from time-to-time is a good thing. It can also be very revealing and at times, painful. Taking inventory will keep us free from assumption and help us make sure our emotional and spiritual stock is up to date.
Yesterday, I was in our garage taking an inventory of our available books in preparation for a busy season ahead. I placed the books in individual stacks on a long folding table. We needed to make sure we had enough inventory to cover each location and to see if we might need to order more books.
As I packed and labeled boxes for the various locations on our calendar, I realized I needed to order more of certain books or we would be short. When the packing was finally done, and new books were ordered, I did not realize later that night, Jan and I would need to inventory our life and marriage.
After 44 years of marriage, like any relationship, you can assume certain things. I had made an assumption about something and the Lord needed to correct my attitude in that area of our marriage. We had a long, and at times, painful conversation. The longer we talked, the more I came to realize there was an area in our relationship where I could do a much better job as a husband and friend. At the start of our relational inventory, I thought I had enough “books” on the table of our relationship. As I began to stack things on the table during our conversation, I realized I was short in one area.
We talked it out. I asked for forgiveness from Jan, and the Lord and put in an order for more of God and less of me. Our table was then filled with the inventory of hope and love that any relationship needs to remain healthy over the long run.                                                               

I write all of this to invite you to do an inventory check in your most intimate relationships. It would have been easy for me to assume I had enough books in all the boxes visible in our garage, but until they were unpacked and counted, I was not aware of any lack. The same is true in each of our relationships. Put all your relational inventory on the table and take an honest look. God may show you an area where your spiritual inventory is low. If you find an area of lack, ask God for help. He can express ship the solution to you in a moment of time if you are willing to receive its contents. Life always works better when our relational inventory is on the table and up to date.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Threats and More Threats

This morning, I read a news article citing Russian President Vladimir Putin who declared Russia had developed an array of strategic nuclear missiles that could not be intercepted by any existing defense system. This new generation of missiles includes a nuclear cruise missile, an underwater nuclear-powered drone, and a hypersonic missile. Putin went on to say these missiles have no equivalent anywhere else in the world. No one knows yet if this is true or a bluff. Whatever the reason, this kind of an announcement is intended to create fear and ultimate submission to its threat.                          

As the world ramps up its game of threat and counter-threat never forget that as a follower of Jesus Christ you carry a supernatural weapons defense system called prayer. There will never be an earthly system that can override its heavenly technology. Prayer is able to intercept and destroy any work of darkness no matter how daunting it may appear. While the world trembles in fear we are called to release missiles of hope targeting the fear resident in the human heart and within the institutions of culture. As Paul said, we have at our disposal weapons not available in the arsenal of human combat. Our weaponry can pull down the greatest of threats before they reach their intended target.

Silent Seasons

For some of you, this has been a silent season. The silence does not mean God has not been at work on your behalf. Some of the most profound works of God are done in seasons of silence. This experience can leave you feeling disconnected. If you can remain patient and trusting, you will soon discover the purpose of God hidden in the silence.

After several years of drought in the Pacific Northwest, we have been hoping and praying for a deep snowpack. A deep snowpack helps fill our rivers and lakes and moistens our dry and brittle forests. Without a significant snowpack, the lives and lifestyles of many people and our natural resources are put in jeopardy.

This week, I was lying in bed just before rising listening to the rain. A few days earlier I was again awake in bed when it was snowing outside. I heard nothing when it was snowing. I finally got up that morning to see a blanket of fresh snow on the ground.  The rain would eventually run off, but the snow would add to our snowpack. The very thing we needed was provided in the silent darkness of night while I slept. I could only imagine how deep the snow levels were higher up in the mountains. 

If this has been a time in your life when it seems as if Heaven has been silent, the silence does not mean God is not listening and working on your behalf. God is always at work. This is when you need to trust His heart and His love for you. The silence has been given to you as an opportunity to check the condition of your heart and identify the fear that wants to keep you unsettled in times of silence. You are being prepared for provision.

God wants to create a spiritual snowpack while you rest. He is laying down layer upon layer of blessing and breakthrough you will need in the coming hot seasons of life. Trust Him in the silence. Soon, you will rise to a new day and see a fresh blanket of His goodness surrounding your life. You can trust God. He does some of His best work in silence.